Pick up some hot tips on how to improve your mud riding skills, in this latest edition of BCP Moto Coach.
As we are experiencing one of our wettest winters in years, in this edition of BCP Moto Coach I thought we might take a bit of a look at mud riding and how you can enjoy yourself more in these testing conditions.
Let’s face it, motocross is actually a winter sport believe it or not. So if you don’t wrap your mind around the fact that sooner or later you are going to be slopping around in the mud then you will be struggling big time when that rain starts to fall from the sky.
Practice makes Perfect!
It doesn’t matter what you are attempting to do, you have to practice to become good at it. If you want to be a champion swimmer you have to practice. If you want to become a league footballer you have to practice.
And likewise, if you want to become good at mud riding you have to get out there and practice in the muddy conditions. When the rain starts to fall in the middle of winter and it’s that cold that you feel like your fingers are going to fall off, it’s not a time to load the bike back up into the van and head for the warmth of your home.
It’s time to fuel that bike up and go punch out some motos. If you think its tough practicing in the wet conditions, you can times that by ten when you have to line yourself up next to 29 other guys on the start-line and race into that first turn together.
The only chance you’ve got to actually enjoy racing in these muddy conditions is to become that good at mud riding that you almost look forward to these type of muddy days.
All about Attitude!
I can promise you that the majority of riders that do well in the mud aren’t the ones sitting in their motel rooms the night before the event stressing out because it’s raining. One of the biggest battles in beating the wet conditions is finding out a way to have fun in the mud.
Remember back to when you were a young kid. Everyone enjoyed playing around in the mud as a kid, whether you were on your BMX or just running around in it.
If you have a negative attitude when it comes to mud and find yourself thinking during the week, I hope it doesn’t rain this weekend, then you are almost certain to do bad in the wet conditions.
Another extremely important skill to have if you want to be a good mud rider is to not death grip the bike. If you are a bit of a control freak on the bike and panic every time the bike steps out a few centimetres then you will have a heart attack in muddy conditions.
You have to wrap your mind around the fact that in the mud the bike is going to move around on you quite a bit. Similar to riding in very deep sand, you need to grip very tightly with your legs as they are what holds the bike in the right position, however you need to be extremely agile with your upper body.
Your upper body should act like a counter weight, constantly moving around to prevent your wheels from washing out on you.
If your back wheel starts sliding a bit to your right, then your upper body needs to quickly move to the right also to counteract the slide. This particular skill that we just mentioned is one of the main secrets to riding smooth and fast in the mud.
It’s very important when racing in the mud that you get out in front and roost other peoples goggles so they can’t see where they are going and have to waste all of their tearoffs in the first lap.
You may be a great mud rider when you are riding by yourself but if you are caught back in the pack and have heavy mud stuck to your whole bike and your helmet and have to throw off your goggles in the first half a lap because you can’t see anything you are going to have trouble trying to reel in the leaders.
So practice your starts in the mud, bearing in mind that you won’t want to be too far over the front of the bike or you will get too much wheel spin.
While you’re at it, you might as well practice hooking into the first turn and dealing with the muddy conditions as the first turn of a muddy race can be one of the most difficult and deciding factors for the remainder of the race.
The two main factors when considering bike set-up in the mud is suspension and tyre selection. With your suspension set up it’s not as simple as it seems.
You first of all need to assess whether the mud is tacky and will stick on your bike, or is the mud sloppy and will fall off your bike while you are riding. If the mud is sticky you need to stiffer up your suspension and wind down your shock spring otherwise you will end up with way too much sag.
If the mud is sloppy then you need to soften off your suspension slightly as you won’t be able to attack the track anywhere near as hard in these conditions, causing the bike to have a stiff feel.
With tyres you obviously need to choose a tread that is suited to the muddy conditions, but try not to fall into the habit of doing what a lot of people do and let your tyre pressures right down. For big bikes your workable range is approximately 12 to 16 PSI with 14 being ideal in perfect conditions.
Smaller bikes you’re looking at a workable range of 10 to 14 PSI. In muddy conditions you can let your tyres down to the bottom end of that range.
Get Amongst It
Well now you have a bit more motivation to get out there when the weather gets bad you have no excuse. Have fun and don’t be scared.