A way of laying out a berm

I’ve been struggling to figure out how you work out the right radius for a berm for ages now. But today, I think I’ve figured out the basics of laying out a berm using the measurement of the corner across the apex.

  1. Layout the tracks, coming into  and out of where you want the corner. Make sure that your guide lines cross so you know the area you’ll be working in.
  2. Measure a straight line across the inner apex of the corner and all the way out to the start of the corner and the finish of the corner. We’ll call this ‘a’.
  3. Join up the two points where the incoming and outgoing track cross to give us a guide line that intersects the inner and outer apex’s. Then divide ‘a’ by two. We’ll call this ‘b’. Take the length of ‘b’ from the start of the corner to where is meets the apex line.
  4. Where ‘b’ meets the apex guideline is the centre point around which we’ll layout the berm and ‘b’ is the radius for it.

It needs some real world testing but the immediate advantages of laying out a berm using this method are that the curve of the berm is constant rather than changing through the corner and forcing the rider to adjust their course, and that it is fairly simple to do with just a length of rope and a stake.

Building The Perfect Track

I want to build a mathematically perfect mountainboard track. It would include all the knowledge we’ve gained from thinking about how tracks should be built.

It would use a clinometer to ensure the track always runs at a constant angle, the rollers would be built using a sine wave with a 7:1 ratio, and the berms would be laid out using constant curves and radii.

Laying out the perfect berm

All I need is a hill and the time.

The Stelzer Solution

Spent all day building the spreadsheet to run the BoarderX racing.

We start with a list of riders who have entered the comp, order them based on their results from last year, split them in groups of sixteen so riders of the same ability are competing against each other, give them three races each to earn points, add those points up to get their qualified position, sort the riders into their categories maintaining the order they qualified in, fold them into their first knockout race, remove the two who finish 3rd and 4th, repeat unto the final, and then add up all the finishing places to get a list that looks very much like the one we started with.

Some thoughts on competition strategy

I’ve seen quite a few mountainboard competitions over the years, seen things riders do that gives them a competitive edge and seen the mistakes they’ve made. Maybe a bit of thinking about how to approach riding in a comp, and what to focus on to improve your riding might help.

BoarderX

  1. Get out the gate first and fast. Watch the other good riders and learn from how they pull out. Being in front of other riders not only gives you the obvious racing advanatge but it has a psychological advantage too.
  2. Get good at pumping. BoarderX races are won or lost over rollers so learn how to pump as smoothly and efficiently as you can.
  3. Get round berms fast. Berms usually slow riders down, especially when there are other riders also trying to get round it. The outside line is usually the smoothest and fastest, but sometimes the shorter but slower inside line can get you in front. Learn to judge which line is going to be the fastest and look for gaps in between the other riders.
  4. Practice every line. Most riders just ride their preferred line when they’re on their own. Practice coming out of each gate in turn and follow that line down the track, just as if you had other riders in your way.
  5. Ride close. Practice the track by riding really close to your mates, not trying to beat each other, just trying to stay as close as possible the whole way down the track so you get used to having other riders right next to you.

Freestyle

  1. Go big. Big and stylish beats small and technical, so get good at jumping and then add the tricks.
  2. You won’t impress the judges by keep trying the same trick again and again. If you don’t get it, move on to another trick.
  3. If you know the jumps get yourself a set of tricks that work well on that set up. What works well over two big jumps won’t work on a slopestyle with four smaller jumps and a quarter, so tailor your set to the jumps.
  4. Variety is good. Don’t just learn to 360 one way, learn all four, and then learn them with grabs. And if you don’t have that many tricks change the order that you do them.
  5. Find your trick. There are loads of tricks that never get used in competition. Pick one of those and get good at it. It’ll make the judges notice you.

Downhill

  1. Walk the track. Look at from a riding perspective and plan you lines.
  2. Get a safe run first. And then go a little bit faster to get your time down a bit. Doing that is better than trying to go as fast as possible every run as you don’t give yourself the chance to learn the track.
  3. Tuck. Learning to speed tuck properly (or at least as properly as you can on a mountainboard) will make a huge difference to your time.
  4. Sliding out kills your time. Avoid it at all costs. So if there’s a part of the track that gets you every time slow down before you get there rather than keep trying to get through it at the same speed.
  5. Learn to tic-tac. If you do slide out you need to get back on your wheels and up to speed as quickly as possible. With no rollers to pump like a BX course, tic-tacing is the best way to gain speed from a standing start.

