After a few years of riding dirtbikes we can get so used to having big machinery do all the track work for us that we forget the benefits of the humble spade. I put mine to good use in Auckland last month.
Jack Saunders needed to improve his rut riding. The ultimate plan was to get back to a place like Taupo straight after racing their club day and learn how to deal with them, thanks to some focused tuition. In the meantime, I simply spent ten minutes digging a nice rut for us to work on at our track in Drury.
The Right Candidate
Choosing the best corner definitely helps, preferably one that is basically what you could call a hairpin. Turning to the right means that the rider can’t rely on their back brake to help them when coming unstuck. I try to build one that has its lowest point at the beginning or end so that water doesn’t pool in the middle, avoiding the need to dig a drainage puddle.
Unless you have the rut formed into a slight uphill so that the water can flow away down either side, which is what Tyler Ward did at his place for the rut he has formed so well that he can scrape his handlebar on the ground.
Good Form Old Chap
Avoiding a puddle, I rode through my chosen corner a few times to mark out the shape. While the ground was soft near the puddle it turned concrete-like shortly thereafter. Unperturbed, I literally chipped away at it until we had a fairly even line around 10cm deep which I then ran through a few times to test and smoothen it out.
I purposely didn’t make it too deep so that it was easy to pop out of should it go wrong, but deep enough to hold the wheel strongly. Throwing the loose dirt well out of the way kept other distractions to a minimum.
During the course of the day I made some improvements here and there, but because I was forcing them to use front brake for control rather than just throttle, the rut worked a treat.
Not only did Jack and his Dad Peter gain confidence and a much better understanding on how to use their controls to stay in a rut properly, but both of my next two groups used it as their main obstacle also.
A little work can go a long way.