1. Being technically correct in your riding style.
2. Being physically fit.
What do I mean by being technically correct with your riding style? This means that you have all the basic techniques down in your autopilot riding skills. In other words, everything you do on the bike is technically correct. Meaning, you don't have any bad habits or at least not a lot of bad habits. This way you maintain your center of balance and work with the bike. You have a flow to your riding style. You're not fighting against the bike and getting off balance and then trying to hold certain positions in order to bring the balance back.
A good example is when entering a corner over the braking bumps. The inexperienced rider will try to stop the handlebars from bouncing. They'll end up holding on tight to try and control the front end from bouncing so much. Whereas the experienced rider in this situation will allow the handlebars to bounce, loosen his arms a little bit and just let them bounce. They'll get into a rhythm with the bumps and let the bike kind of teeter-totter underneath them and bounce their way into the corner. This is a much more relaxed, smoother riding style. Much more relaxed than if you were trying to force this from happening.
Another common mistake is in flat corners where there is no berm. The wrong way would be to try to push the bike down in the corner while your upper body stays on top of the bike, kind of leaning toward the outside while you're trying to push the bike down into the corner. This is a common mistake and will really wear you out a lot faster, besides slowing you down a lot and not being able to hold your line out of the corner. The correct way would be for your upper body to lean a little to the inside before you start to lean the bike into the corner. Then as the bike is leaning into this flat corner, your upper body can move to the middle or even a little to the outside, but you still maintain the center of balance. This is much easier physically and of course, allows you to go much faster and still maintain that critical center of balance. These are just two examples of common mistakes. But there are many more mistakes relating to the 55 Absolute Techniques of Motocross.
No matter what your goals are relating to motocross, whether you're riding for fun, want to improve your results in local races or maybe you have your sights set on a Pro career, in order to ride well, you have to master all the fundamental techniques of motocross (a.k.a. the 55 absolute techniques of motocross). Most riders don't have the patience or know how to do this and end up putting the cart before the horse. They end up going out there and just trying too hard as they work their way around the track the best way they can. What ends up happening is they developed a lot of bad habits & techniques. If they ride with these poor techniques for too long, they getting deeper and deeper into their automatic reflex reactions. It's no wonder that the saying goes, "You can't teach and old dog new tricks." But, I have found that you can teach old dogs new tricks when you apply the proper strategies and methods to your practice time.
This key ingredient is so important, why do you think the pros have to practice regularly? They like to be on the bike three or four days a week in order to practice all these basic techniques (55 absolute techniques of motocross). For them, these 55 techniques are automatic, but they still have to practice them regularly in order to keep them sharp. At this top pro level, there is a big difference. This big difference is that these riders already have the techniques ingrained into their natural riding style. That's another reason it's important to start relatively early in the sport, in order to go through that time where you can develop the proper riding style. Until you develop this natural riding style, your practice methods are going to have to be a lot different than the top pros and here lies one of the big mistakes; beginners and amateurs wanting to practice like the pros do. They want to go to the motocross track and start riding laps. Of course, this is how the pros practice most of the time, although they do practice some specific drills for individual techniques. And that is exactly what the beginners should be doing a lot more of, as they need to practice certain individual techniques separately. They need to compress their practice sessions into working with certain techniques in practice drills. In other words, breaking down all the techniques and practicing them separately in smaller chunks of techniques. I have found that this is by far the fastest, most efficient way to learn all the techniques of motocross. Of course, you can ride the entire track from time to time, but it's more important to practice in chunks of techniques while you're still learning all the techniques. So if you really want to improve your riding skills, learn the proper ways to practice.
If you've spent any time on a motocross track, you know that it is very physical. But again, I see the cart getting placed before the horse many times in this scenario. You first have to be in good physical shape to expect to have fun riding motocross and especially if you want to get good results in even local races. So, save yourself a lot of heartache and humiliation by getting your body and mind in at least decent physical shape before throwing your leg over that motocross bike. The better your physical conditioning, the better you're going to be able to learn how to ride well.
