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Gary Bailey Trackside: Turning Pro

by Racer X Virtual Trainer


Hey guys Professor Bailey here again. It's been kind of crazy the last few weeks going to all of the Pro Nationals with Cooper Webb and then traveling back home each week to work with the kids getting them all ready for Loretta Lynn's. So, this week when Tim Crytser called me and asked if I would do a little piece on what Cooper and I have been up to and working on I thought why not, I actually have a week off. Well, before I get into some of that let me give you a little insight in case you're thinking about turning pro in the future.

There are a few things you may want to think about. First, this is the biggest step that you will ever take in racing. It should not be taken lightly or blindly or without a plan. Second, you are not nearly as good or as fast as you think you are as compared to the pro guys. You might be thinking you are a good starter, or you are pretty good in the whoops, or through the rollers, or you can handle jumps pretty well or even that you are pretty fast in the corners. Well, here's what I'm going to tell you, no matter how fast you are, you still have a lot of work to do.

At the pro level, these guys are fast. And when I say they are fast, I mean good and fast. If you're going to jump into the 250 class which is the most likely class to start in, you cannot afford to make any mistakes. Every mistake you make is costly and it's not like in the amateur ranks where you can just make up for that mistake by being a little more aggressive. The top 10 guys in the pros are wide open the whole 30-minutes +2 laps. If you're going to run in the top 10, it's the guy that makes the fewest mistakes that is going to end up on top. From start to finish.

Being fast, even stupid fast is not enough. Let me tell you for sure when you first get to the pros you're going to be at least 4 to 5 seconds off the pace if you are really fast, and many rookies find themselves 8 to 10 seconds (or more) off of the pace whenever they get to the pro ranks.

So far in his rookie year, GB's star pupil, Cooper Webb has been hit and miss on starts.

So, where do I start? Well, we all know how important the start is in any race. And, at the pro level everything is about perfection. Getting a good start will kind of determine how your finish is going to be because everyone is so close in speed. Even the best rider in the class struggles if they get a bad start. Coming through the pack sometimes is not that easy especially if the track has not developed several good lines. Even if there are good lines and lots of them, it's still not easy to make those passes.

So far, Cooper has had some good starts and then again, we have had our issues. Reaction, for the most part pretty good. But we are still looking for consistency keeping ourselves locked into the bike and keeping the bike going straight and hooked up off of the start. We've made some changes to the bike and we've worked on technique so i am confident the starts will come around with more consistency. One strong point has been that Cooper has been making some good moves on the first couple of turns when
he doesn't get the best start. To that you have to find a hole or make one, and pick the good lines.

After starts, I think the next hardest thing is really finding out how fast the top guys really are. It can be humbling. So that's my job, to figure out where they're fast, then what we need to do to go that fast. It's always easy to say, well just go faster. But there's a lot more to it than that. It can be so many things. Some of it can have to do with the bike, like having the suspension set up properly or making the proper tire selection for the track that day. Then, there's always technique, learning how to get around the track smoother and faster by carrying better momentum.

The professor is true to his name studying hours and hours of race footage.

When you're talking about 2 to 4 seconds a lap that you're slower, it comes in many small places. The crazy thing is you're losing a little bit of time everywhere sometimes it's an eighth of a second here and a quarter over there and a half a second over here but it all adds up in the end to be big numbers. Sometimes you're closer to the leaders in the first moto than you are in the second moto. Could that be because you're tired? Sure, that could be one reason, but the other reason may be because the track is so much rougher and you're not as good on rougher tracks or you do not have the pro level racing experience to know how to finesse the bumps to carry better momentum. So, let's take a look at the riders and see where the differences are.

So, am I pleased with the results so far? Yes, absolutely. Would I like them to be better? Of course, and so would Cooper. But, this is our rookie season and we're learning a lot. We've been focusing a lot on the starts and also working on how to carry more momentum around the entire race track. Of course, we would love to fix this quickly but it doesn't always happen that way. If you could just fix everything that easily everyone would be showing the speed of Tomac and Roczen. Like the old saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day. For now, we plan to just keep working and building our program.

Funny thing, back when I was racing in the late 60s, the media nicknamed me Spider-Man because I was so tall at 6'7" tall that I just hung over the frame of the Hodaka Ace 100 I was riding. Now, we were all joking the other day that we are all caught in the WEBb of Cooper Webb after some tweets circulated during Red Bud making a play on Cooper's last name. Kind of an irony, but it's a good place to be and I have no doubt this Webb kid is going to do some good things in the future. We will all be cheering him on. Until then ride safe, I've got to get back to work and I know you've got plenty to work on as well. - Professor Bailey

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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    jw July 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I have been saying all year that Webb reminds me of Barnett in his first year.

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