Practice Session Tips?

16 replies to this topic
  • bbeakley

Posted October 18, 2001 - 10:00 AM


I know this will be highly subjective, but what's a good way for a beginner to practice at a track? I know I'll need practice doing starts since I've never raced. Do you just do a start, ride a lap then repeat? Or do you work on just starts, then move on to certain sections of the track and ride it over and over again? I've ridden BMX in my younger days and I've done a lot of trail riding on my 426, but with the upcoming arenacross season, I'd like to go to some of the practice sessions and see if I can get good enough to race. I plan on taking notes during the upcoming race practice but I thought I'd poll the group and get your thoughts. Hopefully the organizers set up a novice or beginner class I can try.

  • Merfman

Posted October 18, 2001 - 10:25 AM


Subjective it surely will be, so here's my take:
Practice starts and the first couple of turns. Try to think
where you'd go if pinched off. Practice starts from different
gates. Once you're burned out on starts, practice the
areas of the track that you have trouble with. Once you're
comfy with the whole track, then start trying to pare down
your lap times by riding the whole track.


  • sirthumpalot

Posted October 18, 2001 - 10:36 AM


I've been getting back into this for only a few months now myself and here's what I've found to help me personally. I also ridden offroad for years but have no previous MX experience. I'm sure the faster guys here can point out any faults with what I suggest.

Starts are important, but IMHO when you're on a beginner level it's more important to spend the time doing laps. I'm hoping to race very soon for the first time myself so I've watched some of the local races pretty closely. Of the beginner class races I've seen, none were won or lost by starting position.

Getting back into shape has helped me a lot. Now that I'm back into running during the week I can get a lot more practice in for any given day. I also notice that trying to practice when I'm physically tired seems to cause me to pick up bad habbits and causes me to make dangerous mistakes. I'm not sure where you live, but I'm in South Florida and bringing a beach umbrella, some lawn chairs and a fan to the track really really helps!

Last thing that I can think of, I seem to get the most improvement when I concentrate on one thing at a time. For example, when I took my first shot at MX I was fine on the straits and in the corners, but my jumping sucked. So I started concentrating on fixing my jumping. I would take it easy on the straits and in the corners to be sure that I hit the jumps right. Now that my jumping has improved and I can confidently hit jumps in more situations I have been putting more focus on on cornering speed. etc..

Oh yea, find someone a little bit faster than you and try to follow them around a bit.

Have fun!!

  • mxcowboy

Posted October 18, 2001 - 03:17 PM


my suggestion is work on the track since you only start once during a moto but you ride the track several is important to get a good start so you don't have to work so hard. what i do is when other moto's are being started you stand at a empty gate and get your reaction time down by seeing what to look at to see the first movement of the gate. good luck

  • twej

Posted October 18, 2001 - 08:29 PM


The starting line is the only place where you can pass 25+/- other guys within 100yrds of track. It's worth practicing.
My $.02


  • MGR8

Posted October 19, 2001 - 03:24 AM


Get to know some of the local pros and ask them about the lines they use, you would be supprised at the time you can pick up with good lines..I always think I am picking good lines. Most of the time I am running the "same" line as everyone else. Not always the fastest line.


  • MXOldtimer

Posted October 19, 2001 - 03:58 AM


If you know how to ride you know how to race. Racing is "FUN" and having fun is what it's all about. They break down classes and your best bet is to go race the FIRST race of the AX season, just think about it, it's new to everyone, new gate, new track, new jumps, so get started at the begining along with everyone else. You wont get to practice starts because tracks don't run the gate on practice days. If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times, practice days are more dangourous than race days. If you do go to practice just put in laps, hold your line, dont swerve around and stay to the sides of the jumps. Remember let faster riders pass you, don't try to get out of there way, you'll end up in a bigger jam trying to move around. If I were you go to the first race and race the track not the riders, you'll calm down faster and learn more riding with your own class,,, I bet you'll surprize yourself, you'll do better than you think. Remember it's for FUN so go out and have FUN.


