DP (can I start calling you that?)
I've noticed that the last couple of years the fastest guys in our sport are dragging their toes through the corners. It used to be that if you wanted to get through the corner quickly you needed your inside food ahead of the front axle and level with the front fender. Now it looks like Barcia and everyone else is in more danger of getting their inside food caught in the rear sprocket when they are railing a corner. Is this just the weight bias of a four-stroke being more forward or have the chassis/motor/suspension/tire combos gotten THIS forgiving?
(Disclaimer: I jumped on the four-stroke band wagon in 2002 with my YZ426F and have never been quick enough to justify asking this question.)
No, you cannot start calling me DP. I’ve never been a fan of the initial nicknames and I’m not about to jump into that simplistic fray. Get back to me when you come up with something clever and articulate like, you know, Ping-a-ling or something.
I’m not sure I have THE answer to your question but I could throw out a guess. The switch to four-strokes has brought on a lot of changes in riding style. One of those changes is cornering technique. The front end on a two-stroke didn’t have the help of the engine brake to set the tire into a line in a corner and it made it critical to have your foot, leg and body in the right position to optimize traction. Four-strokes have taken some of that out of the equation because they get so much more front end grip. That allows riders to come in with more speed, carry more speed through the turn and not worry about always having their feet/legs/body in a specific position. Also, the bikes are so much more powerful that riders have to lay forward on the bike as they exit the turn to keep the front end down. This is contributing to the legs back phenomenon you are referring to, in my humble opinion. Of course, what the hell do I know?
I'm going to keep this one short and sweet. Why doesn't anybody knock Ryan Villopoto over? If a guy at a local race took the kind of nonsense lines we saw him taking at Minneapolis (and every race for that matter) there would be an angry mob at his trailer after the race. He leaves you two options: let him by or mutually assured destruction. After one or two of the latter one would think he may cut that crap out.
P.S. I'm not a Villopoto hater, just a fan of clean racing.
Ryan definitely runs it in there, doesn’t he? He’s asserted his dominance on this class in the latter part of this year and, like a pack of wild dogs, his competition kind of rolls over and lets him take the alpha dog role. I don’t want to go all Cesar Millan on you right now but I would like to see somebody pin Villopoto to the ground and lift their leg on him or something. Not literally but in the Dog Whisperer kind of way. I’m a fan of good racing, clean or otherwise, and I just like to see riders fighting over the top position instead of just filling into their assumed roles on the podium. It was great to see Dungey, who is notoriously gentle in his racing etiquette, be aggressive and not back down to Ryan’s tactics. Maybe Dungey should walk up to RV on the start line this weekend in Seattle, grab his neck and yell “Shhhttt” like Cesar does. I don’t know if it would redirect Villopoto’s focus like it does with a dog but it would damn sure freak him out. And make for great television I would guess.
I love your column each week. It's informative and to the point. I'm an ex 51 year old motocrosser that still rides and follows the sport. I'm also a personal trainer in Dallas for 27 years and work with clients ranging from 25-75 years of age. My question is with so many shoulder and collarbone injuries why don't the racers wear motocross shoulder pads? When I raced in the 70s and 80s I wouldn't think about racing without them. They may be uncomfortable but it might keep you from getting your collarbone pinned and missing races.
Keep up the great work Ping
Look, man, we are way too concerned with looking cool in this sport to wear shoulder pads. I mean, the pads would make the riders look, like, bulky and maybe uncomfortable. That’s not cool. No way, bro! In pro racing we like to keep a thin layer of jersey material between us and the ground/flying objects/bikes at all time. That’s plenty of protection for the indestructible machines that most racers are. Pads are for sissies. Chicks dig scars. Pain is temporary but glory is forever. Other nonsensical phrases involving heroics. Moto rules!
[Please sense the sarcasm]
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