Tuesday Tip: Tips From the Pros

This one definitely falls into the “oldie, but a goodie” category. TWMX.com readers, like Travis from San Diego, CA, tell us they want to hear some riding tips from the pros, so we pulled out the 101 Pointers from the Pros that was originally posted back in ’04…

1. LOOK AHEAD
“Don’t get caught staring at the ground in front of your fender. Try to always look ahead when you are riding, as doing so will help you anticipate the obstacles that are approaching.” – Ryan Hughes

2. STYLE FIRST
“If you are a beginner, concentrate on developing a good, correct riding style. Watch the pros and do what they do. If you have a good riding style as a base, the speed will come easier.” – Josh Hansen

3. FLOW IN SAND
“When you are riding a sandy track, the key to going fast is to flow through all of the corners and tricky sections. Sand sucks up all of your forward momentum, so using a cut-and-thrust riding style just doesn’t work.” – John Dowd

4. SET UP FOR OFF CAMBERS
“You want to sweep around off-camber corners as wide as you can, because you are more likely to lose traction with one or both of your wheels when making a tight turn. Patience and throttle control are more important than raw speed.” – Branden Jesseman

5. PREP YOUR GATE
“Once your pick your starting gate, take the time to prepare it. If it is concrete, sweep absolutely all of the dirt and dust off of it. Make sure that there is no dry mud underneath your fenders that will fall on it when you rev your bike. If it is dirt, pack the dirt hard so you are not starting in loose pebbles that will make you spin.” – Ernesto Fonseca

6. DON’T FOLLOW
“Rule number one has always been not to follow. You have to plan ahead and try different lines. If the guy you are chasing is cutting to the inside, go wide and try to slingshot past him. If he is railing the outside, try to cut underneath him. The bottom line is that you will never pass someone if you are doing exactly the same thing. In this shot, I squared off the corner earlier than Cobra and ended up racing past underneath him.” – Kevin Windham

7. GO OUT FAST
“Finish your raceday practice session hard and fast, at full race speed. That way, you will leave the track on the same note you want to re-enter it at. Never cruise your last few laps of practice.” – Ricky Johnson

8. PRE-RACE CHECKLIST
“The day before the race, I make sure that all of my equipment is in order. If you pack your gearbag the morning of the race, you are bound to forget something. If you can, it also helps to load up your truck the night before and park it in the garage, so you don’t forget your gas can or stand.” – Nick Wey

9. STAY LOOSE
“The looser and more relaxed you can keep your body, the better you will be able to react with body positioning to different things you bike might do. Whether it is shifting your weight to gain better traction or to correct its flight path mid-air, it all comes easier if you are loose.” – Sebastien Tortelli

10. TOES UP IN RUTS
“When there are deep ruts that you have to ride through, it is important to ride on the balls of your feet, or to consciously point your toes up, so that you don’t catch them on the sides of the rut. It also helps to point your toes inward, towards the bike.” – Kevin Windham

11. KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS PARALLEL WITH THE BARS
“When you corner, always keep your shoulders in line with—or parallel with—your handlebars. If you always stay in line with your bars, you will never have a problem in corners, rutted ones, especially.” – Broc Glover

12. DON’T FEAR THE RUTS
“If a straightaway is rutted up, lots of riders will go around them, thinking it is faster. Wrong! Attack the rut! G your front end light by gassing it hard and leaning back. Look past the rut and don’t get caught staring at it—this will cause you to choke and get cross rutted.” – Scott Sheak

13. STEER WITH YOUR BUTT
“When you are powering out of corners, push down with your butt on the seat, not towards the outside of the corner. This will help the bike get traction and drive forward. Pushing out will make the rear tire slide.” – Sean Hamblin

14. ONE-MOTION CORNERS
“Making a smooth corner is best accomplished when you can do several things, all at once: let off the brakes, sit down and lean the bike over. When you sit down, the suspension will compress, which will in turn make the bike easier to lean over.” – Ryan Hughes

15. LEARNING A NEW TRACK
“On raceday at a new track, concentrate on the dangerous obstacles first, then worry about going fast. Once you have found your pace, concentrate on finding alternate lines for passing, then practice hitting those lines fast.” – Ricky Johnson

