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Your environment & perfecting “skill”!

Below is a picture taken from an article over on Pinkbike featuring Neko Mulally and Erin Huck; showing very clearer the difference “environment” makes to skill acquisition!

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The XC bike given it’s seat height and overall geometry has dictated that Erin can’t drop her heels or more accurately cannot lower her Centre of Mass (COM) via ankle dorsi-flexion and instead achieves an overall lowering of mass over her base of support by flexing the hips and getting into a very low posture that is arguably extremely inefficient!

Neko on the other hand due to his bike and how he acquired the skill of posture over the years demonstrates that “archetype” Gravity posture, ankles dorsi-flexed, knees in slight flexion, hip angle “open” at about 30 degrees of flexion. Elbow and shoulder jut behind bars etc…

Now, yes, Neko is on flat ground and Erin traveling on a slight downward slope that is possibly steepening and yes we avoid extrapolating to much from one pic. But extreme hip flexion while traveling downhill to help lower COM is not ideal.

It means hips and knee joints are at sup-optimal angles to allow the muscles acting on those joints to operate at their preferred length and thus act most efficient and make use of not just he contractile portion of muscle tissue but also the whole MTU (muscle tendon unit) and the inherent efficiency of elastic strength!

The final two pieces of the puzzle are the joints furthest from each other but both performing important functions and both having interesting effects proximally (towards centre of body)…the cervical spine (neck) and cleat position and it’s relation ship in distance to the Talus bone in the ankle.

Extreme hip flexion for whatever reason (usually COM lowering) results in the necessity of extreme neck extension to see where you are going! This arguably and supported in some research has a knock on effect on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and leads to a further reduction in para-sympathetic tone and thus possibly more unnecessary stress, when the act of descending should be pretty chilled! Some riders like Nino Schurter display pretty extreme hip flexion when descending as that’s what the constraints of the bike dictate but still manage to keep a pretty relaxed neck position and overall excellent control.

Cleat distance to talus bone is not really understood and it’s only something I’ve recently thought about, but the Talus is considered the centre of your Base of support as a bi-pedal human, and arguably the further the cleat is away from that point the less stable the the ankle joint will be perceived by the brain, CNS and possibly less effective natural or learned spinal reflexes will be thus again leading to more “tight” the posture and the less stable the fluctuators of technique needed to make fast corrections in posture, directions and weight shift will be!

No exact science here – and there never will be when it comes to technique, skill and their acquisition!

Skill is about an end result. The intention of movement and reaching the end place or goal having expended the minimum of energy. Understanding that riding an MTB is a complex taste within a complex system and that the constraints of the task, organism and environment are very, very central to how you learn or perfect something new is what this is all about!

Bike set-up, terrain, dirt moisture, ambient temperature, tyres, muscular or central fatigue among 100000 other things affect your ability to reach that end goal.

So practice really does make perfect; but perfect practice does nothing to help you learn and adapt, So while Erin’s technique is extreme and sub-optimal in a global sense it is the technique she has adopted given the constraints of the environment (bike and terrain) she learned it in. If that technique is consistently applied in a huge variety of situations and terrains then it’s key parts will become stable enough for it to be successful as-long as those stable “parts” consistently allow her to achieve her end goal or intention!

Neko? We’ll I think Neko will be just fine…. ūüėČ

Original article here – http://www.pinkbike.com/news/brevard-ride-camp-with-neko-mulally-and-erin-huck.html

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Quick Fire 5 – Scotty Laughland

Our second round of quick fire 5 questions is with another Scot, Scotty Laughland. One of the newest athletes on the Point1 roster of weapons; he’s just come off his best ever EWS result (33rd) at Tweedlove.
Mature in word,  fresh in the face, downhiller turned Enduro shredder Scotty Laughland has, at 25 years young, bags of experience on a push bike, an undergraduate degree in Engineering and some serious coconut sugar based baking skills!
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© РClaus Wachsmann
1) Favourite meal after a tough day of training gainzzz
Quick and easy soy sauce stir-fry with chicken or beef, rice and veg
2) The training sessions you are most and least happy to see on the weekly plan?
Most: 4 hour epic enduro session
Least: none – It’all about the gainzzz and process
3) Favourite race track/s? 
Finale. Nevados de Chilean and Peebles
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© РClaus Wachsmann
4) Number 1 interest away from the world of bike riding and racing?
Travel and exploration
5) Happiest when…….?
Sat at the top of a rad, loamy 1000m + descent, froth fest!!!
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© РScotty himself!
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Point1 Granola – GNAROLA‚ĄĘ!

