RIDING/RACING TIPS

Feeling frustrated, confused, scared, or outright stupid? 

WSMX CAN HELP ! 

Topic: How do I convince my parents that Motocross is safe ? 
 
1. Have your parents contact me with their concerns.
2. CostYou can get started for a reasonable cost, if you start out with used equipment.  Prices generally start about $1,500 for a bike and $600 for gear.
3.  Is Motorcycling dangerous?  The answer is yes it can be, but if you take the time to get proper training, learn the proper techniques, get the proper bike for your height, weight and experience, use the proper riding safety equipment, and ride within your limits, you will experience a fun, exciting ride with little danger of injury.  Can you get injured?  Yes, but you can be injured in a variety of sports and activities.  Most injuries common to motorcycling are scrapes and bruises.  An occasional broken bone may occur, but in a play riding environment, chances for injury are far less than competitions.  Both can occur, but follow the advise given above along with maintaining your equipment properly and you can ride fairly injury free for years !
4.    Never ride alone !  If you are on trails, carry water and take a cell phone with you. 
5.    If you do sustain injury, most facilities have medical personnel on site!  If you have a buddy with you in a primitive area they can call or ride out for help. 
 Note:  I taught my children to ride at age 2 under a highly supervised program, with all the proper equipment, gear and rules to follow.  They have been riding now for 18 and 14 years respectively, without injury.  I have taught and witnessed disabled riders ride with confidence and skill.  I have taught a girl who is totally deaf, and she's now an accomplished racer.  I have taught street riders, visually impaired riders, and even a Japanese rider who didn't speak a word of English !  If you have the desire and follow a path of common sense and training, riding is a wonderful, fun, fulfilling sport that can be enjoyed by the entire family ! Please have your parents contact me if they have any further questions and concerns.  

Topic: Getting Started in Women's Racing

What is it like to be a woman in the sport of motorcycling ?  Do the same desires, drive , determination and skill as their male counterparts ?  How do you get started in the sport if you are female ? Are there any obstacles to overcome ? Where do you go to get started ?  What kind of bike is best for you ? What kind of gear will fit ? What is your price range? Where do you ride?  Are there any female riders in your area ?  Is your boyfriend, husband or other riding partners supportive of your decision to ride?  Are there any schools specifically designed for women?  Is there a womens off road organization that can help you get started and provide information on womens events, ride areas, connect you with other riders?  What kind of support is offered through organizations such as the AMA, clubs, OEMs, and aftermarket companies?  In short, HOW DO I GET STARTED ? 

Getting started can be somewhat overwhelming and intimidating, but it doesnt have to be that way.  There is a growing market of female riders eager to help you get started into the exciting world of off road riding.

BREAKING OUT 

You are not weird, masculine, or trying to prove something to the male gender, because you love riding.  In fact the opposite is true.  Riding is a sport that is best enjoyed by riding with others.  Riding is one of the few sports in the world that almost anyone can do regardless of their age or gender. Riding is about families, friends, adrenaline, speed, trails, racing, laughter, and most of all fun !  The bottom line is if you have the desire, GO FOR IT !

GETTING STARTED 

Your first order of business should be learning to ride.  Odds are good that you know someone who rides, who can teach you the basics of riding.  Be sure to borrow safety equipment from them and wear it, before attempting riding.  Your riding partner and teacher should be someone experienced and patient.  Women riders learn on a different learning curve then men.  You may need to gently remind them that they were once a first time rider.  Be sure to start in an un-congested open area with easy terrain.  It may not be the most exciting area for your tutor, but is the best place for you.!  Start with the basics.  One of the first things I like to do is lay the bike on its side.  I know it sounds silly, but if you cant pick it up without assistance, its too big !  Next, go over the controls on the machine.   Set the bars and levers for you in the proper positions.  Check the suspension, and set the sag.  As a general rule 95-105mm of sag or 3.5 to 4.0 " puts you in the ballpark.   This is done, by measuring the distance between two points with the suspension unloaded.  Translated this means, put your bike up on a stand and measure from say the fender edge to the center of the rear axle.  Next sit on the bike off the stand in your riding gear.  Bounce up and down on it a few times to settle the suspension.  With your weight evenly distributed (full weight on the machine) have someone take the measurements again.  The difference in the measurement is your sag discussed previously.  It is critical that you get this right!   Start the bike.  Again, if you cant start it, its probably too big .  Once you have the bike started, work on feeling the release of the clutch, smooth and easy.  Next work on starting and stopping using the both brakes smoothly and controlled and shifting.  Remember to look ahead and be aware of your surroundings.  As you get comfortable on the bike, pay attention to how the suspension feels.  Is it too stiff and hard?  Is it too soft and wallowing?  Does it try to kick you over the bars?  In short does it inspire confidence, or terror?  Work on mastering these basics before attempting more advanced riding.  Always ride with a buddy and don't be afraid to ask questions!  You have now opened the door to the freedom and excitement riding offers.

VISIT YOUR DEALER

With the basics mastered and a desire to ride, your next stop is a visit to your local dealer.  They are your best source for information, set up and equipment needed to make your riding experience enjoyable.  Take someone with you to your dealer who is an experienced rider and has your best interests at heart.   Find out what bikes are available, that fit your height, ability. Be sure you can handle the weight of the machine, and that the controls are easy to reach and operate.  Once you have some idea, what bike cc is best for you, go out riding with some friends and try out the bike types and sizes you are interested in.  This will give you hands on experience about what your needs as a rider are, which will allow you to make a educated decision on what bike is best for you, before you buy. 

