Every time you ride, you should have a specific goal with what you want out of this practice session. Dedicated practice. I work on things I need to and when I feel like I earned it, I treat myself to something I want to ride for fun.
It helps to have another experienced rider to ride with so you can learn from them. Sometimes, it is hard to know what you are doing wrong. Having videos helps too.
Fundamentals will make you faster and better on the bike. Pro athletes in different sports are not “too good” for fundamentals and either are you! Study the elite and you will see a trend. A few examples are Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
Chasing the small details, gets you to the next level.
What are some ways I practice?
- Corners – There are A LOT of details that go into the perfect corner. Speed, throttle control, braking, body position, standing to sitting, weighting the outside peg, getting over the bars, etc.. So many things going on! I like to choose a couple corners and start out slow and work my way back to full speed. If I mess up, I go back to slowing it down. I do this until every corner is good. Then I finish with a moto. It takes more than one practice session to develop habits though so I do this multiple times a week.
- Figure 8’s – I alternate between only standing, sitting, tight as possible, and more open. This also helps develop corner skills and helps with ruts.
- Logs – I ride around and find logs to try to go over them. Then I work on hitting them correctly. Like getting the front end up, hopping/jumping them, or what it would be like to hit it in a race. Logs have been a major weakness for me and over the years it has gotten better by doing this. But it is also important to not over think it.
- Standing only – Literally ride for X amount of time without sitting. If you are not comfortable with standing up, this will be a huge help!
- Static Balance – helps you learn balance and have better control of your bike! You can do this with your bike running or off and you stay in one place and hold it without dabbing a foot as long as possible. Embrace the burn!
- Creeks – If creeks intimidate you, spend more time in them. Lots of time can be made up in a creek if you are carrying speed. I literally ride up and down the creek trying to perfect it and choose different lines and increase my speed.
- Braking – Practice using BOTH brakes not just rear or just front. The fastest way to slow the bike down is using both. If you only use your rear, it will cause you to slide out.
- Hills – I find random hills and try to make it up them. You never know what you will see in a reason and it is best to be ready no matter what. Down hills, I practice not just coasting down them but actually using the throttle down it. Lots of time can be made up on downhills.
- Line choice / looking ahead – If you catch yourself looking at your front fender a lot or straight at the ground in front of you, practice looking up and as far ahead as you can see. Your mind processes what you see and it does not require you to look directly in front of you.
- Starts – If you do not practice starts, do not complain about bad starts! You have to know your bike and what it requires to start quickly in a dead engine start, only way to know is to practice. It also will help speed up your reaction time to the flag drop. If you get nervous starting with others, find someone faster and more aggressive to practice starts with. It will get you more comfortable and make you more confident.
- Sand – There’s not a lot of sand in Missouri but sometimes you go to those random places that have sand sections. Because of that a lot of people do not know how to ride it. Sand is intense, hard to predict, and always changing. But the fact is, if you can go fast in sand, you will go faster in dirt. I hated sand 3-4 years ago but I made myself practice it.. A LOT! Now, it is a strong point for me. I crave it and when it’s in that random MORE race in New Florence, MO, I MAKE UP A LOT OF TIME IN ALL THE SAND SECTIONS.
There are many other ways to dedicated practice but this will get you started!
Practicing the details and fundamentals will give you the confidence on race day. You will know that you prepared for the race and you can rely on your instincts and not think. It will also take you to the next level in your riding abilities. It’s not always about going all out, sometimes you gotta slow it down to perfect. Do what makes you better, not just what is fun.