What I've learned after 1 full season racing...

The fine art of riding

What I've learned after 1 full season racing...

Postby PurpleBeast » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:45 pm

Figured I would share this excerpt from a good post on ThumperTalk.



I've done a few races reports on my first ever desert races, but I wanted to do a kinda wrap up of "things I learned in my first year." Some of the things I learned were very helpful and I wish someone had told me these things right when I started racing. Hopefully they'll help someone else as much as they helped me.

My goal in all of this was to have fun. What did I have to do to have MORE fun racing. Because by race 5 it was total work. Not fun. I was racing just HOPING to get better. My conclusion was that racing was fun until I got tired. So I set out to do whatever I could to not get tired so early in a race.

1. The bike. I started on a 2003 YZF450. It's what I had. I raced six races on this bike, out of the 9 total I've raced. It seems like every day there is another new post on TT asking how to setup whatever bike as a "woods weapon" or to race. There is a lot of great info on here about doing that, but what I learned is that it's great to have a bike that's MADE for off road racing. So after 6 races I traded in the 450 for a KTM 300. Not everyone can afford to trade up with the economy as it is right now but just know that this was the single biggest thing I did that made racing more fun. MX bikes belong on an MX track, and for me as a beginner, a purpose built bike made everything easier to ride, more fun to ride, less exhausting to ride.

2. The body. Racing is a lot of fun, but it gets un-fun when you run out of energy. My goal was to run out of energy as close to the finish as possible. I work in an office all day, I don't have a job that allows me to be active 8 hours a day so I have to make up for it in the gym after work. I made the commitment to get a trainer at the gym because I wasn't sure what I needed to do to get in shape for racing. I didn't want to waste time putting in a lot of effort and getting very little results. The work outs that I ended up doing were not on machines and were not "lifting." It was working on Balance, core, and endurance. I never got on a machine besides a stationary bike, no big weights, it was all natural range of motion with little rest time. It also helps that I started eating a bit more healthy. Nothing drastic just starting eating more fresh stuff. Also the BEST work out is long and hard rides on the bike.

3. The mind. I always wondered which was more important to learn as a beginner, skill or endurance. Do I work on log hops and rock gardens or long distance rides that really wore me out? My mind is made up that that skill comes easier when you're in shape. Thus for me I spent more time doing long distance rides and hard work outs, which made hard technical sections much easier to navigate because I wasn't as tired when I got to them. I will also add that momentum when it comes to technical sections can make the difference. A bad line with momentum is better than a good line from a standing start.

4. The stomach. I've seen people eat sandwiches in the pits, goo packets, gummy energy cubes, I even heard that a lady racer tried to eat an apple with her helmet on in the pits. :/ I've put a lot of work into trying to find a way to take in carbs and protein while on the bike. The best thing I've found is a carb/protein mix that I make into a very concentrated paste and put into a bottle that fits into a holster on my bars. Do not make the mistake of thinking that your body does not need energy. Maybe in some of the short course hare scrambles that the AMA district puts on you don't need it as you're going to pit a lot and will get a chance to eat. But in 100 mile long races your body is going to need energy in the last half. And by energy I mean carbs and protein, not sugar. I cannot stress how big a difference this makes. I've raced 45 miles at race pace while sipping this paste bottle, totally bonked(ran out of energy) at mile 50 and had to slow down, and then as my body started processing what was in my stomach, I was able to pick up the pace again around mile 57 and get back to my normal pace for the rest of the race. I'm still working on a better way to get it in my mouth while on the bike, I'm thinking about making a little home made camelbak with a small bladder. Your body can take energy from food in your stomach much easier than it can fat cells, thus you get the energy quicker if you have food in your stomach.

That's kind of it for the big ticket items. Some tips and tricks...

- Keep bent levers and carry them with you in a race, a bent lever is better than a broken one.

- When free riding with your friends, ride at race pace.

- If you fall down in a race get up as fast as you can and moving again. If you need to rest, rest on the bike while going forward. Standing still doesn't give you much more recovery but costs you a TON of time.

- Which brings up a great point. People who are faster than you, most of the time they're only a little bit faster than you. Their trick is that they do not slow down. When I started racing I slowed down and fell a ton, now when I race I maintain a consistent pace. The longer the race the more important seconds and minutes are. Seconds count. REALLY count!!! If I do 20 MPH and you do 19MPH and the race is 100 miles how far ahead of you will I finish?

This is just kind of sounding preachy now hehe, but I enjoy sharing the things I've learned and hope others will benefit from it. I certainly have. I've finished 3rd Novice over all in 2 of my last 3 races. I DNF'd one due to a broken clutch lever hence the bent lever tip. Also bought a pair of wrap around cycra's ;) Pretty sure I have enough advancement points to bump up to amateur now. So if you're struggling in your first few races, you're not alone, and hopefully something I've said here may help you out.

Posted by RenoMike on TT.
...Andrzej (Purple Beast)

NeoRide Leader, Drury Trail Lead & Trail Steward
'06 Purple YZ250, #666
'02 GasGas TXT Pro 280

You know PB is having a rough day when his number plate reads 999!
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