We have seen some nasty weather at the past two AMA Nationals, and with the bad weather, came mud. In the case of Millville, lots of it! Apparently the Millville nastiness inspired Rich, a faithful TWMX reader, to send in this question:
We are fast approaching the end of the race season, and once again, I fear it will be time to shake hands with my nemesis ‘Mr. MUD’. I can ride quickly in dry/tacky conditions, but as soon as I encounter the deep stuff, I really struggle to interpret the ground, especially when lines and ruts seem to go in all directions. I have just about gotten to the stage where I can ride a muddy track without falling off, but to ride it fast is beyond my current comprehension. Any advice on understanding the brown stuff would be greatly appreciated.
Rich, we feel your pain. Riding in deep mud really isn’t too much fun. Here are a few tips to help get you moving faster through the quagmire…
Prep Your Bike
When the weather is bad, one thing we notice in every pro pit, is mechanics meticulously preparing their bikes for the mud. This often includes spraying key areas with silicone spray to prevent mud accumulation, as well as weather-proofing the airbox to keep water out. Pro mechanics–like Sobe/Samsung Mobile/Honda’s Naveen Dassanayake–pack foam into parts of the bike where mud might build up (check out the photos of Naveen from Binghamton this weekend, as he prepared Josh Grant’s bike for the mud). On the factory bikes, it is also common to see handguards, solid mud brake rotors and other trick parts to help beat the elements.
Keeping the bike prepped also means taking care of it between motos. In addition to the usual stuff (adjusting the chain, etc), it is ideal if you can completely wash the bike down to remove excess mud. If you don’t have access to a pressure washer at your local track, at least scrape off as much mud as possible. It is amazing how much weight accumulated mud can add to your bike.
For more info and details on mud-proofing your bike, check out this past Tuesday Tip.
Move with your bike. The mud and ruts are going to cause the bike to want to move around a lot more than usual. Move with it!
It’s All About the Lines
Generally, the better traction is in the ruts. As riders repeatedly go through a rut, the tires dig down to the dry stuff beneath the mud. However, watch out for ruts that are too deep and could end up getting you stuck.
The best thing to help get you through the mud is to maintain your momentum. Stay on the throttle and keep that big machine moving through the slop. Keep the front end light by staying on the gas and keeping your weight back. This will help to prevent the front end from digging in and taking you down. If you have to shut the throttle down, get back on it right away. Even in slow sections, some throttle is always better than none.
Remember to keep your throttle control smooth. If you are too quick with the throttle, you will end up spinning your back tire and could easily slide out.
Use Your Feet
It sounds silly, but in the really deep stuff you can use your legs almost like paddles. Stay on the gas, keep your feet moving and power your way through it. Your feet will help keep you upright, and in really thick mud can help move you forward as well.
Don’t let your fear of the mud keep you from riding in it. It is far better to get some time fine-tuning your techniques on practice days than to be unprepared and face bad weather on a race day. So the next time you wake up to cloudy skies, call-in sick and head to the track!