New to dirt bikes -struggling with a couple things.

I've recently started riding dirt after 30 years of street riding, and am struggling with a couple things. Yesterday I spent the morning on a MX track, and identified a couple of issues. 

 

First -  I dropped the bike several times in corners. I did better on rutted corners with a little berm, but wide, smooth corners, down I go.  I know to get forward over the tank and turn the bar (more so than a street bike), but unless I drag my boot all the way through, the front washes out and I face plant. (This is a Florida track with loose sandy soil). The other aspects of track riding are coming along fine - I know to let the bike move around under me, no problem with mild whoops or a little bit of air on table tops, but I can't seem to get the hang of corners. I feel like an idiot.

 

Second - I know MX is a rigorous sport, but I'm out of breath after one lap, heart rate so high I feel nauseous. For the record, I'm very physically fit, both strength and aerobic-wise.  I'm guessing, it's just stress, or I'm 'fighting' the bike?

 

I have no aspirations of racing, I just happen to be close to some nice MX parks, and it's a good way build skill for trail riding, but OTOH, I don't want get hurt, either.

 

Any tips graciously welcome.

 

Mark

Slick, flat corners are the most difficult to master especially if they are off camber, so don't beat your self up too bad.

Your kidding yourself if you think you're going to master off road riding (especially MX) in no time because of your street bike experience.

The experience will definitely help, but dirt is a different world than pavement.

Most street riders are not accustomed to letting the bike slide. You'll get to where you actually "drift" the bike around flat slick corners in time.

Most of mastering it is learning to control the throttle and clutch when the track is slick. I actually try to find the magic position where both ends start to loose traction at the same time.

Start working the turn in the forward position, you should feel the back end let loose well before the front. Start moving back to regain traction in the rear - remember that position.

The next time around don't move as far forward and start applying more weight to the outside peg. Just keep practicing.

You'll find a balance point with practice you feel comfortable with, and before you know it, you'll have both ends drifting around the turn in a controlled fashion.

 

As far as you conditioning, as a previous athlete myself (wrestling, soccer and MX) I can tell you that MX is the most endurance demanding of the 3 for me.

 

If you ride in your comfort zone, and just try to have fun you should be able to avoid injury. You can even race, but you throw in the factor of the "other guy", just ride in your comfort zone.

If you are seriously competitive (ie can't stand to lose) - don't race - you'll find yourself doing things you are not comfortable with and it is really easy to get in over your head on a MX track. 

I'm not sure of the sand in Florida as I have never been there. But I grew up riding and replacing alot of bearings in fine silica sand. Stuff that is difficult to walk in let alone ride. I found that the best way to attack any turn in the track I had set up, was more weight back. Being up front too much while great on my upper track in the dirt/clay mixture. But down in the sand I would describe it in the cruising/ almost neutral posistion. Just have to adjust your weight and figure out that spot that feels right for you.

Getting fatigued. %75 is probably all in your head. There's alot processing up there. Add that to being new and not being comfortable yet you are wearing yourself out without even feeling like your riding that hard. Breath! Just go with the flow don't fight the bike.

Keep practicing and all these issues will start to become smaller and smaller.

1) Cornering is hard. It's the last thing you will be good at.  "Jump for show, corner for dough"

 

2) As you get older, conditioning doesn't transfer from one endeavour to another that well. Also, if you are new, you are working harder.

 

3) Sand is hard for new riders. Try another track. Hardrock in Ocala has 3 tracks and only one of them sand. It's not a pretty place but it's good for learning. Ask around your area about track surfaces.

 

4) Take some laps just working on corners. Slowly roll over the jumps and woops and relax on the straightaways. Give all your physical and mental energy to the corners.

 

5) Find an area you can practice brake slides. Helps you get comfortable with the rear end sliding.

 

6) Find some hills and climb them using both clutch and throttle. This is how you emerge from corners.

 

Btw, where in Florida? Maybe I can help you find a track.

"Sand is hard for new riders. Try another track. Hardrock in Ocala has 3 tracks and only one of them sand. It's not a pretty place but it's good for learning. Ask around your area about track surfaces.

 

Btw, where in Florida? Maybe I can help you find a track."

