Be a better 
rider tomorrow

Photography: Mattias Fredriksson

10 top tips: Changes you can make now, from inside the Atherton Racing Team

1 Ride different disciplines

“The road bike links well to the downhill bike as the intensity you reach on the mountain bike can be replicated on the road bike. You can make the rides quite brutal and short. They’re better for training, as the risk of crashing on a downhill track is massive, so I would never ask an athlete to do 12 flat-out downhill runs in a row. On a road bike, you can achieve the same intensity more safely.”   Alan Milway, Team Fitness Coach

2 Stretch it out

“I’ve started doing a lot of yoga and stretching for my back and hips, as my back started getting really tight, and once I started stretching properly after the rides that stopped. It’s made a huge difference to me. I stretch for half an hour before a session, then most evenings for an hour to 90 minutes. We stretch in the gym, too. Even if it’s just a few basic moves, to open up your hip flexors and shoulders, don’t underestimate how much it will help your riding and recovery. Especially if you’re on a road bike, because of the posture you ride in.” Rachel Atherton

 

3 Get into a corner

“If you’re going into a corner, a lot of riders have their feet level on the pedals, but if you drop your outside foot to the bottom, and bring the inside foot up, that brings your weight more into the corner, so you’re more solid, and you can lean in and rail it more easily. If your feet are level, your weight is still quite high, which will cause you to slow down a bit and lose stability.” Rachel Atherton

4 Put on weights

“If you choose one move in the gym to help your cycling, make it a deadlift. It’s pretty simple to learn, but then you can really add the weight on as you progress. It makes a huge difference to your power. It works your legs, bum, back, core and shoulders, so it’s a whole body move. If you’ve only got half an hour for your workout, this is the most efficient way to spend it.” Rachel Atherton

5 Saddle down

“If you’re riding cross-country, you’ll have your seat high to climb, but many riders don’t necessarily think about then lowering their seat for a descent. If the seat’s too high, it will make you lean back too far, or push you over the front so your weight’s unbalanced. If it’s lowered, the bike can move around more easily on the descent, and you can corner better as your weight’s more central. A lot of people now have these dropper seat posts which are easy to adjust.” Rachel Atherton

6 The eyes have it

“Where you’re looking makes a big difference to where you end up. Your body will follow your line of sight, so a turn almost happens from your head downwards. Going into a turn, keep your eyes on your exit point, and you’ll find your whole body follows you round and adjusts to exiting the turn rather than being in the turn.” Gee Atherton

“When it comes to tracks, don’t stick to what you know.”
Gee Atherton

7 Set your sag

“A lot of riders get stuck in a rut with how they run their bike, from tire pressure to suspension. You can make a lot of difference to your ride by adjusting your suspension according to conditions. The sag is the optimum depth at which the suspension sits when you’re on the bike, and should be around a third of the way through its stroke. So if a 220 pound dude sat on my bike, it would be well beyond halfway through its stroke, and you see people riding like that all the time, wondering why they can’t ride their bikes.” Marc Beaumont

8 Practice partner

“Train and ride with someone who’s as fit, fast and strong as you are. If you can push one another, that’s going to speed up your progress massively. Me and Marc ride together a lot. It also means you can compare notes on lines, too. It keeps it fun, and it’s always motivational to have someone to bounce ideas around with.” Gee Atherton

9 Don’t make it easy on yourself

“When it comes to tracks, don’t stick to what you know. The best progression in your riding will come when you force yourself to leave your comfort zone. Build new sections on a track, so it’s tailored to your standard, but still poses a challenge, or take the time to travel out to somewhere that offers you a new biking experience.” Gee Atherton

10 Clean brake

“If you’re on a fast track, you need to be aggressive with your braking, rather than dragging them the whole way. When you’re at full speed on a straight, you’re completely off the brakes, then snap the brakes on as hard as you can, as late as you can when you need them. It’s something we work on, and something you see a lot of riders doing. It’s a big temptation to drag the brakes all the way down, but it’s a bad habit to get into. If you’re specific in your braking points it’s a better way to get down the track, and you’ll notice the difference.” Gee Atherton

Read more
04 2014 THE RED BULLETIN

Next story