Both Require Looking Down The Trail, Pressurizing To The Outside Of The Turn.

I was out the other night riding with my pals and noticed that I was starting to look at the front of my wheel in sketchy terrain, and my balance was starting to be  compromised. 

Looking down the trail, not over the wheel.

I thought to myself, “Pat,  keep your eyes focused down the trail and not on what is right in front of you.”  I know this.  I always do this skiing: look down the trail three turns or more to allow efficient skiing and don’t look at what is right in front of your ski tips.  Sometimes you lose focus on what you are doing and let the terrain dictate your visual field.  The solution is something that I always tell skiers looking to improve. Don’t let the terrain ski you,  you ski the terrain. And the best way to do that is relax and look down the trail or slope.  When you allow your field of vision to open up by looking ahead, you have much more time to react to the terrain changes that will come before you, often at a rapid pace in skiing or riding a mountain bike. When you focus on your ski tips or your front wheel, that reaction time is severely compromised.  Momentum is your friend and if you look ahead, you can handle any terrain changes much better and in plenty of time to react.  Look at the rider in the picture here.  Looking ahead and down the trail.  He is focused and able to react to the technical challenges ahead. 

Another similarity between skiing and mountain biking is the position of the pedals during a turn.  The picture above shows an extreme example of a sharp turn on a mountain bike.  Look at where the inside leg is allowing full pressure on the outside pedal in the down position. 

Bode Miller putting weight on outside ski.

If you look at Bode Miller here, you will see a similar leg position in his downhill race  turn at Beaver Creek Birds of Prey World Cup. As soon as his outside ski makes contact, he will have it fully pressurized because of his leg and hip position.  This is very similar to the cyclist who is able to execute a steep turn on his mountain bike by allowing his outside pedal to be fully pressured in the turn.  Oftentimes when I ride, I can even feel a slightly countered position on my bike allowing the outside pedal to be fully under pressure and my inside pedal in the up position and stable in the turn.  I learned how efficient this is when I used to race on my road bike.  Those high speed turns have to be executed with the outside pedal fully under pressure, otherwise you cannot execute a tight high speed turn in the corners of a criterium race.  Racers who could not commit were often off the back or crashed out because of a poorly balanced turn. 

So, if you are longing for skiing during the off season, think about those turns during your bike rides.  Whether on the road or trail, the movements are very similar and can give you the feeling of a ski turn when it is 80 degrees outside.  Enjoy the summer and the riding. 

4 Comments

  1. Avatar Rus Davies says:

    Great article, Pat!

  2. As a mature gentleman who is rediscovering mountain biking after a long hiatus, I agree with the author’s basic point about similarities between skiing and mountain biking I am enjoying mountain biking much more having discovered the point about outside pedal being in down position during turns. Like skiing, mountain biking encompasses lots of different types of terrain. Not everyone likes steep moguls on skis; similarly, not everyone likes steep rocky and/or very technical terrain on a bike. I have discovered the “flowy” trails can be a blast. Finding the trails that work for you is critical.

  3. Great article Patrick!

  4. Avatar Joanne Lasnier says:

    Bad habit of mine to look just beyond tips of skis!
    I will follow your advice Pat. TY

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