 

I live in Davie/Ft Liquordale. The Miami (Hialeah) track is about 15 min from my house, and is dirt, but, but it gets very crowded, since it's the only track in Broward/Dade area. The other day, I went to Okeechobee with a co-worker - it was empty, but it's too far to drive on a regular basis. Tracks n Trails in Punta Gorda has a beginner track and some trail options, but it's still nearly a 2hr drive.  From what I understand, there are "unofficial" areas you used to be able to go out in W Broward and ride open areas, but now they're ticketing and/or putting people in jail.

 

The frustrating thing about Davie is there are woods, horse and MTB trails everywhere, but no place to ride dirt bikes legally.  We're planning to move to Brevard in a couple years, which is an easy drive to a number of riding areas, but for now I need to find something workable.

Edited by Celtic Curmudgeon

Thanks for the replies, everyone. I've found the  only carryover from street riding is the controls on the bike are the same,  but the way the bike responds is totally different, and I just need to ride, ride, ride, until I figure it out.

 

As far as you conditioning, as a previous athlete myself (wrestling, soccer and MX) I can tell you that MX is the most endurance demanding of the 3 for me.

 

 

I do Crossfit and have played some rugby, which is pretty hard as well, and was still shocked at how taxing MX can be just getting around the track, let alone racing.

Celtic Curmedgeon, what was Okeechobee like - specifically the surface?  My dad lives down that way and I've considered hauling the bike with me on visits.

 

If you're looking for real off-road riding you've got to haul to Georgia, just north of Atlanta.  Durhamtown or Highland Park.   South Carolina Adventure Park is great too.  IMO Highland Park is the best off road riding - by far - in the Southeast.   Croom in Brooksville, FL is ok but it's still Florida -- flat in Sandy. If this temps you PM me and I'll find a link to a post I made with a detailed review of all these parks.

Celtic Curmedgeon, what was Okeechobee like - specifically the surface?  My dad lives down that way and I've considered hauling the bike with me on visits.

 

If you're looking for real off-road riding you've got to haul to Georgia, just north of Atlanta.  Durhamtown or Highland Park.   South Carolina Adventure Park is great too.  IMO Highland Park is the best off road riding - by far - in the Southeast.   Croom in Brooksville, FL is ok but it's still Florida -- flat in Sandy. If this temps you PM me and I'll find a link to a post I made with a detailed review of all these parks.

 

It's dirt, but soft, sandy dirt.  It's a lot bigger track than Miami, and my friend who was with me was pretty fast on it, since he knows what he's doing.  A few years down the road, I plan to spend most of my summers in the west, mostly trail riding CO, UT, AZ, etc.-  but that's likely not for 2-3 years. My wife and I go to Melbourne and Orlando a lot, and Croom's not too far from either.

Celtic, I've got 2 words for you ....   ALPINE LOOP

MX is very physically demanding...VERY.  Riding in sand is even worse (for a beginner).  

If you can find an open area, set up 2 cones (or rocks or whatever to mark 2 points) and just practice doing flat turns around them.  Trying the power slide is pretty advanced.  I would stick with more braking, clutch and throttle work.  Check out Gary Semics site, you can purchase a single video on cornering.  Some very good info on there. 

Find some nice winding sandy trails and ride those for a few days. You will amaze yourself with fast progress. Sand is just a bit tough in the turns, but experience will get you there pretty fast, especially if you hit the trails where you'll see 100 corners in 30 minutes.

Like all sports, fitness is activity specific. Ride more and you will get more fit to ride, but you will also learn how to conserve energy. I'm 54 and ride all day with 20 year olds.

A big , wet grass field and a half bald rear knobby is a great way to learn to sling the back of the bike around. You're trying to turn too much with the front tire where you don't have the traction to do so.

Keep up your momentum, and if you feel like you are going over, hit the gas.

I've recently started riding dirt after 30 years of street riding, and am struggling with a couple things. Yesterday I spent the morning on a MX track, and identified a couple of issues. 

 

First -  I dropped the bike several times in corners. I did better on rutted corners with a little berm, but wide, smooth corners, down I go.  I know to get forward over the tank and turn the bar (more so than a street bike), but unless I drag my boot all the way through, the front washes out and I face plant. (This is a Florida track with loose sandy soil). The other aspects of track riding are coming along fine - I know to let the bike move around under me, no problem with mild whoops or a little bit of air on table tops, but I can't seem to get the hang of corners. I feel like an idiot.

