As Enduro racing becomes more popular and a weekend pursuit for more and more riders, the fact doesnt change that running in a field of 400 riders can be challenging. Making it to the top of the field is about fitness and technique. Having fun is important, but knowing how to ride your bike and good trail technique also helps bring the times down. It’s not all about time though, good riding technique also is about staying safe and getting the most out of what you are riding.
Davide Sottocornola runs training sessions for riders looking to improve and find the flow on the trails. We spent some time with him at the Punta Ala Trail Center, in Tuscany to learn about how to ride the trails better and make the most of the flow.
Reading The Trail
Reading the trail and what lies ahead is the most fundamental skill of any Enduro rider. It’s not easy to know how to ride a trail if you haven’t actually tried all the possible lines and know where to go.
The way to ride a trail might change depending on the aim of the rider, is it out and out speed? Or is it about fun? It’s all about finding the flow in both cases, as flow is probably where the speed and fun lies. In order to do that you need to know where to put the wheels on the trail. Davide Sottocornola spends a lot of time making sure he knows where to put his wheels giving extra seconds and getting him closer to the podium.
“It’s all about line choice, if you can make a corner smoother or make it link to the next one better, then you will go faster…”
Cornering At Speed
There are a few basic techniques for high speed corners, firstly know where your comfortable position is on the bike, secondly make sure to take the attack position, this keeps your centre of gravity lower and the grip higher meaning less chance of washing out. The outside pedal crank should be down, your eyes looking to the exit of the corner and your shoulders pointing to where you want to go.
“Compressing the body into the bike is one of the most important thing to do, it means you are always ready for what’s coming and are in control of the bike, ridged arms and stiff body means you cant get the bike into the sweet spot and the corner becomes slower…”
Switch Back Training
Tight corners back to back is often a feature now of many Enduro style trails, riding them though smoothly can leave riders in knots and sometimes over the bars if they misjudge the entry and exit speeds and braking points.
Davide focused on getting the crank positions right for the second corner, which in turn helps focus rider weight distribution and balance on the bike. The first corner has to be taken with the rider being well prepared and at the correct speed. Mid corner the rider should be getting ready for the second corner. This movement allows a smooth transition and forces the bike into the right position and maintains speed. Notice in the sequence below that body position should not be compromised and where you look is where you go, so keep the head up and look ahead.
“Switch backs can often leave people confused and struggling to keep the bike moving, sometime people come to a dead stop or wash out the front wheel, keeping the bike moving depends on correct weight distribution and really pushing the bike over at the right time making it follow the turn better. Do this right a few times and the seconds will be knocked off…”
The Best Lines In Rock Gardens
At best they can look scary or un-nerving at worst they can bounce you off the bike or in the case of places like Maribor leave you wondering how to survive. Davide explains that knowing how to find a good line is about knowing what you can feel and what your suspension system can absorb. Take time to study the entry and exit point, is there an awkward hole, or is it a smooth exit? Plus look at what comes next, there is no point straightening the track to put you in a worse position for the next corner. Rocks might look big at first, but the bikes are built now to absorb them, trust your bike and the lines will be faster, safer, straighter and more fun.
“Body position is fundamental, If you look at the way Jerome Clementz rides he is always in attack mode. This means should his bike hit anything hard or surprising then he is already ready for it. Choose a line that will put the bike in a stable position and in some cases shorten the track a bit, as you get faster it’s possible to hop over things, but check your landing area, as you don’t want to find yourself landing in a hole”
Reading the trail is not easy, takes years of practice and also riders need the balls to try new lines and see what works. Not everything works every time, the consequences of good trail technique is often a faster more fun, smoother ride. This keeps bike and rider safe and in the case of racers can make them win. The key points are to focus on body position on the bike, try not to go too fast, speed will come with better trail technique automatically. Try and visualise where you want the bike to go and be ready for the impacts that the trail can throw at you, Jerome Clementz is the perfect example of good riding technique, the result of that is being the 2013 Enduro World Series Champion.
Pro Rider: Davide Sottocornola.
Student Rider: Daniele Life Saver
Training Location Trail 301 Punta Ala Trail Center, Tuscany.