(This originally ran in the February 2003 issue of TransWorld Motocross. Get all this in your mailbox by subscribing!)
Words By Ivan Tedesco, Photos By Garth Milan
With Supercross season quickly approaching, it’s about time you started brushing up on your technical skills so you don’t look like such a dork at the track when attempting to emulate your favorite rider’s style. Little things like staying light on your bike, seat bouncing jumps and bunny hopping over obstacles can make the difference between race day glory and Goon Fest 2003.
Now that factory SX testing is in full swing in the foothills of the 909, TransWorld Motocross decided to drop by the Yamaha test track to see if we could find a practicing pro to help us with our SX techniques. As luck would have it, we found the entire Boost Mobile/Yamaha of Troy team there polishing their Supercross skills in preparation for Anaheim in January. We interrupted the senior member of the squad, Ivan “Hot Sauce” Tedesco just long enough for him to explain how he floats from one jump to the top of the next tabletop, then hops his bike over another mound of dirt with virtually no lip to take off from. Hot Sauce assured us that the technique was plenty easy and just involved some simple body English, the use of your suspension springs along with your throttle, and plenty of practice. Sound simple? It is. We’ll let the man himself guide you through the skill so you can hop right along with the best of ’em.
“It’s becoming more and more common in Supercross racing and at tracks in general for there to be jumps where you need to spring yourself off something with no lip to help you get into the air and clear another obstacle. Jumps like this are found all over the place, with most having a single jump in the beginning to a tabletop in the middle. From there, you’re left with nothing and must hop your bike over the next obstacle. With a little help from your suspension and a little muscling of the bike, these sections really aren’t that tough. The section that I am demonstrating here on Yamaha’s test track is not much different than the ones I see at most SX races.
“To start with, jump the first single jump like you normally would with your elbows up, your head forward and your knees slightly compressed. After you’ve hit the section in practice, you should be able to time the first jump perfectly so that you land at just the right spot on the tabletop. You don’t want to land on the far edge and have no room to spring up on, but at the same time if you land too early you won’t have the timing and rhythm required to bounce off correctly. Try to time it so that you land with about a bike-length of room before you need to spring off the obstacle. This will allow you plenty of time to compress your suspension. Once in the air off the first hit, jump so that your bike lands very slightly nose first.”
“Now that you have jumped and are getting ready to land with your front end first, soak up the landing by staying light on the bike. You should always be gripping the side of your frame and tank with your knees and thighs, and here it is especially important. Once you’ve landed, get ready to push down slightly on the handlebars and footpegs with equal pressure so that neither end is favored. Your suspension should be slightly down in the stroke—this is what will spring you up. With your weight centered and your body pushing down, in the same motion give your bike some throttle. (Oftentimes, I will even give the clutch a little tap for some extra power.) As you’re twisting the throttle, grasp the bike hard with your legs and pull up simultaneously. The combination of the gas you give the bike, the spring in your suspension and some muscling of the bike will have you jumping up again.
“You can see that in this set of photos, I happened to have a very small lip to help launch me into the air. Sometimes, though, you have no lip whatsoever. In these circumstances you need to perform the same technique only with a bit more exaggeration. I see a lot of guys pulling up so hard with their legs that they actually end up with their feet off of the pegs. This is fine and will commonly happen—just make sure you get them back on before landing!”
“After you pogo off the tabletop and are on the way up again, the next step is to reassure yourself that you’ve cleared the gap you need to clear. The problem is that once you’ve done your bunny hop, there’s not much you can do to extend your bounce. Just make sure to spring up and be smooth, with no sudden or jerky moves. If you do think you will come up short, prepare for the worst by yanking hard on the bars and forcing your rear wheel to land first. It might not look pretty, but this will keep you from getting pitched over the bars. If you do make it clean and are clearing the obstacle without a problem, just return to your normal flight pattern. Stay centered and keep your weight balanced, preparing yourself for the next section.”