While you are in the dealership take time to try on all the equipment you will need.   Make note of the brands and sizes that fit you best.  Price the items you will need.  Ask the dealer to assist you with their knowledge of the products for value, durability and warranties.   This will help you make the best choice for you.  Dont just go by the lowest price.  While these items can save you money getting started, they also have a tendency to wear out quickly.   Try to purchase the best quality equipment at a fair price.  Remember, the dealer wants your business.  Establish an open and honest association with them.  If they arent willing to answer your questions or educate you on the best value for your purchases, take your business to someone who will.

SO YOU WANT TO RACE

Where do you start?  Be sure that you have mastered the basics of riding before you attempt to race.  The best way to start is by attending open practice days at a track.   Call the track and find out what days and times they practice.  What is their track like?  Does it fit your skill level ?  Do they have a track area available for beginning riders?  Do you need to practice more before going to the track?  The last thing you want to do is go out and have a poor experience because you were not ready or you picked a Supercross track to start on instead of a wide, flatter style course with rolling jumps.

Some of the tracks that Beginning riders prefer for their rolling, flatter design are LACR, Perris, Glen Helen (some hills).  These tracks offer obstacles easier for the beginner rider while still offering a challenge for the advanced rider, when negotiating at speed.  Tracks such as Carlsbad, Lemon Grove, Glen Helen, Starwest, Castaic offer more hilly terrain, Supercross or advanced obstacles.  All are loaded for fun and waiting for you.  Most tracks require you to join a club, or pay a few dollars more to race with them if you are not a member.  Fees to join average about $ 35.00.  Average race fee is between $ 20-35.00, and gate fees vary between $10-15.00.   Your dealer, Cycle News and other publications can be a great source of information on tracks, legal riding areas, and equipment. 

SCHOOLS

WSMX ( Women's School of Motocross) is the only School to offer Motocross, Desert, Off Road and Cross Country, and Boot Camp training for women, men and youth on a weekly basis across the country. WSMX offers private or group instruction, from learn to ride to advanced.  WSMX utilizes a staff of Championship Pro Women trainers in 6 states and will travel anywhere in the country to teach. Debbie Matthews, CEO Of DM Sports and WSMX, organized Boot Camp  Motocross Schools offered yearly with guest factory riders. Previous school guest trainers have been Doug Dubach, Mike Kiedrowski, Greg Albertyn and Jeff Emig. Other schools are available with mixed classes. Do your research and determine which one best fits your needs.

SUPPORT 

In recent years support for women riders is on the increase. Through the efforts of Debbie Matthews and Elaine Ruff (co founders of the WML in 1995) and DM Sports-WSMX founded by Matthews in 1999, information on womens programs is being networked across the country. Dealers are becoming increasingly aware of the female market. Women riders are recognized by factory efforts including the Team Green program. Contingency programs for women riders are also on the upswing, as well as support for deserving female riders. Women's clothing companies are starting to crop up everywhere. There is even a chest protector designed especially for women! AMA and Factory support is growing along with a strong surge from the aftermarket from companies who have also thrown their support behind the growth of the womens market.

WHO WAS THE WML ? And now who is the WMA

The WML is the U.S. Womens Motorcycle League.  Debbie Matthews co founded the WML with Elaine Ruff and Jim Trimble in 1996 and created as Race Director for the WML, (1994-1999) the first Womens Stadium-cross Championship, AMA Womens Outdoor National Motocross Championship Series and promoted several AMA Ladies World Cup MX Championships, Motocross Schools, and contributed articles and photos for the newsletter, before retiring as an officer to Found DM Sports-WSMX, Inc.   Since Matthews and Ruff's departure, Mikki Keller took over the reigns and rebranded the organization as the WMA.  (Women's Motocross Association)

WHO DO I CONTACT?

For more information on riding areas, clubs, or support contact Debbie Matthews at DM Sports-WSMX, Inc. at 949-338-0602.

 Topic: Getting Sponsored

One of the most frequent questions I am asked, is for information on how to obtain sponsorship. Everyone wants sponsorship and the recognition that comes with it but few are willing to accept the responsibility for that support. When you are picked up by a company for support, they in exchange for your endorsement and use of their product or services have expectations of you. You are in effect a representative of their company and products. You are expected to act professional in your appearance, manners, and actions. Everything you do and say reflects upon the company supporting your efforts. When this system works properly, both parties benefit. The sponsor receives much needed advertising , visibility, and promotion, while you as a competitor, receive the reward of financial freedom to pursue your dreams.

The first thing you should do when you decide you are ready for support, is to make a list of the kind of support you need. What companies products do you use most frequently ?

Next, you should ask yourself, what kind of service can I offer a potential sponsor ? What races am I planning to attend ? You then should get a list of the contingency programs offered by the factories. Find out which races are the most important to them, and are you in a position to attend some or all of them ?

Next you need to decide which companies you will seek assistance from. Locate their names and addresses out of magazine ads, or ask your dealer for assistance. If possible, call the companies you are interested in. Find out who is in charge of support and when the best time is to submit your information to them.

Pick only the products and companies you believe in !!!!! You will be a much more effective representative for your sponsor if you truly believe in the product you represent.

Create a concise resume. Be sure it is typed. Include your name, address, phone, age, experience/ranking, class(es) competing in, and memberships. List in order your accomplishments, goals, and what you can do for them. A photo isn't necessary, but it does dress up the resume. You are now ready to send out your resume.

After sending the resume allow 2-3 weeks for a response. If you haven't heard back, make a follow up call to your prospective sponsor. First, this allows you to verify they received it and get some idea of their timetable. Second, this will show them your serious about their support. This tactic is useful as it makes them take a second look, and places it on top of the pile (and I do mean pile) of resumes they need to review for support.  Wait patiently for a response. As the timetable deadline approaches they gave you for a response, you may wish to contact them one last time, to again show your desire to ride for them. DO NOT BECOME A PEST !

