Mythbusting: Some techniques are only for experts
Heard this before? Yeah, me too. Let's jump right into this one and discuss why this view is wrong.
It's the idea that just because an expert level rider uses a certain technique, that it is something only they should be trying and riders at other levels should not be attempting that technique. There are distinct reasons why this is not true.
But first, let's take a quick step back and look at why this perspective even exists.
Wow! How do they do that?!!!
Think about an expert in any field or sport. Us mere mortals look upon them with awe and astonishment and think, "Wow, how do they do that? I could never do that!" The natural reaction is to think that they have access to some secret level of instruction only available to professionals.
We know that we cannot just roll out onto a track and break the track record. So there must be a catch. There must be something we haven't learned yet. Training you don't get until you have that MotoGP contract. Rossi, Marquez, Lorenzo and Dovi all get keys to a special room where only they can get their hands on the official riding bible of the masters...
That actually sounds pretty cool! But unfortunately...it's not true. Sorry.
It's all fundamental
Top level performers in any sport are not doing anything magical. They are executing the fundamentals. The key is the level of execution. They have worked very hard to perfect the execution of these fundamentals. Hours, days, weeks, months, years...all dedicated to proper execution of the fundamentals of their sport.
Cameron Beaubier came out to guest instruct at one of the YCRS schools a couple of years ago. He had just won his 3rd championship that weekend. When asked what he was working on during Friday practice, he said he was just getting his eyes up and engaged. Hmm..interesting. Not bike setup, no special engine testing, no experimental technique..he was focused on the same fundamental that we all work on. He is just able to execute that fundamental at a much higher degree of application than we can.
As riders at any level, we must always aspire to higher levels of execution of our fundamentals. But the fundamentals do not change as our skill increases.
How the bike is designed to be ridden
Something else we must remain aware of is the design of the bike. When thinking about the motorcycles we ride, it is important to remember that these bikes are designed by expert riders. High level, championship winning riders have direct input and feedback to the manufacturers on what the evolution of the bike should be.
Technology, rider aides, suspension, geometry...all come from riders who excel at this sport. They dictate how the bike should be designed based on how they ride the bike. But remember, these experts are merely executing the fundamentals of riding! Yes, they may be better than we are at executing the technique, but again, the technique does not change, just how well we are able to execute it does.
Applying the brakes shortens the geometry, collapses the forks and puts weight forward. Acceleration transfers weight to the rear. The bike does not know if a champion or novice is riding it. It can only respond to the inputs it is given. Ride the bike the way it was designed to be ridden. By someone who has mastered the fundamentals.
Talent vs skill
Since we are talking about skill, I also wanted to address talent. A lot of people look at these experts and comment that "it's just pure talent." So, let's just accept that there may be some truth to this and discuss.
Inherently, we all have our own unique "talents". Some people are good at math, others can easily pick up an instrument and learn to play it quickly, and yes, some people can jump on a motorcycle and go pretty quickly without any practice or instruction.
But this does not make them experts or champions. Talent alone will not get them to the top of the podium. Champions work very hard at every aspect of their lives and riding. The talented ones may catch a glimmer of success, 15 minutes of fame. The champions are consistent. Always challenging for the podium. Winning championships year after year.
This consistency and hard work are what keep them at the top.
"Consistent, hard work gains success." - Dwayne 'The Rock' Johonson
Then what's the secret?
Flawless execution of the fundamentals under stress. That's it. Simple! But not easy.
Experts make these techniques look easy because they have trained so hard and so much that the execution of the technique looks easy, effortless. It's natural to them. Its muscle memory. There's no trick, the technique does not change as they improve. They are just more efficient with their application.
So focus on those fundamentals, regardless of your level of competence.
Simple, not easy.