16. OUTSIDE ELBOW UP
“When you are making a turn, be sure to keep your outside elbow up. Doing this will help get weight on your front tire and it will then get better traction and keep you from washing out.” – Travis Preston

17. DON’T GIVE UP
“Even if you don’t win, you can be satisfied with yourself as long as you give everything you have and never give up. If you are racing, there is no letting up or settling. Race hard to the checkered flag, even if there is no one around you.” – Mike Brown

18. RESIST THE BRAKE-TAP
“Tapping the rear brake in the air to bring the front of your bike down was trendy back in the day, but you should learn to drop the front end of your bike using body English. Tapping the rear brake costs you a millesecond each time you do it, because you have to regain forward momentum with the stopped wheel once you touch down.” – Grant Langston

19. PLAN YOUR SIGNALS
“If you are going to go through the trouble to have someone pit board for you, figure out what you want to know and talk about it. I like my mechanic to tell me how far ahead or how far behind I am, as well as how far into the race I am. Sometimes, the encouraging messages help, but more than anything I want to know where I stand.” – Mike LaRocco

20. SIT CROOKED IN CORNERS
“Don’t be afraid to sit on the corner of your seat when making a corner. Sitting on the upper edge of your seat when you lean the bike over can help the bike dig for traction, and get the bike laid over further for a tighter turn.” – Tim Ferry

21. SET UP FOR CORNERS
“If there is a corner following a jump, you can sometimes set up for it ahead of time by angling your takeoff so that you land in the direction of the turn. If the corner is really close, sometimes I will even sit down in the air and get my leg out in preparation for the turn.” – Kevin Windham

22. PLAN AHEAD
“Passing is a lot more strategy than anything else. When you are chasing a rider, you will figure out the sections of the track that you are stronger in. Plan your passes one or two corners ahead.” – Grant Langston

23. BE CREATIVE
“Be creative with your lines, don’t just settle into the same lines that everyone else is taking. Look for other parts of the track that you can take advantage of, especially in really rough sections. Chances are that there is a smoother line somewhere off the main race line.” – Michael Byrne

24. LEAD WITH YOUR HEAD
“Ride in the center of the bike, but lead it with your head and upper body. Ricky kind of leans back and pins it, but for me it works best if I get up, clamp onto the bike with my knees and get my upper body up and over the bars.” – Kevin Windham

25. ELIMINATE COASTING
“I see a lot of amateur riders brake way too early for a corner, then coast into it before getting back on the gas. Instead, charge harder into the turn, brake later and eliminate that gap in between the time you are on the brakes and getting on the gas.” – Josh Hansen

26. BRAKE SLIDE
“Brake sliding is a good technique for hard-packed bowl turns. Pull in the clutch, lock up your rear brake and twist your body to nudge the bike into the slide. Be ready to let the clutch out when your bike has changed directions sufficiently.” – Matt Walker

27. WORK THE SIDES
“When you are faced with a super-rough straightaway or sweeping corner, look to the outsides of the track for smooth lines that might allow you to miss the bumps. Sometimes, crossing over the same bumps, at a different angle, makes them less brutal.” – Steve Lamson

28. FOCUS ON TURN ONE

“At the start of a race, once the gate drops focus on the first turn and where you want to go. Don’t become distracted by the riders on the sides of you.” – Ernesto Fonseca

29. HEAD TILT

“One of the best things Gary Bailey has taught me is to lead into a corner with your head if you are having trouble. For some reason, if you tilt your head to the inside, your body and bike will follow. Try it!’ – Sebastien Tortelli

30. VISUALIZE THE HOLESHOT

“After you have prepped your gate, sit there and visualize yourself getting the holeshot from a spectator’s perspective. Then, start over and visualize getting the holeshot through your goggles. Seeing it and feeling it can oftentimes be half of the battle.” – Ricky Johnson

31. SLIPPERY HEAD “I like to spray the top of my helmet with some sort of non-stick cooking spray because it helps keep mud from sticking to it. At muddy races, the mud that cakes up on the top of your helmet can get really heavy. Doing this also makes cleaning up your nice paint job a lot easier.” – Matt Walker

32. RELAX YOUR GRIP
“If you are a rider who struggles with arm pump, relax your grip on the handlebars every time your bike leaves the ground. This will help you loosen your overall grip and help alleviate arm pump.” – Stephane Roncada

