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On Bike Training


- Dealing with fear.
- Braking.
- Knee grip exercise.

- On bike interval training.
- Do your basics!
- Plan your practice.

Dealing with fear.
By Laren van der Westhuizen

Motocross is a sport that has a BIG fear factor attached to it. The faster you ride, the scarier it is! Baring in mind, that racing MX is all about getting faster and that comes with a certain amount of fear.

Fear is a mechanism in your body that tells you, you are reaching a stage that you are uncomfortable with and can be detrimental to your well-being! Generally, fear in motocross kicks in at about the85% to 90% of ability mark, which means that there is always 10% more to go before you reach your limit. Most people, who push through the fear factor barrier, are surprised that they accomplish the task easier than expected.

Fear is a good thing and can keep you “alive and kicking”, but learning how to push fear slightly further down the road, is important to a motocross rider and his/her progress.

Fear can be dealt with by placing enough emphasis on achieving a goal! I always use this example:
“If I asked you to run over a crocodile long ways from tail to head, you would tell me I’m crazy, but if you had to run over a crocodile to save your child who was drowning in the river, you would do it without thought!” You see the goal can be achieved and the fear removed, if you put enough emphasis on the goal.

If you want to brake later for corners, but have too much fear to do so, bare these 2 things in mind:
1) You have about 10% or more ability than your body tells you.
2) What does it mean to you and how much do you want it to brake later. (ie: If I gave you 1 million rand for braking 1 meter later, you would definitely give it a go).

Please bare in mind that I have urged for you to only just push through the fear barrier by 10% and not 100%, as that is likely to result in failure. Once you have pushed through that 10% mark and have done so for about 5 to 10 tries, you have now set a new fear level that you can work on breaking through!

By Laren van der Westhuizen

There is a lot to be said for the saying that you can only go as fast as your ability to stop allows you! Your speed in motocross is very much determined on your ability to brake later than your opposition, but not only brake later, but brake less.

The green lines are where the average rider begins braking for the corner and then re-accelerating out the corner. The red lines belong to a faster rider. You will notice that the time he spends off the accelerator is less than an average rider. Not only does he brake later than an average rider, he also brakes less. In other words, his corner entry speed is greater, therefore maintaining a greater corner speed and then based on laws of momentum, will have a far higher exit speed.

We go a certain speed into a corner, based on our abilities and fear factor. If you were able to sit on the back of the fastest rider in the world’s bike, whilst he went through a corner, it would be VERY SCARY for you. He is very comfortable at this speed and feels no fear at this point. It is therefore important to step marginally out of your comfort zone, when practicing corners, as that feeling of discomfort or fear will only last until you have mastered that corner at that speed. At this point, you are able to set a new level of discomfort. I call it the “scary point”.

Improving your braking ability comes with practice. The best way to practice braking is to find a long straight and mark a point where you will brake. Ride as fast as you can up to 4th gear and then brake at that point. Brake till you come to a stand still. Mark that point and try to beat your mark every time.

Knee grip exercise.
By Laren van der Westhuizen

Arm pump is a seriously debilitating phenomenon that hinders even the best riders. It is caused by several contributing factors.

One of the factors that contributes to arm pump is holding on too tight with your arms. When arm pump sets in it is very hard to hold on tight anymore and you get the feeling that you are going to let go the handlebars any given moment, unwillingly. The only way to hold yourself on your bike is with your knees. If you did this from lap one, you might have been able to ride for longer before arm pump set in, or maybe, even eliminate it in the race.

This is a simple exercise to help you grip tighter with your knees!
Ride for 2 laps relatively slowly, standing up, but keep your left arm to your side. As you build in confidence with this exercise, you can start to go a bit faster. Holding on with 1 arm isn’t easy, so it forces you to grip tighter with your knees. This exercise also helps with core and lower back strength which is crucial to this demanding sport of ours.

Give the exercise a try and see how it helps with knee grip strength!

On bike interval training.
By Laren van der Westhuizen

What is on-bike interval training and what riding exercises can be done on track?
Mostly riders mix their riding training up between motos for fitness and speed work! Interval training is an awesome format of rider training that helps you work on fitness and speed at the same time. This is a combination of fast speed work exercises with short rests between each exercise.