The moment of truth has arrived. You run to the mailbox and find a letter from your potential sponsor. Read it carefully. If it is a favorable response, CHEER, and then set it aside, until you receive all the competing companies responses to your request for support. Compare the responses to determine which company has the best program to benefit you. If the response is negative, be positive ! Be sure to thank the company for considering you for support, and you will contact them next year. Do not get discouraged. Stay positive and keep trying. It is important to build rapport. When they get to know who you are, and what you can do for them, you will gain support.

Read all contracts carefully for your responsibilities as a rider. Be sure you can follow through on all that is expected of you. Once you are sure of what they expect from you, and of what they will do for you in return, sign the contract and return it to them, after you have made a copy for yourself. REMEMBER: BE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND CLEARLY YOUR OBLIGATIONS PRIOR TO SIGNING ANY CONTRACT !

As your season progresses, keep your sponsor updated. Even if you cannot compete, let them know what's happening. Be enthusiastic ! Your sponsors will hear about it !

Lastly, If you experience a problem with a sponsor or product, DO NOT bad mouth them. Try and rectify the problem, and then if it cannot be resolved, ask them for a release from your contract. If one is not granted, be professional and finish out your contract before seeking elsewhere. If they release you from your contract, thank them for their assistance, and then, pursue other options. This way you will not burn a bridge you may need later on.

One last tip: Remember, Be Professional in all your dealings. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES SELL OR GIVE AWAY PRODUCT YOUR SPONSOR HAS DESIGNATED FOR YOUR USE ! The company is sponsoring you, not the neighborhood ! People will tell you, you can afford it, they won't know, but this is a lie ! SPONSORS MONITOR USAGE ! Don't jeopardize your ride because someone is too lazy to work for support. You worked for and earned your support, they didn't.

Topic: Negotiating Contracts

As sports gain popularity, opportunities increase for the participants, sometimes at an accelerated rate. When this happens it becomes imperative that the participants in those sports become educated on the opportunities available and the responsibility that follows.

As Women's racing gains popularity and exposure, sponsorships will follow, and it is important to understand the role you play as a supported rider. With any type of support, comes a responsibility to those that support you. You are contracted to perform certain duties or services for your sponsors, in exchange for their support of your racing efforts.

Contracts come in several types both verbal and written. It is vital to understand that A VERBAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN PEOPLE OR COMPANIES IS EVERY BIT AS BINDING ON YOU AS A WRITTEN CONTRACT!

In my 26 year racing experience I have been involved in many contracts, some verbal and some written. It is imperative that you as a rider UNDERSTAND CLEARLY WHAT IS EXPECTED OF YOU in exchange for the support you receive. ANY HELP YOU RECEIVE whether in the form of discounts, free product or cash, CONSTITUTES SUPPORT, and an agreement between two parties, THAT IS LEGALLY BINDING TO YOU.

For this reason I have learned by experience that IT IS BEST TO GET A FORMAL WRITTEN CONTRACT. This is important for two reasons. First, it makes all parties aware of the responsibilities consequences, and expectations of the agreement. Second, it is an insurance policy for you. This paper is a written account of the agreement between you and your sponsor. For example: If ABC company offers you clothing but there is no written contract, how many sets are you allotted per year? Are there any exceptions? If you exceed the allotment are there any penalties? Do you have a clause that allows you to purchase any additional product should you exceed the maximum?

Most of all from a riders perspective, THIS IS YOUR INSURANCE POLICY that they follow up on their commitment to you. I can't tell you how many times reputable companies have fallen through on an agreement with a rider because the person that was handling your DEAL, left the company, and no one there knows about the arrangement. Usually when this happens, it wasn't a REAL support ride in the first place. It usually is help from an individual at the said company, rather than the company itself, in which case the company is not legally bound. These deals however are not always bad.  Sometimes this can be a great way to get your foot in the door, and expand on the support you receive from there. Many of my support rides started out in a similar manner only to evolve into full support within a year or so.

It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT WHEN YOU RECEIVE A CONTRACT TO GET A COPY OF IT. I usually take a photocopy of it before I return it to the sponsor. I also make sure that they send me a copy SIGNED by the person offering the support. The reason I take a copy prior to returning my signed copy to them is so I have a record should anything go wrong.

I also negotiate contracts for my daughter, which we have been doing since she was 7 years old. When we receive the contracts, I go over them with her line by line and make sure she understands what her responsibilities are as a rider, BEFORE she signs anything. By doing this we have avoided many headaches that could have arisen, had we not followed this procedure. 

It is important that you FOLLOW ALL AGREEMENTS YOU MAKE on your contracts. Believe it or not, by simply omitting a sponsor decal, you could jeopardize your ride. It never fails; the one decal that you fail to put on your bike, gear, or vehicle belongs to the sponsor who happens to show up at the track to witness your contract failure.  

It is also very important to realize that people constantly surround you from the industry that can affect your ride even if they do not represent the company you ride for! If they witness improper actions by you or your crew these can be reported to the company you ride for. The other possibility is that they might have been a potential sponsor for you, but you just blew that opportunity by your actions. If you are upset, or speaking about things, be aware of your surroundings at all times. THE RIDE YOU SAVE COULD BE YOUR OWN! Take the time to cool off and discuss problems calmly and professionally.

Finally, BE LOYAL! In an industry where loyalty is a rare thing, you can EXTEND YOUR VALUE to your sponsors by being loyal. A rider that is honest and loyal will keep their sponsors longer and build upon them. I hope this article will be of value to you as you negotiate the sometimes-tricky waters of sponsorship.

CONTRACT REVIEW

1. Understand the role you play as a sponsored rider

2. Know your responsibility as a contracted rider. Contracts come in both written and verbal forms, both are legally binding!

