So you have got a bike? mastered how to ride and change gear? Fully equipped with all your safety gear?
Now you’re ready to get on a track!
The Warm Up
Nerves! The first time I went on a track I can remember it now, I was so nervous. The excitement of actually going on a proper track with jumps and bumps – I could go wild.
Then there’s the other side, what if I fall off? What if I am completely useless and chicken out the jumps? Can I go round them?
These were the thoughts that went through my head the first time I got on a track and I dare say 90% of riders thought the same (some are just outright mental).
It’s the journey there on the way and the anticipation of what it’s going to be like – there is more than likely people there in the same boat.
Just have a walk around and take a good look round the track to get familiar with it and if you can take a walk round the whole of the track, not just for a warm up, you can get an idea of what it like out there.
On a busy day there will be a Que as you arrive, this is where you book in and get your wrist band to access the track. There will be groups – Kids – Novice – expert. Now don’t get all big headed and book yourself into expert, if your slow you will get in the way.
If you are in the kids group, just beginning or ride an automatic you will have your own track to practice on.
When booking in they will let you know the sessions, normally 20min sessions which may not seem like a lot but when you’re out there it’s plenty.
You will need to get your bike out the van or off the trailer as you arrive, it’s always a good idea to start the bike for 5 minutes just to let it warm up and you know it all works fine – you should maybe do this before you leave too.
Get all your safety gear on and make sure it’s comfortable, the helmet doesn’t need to be tight but don’t let the strap be too slack, going over jumps it will wobble around.
Depending on the conditions that day you should put a couple of tear offs on your goggles in case they get dirty.
Heading to the track
You’re going to have to push your bike to the track gate, it’s highly frowned upon to ride in the pits, not just because of the dust getting kicked up, and there are people and kids walking around all the time.
Get to the gate and start the bike up, if you’re a bit nervous, let the other riders go first as when you can go they don’t hang around.
There will be a Marshall at the gate who will check your wrist band to make sure you are in the right group and wave you on when it’s safe.
However tempting it is just to go like a bat out of hell I would advise you give it once round the track just to get the feel. MX riding is all about guts and skill and I think it better to acquire the skills and use the guts in that order.
Coming up to a corner the natural reaction is to slow down, there a two ways to deal with these.
1. Keep on the power to keep your speed and lean round using the knobblies on the side of your tyres to grip you the to the track.
2. Hit the corner with some speed and slam on the rear brake to slide the rear of the bike round and keep the bike in a low gear enough to pull yourself off when you’re straight.
Some corners will have a wall to them, you can use this wall to accelerate round the corner.
For me the jumps are most exciting, because Let’s admit it, you want to look like the pros getting ten feet in the air and twisting the bike round to show off! This won’t happen first time.
Approach the jump with speed and keep your body tight, when you hit the top of the jump the bike will do one of two things, go back so you land on the back wheel which means you need to sit forward more or nose dive down which means you need to sit back.
When in the air, if the bike is tending to head front wheel down you can give it some throttle to bring the bike level, the wheel won’t be toughing the floor but with the balance of the bike it will naturally work.
The jumps are designed to have a smooth landing when going over, you will see riders going over the jumps which flow perfectly. At first, you will need to determine the speed you need to clear the top and land on the end of the jump, so there may be a few times your arms take a hit when landing, this is common as I found out.
The long straight
When you come to a long straight you want to sit back and give it plenty of power so you can ride on the back wheel. Sitting back will help the back wheel grip and power you and the bike along too.
Keep your eyes in front of you so you can see what’s coming up and react. Over time on the day the track will no doubt begin to form ruts where other riders have been, this is where you choose your line and stick to it, getting out of a rut is difficult at any speed.
All you have to do now is practice and gain better skills and experiences on the track. You may feel that you will never be able to keep up with the rest (as I did) but over time you will be overtaking other beginners just as other riders were you.