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Trackside: Starts

by The "Professor" Gary Bailey


Hey guys, sorry it's been while. I haven’t really had an off-season as I’ve been busy helping my nephew Ryan Smith here at home at Lake Sugar Tree Motosports Park with the LST Training Complex, with the night Supercross races, with our two AHRMA vintage motocross races and lastly, our annual Halloween race. Well, maybe not so much the Halloween race, as before it could happen, I ended up in the hospital for a while with complications from “routine” back surgery that was anything but routine. So, I've been a little slow getting some things started, like this my next article on of all things … Starts.

Before we get into this article about how important starts really are, I want to digress for a minute to talk about UCLEAR, a helmet communications system that I was asked to try with some of my riders. So far, I really like the option of wearing a headset to talk to my riders while they are riding and working on a section. With this technology, I don't have to stop my rider and call them over to tell them what I want them to do. Even better, I can talk to two or three riders all at the same time. And, the riders can also communicate with me. With this UCLEAR system, you can tell the rider every little detail to help them at that moment, so it can be fixed right then. It is maybe be one of the best tools you can have during the week to get the most done in the shortest amount of time.

I have talked about starts before and I always tell the riders I work with the importance of starts. So, why am I going to talk about this again? Because if in Moto 3 at Motocross of Nations (“MXoN’), Webb and Barica would have gotten better starts, the overall would have been different and Team USA would have been on the top of the podium.

At MXoN, we all saw awesome starts for Team USA in Moto 1 and Moto 2. Barcia and Webb and their 450 Yamahas were spot on in their first starts but then when it came to the big one in Moto 3, well the starts were not there. I am not sure what happened, but the point is when you are at the top level of competition, you have to get a good start. Not just in a few motos but in every moto.

Kind of funny, while my wife and I were watching Moto 1, I commented about Barcia, “Well that’s my boy getting the holeshot!” in reference to all the times over years that Barcia and I spent practicing starts. Then comes Webb, and well, in twelve years I cannot even count how many starts Copper and I practiced together and Cooper gets an awesome start. So again, I comment to my wife “Now, that's my boy.” But, then comes Moto 3 and the starts are well, to be polite, not good.  So, I turn to my wife and say, “Never-mind, forget what I just said about them being my boys, not sure who is helping them now,” and we have a good laugh. Of course I am just joking and wish nothing but the best for all riders I’ve trained both past and present.

So, what happened to the starts in that last moto? The bikes were still good, the riders were still good, so what was the difference? Sometimes you just try too hard. Sometimes you are just more perfect on another start. And, sometimes you are just not as quick to react.

Looking at that last Moto 3 start, it looks like Webb may have not hooked up at first because he got closed off by riders on each side as soon as they come over the gate. Next, Webb made a good move and got his Yamaha hooked up and was looking good about half-way down the start. But, then a rider just in front of Webb on the inside and a rider just outside closed the gap and that was end of story for Webb’s start and Webb found himself in 15th place?

As for Barcia, it looked like he was going to have an okay start but then just before the first turn, he got pushed wide. Barcia was lined up next to the #3 of Febvre and Febvre came out third, so sometimes that is just how it goes. So, how important is the start?

I always tell my riders how important the start is not just the gate drop but all the way around the first turn. So let's do a quick rundown on the start itself as kind of a reminder. Then let's concentrate on what need to do all the way around that first turn to learn to be more aggressive.

But before we do that, as a learning tool, let’s do a quick review of some Monster Cup motos comparing the start to the end results.

First, in Monster Cup Main, Moto 1, into the first turn and it’s the 21, 41, 94 and the 5. At the finish, it was the 94 and the 5 in first and second.

Next, in the Super Mini start, it was the 55, 604, and 99. And, at the finish, it was the 99, 55 and 604.

Then, comes the All Stars race and into the first turn it’s 214, 103 and the 17. And, at the finish the 214 of Forkner comes out on top.

Then, race Two of the Monster Cup Main and into the first turn its the 21, 52, 5 and the 15. At the finish, it’s the 21, 41, 51, 94 and the 5.

Remove the Guesswork

At Virtual Trainer, we believe there is a right way to train for motocross. It starts with having a clear goal, finding expert instruction (on and off the bike), performing structured training and receiving immediate feedback throughout the process. Coach Seiji (Andrew Short's longtime trainer) has teamed up with Virtual Trainer to offer our audience an exclusive motocross community geared towards improving your performance on and off the track. The community offers motocross specific training plans designed by one of the best – to help you achieve your best performance. This is literally a one-of-a-kind training and conditioning experience for you, the motocross athlete.

We can deduct from this review of the Monster Cup races, that no matter what the class, the start is always important.

To further emphasize this point, let’s look at the 50cc race as well, it was the #5 with the holeshot and the win.

In the second Super Mini, in the first turn was the 325, 24, and the 99. And once again, at the finish, it looks like 99, 604 and the 24.

Turning to the All Stars Race Two, it’s 214 with the start and the win.

Race Three of the Monster Cup Main and again it’s the 21 the 5 and the 94. And once again, the top three end up 1, 2, 3 at the finish.

We are always going to have those come from behind rides but if you start up front there's a pretty good chance that's where you're going to finish if you're on your game. With just these races and this analysis of who was up front at the starts and how those riders finished, I hope it helps you understand the importance of the start. It seems no matter how many times we talk about starts, when most riders practice, they still don't practice starts as much as they should. Only perfect practice makes perfect. You need perfect start practice, to get perfect starts!!!!

Okay, with that said, I am going to show you some things to work on if you want that holeshot.

I thought it would be a good time for this refresher on starts with Mini O’s coming up. It’s not too late to clean up those starts. Good luck, ride safe, and have fun.

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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