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Question for 40+ pro and A riders

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I am a 2nd to 5th place finisher in 50+ B Harescrambles. I can hold my own with all but the very best B riders in Illinois and Indian and Ohio in my age range. This is a serious question. How do you go so damned fast when the track is super rutted, exposed roots, chopped to hell, hills root and rock ledged up etc. That is when my speed drops, significantly. It looks like you guys are just floating and it amazing and disheartening at the same time.

This year we have been running afternoon seperate races after the C, D, Trail rider etc tear it up for two hours so the tracks are ate up from the get go now.

We, 50+B, start in the last afternoon row so it is also abused by you guys before we see it. Lol. I got 2nd yesterday and am second in points in my class and beat 40 other younger faster guys but what is the mental aspect of just blasting so fast through the hack? Our class winner lapped me on the last lap and I could keep up just fine till we hit the really deep ruts and roots, then he just floated away.

My fitness is not an issue as I am honestly not even really tired physically after a 2 hour race.

What do you see or think that allows you to hit that crap so fast? Seriously I am always just amazed and befuddled.

Please only respond if you are a legit woods racer of Pro AA or A status. Thank you.

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Octogenarian here, so I try to ride with caution and skill these days to avoid breaking these brittle old bones, so take my comments with a grain of salt, but this is a really good question for anyone who is getting passed by faster guys when they feel tapped out and already over their limits.

In my first Jersey enduro, Dick (Bugsy) Mann flew past me at about a 25 mph differential, casually waving to me as he motored on. He was riding a 441 Victor that he had borrowed from Joe DiSimone in Devon PA. The next week I asked Joe how it was possible to ride the woods that fast, and was it all skill? I've never forgotten what Joe told me. He said it was about 50/50 skill and suspension setup. That made me feel a little better since I was riding a stock DT-1, but it was years before I got to sample first hand how much difference having perfectly set-up suspension can make to one's confidence. 

Really, don't discount suspension setup. You may have your bike set up perfectly for average-to-fast conditions, and the fast guys have their bike setup for the worst conditions. You didn't say what holds you back. Obviously your bike doesn't seem in control to you at speed in really rough terrain. Is your bike pogoing from too stiff springs or uncompliant damping, or is the bike moving around too much underneath you?

Confidence, as you noted, is the key to riding fast in rocky, snotty, rutted, Rooty trails. Trials riding got me used to riding loose, bike moving around under me, legs providing significant amounts of supplementary suspension. Trials bikes are really squirrely at speed because they are set up to handle the most gnarly terrain, and riding fast requires riding really loose on the bike, and out over the bars. Maybe that's why Jarvis and his fast friends all rode trials at a high level before going so damned fast in the ball-breaking hard enduros.

Maybe none of this applies to you. Maybe you are already a trials expert, and your bike is perfectly set up for the terrain you ride.

If that's the case, then maybe you could see if you could hook up with one of the fast guys who runs away from you and ask him to go for a play ride, and have him follow you some of the time and give you personal feedback, and then lead you through some trouble spots after telling you what to look for. 

Anyway, good luck to you, and stay safe.

Edited by Old Plonker
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I go through ruts standing and looking as far forward as possible. Going through roots is just a timing and confidence issue... I would also go out on a limb and say if you're not tired after a race, you're not riding hard enough... 

Edited by Monk
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Although I'm new to harescrambles and riding 30+B only did 5 last year looking forward to more starting end of this month.  I am a A class mx racer tho. I say stand up and look to end of ruts , giver some gas :thumbsup: the whole trick is being on the power.  Long as you're on the gas and front end is light the back wheel will find a rut. I live in upstate ny we have deep ruts. Harescrambles are huge 25 + rows. most are 30+ riders deep.

Edited by Motox367
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1 hour ago, Monk said:

...I would... go out on a limb and say if you're not tired after a race, you're not riding hard enough... 

...or sitting down too much?

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I am not talking about basic race skills. I stand, look through ruts. Can read roots. I am talking about high speed through treacherous, deep to the axel, 8 -12 crossruts wide, zigzag zagging right and left. String roots suspended in the ruts a 1/3 down. Not basic, suspension, stand, look ahead stuff.

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I am NOT a racer but I'm 57 and like to go fast on my CFR250R set-up for single track and I would be slightly interested to know what bike/set-up the OP is on?

With that said, IMO its 90% physical/mental BUT at as posted you still need to have the bike set-up as best you can.

I ride 90% standing and sit as needed or when I know I can to conserve myself.

I don't race with my buds but when we are ripping the single track I like to be out front and its an unspoken catch me if you can :)

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2 minutes ago, BassMan said:

I am not talking about basic race skills. I stand, look through ruts. Can read roots. I am talking about high speed through treacherous, deep to the axel, 8 -12 crossruts wide, zigzag zagging right and left. String roots suspended in the ruts a 1/3 down. Not basic, suspension , stand, look ahead stuff.

What bike are you on and how much do you weigh etc?

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4 minutes ago, BassMan said:

I am not talking about basic race skills. I stand, look through ruts. Can read roots. I am talking about high speed through treacherous, deep to the axel, 8 -12 crossruts wide, zigzag zagging right and left. String roots suspended in the ruts a 1/3 down. Not basic, suspension , stand, look ahead stuff.

