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Motocross 101: Taming Ruts

by Sean Casey

Ruts on the face of a jump like this are intimidating even to the pros!

Real motocross is all about rough, choppy, rutted tracks. That is really what separates the men from the boys. Braking bumps can be intimidating, but just when you are feeling like a pro pinned down a straightaway; ruts can bring you back to reality. And they are everywhere: corners, jumps, straights. You can’t get away from them, so you might as well embrace it. Initially, it’s easy to hate ruts, but they can actually be used to your advantage.

It is a pretty easy process for a rut to form: bikes go over the same line and the rear tire digs out the soil. The main line is usually the first to get rutted up and as the day goes on, the main line will get deeper and deeper. This often times leads to a rut that prevents it from being the fastest. Keep this in mind when you do your motos later in the day. Slower riders may chop the throttle and alter the line some.

One of the most important and overlooked aspect of getting through a rut is to have both wheels lined up. I know this sounds stupid and trivial, but this can save you a lot time from getting cross rutted. This makes your forward drive and momentum easier to maintain. Remember, this goes for any rut. Once you have both wheels lined up in the rut, keep your head up and vision ahead to the end of the rut. If you look right in front you, you won’t have time to react. Staring right in front of you will only send you place, the ground.

Basic Motocross 101: Look to the end of the rut and enter with your wheels lined up. Harder done than said.

photo: Steve Cox

Depending on how deep the ruts are, it may be a good idea to ride on the balls of you feet. This prevents the chance of your feet getting ripped off the pegs. Like always, you want to grip with your knees to keep the bike stable in the rut and apply an even, steady throttle so the bike doesn’t try to hop too much.  Keeping the neutral, attack position through here will help tremendously. This puts you in a position to adjust your weight accordingly.

Each rut and scenario is different. However, remembering the basic form and keeping your vision ahead will keep you on two wheels. Once you get over the intimidation factor, you will be good to go. Stay loose, have fun and you’ll be through them before you know it.

About the Author:
Sean Casey has been riding/racing since the age of 13. Now attending the University of Central Florida, Sean is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine in Personal Training and studying Sport and Exercise Science. His site, MxTrainingBlog, covers everything from nutrition and training to racing mentality and riding technique. If you have any questions, comments, or just want to talk moto, contact Sean via email, Twitter, Facebook, or his website -

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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  1. Gravatar
    kcdaniels July 03, 2010 at 9:37 am

    enjoyed the article !

  2. Gravatar
    Racer X Virtual Trainer July 06, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Thanks KC. Many more articles like this to come!

  3. Gravatar
    Aunt Denise July 07, 2010 at 3:20 am

    Great article, even I understood it. Keep 'em coming.

  4. Gravatar
    greg July 07, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    thx guys i new most of it i thought u were suposed to get up on the seat in the turns but ill try wat u suggested

  5. Gravatar
    Michael Ivanov July 10, 2010 at 5:43 am

    It's verry dificult.But i like it.Thanks for the information.

  6. Gravatar
    Daniel C. July 13, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    You need to do all of those things listed, but make sure you go though ruts wide open, balls to the wall, no matter how gnarly the rut is. If you don't do this, you probably can't see how that would work, but trust me, it's just one of those motocross things. Any rut, off a jump, through a corner, down a straightaway, wide open.

  7. Gravatar
    STUFF with a capital S November 02, 2010 at 4:29 am

    I'm sure if you did that you would be up there with the pro's too but good pro tip

  8. Gravatar
    Enuts December 20, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    If I rode wide open through a rut I'd end up in the nearest tree. So not to good of advise Daniel Cnuts.

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