The ATBA-UK’s first woodland downhill comp took place on the 6th April. Here’s so of the things we learned, and will use when planning future comps.
- Downhill comps that don’t use the riding track as the uplift track run far more smoothly as the riding keeps flowing. Previous comps that used fire tracks for riding down and driving up could only do one at a time, which interrupted the flow of the comp and wasted time.
- Our uplift held four people at a time, which as it turned out was fine.
- The riding started at 11:30, half an hour later than planned but not a problem, and went on til about 15:30. The riders stopped before we ran out of time, which is better than the other way round.
- The riders took breaks when they wanted, which worked out better than having a scheduled lunch break.
- We need more dedicated officials. This one took the concept of ‘Rider-run comps’ to a new level, with injured and tired riders taking over the timing. It’s great that we have a) such a strong community of riders and b) such a simple system that this can happen, but it does mean that things will be missed and mistakes happen during the change-overs.
- The synchronised watch timing system is still the best solution, not only for it’s simplicity and that it doesn’t need communication between top and bottom, but mostly because it proved plenty accurate enough at this comp.
- Finding/making a track that is challenging to the Pro’s and yet accessible to new-comers continues to be something we need to think about. The solution to me, especially in places like Head Down, is to have two tracks, an easy and a hard, both starting and finishing at the same places.
Usually, the comps come together through a small amount of coordination between a few of the people involved, and lots and lots of thinking on our feet and improvising. This isn’t a very efficient way of doing something like organising a comp, and often means things get missed that really shouldn’t be.
So, I’ve been writing up the workflow processes for running ATBA-UK comps, with the short term aim of streamlining the process, and the long term aim of making hand-over to new committee members/event organisers more effective.
It’s actually more complicated than you might think. It’s hard enough to just mindmap everything into one place, there is always more to add and stuff you’ve forgotten. But having got enough stuff on the list, it’s then time to start organising the list. The obvious way of doing this is ‘first thing first’, ‘second thing second’. But this is a very linear or serial approach, and raises problems. The first problem is that the second thing can’t be done until the first thing is done, so if something stops the first thing, everything grinds to a halt. The second problem is that it’s much harder to coordinate a group of people to all accomplish things on the list together.
You could divide the list into smaller lists, one for promotion, one for paperwork, etc., and give each person their own sub-list. But then what we see is that each list contains a wide variety of tasks and that the person assigned that list may not have skills to accomplish everything on their list. So that won’t work.
What we need is a way of parallel processing the tasks on the list so that everyone involved can take on tasks that they are able to complete, do them at an appropriate schedule, and not get in the way of other tasks or people. Hmmm, needs more thinking about…
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.
- 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.
- Get good at pumping. BoarderX races are won or lost over rollers so learn how to pump as smoothly and efficiently as you can.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Go big. Big and stylish beats small and technical, so get good at jumping and then add the tricks.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Walk the track. Look at from a riding perspective and plan you lines.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Great day riding three new tracks in Wales. Beautiful weather, beautiful place. Forgot my GPS but I had Brennig to read the map and chase me down the tracks. I’m not really into going fast. Used to be, but not anymore, I’ve felt the consequences too many times. But with Brennig close behind me I didn’t have much choice. That lad is going to be an awesome downhiller one day soon.
Spent the day in the Cairngorms at Glenshee Ski Centre riding an awesome 1.4 mile mountain track in the wind and the rain. This is what I’ve been looking for. This was worth the drive. This, is Scottish mountainboarding!
Fantastic day of mountainboarding in the mud and rain with Allan, Lewis, Ewan, Dave, and Marvin. Long muddy tracks and no walking.