There’s nothing like making fresh tracks in some terra firma that has never been touched. It’s a feeling like hitting fresh powder on a snowboard or biting into a freshly baked cookie, only with more motorcycles. But any new experience can be nerve-wracking, so here are a few tips on what you need to be thinking about while racing on some of the brand new dirt this Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park, home of the new Utah National.
Do: Learn the jumps quickly
New tracks these days have something to prove. They’re like a rookie coming in with a lot of expectations. That’s why they are often loaded with giant jumps or scary rhythm sections. Take a good look in the morning, then blast those things during the first practice, because you do not want to be trying to set a fast lap time while contemplating the thought of hitting a 120-footer for the first time. As Marvin Musquin demonstrates, it’s important to get comfortable.
Don’t: Misread the soil
Dirt is everything in motocross. It may come off as an extraordinarily superfluous statement, but it holds more truth than you know. Understanding the type of soil you are tearing up under that Dunlop tire is so important, it is worth saying twice. I’m not going to, but you get the picture. Take Cooper Webb here at Muddy Creek. He’s coming into turns and tucking the front end, not something that you want to be doing. So study up on your dirt compounds, the final exam is coming up this Saturday.
Do: Stand up a lot in practice
It’s pretty simple: there is less that can go wrong when you are standing up. Your body is more prepared to react to the unexpected, and on a new track, the universe is just aching to throw in a random drop-off or a rogue rock to ruin your day. So take a note from Ken Roczen and get up on those pegs (although there’s no way on this planet that you will be railing ruts like that).
Don’t: Be a hero with your scrubs (at first)
Once you get comfortable on the jumps, the scrubs are going to start coming out. Don’t try to bust out the best scrub of the day on lap two. There is a lot that can go wrong when throwing the bike totally sideways and the last thing you want to do is figure out that a jump is 70-feet rather than 50-feet when you’re horizontal. Respect gravity, at least for a little while, and dial in everything before breaking out the mind-bending scrubs.
Do: Get your holeshot dialed
It always behooves you to have starts completely locked, but at a new track, take a moment or 10 to get all your ducks in a row during practice. It is a lot more fun to race at a new track when everyone is behind you, believe us.
Don’t: Get distracted by the scenery
We get it. You are in a totally new place that you have never seen before, that’s great. But there are better times to enjoy the sights than when in the middle of a National moto. Here, German Maximilian Nagl looks like he’s mesmerized by a carnival feature which is not a good look. Especially when being hounded by the guy with the red plate, Antonio Cairoli.
Do: Attack the track
Remember that time the teacher almost forgot to give you homework on a Friday, but then remembered at the last second? It was the track that told her to do that. Unforgiveable.
Don’t: Underestimate the locals
There are local riders. You are on their turf now. This might as well be a game of Monopoly where your opponent starts off with a hotel on Boardwalk. You have a lot of catching up to do before the gate has even dropped. Last year, the U.S. learned that lesson well at the Motocross of Nations, where powerhouse teams Germany and Belgium (with Antonio Cairoli) ousted the Americans from their usual position atop the podium.
For the latest dirt on moto, follow Red Bull Moto Spy on Twitter.