Larry was constantly searching for the right setup on his forks, struggled with bumps out of turns and arm pump was killing his enjoyment. Learn the two tweaks that fixed these major problems, but be warned; it took four consecutive days of riding to make them really set in. Soon you may see why.
We have worked with Larry for a couple of years now but it was always for no more than a couple of hours at a time. I particularly remember helping him on a fairly wet day at Barrett Road where his habit was to move his knees forward to use the rear brake, which he used heavily. That meant his upper body was standing quite tall, constantly tipping him forward under hard braking. Imagine your body tipping forward onto a bar that was down around your hips with only your arms to hold you back, and doing that six times or more for few seconds at a time every two minutes. It can’t be easy on you.
Neither was it good for the handling of his bike, as he was constantly pushing his forks too far into the travel under braking, requiring ever stiffer settings in the front of his bike.
The answer was getting him low to the bike with knees gripping the seat so that his bum could be well back while keeping his arms bent. The lesson would be good, but then some life emergency would take over and he wouldn’t get to practice it for weeks at a time and the hard work was largely lost.
Another time we were at AJ’s place, which has one particularly good rut that Larry was railing hard, but then getting punished through the holes on the exit. Naturally he would get his weight back in order to try to lift the front through these holes, to the destruction of both his forearms and the suspension capabilities of his rear shock. There was simply too much weight for the shock to handle and it was punishing him big time.
One of the holes was particularly sharp and as deep as the front axle, so he looked rather incredulous when I showed him how I would lean forward and simply power through it. Fortunately Larry was trusting enough to give it a go and the results were incredible.
Squeezing his shoulder blades together with his chest almost on the handlebars as he powered through the hole was the trick. This technique would power the front forks through their stroke which meant the rear only had the remainder of the impact to deal with. His speed difference was like night and day, with no punishment or weight on his forearms. Too bad he couldn’t do it two months later!
Between Christmas and New Year he was one of the group that joined us for the Academy that saw us spend two days at Pirinis, one at Franklins Farm and one at my track. On the very first day he was feeling the revelation of these two techniques once again, and by the time he had spent another three days practicing them, the skill was finally second nature. His only regret being that the camp hadn’t been before Summercross where he knows he could have ridden much better, so he can’t wait for the King of the Mountain and Woodville to put it in to practice now that these skills feel natural.
We didn’t end up needing to change his suspension set up much because he could now work with what he had. Over time he will be able to make it even better, but for now there are exciting times ahead because of that extra time we got to spend with him this summer.