Michael Jongen, Coaching Co-ordinator
The start of the season is here - are you ready?
It may sound silly, but try on ALL your riding gear before the event. Riding with things like helmets, knee/elbow guards, body
armor, boots, etc that are too small can be uncomfortable and even dangerous. Check goggles to ensure foam seal and elastic
straps are still OK, consider replacing just the lenses if rest of goggles are good, to save some money. Alternatively, if they are
still OK and you really want a new set, when out buying them, grab a tinted or yellow lens for your old goggles to keep as an
alternative. Remember, it may be too late to find a pair of gloves or goggles that fit on the morning of the event.
Prepare the bike
Bikes have usually spent the summer months collecting dust. You may have done an overhaul at the end of the season, but do it again. Check all bolts, screws and nuts. Use Loctite, bolts will vibrate loose so use Loctite where ever possible. As there are different types of Loctite, the blue one does not form as harder bond as the red for example, pick the one to match the job. Change the oil. It costs a lot less than a gearbox or engine rebuild. Check your owner’s manual for things like brake fluid replacement, etc. Make sure all your bearings are ok, lubricate all cables etc. etc. etc. In short, go through from front to back and check everything, preferable earlier than the night before the event or on the morning of the event. Remember to check everything, not just the parts need to pass machine examination.
Prepare car /van / trailer
As most of our events are at least an hour to two hour’s drive, make sure you have checked your trailer over as well. When was the last time you pulled out and re-greased or changed the bearings, both the outer and inner ones? Does your caravan or trailer have brakes that need servicing? It would be a shame if you have spent a lot of time making sure your bike and riding gear was up to par, but then have a wheel bearing on the trailer seize up on the way to the event. Make sure you check the tyres for pressure and flat spots as well. Also, make sure your vehicle is in the right state to tow for the distance.
Fitness is your friend
Enduro racing is about endurance, not earth shattering news hey. It is not just a test of your bikes endurance, but a test of the rider’s endurance. Increasing your fitness will improve your placing as well as reducing your chances of injury. A technical mistake in a long race can be made up for if you are more physically fit than the next person. If you are physically exhausted you will not be able to ride as fast, and as well as you can, when you are feeling fresh. Mistakes happen when we are exhausted, arms drop and we become ‘lazy riders’. So prepare for your race season by increasing your fitness level, try cross training on a mountain bike, etc. When out for a ride, practice riding at race pace for around 20 minutes, then rest for a while and do it again to simulate a race day.
When going out for a ride get into the mindset of saying ‘this is a training session’. All other sports have these training sessions, including professional athletes. Before you go on your ‘fun ride’, practice the basics, and then re-practice them. Spend some time doing circle work/figure eights, ride as slow as possible, small slow wheelies, stoppies, get the balance thing , etc, etc. If you get the technique right before the speed, then the speed will be easy, conversely, if you just concentrate on the speed first, then you will take longer to try and correct all the bad habits you have formed. If there is a particular area you dislike e.g. logs, rocks, hills, etc these are the ones you usually need to practice more. Blasting around a berm is fun and looks good, but if you are really good at it, try something you are not so good at. Then after your ‘training session’ go for the fun ride and put it all together.