3. Any help you receive constitutes an agreement and is considered a contract

4. Be a role model

5. Be professional in dress and conduct at all times

6. Memorize your sponsors

7. Be knowledgeable about your sponsor, products and services

8. Use your sponsor's products

9. Your sponsor belongs to you! You earned that ride! Don't jeopardize your ride for anyone !

10. Get a written contract

11. Know the limits of your agreement, can they be altered ?

12. Get and keep a copy of the contract for your records signed by you and the person offering the contract

13. Be sure the contract is has contracted period of support on the document

14. Be sure you understand the contract and what is expected of you.

15. Follow up on all agreements

16. Professional presence includes stickers on your bike, gear, trailer, etc.

17. Remember and be aware of your surroundings

18. Know who your sponsors are.

19. Keep your sponsors informed of your progress. Good or bad

20. Develop a personal relationship with them

21. Be loyal

22. Be honest

23. Evaluate the product and it's performance. Report back to your sponsor in a clear, concise and professional manner. A good Sponsor will appreciate your input

24. If possible hand out cards or flyers at the events with your name and sponsors info. Tell them to contact your sponsor and tell them you sent them. This lets your sponsor know you are working for them and deserve the help they are giving you. Usually this results in more support from that sponsor because of your efforts and professional manner, and more sales for your sponsor

25. Discuss problems rationally and professionally

26. Extend your value

Topic: Help, I've crashed and lost all of my confidence 

 This is a problem common to riders of all ages, skill levels and experience.  While it is a very common problem, solutions and regaining that edge can be frustrating.  You have to realize that fear is your bodies way of protecting itself from danger, real or imagined.  Once your recognize this and learn to work with it, instead of becoming frustrated you are on the road to regaining your confidence.  

The mind perceives things in many different ways : Physical- (getting hammered hard into the dirt when you fall-pain-OUCH ), Emotional-(How much fear/stress occurred before, during and after the crash, OH... *[email protected]#**), Stress Trauma-(combination of emotional and physical trauma  OH... *[email protected]#** / OUCH ) and Memory (stored knowledge and experience).

When you fall, a Memory is stored within the body.  There are two types of memory in your body.  Brain Memory (record of the emotional trauma) and Muscle Memory (record of the physical trauma).  Both are important to recognize in your recovery process.  These memories will affect the way your brain perceives a crash and or injury, and your ability to regain your confidence.  These memories also have a major effect on your health, well-being, stress, recovery, and training.  For instance:  Muscle Memory-provides the ability for your muscles to perform a task repetitively, such as riding a motorcycle, lifting weights, etc.  Ever notice rider's that have ridden for many years can come back from an injury or time off and recover their lost speed and fitness many times quicker than a new rider?  The answer is stored in the muscle memory of the individual.  Your brain works much the same way via stored Brain memory or knowledge and experiences.  When you experience an increase in knowledge or experience in life, your brain stores it for future use.  Good or bad, it doesn't matter, the brain stores all accumulated knowledge and experience.  When a situation comes along that stimulates the memory, your body and mind will react according to the knowledge and experience stored in the brain.  

What I've learned in my years of riding, racing and crashing, is that alot of your "FEAR FACTOR" comes from how your mind perceives the crashYou can literally fall over in a turn at 10 miles an hour and experience the same type of "Fear" as shorting a double and endoing in 4th gear.  I've had several get-offs where the crash was huge, but my mind didn't perceive it as bad, and I continued to rail !  Only to find on another day, experiencing a simple low speed fall, and getting up feeling uneasy, skittish, or scared !  The trauma can go both ways, slow or fast !  It doesn't matter whether you were injured in the crash or not, it's all about perception.  It's not necessarily how hard you crash, but how your mind perceived the crash based off the info your brain registered from your 5 senses (Touch, Smell, Taste, Sight, Hearing) and muscle and brain  memories from previous falls.

So, the question is, How do I remedy the problem and regain my confidence?  While the way to regain your confidence is in reality very simple, the problem becomes complicated emotionally because your brain is a war with itself.  One side is pushing you to GO FOR IT, because it knows you can do it, while the other side of the brain, REMEMBERS the crash and reacts to the memory by instilling fear, which results in a lack of confidence.  THIS IS WHEN YOU ARE THE  MOST DANGEROUS TO BE AROUND !  

When your Confidence suffers and Fear rules your mind, you don't ride and react the way you normally would do.  Because you are stiff, fearful and constantly fighting with yourself mentally, you try too hard and overcompensate becoming frustrated, or  worse yet, Extremely Indecisive.  When this battle rages, you are dangerous to yourself, and most certainly to other riders around you.  You can see this battle within a rider, because they will hesitate or change their mind while attempting obstacles, lack the fluidity the fluidity they once had, slow down, quit, become agitated easily, discouraged or make excuses for their performanceIronically, the more the rider focuses in the problem, the worse or longer it takes to overcome it.

The secret is to remove your mind from the place it feels threatened.  Take the time to try and relax.  Get back riding as soon as possible.  Avoid high pressure situations if possible such as racing.  Instead, go out trail riding with friends, do something fun in your riding that relaxes you or comes easy to you, relax, breathe, and think about how much fun you are having, just ride !!!    If you need to race, just go out and ride !  Use the time to regain your flow by focusing on the track or your form instead of what place you are in.  Look around you, learn from others, relax, have fun ! Before you know it, you will be having fun again, riding relaxed and the speed and confidence will return.  YOU MUST HAVE PATIENCE !  I  promise you, the more you do this, the easier and quicker your mental recovery from a crash will be.  Fight it, place demands on it, try to force it, and you may find yourself crashing again, or worse getting hurt, and the process will take longer because you  became frustrated, failed to relax and let it come in it's own time.  

The choice is yours....Fear and Falling or Relax and Win !

Topic: What Should I eat? 

You want to eat a well balanced diet of protein and carbohydrates through the week.   As for race/ride day breakfast, again eat light, bananas (good source of potassium) oatmeal, even a light course of bacon and eggs or waffles works, depending on your bodies reaction to the food.  All bodies are different, so keep a log to chart which foods and groupings work best for you. 
 
