TEN THINGS ABOUT MASTERING WHOOPS

July 2, 2014
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10-things-whoops

(1) Shift up. A general rule of thumb is to shift a gear up before you enter the whoops. When you go through a whoop section, the rear wheel only touches the ground for a short period of time. The rest of the time, the wheel is in midair, having no contact with the ground. This makes the bike rev out quickly. When the bike revs out, the power flattens, which puts more weight on the front of the bike, causing you to lose traction. Shifting to the next gear will keep you in the meat of the power, increase traction, help keep you straight and keep the rear end squatted.

(2) Balls of the feet. Before you enter the whoops, be sure to get the balls of your feet on the footpegs. This will help distribute your body weight across the bike. If you are on your arches, you lose the ability to use your ankles for stability and a few more inches of travel.

(3) Squeeze. Connect your lower body to the bike by squeezing your legs against the bike. Doing this will allow you to relax your grip and arms so you can move fluidly with the bike. This will also reduce side-to-side motion of the bike, keeping the bike stable and consistent through the whoops.

(4) Toes in. Try pointing your toes out and doing a squat. Where do your knees go? Out! If your toes are pointed out going through the whoops, your knees will also point out, which will create an opening between your legs and the bike. This will make you feel disconnected from the bike. If you have issues with not being able to keep the bike straight in whoops, pay attention to your feet.

(5) Entry speed. Entering the whoops at the right speed is critical. A lot of people tend to come in slow and pick up the pace once they have a good rhythm going. This causes issues, as they will lose traction when trying to speed up. It takes commitment, but if you come in at the same speed you plan on going through them, it will help you stay on top of the whoops and keep straight.

(6) Wheel placement. Getting a good rhythm in the whoops starts with where you place the front wheel in the first whoop. If your front wheel is too high, you can skip a whoop. If it is too low, your front wheel will be lost in the trenches. Find the sweet spot. Depending on your speed, the sweet spot will change, but if your weight is distributed evenly and your speed is consistent, the front wheel will find the sweet spot without much work on your part.

(7) Commitment. Whoops can be scary. To be able to get through a set of whoops fast takes commitment. That means you must blitz them. In most cases, the faster you go through them, the easier it is. If you go slow, you will most likely fall down into the trough, or at the very least teeter-totter through the whoops.

(8) Weight distribution. Your weight needs to be spread evenly across the bike. Your body should look as if you are doing a Romanian dead-lift when going through a whoop section. Your butt should be back, with your knees behind your toes and your head over the handlebars. Too much weight on either end could result in the front end skipping a whoop or, worse yet, diving into the middle of a whoop.

(9) Rocking. Not everyone can blitz the top of whoops, but everyone can use the rocking motion. The rocking motion starts with hitting your front wheel on the face of each whoop and your rear wheel on the backside of each one. Practice the rocking motion by coming into the section slow. As your back wheel hits the backside of each whoop, blip the throttle. In time, you will develop a rocking rhythm that will get you through the whoops. Rocking is not the fastest way, but it is the safest way to guarantee that you’ll get through a section of whoops without losing too much time.

(10) Relax. Learn to relax. As long as your legs have gripped the bike securely, you can let your arms and shoulders flow with the bike. No need to fight it. As long as you have the correct form, the bike will do most of the work for you. ❏

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