  • Howard_Huge

Posted October 22, 2001 - 03:57 PM


Get out and walk the track with a buddy who is also racing try and get a game plan on which corners are better for passing and different lines to protect from getting passed.Try to ride as smooth as possible so you can run consistent lap times for 5 laps minimum.

have fun, huge

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  • nozzlejockey

Posted October 22, 2001 - 04:30 PM


Just a note. As a novice racer I have found that when I get up at 5 am and get to the track by 8 am and don't warm up prior to riding I can't go very far. I am going to always walk the track just to get the old heart pumping and get through that first five minute burn.
Later - The Fireman

  • kfrosty

Posted October 31, 2001 - 01:11 PM


What to practice?? If you are just starting out, there are so many things to practice. It really just depends on how good you want to be. If you are a beginner, you have a lot of things you need to work on. Starts are important but aren't really much good if you don't have really good bike control. If you can start but can't ride, chances are you are going to be in front of fast riders and have a good chance of being put down. You need to learn how to use all the controls of your bike and more importantly how to use more than one at a time. The controls are your throttle, front and back brakes and clutch. You need to learn positioning on the bike. For instance, when accelerating, you need to be going leaning forward. When braking you need to be leaning back. Corner speed is probably the most important thing about going fast so you need do drills and pick out sections on the track and practice cornering. You can also do barrell, oval, circle and figure 8 drills for practicing. Then once you get these down, you need to learn how to jump. I see so many people at the tracks riding who don't know the first thing about moving the body around on the bike to control it and they really scare me because I know it's just a matter of time before they are going to bite it. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect and have my share too. :)

My suggestion for you if you want to learn to go fast the correct way in the shortest amount of time possible, I would really suggest you getting a set of the Gary Bailey or Gary Semics videos. When I first started I tried to teach myself which resulted a lot of bumps and bruises.

To some this may sound like a like too much if your goal is to not have fun. However, learning proper techniques, how to control your bike and have less accidents leads to you having more fun. Trust me riding over your head and crashing all the time is no fun. I'll cut this short for now because there is no way to put all of what you need to practice in a short response. If you have specific questions about areas you are trying to improve on, let me know.

  • forloop

Posted November 01, 2001 - 04:49 AM


kfrosty gives good advice. I used those same books and videos to help me. I will also echo what sirthumpalot said, get in shape. This is one of the most important things you can do.

  • MotoStyle

Posted November 01, 2001 - 05:50 AM


All of this is great advice and I personally think KFrost has some great points. I've been riding and racing for more years than I care to mention. When I started riding, my goal was to have fun. If you are having fun riding and racing, you will take more of an interest to other riders that you want to emulate. I suggest practicing with someone that can teach you some of the basic skills for proper body positioning, etc......since you don't want to pick up bad habits while you are learning. If you can't ride with someone that is more experienced, get those videos, practice your turns and jumps, and learn from those people around you.

I'm a visual person, so in the years that I took off from riding, I learned so much just by watching the sport evolve, watching certain riders and what they did, and then getting my a$$ back in shape.

3 pieces of advice.

#1. Know your limits and don't ride over your head. It's too easy to break bones and twist yourself into a knot. Injuries can put you out for a whole season if you aren't smart about it. Just use some common sense and be honest about your abilities.

#2. Practice laps, turns, jumps, body positioning, and get yourself in shape. Starts are an important part, but a start is only going to get you to the first turn and then you have to ride the track for 6 laps.
When I started out, I practiced laps instead of starts, but if I ever got a bad start, I could just ride my race and before I knew it I was in the top 5.

