Motorcycle Racing for Amateurs
By Midwest Traction on August 22, 2018
The world of motorcycle racing is vast. It contains options to capture anyone’s racing-related interest, with several classes offered for each segment.
Before racing, it’s important to have plenty of experience. You should feel comfortable riding in various terrain, at different speeds, in different weather conditions. Even amateur-level races are designed for riders with experience. Seek professional training and always observe safety protocols.
Races require you to have proof of skill to race. This means a valid license, and often it requires being a member of the AMA. Think of AMA like AAA for the motorcycle world. They offer several extra services, like roadside assistance, etc.
Ensure all the paperwork is filled out well before race day. Those kind of surprises are not issues you’ll want to deal with during a high-intensity day. While you're at it, now is a good time to start familiarizing yourself with racing rules. Do your practice rides with these in mind so by the time the race arrives, it's already second-nature. Know what kind of safety gear is required. Typically a helmet, gauntlet gloves (over the wrist), and over-the-ankle boots are standard. Some races may require more safety gear than that.
Popular Racing Styles
Perhaps the most recognizable form of racing in the world of motorcycles, Motocross offers races for both amateur and pro-level. The courses are either natural or man-made involving jumps, tight turns, and tricky maneuvers. It’s a strenuous race, with 2 races per class where a combined score between the races gives contestants their standings.
The oldest form of motorcycle racing, Enduro is a challenging competition, involving woods and desert terrain with spots of difficult test sections. Races are littered with checkpoints, and riders are scored based on their time and execution.
Also commonly referred to as a cross-country race, the Hare Scramble involves several miles with varied terrain and involves quite a bit of stamina. The race goes until a contestant completes a predetermined number of laps or until 2 hours have passed.
It’s wise to build your endurance for a race like this, especially in places where you may not consider (forearms). Cardio is a good idea, as well, especially swimming and biking.
Hare & Hound
This natural course is typically 40 miles or more in length. Set in the desert, it challenges riders to a high degree of skill, as maneuvering a bike through sand is not an easy task. It involves various checkpoints along the way.
Maintenance & Preparation
If you’re going to race, you’ll want your bike to be in tip-top shape. The quick way is to consult with experienced racers. Ask for their input on how they prepare. Then consult your manual to check for maintenance items you don’t typically perform.
Check your tires. You’ll want to replace these before your race, giving yourself enough time to put at least 100 miles on them. Why? Because the break-in period allows enough time to wear off the mold release that’s applied to tires when they are manufactured. This substance affects handling, making it best practice to ride the bike at lower speeds until the tires are well-scrubbed.
Check your oil, your coolants, and your lubricants. Look at your fixings and tighten anything that's loose. Check your brakes.
On the day of the race: HYDRATE! Too many riders forget to properly hydrate their bodies, and this leads to overheating, impaired judgment, and can cause heat stroke. Bring a tool kit just in case something happens or needs to be adjusted pre-race.
Racing isn’t purely about speed. The right strategy and maneuvering will do a lot for your positioning.
Bend at the Waist
Many riders don’t bend enough at the waist. Lower your center of gravity by dropping your upper body toward the fuel tank. Test your bend by tying a shoelace from your jacket zipper to the ignition key and take a ride. After, measure how far your jacket has unzipped, and adjust position accordingly. Crouching improves aerodynamics. Practice shorter distances first, lengthening your rides as comfort and flexibility improve.
Bike suspension has a direct impact on your speed. To gain an edge, explore chassis and suspension adjustments. Your size and build will factor into fit and comfort. Test settings and make adjustments until you find the best, most comfortable ride for you.
Even for the pros, tight corners are difficult. Honing this tactic will provide a distinct racing advantage, but there’s an art to taking the curve. It’s called the “Give and Take.” Give up a little speed on the bend, to take control of the turn. Rushing corners increases the chance of toppling over and fishtailing. Instead, save your speed, accelerating out of the turn instead of into it.
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