This week, we’re getting back to the basics and touching on one of the most important fundamentals of successful motocross riding and racing: looking ahead! One of the single most common mistakes you can spot amateur riders making, is staring at the track that lies only a few feet in front of their front wheels, especially in rutted corners or exceptionally rough sections.
“One of the keys to riding fast is looking ahead and anticipating the track that lies ahead,” says Team Honda’s Travis Preston. “If you are going to enter a section fast, you have to look ahead so that you can know what to expect.”
Check out the three photo examples we’ve selected for this Tuesday’s Tip: in each of them, Travis Preston, Brett Metcalfe, and Nathan Ramsey are all looking far ahead of the race track, even though they have yet to complete the corners that each of them are negotiating. “Typically, by the time I am settled into a corner and getting ready to gas it, I am already looking down the next straight and towards the next corner,” added Preston. “By the time I hit an obstacle like a jump, I’m already looking forward and concentrating on the next obstacle. You should never let yourself get caught staring at the ground just in front of your front tire: that’s how you’ll get caught off guard by the next set of bumps, the next corner or the next jump.”
Another benefit of looking ahead is the unexplainable phenomena of “going where you are looking. When looking ahead on the track, pay close attention and you’ll notice that you will most often ride where you are looking. Ever heard of target fixation? That’s exactly why you hit that rock on the track when you’re staring at it, or ride out of the rut you’re in when you are looking outside it, hoping that you don’t go there.
“When you look ahead, you can plan out your lines and choose where you want to ride,” said Preston. “Don’t obsess on the bad lines that you don’t want to take; look at the lines you want to take, and you’ll ride there. Don’t fixate on them, though, continue to look ahead at the lines further down the track.”
The next time you’re at the track, do yourself a favor and purposely look farther ahead that you are used to. With some practice, we’re sure that you’ll find yourself picking up the pace and looking ahead naturally!