If you've been to a track a few times, I'm sure you've seen the guy that's just railing the corners and going all out every lap. Usually my first thought is, "you're not going to win practice bro". But then I have to remember that they are most likely pushing themselves that hard in preparation for racing. So what could we learn from that guy? How can we become better racers and better riders? Here's a few tips.
First thing's first, ALWAYS get out there and warm up. Take your sight lap and then take a few more laps at a relatively easy pace just to get the feel for everything. I've noticed there still usually two times when people get hurt; either at the beginning of their ride day or at the very end.
Going all out too soon is a recipe for disaster! I've made this mistake myself and landed myself in the hospital. I literally crashed on the first lap. Pretty lame. Get to know the track, get a feel for your bike and then go for it!
Toward the end of your practice session, you'll start to feel fatigue setting in. You'll start making mistakes, you'll be sitting down more and you may find even a mild case of arm pump makes it difficult to hold on to the bike. So be careful. Take the time to warm up and know when to call it a day.
RIDE WITHIN YOUR ABILITY
Before I go any further on this, always remember to ride within your ability. There will of course come a time to push yourself, but take your time. With enough time on the bike and focused attention on technique and fundamentals, you will naturally progress and get better and faster on the bike.
I know for me, I'm not going pro. At least not in this lifetime. So there's no point in pushing myself too hard just to do it. I've flat out refused to jump obstacles that I thought were just not worth the risk. Even in competition. Did I lose sponsors over it? Nope. Did anyone give me crap for it? Not at all. I just didn't get the $15 trophy at the end. But, I went home in one piece and competed another day. So, always be aware of your limits and don't push yourself until you're ready.
SET A GOAL FOR YOURSELF
The last thing I want to do is go out and do figure 8's until I can't see straight. But, would it help my cornering in ruts? ABSOLUTELY!
When you go to the track, have a goal in mind. Just one thing to work on for that day is perfectly fine. Find an area where you need improvement and concentrate on your technique and how to improve in that area.
Whether it's cornering, jumping, throttle control, endurance,.....whatever the goal, do it over and over again and really focus in that area and work toward getting better at it.
PRACTICE HOW YOU'RE GOING TO RACE
Practice is just that, practice. But, if your goal is to race and become a better racer, then you're going to need to practice how you you're going to race.
Some races will be a set time, plus two laps. Some will just be a set number of laps. Take a couple sessions and and run your practices just like your race format. Use a watch to time yourself and compare your times. You can also use a GPS tracker such as a litpro that allows you to see where you are slower on the track and could use some improvement. It's also good for showing which line choices are faster.
However you track your sessions, just be sure to practice as close to your race format as you can. Practicing how you're going to race will help tremendously when it matters.
These tips are not anything profound. There's no big secret here. But it's so easy to go out during practice sessions and just putt around. It's easy to say "I'm just not feelin' it", and use that as an excuse to just put minimal efforts into our practice sessions. But, if you keep these things in mind the next time you go practice and you implement them, I am sure you'll see improvements in your riding and your racing!
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