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Drills?

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In my younger days I was a downhill ski racer and then coach, we used to use a myriad of 'drills' to break down individual skills and practice them before incorporating them into the greater 'turn' in the race course.

With that in mind I've been trying out a few home-made drills on the trials bike, tying to address some of the issues I'm having, but am interested in what other may do in this regard.

For example:

Lock turns. I have had trouble forcing myself onto that outside peg with enough weight to handle lock turns on bumpy or off-level terrain, so I've started practicing them on the flat smooth surface with only my outside leg on the peg, the goal being to make the slowest 360 I can. It's helped me position my body to the outside of the turn and I see improvement on the varied terrain already. I'm using this as a warm-up as well.

Double blip: I have noticed that if you don't do the initial bounce and blip in very good balance, in a straight line, and with you eyes up, the second part of the maneuver tends to end up out of balance or you miss it all together. So, I've been rolling in a straight line moving very slowly and just bouncing the front end up with no throttle to get the bounce happening in balance. Once I get that, I'm adding that first blip to loft the front, choosing (or trying to choose!) where it lands to become more precise with it. Next I try to put whole thing together and make a very smooth, in balance, double blip. It's getting better...slowly!

Hopping: Mmm, I've got nothing here!

Anyway, short of just practicing the complete maneuvers all the time, I'd like to know how to break down certain parts of each focusing on balance, body position, throttle/clutch/brake control, and other such basics. I'm all ears if anyone has some drills they use to get better or warm up.

Overall it's coming pretty well, made a bit of a breakthrough last week thanks to 2Ply and the gang, going to work a bit more today.

MD

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For the hopping of the front end, it requires the same balance and foot control that you are already working on. Important NOT to lock your head and shoulders in the middle of the bars. Gotta let the hands move side to side as the bike tips.

A good hop practice is to ride in a dirt 2 wheel track or similar and hop the front up and over to the other wheel track, unweight the rear as it crosses over and then do it back to the other track.. As you do this, you will lean the bike into the turn as you loft the wheel.... but THEN, BEFORE IT LANDS, you need to tip the bike a little the opposite direction to help stop the turning momentum.. Much like you do with snow skis as you hop from one turn to the next setting the edges without throwing your head into it. The front tire takes the place of your skis..

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Thanks 2Ply, I'll certainly give that a try.

Practiced hopping a bunch more today, and actually got a reasonable 20 second hop sequence going once, and felt exactly what you mentioned about tipping the bike, it just came naturally once I was able to get a good series going. It was a nice little bit of success.

My usual stoppie/wheelie practice is coming along, getting better at both, and managed a stoppie about 10ft down the driveway once which was neat. Another I literally got stuck in the balance point for a couple seconds - couldn't come down!

MD

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Nice! I really need to do some stoppie practice once I get my bike back together.

For some reason I can easily hop my front wheel to the right, but I can't seem to do it to the left... I think 2Ply's drill should work great for breaking that though!

All I did today was more balance practice on the YZ today. With the wheel straight, I'm almost as good on it as I was on the 315r when I stopped. Still not very good overall, but I managed to get a few seconds of "still time" where I was just sitting on top of the balance point without any movement. It's kind of weird feeling! Hopefully when I get the 315 put back together I'll be a pro at balance!... Well, I can dream right?:bonk:

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Nice! I really need to do some stoppie practice once I get my bike back together.

For some reason I can easily hop my front wheel to the right, but I can't seem to do it to the left... I think 2Ply's drill should work great for breaking that though!

All I did today was more balance practice on the YZ today. With the wheel straight, I'm almost as good on it as I was on the 315r when I stopped. Still not very good overall, but I managed to get a few seconds of "still time" where I was just sitting on top of the balance point without any movement. It's kind of weird feeling! Hopefully when I get the 315 put back together I'll be a pro at balance!... Well, I can dream right?:bonk:

Are you holding the back brake while hopping the front? I've heard that when you hold the back brake it "locks" up the right side of the body as the foot must remain on the peg to apply pressure to the lever. Without the right foot locked into position both feet can rotate a bit on the pegs forward and back, as well as laterally. I've been told this make hopping easier as small adjustments come much faster and more accurately.

The "no brake bouncers" use the throttle and clutch to control bike wheel roll and position.

