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Can't last more than a couple laps - is it bike or me?

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I recently got back into riding for fun, racing my friends on MX and trails. I'm having a difficult time trying to figure out why my endurance is so bad when riding an mx track. I bought a '15 KX250f new and had the suspension setup for me. I'm in decent physical condition, better than most guys my age (40) and do about 40 minutes of cardio 5 times a week. I watch a lot of vids on riding style and practice, don't get to ride more than once a week.

So I guess my question is....could my bike not be setup perfectly for me which is causing me to work a lot harder than I should? Any suggestions for what I can to do to improve my comfort while riding to prevent fatigue?

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Your form might be the problem. After 18 years you might have forgot some of the basics. Try and stay loose and not worry about every single obstacle coming your way. I wasn't able to ride for about 2 months because of all the rain we've been getting here in California and the first day back I got tired after 10 laps it's just a matter of getting back into it.

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I think your right. I feel like i'm over thinking everything which in turn probably has me holding on way to tight and body posture could be rigid. I feel more at home on the trails, and I'd say I'm a B rider there. As soon as I hit the track, I'm whooped. 

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It is good that you have been watching vids.   Now have someone video you riding.   Compare that to what you should look like.   The bikes have changed in layout a lot,  and you have to learn to hold onto a newer one all over if you have been off of them that long.  I turn my knees in more now (put your feet on the pegs and turn your toes inward pigeon style) and you can hold the bike a bit better and it takes a lot of load off your upper body and arms.  Lock in like that and just ride around holding yourself up like that, loose armed and let your hands just work the levers and throttle,  steer with your knees a bit and you will see what I mean.  If you find that your arms are pumping or your wrists feel weak (especially at speed) try adapting what you should know as an athletic position with your feet as much as possible.  Having one foot positioned to the front of it's respective peg,  and the other foot to the back of it's peg will get you about 1.25 inches of separation.  Wider pegs can get you out even further.  Makes a big difference on how much you rely on your arms to keep you in position.

Now do that and practice some intense figure eight turning drills each time you go out to ride (do this first) and before long your confidence will rise enough that you can relax a little.  

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10 minutes ago, DirtBikeHead said:

I think your right. I feel like i'm over thinking everything which in turn probably has me holding on way to tight and body posture could be rigid. I feel more at home on the trails, and I'd say I'm a B rider there. As soon as I hit the track, I'm whooped. 

B rider?   Away for 18 years?   Have you been to a cross country and tried to keep up with the B riders?   Having been in the sport longer than you have lived,  as soon as you quit trying to rate yourself and live up to your own rating, you will relax more.  Honest. 

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7 minutes ago, ossagp said:

It is good that you have been watching vids.   Now have someone video you riding.   Compare that to what you should look like.   The bikes have changed in layout a lot,  and you have to learn to hold onto a newer one all over if you have been off of them that long.  I turn my knees in more now (put your feet on the pegs and turn your toes inward pigeon style) and you can hold the bike a bit better and it takes a lot of load off your upper body and arms.  Lock in like that and just ride around holding yourself up like that, loose armed and let your hands just work the levers and throttle,  steer with your knees a bit and you will see what I mean.  If you find that your arms are pumping or your wrists feel weak (especially at speed) try adapting what you should know as an athletic position with your feet as much as possible.  Having one foot positioned to the front of it's respective peg,  and the other foot to the back of it's peg will get you about 1.25 inches of separation.  Wider pegs can get you out even further.  Makes a big difference on how much you rely on your arms to keep you in position.

Now do that and practice some intense figure eight turning drills each time you go out to ride (do this first) and before long your confidence will rise enough that you can relax a little.  

I recently started reminding myself to point my toes inward and that helps a ton! Then I start slipping and use my arms too muh until I remind myself again. Need to keep practicing that. I'm actually not familiar with the athletic position that your talking about but I will certainly try it. Thanks for the great tips!

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5 minutes ago, ossagp said:

B rider?   Away for 18 years?   Have you been to a cross country and tried to keep up with the B riders?   Having been in the sport longer than you have lived,  as soon as you quit trying to rate yourself and live up to your own rating, you will relax more.  Honest. 

I have not. I really don't rate myself like I did in my comment but the reason I said B was because we ride with some B riders that race harescrambles and I can stay with them. With that said, it's been years since I entered a race and I would definitely enter into the C class. So yea, I think it's better that I don't rate myself like you said! lol

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What most kids learn as soon as they start any sport is what is known as an 'athletic position'.   That is one foot in front of the other,  and the body centering weight in a bit of a crouch,  over the balls of the feet.   that is where the feet are concerned.  If you think about it,  you would use something similar to catch a ball,   throw a ball,   line up for a boxing match,  wrestling match,  hockey match, basket ball tip off etc.    The thing being if you line up at any of those sports about the only thing you change in order to resist or create force you need one foot to be in front of the other.  Line up with your toes on a line going across the front of your body with your feet perpendicular to the line:   have someone like your 7 year old niece push you in the chest,  and without catching yourself with your hands,  I bet  you end up on your ass.   Now,  pull one foot back and inch and see the difference.  That is what I am talking about.  In 1969 we all had pegs that made a broom handle look fat.   I was looking at some of the euros who were creaming us and how their bikes were set up.  Looking really close from up top it looked to me like the pegs did NOT line up.   A man from England named Arthur Browning (I could talk to him,  where as the others, not so much) said "mmmmm  mate,  could be" and smiled broadly.  