 

Second - I know MX is a rigorous sport, but I'm out of breath after one lap, heart rate so high I feel nauseous. For the record, I'm very physically fit, both strength and aerobic-wise.  I'm guessing, it's just stress, or I'm 'fighting' the bike?

 

I have no aspirations of racing, I just happen to be close to some nice MX parks, and it's a good way build skill for trail riding, but OTOH, I don't want get hurt, either.

 

Any tips graciously welcome.

 

Mark

 

stand up, it will give you better feel for what your front and rear wheel are doing in the sand. Getting forward over the tank works well when your riding aggressively, coming in fast and laying the bike over. But when your just learning, you want a more neutral body position to go with your riding style. You lose a lot of feel when you are sitting.

 

as for fitness it could be lots of thing. Falling burns a lot of energy. When picking up the bike and getting it started you will use more energy in a short amount of time then anything you experience riding. I would think if everything was going right, you wouldn't be getting that tired. Fast guys aren't just fast, they are also efficient on the bike. The last thing a beginner is thinking about is saving energy, they are just trying to stay upright.

 

The other thing to look at is fatigue. I recently started running an hour meter after purchasing a new bike, and after 5 track days i'm averaging 1.2 hours of engine run time.  With warm up and riding from the truck to the track that's probably less then an hour of hard ride time. When I was a beginner i remember riding from opening to 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Way  past what my body can handle. Maybe consider calling it a day earlier?

Edited by Blowin_Trannys

I've recently started riding dirt after 30 years of street riding, and am struggling with a couple things. Yesterday I spent the morning on a MX track, and identified a couple of issues. 

 

First -  I dropped the bike several times in corners. I did better on rutted corners with a little berm, but wide, smooth corners, down I go.  I know to get forward over the tank and turn the bar (more so than a street bike), but unless I drag my boot all the way through, the front washes out and I face plant. (This is a Florida track with loose sandy soil). The other aspects of track riding are coming along fine - I know to let the bike move around under me, no problem with mild whoops or a little bit of air on table tops, but I can't seem to get the hang of corners. I feel like an idiot.

 

Second - I know MX is a rigorous sport, but I'm out of breath after one lap, heart rate so high I feel nauseous. For the record, I'm very physically fit, both strength and aerobic-wise.  I'm guessing, it's just stress, or I'm 'fighting' the bike?

 

I have no aspirations of racing, I just happen to be close to some nice MX parks, and it's a good way build skill for trail riding, but OTOH, I don't want get hurt, either.

 

Any tips graciously welcome.

 

Mark

Cornering is an art form.  To get really good at it you have to have some talent, know all the techniques inside and out and then practice it frequently in many ways over a long period of time. 

 

There’s much more to cornering than just leaning over and going through the turn.  There are things like the angle of the corners, whether they’re banked or off-camber, sharp or sweeping, and the conditions of the track. Then there are the techniques of cornering between the rider and motorcycle. There are even techniques that affect the handling of the motorcycle in the corner. These techniques make the motorcycle either hold the track or brake loose and pivot, slide through the corner. 

 

In order to do a corner fast you need to carry as much speed as possible and as long as possible into the corner, slow yourself down just enough to still have control at the "Exit Transition", (the exit transition is where you go from braking to accelerating) and then get on the gas as soon and as hard as possible. In order to carry a lot of speed into the corners, you need to have a fast and late "Approach Transition" (the approach transition is where you go from accelerating to braking).  With this in mind, we can understand that a very important part of cornering is braking. To be good at cornering, you have to be good at braking.

 

Of course, all through the corner, you have to maintain complete relaxed control. Tightness and mistakes will only make you tired and slow you down, if not make you crash. Remember, you can only try as hard, and go as fast, as you can do the basic techniques correctly and maintain relaxed control. So, if you’re tight or making mistakes, you will benefit by slowing down, which in turn will allow you to learn how to go faster.