For me it's easier to use the "no brake" method as I learn to hop. I can control the throttle and clutch far better than I can use my foot to "lock up" the bike. I've only been riding serious trials for a year and a half, now on the Intermediate line, and practicing to move up soon! I'm heading out to our local practice area at Santa Rosa tomorrow for a riding school held by Andrew Oldar, a local So Cal pro. I'll ask him this same question and report back here with his advice and training drills!

:smirk:

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Thanks Orange,

Let us know what he says.

762, I seem to be able to bounce better to the left... maybe we should combine our skills for the whole thing??? lol When I try to lock the rear and bounce, I end up going backwards, which I find a bit odd. I should try to make a video to show you what I mean. Staying in one spot with front brake, and clutch seems to be easier at this point. Not sure that's a good thing.

I practice balance and lock turns on the Ktm all the time, and the lock turns I feel are much easier for me on the big bike... I'm starting to think that Mx boots are not the way to go on the trials bike as I can't bend the ankle laterally enough, in my street shoes on the driveway it's easy.... Yet another $300.... Gulp.

MD

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Thanks 2Ply, I'll certainly give that a try.

Practiced hopping a bunch more today, and actually got a reasonable 20 second hop sequence going once, and felt exactly what you mentioned about tipping the bike, it just came naturally once I was able to get a good series going. It was a nice little bit of success.

My usual stoppie/wheelie practice is coming along, getting better at both, and managed a stoppie about 10ft down the driveway once which was neat. Another I literally got stuck in the balance point for a couple seconds - couldn't come down!

MD

If you grab the front brake while you're stuck you'll get unstuck!:bonk:

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If you grab the front brake while you're stuck you'll get unstuck!:smirk:

That's the funny part! I was't moving, and wasn't coming down... lol No brake on either, oh well, I'll hold it up as my greatest success to date...! :bonk:

MD

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I practice balance and lock turns on the Ktm all the time, and the lock turns I feel are much easier for me on the big bike... I'm starting to think that Mx boots are not the way to go on the trials bike as I can't bend the ankle laterally enough, in my street shoes on the driveway it's easy.... Yet another $300.... Gulp.

MD

GET THE TRIALS BOOTS! I rode for a long time around my yard (for physical therapy from breaking my leg) in steel toe hiking boots and it felt great but I was worried about the lack of support and protection they had. Then after a few months of that I felt comfortable enough to go out riding beyond the yard with some friends. That trip I wore MX boots... Talk about a HUGE mistake. Couldnt feel the brake petal or really where my feet were on the pegs. Had a hilarious crash cause I missed the brake and looped the bike out from under me on a hill climb threw the bike into the bushes and grabbed onto a tree to keep from falling back down the hill. Anyways so I got trials boots. BEST piece of gear I have ever gotten aside from a helmet :bonk:

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If you're using MX boots, and you're going backwards on your hops then you're probably not on the brake enough! I keep my MX boots for the big bike and wear my work boots on the trials, that is until I get some trials boots!

Try stopping with your tire stem is a particular spot, and then do some hops. If the stem moves, you aren't on the brake enough. Make sure you don't have any air in the lines.

I went through a phase where I was going backwards even with the rear locked though. When the front was up, my tempo was too fast and I was pushing the bars down. My rear wheel was coming up and slightly back each time. Sort of like a bunny hop, except my momentum was slightly back when the wheel was off the ground. This will probably be a useful skill down the road, but not what I was looking for at the time!

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+1 - thats exactly what I do when going backwards..:bonk:

Another drill I like - very simple. Ride sections with no clutch. Teaches you to ride with momentum and steer with your feet. Related to that is the one handed drill. Helps teach correct body position.

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One of the best drills that I've ever done (courtesy of Libor), was to make a section made up just of continuous switchbacks up/down a hill. It should be loose and tricky, and it should be just within your skill level to clean.

Ride it a couple times normally, then ride it through 3 more ways: once with your weight as far forward over the bars as you can, one with your body way back over the rear fender and one as low and far to the outside as you can (see the picture). All of this forces you to play with new angles between body bike and ground, shows you what kind of weighting works and what doesn't, and helps you to loosen up and use all of your range of motion. It makes a great warm-up at the beginning of a ride.

SNV32129.jpg

Also, generally try to do new things in practice sections. Do everything in a lower gear to teach yourself how to get the most out of your momentum or cope without it. Do it in a higher gear or without a clutch to practice your balance in motion and smoothness. Every time you place yourself out of your comfort zone like this you will get better at your weaknesses.