Take a good multi vitamin daily.  Again, find one that your body likes.  If it makes you feel ill, it has too much of something in it for your body's needs.  Make sure you have enough Magnesium, calcium and potassium in your diet.  This will have a great effect on your performance and recovery.  If you are cramping, adjust your training to strengthen the area and be sure to stretch before and after you ride.  Cramping can also be a sign of low potassium, or calcium.  If you smell a strong ammonia odor after exercise, your Magnesium levels are too low. 
 
Eat light at the races.  Complex Carbs through the day for energy, protein for lunch if possible (such as a ham, chicken, sandwich) and fruit for lunch.  Try to avoid Turkey on race day, as it releases a chemical called triptafayne into the blood, causing you to become tired which may affect your performance.  Eat protein for dinner to help rebuild, along with a balanced meal. 
 
Be very careful about energy bars.  If they make you ill, do not use them.  Energy drinks are fine, but generally you want to cut them down with water, so they will absorb faster into your system.  Drink plenty of fluids.  If you wait till you are thirsty to drink, your body is already dehydrated.  Drink a minimum of one quart of fluids a day during the week.  On race day I usually drink 1-2 gallons.  Avoid sugary drinks and food.  Listen to your body.  If it is low on energy, you probably need more carbs, if you crave meat (such as a burger) your body need more protein. 
 
Try to alternate your workouts between strength exercises and endurance training, which will allow your muscles to recover properly.  Do not work out the day before the races, as it may tire you for the event.  If anything, do a light cycle, and stretch.  Be sure to give your body the day off from strenuous activities so it will be fully charged for the race.
 
Lastly, don't forget to drink plenty of fluids, get good rest prior to the race.   2 days prior to the race is the most important, so even if you can't sleep race night, if you have sufficient sleep during the week you will be ok. 
 
Topic: Should I lower the seat height, and how? 
As far as the height issue, be sure the bike is set up properly for you (height, weight, riding skill, type of riding).  This can be done by changing oil height, backing off the spring, putting in different springs and/or making any necessary changes to your suspension set up such as compression and rebound. Once the suspension is set properly, the bike should sag about 3.5 inches with your weight on it.  Be sure the front fork suspension is adjusted as well.  As long as you can touch on the balls of your feet, you are ok.  When you are out riding, Get creative: Find a rock, bike stand or a rut to alter the distance you need to touch the ground, or start the bike easily.  If you still find yourself too high, but you love the bike, there are also ways you can lower the bike, but be careful.  Alot of them mess up the handlebar, footpeg, seat height measurements that are very critical to maintaining good control as well as body and joint alignment with the bike.  If you cut the seat, be sure to modify the handlebar height and footpeg locations to accommodate the changes to maintain the proper distance and ratio between them.  

Topic: Starts

The most important ingredients to a good start are practice, patience, timing and anticipation. Pick a straight , short line to the first turn you feel comfortable with. Watch the starter several races prior to your start get a feel for any tendencies he/she may have that will tell you they are about to drop the gate. Watch several starts and see if most the good starts are coming from a particular area. Pick an area that is free from crooked ruts, deep dirt and rocks. Clean your start area and line yourself up straight. Think about what options you can utilize if you don't get the desired start. Be positive. 

 

Starts are a mind game too, so don't line up next to someone who you aren't comfortable with if it can be avoided. Chances are you will be focusing on them, rather than yourself which is a recipe for disaster. Picture yourself getting the desired start. Try to stay as calm as possible. Maintain regular breathing and focus, but stay relaxed. Put all distractions out of your mind. 

Check the clutch disengagement (traction) prior to your start so you have an idea how much throttle to give it coming off the line. Wait until about 5-10 seconds before the gate drops to put into gear. START IN SECOND GEAR. Trust me on this. There is only a handful of times where first gear is appropriate. Your bike has more than enough power for most applications and you will have a more controlled start. Place your full weight on the seat with your body in the neutral position on the front area of the seat. DO NOT LEAN FORWARD AT THIS TIME. Feet should be placed in front of the pegs, throttle 1/2 to 3/4 open, utilizing a re-grip or over grip.

Look at the gate next to you, to the side of your gate, or at the pin. Try to avoid looking directly ahead on your gate as your eyes pick up peripheral movement faster than straight on. Get the clutch disengaged to where it wants to go, but you maintain control. If the gate slopes downward, hold your front brake on as well. Utilize 1-2 fingers on both the brake and clutch. Using more fingers results in a loss of control and possibly a slower reaction. As the gate falls, release the brake (if you used it) and clutch simultaneously, releasing the clutch in a controlled release which may involve slipping the clutch a little to maintain good forward momentum. REMEMBER IT IS A CLUTCH FEED, NOT A DROP.  Do not dump/drop it or release/snap it hard. If you do this you will have a tendency to wheelie or spin the back tire losing time. Release the clutch in a smooth, precise release. Just as you release the clutch and the bike begins to move forward, be sure that you are moving your body forward with the release of the clutch. This way you are moving with the bike, rather than being pulled along. Get your feet on the pegs as quickly as possible. DO NOT drag them behind you.

Practice a smooth, quick transition with your feet from on the ground to on the pegs, squeezing your legs or keeping them tight to the tank as you bring them onto the pegs. This will help keep the bike straight and allow for quick shifting. Power on the shifts, do not back off. Sometimes slipping a little clutch during shifts can aid the power delivery and assist in quick starts. Keep a finger on the clutch for quick fanning action if necessary. If the bike wheelies, do not back off the throttle. Pull in the clutch slightly to drop the front end without backing off the throttle. REMEMBER-THROTTLE CONTROLS SPEED, CLUTCH CONTROLS POWER DELIVERY AND SPEED !!!  

