Skills: Whoops I Did It Again

[IMAGE 1]Technically speaking, whoops are a nightmare. It’s not that blitzing through a set of the peaked monsters is impossible to do once or twice; it’s the lap-after-lap thing that gets to most of us.Thus, it came as no surprise when 125cc West Coast Champ Shae Bentley was deciding on a topic for this month’s Skills section that he suggested whoops.

“Whoops are the single hardest part of the track because you have to do them flawlessly every lap. There is no resting in the whoops, and they change on you during the course of the race day. In practice, they’re usually no problem, but by the end of the night, especially in Supercross, they’re always torn up and rutted,” said Bentley.

Shae claims that the whoops are so technically challenging, in fact, that he doesn’t even like to look at them for too long before the race. “If I stare at the whoops for too long, I end up getting intimidated. If your front end drops in a gnarly set, it’s pretty much a done deal. They constantly jar your wrists and shoulders, too, so they definitely need to be taken seriously.”

So how, exactly, do you take whoops seriously? Bentley came up with several answers to that question, and we boiled them down and separated them into two categories. You see, there are two ways of hitting the bumps: you can get back on the bike and charge through them; or you can double and triple your way through them. The decision usually lies in the whoops themselves. If the whoops are small enough that you can consistently blitz through them lap after lap, this is usually the fastest way. If, however, you are keeping the bike pinned and going nowhere or they are too choppy to stay consistent, then you are probably going to want to keep a rhythm through them.

UP ON TOP

[IMAGE 2]”Staying on top of the bumps is the best way to approach the whoops, when it’s possible. You want to come into them with as much momentum and speed as you can, especially if you are planning on keeping the bike on top and skimming over them,” said Bentley.

To do this, Shae recommends coming in with a higher gear than you might normally hit a rhythm or jump section in. “Sometimes I actually come into long whoop sections in fourth gear. If you go in with a low gear, your bike will wind out and your suspension will get loaded. Instead, try a high gear; one that will pull you through the bumps on the powerband, but just barely.”

Staying toward the back of the bike is also an important step in tackling sections like this. If you lean too far forward, your front end will gain weight and have a tendency to get caught up. This is what you don’t want; the minute your front end gets grabbed by a sharp bump, going over the bars is almost guaranteed.

KEEPING YOUR RHYTHM

“If the whoops are really big and notched out, sometimes you have no choice but to turn the whoops into a rhythm section. This is even more common with 125s; they have such a short wheelbase that it is sometimes very difficult to stay on top of the bumps.”

[IMAGE 3]When turning these sections into doubles and triples, the most important thing to remember is that you need to stay neutral on the bike. You also need to be completely confident with your throttle and clutch skills, as this is ultimately the way that you will propel your bike through the section. “It’s all in your throttle control and clutch technique. You have to find the right RPM that will allow you to seat-bump the obstacles, and once you are in a long section