There’s an old rule of thumb when it comes to perfect bike handling skills: no matter what condition the track is in, there’s a time to sit and there’s a time to stand. Finding the correct combination of these two body positions on your bike isn’t always easy, but once you do your speed will reach a completely new level.
Most MXperts will advise that for the majority of circumstances, sitting in corners with a single leg out for balance and stability combined with a standing, crouching attack position on rough straights is the best technique, but Ryan Hughes is here to tell you that there are certain situations when you need to break these age-old rules. Rough, sandy tracks with huge holes in the exits of the corners call for a completely different procedure than most. The reason? If you’re sitting rather than standing while entering colossal sand whoops, your bike will transform from a smooth-handling, technological marvel to a 10-buck pogo stick quicker than Big E can throw back an all-chicken burrito from Miguel’s.
The right-hand turn pictured here followed a long, bumpy downhill and preceded an extremely rough sand straight with two huge, curb-sized bumps right at the entrance. By keeping both of his feet on the footpegs through the corner and using his polished throttle and clutch skills, Hughes saved a ton of energy through the section but still maintained his blazing speed, all the while being set up perfectly for the next section of rough bumps. Here’s how he did it…
“Directly out of this corner sat two huge bumps, so I knew I needed to be standing at the exit. Because the corner is slightly less than 90 degrees and is fairly fast, I was able to stand up through it without any balancing trouble. Most of the riders I saw this day were sitting down in the middle of the turn, putting their leg out, then trying to get back to the attack position before the big bumps. This takes far too much time and energy. It’s much easier to enter standing, crouch down or even sit down if you have to, and be able to be back into a standing position without having to worry about getting your other foot back on the bike. It makes for one quick, easy movement rather than several.
“I enter the corner just a tad slower than I would if I were planning on sitting, but I’ll make up for it at the exit. I come in slightly crouched, but looking forward and ready to attack. Once you’re in and committed, keep your balance and control the bike by squeezing the bike hard with your legs, or more specifically your knees.”
“Another important thing to remember in a corner like this is to stay on the balls of your feet. The combination of that with the bending of your knees will act like additional suspension when you hit the first whoop and will also let you move back or forward on the bike as needed.
“As you round the corner, you’ll begin to make your transition to a full attack position. This is where keeping your feet on the pegs comes in handy. Stand up, and at the same time give your bike a quick clutch stab and some additional throttle. This will bring your front wheel up, which is exactly where it should be to handle the approaching sand bumps. I oftentimes use both the power of the bike and the first small bump out of the corner to get me up into my attack position. As always, don’t forget to look ahead.”