Smooth Riding is better riding. But what is “smooth”?

3 Dec

We hear it a lot in MotoGP. Reg Pridmore built his career (and his book on it). Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way

But being smooth is the best way to ride, bar none. Rough riding, deceleration, acceleration, lateral transitioning all will upset the suspension and make riding feel like work instead of fun. With winter coming and the weather starting to get sour in many parts in the world, riding time will decrease.

But how can you work on being smooth when you’re in the gym training for your trackday?

It’s actually quite simple.

Think about what it takes to be smooth when you’re on the bike. You have to roll on the throttle and roll off in a controlled manner. Control is simply being in tune with your body and being able to make small adjustments instead of making large inputs. Large input disrupts handling. Looking at MotoGP or World Superbike, when you’re on the edge of the tire is no time to be making large input changes to the bike.

When only 1/1000th of the tire is making contact with the ground is not the time to make abrupt changes. However, smooth riding is rewarded with faster cornering.

Now the best riders can make small, accurate inputs very quickly. I know when i’m riding and I focus on being smooth and not upsetting the suspension, it feels as though I’m taking a very long time to provide the input. And this is okay. It will get better, I will get better and the inputs will become more accurate and become quicker.

But how does a person improve smoothness?

By becoming more in tune with your physical body. When doing exercises, don’t just go through the motions and hope for change to happen. Instead, be intentional with your movements. Focus on how your muscles are working and which ones are working.

Imagine that your body is a computer. A really nice one. Your brain, it’s the CPU. Your muscles, joints and limbs? They are the hardware. The hardware relays information to the performance of your body back to the CPU. But if the hardware isn’t very sensitive, it’s not going to do much for the CPU.

Every time you focus on what your muscles are doing while you move, it’s essentially upgrading the hardware to match the upgraded software. So when you are focusing on being smooth on/off the throttle, you’re refining your hardware and your CPU is recognizing the upgraded hardware.

Think about the tunability of the CPU on a MotoGP machine, pretty awesome right? We’re always talking about how software makes these bikes amazing. Well upgrade your own software and hardware!

You can go out and run, cycle or randomly go through some exercises. Yes, you’ll see a modest “hardware” upgrade. But to really see some results in your ability to move on the bike, you have to focus and pay attention to what is going on during your workouts.

What are some ways to improve “hardware” sensitivity? First, gain some flexibility. Muscles that don’t stretch much, can’t provide optimal feedback. Start working on mobility with a deep lunge/Spiderman, lateral squats and hip crossovers. 

Strength exercises you can do are single leg squats, chin ups and dumbbell bench press (dumbbells require more rotator cuff use). For energy system development (ESD)/cardio, I would recommend a rowing machine, a VersaClimber or even some heavy rope slams as these all involve very dynamic movements that transfer well to the art of motorcycle riding.

So this winter, improve your smoothness by giving each workout the mental attention it needs and deserves. I think you’ll be pretty impressed by the results come spring riding season.

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2 Responses to “Smooth Riding is better riding. But what is “smooth”?”

  1. catmacleod December 22, 2014 at 4:36 am #

    Don’t suppose I could get some questions answered regarding my particular challenges. I run a motorcycle touring company that features tours with track time. I’ve got my own troubles but also would like to send people to a source of expertise. cat@leodescapes.com

    Like

    • grandprixfitness December 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

      I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have about motorcycle fitness. Feel free to have them contact me here. I’ve also sent you an email regarding your fitness questions. Thanks again! – TDF

      Like

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