This is a really beneficial exercise that is as easy or as hard as you make it! It starts off with 1 lap as fast as you can, then a minute to rest. You follow that up with 2 laps as fast as you can with 1 minute to rest. You then do 3 laps as fast as possible, again with 1 minute to rest. For the average “Joe”, he would then go back to 2 laps with a minute to rest, then 1 lap and end. This normally ends up being +- 18min of riding absolutely flat out! In the world champs, some of the top riders go all the way to 6 laps, before going back down to 1lap. They normally do this as a base training before the season.
This is normally a very tough exercise to do and the average top rider in SA, should go to 4 laps before returning to 1 lap.
1 lap, then 1 minute rest
2 laps, then 1 minute rest
3 laps, then 1 minute rest
4 laps, then 1 minute rest
3 laps, then 1 minute rest
2 laps, then 1 minute rest
1 lap, then finish!

Short motos
Whilst we all know motos are important, you can throw in a 10min moto session. This requires you to do a 10min moto as fast as you can then take a 5min rest. This doesn’t seem too difficult to do, but you then follow it up with another 10min moto at full speed. You then take a 5min rest. Finally, you do another 10min sprint and finish. This way you have done 30min of riding as fast as you can.

The point of on bike interval training, is to get you riding as long as you can, as fast as you can. The more often you train at 110% speed, the more used to riding at speed you get. This results in fewer mistakes, when being pushed during a race. The secret of the interval training is to see if you can keep your lap times the same through all the exercises and all the laps. This is not easy to do, because riding at your max heart rate tires you out quickly.

Do your basics!
By Laren van der Westhuizen

Most riders forget to practice the basics from time to time. All the top riders still spend time doing “the tyres training”.
Lay 2 tyres/cones, about 30 to 50 meters apart on an open area.
Practice going around the tyres/cones in a clockwise, anti-clockwise and figure of 8’s.

Whilst approaching the tyre, practice braking in a standing position:
As shown below!

This will transfer the weight to the back of the bike, keeping the back wheel on the ground and helping to prevent you from being “kicked” over the bars!

As the front wheel enters the turn, transfer your weight forward into a sitting position, as close to the tank as possible. Put the inside leg out, lean and accelerate out the corner.
As shown below:

Please note that the more you lean, the faster you will be able to go through the corners. If the corner is a flat corner without a berm or a rut, you need to sit on the outside of the seat, with your weight firmly on the outside footpeg. If the turn has a rut or berm, you should lean with the bike through the turn. Also note, that the rider in the above picture has his elbows up and is looking at the exit of the turn.

These basic corner training exercises achieve a few things:
1) You remind yourself of the basic technique for cornering.
2) The more often you practice the technique, the more instinctual it becomes.
3) You are not afraid of making a mistake in an open area, as apposed to on track, where there are other riders and possibly spectators.
4) You can identify key problem areas, because you are concentrating on 1 facet of technique training, and not an entire track.

Do the basic training and watch your track times drop!

Plan your practice.
By Laren van der Westhuizen

Have a plan for your practice day. Arriving at the track to practice without a plan for the day is almost a waste of time and money. There are 3 basic types of training; Speed, endurance and interval (which has a bit of both).

Speed training helps you improve your basic lap time. It can be done by working on section by section or 1 lap at a time. Speed training also includes start practice.

Endurance training helps you maintain that basic lap time for as long as possible. This can be done by riding “motos.” Motos can be 15min of non stop riding, up to 35 or 40min of non stop riding. For South African conditions, 30min is more than enough time on the bike as longer motos could hinder speed.

Interval training works on speed and endurance. It can be done by riding pyramid sessions. (1 lap, 1 min rest then 2 laps, 1 min rest, then 3 laps, 1 min rest, then 2 laps, 1 min rest, then 1 lap. Some riders can go up to 6 laps) or mini moto sprints, which are, “10min flat-out, 5 min rest, then 10min flat-out, 5 min rest, then 10min flat-out again.”

Planning your practice day helps you focus on the job at hand and not waste valuable practice time, aimlessly circulating the track.

Whilst we know the most important thing in MX is to have fun, it is good to end the session with 10min of fun riding, which can also help bike control.



Transworld Motocross Riding Tips

Transworld Motocross have got a whole library of video riding tips that are very useful. The videos feature top riders incl. S.A's Tyla Rattray.

Here are some links to check out:
- Flat Turns
- Off camber turns
- Choosing lines
- Seat bouncing
- Body positioning
- Braking bumps
- Downhills
- Entering & exiting corners
- Brake control
- Ruts
- Rutted turns
- Whoops
- Passing
- Dirt starts
- Looking ahead
- Slippery corners
- Gripping the bike
- Deep Ruts
- Steep Hills

They have many more so be sure to check it out!

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