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All About the Whoops

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This article comes to you from our friends at the Millsaps Training Facility. The Millsaps Training Facility or MTF as it is commonly known is one of the premier motocross training facilities in America. Owned and operated by Colleen Millsaps, MTF combines the latest in sport science technologies with over a decade of experience to offer complete motocross training programs for riders of all ages and abilities. MTF’s structured riding programs are under the direction of Colleen Millsaps and her riding programs have proven to be outstandingly successful. MTF is committed to assisting the rider in every aspect of their development. They also produce a monthly newsletter filled with all sorts of rider tips and useful information. This article is one such contribution. - Virtual Trainer

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MTF Training Staff

The whoops can be very intimidating. The top pros make it look easy but when you see guys crashing it can leave you filled with doubt and fear. In fact, as we tell our riders all the time, if you can do rollers you can do whoops.

Wheel Position

Wheel position will be very similar to rollers, the only real difference being that the back wheel stays on the ground in the rollers, and in whoops the back wheel stays on top of the whoop, hopefully. The front wheel is light in both whoops and rollers, just touching down on the tops of the approaching whoop or roller each time. In whoops, the farther the back wheel drops down in the face of an approaching whoop, the more momentum is being taken from the overall speed through the whoop section.

Body Position

Body position is everything in the whoops. The knees need to be behind, or at least at the foot peg, gripping tightly, controlling what is happening with the back end. The upper body needs to be low, not standing up, and the arms bent, so as not to straighten them out, shifting more weight to the back, potentially letting the front end get too light, meaning you have to either back off or shut off the power to get the front wheel back down.

If you shut off the power when you think you're in trouble, the back end unloads, shifting weight to the front, pushing the front end down, again, the last thing you want in a set of whoops.

Steady Power

The worst thing in the whoops is for the front wheel to drop, which is what happens when you shut off or even just back off the power, unloading the back suspension. For every action there is a reaction. When you lighten the back, you weight the front, and when you weight the back you lighten the front. No magic or rocket science, just physics....

Last month Colleen described wheel position, body position and the importance of steady power. Here she talks about balance, entry speed and staying with it if you get a little out of shape.

Balance

Having that balanced position over your bike, gives you control of the front and back end of the bike. The weight on the rear wheel from the knees being back, and from the power being applied, keeps the wheel tracking and pushing you forward in a straight line, and keeps the front wheel light. Just enough weight on the front end by keeping the upper body low and the arms bent, keeps the front wheel from coming up, but does not encourage it to drop down in between whoops.

Whoops....the most intimidating obstacle in moto....

Entry Speed

Entry is everything in a set of whoops. Again, if you think about what you are asking your bike to do when you enter, it is not hard to figure out what is needed to keep the front wheel from dropping. Steady, consistent speed, not chopping the power as you enter is the proper way to come into a set of whoops. It does not have to be wide open, just steady. Very few riders can build speed in whoops, and it is the rule more than the exception to lose speed in them. Everything you do on your bike is either allowing or preventing a smooth run through the whoops.

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Don't Panic

The greatest challenge in a whoop section is to not panic if something starts to go wrong. If you lift your upper body when you think you are in trouble, you are shifting more weight to the front and pushing the front end down. The last thing you want in the whoops is the front end dropping. If you shut off the power when you think you're in trouble, the back end unloads, shifting weight to the front, pushing the front end down, again, the last thing you want in a set of whoops.

Stay in the right position which 99% of the time will prevent things from going bad and either try to gently brake your way out of trouble or just finish what you started, not shutting off. Stay in the correct position, and most likely you will be out of them quickly and out of trouble. Just don't panic.

So, to recap: Steady power entering, toes/feet pointed in, not out, knees gripping behind, or at the foot pegs, chest down, and arms bent. Do not chop your power in the whoops. Steady, consistent speed, and build entry speed as you get more and more comfortable in them. Faster is easier only if you are in the correct position. Faster could also really hurt in the wrong position. Learn to do them right, and you will learn to love them.

Good luck!
Colleen Millsaps and the entire MTF training staff

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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Discussion

  1. Gravatar
    Malcolm Pearson January 07, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks for the excellent article. Everything I learned in the last two years was basically from watching Supercross and ionline videos. I would love to go out and train at your facility for a week, but I don't have a sprinter van yet. As a corporate helicopter pilot, I had some life changing events that for one reason or another turned me to motorcross.. I went out bought a rower, joined a gym, and rode my bike. Since I do my own maintance, with training it's a 14 hour day. Using visualization in my riding helped me go from bunny hops to straight up wall jumps in third. I will not stop until I get where I want.. Doing a split s in a BO-105 is fun, but putting a bike 18 feet in the air just as badass.

  2. Gravatar
    Laura January 09, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Thank you for posting all this content, not just this article. I am struggling making progress because I simply don't know the fundamentals. These tips will help a lot on the track. Happy New Year!

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