You've reached the track, put on your gear and as excitement bubbles over you simply can't wait to throw a leg over your dirt bike, grab a handful and start ripping some laps.
Just hold on there for a sec...
Slow down and grab some patience before gripping the controls. You need a little pre-lap prep, if you will, to ensure you and your bike have what it takes to tackle the terrain and keep it on two wheels. Getting ready for competition, even if with yourself (i.e. open practice), requires a mental and physical warm-up and a final check of the bike.
Athletes generally don't begin their endurance test without first getting their head in the game and their body ready for performance. When it comes to getting your body prepared for riding a dirt bike, consider the following:
As we have written about before, a good warm-up routine prior to riding includes stretching the whole body. Stretching helps prevent sprains, strains and tears and can even help in the event of a crash by allowing a more limber body to withstand the tweaks and impacts that come with a get-off. Check out "Stretching Exercises: Motocross Warm-Up" for more information.
Just as the pros do, take a track walk if possible. A track walk not only gets your head in the race but helps create a blueprint of the layout in your mind so you know what to expect when riding at high speeds. Some might argue winning a race starts with the track walk because those who can anticipate the flow better than the next rider gain a continuous advantage.
Even if you have practiced or raced at the track before, a walk helps calms your nerves, helps with body warm-up and serves as a reminder of the track layout or shows you what has changed.
Now for the bike. Just as you don't put the pedal to the medal in your car after starting the motor nor do you want to go hauling the mail on a cold engine. But prior to starting your dirt bike check the following:
Got enough fuel? So often forgotten and a common mistake even from veteran riders, make sure you not only have enough fuel but have filled the tank to begin with.
Take two minutes to check all the spokes for tightness. If you have a pit crew, get one of them to go around the wheels with a spoke wrench as you stretch. A loose spoke makes a quick end to your race and is entirely preventable.
What happens if a sprocket spins off as you ride? You don't want to find out. Like the spokes, a quick torque check of the sprocket bolts prevents a host of problems on your ride. Don't neglect the drive parts of your dirt bike!
Now you can ride, but not so fast.
Take a slow lap or like the pros, a parade lap. Get a feel of the track and use this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the track much like the track walk and take note of any suspension setting adjustments, whether the brakes function well and the throttle snaps back. A warm-up lap also gets the motor oil hot and spread evenly over vital engine parts so when the time comes you can open it up.
Now go stare down the competition.