Orangeroost- my bet is that Oldar will steer you away from using the throttle and clutch. The only time it really makes more sense than using the back brake is when you are trying to do something halfway between a floater and a hop and you want to move forward.

Otherwise it makes it easy to spin the back wheel or accidentally move forward. It also lets you get away with small, jerky hops instead of using the natural rhythm of the suspension. Locking up the back brake should be a non-issue if your set-up is correct and dealing with the feeling of moving around on the bike while still standing on the brake is something that everybody has to learn; same deal as maintaining control of the throttle and clutch wherever you are one the bike.

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Lots of drills here including the 3 hours in the parking lot system. Even though it's twin shock, the instruction is still relevant, especially for beginners.

It's a great book. I have one but mine is falling apart from over-use. :smirk: And I used to ride the same bike he's riding in the book.. an 83 SWM 350 "Jumbo" :banana:

That book and watching Bernie ride that SWM in a video is what helped break some really bad habits.. People told me that the SWM 350 was too powerful and that it would jerk me around... and it DID.. until I discovered that I had a death grip on the bars and the bike frame after setting up a video camera to watch myself struggle through a rock pile.. It was so obvious in the video it was embarrassing..

I watched Bernie glide through the sections while other bounced around on the same bike. It took a long time, but I finally got it and after that, the bike was a dream in the sections. :bonk:

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Thanks guys,

There's a lot of information here that's valuable, exactly what I was looking for!

We had a GREAT ride today, wet and slippery which was tough. We rode down the nastiest mountain bike trail in the area which was fun, but then we decided to come back up it.... So much fun, and it really pushed me to 'loosen up,' no choice! I did Ok, couple mistakes, and one memorable section where I Ghosted the bike up the last lip on a nasty, steep, loose, ledge filled climb! Bike made it, me, not so much... I'll try to take some shots next time we go up.

Hopping is getting a bit better, had some good ones today which was encouraging. The MX boots will go pretty soon, once i get back from Oz I'll buy some. I could really see today where they were getting in the way.

MD

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When there is plenty of traction like on dry granite rocks, you can break all of the balancing and centering rules and get away with it. But when it gets slick, the fundamentals become extremely important.. And that's where you'll know if you are learning them or not.

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I've got a quick question about balance after reading that article. Mostly about stationary balance.

When you're leaning, say to the right, is it better to lift your right foot and put your weight on the right peg, or are you supposed to stick your left foot out to put more weight outside and move your center of gravity back to the middle?

I've been doing the latter and having good luck with it. The problem is when you lift your outside foot, you're then standing on the inside peg making it want to lean more.

On the other hand, if you throw your inside foot out, like it says in the book, you're putting weight on the outside peg, but also bringing a bunch of mass towards the inside.

I can see how sticking your outside leg out can have it's limitations, especially as the angle increases but that's what came naturally for me. Am I doing it wrong?

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I've got a quick question about balance after reading that article. Mostly about stationary balance.

When you're leaning, say to the right, is it better to lift your right foot and put your weight on the right peg, or are you supposed to stick your left foot out to put more weight outside and move your center of gravity back to the middle?

I've been doing the latter and having good luck with it. The problem is when you lift your outside foot, you're then standing on the inside peg making it want to lean more.

On the other hand, if you throw your inside foot out, like it says in the book, you're putting weight on the outside peg, but also bringing a bunch of mass towards the inside.

I can see how sticking your outside leg out can have it's limitations, especially as the angle increases but that's what came naturally for me. Am I doing it wrong?

A little confusing.. you say:

When you're leaning, say to the right,

You or the bike? YOU shouldn't be "leaning" either direction.. Lean the bike into the turn and rest it against your inside leg while you step a little more on the outside peg... that "outside" peg moves closer to the center of the bike as you lean the bike.. You can lift the inside foot easily or just lighten the load.

The tighter the turn, the more you lean the bike and the wider your legs will need to bow so that you can lay the bike against the inside leg and still weight the outside peg.. if your outside knee comes in to the tank, you will fall into the turn and need throttle to catch yourself.. If you hear your throttle changing in the turn, it's a sure sign you are using it to catch yourself.. :bonk:

Anyway, I'm outta here going to Austin, TX for Christmas.. will check in later.

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I meant if you're stationary and you start leaning (bike, as in loosing balance as falling to the right)

Have a fun Christmas, 2ply and everyone!

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