HOW TO BE FASTER BY NEXT WEEKEND …IN TEN EASY LESSONS
Have you stagnated? When was the last time your riding improved? What would you give to be faster by next weekend? Fret no more! The MXA wrecking crew offers you 10 quick and easy ways to be faster before your next race.
TIP 1: THE JOHN FORCE APPROACH
Too many riders patty-cake around a track. They think they are going fast, but they aren’t. How can you tell if you are a pantywaist rider? Take this simple test. When another rider tries to pass you, do you dig down deep, twist your right wrist and give it everything you’ve got? If you do, then you have been dogging it for most of the moto. You shouldn’t have any speed left in your machine, wrist or lungs to put up a fight. If you do, you aren’t trying hard enough. Experts say that 75 percent of riders grip the throttle in such a way that they cannot twist the throttle to the locks without dropping their elbows. To fix this, hold the throttle the same way you would a door knob. And, be sure that every time you turn the throttle, the slide hits the stops.
TIP 2: THINK BIG THOUGHTS
Don’t divide your local track into 15 turns and seven jumps. A track is not 22 different obstacles, but one continuous circuit. Try to string two or three straights and turns into one well-thought-out maneuver, and eventually the complete track into one integrated racing line. Plan ahead! Look ahead. Don’t fixate on a whoop, jump or corner. Keep your head up and ignore trouble that you have already hit. Start thinking like a race car driver instead of a stunt man.
TIP 3: TALK TO YOURSELF
You’d be surprised to find out how many AMA National riders talk to themselves during a race. It is an effective racing tool. Try it. Talk out loud! Tell yourself to turn the throttle wide open, yell for more brakes, demand a tighter inside line and don’t worry about sounding crazy — no one can hear you. Thinking good thoughts is nice, but transferring those subconscious ideas to the conscious level (known as verbalization) is the best form of positive reinforcement around.
TIP 4: 10 FIRST TURNS
Every rider gives it his all to the first turn. Then, he gives about 95 percent to turn two, 90 percent to turn three, and so on. Imagine how fast you could go if you thought every turn was the first turn! Don’t fall into the trap of gradually going slower. Give every turn the first-turn treatment. Think holeshot into every turn.
TIP 5: IT’S A 10-SECOND WORLD
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that your typical 15-minute moto breaks down into a few precious seconds of hardcore, head-to-head racing. Most of the 15 minutes is spent chasing, holding your own or marking time. The true-to-life racing only boils down to those few seconds when you are passing or being passed.
If a guy chases you for six laps, you are in no danger of losing your place until he gets close enough to actually make a move. Your whole race could boil down to the 10 seconds during which he tries to pass you. If you defeat him during that 10-second period, he might never make a second attempt; thus, a savvy rider will marshal all of his psychic power for those 10 critical seconds when under attack. If you nullify your opponent’s 10-second attack, the remaining 14 minutes and 50 seconds won’t seem so tough. Fight when it counts and not until it does.
TIP 6: DON’T TOUCH THAT SHIFTER
Your bike is faster in third gear at half throttle than wide open in second gear. Think about that! The best gear on any motocross bike is third gear. It can be lugged fairly low (with a little clutch work) and revved fairly high. Try to gear your bike so that you are in third gear the majority of the time. Don’t downshift unless it can’t be avoided. Use the clutch to feather the bike out of turns in the highest gear possible. Try to carry speed, not make noise.
TIP 7: WATCH AND WALK
Walking the track has fallen out of favor with lots of young riders, but it can make the difference between winning and losing. It never hurts to walk the track before practice, but it is even more important to try to walk it (and watch it) during the motos that precede yours. Never assume that the line that everyone is using is the best one. The best line may be 20 feet farther to the outside or even through the middle of the big mud hole that everyone is avoiding. How can you tell? Walk the track, kick the dirt, try to coax a rider into using your selected line and think creatively.
TIP 8: WEIGHT THE OUTSIDE PEG
The hardest place to make up time is on flat, hard, dry and slippery turns. Everybody is sliding around, and, in fear of spinning out, they back off the throttle to get traction. But, you can go through flat turns faster if you know the secret of weighting the outside peg. How so? As you enter a flat turn, concentrate on putting weight (pressure) on the outside footpeg. As the bike is leaned into the turn, your body provides counter pressure to the outside of the bike to load the suspension and flex the sidewalls. The best way to weight the outside peg is to place your knee against the tank and press down hard.
TIP 9: GO FAST IN THE EASY PLACES
Don’t fall into the “pace” theory of racing. Too many riders set a good pace and try to hold it. But unfortunately, pacing doesn’t take into consideration the difference between rough straights and smooth straights. Avoid pacing yourself! Go as fast as you can go on the majority of the race track and faster than you can go on the easy parts. Burn up the smooth parts. Go in hot and come out hard. Push yourself beyond the limits when you aren’t in any danger (to do otherwise would be slow). What if you burn out because you pushed too hard too soon? So what? Push even harder next week. In time you’ll get stronger, burn out later and, eventually, you’ll be in good enough shape to go flat out for the whole moto. If you don’t pour it on, you’ll never get stronger.
TIP 10: THE CHEAPEST HORSEPOWER AVAILABLE
Before you spend your hard-earned cash on pipes, port jobs, race gas and hot ignitions, buy a sprocket. Gearing is the most effective hop-up trick known to man (although not for internet experts who don’t race). Get your gearing low enough to pull a strong second-gear start, tall enough to avoid being tapped out before the end of the longest straight, and balanced enough that you are in third gear most of the time. Most stock gearing is too tall (by at least one tooth and sometimes two). Try to make most of your gearing changes with the rear sprocket.
Here are some gearing tips: (1) You gear a bike “down” by adding teeth to the rear sprocket (or reducing them on the countershaft sprocket) (2) You gear “up” by reducing the number of teeth on the rear sprocket or adding them to the countershaft sprocket. As a rule of thumb, one tooth on the countershaft is equal to 3.5 teeth on the rear.