Set yourself up right for a corner and it will help you maintain momentum and get a good flow through the turn
STORY SHANE BOOTH PHOTOGRAPHY MATT BERNARD
You should know where you want to be on the track well before you’re there. In some cases you’ll have begun setting up for one corner several corners earlier. Try to think of the track as one flowing line rather than riding corner to corner.
This is especially critical when the track gets rough and technical; you should be able to be wheel-width accurate if it’s required. So try to get out of the habit of near enough is good enough or even just riding where your momentum takes you. To improve as a racer, you need to be able to be very accurate with where you put the bike.
THE BEST LINE
This is where experience will make a big difference but there’s a general rule you should try to consider when picking your line into a turn. Where possible, you want to open the corner up by having a wide line on entry and trying to flow through the corner. For motocross riders, it’s not as easy or straightforward as it can be on a road track to get that perfect line — we have holes, bumps and ruts and they’re constantly changing during a race so that road-race-style line won’t always work, but where it does it will generally be an advantage. The tighter your line into a turn, the tighter your actual turn will be; and the tighter you turn, the slower you have to go. You can see in the photos how much more open the turn is when I approach from a wider line.
GET OFF THE BRAKES
A common mistake when you’re trying to go faster through turns is to go into the turn faster and brake extremely late; sometimes this backfires, though. Riders tend to brake to a stop when they come in really hot and then they have to get going again; this kills all of your mid-corner speed. It can work better to get your braking finished earlier, try to release the brakes and roll into the turn with momentum. Remember, we aren’t looking for massive speed increases; if you can go just 1km/h quicker through a part of the corner, that’s faster.
WHERE TO SIT?
This is also something that doesn’t have an exact answer but here are some things to consider when you’re thinking about where to sit. If there are lots of braking bumps on the entry, you don’t want to sit down until you go over the last one — sometimes that’s well up into the turn. If you sit too early you’ll just get kicked up off the seat and be unsettled when you try to turn the bike. There are also advantages to sitting at the tightest part of the turn; you’ll transfer weight to the front wheel right when you need it the most, adding traction when you’re steering the bike. If the track is smooth or only has very small bumps, some riders will prefer to stay seated so they’re set up and ready to flow into the corner; this works well if there’s only a short distance from the previous turn, too.
THE BEST LINE WHEN YOU’RE IN A BATTLE
There are also times when the fastest line may not be the best line and the most common example is when you’re racing closely with another rider. If the fastest line is a wide entry, you have to be aware that the rider behind could make a dive down the inside and block-pass you. Experienced riders may be comfortable letting a rider dive down the inside in the right situation as they can cut back underneath and take the position back at the exit of the turn. It comes down to experience and knowing your competitors. But just be aware that the fastest line sometimes isn’t the best.