Look where you want to go. Be aware of your surroundings, but don't over react to them. Brake standing, avoiding locking it up and sliding through the turn. You want to brake effectively and controlled as deeply as possible still maintaining momentum and control. For concrete, starts are very similar. The main difference is that you want to roll your butt cheeks back into the seat a little more and come off the gate without quite so much throttle as dirt, then hit it hard on the throttle as you hit the dirt. Too much throttle on the concrete you will spin the tire, wheelie and/or bog the motor.

Note- I am not a big fan of smoking the tire to warm it up on a concrete start pad. Yes, it helps clean your pad and warm up the tire, but a warmed up clutch and good throttle control will yield a better start and not toast your $100 knobby in the process. Knobby's are something that you need for the next 20 minutes, and if you just rounded them all off on the start, how effective will your cornering and braking be for the entire moto with a bald knobby.... Food for thought. 

Topic: Steep Downhills

Generally speaking, you will be crouched in the attack position with your weight further to the rear.  The steeper the hill, the further back you will need to be to counter the weight transfer to the front wheel as you descend.  You want to stay light on the bike with your joints slightly bent.  Stay fluid with the bike.  Do not let it pull you along.  It is really important to kick the bike up a few gears to allow it to roll and have some momentum behind it.  Since you are not in neutral, you will have some engine braking naturally to assist you.  Avoid locking up the brakes.  Use front and rear as you descend, with a gentle pull on the controls.

If you feel the bike skid, release the controls to regain control and gently apply pressure again.  If  you are in too low of a gear, the bike will skid causing a loss of control.  As long as the bike is skidding, your momentum will increase and you have little control till it stops sliding.  This is why you want to maintain a speed you are comfortable with as you descend, so you can avoid locking the controls and losing control.  Another way to control the skid, if you are in too low of a gear is to use the clutch to control you descent as well.  By pulling in and releasing the clutch, you can keep the bike from stalling and use your engine braking very effectively.  A technique used by more advanced riders if the hill is relatively smooth and has a straight run out, is to shift the bike into a higher gear and apply throttle while dragging the rear brake slightly.  This will allow you to increase your momentum down the hill and utilize the gyro effect caused by the wheels spinning to straighten you out and propel you forward as you descend.  

Whenever possible, keep your feet on the pegs, you will have much better control and balance.  If the hill is really steep and freaks you out, look over the entire hill and choose the basic route you will want to follow, then, pick a section of the hill at a time to focus on ( 20-40 feet) as you start your descent.  I find this really helps, when I am descending a really intimidating hill.  By focusing on a particular section of the hill, I am not overwhelmed and can better relax and concentrate on the immediate real estate in front of me.

Topic: Jumping
 
Jumping is a form of continuous movement and flow between your bike, body and the track.  There is a certain poetry attached to it when all three elements combine together to get the rhythm and flow necessary to make a successful fun jump.  Below are the key points.
 
Look ahead where you want to go .  When exiting a corner, at the apex of the turn (as you change direction), Turn your head and look ahead, down the track to your next obstacle
 
Decide before you get to the jump (or other obstacle) what your objective is. (do you want height, distance, to be low to the ground, etc), what line will best help you in your objective and what is the best jumping technique to accomplish this.  
 
Approach the jump in the Attack position-This is accomplished by centering your body in such a way that you are perfectly balanced on the motorcycle.  This can be achieved standing or seated.  It is generally best that you stand 90-95% of the time and sit in the corners.  When you stand you can read the terrain and obstacles much more quickly and be in a better position to handle them.  If you are sitting, your vision is limited and if you hit something you are not prepared for, YOU will become part of the problem!  To visualize this think about the difference between going down the road in a small car vs. a large truck.  When you are in the larger vehicle, your overall view increases, putting you in a better position to read the road, access the obstacles and avoid unnecessary contact.  The best way to discover this position is to place your bike on a stand which lifts both wheels off the ground in such a way that the front and rear of the motorcycle are balanced (weight evenly distributed).  Stand up on the motorcycle while it remains on the stand and find maintain that perfect balance with you on the machine.  Be sure you get into the proper attack position which is to stand on the footpegs on the balls of your feet, with your knees bent slightly  gripping the seat(or upper claves for tall people), with your body in a relaxed position that reminds you of Governor Swartznegger wrapping his arms around the world, or another way to put it is to keep your butt tucked in, your back curved, relaxing your shoulders, while your arms are out away from your body also maintaining a slight bend in the elbows with your head over the handlebars so that you can easily look down and be able to read your front number plate.  Raise your head to allow your to look forward to see where you are going.  If the position is correct, you should be able to rotate your feet forward and back and not touch the brake or shifter.  When you want to use those controls simply bring your foot forward keeping your foot on the control until you are done with it and then rotate yourself back onto the balls of your feet.  Your head should be over the bars (for reference you can look down and see your front number plate), eyes forward, back and shoulders relaxed (hunched), elbows up and out with a light grip on the bars in an overgrip or re-grip position.  If you look in a mirror or have someone analyze your technique, you should be able to draw a straight line from your feet to your knees and hips, creating balance. If you are out of position (balance) you will not be able to maintain the integrity of the line seen from a side view.   The curvature of you back and bending of the joints is critical in maintaining a flow of energy and balance.   The idea is to have the energy come through the bike into your feet, knees, back and out into your arms without  being stopped along the way.  This way the energy or hits flow through you instead if pinpointing in any one spot or hyper extending a joint.    If you come in with a pain in you lower back, be sure the suspension is set up properly for you.  Once that is established, if your lower back hurts you do not have a curve in your back and all the energy is being directed to your lower back instead of flowing through you.  By the same token if the area between your shoulder blades is tight, you are not relaxing your shoulders, sitting up too straight and leading with your chest.  This will usually cause you to drop your arms, severely affecting your leverage capabilities and generally put more weight on the front, as opposed to being balanced.  If you sit, be sure again to keep the curvature in your back and shoulders to eliminate this problem and maintain your energy flow and rhythm. 
 
