Doc_speeder

Air time comfort - my experience (old slow guy)

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So I'm 42, and mainly ride woods/mountains/single track.  I've noticed there are lots of threads started on the subject of jumping technique, mainly in the form of questions, and I wanted to maybe help some people out that were in the same boat as me.

This year, in the interest of becoming a better rider overall, improving my fitness, and become more comfortable with higher speeds I've been spinning some laps at the local MX track.

Nothing serious, I don't record lap times, and I really have been able to use the predictable nature of multiple laps to work on specific techniques that I feel need improving.

I'd love to crank out some big doubles and triples, as it looks really fun but I have been terrified of getting out of shape and getting seriously hurt, as that would be bad for the family provider aspect of my life.

However I have been working on getting more comfortable and actually enjoying a bit of flight time on my YZ250X on some of the smaller doubles at the track.

I have been out 6 times now and I usually ride for about 3-4 20 minute sessions with just short water breaks in between.

At first, I was finding that I was always off-balance in the air, and I really didn't know what I was doing wrong.  Usually I was getting kicked to the side.  and usually front wheel came up too high.  I really worked on analyzing what I was doing on the face of the jumps.  Body position, throttle and gear habits, arm positioning, stance on the pegs etc.  I watched lots of fast guys carefully.  I watched lots of You Tube vids.  I even really studied the body position of the pros on TV.  I have come a LONG way this season.  Here's what I found:

 

1) body position is more important than bike attitude

--what I mean by that is that even if the bike hits a bit of rut or kicker, I can pull it back as long as my BODY is balanced at take off.

2) stay loose, especially in the arms.

--I have been focused on making sure my weight is on my legs, and I try to maintain a more or less vertical body position, even as the bike is climbing the face of a jump. This usually results in my head being over the bars on takeoff, which seems to be the way the pros do it, unless they are seat bouncing which is not a technique I've worked on yet.  Weight on the legs takes the weight off my arms, which seems to help the front end to work more freely.

3) MAKE SURE your weight is evenly distributed between your left and right legs. 

--yeah, it sounds obvious, but this was the root cause of me being kicked to the side.  I was subconsciously putting more weight on my left foot...  So really, REALLY pay attention to this

4) leave the jump face at a lower RPM if possible

--For example, if a jump could be cleared in 2nd gear wrung out, I'll do it in 3rd.  This still results in being in a meaty part of the rev range but with room for a "panic rev" if that becomes necessary.  Also, I find the bike feels looser and more relaxed if ridden a gear high.  I've determined that this may be due to my off-road habits, but whatever--it works for me.

5) hit jumps faster that you think is necessary

--I find it much easier to absorb energy and "shorten" and jump than really tug on the bars and try to "extend" a jump. 

 

That's just some things I've learned by really analyzing my riding.  I had some bad habits that didn't really seem to cause any issues off-road, but really hurt my ability and enjoyment at the track.

I haven't attempted any doubles more than about 40' so far, but as my confidence and comfort grows, I know it's just a matter of time.  Yesterday for the first time, I really found that I was able to play with the bike's attitude in the air, including some jumps that are sort of mid-corner, or jumps that should be taken leaned over a bit to set up for the following obstacles.  I don't feel like I'm just along for the ride any more, and that is a really great feeling!

 

As far as my primary goal?  Yeah, it's made me better off road too.  I really believe that to a great extent - "seat time is seat time".  The track is closer than the mountains, and allows me to put in some really concentrated and focused seat time.  It's also fun to use all the power more of the time.  What a great well rounded bike the YZ250X is!

 

Sorry for the long post, just wanted to help out some fellow MX noobs.

 

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Thanks for sharing that story!  Have any pics and/or video to go along?    I also have been reading up on my technique and watching plenty of you tube videos as well for next time I'm able to get out on the track.  I slowed down some of my footage and watched, to my surprise, I didn't look that far off.  Maybe get a little more forward with my head over the bars and I'll end up with that same "I'm in control of this" feeling and confidence.    The first few jumps were def not like this.. I was likely leaning back way to far.  Plenty of times I had to lay on the back brakes in the air and land with a stalled bike. Luckily for me, the wife didn't take any video of those ones :lol:     I think the gearing helped drastically with this as well, I found myself to be much more relaxed and in control hitting a jump in 3rd as opposed to wide open in 2nd.    My only previous track days were well, 18+years ago on a CR125.  If you weren't wide open and on the band the from the entire exit of the corner, you weren't going to clear most jumps.    It's nice on the 250x to NOT have to do this!!   

