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Yamaha Motor Canada Presents Style Check- Playing In The Sand


After four rounds of the 2018 Rockstar Energy Triple Crown MXTour Series out west, the riders and teams now move east for the final five races. Thus far, the racing has been entertaining and each track in the west presented its own set of challenges. The opening round in Calgary was hot and rutted, Round 2 was fast and dry, Round 3 in Prince George started off muddy before getting extremely rough, and then Round 4 in Manitoba had a little bit of everything. However, as much as the riders were put to the test out west, the conditions are about to get a lot tougher next week.

We sure witnessed some great racing during the first four rounds. Now it’s time to play in the sand. Photo by James Lissimore

With two very important and very challenging sand races to kick off the east, what will our top riders be doing to prepare their bodies and minds for Sand Del Lee and Gopher Dunes? This is definitely one of those situations that shows the diversity within our national rider group as every rider prepares differently. In my humble opinion, both SDL and Gopher Dunes are slightly different animals when it comes to each track’s conditions. In the past, the track at SDL hasn’t been quite as physically tough to race on for the riders as Gopher Dunes has been. However, with it being situated among trees, there is very little air flow and the temperatures are almost always hot. Now don’t get me wrong, SDL gets rough and very choppy, and with the hot conditions it can be an extremely difficult race. Over the years we’ve seen some very good racing at SDL, and the riders have never been afraid to let it all hang out. But in the past the SDL race has never been the week before Gopher Dunes. Will the riders go into Round 5 next week with the strategy to save their bodies and their machines for the following weekend? Well, as a former racer I can speculate that while a few of the top riders may arrive at SDL with it in the back of their minds that they can’t expend too much energy, thus leaving something in the tank for Round 6. Once the gate drops and the battles begin, the top riders are the top riders because they’re inherently stubborn and they want to win. They will all push to the end and then deal with the possible consequences later.

So how do the riders prepare for sand races? Do they pound long motos on their local sand tracks? Do they ride their bicycles until they run out of road? Or do they just relax and conserve their energy? Well, I would bet money on the fact that every rider on the line has probably tried all three of those as a way to prepare for difficult sand races. In my opinion, I think if you do a little of all three then you’re most likely going to be very well prepared.

Tyler Medaglia always seems to ride the sand tracks well as he’s strong as an ox. Photo by James Lissimore

Hit the Beach:

This is definitely a good idea as you get yourself ready for a sand race. Riding sand definitely takes a slightly different technique than riding on any other surface. Whether it’s body position, throttle control, or line choice, a sand track keeps you on your toes, literally! Usually on sand tracks there is very little time to rest, and the need to maintain momentum at any cost is the most important thing. But, maintaining momentum is also the most difficult thing to do as the sand wants to suck the speed and power from your bike. Racing a modern day four-stroke around a rough sand track for me feels more like you’re driving the bike, as oppose to riding it. You’re constantly on the throttle, and you’re doing everything you can to just keep moving forward. Instead of trying to put your bike in a line that is just a tire width wide (as you would on most tracks), you’re aiming for and hoping your bike hits a line that is a foot wide, and if you hit that line you’re lucky. Heading out a few times to your local sand track for some motos is definitely a thing to do. This will give you an idea how your bike and your body responds to these challenging track condition.

Work Those Legs:

Whether you like riding a bicycle, running, or doing leg work in the gym, the one body part that riding sand relies on is your legs. Since standing up is crucial for successful sand riding, your legs have to be fit and strong once the gate drops. Also, since your legs are constantly being loaded up during a sand race, it’s always a good idea to do some exercises where your legs build up lactic acid and then get flushed out. Think about riding a sand track for a second. Is it a linear leg exercise where your body is just going in a straight line for 35 minutes? Heck no! Your legs are going not just up and down, but they’re also trying to keep your bike somewhat straight, while getting loaded up from the side. It is a crazy workout when you think about it, and if your legs give out on you, then you’re toast on a sand track. Personally, I think an exercise like tennis is a great way to prepare for a sand race. A long tennis game is a great way to build endurance into your legs for motocross, and you’re working your mind and lungs as well.

Both Sand Del Lee and Gopher Dunes will test the riders with very challenging conditions. Photo by James Lissimore

Time to Chill:

Once you’ve done the motos and the training for a tough sand race, it’s time to relax and save your energy. The thing that I’ve learned over the years is that at the 25 minute mark of every sand moto, every rider is beginning to suffer. At that point, life is miserable and you’re counting the seconds until the checkered flag comes out. Your bike is hot, your body is hot, the track is beat, and usually that one rider who doesn’t seem to ever get tired is breathing down your neck. Well, the good news is that they’re tired too and it’s just about who can deal with being miserable better. If you don’t have some energy stored up in your body for those final few laps, then life is going to get really tough. A good four days of rest mixed with stretching and hydrating can do wonders for you before a tough race. The idea is to be as good as you can for that first 25 minutes and then have enough left over in your body to make it to the finish. Then recover and do it all over again in Moto 2. When you’re getting ready for a really difficult race, the tendency is to do more. But trust me, sometimes less is better than more as your body needs to build up its energy stores.

Of course, every rider is different and each one has their own way of preparing for tough races. What works for one maybe won’t work for another. I have even had it where a certain way of preparing works one year and then the next it doesn’t work as well. However, that was twenty years ago and training and racing have come so far. Our riders are some of the fittest athletes on the planet and I cannot wait to see them tackle both SDL and Gopher Dunes in the coming weeks. Folks, it’s time to go and play in the sand.



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