Approach the jump, select a gear that will pull strongly in the meat of the powerband.  If you can pull the jump in a higher gear, without bogging the bike on your takeoff, do so.  This will allow maximum lift and a softer landing.   
 
With the higher gear you may need to clutch on your take off and landing.  By taking off in a higher gear, the back wheel will spin slower, giving you more lift and distance.  Revving the bike in too low of a gear will cause the back wheel to spin faster, driving you to the ground sooner and limiting the distance and height you may need.  Be sure to feed the power using the clutch on takeoffs and landings to maximize your power and control your landing.  Remember...The Clutch controls Power delivery only, while the Throttle controls Power and Speed!  In Essence, if you don't want to go any faster, but want to achieve good power delivery learn to "feed or feel" the clutch to maximize and control the power delivery.  This results in much faster lap times.
 
Throttle and Body- Always rotate or move your body forward every time you apply throttle.  This will enable you to remain in sync with the motorcycle and avoid the snapping back of the body as you accelerate.  You move with the bike.
 
Flow...It is imperative that you flow (work with the bike) in all of your ridingIf you stay in any one position too long your  flow and rhythm will be disrupted, causing you to get the front end too high, the rear to want to endo, or having the throttle snap your head and body backwards, depending on at what place you disrupted your flow.  So long as you continue your flow of movement with the motorcycle, you will never be caught " out of shape."   Remember to allow your body to compress when the suspension compresses (goes down) and rebound (come up) when the suspension rebounds.
 
Technique...Stay low on the jumps whenever possible to minimize the time you spend in the air.  If you are in the air, you cannot go any faster and those who stay lower on the jump can accelerate while you are still airborne, beating you to the next obstacle.  There are several deviations on jumping, depending again on what it is you wish to accomplish. 
 
Pre-Jump-Advance to the jump standing up in the attack position.  This technique involves timing-as you compress into the jump standing up, push you bodyweight down into the face of the jump, compressing with the suspension.  Just as your front wheel is at the end of the ramp, give a quick blip of the throttle and snap your legs upward, much the same way as a ski jumper.  This will give you extra lift to clear the obstacle.  This technique is also very affective over lips on the face of the jump-because you can start your jump early to avoid the lip, or over bumps you prefer to skim rather than hit.  Turn the throttle on as you land, making sure to rotate your upper body forward as you apply throttle to keep yourself in sync with the bike to minimize impact and propel you forward.
 
Seat Bounce-Used most often when a jump immediately follows a corner.  The bounce is accomplished by staying seated as you approach the jump and into the face of the jump.  This compresses the suspension fully.  As the bike rebounds from the compression force, let your body move up with the bike till your body is fully extended in the air.  This will make you lighter on the bike and giving you additional height and distance to clear the obstacle.  I particularly enjoy this technique over the pre-jump in some circumstances, as it is much easier on the knees.  Turn the throttle on as you land, making sure to rotate your upper body forward as you apply throttle to keep yourself in sync with the bike to minimize impact and propel you forward..
 
Speed and Whip (Bubba Scrub)-Hit the jump very fast to utilize speed to gain distance.  Once again Flow is critical on this maneuver to maintain good balance, rhythm and the feeding of power as you land and accelerate.  Once you are in the air, if you see you are going to over jump the obstacle, or you wish to slow down yourself in the air to land sooner enabling you to get back on the ground and accelerating, you can whip the bike sideways in the air creating a big disruption in the airflow over the motorcycle, slowing you down and lowering your trajectory over the jump.  Be very sure once you have scruffed off enough speed to land in your designated area, straighten the bike into normal jumping technique and finish off the jump.  This technique will save you valuable time and create a softer landing.
 
Voluntary endo vs. Looping Out-Looping out occurs when your flow or movement is interrupted placing you in one position (too far back) for too long or you have too much weight on the rear wheel.  To correct this back off the throttle, tap the rear brake-making sure you don't kill the motor by engaging the clutch, move your body over the bars.  Once you level out, return to your attack position, feed the clutch and accelerate smoothly as you land.  An Endo occurs for the same reasons as before but this time you have too much weight on the front end causing it to drop,  or you let off the gas as you left the jump causing a gyro effect to take place dropping the front end.  To correct this move to the rear of the motorcycle, grip a handful of throttle (panic rev), again using the gyro effect to speed your wheel up, driving the rear wheel down and leveling out the bike.  Again, once you level out return to your attack position and apply throttle on the landing.  A voluntary endo is used with tabletops, large jumps, doubles and triples.  Simply put, you voluntarily let off the gas and rotate slightly forward to drop the nose of your bike down to enable the bike to land on the downside of the ramp, making your landing, smoother, safer and faster, as opposed to landing flat with a harder landing.
 
Try these techniques slowly at first to get a feel for the timing , flow and rhythm.  Increase your speed as you become more accomplished making sure to adjust you balance and movement with the increased physics common to additional speed.  In other words, the faster you approach a jump and/or the steepness of the ramp, the further ahead you have to look, the further over the front wheel you will need to be on your take off to compensate for the extra drive and speed while maintaining your flow.  Failure to do so will cause you to Loop out because you have too much weight on the rear.  
Gaining Confidence to Clear that Double Jump

I'm probably not going to tell you anything you don't already know, because in this case it is about fear, and working through fear. You already know how to jump.  To complete the jump be committed, totally committed.  When you back out at the last second you make the jump way more difficult, then it would have been to just jump it, and you make yourself more prone to injury as well as dangerous to those around you who are jumping it.  So first and foremost, get your head right!  Be committed and do it, or don't do it, there is no try.

