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How Do You Force Yourself To Be A Better Rider?

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I read the thread on the best tips you have learned and while I agree with many of them, I find I just can't force myself to do it.

 

For example, I know that looking ahead is the only way to be faster. Yet every time I get into a race I find myself less than half-way through the race NOT looking far enough ahead. Instead I find myself looking right down at the ground in front of me. When I catch myself doing that I immediately try correcting myself, but shortly I again find that I am looking down at the ground.

 

So, what would you do to MAKE yourself do the following things;

1. Keep looking ahead/down the trail

2. Grip the bike with your knees (honestly in an entire race I doubt there is a single point in time that I have gripped the bike with my knees)

3. Stand on the balls of your feet.

4. Keep your elbows up

5. When standing keep your head above the bars (I CANNOT do this while running through rollers as I feel as if I'm going to get bucked over the front end)

 

You can add many more to that list, but I'll keep it simple with these that I feel are the most important. I've thought about attending a riding school but based on what I already know I should be doing, and my inability to force myself to do it, what would be the point?

 

I've been thinking about recording these things onto my I-phone and listening to this while I ride. Hopefully if I am constantly reinforcing these things over & over & over & over maybe something will stick?  How would you go about training yourself to do the things that you know you should be doing?

 

I'm not a terribly slow rider but I know I could be a lot faster as I don't feel like I am pushing myself at all during a race. I'm not the guy that blasts down the path and then slams on the brake going into the turn.. Instead I'm the guy that rarely has to use the brakes at all during a race because I come into the turns at a speed that I can control and then exit the turn on the gas. I guess I could be labeled a smooth rider-but not fast.  In a normal Hare Scramble I will spend most of the race in 3rd gear (regardless of terrain or obstacles) and rarely use the brakes. I'd bet I maintain an average speed that the low & high from start to finish would not vary more than 5 miles per hour. What can you guys recommend for me to be faster?

 

 

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I'm in no position to give the best advice in the world but racing is racing. You do it for the thrill, to push the limits. You've got to push that comfort zone ever so slightly that it becomes more comfortable then push more. In my little bit of racing I always push a little harder if there's a guy in front of me to keep up with, to pass. You've gotta love the thrill of trusting that berm and laying it over and just pinning it. Or that jump that scares the crap out of you but you launch it anyways. That's what riding a dirt bike is all about :-)

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What rider at any level wouldn't give to be technically perfect 100% of the time. Truth is no one is and you can get overwhelmed trying to every practice. Pick one or two things only to do. One thing that has helped my son is we always practice riding motos standing up and no sitting down. It hurts but gets you to trust gripping and leg use

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Unfortunately, or fortunately, it takes speed to perform the tasks right. I find the slower I go (play riding) the more these techniques are simply left behind because you don't NEED to use them. But the moment you wick up the pace, some of these techniques will be the difference between crashing or running off the track vs surviving a race and doing well.

Learning to look up is actually very easy! Put a big sticker on your bar pad that says "look up" its that simple. So the moment you see it in your peripheral vision, you'll immediately look up. It doesn't take long before you're tired of looking at that sticker! heh ;)

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You are probably one of those many riders who doesn't get to practice enough. About the only time you ride is when you race, right? It's very difficult to use new riding techniques while you're racing. In order to learn a new technique you have to practice that particular technique separately and slow down so you can continually do the technique correctly. You're main focus should be on doing the technique correctly. Do this long enough and it will become automatic so you will eventually be doing it without thinking about it. How long does that take??? It depends on too many circumstances and conditions to know. You just have to try it and see. 

 

If you focus on results nothing will change. If you focus on change you'll get results. I've spend the last 28 years teaching motocross schools and producing technique DVDs. I've trained many of the top pros in the sport. Check out my website for free riding tips, free DVD previews and to order technique DVDs or Streams: http://www.motocrossdvds.com 

 

GS Group 5-10.jpg
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Quit being lazy and get out of you're comfort zone. To ride properly it also takes some balls.. Part of it sounds like you are sitting way to much and possibly exaggerating these body movements causing you to feel weird. Gary's videos work well and watching a lot of what pros do while riding helps. Video yourself and go back and watch what you are doing wrong, we can armchair the heck outa this on the internet but until you get someone trackside to correct you, you might not make the improvements you seek.

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I read the thread on the best tips you have learned and while I agree with many of them, I find I just can't force myself to do it.

 

For example, I know that looking ahead is the only way to be faster. Yet every time I get into a race I find myself less than half-way through the race NOT looking far enough ahead. Instead I find myself looking right down at the ground in front of me. When I catch myself doing that I immediately try correcting myself, but shortly I again find that I am looking down at the ground.

 

So, what would you do to MAKE yourself do the following things;

1. Keep looking ahead/down the trail

2. Grip the bike with your knees (honestly in an entire race I doubt there is a single point in time that I have gripped the bike with my knees)

3. Stand on the balls of your feet.

4. Keep your elbows up

5. When standing keep your head above the bars (I CANNOT do this while running through rollers as I feel as if I'm going to get bucked over the front end)

 

You can add many more to that list, but I'll keep it simple with these that I feel are the most important. I've thought about attending a riding school but based on what I already know I should be doing, and my inability to force myself to do it, what would be the point?

