While most of us don’t face ruts as gnarly as those found at the Nationals while riding at our local tracks, those we do run into can be intimidating. This is especially true when the rough ground shows up in a high speed straightaway. To get the low-down on the best way to stay fast through these challenging sections of track, we talked to recent WMA Steel City winner, Sarah “White Chocolate” Whitmore.
Sarah was practicing at the always-popular Competitive Edge MX Park in Hesperia, California. Now for those that are not familiar with the Hesperian metropolis, it is located in what SoCal natives lovingly refer to as the “high desert,” just up the 15 freeway from San Bernardino and Los Angeles. The temperatures in the area routinely break 100 degrees during the summer months, which means the ruts quickly dry up, becoming hard and even more treacherous than normal. Even small ruts-if not navigated properly-can lead to a nasty get-off when in this dried-out condition. Fortunately, the Competitive Edge track crew regularly groom the track to break down the rough stuff.
So, Sarah, give us your secrets for staying fast through this tricky rutted straightaway…
Step 1: Start Straight to End Straight
“Make sure you and your bike are pointed straight when you approach the ruts, doing so will help prevent getting cross-rutted.”
Step 2: Stand Up, Stay Back
“You want to be standing up on your pegs with your weight over the back end of the bike. This helps to keep your front end ‘light’ to avoid digging into the rut. If your front end sticks, you are most likely going to take a trip over the handlebars.”
Step 3: Stay on the Pegs
“Make sure to keep your feet on the pegs. It is a common tendency to want to put your feet down-especially if you are feeling intimidated-but this will throw off your center of gravity. Also, if you take your feet of the pegs in a rough section of track, you run the risk of running over your own leg, which is never any fun.”
Step 4: Look Ahead
“I’ve seen this mentioned in a few TransWorld Tuesday Tips, and it’s good advice. If you look ahead, your bike will follow the rut. It’s when you look down that you get scared and try to fight it, ending up getting squirrely.”
Step 5: Accelerate
“Accelerate all the way through. Chopping the throttle will throw your body weight forward and make your front end dive. A nice constant throttle, whether you are wide open or not, will pull you through so you end up safely on the other side.”
Sounds easy enough, now we just have to go do it. Thanks, Sarah!