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Gary Bailey Trackside - I'll Pass

by The "Professor" Gary Bailey

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Let’s start with WHY. Why should you care about passing? That’s easy, the more you pass, the closer you will be to the front of the pack. Then, once you are in the lead, you will need to be able to make quick passes to stay out front if you catch lappers.

Most riders are perplexed about how to practice passing. How can you practice passing if you are practicing by yourself? And, if you do have other riders present, what exactly should you do to practice passing?

Let’s break this down. Before you can work on passing you need to have a place to pass. How do you get that? Well, you learn to develop and pick lines. The first problem most riders have with passing is with lines or rather the lack of lines on the track. To be an effective passer, you need to have more lines on the track. If you watch how tracks develop during practice, you have probably noticed that the biggest difference between local tracks, amateur tracks and pro tracks is that pros develop multiple lines during practice. On most pro tracks after practice and certainly after a race there are at least three or four lines, and sometimes five that have developed. On the other hand, if you look at most tracks at an amateur race after practice or even after the race, there is usually only one line, maybe two.

Even if you are faster than the other guys if you don’t have a place to pass it’s almost impossible. You understand this one from driving a car. If you are on a one-lane road and you come upon a slower car how do you pass? What if you are on a curvy two-lane road on a two-lane road how do you make that pass? Or how about a four lane, does that make passing any easier? Remember, in motocross as in driving, before you can make a pass, you need to have a place to pass.

So how do you get a place to pass? It all starts with what you do in practice. First, turn on your imagination and start by working on where you are going to pass. Each lap use a little bit more of the track when you practice. Don’t just go where everyone else is going lap after lap. Instead, be the guy to start a new line. Soon others will follow and there will be two lines. Then, pick another corner or another place on the track and start using more track there the next lap. Do this lap after lap, so that you are constantly carving out new lines with each lap. Don’t just play follow the leader, monkey see, monkey do, be the leader and the creator of new lines.

I love the answer I always get when I ask my students why did you use that line? The answers are always the same. It’s the easiest way or it’s more fun there! Then I ask, why didn’t you go over there? Again, the answer is always the same, I never thought about it! That’s the first problem, you never thought. You have to constantly be thinking and using your imagination. I hear all the time that this track is one line. I do realize that some tracks are harder to make different lines on than others, but that is true for a particular track at all levels. Sometimes I even hear this from the pros. Somehow though, even on a supposed “one-line” track, the best guys always seem to find a way to make that pass.

You may not be the best or the fastest guy out there, but you can be the smartest. When you practice use more track, go where no one is going and make it work. Be smarter and sometimes that will make you faster.

Now that you have a place to pass, let’s focus on the pass itself. Passing is an art. Once you have lines to choose from you can try to make things happen. Here are a few ways to do this. First, change your approach in the corners and plan ahead. On most tracks motocross riders go inside to outside in the turns. Riders cut to the inside too quick, then go too wide on the exit.

But, if you look at all other forms of racing it’s more out - out – out – in. Two wheels, four wheels, dirt or pavement. Turn on Nascar, watch motorcycle road racing, pause the TV and follow the arc, it is always out, out, out for as long as you can hold it and then cut in. So why do motocross riders go in – out – out and every other kind of racer goes out – out—out—in? Well, the reason is that most motocross riders don’t plan ahead. As a matter of fact, many don’t even think, they don’t have a plan at all, it’s just hold the throttle and see how fast can I go. But, trying to just go faster is not all there is to getting faster. You need to have a plan, you need to have the lines, you need to know how to use your brakes properly and you need to be willing to commit. If you don’t practice this, it is not just going to happen on race day.

Here is an passing drill you can work on with your riding buddy. My son David and I did this and I think it helped him to be very good at passing. Put the slower rider in front of you and see how quick you can pass. As soon as you make the pass, move over let them back in front. What will happen is that after you pass the slower rider so many times, the slower rider is going to figure out how to block you so you can’t pass. The better they get at blocking, the harder your job will become. This will also help the slower rider to know what they need to do to go a little quicker through the turn.