33. LEARN FROM OTHERS
“Before practice, chances are good that you’ll already have an idea of who the fastest riders are. Follow them in practice and study their lines. Try to run their pace and get a feel for how much you have to step it up to win.” – Michael Craig

34. STRAIGHT INTO RUTS
“In sections like this one, with deep ruts entering a corner, I make sure to get my bike lined up perfectly straight with the approaching rut. You can’t expect to go through the rut smoothly if your front wheel is in it, but your back wheel is in another or sliding across the top of the ground in between. Get your front wheel light, gas it hard and look towards the end of the rut, where you hope to be.” – Nick Wey

35. CUT THE RUT
“If there is a really common rut that everyone is using, it will usually get all whooped out at the end. If the rut isn’t too deep, try to cut the corner tighter right at the apex and start an alternate, tighter groove. Usually, you can start a new rut by hitting the same line three times in a row.” – Steve Lamson

36. ELBOWS OUT RACING
“If you are racing side-by-side with another rider, be sure to keep your elbows up and up, so that it is them—not your handlebars—that will make contact with the other rider. If you tangle handlebars, you’re most likely going to crash.” – Branden Jesseman

37. SCRUBBING SPEED
“There is no reason to hit any jump perfectly straight. By turning slightly on the face, you can angle your bike to jump lower which helps cut down your airtime. This technique can also allow you to approach the jump faster, yet scrub enougsee a lot of amateur riders brake way too early for a corner, then coast into it before getting back on the gas. Instead, charge harder into the turn, brake later and eliminate that gap in between the time you are on the brakes and getting on the gas.” – Josh Hansen

26. BRAKE SLIDE
“Brake sliding is a good technique for hard-packed bowl turns. Pull in the clutch, lock up your rear brake and twist your body to nudge the bike into the slide. Be ready to let the clutch out when your bike has changed directions sufficiently.” – Matt Walker

27. WORK THE SIDES
“When you are faced with a super-rough straightaway or sweeping corner, look to the outsides of the track for smooth lines that might allow you to miss the bumps. Sometimes, crossing over the same bumps, at a different angle, makes them less brutal.” – Steve Lamson

28. FOCUS ON TURN ONE

“At the start of a race, once the gate drops focus on the first turn and where you want to go. Don’t become distracted by the riders on the sides of you.” – Ernesto Fonseca

29. HEAD TILT

“One of the best things Gary Bailey has taught me is to lead into a corner with your head if you are having trouble. For some reason, if you tilt your head to the inside, your body and bike will follow. Try it!’ – Sebastien Tortelli

30. VISUALIZE THE HOLESHOT

“After you have prepped your gate, sit there and visualize yourself getting the holeshot from a spectator’s perspective. Then, start over and visualize getting the holeshot through your goggles. Seeing it and feeling it can oftentimes be half of the battle.” – Ricky Johnson

31. SLIPPERY HEAD “I like to spray the top of my helmet with some sort of non-stick cooking spray because it helps keep mud from sticking to it. At muddy races, the mud that cakes up on the top of your helmet can get really heavy. Doing this also makes cleaning up your nice paint job a lot easier.” – Matt Walker

32. RELAX YOUR GRIP
“If you are a rider who struggles with arm pump, relax your grip on the handlebars every time your bike leaves the ground. This will help you loosen your overall grip and help alleviate arm pump.” – Stephane Roncada

33. LEARN FROM OTHERS
“Before practice, chances are good that you’ll already have an idea of who the fastest riders are. Follow them in practice and study their lines. Try to run their pace and get a feel for how much you have to step it up to win.” – Michael Craig

34. STRAIGHT INTO RUTS
“In sections like this one, with deep ruts entering a corner, I make sure to get my bike lined up perfectly straight with the approaching rut. You can’t expect to go through the rut smoothly if your front wheel is in it, but your back wheel is in another or sliding across the top of the ground in between. Get your front wheel light, gas it hard and look towards the end of the rut, where you hope to be.” – Nick Wey

35. CUT THE RUT
“If there is a really common rut that everyone is using, it will usually get all whooped out at the end. If the rut isn’t too deep, try to cut the corner tighter right at the apex and start an alternate, tighter groove. Usually, you can start a new rut by hitting the same line three times in a row.” – Steve Lamson

