This story comes with one of those crucial notes like what you see on something like a car advert; These classes were conducted on a closed course for a private coaching day. You should never ever ride a public course backwards except in very controlled conditions. Fortunately that is what we were able to take advantage of, with excellent results.
There were two reasons why I took this wacky approach. The first had to do with how quickly the three riders in my afternoon session picked up on the essentials of good standing technique. It wasn’t long before they were ready for the second big step, taking their movements to the extremes.
Back in Time
None of them were racers, yet the skills are all the same. After showing them how to get their head way up and past the handlebars without their knees coming forward much, and then how to get their bum almost on the rear guard without their arms going straight, I carefully led them down the upramps of the two main jumps.
It is steep enough to kick you onto your front wheel if you get your weight back too early, so I used video and instruction to keep them over the front until their front wheel had started dropping, only getting right back when they needed to. The final step was getting them back over the front again to power away, all without their knees collapsing forward or arms going straight. It was pretty impressive to watch and I know it will help them a lot.
Best of Both Worlds
My second reason for switching things around was to use the only ruts on our track to better effect. These ruts only started late in the turn which didn’t help much with corner speed, yet they were awesome the other way around.
Having a good wall early in the turn meant we could really build their ability to use front brake into the turns for stability and then lean further than they would normally do. The added bonus was having no rut on the exit to catch them out if they didn’t lean far enough or used too much throttle too early. The platform was set, I had the talk about dumb risks versus smart risks and then let them at it.
The “Good” risk of trying to leaning further into the turn eventually paid off. Their corner speed improved dramatically and they still hadn’t begun to lean so far as to cause any problems, the only times it didn’t go so smoothly was when they backed out on leaning far enough to handle the new entry speed. The worst that would happen was to straighten up and have to turn a second time.
They were looking quite racey by the end, considering all three riders had little to no track riding under their belts before this.