I have a few suggestions to help you work through this... 
WALK THE TRACK!  Look at the jump from all angles-forward, back and sides.  Find the best takeoff point on the jump that will best help you accomplish your objective, not only for the jump, but the obstacles that follow!   Al ot of times our fear of the jump comes because our perception of it is skewed.  When you look at it from different angles, you see that the landing isn't as bad as you thought, or you find a better lines, or even that the jump really isn't as long or intimidating as you thought, thus changing your perspective, allowing you now to be prepared mentally to attack it, which is key to your success.  Again, get the mental first!

Second, find a similar jump or even that jump if you can.  Jump off to the side of it.  Have someone mark where you are landing and gradually increase your speed until you get the distance. You can also over jump it and then back down your speed to perfect the landing.  


Third-The one I use the most is to have someone you trust and you know is clearing it ride next to you and pace you over the jump so you know how much speed you need to clear it, and be sure you are in the correct gear!  You are probably thinking, duh, but almost without question, most riders are in too low of a gear when they take off.  If you can pull a higher gear without bogging, shift up before takeoff.  This unloads the suspension and allows the bike to get better lift and as an added bonus you will land a lot softer.  You really aren't going any faster, but you are getting more lift which will allow you to clear the obstacle a lot more easily.  This also works really well in the whoops, because you are not dropping or driving your wheels into the whoops, but instead are skimming the tops. 

Now go out and hit it!  I know you can do it, so just do it!

Please follow this direction very closely progressing in height and distance as you become accomplished and comfortable with the techniques.  DO NOT ride over your abilities, ride with a friend, use your head, wear all of your safety gear, and pay attention! Do these things daily and watch your confidence and technique soar! 

Topic: Cornering

 

Topic: Negioating Whoops

Whoops are my favorite obstacle on the track.  If you are good in the whoops you can make up a ton of time and make alot of passes!  Whoops generally follow a corner so it is imperative that you take the proper line through the corner to set you up properly to enter the whoops.  By maintaining good cornering speed, you will be able to actually accelerate through them or time them depending on the distance between the whoops or the timing required.  

Generally speaking, the smallest height of whoops will usually be on the outer edges of the track.  Use it!  A line will almost always form somewhere near the middle, where generally everyone else is going.  Just because everyone is taking it does not necessarily make it the fastest or smoothest line, in fact many times it is just the opposite.  The more a line is used, the choppier and nasty the line becomes, and because everyone is using it, passing becomes difficult if not impossible.  If one person makes a mistake, everyone behind is affected.  

 

Look where you want to go.  Decide before you get there!  The faster you go, the further ahead you will need to lookFind the most worn down spots and use them to your advantage, whether as an acceleration point or landing point.  If a section of the whoop is larger, followed by smaller ones, use the larger whoop as a ramp and jump over a section of them.  The less you hit, the more energy you will have over the course of the race or ride.  DO NOT FOLLOW!  If one person makes a mistake, everyone behind is affected.  If someone is in your line, have an alternate choice available.

 

If the whoops are close together pick a good line that goes all the way through them and accelerate, keeping the front end light.  You want the front wheel to clear or skim the tops of the whoops without dropping into the face of them.  Set the front wheel down where you want it to drop.  The rear wheel will push straight through the whoops as long as you have the throttle on. Keep your body moving forward and back (kinda like a rocking horse action) as you work through them to maintain your speed and rhythm.  Never stay in one position on the bike.  You must keep moving and accelerate!  

 

Timing whoops is also an important skill.  Some sections you can't hold it wide open on and expect to get through it clean.  This is where timing the whoops can bring you big dividends.  If two or three, etc whoops are close use the first one as a ramp.  Jump over the set and land in the flat area before the next big set.  Land, then launch your bike over the next set of whoops like a bunny: jump and repeat.  Be sure to time the whoops correctly so that you can accelerate, jump, land, accelerate, jump, land, by creating a rhythm or timing through the section.  This way you kinda hop through them instead of getting bounced all over the track.  

The more you can open your vision and thought patterns, the more enjoyable, faster and smoother your riding will become!

  • Remember-The difference between a pro and an amateur is:  the Pro looks at the obstacle and thinks; What is the fastest MOST EFFECTIVE  way to get through the obstacle and use the least amount of energy...An Amateur looks at it and says; well I paid my money, I guess I need to hit all of them! 
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Topic: Rut  Rhythm

 This took me a long time to learn, because I was fighting the bike in the rut.  This fight is all too common with a lot of riders.  You want to stay in the rut, so you focus on the rut and where your tires are placed into it.  (Looking at the front wheel)  By watching your wheel you grip the bike tight and overcorrect the direction of the tires,  causing you to climb out of the rut or catch it and fall over.  

The secret to ruts is to look forward (where you are headed) NOT at your front wheel and RELAX.  By looking forward and being relaxed you will not overcorrect the front wheel and you will end up where you are looking.  When entering a rut,  look ahead, select the rut you wish to take BEFORE you get to it, look where you want to end up and most of all  EXHALE as you enter the obstacle and loosen your grip on the bars.  This will help your body relax.  The more relaxed you are the easier it is to negotiate the terrain.

 

Rut Choice-The more a line is used, the choppier and nasty the line becomes, and because everyone is using it, passing becomes difficult if not impossible.  If one person makes a mistake, everyone behind is affected.  If someone is in your line, have an alternate choice available.

 

Also I find that generally you want to be more centered on the bike, a little off the front wheel so that the tire can come around easily and not hang up because you have too much weight on it.  The same holds true for mud.  Accelerate smoothly to build power, rather than accidentally blast it which may launch you out of the rut entirely.   You generally want to steer more with the rear of the bike.  Turn and burn, baby!

Topic: Passing