Answer Racing Moto Tips | Mental Laps
Welcome to the new Answer Racing Moto Tips feature! Answer Racing has been producing the highest-quality motocross and off-road gear since 1976, and this month launched its new line of 2020 apparel. With riders like Alex Martin, Kyle Peters, Ryan Villopoto, Nick Wey, and Mike Sleeter flying the Answer flag, there is a wealth of knowledge and know-how when it comes to riding a dirt bike efficiently and effectively in the Answer camp. Each week, Answer will bring you some riding tips to help you become better at the sport you love! Have a specific skill you’d like to improve? Comment below and we will cover it in a future post!
We cannot stress to you enough how important it is to plan for everything that can happen during your day at the track. A few weeks back Mike Sleeter explained how having a pre-ride routine with your equipment and established riding schedule will bring peace of mind just before a moto, so this week we asked the Vet Pro racer to share what how he mentally prepares for a race. Small things like sizing up the competition, mentally previewing the obstacles, and setting your goals will keep you from being caught up in the moment when things get hectic on the track. The interesting thing about Sleeter’s advice is that you don’t have to be on the bike to practice it! So the next time you slip into a daydream at work, use it as a chance to visualize your next big win.
The biggest thing to think about when you plan for a race is to identify your competition and goals. Some guys are out there to go 1-1, some to get the holeshot, and some to simply be safe and get better while they enjoy the moment. You need to identify what you want to accomplish and that will dictate the most important part of the race, which is the start.
I like to divide the race into two segments and view it like two different races. There’s the race to the first turn and then the rest of the race. I’ve always been a good starter, so go back and look at the old tip to help with that.
When you identify the competition, think about if they are a better starter than you or not. Will you need to get in front of them? Do you want to get to the first turn in first place or mid-pack? What will make you feel safe?
On the starting line, I always focus on “my plan.” You don’t get parade or sighting laps at every race, so if you can, you should walk around the track between races and take note of the lines. When I’m on the line, I like to do one lap in my head before we take off, that way I know where I want to go and can fully commit, because 100-percent commitment to the wrong line is better than a 75-percent commitment to the right line. Doing the lap in my head should take about the same amount of time as it would to ride it. If you rush it in your head, then you’re typically going to rush it on the track.
Here’s an example at Glen Helen: If it’s a second-gear start, I’ll know what point that I want to shift through the gears heading into Talledega when I’m going to pre-jump the roller out of the first turn. Then I think about getting to the inside line, how I’m going to shift up to third gear when I’m going up Shoei Hill, and how I’ll downshift when going down the hills. You have to have a plan for shifts and marks. Yeah, motocross has complications and there will be people that get sketchy in front of you, but if you have a plan your whole race will start off better.
Having a strategy is the key to success, that way you aren’t being reactive to what happens. Have a plan of what you want to do, where you want to go, and what are your realistic goals.
Don’t be afraid to be up front, because the safest place to be is in the front. So get a great start, set your pace and if they’re faster, then they will pass you. If some guy is an idiot and takes you out, you can try again in the next moto, but understand what happened. Get up front, hit the lines, and control your destiny.
Most of all, have fun. If there’s nothing more you can do that day, then have fun and execute what you’ve learned so far.