When David and I started this he was on an 80 cc and I would sometimes ride an 80 cc as well and when he was slow in the turn, I would just purposefully run into the back of him so he knew how slow he was going. Then, I would cross lines and make a pass so could learn again what speed he needed through the turn. As David got older, we did the same drill on bigger bikes. Finally, he was in front, because the kid got quicker than dad. That was the good news, bad news.

Practice makes perfect, NO, only PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT! What you do when you practice is what you do when you race.

We are looking at the setup and it all started coming off the jump before this photo. The #21 sets up the pass by coming from the outside so he can carry the momentum into the turn.

Photo: Gary Bailey
At this point the plan is, carry momentum and go the shortest distance.

Photo: Gary Bailey
As soon as you are there you need to be sure you don’t stop too much and lose all your momentum or you are going to lose the pass you just made.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Here is another good setup as the #800 goes just a little wider then cuts hard back to the inside.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Many times it’s faster if you take the shortest way from point A to B .

Photo: Gary Bailey
Once you have made the pass don’t give the rider a second chance to come right back at you. Be sure you take the line away and slow their momentum.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Here is a little different idea. The shortest distance from A to B, is down the inside if you know how to use those brakes.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Run it in hard and get there first. Stop the first rider and hope the guy on the outside does not get a big run out of the turn.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Hold your line, don’t go too wide and slam the berm. Carry your momentum in the shortest line possible.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Without taking anyone out you need to do it now, no time to lose.

Photo: Gary Bailey
SORRY, but I got to go.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Dynamic plans (Plan A to Plan B). Plan A for the #22 is to come in wide, go high and cut back to the inside.

Photo: Gary Bailey
But the #29 cuts to the inside knowing the #22 will be coming there.

Photo: Gary Bailey
The #22 changes to plan B by switching to the outside for the pass.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Outside setup: out, out, out, in, cross over to the inside.

Photo: Gary Bailey
As soon as you have made that commitment you need to be able to stop. First and most important, get there first.

Photo: Gary Bailey
When you are there, be sure you make it stick.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Here comes a good lesson in pass and protect. The setup starts here with coming in wide.

Photo: Gary Bailey
All things are going as planed for the lead. Out, out, out, in.

Photo: Gary Bailey
And the pass is made.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Now comes the big scrub.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Now there is another setup in the works with the next corner going to the right.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Reed knows that Canard is coming, so he protects inside line.

Photo: Gary Bailey
But this is the time to make a statement. If they leave an inch!

Photo: Gary Bailey
They lose.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Even on the start you can make good passes if you have a plan. Again the shortest distance can be the fastest, ask Stewart.

Photo: Gary Bailey
When it looks like you have the hole-shot, don’t go wide. Stay inside, check out Reed as well.

Photo: Gary Bailey
Be smart, hold the inside as much as possible. By the way, the start is the only time you can pass 19 riders in 2 seconds. Or in motocross the start is the only time you can pass 39 riders at one time.

Photo: Gary Bailey
This is what most corners on pro tracks look like. These lines are made in practice by the riders looking for a better way to race and pass.

Photo: Gary Bailey
The more you work on your plan in practice the easier the race will be.

Photo: Gary Bailey
This is what I see at most local tracks. One good line.

Photo: Gary Bailey

Thank you for checking out this article. Other similar articles can be found in the archive section. I hope all of my articles help you become a better, safer rider no matter what your skill level. Because I am in semi retirement after 43-years teaching full-time, I only do private one-on-one coaching or with a small group of riders. Most of my time is spent in Virginia, however, if you are on the west coast I do spend some of the winter months in California visiting my kids and grandkids. If you are interested in scheduling a coaching session shoot me an email gbmx@kimbanet.com or go to my website. You can come to the mountain or the mountain will come to you!

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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