Gnarly Granola! This is taste central. “Shop Bought” granola and muesli will often have plenty of additives, preservatives and generally a huge amount of grain and not much of the good stuff you want, i.e. – nuts, seeds, fruits, quality honey and no added sugar!

So step in the simple as chips Point1 Gnarola‚ĄĘ, like granola only gnarlier!!!

This is simple enough to make even for those who burn water in the kitchen, all you need to do is buy good qaulity ingredients, drop the smartphone for 8 minutes and you are set.

Ingredients:

DRY

150g Mixed Nuts (I used Walnuts and Hazelnuts but whatever nuts you want, brazil-nuts taste amazing and are packed with selenium!)

250g  or about 2 Cups of raw rolled Oats

35g Pumpkin Seeds

50g Ground Flaxseed/Linseed/Chia Seed…any seed!

25g chopped/dried coconut

2 tsp or more of Cinnamon

WET

15-20ml Walnut oil

150g or 4-5 TBSP of decent Honey (Maple Syrup works fine too)

AFTER BAKING – ***optional***

150g Chopped dried fruits of choice – I used fig, sultanas and prunes –¬†re-hydrate¬†if you wish

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How To:

Pre-Heat the oven to 155c (fan oven) – Line a decent size baking tray with parchment/baking paper.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl – you can play with exact quantities of each type of ingredient.

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Combine your oil and honey in a small bowl and heat until real runny over a bain-marie or at worst in the microwave.

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Pour wet stuff into dry, give it a good mix (it should coat but not¬†overwhelm¬†the dry ingredients); spread out all of the Gnarola mixture thinly onto the baking tray, place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until she is golden and crispy! Make sure to keep an eye on the oven as it burns easily and burnt food ain’t ever good for you! EVER!

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Once out of the oven, you should have a dry, light and crispy granola. Add in your chopped mixed fruit, let cool and store in an airtight container.

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It can be enjoyed with the milk of your choice, but my favourite is with yogurt as part of a pre-ride breakfast. A big sprinkle on some good porridge made from well soaked steel-cut oats is amazing also, especially with more cinnamon and apple compote on top!

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Basic Nutritional stuff:

Obviously with all the fruit, honey and oats this is not the kind of thing to be eaten 5 times a day in huge quantities if you want to stay, lets say, in race shape. Enjoy it in moderation as part of an overall savage diet and you’ll be well….a savage!

The oats are packed with fibre and carbohydrate, the honey is a wild mix of a variety of sugars. Nuts like hazelnuts and walnuts are packed with thiamine (B1), Vitamin B6, protein, quality fats and very importantly for any bike rider minerals like magnesium, manganese, zinc and iron all of which are very important for proper CNS function, cell health and muscular contraction.

Likewise sunflower seeds and flax-seed both pack a mega nutritional punch with high amounts of fibre and trace minerals!

Finally the dried fruits (dates, figs and sultanas in this case) add to the carbohydrate content which is important on a riding or training day or for recovery but they also, unknown to many people, are full to their sweet wee gills with important minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium! Add in the cinnamon and all the yogurt, “veggie milks” or whatever else you eat with the Gnarola and you’ve got yourself a serious snack!

Wrap Up: Point1 Gnarola‚ĄĘ – Tastes the business, is packed with quality carbohydrate, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and provides a great crunchy texture in a moderate GI package that’s packed with fibre! Enjoy it anyway you want.

Feel free to comment with any additional ingredients you add.