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Most common cause of rider fatigue is the rider 'fighting' the bike. Could be the bike setup but most of the time, it is the riders style. It is called 'riding'. That means, you let the bike move and your job is to apply minimal and optimal forces on it to cause it to react. Just like horse back riding, snow skiing and countless other activities.

I recall seeing guys snow skiing and one trip down the mountain had them drenched in sweat and exhausted. A good skier arrives at the bottom cold. Bike riding should be much the same. Finesse, not fight. Work on being smooth and natural.

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3 minutes ago, ossagp said:

What most kids learn as soon as they start any sport is what is known as an 'athletic position'.   That is one foot in front of the other,  and the body centering weight in a bit of a crouch,  over the balls of the feet.   that is where the feet are concerned.  If you think about it,  you would use something similar to catch a ball,   throw a ball,   line up for a boxing match,  wrestling match,  hockey match, basket ball tip off etc.    The thing being if you line up at any of those sports about the only thing you change in order to resist or create force you need one foot to be in front of the other.  Line up with your toes on a line going across the front of your body with your feet perpendicular to the line:   have someone like your 7 year old niece push you in the chest,  and without catching yourself with your hands,  I bet  you end up on your ass.   Now,  pull one foot back and inch and see the difference.  That is what I am talking about.  In 1969 we all had pegs that made a broom handle look fat.   I was looking at some of the euros who were creaming us and how their bikes were set up.  Looking really close from up top it looked to me like the pegs did NOT line up.   A man from England named Arthur Browning (I could talk to him,  where as the others, not so much) said "mmmmm  mate,  could be" and smiled broadly.  

Ahh, I gotcha...I am familiar with this position but never applied it to riding. Definitely will try this!

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4 minutes ago, DirtBikeHead said:

I have not. I really don't rate myself like I did in my comment but the reason I said B was because we ride with some B riders that race harescrambles and I can stay with them. With that said, it's been years since I entered a race and I would definitely enter into the C class. So yea, I think it's better that I don't rate myself like you said! lol

It is subconscious and it shows up in all of us.  You will find what you have and realize that time REALLY does change us,  but we can adapt.  I was a better cross country rider at 40 than I was at 22,  but not because my abilities improved.   I raced a bit more with my head though.   It was more important for that than my reflexes and attitude had been about 20 years older.   Half miles/speedway or motocross,  not so much.

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4 minutes ago, William1 said:

Most common cause of rider fatigue is the rider 'fighting' the bike. Could be the bike setup but most of the time, it is the riders style. It is called 'riding'. That means, you let the bike move and your job is to apply minimal and optimal forces on it to cause it to react. Just like horse back riding, snow skiing and countless other activities.

I recall seeing guys snow skiing and one trip down the mountain had them drenched in sweat and exhausted. A good skier arrives at the bottom cold. Bike riding should be much the same. Finesse, not fight. Work on being smooth and natural.

Good call, I can relate to the snow skiing. I think this is what it boils down too. Every time I watch the good riders, it all seems so natural and effortless. I often wonder if they're in tip top physical condtition or just relaxed and flowing that they don't have to exert as much energy?

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8 minutes ago, William1 said:

Most common cause of rider fatigue is the rider 'fighting' the bike. Could be the bike setup but most of the time, it is the riders style. It is called 'riding'. That means, you let the bike move and your job is to apply minimal and optimal forces on it to cause it to react. Just like horse back riding, snow skiing and countless other activities.

I recall seeing guys snow skiing and one trip down the mountain had them drenched in sweat and exhausted. A good skier arrives at the bottom cold. Bike riding should be much the same. Finesse, not fight. Work on being smooth and natural.

Where I come from, if a good skiier arrives cold, he was taking it really easy :rolleyes:,  and it will look really easy too.   Funny thing about it,   you start out with light release settings so you don't break your legs,  then you get firmer ones as you get faster,  then somewhere along the time you feel really fast and RELAXED, you learn you can now go back to the soft settings and stay in the bindings if you want,   you just learned to let the ski do it's job without a fight.  Get extreme or on the edge and you might be in the air without a board on one side,  but for the most part......

