mid-day comes, it typically gets warmer. This change in
temperature from practice to the first moto to the second
moto can affect the way your bike handles, your suspension, your mapping or your carb jetting. As the temperature rises, the air inside your tires and forks will expand.
The added air pressure can make the bike feel loose or
stiff and rigid. On race day, it is best to check your tire
pressure and bleed your forks—not only in the morning,
but before each moto to ensure it doesn’t throw off your
Vision. You never know when the track crew
is going to water the track. Sometimes to save
time, the track crew will water sections of the
track as the race is going on. This can create
unexpected puddles on the track. Having your goggles
properly prepped with tear-offs could be the difference
between winning and losing. Don’t believe us? Try racing
with no goggles. It is no fun.
Friends. There is no such thing as a
friend on the racetrack. If you are racing
against friends, they can’t be trusted.
They want to win as much as you do.
Because they are your friends, they think they can get
away with things that your worst enemy wouldn’t have
the nerve to do. Race against your friends the same way
you would race against your enemies. ❏
Looking back. When you are leading a race,
one of the worst things you can do is start
looking back. This will give the rider behind
you a sense that you are weak and losing
steam. It will make you lose focus—and valuable time. Keep
the focus on yourself and race the track.
Starts. Starts are the most definitive factor
in winning or losing a race. There is a lot
that goes into getting a good start, yet many
don’t take starts as seriously as the race itself.
Picking the right gate, preparing it, and having the proper
technique and reaction times are just a few of the variables
involved in getting a good start. Practice makes perfect—or
at least top five.
Protect. In this world there will always be
someone better, faster and stronger than you
are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t beat them.
If you don’t protect your line, the rider behind
you is going to take it away from you. When a faster rider
is pressuring from behind, protect those inside lines and
don’t let them take an inch. Being a smarter rider is better
than being a faster rider 9 times out of 10. If they want to
go by you, make them go the long way around.
Chances. Only do what you need to do to
win—nothing more, nothing less. Many riders
who get in the lead throw it away by taking
chances they didn’t need to take to win the
race. You aren’t going to get a bigger trophy for winning
by a bigger margin, right? So, why risk it? In his heyday,
Jeremy McGrath’s tactic was to take chances early and
push the limits at the beginning of the race. Then, once he
had a comfortable lead, he put it on cruise control. Leave
that sketchy jump alone until someone starts to reel you in.
Excuses. The easiest way to lose a race is to
have an excuse. Winning is hard; coming up
with an excuse is easy. Many riders throw in
the towel before they put in 100 percent. Why?
Because they are scared that if they give it their all, they
will still lose. “My bike wasn’t running right.” “My suspen-
sion guy put too much oil in the forks.” “I didn’t eat my
Wheaties this morning.” It has all been said at one time or
another. If you face the fear of losing head-on and put the
excuses aside, you will be surprised what you are actually
capable of. Winners don’t make excuses.
Blind. From the first to second moto, the track
can change drastically. Lines change, potholes
develop, and track maintenance and moisture
affect the dirt. Going out blind, without looking
over the track for the second moto, can turn your good first
moto results upside down.
Testing. I know MXA says that we always
test on race day, but that doesn’t mean you
should too. We sign up for numerous classes
and often switch bikes between motos. We are
paid to test. It’s our job, and we are willing to lose a race to
test a product. You should be smarter than that. Save that
newfangled ECU for Thursday afternoon’s practice. That
way, you can make sure it works the way it’s supposed to.
Temperature. Little things can make a big
difference. Temperature is one of them. When
practice starts bright and early in the morning,
the temperature can be on the brisk side. As
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THAT CAN COST YOU A WIN