Riding and racing Offroad motorcycles is an awesome passion that so many of us have, and at which we all desire to become not only more skilled and safer at but also faster. One of the hardest parts of improving your skills is to get into the mentality of continually spending a small to significant amount of time each week practicing specific skills exercises so as to fast tack your learning instead of just pounding out laps or miles of trail. It is very important to spend a quick 5 minutes doing each exercise before your next race, or trail ride. This allows you to build your confidence and skill, plus also most effectively warm-up the specific muscles you're about to use.
A great exercise for reinforcing the four fundamentals of riding skill (body position, throttle/clutch coordination, balance, and confidence) is the Slow Ride exercise where you ride as slowly as possible without putting your feet down. Having great balance allows you to maximize your momentum on the trail especially in more difficult conditions like mud, deep sand, hills, and rock sections.
For superior flat cornering technique set up the Square exercise (10 foot wide square with 4 cones), preferably in some very slippery but consistent conditions, and ride continual laps gradually getting faster until you are able to slide/drift your bike around the Square without interruption for at least 6 laps. Use the four key points of cornering (body position, lean angle, throttle position, and counter steering) to control the slide and guide your bike where you want it to go - it's a great feeling when you get it mastered!!! This skill will be a huge benefit in the next mud race or just when you are pushing the limits and the tires are breaking traction.
The best all around exercise for Offroad riders and racers to practice is the Figure 8 Corner Rut. The precise front wheel placement required, as well as the aggressive acceleration skills, correct body position, and supreme confidence needed to rail a rut also transition heaps to help conquer all other trail or track situations.
A high quality Riding school or Instructional DVD will give you the breakdown of all of the many necessary skills exercises, and how to perform them at the highest level - constantly practice these exercises in the future, especially the ones that you are struggling with, and you will see immediate and huge improvements with your riding skills.
Keep the rubber side down!
Former World and US National champion Shane Watts operates the highly acclaimed DirtWise Academy of Offroad Riding school and Instructional DVDs. For more information, please visit www.shanewatts.com.