How to get into racing


C5tor

Well-known member
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Location
San Ramon, CA
#1
Hey fellow Alta Guys and Gals,

Had a few questions for those of you on the forum that are into racing. I'm a longtime street rider (30+ years), but relatively new to dirt (3 years). I'm a pretty conservative rider by nature and not really into risky riding or gratuitous displays of speed on the street. Not much of a MX track guy (yet, but working on it), as I've mostly done trail riding. But damned if the Alta hasn't boosted my confidence in my own riding skills and the capabilities of the bike to the point where I'd like to consider trying out a hare scramble or similar. Time to expand the limits and my riding skills (at least while I still have pretty good health insurance!)

So, what advice can you guys give me about getting into racing, especially with respect to racing with the Alta?

I assume I'll need to join the AMA and regional district to sign up to race. I think I'm in District 36 in Northern California. I'm 50+ (Super Senior! - Ouch, that really hurts actually typing that out loud!) and C class rider (zero experience, zero points). At least, I assume that's how it works.

For those that have raced your Alta, what (engine) class did they put you in? Is it still just open class? Didn't see any mention of electrics in the rule book at all. For that matter, I probably wouldn't be averse to trying out the little Sur-Ron in a hare scramble if it came right down to it. I've seen a few vids of that.

Anyway, those are just a few of the basic questions to get the ball rolling. Any advice and stories about how you started racing would be great to hear.

Just to be clear, this is the correct "attack" riding position, right?

1563576200857.png
 

F451

Well-known member
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255
Location
Seattle
#4
Are your riding buddies into racing? I've found that's the best way to get into it, quiz them about what might be a good first race, tag along with them, have them show you the ropes. Or just pick a race, sign up, show up, people will be happy to help you out. Go with an open mind, just try to get through the race without getting hurt.

I think you will really enjoy it. Good luck!
 

F451

Well-known member
Likes
255
Location
Seattle
#5
I'm an old out of shape trail rider and most of my riding buddies are younger then me, fast as hell racer types (GP, enduro, MX). They let me tag along with them on trail rides, I don't know why. They were encouraging me for years to enter a race. So of course I finally did, entered the Desert 100 up here in WA State. About 900 of your best friends blasting through the rocky high desert for 100 miles. What could possibly go wrong?! Lol.

I had the time of my life. Everyone looked after me. The first 50 mile lap, I finally hit the pits to fuel up. Some dudes my age who I had never seen before were in our pit area waiting for me. Everyone else from our group of buddies who were pitted together had come and gone long ago. They threw my bike up on a stand, filled it up with my gas, asked me how I was doing, did I need water, how were my hands, etc. Got me back on my bike, clapped me on the back and sent me on my way wondering who they hell they were, Lol.

Turns out they were the dad and business partner of a riding buddy acquaintance who I hardly knew. They heard this knucklehead friend of theirs was out there and waited for me. No one asked them to, they just did it!

My goals for the race, and the two 24 hour team races that I also entered (yes I am that dumb), were, in this order:
1. Do not get seriously hurt.
2. Finish.
3. Do not finish last.
4. Have fun.

64425190-L-M.jpg
 

Redwolf

My dog thinks I'm cool
Likes
812
Location
Brinnon, Wa.
#6
I'm an old out of shape trail rider and most of my riding buddies are younger then me, fast as hell racer types (GP, enduro, MX). They let me tag along with them on trail rides, I don't know why. They were encouraging me for years to enter a race. So of course I finally did, entered the Desert 100 up here in WA State. About 900 of your best friends blasting through the rocky high desert for 100 miles. What could possibly go wrong?! Lol.

I had the time of my life. Everyone looked after me. The first 50 mile lap, I finally hit the pits to fuel up. Some dudes my age who I had never seen before were in our pit area waiting for me. Everyone else from our group of buddies who were pitted together had come and gone long ago. They threw my bike up on a stand, filled it up with my gas, asked me how I was doing, did I need water, how were my hands, etc. Got me back on my bike, clapped me on the back and sent me on my way wondering who they hell they were, Lol.

Turns out they were the dad and business partner of a riding buddy acquaintance who I hardly knew. They heard this knucklehead friend of theirs was out there and waited for me. No one asked them to, they just did it!

My goals for the race, and the two 24 hour team races that I also entered (yes I am that dumb), were, in this order:
1. Do not get seriously hurt.
2. Finish.
3. Do not finish last.
4. Have fun.

View attachment 3470
Don't shortchange yourself, you are a faster rider than I am.
 