 

I've been thinking about recording these things onto my I-phone and listening to this while I ride. Hopefully if I am constantly reinforcing these things over & over & over & over maybe something will stick?  How would you go about training yourself to do the things that you know you should be doing?

 

I'm not a terribly slow rider but I know I could be a lot faster as I don't feel like I am pushing myself at all during a race. I'm not the guy that blasts down the path and then slams on the brake going into the turn.. Instead I'm the guy that rarely has to use the brakes at all during a race because I come into the turns at a speed that I can control and then exit the turn on the gas. I guess I could be labeled a smooth rider-but not fast.  In a normal Hare Scramble I will spend most of the race in 3rd gear (regardless of terrain or obstacles) and rarely use the brakes. I'd bet I maintain an average speed that the low & high from start to finish would not vary more than 5 miles per hour. What can you guys recommend for me to be faster?

One thing I like to do before I ride or race is to throw the bike up on the stand and get focused by practicing different body positions (ie: neutral vs sitting vs attack vs aggressive). Each position I keep my knees griping the airbox, elbows out always, looking ahead and keeping my head in the same position always (just slightly behind or over the bars). By doing this, I train my body/mind to execute these key elements subconsciously. Hope that helps. ;)

Edited by DASFUEHRER

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I read the thread on the best tips you have learned and while I agree with many of them, I find I just can't force myself to do it.

For example, I know that looking ahead is the only way to be faster. Yet every time I get into a race I find myself less than half-way through the race NOT looking far enough ahead. Instead I find myself looking right down at the ground in front of me. When I catch myself doing that I immediately try correcting myself, but shortly I again find that I am looking down at the ground.

So, what would you do to MAKE yourself do the following things;

1. Keep looking ahead/down the trail

2. Grip the bike with your knees (honestly in an entire race I doubt there is a single point in time that I have gripped the bike with my knees)

3. Stand on the balls of your feet.

4. Keep your elbows up

5. When standing keep your head above the bars (I CANNOT do this while running through rollers as I feel as if I'm going to get bucked over the front end)

You can add many more to that list, but I'll keep it simple with these that I feel are the most important. I've thought about attending a riding school but based on what I already know I should be doing, and my inability to force myself to do it, what would be the point?

I've been thinking about recording these things onto my I-phone and listening to this while I ride. Hopefully if I am constantly reinforcing these things over & over & over & over maybe something will stick? How would you go about training yourself to do the things that you know you should be doing?

I'm not a terribly slow rider but I know I could be a lot faster as I don't feel like I am pushing myself at all during a race. I'm not the guy that blasts down the path and then slams on the brake going into the turn.. Instead I'm the guy that rarely has to use the brakes at all during a race because I come into the turns at a speed that I can control and then exit the turn on the gas. I guess I could be labeled a smooth rider-but not fast. In a normal Hare Scramble I will spend most of the race in 3rd gear (regardless of terrain or obstacles) and rarely use the brakes. I'd bet I maintain an average speed that the low & high from start to finish would not vary more than 5 miles per hour. What can you guys recommend for me to be faster?

How's your eyesight? One thing that helped me look ahead better was fixing my eyesight. I was virtually blind past 15 ft so.... Naturally I would gravitate to my front tire where I could see rather than look farther ahead to where things are just a blur. It instantly made me a faster and better rider by fixing my eyesight

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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I am actually far-sighted and see very well-better than 20/20 at distance, but not very well up close. I have been practicing as much as I can which is at least riding 30 miles every weekend. The place we practice closely resembles some of the courses that we ride. The only difference between practice and racing is that we stop at regular intervals during the practice runs to wait for the other people in our group to catch up.

 

This last race I raced in I went a total of 4 laps. My LAST lap of the race was my fastest and this seems to be the case with most of my races-I get faster as the race goes on. This leads me to believe that as I learn the course I know where I can go faster, and then I do it. They allow practice laps before the race and I think what will help me is riding 2 laps before the race instead of the customary 1 lap that I usually do. This way maybe by the 3rd lap I'll be flying along instead of the last lap. I also believe that as the race goes on there are fewer riders on the course and that is another reason I'm faster later in the race.  So, next race I'm going at least 2 practice laps.

 

I rode this past weekend with a buddy of mine who used to be much faster than me but he has not been riding in a while because of an injury from a crash. He tells me that I am much faster than I was before. Hearing those words from him gave me confidence and made me push even harder. I felt like I was riding the fastest I have ever ridden. One of the things I started trying was squeezing the bike with my knees. It felt a little foreign at first but once I tried it I kept finding places along the trail where it really helped me.

