Here are eight do's and don'ts to crushing the SoCal National on your dirt bike.
The 2013 outdoor motocross season all comes down to Lake Elsinore on Saturday. The championships may have already been decided, but that just means that the doors are open to become a dirtbike hero. Check out the 8 Do’s and Don’ts to becoming that hero in the hub of American MX.
Do: Remember that this track is always changing
Lake Elsinore, as is the case with all tracks trying to make a name for themselves, is littered with massive jumps. Elsinore’s gargantuan jumps and giant rhythm sections that are constantly changing may have been built with the sole intention of making lesser men whimper and cry a little tear. Say good-bye to any home field advantage.
Don’t: Miss any jumps in the first practice
It is crucial for every racer to hit every jump in the first practice, because once the final one comes around, the focus needs to be on setting fast lap times. The worst thing you can do is sweat the biggest jump on the track while trying to set a top 36 time to ensure that you’re not watching the rest of the potential payday from the stands. If you don’t hit it during practice, your only hope is to hit it in the LCQ, in which case we might as well call the ambulance right now.
Do: Practice uphill starts
Elsinore is yet another manmade course with an uphill start that comes out of the truck racing stadium and onto the track. We say it almost every week, but it still bears mentioning: Get your starts dialed. You think you know how to start at Elsinore from the hundreds of practice laps? Think again. This is the National, and it’s a horse of a different color (the dirt is literally a different color because they put so much foreign soil).
Don’t: Get stuck in that weird dirt
As we just pointed out, the dirt for the Elsinore National is a fascinating compound of clay, sand, a little bit of rice (yes, really), and good old SoCal hard-pack. You won’t literally get stuck in it like the horse from that Neverending Story flick, but just know that it is going to get a little weird for you. Frankenstein dirt has an abnormality to it that you just cannot find anywhere else, so feel it out for a few laps. You’ll thank us later.
Do: Take a few breathers around the track
Last year, the Lake Elsinore National track was nearly a three-minute lap time. The track is usually just over half of that, but the promoters incorporated the truck stadium course to spread out the field a little, which they are planning on doing again this Saturday. Just remember to breathe. It sounds like the most idiotic piece of advice, but it is more important than you know. Breathe and get into the zone. Hammering a nearly three-minute lap for 30 minutes plus two lap moto session is even more exhausting than a normal 30+2, so just find your flow and ignore the world around you.
Don’t: Count your laps
Counting your laps is a terrible idea in any long moto, but at Elsinore, it might drive you insane. On any exceptionally long or short track, counting laps is a genuinely maniacal behavior. It is almost a given that you will forget the count, then distract yourself trying to remember what number you’re on. By then, five guys would have passed you while you’re doing what might as well be calculus trying to race the top riders in the world. This is the one time where the smart move is not to use your brain.
Do: Elbows up and stick to the fundamentals
Lake Elsinore has roots in the beginning of motocross, and perfectly enough, it’s the roots of motocross technique that are going to pay dividends there. As technical as the track may seem, the basics are going to get you ahead – keep the elbows up, head forward, and legs locked. If you can get a picture of Ryan Dungey into your goggles, just stare at that the whole time and do what he’s doing.
Don’t: Stop on the finish line in celebration
Last year, in the final for the WMX series (not being held at Lake Elsinore this year), moto winner Chiara Fontanesi stopped on the finish line jump to celebrate her win. What she did not realize, however, was that she had not pulled far enough over the lip of the jump, and when she threw her hands up in celebration, rolled backwards and fell. Luckily, she had already crossed the transponder line, and was awarded the win. But, you don’t want to do that, trust us.
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