National Team Manager, Luke Madill has some training tips for you on how you can make the most out of your sessions on the gates and be the fastest across the finish line.
We have an issue with gate nights. The majority of the riders I see hitting the track are not taking the time to set a session plan and write some goals in which they want to achieve when they head out to their local training night each week.
I don’t want to make my first column of 2018 negative, but all too often I see riders either sitting on their favourite corner, hitting up one straight, or doing a hundred starts with Mum and Dad yelling at them to do more.
This is something that across the board can be improved, so below I have some tips that will help you think about your training session. Putting these five key points into your training at a gate night will help you begin to see some results come race day – and they’ll help you enjoy riding your bike.
1. Make a plan for the night.
If you turn up to a gate night without a session plan and some goals for the night, you will end up either doing too many or not enough gate starts and very soon you’ll become frustrated about why you’re not improving.
Before you head out to the track, think about the areas of your start that may be lacking and set a plan to fix it. If you are unsure of what you need to fix with your start, find your club coach to watch a few of your gate starts and provide some feedback.
2 . Take breaks
Sometimes it seems counterintuitive, but not giving taking a break is a common mistake when it comes to BMX training.
Most riders will turn up to a training night and just smash out as many gates or laps they can. This will lead to fatigue really fast and also your consistency will fade with it.
My advice has always been to do your gates in sets, just as you would in all other training aspects. E.g. do 4-5 gates for 3 sets. What this does is let you do a set of 4-5 starts, then you can rest for 10mins and think about the positive and negatives from that first set and make adjustments needed for the following sets.
This process will be a start for you in seeing some consistency in your gates, plus it is easier to monitor and flag any bad habits that creep in.
3. Fit in skills and track speed.
A lot of riders can’t get to the track more than once or twice a week, so you need to make the most of your gate night.
Again, set your session plan, but this time you need to add in skills and track speed. Most training nights are 1.5hours, so split the session and allow 45mins for each area.
When doing your track skills work, have a plan of what straights and skills you will be working on for the night. Remember to work on all skills and not just the ones you are more confident in executing.
4. It’s not always about time.
It is great that a lot of clubs have transponders set up for riders to monitor hill and track times, but this can be a big distraction and cause more harm to your training night than good.
You do not need to check your times each week you go to gates. Instead, try to only check them once a month or minimum every 2 weeks If a month will kill you.
Why? We do not get faster every week, so there’s no need to get disappointed when you’re not hitting a PB each week.
When the time becomes the focal point, the general response from riders and parents is trying to change the bike gearings or gate technique in the search for that extra hundredth.
Most training nights should purely be about applying consistency and efficient gate technique into you training. If you concentrate more on your technique and leave the testing to the start and end of your training blocks, you will see those PB’s come flowing through.
5. Have fun
Make sure you allow time to just have some fun on your bike. Whether it be during the warm up or cool down, give yourself a chance to just ride and do some jumps, manuals and enjoy riding without worrying about anything else other than that feeling of why you started this sport.
If you need help with understanding the above in more detail or would like some help in setting up training plans, speak with your local club coaches.