 

So, in closing, thanks for the feedback. As someone above mentioned, it's not about doing it all technically correct every time, but rather focusing on learning, and reinforcing, every ride and then using all the tools together. Gary, I've been watching several of your videos and LOVE them. My learning style is repetition-repetition-repetition-so I'm watching them repeatedly.

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if you aren't using your brakes much then your missing a large skill set that gives you a lot more control which results in being faster and safer.

 

Technique isn't something you can force. It starts with some very basic techniques that get built upon. If you're having trouble keeping your elbows up, chances are your problem stems from more basic technique with body position. If everything is right, correct technique should come relatively easily. It's very hard to get everything right. A lot of it is seat time and experience as well.

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One thing just going by what your saying is try charging into turns, it will force you to get on the brakes and hopefully carry more momentum through them. Sounds like you flow really well which is something im jealous of i have a hard time carrying speed through the turns myself. Ive been working on coming into them hot though so atleast the Time before the turn is reduced.

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I'll try charging harder into turns my next practice weekend out. I'll let you guys know how it goes. As it is now though I approach the turns and I just feel ready even without touching the brakes. I guess I'll keep increasing my speed until I reach the point where I can no longer safely negotiate the turn. The only downside to that is by the time I figure out what that speed is I could be off the trail and into a tree. That's no good!!

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I stand in front of the mirror and say "listen here, dammit, I'm tired of this sh!t"

Edited by Slackkinhard
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It's not so much about forcing it. But letting it come natural to you.

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If you are riding full laps on a track...I have found you will progress far more slowly than you desire.  There is a neurological reason for this.

 

Everyone knows this....

1.  Isolate a technique, body motion, point of control, etc.

2.  Practice it correctly.

 

There is a third factor that is just as important as these two...and that is consecutive repetition.  If you want to get good...you have to build or have access to a practice track..and be dedicated enough to isolate techniques and do them consecuatively.  I built a fast figure 8, and put in sprinklers, etc, so I could practice cornering.  In 5 days on that track...I improved more than I had in the previous YEAR, and not by a small margin.  When you practice things consecutively, that nervous system programming that Gary talks about occurs exponentially quicker.  If you are running full laps...and working on certain aspects of cornering technique, there might be two or three turns per lap that you can really isolate the specific technique on.  You are going to take forever to learn it because there is all that nervous system 'noise' between repitiions.  My experience is that 100 reps consecutively is worth 1000 reps broken apart by other activites.

 

Want to corner better?...then do the techniques that comprise cornering consecutively.  I dont just mean corner over and over.  Break it down even MORE.  If your transition from standing to sitting is a weak part of your cornering...create a drill where you do that technique over and over and you dont even worry about the rest of the cornring techniques.  Circle drill is great because you are practicing the mid corner to exit body position and technique over and over....to the exclusion of all else.  What about the transition from straight line full limit braking...to turn in where you fade off the front and really lean the bike while carrying the rear brake....  Work on THAT alone. 

 

I personally start my cornering practice by doing circle drill for probably 150+ circles in each direction.  Yes... you read that right.    That is a lot of cornering.  And I dont practice them easy.  I am constantly at the limit...I low side a lot because I am pushing my limits each rep. Then I work on straight line braking drills...then I go back and do some circle again.  Then I work on entering the corner just on the rear brake...using the brake to turn the bike...trying to lean it a lot using my knees...head over the clamp, back straight and stong...and butt 1" above the fender to seat area.  Then...I put it all together and see how things are going for a complete corner.  I might have over an hour of drill focused ride time before I actually work on a full corner at full speed.  If I can not do the 4 or 5 individual skills (that make up a corner) each automatically...why on earth would I expect to be able to do them all perfectly...in succession? It wont happen for me...and it wont for you. 

 

The real formula is:

 

1.  Isolate a technique, body motion, point of control, etc.

2.  Practice it correctly

3.  Put in consecutive reps to the exclusion of all else.

 

From a pure, cold, hard skill building perspective, there is no reason to ever run full laps till you are near A rider technique levels.  The only reason to moto down full laps is to have fun, and build fitness.  Other than that...I believe that running full laps slows your skill building progress dramatically.  What most of us call talent, is really just the refusal of the "talented" to give up till they have something mastered.  Consecutive repetition is the easiest way to overcome the limits of our motivation and really build skills.

Edited by Blutarsky
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Amazing advice. I was going to suggest picking one technique and focusing on that but got sidetracked. Nothing more to add to this thread besides you giving us updates. Seriously great way of explaining it.

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Our sport is not if you get hurt its when, the best way to get faster is to keep pushing till you fall then you know where the limit is, ride just below it so you dont keep wrecking until you feel comfotable and start pushing again, repeat

Im not saying crash your brains out irresponsibly especially if you are a weekend rider etc,

When I was younger my brother would always ask me after a days training "did you fall?" If I said no he would tell me I wasn't pushing hard enough !

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Still no luck eh?

 

I not only get slower, I get uglier.....I gotta get away from this mirror :)

 

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall.....ah to hell with it

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