1. Improve Your Technique
Improving your technique isn’t going to happen with the snap of your fingers, but other than the decisions you make is probably the best way to stay safe at the mx track. Some videos are available that will help you out, but an in-depth motocross school will provide better results.
- Do you understand proper use of all five controls?
- Do you know which position your body should be in for different situations?
- Do you ride with your elbows up?
- Do you grip with your legs?
- Do you understand proper technique?
These are some of the things a motocross school will help you understand.
2. Fitness & Flexibility
Fitness and flexibility are other great ways to prevent injury, but like improving your technique, fitness and flexibility won’t improve over night. If you ever wonder why pros can crash so hard, get up and continue racing, this is it. The only hang up here is that improving fitness can be hard work and it does take time to build. You can start with simple stretches on your floor to start limbering up, but to build fitness I recommend picking up a couple of activities you can enjoy. Motocross is a great workout, but hard to do enough times per week with other obligations.
If you like lifting weights and running on machines enough that you will get to the gym four days a week this is a good option. I recommend finding something that you enjoy doing and improves your fitness at the same time, for me this is mountain biking. My cardiovascular fitness really started to improve when I got into mountain biking. There is much less skill involved in cross-country mountain biking than motocross, and for the most part your speed gains come in the form of improved fitness. It can get very addictive trying to beat your times. Mountain biking is far from being the perfect workout for MX, it doesn’t strengthen your upper body or core at all, but it does provide good base fitness. This will encourage you to be healthier all around and look for ways to improve your fitness to excel at whatever activity you choose, all the while making you a better motocross rider.
The more fit you are the longer it will take for fatigue to set in, the more laps you can do and the more you can improve each day at the track. The less fatigue that sets in during a moto, the less chance you have of making a mistake and crashing.
3. Protective Gear
So many people buy gear based on looks or price. To be clear these should be your last concerns when buying protective gear. I know this is something commonly stated, but I’ll say it again – That $1,000 exhaust isn’t going to make you any faster, spend the money on better gear. If you don’t have the money to buy that exhaust and a good helmet with new technology (6D, Leatt, Bell Flex, etc…) then buy the helmet, not the exhaust. Buy a helmet based on the technology it offers, not what your favorite pro wears. Do some research on Bell’s Flex technology, 6D’s ODS, Kali’s Composite Fusion/LDL and Leatt’s 360 Turbine/in-molded V-Foam (I probably missed some technologies here).
I know your favorite pro doesn’t wear a chest protector. Some may argue a chest protector doesn’t do anything, but I do believe a CE approved chest protector will offer more protection than a roost deflector will. The CE chest protectors I have ha my hands are quite a bit more sturdy feeling than the old plastic roost deflectors you are thinking of.
Wear good knee protection. I’m not saying you need top of the line knee braces, there are some conflicting viewpoints on whether knee braces do anything, I will let you decide which side of the argument you stand on by yourself. You can do better than standard knee cups – there are plenty of options that secure above and below your knee similar to a knee brace. Knee protection that secures like this should be the minimum you are looking at for knee protection.
4. Ride With Proper Group
Whether you’re racing or practicing, ride with the proper group.
- Don’t sandbag C to make yourself feel good
- Don’t ride A-B if you don’t belong out there, you’re a danger to yourself and others
- You should be in the C group if you are not doing all of the doubles and table tops (there may be some exceptions but not many – notice I did not say triples)
I see more riders jump up to the A-B group at practices that don’t belong out there than the other way around. Coming up on these riders can be scary, you never know where they’re going to go (neither do they) and you never know what they’re going to do on the jumps. So please, for other riders sake, ride with the proper group.
5. On the Track
First and foremost – don’t ride over your head. The only way you will get faster is by improving your corner speed. This means making your goal to improve your corner speed, not to jump the big jump. As you improve your corner speed, you will naturally start to jump bigger and bigger jumps. Too many riders worry about jumping all of the jumps, the truth is if you improve your cornering and technique the jumps will come naturally.
When you’re on the track stay loose, alert and ready for anything. You never know when you’re going to hit a bump or rut funny and need to correct your bike. I also like to keep track of where other riders are on the track. That way if I’m coming up on someone I can start to plan a pass before I get there. If someone is coming up on me, I can give him a little space to get by and try to latch on and pick up some better lines when they pass. How do I do this? By using my peripheral vision to look at lanes running parallel and perpendicular to me. Don’t look back. If a rider who you were coming up on disappears, they may have went down, it’s a good idea to heighten your alertness until you see them again in case they are down in a blind area.
The worst injury I ever had was because of a bike breaking. Years later, I haven’t fully recovered from it mentally. All I had to do was check my bolts and it never would have happened. Now, every time I ride I have a little concern in the back of my head about a bike malfunction.
The maintenance I’m talking about here is quite simple:
- Change your air filter when its dirty
- Check bolts every ride
- Change oil every 2-3 hours of riding (motocross)
- Check your sag after breaking your bike in and about every 10 hours after as springs break in more and oil degrades. It is important to make sure your suspension is working properly. Also, Ask the person who does your suspension service work how often you should get your fork and shock oil changed.
- Follow maintenance intervals in your owner’s manual for valve adjustments, piston and ring replacements.
- Change chain and sprockets before teeth start falling off – when teeth start to fall off this can cause your chain to break