Downhill MTB Records

Well, I thought my days of getting Personal Records on mountain bike descents were well and truly behind me! The only way of getting new records these days was to ride new trails.

Getting Older

Now, I don’t like to admit to getting older, but it’s happening to all of us and downhilling on a mountain bike is one of those areas where it is most apparent. As we age, the thought of crashing and hurting ourselves seems ever more present. We don’t take quite so many risks. We like to stay within our comfort zone. That’s just a few of the psychological barriers when it comes to pushing the limits whilst descending. The physiological ones are even more obvious. Strength, reaction times and most importantly eyesight is all deteriorating too. Such things are pretty important when hurtling down a rocky twisty, muddy mountain bike track at break-neck speeds. They don’t call it ‘break-neck speeds’ for no good reason either!

Out of Practise

On top of the inevitable issues associated with ageing, I don’t ride my mountain bike anywhere near as much as I used to. There was a time when it (along with windsurfing) was my main sport. I therefore used to ride my MTB several times a week, often on the same familiar trails. This meant that not only was I at one with my bike but that I knew every little nuance of the trail too. Granted, the trails change from day to day with the weather, the lighting conditions and such like but you still get to know them pretty well.

Nowadays I only ride my MTB occasionally, probably less than once a month. I still know the trails fairly well but you can never know how they may have changed a little over the weeks and I certainly don’t know them like I used to.

Less of a Bike

The fact that I don’t ride a full-suspension bike anymore was an additional excuse too. When MTB was my main sport I had a fully kitted out full suspension bike that was dialled in perfectly. It was ideal for the type of trail riding we did. I was never that fast downhill, but I held my own and obviously put in plenty of fast times on the local trails.

All of this was almost 10 years ago now though, so it was very unlikely that I was ever going to beat those times on the descents. I was comfortable with that fact though. I’m now 10 years older, rarely ride the trails and use a less proficient bike. Not beating my former self was fine.

Feeling Good

It was nice to find myself feeling good on the descents today then. I had very little pressure in my tyres, the front forks were set with little pressure in them too, so the front end of the bike had more grip and more compliance than usual. It felt pretty good. I felt as though I was flying on the descents whilst on an easy ride around the Summit Trail with Simon this morning.

Sure enough, once uploaded to Strava there were two personal records waiting for me.



One on the bottom part of the ‘Mark of Zorro’ and one on the top of the ‘Italian Job’. Both of these are sections of trail I’ve ridden hundreds of times. I know them well, but having ridden them so often I wasn’t expecting Personal Records on them even if it did feel fast today.

  • My previous best on the bottom part of the Mark of Zorro was 2:25 back in 2010. I knocked 4 seconds off that this morning.
  • My previous best on the top part of the Italian Job was 2:00 back in 2009. I knocked 4 seconds off that as well.

Not a bad morning on the bike!

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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