I agree -  Hell of an awesome/versatile/fun bike!  I'm trying to get a buddy to bring his KTM300 out on the track, I have a feeling he won't find that thing anywhere near as versatile as ours ;)

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34 minutes ago, Rage232 said:

Thanks for sharing that story!  Have any pics and/or video to go along?    I also have been reading up on my technique and watching plenty of you tube videos as well for next time I'm able to get out on the track.  I slowed down some of my footage and watched, to my surprise, I didn't look that far off.  Maybe get a little more forward with my head over the bars and I'll end up with that same "I'm in control of this" feeling and confidence.    The first few jumps were def not like this.. I was likely leaning back way to far.  Plenty of times I had to lay on the back brakes in the air and land with a stalled bike. Luckily for me, the wife didn't take any video of those ones :lol:     I think the gearing helped drastically with this as well, I found myself to be much more relaxed and in control hitting a jump in 3rd as opposed to wide open in 2nd.    My only previous track days were well, 18+years ago on a CR125.  If you weren't wide open and on the band the from the entire exit of the corner, you weren't going to clear most jumps.    It's nice on the 250x to NOT have to do this!!   

I agree -  Hell of an awesome/versatile/fun bike!  I'm trying to get a buddy to bring his KTM300 out on the track, I have a feeling he won't find that thing anywhere near as versatile as ours ;)

That's really cool!  I was last on a track about 18-20 years ago (before this year) too!  On an RM125!  And my best friend/riding buddy has a KTM 300XC that I'm trying to convince to come out with me!  Too funny. 

We were at the St Anthony dunes this spring (every year for the past several years actually) and we switched bikes for a bit.  He got off mine and said it's the most fun 250 he's ever ridden, and side by side up Choke Cherry hill I walked on him pretty badly.  The KTM 300 is a great tractor of an engine, but nobody ever accused tractors of being fun...

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So I thought I'd update this again.

 

I'm really pumped at the progress I've made this summer.  As I've progressed, I find I'm able to ride faster, for longer, and really not get that tired.  I'm not riding at race pace of course, but I'm always riding at a "brisk" pace.  As I've gained more confidence in the air, I'm able to jump many of the doubles and tables at our track, and landing on the backside feels like a pillow compared to jumping short into the void between doubles or landing on the top of the table and bouncing down the other side.  I finally worked up the nerve to try a new jump yesterday that I had been avoiding.  It's the first "double" of an approx 100' step up triple...It's pretty intimidating. 

 

After rolling up to it and jamming the brakes for a few laps and sizing it up, I decided to just go for it.  The first "double" of the triple is a 3rd gear MAXXED /4th gear type speed, so consistent with what I put in my first post, I did it in 4th.  Steady throttle, good speed and momentum, weight on my feet, light on the hands, head over the bars in a loose attack position...LIFT OFF...touched down on the backside so gently I couldn't believe it. I nailed it about 4 more times after that.  It's now my favourite jump so far!

I honestly can say that I can see myself attempting the triple some day.  Not soon of course, but I have realized how my own mental barriers can fall with enough practice.  I think I'd have to clear the BIG double just before it in order to have the speed.  I think it's likely a top of 4th gear leap to clear the triple.

I'm not bragging, it's just so fun and rewarding to work hard at something that initially seems almost beyond your capability and see progress.  I still prefer to ride off-road and single track type stuff, but the MX track is gaining ground!

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That's awesome congrats!!!  3rd gear MAXXED /4th   is only  the double of the triple!?  Yikes - I'm out... lol 

Pics and vids always welcomed ;)

I'm to the point where I'd rather read about MX experiences than ride single track lol 

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Someone got some good quality footage of me and gave it to me so I made an edit.

 

edit: this one was good too

 

 

Edited by temporarily_locked
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10 hours ago, temporarily_locked said:

 

Someone got some good quality footage of me and gave it to me so I made an edit.

 

edit: this one was good too

 

 

Nice edits! LoL on sending the bike over the hillside. If it were me, I would have went with it I'm sure. I think I want to do a trip to Ocotilla Wells.

 

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Really great post...I will try focusing on the same things...I'm just learning to ride MX as an 'older' rider...Your approach makes so much sense to build your awarness and capabilities gradually, so you don't hurt yourself...By the time you tried that big jump, you were no longer gambling...you had the knowledge of what to do and knew if you executed it correctly you would be safe.
Compare that to an inexperienced rider who tries the same jump without putting in the prep time...he's gambling...
One thing you didn't mention was squeezing the bike with your boots and legs to keep your feet in position with the pegs? Was a big help to me, so far. But, maybe it was something you do anyway and you don't think about? I have to practice it.

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Really great post...I will try focusing on the same things...I'm just learning to ride MX as an 'older' rider...Your approach makes so much sense to build your awarness and capabilities gradually, so you don't hurt yourself...By the time you tried that big jump, you were no longer gambling...you had the knowledge of what to do and knew if you executed it correctly you would be safe.
Compare that to an inexperienced rider who tries the same jump without putting in the prep time...he's gambling...
One thing you didn't mention was squeezing the bike with your boots and legs to keep your feet in position with the pegs? Was a big help to me, so far. But, maybe it was something you do anyway and you don't think about? I have to practice it.


Yes, very good observation about taking risk without actually gambling.

Regarding squeezing with my legs and feet--I guess I overlooked that because that is something that I've just always done whether on the track or off road. Good point to mention as it really helps with keeping your arms and hands relaxed.

I was trying to get some good go pro footage but my battery was dead and I forgot my spare. Next time I go I'll try to put up some video.
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