Making a pass on a competitor during a race can be difficult and frustrating but there’s a way to make it happen a little more easily
STORY SHANE BOOTH | PHOTOGRAPHY MATT BERNARD
When you catch someone, apply some pressure so they know you’re there and then start thinking about what you might do. This doesn’t mean half-baked passing attempts; just simply being on their rear wheel is enough. Quite often this results in a small mistake, which may save you the trouble of making the pass happen.
SET IT UP
This is probably the commonest mistake riders make when trying to pass a rider. If you catch someone, you’re obviously faster than they are but sometimes getting around them is a whole different ball game. Plenty of riders will stick a wheel up the inside 10 times a lap but never really have a legit chance of making the pass stick. When you do this, all you do is to let the rider in front know about all of the places you’re likely to try to pass him and he can cover the lines and wreck your day. The other downside to this is each time you have half a go at a pass you usually lose some time and need to make it up again. So, in a perfect world you need to pick your location, work on being as close as possible coming into that section and make it stick first go.
COMMIT TO THE PASS
When you make your move you need to do it with assertion and commit to it. Don’t give the other rider a chance to even think they can respond or shut you down. When passes turn ugly, it’s generally because they were only half attempted and a little bit clumsy.
LIFT YOUR INTENCITY
The hard work is done; now you need to make it stick. Once you’ve made a pass, try to increase the intensity of your riding even for just half a lap. This will hopefully break your competitor and remove the opportunity for them to respond and pass you back.
WHERE TO MAKE PASSES
The usual place to set up a pass is on the entry to a corner. When a rider’s under brakes, it’s easier to push the limit slightly and take that rider’s line away from them to make the pass stick. Don’t rely too much on passing someone on the exit of turns under acceleration — this really only works if the rider is much slower than you or makes a mistake; otherwise it’s a tough ask.
ALWAYS BE READY
We’ve talked about ways to make a pass happen and how you can work at setting one up, but always be ready to pounce on another rider’s mistake as well. Sometimes you can be gifted a position. It doesn’t take much of a slip-up to give you the opportunity to get around a competitor; the key is being ready to make it happen if the opportunity arises.
CONTACT IS NOT REQUIRED
Making an aggressive pass doesn’t require contact with another rider. Quite often, contact comes from the exact opposite situation: a clumsy attempt at a pass. Making contact with another competitor just puts both of you at risk of a crash; it’s so easy to end up tangling handlebars and going down in a heap. The other risk is that when the rider you’ve hit realises they’re probably going to end up on the ground, they’ve got nothing to lose and just might decide to take you down with them. All in all, it’s a bad scenario that will start to build an army of enemies and you could gain a reputation you don’t want. Believe me, a rider who’s been taken out has a long memory.