The Internet's Official BMX Magazine.

Please submit your questions at any time. One question will be answered every month.

"What should I do when I get up to the gate through after it drops -- leg positioning, weight transfer, snapping, mental preparation, etc."

First thing is to get focused and try to relax when in the staging area... second thing is try to picture yourself getting a massive holeshot...Positive mental picture will help your confidence. Third thing is while balancing on the gate you need your pedal about level to ground and your body weight right about over your seat leaning back a bit so when you snap you will have a bit of momentum, that's what propels you forward. In order to do this right you really NEED to know when the gate drops. Watch the gate during practice alot and try to figure when it releases. You need to put the same effort into your second and third cranks outta the gate... Do this a couple thousand times and your gates will be DOPE! Practice, Practice, Practice!!!!!!
--Greg Hill, Greg Hill's BMX Seminars.

Well, when you are behind the gate you should be relaxed and just listening to the gate. Making sure you are getting the timing down. When you are on the gate you want to get in the positions as soon a possible because at some races they drop the gates fast. Making sure you are straight, pedal at the right height, standing up tall and relaxed. Slight bend in the knees and the elbows. Half way through the command lean back a little more. When you think it is time to go, make sure you are coming forward, elbows in the same position, hips into the handle bars, and a strong push with the starting pedal, keeping the leg in the same bend as well. If you bend you knees and elbows you lose the power of the gate start. Make sure you get the second pedal around to get the spin started. Curl your toes on the back starting foot as though you are lifting up and pulling. Keep in a straight line so you can have a strong first straight. When you are in the lead start to take your line on the track, to the first corner.
--Wade Bootes, Trek BMX.

On the Gate - Riders Ready - Watch The Light!!!

That can be the most intimidating sound there is to most Beginners and Novices alike. The first thing that comes to mind is am I going to fall down when I start to balance, am I using the right foot, am I in the right position, is my butt back far enough. Well we have all gone through that and some riders still feel that fear after many years in the sport. Starting is the single most important part of a race. When you consider that 75% of all races in a expert class are already won in the first 50 feet, you then can see how important a start can be. So you say, OK fine, sounds good, now how does all this get done? The first thing to do is understand that this is something you are going to do right and get rid of all your fears, and know you can do it. All I need to do is practice, practice, and more practice. The most important thing is balancing, and you can start by putting your front tire against a wall and keeping a little pressure on your pedals. Just sit there for about 10 to 15 seconds and see what happens. Not too easy is it? If you are having a real problem; get a board (2X6 or wider) about 5 feet long and put a brick at the back. This will make gravity your helper. IF YOUR ARE CLIPPED IN; GET SOMEONE TO WORK WITH YOU IN THE BEGINNING. That way you won't fall down and go boom. The first thing to do is learn to balance in a sitting position and then start standing up on your pedals and balance for about 10 or 15 seconds. Go from the sitting position to standing to sitting until you are in total control of your bike. Always remember that your bike does what you want it to do, not you doing what your bike wants. Now we come to the starting position. Where does my butt belong? If you have a straight seat post your butt belongs just a little back from the back of your seat and in an area near the center of your back tire. Your starting foot (left or right, we'll get to that very soon) should be level with your down tube, a little higher, a little lower is a personal preference. Your arms should be extended almost straight with your elbows slightly bend out ward, now that's outward , not downward. When you hear the words on the gate, get in your starting position and tell yourself "this is just like practice and I'm going to do it right". Put a little pressure on your starting foot. The next thing you will hear is "Riders Ready, Watch THE Light" and boom - down goes the gate. That's it, no, no, no. When you hear the word THE is when you start applying a whole lot of pressure to your starting foot and out the gate you go, like you were shoot from a gun. I used to start by watching the lights and would do a fast count of one, two on the yellow light and start a walk up the gate, but now almost all Nationals have the new type of gates and there is no more yellow light, just red and green. Watching the light worked very well for me because of all the noise and people yelling, but the yellow lights are gone now, so the only thing to do is listen very carefully or wait until the gate drops and then go. Well if you wait for the gate most everyone will be gone and you get to play catch-up, and that's not fun. Which foot to use, that is the question? For most it is very simple. If your right handed, use your right foot. Left handed, use your left foot. There exceptions to that rule and I will explain it like this. If you are right handed, but your left side is weaker and you are loosing it on your second pedal stroke try using your left foot and make up the difference with your second pedal stroke. When I first started racing my coach would make me and my brother start with the left foot one day than the right the next and he would never let up on us. So take it from there, practice, practice, practice.

Racing is easy, it's practice that's hard.
--Richie Anderson

*The above contains excretes from my new book and is Copyrighted by "Make It Better" 1998~All right reserved.

OK, before you get to staging, ride your bike around just a bit to loosen your legs up. In staging, most importantly, in practice, study when the gate drops in relation to the cadence and/or lights. If you have the opportunity, get up to the gate and lay one finger on top and FEEL when the gate drops in relation to the cadence and/or lights. This is a great way to determine exactly when the gate falls. Before you get your bike on the gate, take a couple deep breaths and relax. Clear your head and listen and watch. When balanced, lean back just a bit over the seat and snap your body forward when the timing is right. Don't pull back away from the gate and don't lift your front wheel. If you snap correctly, your wheel will come off the ground just a bit. You don't want to wheelie down the starting hill--that means you have the wrong weight distribution between your body and your bike. The second and third cranks are just as important as the first. Now go out and get the holeshot!
--Grant Hansen

Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.