Skip to main content

Speed




I know I bag on mountain bikers who only ride for PR's, it's not because I dislike speed. I just think they have no style. But I do like speed. I love driving fast, especially over winding mountain passes and twisting canyon roads. I like riding a road bike fast, especially on the Copper Triangle. When I was a Summit Stage driver I even drove a bus fast. Too fast.
As a bus driver I received several speed warnings. The police don't stop a bus, but they flash their lights at you and they might call into dispatch. If you're caught you can't deny it because there is only one bus going from each location at any given time.
But for me, the most thrilling sensation of speed comes with skiing. The feeling of the cold wind blowing past you. The sound of P-Tex chattering across hardpack. It is truly breathtaking. And it takes a special technique to go really fast. In a car you stay on the gas to go fast. On a mountain bike you stay off the brakes to go fast. But on skis, you stop turning.

Yeah, in skiing and snowboarding, controlling your direction and speed is all in making turns. The more turns you make, the less speed and more control you have. So what's the opposite of turning? Well that is called  straightlining.


To properly straightline as a skier, one must stand upright. No tucking, that's a dead give away that you are speeding. And it looks dumb.

When skiers point their pole tips up, they are indicating that they are skiing at the limits of their abilities and should be considered a danger. It's the same when you see a car driving with it's hazard lights on.

No, to properly straightline, one must look very sauve and confident. Feet together is fine if you're old school. I prefer feet shoulder width apart for a few reasons. One, because Shane McConkey said so. He also said helmets were cool. RIP Shane, love you man. Skis shoulder width apart give a more stable platform. I believe knees together was just style that has aged like milk. 

Another reason for a wider stance is for the visual effect of laying a figure 11. If I encounter an area with long fresh lines, like say, a traverse out on A Basin's East Wall.


People riding up the Lenawee will look over and see the wall filling with everyone's version of powder turns. Some riders will lay their turns over another set to create figure 8's. None of the tracks are exceptionally interesting. Figure 8's are a nice aesthetic, but they aren't nearly as impressive as two unbroken parallel lines running straight down the fall line. Figure 8's honor the traditional skiing purists who founded Aspen and Vail. Figure 11's are  like two fingers from Sid Vicious.

This brings up correct arm placement. When you're coming down the East Wall you start building some real speed, even if the snow is fresh. Deep snow can add another challenge to straightlining. No one wants to straightline into a tomahawking rag doll scenario. To "control" speed I hold my arms out to my sides to try to create more wind resistance. It's really the only thing you can do once you commit to a top to bottom 11.

That's big mountain straightlining. On a trail is a different story. Holding your arms out is about as conspicuous as a tuck. When I'm on a groomed run I casually drop my hands down behind me. This stance is sleek but also non aggressive. You want to give off a vibe of "Who me? I'm just mellow cruising" when you straightline. If you're making a speed run it might also help to dress generically so you blend in with the crowd. Maybe don't have a big Cobra Kai patch.

At this point, you might think I'm advocating dangerous skiing habits. Hey if you want to ski fast why don't you race? I am completely against putting other skiers at risk. On-mountain collisions are a tragic and terrible event. *Knock wood* my only collision happened very early at my first ski area Catamount (current day ticket $61). I was night skiing, it was icy, I jumped over a roller and landed right behind a little kid half my size and half my speed. As I closed in on them I straddled their skis and gently scooped them up with me. This dissipated all the impact and the kid was startled but giggling.

It's terrifying, I would kill if a speeding rider hit one of my girls.

Strava says I have done 50mph, but.....what if she's not even on the mountain yet?

See, here's the thing, I believe under the proper circumstances straightlining can be done without putting any other riders in danger. You just gotta want it. I imagine this works the same at most mountains, but I really love the Corona run at Eldora it's a steep black diamond groomer, just begging for a straightline run.

Step one, be there for the rope drop. About 30 minutes before the lift opens, you gotta be in line with the hard cores. Sometimes I do single line, sometimes I just jump in with a group, it doesn't matter. And you don't need the first chair, just be within the first ten.

At the top, half of these riders will be skiing the front side, and half of the remainder will be snowboarders. Leave all these people behind and start skating the traverse towards Corona lift. Ski something fast like Wolf Tongue and you'll pass a few more skiers. Skid to a stop at Corona, thank the lifty for coming to work on this fine day and jump on the next chair.

Now you can see only 2 or 3 skiers ahead of you, and they are here for the same reason. Have your gear ready to go. At the top of Corona at least one of those people will stop to buckle their boots, shoot past them and GO. Now you are at the top of a steep groomed run with only one or two expert skiers ahead of you, all of you know what you're here for so pin it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

You only have to be the best until the best show up

   a tabletop   I still make dirt jumping part of my life.  There’s really nothing like it. I've been doing it for twenty years now and I kind of feel like I've earned my place. I love pushing my bike into the line-up.  I always greet the other riders just to check the attitude. A dirt  jump session should be an inclusive and positive scene. It’s one of the few times in life that you are really putting yourself out there. It’s not like a party or work or any situation where people can talk about how good they are. Nobody fakes their way through a dirt jump line.      I have a mantra I use at the park. You only have to be the best until the best show up.   And I love it when the best show up! Kickass riders are awesome to watch. I can usually spot one in the drop-in line as I roll up. They won’t wear any gear except a helmet.       It’s great when the best riders are fun and friendly. Sometimes they’re not. That’s fine. If a guy is throwing down sick tricks he  can be withdrawn

Full face Helmets

  It’s good to set limitations for yourself. Pick some sort of qualifier and tell yourself that this is a rule you need to live by and your life will be better for it. Here’s a few examples, ‘no caffeine after noon’, is one.  Or, ‘Never drive more than 10 MPH over the speed limit,’ Another good one,  ‘liquor before beer’. Just basic limits that help keep things in check.   I certainly don’t believe that my life will collapse over one early evening mocha. I just don’t want to do it every night. It’s that moderation thing. I heard that Marilyn Manson is a strong believer in moderation. Apparently Mr. Manson does drugs, but he keeps someone close to him as his drug handler. When the handler says, “that’s enough for tonight,” Marilyn rolls his two different colored eyes and grumbles, “fine.” He respects the prearranged limitations.   When I was a year or so into my freeriding phase, I realized I needed to set some limits for myself. Some of my friends were dead-set on making each stunt

Working in a bike shop Part 1 The Tube Shortage

   Bikes are so hot right now! The global pandemic has brought massive popularity to a thing that many of us already knew about. Bikes are cool. Riding Bikes is fun. It's conceivable that social distancing has killed many sources of recreation that people had come to rely on and enjoy. Obviously bowling isn't a sport, but it did provide entertainment to many people, and now bowling alleys are closed.    It would have been great if bowlers had taking the sport back to it's rough and tumble roots. I'd be interested in watching some gritty, underground 'street bowling.' I picture it in an abandoned warehouse run by bowling gangs. But that didn't happen. Instead everyone in the country said, "Hey don't we have some bikes still in the garage? We should ride those." or even better, they said, " You know, I think I'd like to try mountain biking, that looks fun!"   And so the Golden Horde was unleashed on an unprepared cycling industry. B