If you saw our recent Facebook video of a KTM125 nearly looping out through the Patetonga rollers, then you may be interested to know what all the fuss was about.
How to Nail Rollers
This is Mark, a dairy farmer, father and cross country racer who we were glad to see once again after having not worked with him for a while. During that time he had lost some confidence at going fast around corners and down straights so it made sense that we start with the ultimate bike control necessary through this challenging section.
For straight line confidence I began with keeping Mark and Sean Brown low to the bike, able to grip the seat with their knees for the harder impacts. This was revision for both riders, soon followed by the real magic.
In the past I had shown Mark how to let the bike pivot the front up and down without affecting his body, but this time I took it to the extreme. Their job was to keep the throttle locked on about half throttle, with their bikes in fourth gear. Most important was how they were not allowed to stop powering when the back wheel was coming off the ground. Instead, they were actually meant to keep powering through that transition and pull backwards on the handlebars at the same time.
What happens thereafter should feel like a backflip, but it is safe because you know that your back wheel will hit the next bump very soon which brings the front back down again. The harder you pull at this crucial moment, the smoother your front wheel will touch down on the top of the next bump while your rear wheel hardly leaves the ground at all.
What Mark was buzzing about, besides the adrenaline caused by getting the front so high, was that he began going through that section a gear higher (faster), with less and impacts and much more control. His confidence grew accordingly, hence the exited ramble you hear at the end of the video.
However the session was not over yet. Wanting to help their corner speed I helped Sean to lean into the turn with the bike which was not easy but soon saw him carrying impressive speed through the small berms. On the other hand it was once again getting Mark to lean his upper body back further while turning hard that stopped his front end from wanting to wash out, something he said I had told him a hundred times and yet made all the difference once again to leave him even more stoked. There seem to be some things that we constantly need reminding about.
After these men was Nathan Yeandle, keen to fix a problem he was having with the bike kicking sideways on him over the large tabletop. You may also enjoy finding out how we did that.
To keep it brief, the main issue was straightening up his bike at the last moment on the up ramp, rather than turning with the jump the whole way through. It was affecting him so much that clearing the jump was just not an option yet.
Fixing the Accidental Whip
His approach had been fine, but his lean into the up ramp was happening too early which made the rear wheel want to rebound him the wrong way before leaving the ground. Both and Nathan and his father were understandably pleased with his progress, so I look forward to the day when we can see him mastering that tabletop once again.
For me it was a highlight of a day, made even better considering the picture perfect condition of the track after what has been a wet winter, made possible thanks to the grading efforts of Peter Rust just prior to the rains received earlier that week.