Some call James Stewart Jr. the Tiger Words of motocross. Thousands of his fans scream his name when they jam-pack stadiums. He’s been loving the sport for years – the thrill. The competition. That sweet smell of a roaring, piping-hot engine.
There’s no beating that feeling, and looking damn good while chasing (and BEATING) that feeling. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of things you have to do today, if you want to start looking more like Tiger Woods. Things James did himself back in the day.
Give Fans What They Want
Riding dirt bikes is supposed to be fun – for both you, other riders, and people watching. You don’t have to go hardcore and pull thousands of mid-air tricks, either. Sports, at the heart of the matter, are competitive: and nothing puts more butts in seats.
Chris Birch knows – he’s been sponsored by Red Bull and has been coaching hundreds of now-successful riders over the years.
Blown Tires Blow Your Bike
Believe it or not, when the terrain is slippery (or at the very least horrible), it’s time to let pressure out of your tires out. This ONE simple method lets your tire dig a bigger footprint into the track, giving you more control of your bike when you’re riding.
This is why, whenever anybody needs their bike pushed up a hill (hey, it happens)… it’s almost a rule to let air out of the tires before pushing them up.
But, as with anything, don’t have too low of pressure. It doesn’t need to be said that you’re begging for a flat while you’re riding – and this spells disaster, for both you AND the other riders (if you’re group riding).
How Staying In Line Saves Your Butt
Slower riders sweat under the knuckles when pressure sets in, and things get tense. For whatever reason, fear sets in slower riders… and they feel like other faster riders won’t see them. Which is pretty much impossible, as experienced riders have been in the game a lot longer, and have trained (every day, in some cases)…
To the point that they do see riders – even at insane 120mph speeds.
However, if you tend to be a slower rider, there isn’t anything to worry about: all you have to do is stick to your line. Simple, right? This puts the choices of moving into other lines into the hands of faster riders. Letting them choose which line to get into (by sticking to your line) is responsible driving.
Think of it like driving a highway next to a group of cars. Doesn’t it just piss you off when drivers next to you cut you off – without signaling? It’s not the same, true, but the mentality is there: don’t cut more experienced drivers off.
Get To Know The Track
It goes without saying that the more familiar you are with something, the more you’ll dominate. This is why racers in any sport have practice runs on tracks for a few rounds. These practice runs are a few days before and during important races.
Look at NASCAR – those first few minutes drivers circle around the track may be boring for you, but they are crucial for drivers to get a feel for the road… thus preventing injury to themselves and other drivers when the race is on.
There are a number of tracks you can practice on, so you too can get a feel for them before you start participating (and racing!) on them. This neurological “imprint” gives you first-hand expertise into the track – letting you make mental maps about which parts of the track to stay away from, where the sweet spots are, and more.
You can even take it a step further and walk the track. To “feel the soil”, haha!
Attend MX Riding Schools
I’m just going to tell you right now: anybody who’s anybody will always benefit from taking a mentorship, or learning how at the hands of experts. Experts who have been doing their thang for some odd years. This is why MX schools are the kick in the pants a lot of riders need: schools show them how the game is played, and how to ride professionally to DOMINATE the game.
That said, there are a few moto schools worth checking out:
· Legendary rider (now trainer, since he retired) Ryan Hughes
· Award-winning badass Travis Preston even has his own school!
How’s Your Clutch?
Clutches are the main reason some riders crash on big jumps. Their baby wasn’t powerful enough – thanks to the clutch.
To ensure your clutch is ALWAYS tip-top…
· Change your oil (give it a sniff) Does it smell funky?
· Look for clutch fiber particles floating in the toil.
· Look for fiber in clutch components – are there blue steels? (They’re damaged.)
· Never install softer clutch springs – you’re asking for bad news. These speed up clutch wear.
Drive Like A Pro, Exit Like A Pro
Let’s face it: only rooks and newbies exit the track without letting other riders know you’re leaving the track. This is true when it comes to any driving whatsoever: in the car, on a road bike or motorcross bike on the track. Not letting people know which direction you’re heading… what does that spell? Disaster. For you and other riders.
It’s basic road/track manners – using hand signals to tell other people where you’re going is smart. Period. There’s no way around it: using hand signals is being a responsible and mature human being.
What are these hand signals? They’re easy as 123 to memorise. Quite simply: To signal that you’re turning left, raise your left hand. To signal that you’re turning right, hold your right arm out at a right angle. (When I first learned this, it blew my mind. In retrospect, it seems simple… but I’m telling you, it works.)
Last Things To Do Before Hitting The Track
As always, if you want to look good, you have to take care of yourself physically. Pros know MX is physically demanding – and take stretching very seriously, as any professional athletes do in any sport.
Making stretching a daily routine in your everyday life is important for preparing your body for the brutal torture riding tracks will put you through.
You can start by bending over and touching your toes. Yes, this simple childhood stretch really does work – what it does is stretch your quads, calves and hamstrings. You know how important your legs are, don’t you?
Savvy people who move a lot know the tremendous power of stretching your hips – so do hop circles (exactly what it sounds like).
Having strong shoulders is paramount importance towards keeping control of the steering wheel. Stretching your shoulders is as easy as holding your arms out to your side – and spinning them in circles one way, for a good 30 seconds, then the other way.
These stretches are simple, yes, but they are important for keeping your body safe from feeling like absolute hell after the race.