Two topics stood out during this months Whangarei Club Coaching day, one inspired by Eli Tomac and the other by Sarah Walker. Read on to find out how they worked.
Our morning session was a hoot with nine quick kids and adults amping for action. The riders made great progress on a bunch of things from ruts to gentle whips, but it was the flat corner work that stood out in this group.
As is often the case where a start straight meets the track, there is a wide sweeping turn just after the finish that seems to turn forever. It is the kind of turn that you just have to endure, sucking a lot of energy at the same time. You could pretend to be a pro speedway rider, or choose the easier and potentially faster option of forming a double apex.
Basically I was staying tight through the rut, then trying to run over the grass to the inside of the track while powering hard and then braking hard with very little turn happening. Running deep into the turn is a much better feeling than compromising between turning and powering the whole way through the turn.
Once deep into the corner you then get the turning work done without much brake or power. By this time you are on the very outside of the track and this turning stage can feel rather slow, especially as you wait to get on the gas. But you have already made up plenty of time in getting to that point, with the best yet to come.
If you are patient on the throttle then you can then brush the inside of the track again on the way out, which means that you get to full throttle much earlier than the others without risk of easing off it. As I mentioned to the riders, your outside footpeg is key to stopping the rear wheel from stepping out while powering hard. This is especially effective if you have the ball of your foot on the footpeg for extra reach and power.
Eli Tomac comes straight to mind when I think of this style. He certainly made it work on some long, flat turns in this years Supercross season.
Our afternoon group got something quite different, learning from the BMX skills personified by Sarah Walker. This has something to do with keeping control over bumps and jumps, and a lot to do with taking them faster.
These were the younger riders, needing this skill partly to conquer the habit of blipping and lifting off every jump, even if it meant they had to ride slower and land harder in the process.
The key is that old story of bending at the waist, something that I eventually needed to lock in by getting out “The Big Stick”. This is more fun than a threat, but certainly gets results.
With a parent standing a meter or so past the highest point of a small jump, he holds an actual stick up horizontally at a safe height. We make great progress, helping them both get their whole body lower at the right moment (most importantly not too early). They also realise they can hit the jump faster and don’t need to power off every ramp. Whether they choose to keep riding like that afterwards is up to them, but hopefully the point comes across clearly.
I actually joined the two skills for both groups through the softest flat turn on the track, standing low to the bike with good entry and exit speed. After some practice I let the older group try doing it their own way, to find the onlookers quite convinced that standing was the best way.