 

In others words, it takes much more finesse than just charging into the turns at full speed and hoping you’ll be able to make it when you get in there. You have to constantly anticipate exactly what is going to happen just before it happens. You have to know the exact line that you want to be on. That line should take you to the best possible traction for the exit transition. You see, it’s very important to know exactly where your front tire is going, so you can find the best traction at the most critical part of the turn. This is where you’re going to be turning the most, at the exit transition. Again, make sure your front tire is going exactly where you want it to go. If you’re doing the techniques correctly, the back tire will also go exactly where you want it to go. 

 

Take you're riding to the next level!

 

I'm very excited about training with Gary; I think his training and workout programs have a great deal to offer. When I first met Gary he pointed out the simplest things about my bike set up, once we made those changes there was a huge difference in my riding. He also has helped me with the positive mental thinking side of riding. That has helped enormously! I think my future will no doubt include Gary Semics, I think who else would I have train me other than the man that trained McGrath!

Ryan Villopoto #615

 

For much more in-depth cornering info see free previews and order DVDs or Streams online "Motocross Braking Techniques" DVD or Stream:  

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Since you are in pretty good shape it's most likely you are not fluid with the bike.  There are too many techniques to cover here.  I have been training riders for over 20 years on "The 55 Absolute Techniques of Motocross".  These fundamental techniques are found in my popular "Motocross Practice Manual" and throughout my Technique DVDs/Streams. I also have two Motocross Conditioning DVDs/Streams. 
 
 

 

Edited by Gary Semics

Garys videos are great!!, find a corner you want to master and ride it slow CORRECTLY, and build speed as you go. it works, i wish i had Gary in my back pocket , LOL

Just to follow up, after a few more trips to the track, I started getting the hang of it! I try not to overthink it, but the most helpful tips are getting forward into the tank, and pushing down on the outside peg.  One day at the track, it was empty, so they let me use the pee wee track (pathetic, I  know) to practice corners in both directions. It was clay, so that made things easier as well. I then spent the rest of the day lapping the novice track, and feel like I understand the basics a little better. I'm still clutching around in 2nd gear with little need for brakes, but hopefully the speed will come with more practice.

 

Also - the physical exhaustion was probably due to being a little nervous, and that's improved as well. Still tired after riding , but not hyperventilating after two laps any more.

 

One question - I know you're supposed to put the inside leg forward to weight the front, etc, but having had 2 knee surgeries, I'm a bit concerned about tearing something up if I wash out in that position -that joint just seems vulnerable doing that. Putting it out to the side flat-track style seems less injury prone. I'm I wrong on this?  Thanks again.

Edited by Celtic Curmudgeon

Just to follow up, after a few more trips to the track, I started getting the hang of it! I try not to overthink it, but the most helpful tips are getting forward into the tank, and pushing down on the outside peg.  One day at the track, it was empty, so they let me use the pee wee track (pathetic, I  know) to practice corners in both directions. It was clay, so that made things easier as well. I then spent the rest of the day lapping the novice track, and feel like I understand the basics a little better. I'm still clutching around in 2nd gear with little need for brakes, but hopefully the speed will come with more practice.

 

Also - the physical exhaustion was probably due to being a little nervous, and that's improved as well. Still tired after riding , but not hyperventilating after two laps any more.

 

One question - I know you're supposed to put the inside leg forward to weight the front, etc, but having had 2 knee surgeries, I'm a bit concerned about tearing something up if I wash out in that position -that joint just seems vulnerable doing that. Putting it out to the side flat-track style seems less injury prone. I'm I wrong on this?  Thanks again.

 

its not pathetic.... its good

theres 4 tracks at competative edge,

 

baby track without any whoops or elevation changes, hardly any banking or berms

a mini track for 50cc and up

a vet track which is fun

and a national track which is kinda big...

every time i go i ride the 450 on the mini track once

we also take the 1980 80cc elsinore and rip the mini track which is an absolute blast! i could do it all day if i were to somehow break my 450

 

 

One question - I know you're supposed to put the inside leg forward to weight the front, etc, but having had 2 knee surgeries, I'm a bit concerned about tearing something up if I wash out in that position -that joint just seems vulnerable doing that. Putting it out to the side flat-track style seems less injury prone. I'm I wrong on this?  Thanks again.

 

Your knees bend front and back , not sideways. Think about it.

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