Welcome to the new Answer Racing Moto Tips feature! Answer Racing has been producing the highest-quality motocross and off-road gear since 1976, and this month launched its new line of 2020 apparel. With riders like Alex Martin, Kyle Peters, Ryan Villopoto, Nick Wey, and Mike Sleeter flying the Answer flag, there is a wealth of knowledge and know-how when it comes to riding a dirt bike efficiently and effectively in the Answer camp. Each week, Answer will bring you some riding tip to help you become better at the sport you love! Have a specific skill you’d like to improve? Comment below and we will cover it in a future post!
Proper planning prevents poor performance. We’ve all heard some variation of that saying at some time in our lives and it rings true in motocross. If you’re a serious rider with ambitions of chasing the checkered flag, it’s important that you have a coordinated plan for each day of riding you put in between races. With this in mind, we asked Mike Sleeter to give us his ideal practice day schedule, from the pre-ride prep of your gear and bike to self-awareness of weakness to the ideal amount of laps per moto. And if you aren’t a serious racer, much of this advice will still apply and make you a better overall rider.
Preparation At Home & In The Garage
I always get everything ready the night before. That’s when I build the goggles, pack the gear bag with things like extra gloves in case of a fall that would make them muddy and maybe an extra jersey and pants if I think I’ll need them. I just want to have everything ready so that I can get to the track without distraction.
It’s important to have extras of certain parts. If you have an extra set of wheels to swap out in case of a flat tire, great! But at the least, keep tubes and tools with you so you can fix them. Controls like handlebars, levers, brake pedals, and gear shifters are always nice to have around, too.
If you’re planning to be on the track and riding by 9 AM, then you should try to do as much as you can the night before. Get the food you want to take to the track ready, get fuel for the bike, and pack everything up. Sometimes I check the air pressure in the tires before I leave for the track, which is just another task that I don’t have to handle at the track.
I like to have a breakfast that’ll fill me up for the first part of the day, something simple like oatmeal with peanut butter or protein mixed in and some coffee. I do that a few hours before I plan to ride.
Plan Your Ride & Follow The Schedule
Each time you ride, no matter if you are racing or just practicing, you should have a plan. For a weekend racer that gets the chance to ride on a Tuesday, you should focus on six to eight-lap motos.
My rule is always to roll all of the jumps on your first lap of the day, even if it’s a place you ride at a lot. There could always be a small change, something one or two feet, that could end your day and put you in the hospital if you aren’t ready for it. The pro guys do it and so should you.
Look at the track and evaluate the conditions during your first laps. Don’t take the easy outside lines when the inside sections are ripped up and soft, because now is when you should challenge yourself. On race day the outside lines won’t be the best option, so get the bike dirty and cut the lines you want. Maybe it’s inside through one turn and then outside in the next. Whatever it is, get that going in the first six to eight-lap moto.
You don’t get 45-minutes for practice at a local race, so just warm up with six to eight laps. That’ll train your brain for the schedule of a local race.
In your first “race” moto of the day, put emphasis on the technique and things you want to work on. You don’t need a mechanic or data logger for this. Go onto the track thinking of how you’re going to stay on the balls of your feet or keeping your head up. Whatever it is, work on the weaknesses and not just the strengths. You won’t get better unless you work on the weaknesses.
Treat this moto like a real moto! Don’t work on sections and cruise around the rest of the track. This is when you need to see how you will feel over six to eight laps. Do a quick warm-up lap to see the track, then go right into your moto by attacking sections and sticking to the plan. Remember the lines you wanted to use and follow through on the decisions. That’s pivotal to having fast, consistent lap times. Do not want to approach a section without a plan of where to go, because that’s when you make mistakes. If something isn’t working, take note and change it on the next lap.
Maybe the outside line isn’t the best line, but if you commit to it and attack the section, you’ll be much faster there than you would with a last-minute decision to a poorly planned inside line.
When you come in from that moto, remember the mistakes you made and think of things you need to work. If you have friends at the track, ask them about lines or things they saw you do. But be open to criticism, because if you want to get better, you need to listen to it.
If there was a section that was an issue earlier in the day, now’s the time to work on it. Find the areas you made mistakes and practice different things there like maintaining momentum, shifting your weight to different parts of the bike, or line choices. Don’t keep making the same mistake over and over. Make it a point to get through a section clean so that you save time and energy and don’t risk having a crash later. Don’t wear yourself out during this part, because more is coming.
After you’ve figured out the problems, it’s time for another six to eight-lap moto. Practice all of the things you wanted to work on during this ride and don’t get caught up in a battle with the other guys on the track. Just execute the things you want to work on, especially the hard stuff.
By now it should be around lunchtime, so have some food and fuel up for the last part of the day. Maybe it’s something like a sandwich or fruit or a PNG gel. Whatever it is, get the calories and keep your energy for the last part of the day.
You should go over the bike now, too. Check the spokes, scrape the mud, put fuel in the tank, and adjust your tire pressure.
You should quickly work on the problem areas again, so rip through the problematic sections to sort them out and see how the track is changing. After that, you need to go back into a six to eight-lap push to end the day.
Don’t fall into bad habits. If you go onto the track and feel fatigued, you’re going to make mistakes and end the day on a bad note. Know when you’ve reached your goal for the day.
Once you get done, wrap it up and get out of there. There’s no point in hanging out at the track, especially if you have work to do and a race on the weekend. Now is when you should get home, prep your bike, and remember what you did.
Do lear more riding tips from my Answer Racing teammates make sure you Click Here head over to Swapmoto Live