Hey, do you want to ride better? I'm sure that you do! Doesn't everyone, especially C and B riders? Most riders don't understand the ins and outs about how to learn to ride better. They expect too much, too soon. They are limiting their improvement by going to the track and trying to figure things out while riding laps. The problem is, they keep making the same technical mistakes over and over again, reinforcing bad habits.
I understand that by the time you start your engine, you're raring to go! You don't want to be patient and slowly start learning new techniques. You can hardly wait to go out there and put out your best effort, getting your fix, right? Well, that may be the most fun, but by doing so, you are putting the buggy in front of the horse. In order to really improve, you should have a strategy in mind before your start that engine.
Depending on where you're riding, do you have to ride the entire track? Can you do sections? Or is there some practice drill areas such as a turn track, oval or figure 8? Even if you have to do laps, you should have one or two techniques in mind that you're going to stay aware of and practice. Instead of me listing examples, let me just say that this could be one or two of the 55 Absolute Techniques of Motocross found in the Motocross Practice Manual 2nd Edition. Okay, okay...I'll give you a few examples:
- "The 3-step rear braking techniques" (this is braking while standing, going from standing to sitting and then back onto the foot peg or out for the corning to begin exiting the corner).
- Using the front brake until you begin to exit the corner.
- How how far you're looking ahead.
- If you're on the balls of your feet or the arches and when you should be on either.
- Weighting the outside foot peg through a flat corner.
- Whether you're pre-loading the suspension or absorbing the jump.
And on and on... There are 55 Absolute Techniques you know!
Now, if you're in a Gung-ho kind of mood because you just came from the office and was stuck in traffic, then sure, go right out there and do some laps to release some stress. But once you've got yourself calmed down and the frontal lobe of your brain is reactivated, get to your practice strategies.
Through my over 25 years of teaching motocross lessons to all skill levels, I have found ways to get even the hardest learners to do many of the proper techniques in a matter of a few hours. And, this is in groups of 10 to 15 riders. How? By braking the technique down more and more until they could finally do at least the beginning of a technique properly. I'll use an example of the "3 step rear braking technique" mentioned earlier. I would say this is one of the techniques that I have taught the most over all those years and it has benefited the most riders.
So let's say that I have 12 beginner riders on an oval track where I'm teaching this technique. They are suppose to accelerate down the straight while standing, then, as soon as they shut the throttle off, they have to start braking hard with both front and rear brakes and continue braking until they get a quarter way into the corner. Then they need to go from standing to sitting (while still controlling the rear brake) and continue braking like this until they are at the apex of the oval turn. At this critical "transition" part of the corner, go from braking to accelerating by simultaneously letting go of the brakes and getting on the clutch and throttle.
Here's the process that would occur. After we have already tried the oval with just a verbal explanation which was a very unsuccessful regarding doing it correctly. Then we put all the bikes on their stands and spend more than a half hour practicing all the movements of this technique to the point that they could all do it correctly with this stationary practice method. Then it's back to the oval. I would put them out in 2 groups, in this case, 6 at a time. Most of the time none of the riders would be doing it correctly. What??? How could this be? They could all do it correctly in the stationary practice drill. It's like once the engine starts their brains disconnect from their bodies, like they can't think. Welcome to the world of a Motocross Instructor!
After much more critiquing of each rider, I could usually get 3 or 4 riders doing it correctly. Maybe several more were about half way correct, like they were using the rear brake properly when they were sitting down only. But, all the other riders weren't even close. Then I'd have the one or two guys who would never even touch the rear brake while standing and just very briefly while sitting. After more and more critiquing of these last one or two riders, we would have to move on to other techniques. It would just seem impossible for them to do it right. Nothing I could demonstrate, explain and rehearse in a stationary drill would put them over this deer in headlights, non-learning fog. I'd finally have to tell them to keep working at it and they'd get it and we'd move on.
This was up until 2010 when I discovered how to dissect the techniques into even smaller and smaller bite size pieces. Now, even with the hard learners, I had the tools to enable them to do these techniques correctly. Here's an example of breaking the "3 step rear braking techniques" down further. I would set a cone up on a straightaway of the oval. The cone would be where they would shut the throttle off and begin braking (rear brake only) while standing with their body weight back. I would also let them cheat by pulling the clutch in and locking up the rear brake. I mean come on, if you can't do this, you never even riddent a bicycle and you shouldn't be on a dirt bike! Thank goodness, they must have all ridden bicycles. I have never had a rider who couldn't do this.
Once they all did this drill enough, I'd put another part of the technique into the same drill. I would have them do the same, but not pull the clutch in. This taught them how hard they could brake without killing the engine. The next drill was to do the same as step one, while sitting instead of standing. Then it was the same while leaving the clutch out. Finally, the drill was to do the entire technique of braking while standing to sitting, still in a straight line. After enough practice, they were ready to do it on the oval into the corner. Sure, not all of them could do it correctly all the time (or even most of the time) but, all of them got a good feel for it at least a few times. Once they felt it, they knew it well enough to keep practicing it correctly. If not for these few hours, they would have ridden for the entire season or longer not even using the rear brake correctly.
I have always said and I'll say it again. A rider has to master all the basic techniques of motocross in order to really improve. So whether you have just come from the office, having been stuck in traffic, the construction site, school or even the gym, practice smartly. Build a good foundation, a building platform of all the proper riding techniques.
Confidence - "What I do is prepare myself until I know I can do what I have to do in the game."
(NFL Quarterback legend Joe Namath)
Courage - "Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks." (unknown)
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