Most people hate fitness training. I have to admit, I never really liked it either when I was younger. I mean, of course I was very active when I was a child, but I didn't look at that like physical fitness training. It was just fun to play baseball, basketball, football, ride bicycles, horses, etc.... all that stuff was just fun. For most people, as you get older, get a job, have a girlfriend, have a family and acquire other responsibilities, adding physical fitness training to the mix can be a big chore. If it wasn't for professional motocross racing, I may have taken this route as so many do. But fortunately for me, I had to train in order to do well in my motocross career. I'd say, from ages 15 through 20, I was kind of hot and cold on fitness training and it was a big chore to that I didn't enjoy a bit. I still remember when I hit the age of 21, I made a commitment to do my training no matter what. Making that commitment and pushing myself through the workouts the first few months was very hard, but then I began to notice that it wasn't so hard anymore. Don't get me wrong, it was still very, very difficult physically. But mentally, it was starting to become easier and easier. Training had become a good habit.
I believe that's what can happen for anyone who sticks with it. Your chemical make-up, your hormones and brain chemistry changes. The mind gets more and more accustomed to the pain that the body is feeling and begins to recognize it as a good pain, as a high. Your body and mind develop higher and higher levels of Endorphins. Endorphins are a drug and you do become addicted to them. Fortunately, this is a good drug, a healthy drug and it allows you to have a euphoric feeling from training. This is when training becomes a no-brainer, it's automatic and you want to do it. You crave the high that training gives you.
Of course, to enjoy motocross as a fun hobby, you don't have to get to the addictive stage of your training. But you do have to be at least somewhat into training. So stop holding the couch down, get out and start moving, breathing and getting yourself in shape. Just become more active. Whether you're jogging, playing softball, going to a gym and training moderately or whatever you can do, you have to be doing something. Of course, riding motocross is the best thing you can do for your riding fitness, but as you know, that takes a lot more time, preparation and maintenance to ride more often. I would guess that most riders who are riding for a hobby only get to ride about once a week on average. If that's the case for you, at least do three more days of some type of exercise during the week.
I am in no way a salesman. When I first stopped racing for a living, I tried being a sales rep for an aftermarket company and I only lasted two weeks. I'm just not the type of person that is going to talk people into what they need to buy. So, please don't take what I'm about to say like a sales pitch. It's just me being honest and trying to help people enjoy a motocross more. I've been doing motocross schools since 1985. By 1989, I became serious about it and ever since I've been doing it as a full-time business. Five years later (1990), I realized that I just couldn't reach enough people just teaching schools, so I had the idea to produce technique videos. At this time they were still VHS tapes. This way I could get out what I was teaching in my motocross school to the masses of riders. It was working so well that I kept production going and reached millions of riders around the world. If you already have some of my motocross technique DVDs or video streams, you understand how valuable they are. If you haven't already seen any of them, do yourself a favor and get at least one. You'll discover how much fun riding, racing and even training can be when you know how to do it right. I mean, really know how, knowing the most effective ways to improve. When you see and feel improvement, you will stay motivated and keep improving.
Ever since I was 21 years old, I've been really into fitness training. Later on, I had the opportunity to train Jeremy McGrath for many years and many other top Pro riders with what I had learned from my own fitness training experience for motocross. Again, to reach the masses, I produced two MX Conditioning DVDs, both including Training and Nutrition Manuals. Here's a link to both of them.
So, whether you're riding for fun, to improve your local race results or going for a Pro career, learn from my experience. I can save you a lot of heartache, humiliation and pain! Learn the most effective ways to improve your riding skills.
See you at the races,
Professional Motocross Trainer
If you like this riding tip, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Get all the riding techniques and practice methods that will elevate your riding skills For REAL from our Motocross Techniques/Training DVDs or one of our three Instant Access Video On Demand Subscriptions.