Competition riding is all about smoothness, which comes from time spent on a board. Practice makes perfect. Unless you practice the wrong thing, in which case you become perfectly wrong. Practice the right thing.

Some thoughts on cornering

How many ways are there to go round a corner on a mountainboard? The answer is lots

But to start with let’s think of a corner as having nine points on it. Three of them are on the outside edge, one at start of the corner, one at the apex, and one at the end. Let’s call them A, B and C. And then we have the same along the inside edge of the corner. Let’s call them D, E, and F. Now, let’s add another three points that follow the middle of the corner and call them G, H and I, and draw all the connecting lines.

Those nine points can be joined up like this:

Cornering lines

Which gives us:

  • A, B, C
  • A, B, I
  • A, B, F
  • A, H, C
  • A, H, I
  • A, H, F
  • A, E, F
  • A, E, I
  • A, E, C
  • D, B, C
  • D, B, F
  • D, B, I
  • D, H, C
  • D, H, I
  • D, H, F
  • D, E, F
  • D, E, I
  • D, E, C
  • G, B, F
  • G, B, I
  • G, B, C
  • G, H, F
  • G, H, I
  • G, H, C
  • G, E, F
  • G, E, I
  • G, E, C

Those nine points give us 27 different ways to go round a corner.

So, what the point of all this? Surely we just ride into a corner, go round it, come out of it and carrying on riding, right? Is it really worth thinking about your line? What are the benefits?

There are two benefits to choosing your line round a corner; speed and control.

Taking a corner at the maximum speed is all about getting it as smooth as possible. In motor sports, the ‘racing line’ would be A, E, C as it’s the shortest line though the corner (rather than going round it), and on some corners that would work just fine. But on a boarderX track this might not be the case. As berms are built to hold the rider on the track following the central line of G, H, I might be the faster line. But, out freeriding on a loose surface might mean that taking the widest line of A, B, C might be fastest as we don’t slide.

Control is all about being able to put your board exactly where you want it, to be able to come out of a corner on the best line for the next feature or obstacle. Remember, line out is more important than line in, so if we want to exit the corner at point I we have nine lines to follow. If we knew we were going too fast to get round the corner we might go D, B, I and lose some speed by going out wide. Or maybe we came into the corner on the G, H, I line but a rider had fallen in front of us so we had to go G, B, I. And, of course, this is all based on the perfect corner, but in the real world the track might narrow at the exit of the corner so that F, I, and C are all in the same place. Then we really need to consider our line in to make the exit clean.

So, regardless of whether we have a berm to help us get round the corner or not, choosing the right line can be really useful for maintaining speed, loosing speed, avoiding obstacles (and other riders), or even just making it round the corner. As every corner is different, it’s up to you to decide what you think is the best line to take (and if you’re a boarderX racer, practice every line).

It’s lucky there are so many corners in the world.

Modelling tracks or just playing with play-doh?

I’ve been experimenting with modelling boarderX track features in play-doh to help me understand how they should be built correctly, and seeing how we can put a bit of science into feature design rather than track-builders always having to make it up as they go along.

Roller – 1:7 ratio sine wave
Roller – 1:7 ratio sine wave
Roller – 1:7 ratio sine wave
Berm – width to height ratio 2:1
Berm – Not much science, just thinking about an Euler spiral for the track transition curve
Berm – Not much science, just thinking about an Euler spiral for the track transition curve
Berm – width to height ratio 2:1, starting to use Euler spiral to create transition between berm and track.
Berm – width to height ratio 2:1, starting to use Euler spiral to create transition between berm and track.

Ironsides BoarderX Track

Rode Ironsides Court Farm BoarderX Track today with Raph, Simon, Duncan and Morris. The ‘Orange Run’, as it’s known, is a comfortable bx track with the usual rollers and berms. I’m not really into riding boarderx but it was a nice ride, and a great place to be on such a nice day.