#3. Concentrate on being smooth instead of fast. Speed comes with experience and the smoother you are, the less energy you expend, the longer you can ride, the better you'll do, and the more enjoyment you'll have. :)

  • Roostie_1

Posted November 01, 2001 - 07:09 AM


Here is the best advice that anyone can give you: Make sure you have fun! It's the most important aspect of motocross. That's why you got into it isn't it? I too had ridden off road for years before I took up motocross (this year was my first). i couldn't jump or start, and I was only OK at corners. My first race was an arena-cross and it was also my first time on a 426. I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to start it after I stalled it! (starts, corners, whoops!) But the time that I was riding was awesome. The dirt is so mint. You should practise squeezing with your knees, because you'll have a hard time hanging on :)

I went to an arenacross school after that and learned a lot. The next arenacross that I went to after that I came home with four trophies.

Good Advice: Smooth makes fast, always have really nice gear so that the girls think you're a pro :D and best of all; don't ride over your head, arena-cross can be dangerous. You should be able to win a beginner class arenacross race without doing anything too crazy!

  • Chris_Slade

Posted November 01, 2001 - 07:16 AM


I think I saw this in a magazine not too long ago...and infact, it's true. Turning speed is critical. Me, Myself and I can go as fast as RC and McGrath in a straight. First turn, crap, I'd be long behind. Turns make or break alot of a ride/race. Even a bad to mediocre start can be overcome with fast corner speeds. Hmm, fancy the fact now though that corners are the one area I am sluggish in! Jumps.....if you are jumping them....there is no speed gain or loss...everyone has to be going the same speed to clear it, straights, I'm sure pretty's when it comes to slowing for the TURNS that you really see a difference.
Also, get your promotors to extend the races to 30 mintues! These stinkin 4 lap motos are the only reason I will not race MX anymore. I don't feel like sitting around for 10 hours, and get 15 mintues riding time in, as well as be $35 lighter in the wallet.
You'll find with 30 mintue motos....a start is not even as important.....because you have more time to make it up :)

  • DaveJ

Posted November 01, 2001 - 08:47 AM


I think this is such a great question.

And Kfrosty - good job on the response.

As for me, I do nothing but survive on the track, (ie, I keep myself up and alive). I've jumped over and over again, and taken all the lines through each corner that I can find. Overall, I still suck.

Practice, or repetition, make us more and more comfortable with what we are doing, but it doesn't necessarily make us any faster.

The difference is finding the techniques that cause the bike and rider to grip in the corners, and sail over the bumps and jumps.

I don't think I can possible list all the things I do on a road bike when racing on the track, (my primary background). Body positioning, weight transfer, brake control fore and aft. Seems like there must be at least 30 transactions for each corner, and each corner having it's own unique order.

I have yet to learn if the dirt is the same thing, but when I see these guys sail past me, I'll have to assume it's just not about courage. In other words, about the only good it does to try and follow someone is to vaguely see their line.

Recently, I have learned the lessons about weighting the pegs at the right time, as well as when to let go of the bike, or squeeze it with my legs. Little things like sharp foot pegs and gripper seat covers and tape can really help. And I certainly cannot explain how important a good suspension set up is.

In other words, I'm can't give any advice except to apply a lot of intuition about exactly what the moves are order to get the job done. Pay VERY close attention to what makes a rider smooth, (since this is what generates speed), and then apply and test what you have learned.

None of this is really as easy as it seems.


  • drifter

Posted November 02, 2001 - 07:03 PM


go take a semics or bailey type mx school so you can learn the correct techniques. It doesn't matter if you practice 18 hours a day- if you are practicing using the wrong techniques, you are just going to get better at doing it the wrong way. then, you have bad habits to break later when you run into a brick wall and are not improving any more. good luck!! it would be the best $200 you would ever spend on the sport!

  • MikeOK

Posted November 02, 2001 - 08:14 PM


Races are won in three places. The start, whoops, and turns. You can't accelerate while you're in the air, so don't worry too much about making pretty jumps if you want to win. Remember, most beginners races should be re-named "sandbagger" races, so don't be too surprised if a couple guys blow everyone else away. Mainly just do as much practicing as you can, and ask the fast guys lots of questions as you progress. I made the mistake of racing the very first time I had ever been on a MX track. You might also want to find some local outdoor track and start practicing there before you take on SX...

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