C5tor

Well-known member
Likes
248
Location
San Ramon, CA
#7
Are your riding buddies into racing? I've found that's the best way to get into it, quiz them about what might be a good first race, tag along with them, have them show you the ropes. Or just pick a race, sign up, show up, people will be happy to help you out. Go with an open mind, just try to get through the race without getting hurt.

I think you will really enjoy it. Good luck!
Wish I had some riding buddies. All my friends that ride are street bike guys. I switched to dirt when I finally convinced the wife to let me teach my boys to ride. So far, it’s just me and my boys. Biggest reason I started joining groups like this was to meet more like-minded folks.

Coincidentally, took my younger son to Carnegie SRVA today to ride some new trails. Stopped by the Moto Mart, and when I came back out, the Alta and Sur-ron were surrounded by about half a dozen interested people, asking my son questions about the bikes. Turns out one of them was fellow Alta member @ElectroBraap! Small world. So that was my pseudo-celebrity sighting for the day.

Even the rangers pulled my son over today, just to ask about his bike.
 

ElectroBraap

Well-known member
Likes
200
Location
California
#8
Wish I had some riding buddies. All my friends that ride are street bike guys. I switched to dirt when I finally convinced the wife to let me teach my boys to ride. So far, it’s just me and my boys. Biggest reason I started joining groups like this was to meet more like-minded folks.

Coincidentally, took my younger son to Carnegie SRVA today to ride some new trails. Stopped by the Moto Mart, and when I came back out, the Alta and Sur-ron were surrounded by about half a dozen interested people, asking my son questions about the bikes. Turns out one of them was fellow Alta member @ElectroBraap! Small world. So that was my pseudo-celebrity sighting for the day.

Even the rangers pulled my son over today, just to ask about his bike.
It was awesome to see a fellow Alta owner! It’s like two unicorns running into each other in the wild! 😂😂 Nice to meet you and your son!

-Electro
 

C5tor

Well-known member
Likes
248
Location
San Ramon, CA
#9
Nice to meet you too, @ElectroBraap! It was almost like meeting a Kardashian's second-cousin on the street, only if they wore a motocross helmet all the time. Only not quite as glamorous. What did you think of the Sur-Ron when you took it for a ride?
 

Philip

Administrator
Staff member
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2,484
Location
Ann Arbor, MI
#10
If I were to start racing now, I would start with motocross practice days. Just come to the track, pay the practice fee, and go chase others with a similar skill and try not to get run over or landed on in a no-race (low-pressure) environment.

Just hold your line, stay to one side on jumps, and do not hog the main line when this slows down guys who are faster than you.

Make friends while at the track. Lots of folks would be glad to help and show you the ropes.

Once you get accustomed to that, try entering races. Do not fight to be the first off the starting line until you have the confidence to pass most of the guys in your class. Just let them go first and then chase the slower ones down.

The faster guys and the inexperienced noobs are less patient in racing situations, so keep this in mind and if in doubt let them by. Do not slow down, that can cause crashes, just stay to one side on straightaways or take a longer line through turns. If they pass you but they can't pull away from you then chase them down and pass them back.
 

C5tor

Well-known member
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248
Location
San Ramon, CA
#11
Been watching a youtube channel by Shadetree Surgeon, a Harley guy who is pretty new to dirt but entered some hare scrambles in Florida anyway. Starts with his vlog "How to Start Racing Hare Scrambles... even if you SUCK". Pretty hilarious stuff as he progresses through his first season. He's not a particularly good dirt rider, and definitely not confident (so I definitely identify with that). And his self esteem is pretty darn low. (His running commentary is usually something like "Be brave you bastard... Don't die, just finish the lap... You'd better not crash into this stupid ass tree... <crash>... Dammit you suck!". But people try to help him out, and he usually survives the races for at least a few laps. It's a little like watching a train wreck, when you know you should look away, but can't. I keep rooting for the guy. When the poor dude hit the same tree and fell down the same hill on all 3 laps of a particular race, I was in tears. Then he gets back to the pits, and his friend asks him how he did on that particular hill, and he has to admit ashamedly that he fell down the hill... more than once... okay every lap. Classic stuff.

Not sure if it is helping my riding confidence or not, but at least he keeps getting back up and doing it again.
 

Oded

Well-known member
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529
Location
Israel
#12
You described Shadetree surgeon's videos so well. It's hailarious.

I am not certain as to what kind of racing you are looking to get into -Motocross? Enduro?
 