Like I said =giver some gas . They are a gear higher and on the gas.  Comes with years of racing. some get faster some dont. Just how it is. Sign up for the A class see what ya got :thumbsup: 

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30 minutes ago, BassMan said:

I am not talking about basic race skills. I stand, look through ruts. Can read roots. I am talking about high speed through treacherous, deep to the axel, 8 -12 crossruts wide, zigzag zagging right and left. String roots suspended in the ruts a 1/3 down. Not basic, suspension , stand, look ahead stuff.

Basic skills are the foundation on which you build on, ignore it and you'll be the same rider tomorrow as you've been from years before... 

How does one do it better then the next? Condition, balance, confidence, practice etc etc...AND, some are just better then others in certain conditions. Anything high-speed, whooped out and cornering I have tremendous confidence, but when the going becomes slippery with logs I clam up like a bitch (two torn rotators because of these conditions) 

Some including myself have giving you a window to look through and you're telling us you know, why ask then? You want advice on 'how' to go faster and get better, head to the MX track... The consequences of not hitting a rut correctly over a 80ft double are far more severe then in the bush...

If the winner in your class is lapping you, you're in the wrong class...

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Like I said =giver some gas . They are a gear higher and on the gas.  Comes with years of racing. some get faster some dont. Just how it is. Sign up for the A class see what ya got  

I race with Pros and A racers. I don't get your point.

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Basic skills are the foundation on which you build on, ignore it and you'll be the same rider tomorrow as you've been from years before... 
How does one do it better then the next? Condition, balance, confidence, practice etc etc...AND, some are just better then others in certain conditions. Anything high-speed, whooped out and cornering I have tremendous confidence, but when the going becomes slippery with logs I clam up like a bitch (two torn rotators because of these conditions) 
Some including myself have giving you a window to look through and you're telling us you know, why ask then? You want advice on 'how' to go faster and get better, head to the MX track... The consequences of not hitting a rut correctly over a 80ft double are far more severe then in the bush...
If the winner in your class is lapping you, you're in the wrong class...

The discussion wasn't about basic skills and I did not say I ignored them. I was asking about the next level.

I was asking about the mental aspect of what it takes to hit those nasty sections where you tore your rotator cuffs. Obviously if you pucker up in those conditions you are not able to explain what it takes to ride them.

You must not be very familiar with harescrambles. I got second in the race I was lapped and also beat a collection of younger B riders A riders and pros. It is very common to be lapped by class winners in all harescramble classes.

I asked for specific advise from Pro and A level Harescramble racers.

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11 minutes ago, BassMan said:


I race with Pros and A racers. I don't get your point.

You said you race 50b class. Point is their going faster than you! Cause their faster :ride: and there's no 50b rider beating A and AA riders strait up in series here. 

Edited by Motox367

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You said you race 50b class. Point is their going faster than you! Cause their faster :ride:

Yep that is my class, we all race together in rows by class from Fastest Pro to slowest. 50B in the afternoon race.
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16 minutes ago, BassMan said:


The discussion wasn't about basic skills and I did not say I ignored them. I was asking about the next level.

I was asking about the mental aspect of what it takes to hit those nasty sections where you tore your rotator cuffs. Obviously if you pucker up in those conditions you are not able to explain what it takes to ride them.

You must not be very familiar with harescrambles. I got second in the race I was lapped and also beat a collection of younger B riders A riders and pros. It is very common to be lapped by class winners in all harescramble classes.

I asked for specific advise from Pro and A level Harescramble racers.

Lol, I guess not. I thought being the 2nd fastest guy in Vet A in Western Canada for offroad would have meant something, apparently not...

Edited by Monk
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1 hour ago, BassMan said:


The discussion wasn't about basic skills and I did not say I ignored them. I was asking about the next level.

I was asking about the mental aspect of what it takes to hit those nasty sections where you tore your rotator cuffs. Obviously if you pucker up in those conditions you are not able to explain what it takes to ride them.

You must not be very familiar with harescrambles. I got second in the race I was lapped and also beat a collection of younger B riders A riders and pros. It is very common to be lapped by class winners in all harescramble classes.

I asked for specific advise from Pro and A level Harescramble racers.

If you are OK with what ever bike is set-up etc for you?

Then at your age, you are physically able to compete?

And you feel its not your skills?

You are are now asking for advice as to what mental aspect you need to obtain to become a winner?

 

 

 

Edited by filterx
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It's mental. You only go as fast as you want to get hurt. At 50+ your brain is telling you not to hurt yourself. 

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I don't race often but when I do I podium in the Vet A typically so I think I'm your target audience (getting long in the tooth for this class, soon to upgrade). But I'm afraid I don't understand the question. I could tell you how I ride ruts successfully or how I cross roots with great specificity but I don't think this is what you want. I could carry on about setup but you know the answers there. Your posts have mostly eliminated what sets me apart from the Senior B's that I lap. One stand-out difference between your description and how I feel has been addressed--I typically am near vomiting at the end of races from the exertion. I don't always enjoy the experience but I relish the memories. I rarely crash but when I do I try to go big. I don't like to be passed. Mindset: pass the guy ahead of you and don't let the guy behind you catch up. Try to remember your name at the finish.

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Based on the OP's replies to advice given so far, I am of the opinion that the only issue is commitment.  You have to completely block out the consequences of a crash at those speeds.  I've talked to many A and Pro riders about this.  None of them ever let any fear enter their minds or they will lose the pace.  They know crashes happen and they are ok with that.  They don't worry about it.  If you tell yourself you don't want to crash and have even the slightest thought or focus on that, you can't go to the next level.

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