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I learned to ski late,  and it didn't come fast.  Hell,  I could surf,  water ski,  ride a horse,  ride a motorcycle etc etc etc,   lol,  and I would go to the slope and see these 5 year olds, skiing by me in a line, pausing without slowing and turning around to look at me!!  I lived where getting to a slope was fast,   and I had a job where I could leave and comeback,  so mid day found me falling down mount alyeska  for an entire winter.   

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Funny, as I can relate to snow skiing as well. But in my case I skied for 43+ years and I have those skills. To this day I can run the moguls all day long and while I do get exhausted by the end of the day, I seriously have been known to stay in them all day long. I grew up back east and learnt on ice. When I moved west and found real snow it was awesome. As I say, I fell of the groomers some time back and just don't seem to be able to find them.

I took up MX (brand new to dirt bikes) 14 months ago so needless to say I'm still learning. But I would definitely say suspension setup can effect endurance. My suspension is setup rather on the "plush" side. When I switch with a buddy I note how much stiffer his suspension is. If I had to ride a harsher suspension I would suspect it would reduce my endurance. But yes, tight and rigid are not only a killer of speed but kills endurance as well.

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58 minutes ago, GoneDirtBikeN said:

Funny, as I can relate to snow skiing as well. But in my case I skied for 43+ years and I have those skills. To this day I can run the moguls all day long and while I do get exhausted by the end of the day, I seriously have been known to stay in them all day long. I grew up back east and learnt on ice. When I moved west and found real snow it was awesome. As I say, I fell of the groomers some time back and just don't seem to be able to find them.

I took up MX (brand new to dirt bikes) 14 months ago so needless to say I'm still learning. But I would definitely say suspension setup can effect endurance. My suspension is setup rather on the "plush" side. When I switch with a buddy I note how much stiffer his suspension is. If I had to ride a harsher suspension I would suspect it would reduce my endurance. But yes, tight and rigid are not only a killer of speed but kills endurance as well.

I skied most of my life, since I was about 8. Like you, I went out west and found real snow and have since my skiing has been diminishing. Unfortunately my several trips out west has spoiled me and don't enjoy skiing in the Northeast much.

I was away on a "dirtbike vacation" and switched bikes with my buddy who has a '17 KTM 250 (something or another) and it was super plush. I liked it and felt I could ride longer before tiring. I think I may try softening up my suspension a little more. I assume the main reason mx bikes are setup stiff is to absorb big air or casing jumps? 

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2 minutes ago, DirtBikeHead said:

I skied most of my life, since I was about 8. Like you, I went out west and found real snow and have since my skiing has been diminishing. Unfortunately my several trips out west has spoiled me and don't enjoy skiing in the Northeast much.

I was away on a "dirtbike vacation" and switched bikes with my buddy who has a '17 KTM 250 (something or another) and it was super plush. I liked it and felt I could ride longer before tiring. I think I may try softening up my suspension a little more. I assume the main reason mx bikes are setup stiff is to absorb big air or casing jumps? 

Because they are setup for the average teenager or 20'somthing who wants to go all out (could have use other words here LoL) fast and has the skills.  I know that is not me. My 250 is setup for me to case jumps often. Now, I only double and I'm careful about what I go for. I actually do decent on the MX jumps and I have my suspension preferences. The "recommended settings" for MX were way high on the air pressure. My fix was I run lower air pressure but I increased my oil level. The lower air helped me use the full stroke of the fork but the higher oil keeps it from bottoming (too much). I have the Show SFF TAC forks. For the rear shock I went up a little on the spring and I liked that. When I went too high on the shock spring, the "pogo" effect was too much. So just making simple adjustments to the stock suspension worked out for me.

I just got a 450 and now I'm going through figuring out the suspension on it. First ride on it the forks felt way too soft. So far, new springs in the fork and increased oil level seems to have fixed that. I only have a few hours on the bike so I still trying to get a good feeling for the rear suspension. I'm having fun using the rear suspension, just that it feels way different than my 250. 

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I got back into MX'ing at 43, riding mostly 3-wheeled ATV's in my teen years I had very little dirtbike experience to begin with

(owned a brand new 1986 Honda CR125R, rode it about a dozen times, had major mechanical problems and gave up on the hobby the following year).

 

Got back into the sport at 43, in decent shape, non-smoker/drinker, good cardio but I too could not ride more than 4-5 laps without pulling off for a breather / water.

Five years later at 48 and with experience gained, things have become 'natural' when riding (body positioning) which makes for a much smoother and more enjoyable ride. Fine tuning the suspension was also a big part in helping my confidence, not having to anticipate the numerous hard landings and front wheel washouts.

No way do I even consider myself an intermediate level rider but I've picked up quite a bit of cornering speed, jump/timing ability and, I can now ride much longer before the need for a break. Since last summer, casual trail riding has also helped me keep in shape for motocross.

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