36. ELBOWS OUT RACING
“If you are racing side-by-side with another rider, be sure to keep your elbows up and up, so that it is them—not your handlebars—that will make contact with the other rider. If you tangle handlebars, you’re most likely going to crash.” – Branden Jesseman

37. SCRUBBING SPEED
“There is no reason to hit any jump perfectly straight. By turning slightly on the face, you can angle your bike to jump lower which helps cut down your airtime. This technique can also allow you to approach the jump faster, yet scrub enough speed off to not overjump it.” – David Vuillemin

38. REST BETWEEN MOTOS
“In between motos, I make the guys on my team lay down and rest. Be sure to hydrate yourself and even eat something for energy. Get out of your gear if it is hot and lay low to conserve energy; don’t walk around in the sun.” – Michael Craig

39. FIRST PRACTICE SETS THE TONE
“For me, I have found that my first practice session of the weekend usually sets the tone for how my race is going to go. Don’t take too long building up your race pace, because it may never come.” – Brock Sellards

40. STAY LOOSE IN MUD
“The key to going fast in the mud is staying smooth and fluid. Making quick directional changes is not good—you have to flow around the track. Look further ahead than usual to see if there are big puddles or other riders crashed. Ride slower and pace yourself.” – David Vuillemin

41. BURN RUBBER
“I know tires are expensive, but if you really want to get a good start on a concrete starting pad, you should hold your front brake, put your bike in first gear and do a five to 10 second burn out about 30 second before the gate drops.” – Nathan Ramsey

42. MAKE THE MOST OUT OF PRACTICE
“Some people say that getting time on the bike is the most important thing when you are practicing, but I like to give it 100% every time I am on the bike. If you don’t practice at 100%, how can you expect to comfortably race at 100%?” – Ricky Carmichael

43. RIDE TALL IN SAND
“On sandy, whooped out straights, ride a gear taller than you normally would, because it will lighten the load on your rear suspension and keep the bike from swapping. Stay light on the bike and keep your elbows and knees bent to help your suspension absorb the rollers.” – John Dowd

44. RIDE WITH YOUR LEGS
“Squeezing the bike all the time with your legs is important, and pressing down hard on the footpegs on straightaways will help the bike stay on the ground and get good traction. Make your legs strong at the gym, and it will help you save your arms when you ride.” – Stephane Roncada

45. DON’T SOUND FAST
“The biggest mistake I see amateur racers making is riding in too low a gear and revving their bikes out. Basically, they are trying to be aggressive, and they think that if they sound fast, they will go fast. Shift up! Ride smoother! Make less noise!” – Brock Sellards

46. WATCH OTHER RIDERS
“Even if you are not riding, just watching other riders or races on television can help you improve your technique. Pay attention to more than how big they jump: watch their braking points, how they apply the throttle, or even when they sit and stand on their bikes. Paying close attention can teach you a lot.” – Branden Jesseman

47. DRY HANDS
“If you take a jacuzzi the night before a race, keep it short because it will dehydrate you. Also, never soak your hands in one, because it will soften the calluses you have worked so hard to build up and they will fall off.” – Ricky Johnson

48. GO SLOW TO GO FAST
“It’s an oft-used cliché in racing, but totally true. Sometimes, being more technical and precise through a section will produce faster lap times than charging in wide open and out of control. Trust me I’ve learned the hard way!” – Ryan Hughes

49. BE AGGRESSIVE IN SAND
“When riding in sand, you must be much more aggressive in the corners than you would normally be in other conditions. Sand sucks your bike down and works like an automatic brake system, so you can’t let off the gas at all unless you want to slow down. You have to actually get on the gas much harder and much sooner when negotiating a deep, sandy corner, and maintaining the rpms of your bike is crucial. Every shift must be timed perfectly, and you need to use lots of clutch to keep the bike on the pipe.” – Grant Langston

50. FRONT BRAKE RUT READY
“I like to keep my finger on the front brake when I am negotiating tricky ruts, because a little front brake can help you in case you start to ride out of it or get cross-rutted. Sometimes, if the rut is really tight or in an off-camber section of the track, dragging the front brake a little bit can help you keep the front tire from riding up the sides and out of the rut.” – Ernesto Fonseca

50. LEARN DURING PRACTICE
“Never try anything new at a race, whether it is a riding t