Tips: Riding up a hairpin with a berm
Yes, we are talking about the new berms climbing up on the Silver Mamba Alley section!
- The basics: Here we go again; Look where you go! Actually, sometimes it pays off to look a lot further ahead to see what you can expect. Try to see where the trail is going and how it looks (a rider ahead of you works even better). Now you can decide if you need to brake for a tricky section or save your momentum to make it up the hill.
- Approach: When you come down from the main gravel road you can see the trail going up towards the first corner to the left. It’s about the same height as where you came from so it’s safe to say that if you do not pedal, you will carry the same speed at that first corner as you are doing when you start to go down.
- Braking: When you brake on an up hill your braking distance is a lot shorter then on a down hill so it’s quite safe to carry a bit more speed up the hill as it’s easy and safe to drop your speed at the last moment.
- Berms: We made these berms for a reason. Everyone knows that you can go faster through a corner due to the angle of the berm. If you have ever ridden on a track or velodrome you know that you can actually use berms to release the built up energy. This is especially handy on an uphill berm. A velodrome is just two big berms at a steep angle connected with a small straight with a flatter angle (if you have the chance, give it a try at the velodrome in Durban). When you ride at the bottom at high speed and steer up the bank, you take out the speed and as soon as you steer down again you pick up speed and release that energy again. You can use the same trick on these berms. Stay high when you have speed and as soon as you lose speed go down, release the energy and try to keep the same speed to avoid shifting.
- Gears: Not too light. For most people 3rd or 4th lightest gear is just right, of course depending on your strength and gear ratio. You don’t want to pedal too fast as this is when you lose traction. Rely on your torque, efficient pedalling technique and cleats. The right gear also enables you to get up to speed at the flat sections in between the corners so the next corner is easier again.
- Bonus tips: As you can see it takes a lot to ride like a pro and it will take a few attempts to make it all work together, but you will see the biggest improvement the second time you ride and you keep the momentum through the first corners.