C5tor

Well-known member
Likes
248
Location
San Ramon, CA
#13
I was thinking a short hare scramble, since I have the most experience with trail riding. But not opposed to MX or longer Enduro either. MX kind of intimidates me, not because of the jumps (the jumps are fun) but because of the deep dirt on freshly tilled tracks. I just don't have any experience on that kind of surface, and my street-honed butt-gyro always tells my primitive brain that it is losing control when the front-end gets squirrely in the deep stuff. I know intellectually I just need to pin the throttle and let the bike ride over the top of the loam, but damned if it doesn't feel like I'm back on the farm in Idaho where I grew up and I'm plowing the stupid fields on a tractor again (at about the same speed as well). On the street, it's all about maintaining the contact patch. Deep dirt seems to be more about letting the bike move where it wants, pinning the throttle and pointing in the general direction you want the bike to go. Those are some hard reflexes to break after decades of working to have both ends planted on the tarmac. I have the same issue with wheelies. My body automatically cancels the movement as soon as the front end starts to rise. Super frustrating.
 

Oded

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529
Location
Israel
#14
I actually don't race, but like you, looking to get into it. Hopefully next year.

Where I live there are many Enduro instructors. It is advisable to take few lessons where you focus on body posture, braking, balance and so on.
The sooner, the better, to prevent fixing bad habits.

After that, we join a riding group, usually with better riders to push us forward. The gap between you and the rest should not be too large.

I usually try to ride in places I know that hosted an event /race, and keep practicing on that terrain.

If I practice laps, I use the Advrider WD app that keep track of my lap's time automatically.
 

F451

Well-known member
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255
Location
Seattle
#15
One tip I heard about riding ruts in corners when its muddy is to cut ACROSS the ruts rather then try to stay in them, which is always tricky in the mud for me. I tried it, and it works! Lol.

I've since kept that in mind whenever I find myself coming upon a deeply rutted section that I'm not seeing a line that I like. Sometimes squaring off the corner works for riding across the ruts, other times its just angling enough, I will also do this on straightaways at times.

If the rut is well formed, but not too deep, I rail it (rail it being a relative term here!).

And for finding riding buddies, I've had good success with inviting myself on rides that people post about online, like on Thumpertalk, KTMtalk, etc. Or posting up a thread and inviting others to go along on your ride. The key is being honest in our abilities and expectations. For example "I'm a not too fast trail rider, like single track and forest road, challenging is good, but not looking for a death march..."

People have generally been great taking people out to their favorite riding areas.

And of course joining a local riding club. We are fortunate to have a bunch of them up here and they are usually chock full of very dedicated and talented riders. They are usually also very family oriented. I know a bunch of the Stumpjumpers up here and they are great people, always happy to share the trails with peeps. They know all the best trails. I love them, Lol.
 

F451

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255
Location
Seattle
#16
This is the only ride where somehow my message of "I'm a slow mellow trail rider" didn't get across to the guy that took us out. I knew he was hardcore, but his idea of "no problem" was a bit different then mine. This was in the first couple of miles of a long day. We survived to tell the tale, Lol.

Salmon La Sac, WA area years ago.

SalmonLaSac1-2-M.jpg
 

Redwolf

My dog thinks I'm cool
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812
Location
Brinnon, Wa.
#17
This is the only ride where somehow my message of "I'm a slow mellow trail rider" didn't get across to the guy that took us out. I knew he was hardcore, but his idea of "no problem" was a bit different then mine. This was in the first couple of miles of a long day. We survived to tell the tale, Lol.

Salmon La Sac, WA area years ago.

View attachment 3533
That looks like a pretty tame beginners trail there, what's the issue???
 

ElectroBraap

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200
Location
California
#18
Nice to meet you too, @ElectroBraap! It was almost like meeting a Kardashian's second-cousin on the street, only if they wore a motocross helmet all the time. Only not quite as glamorous. What did you think of the Sur-Ron when you took it for a ride?
Ha! It was hard to get an opinion on it to be honest. Right off the bat a few things stood out.

It’s incredibly light, the geometry and ergo was better than expected. It looks cool, and appears to be of decent quality. It was less powerful than I had hoped and the suspension seemed like it worked well for what it was but I am curious if I would break it somehow. First impressions id say it’s worth the price tag for us electric heads but a gas guy might have a hard time liking it.

If you would be willing I’d love to give it a good half an hour ride and do a review video. I think it would be good content for the channel 👌 no pressure of course. Shoot me a message if you like!

-Electro
 

strider

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166
Location
NE Oklahoma
#19
I wouldn't bother w/ the AMA to start. There is probably something like this where you are: Oklahoma Cross Country Racing Association As for learning, one of the members here recommended Shane Watts' videos. They are old school DVDs but have a bunch of good info in them. I've been following his advice to get started. I too was a street/roadrace guy so doing things like going over a log was terrifying to me. The DVDs give you good drills to work up. I have a long way to go but the foundations are there.
 

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