gate technique

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gate technique

Postby monkeymoped » 02 Jun 2013, 19:26

I was just wondering if anyone has gate practice techniques i could try at home and then improve on when i'm practicing at the track?
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Re: gate technique

Postby ChrisCarter » 11 Jun 2013, 08:46

The first thing to practice is balancing. It's hard to cultivate a decent "snap" if you're struggling to stay upright on the gate. Practice simply balancing against a wall at home. You'll find this much harder than balancing on a gate because the sloping start pad on a gate helps you as gravity is pulling your wheel onto the gate more firmly. If you practice against a wall on the flat, your pedal presure is all that keeps you upright. Do it until you find it easy against the wall, then the gate will be a sinch.

Next is simply practicing the movement of the "snap" along with the first 2 or 3 cranks. Roll along as slow as you can, pedals just above level, weight back, then push on the leading pedal, pull hard on the bars and thrust your hips into the bars, driving the leading pedal downwards as if you were trying to drill it through the earth so it reappeared in Australia!. Again, this is much harder without a gate so if you get it wired on the street, it will get easier on the track. Concentrate on getting the second pedal quickly and kind of resetting your stance after the first crank - there is often a dead spot here for lots of riders and if you can build technique for a strong second crank, you'll have a good edge over the opposition.

After that you need to get along to gate practice to nail the timing as this is super critical to getting a great gate. BUt in essence, the technique can be practiced without a gate so that when proper gate practice comes around you can really focus on the timing.

Other than that, just practice, practice, practice.
Hope that's useful.
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Re: gate technique

Postby monkeymoped » 12 Jun 2013, 00:01

More than yseful thanks
i have been balancing up against a wall at the mo. as i'm finding it so much more different than a 4x bike so much so that i'm back on flatties instead of spd's and asking for advice and balancing against a wall just to try and get everything working together
All the other advice was top drawer and i'll be using it daily just to get it right
cheers and thanks again its much appreciated
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Re: gate technique

Postby 750Rush » 12 Jun 2013, 07:25

Very useful, thanks from me too!

Has anyone built a practice start gate from plywood or similar? I saw a metal one on here for £350 which looked the business.
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Re: gate technique

Postby xiphon » 12 Jun 2013, 10:35

Slightly off topic, but...

Is this the same monkeymoped from SDH?

Seems quite a few DH/4X riders are migrating to BMX racing...

8)
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Re: gate technique

Postby ChrisCarter » 12 Jun 2013, 10:53

As I'm on a bit of a roll and I've an hour spare, a few more things have come to mind. I think it's also important to know why you need to do certain things like pulling on the bars etc., so here goes.

Pushing hard on the leading crank at the launch
This is clearly obvious, but it's surprising how it gets lost for a lot of riders who are concentrating on the complexities of the rest of the process. But it's worth consciously bearing in mind. The entire process is there to maximize the power exerted on that leading crank. If you do all the other stuff right but don't channel it all through the pedal, you'll still end up with a slow start.

Pulling up on the handlebars
People think this means you should wheelie. Whilst a certain amount of wheelie is almost unavoidable, you shouldn't try to wheelie, quite the opposite. The reason for pulling on the bars is to give your legs something to brace against as you push down on the pedals.

Imagine you have a soft football and you want to squeeze it under your foot until it bursts. If you just stand there with the ball underfoot and press down, you won't exert a huge amount of pressure on it. But if you have some railings you can hold onto, you'll find you can grip the railings and push down much harder on the football by pulling up on the railings at the same time. This is what the handlebar "pull" is all about.

Taking it a stage further, this is why handlebar height has an influence on gating. If our imaginary railings are at, say, chest height, we can only really pull up on them with our arms. But if we drop the railings to around hip height, we can start to utilise our whole torso on that "up" pull. In short, we can engage as many muscles as possible to contribute to squashing the football with our foot.

(That said, low handlebars will make the front end feel heavier which may compromise other things like manualing or jumping around the rest of the track. Bike setup is always a compromise between the demands of different sections of the track. As with so many things, practice and experimentation is the only answer).

Thrusting your hips forward
This serves two purposes: firstly, by getting your weight over the front, you minimize the risk of excessive wheelieing, and secondly, by throwing your weight forward you are, as with the railings above, engaging as many muscles and as much of your body mass as possible into driving the leading crank downwards.

To assist this process, it's worth just shifting your weight backwards on the gate when you're balancing as this means you will have further to throw it, thus gaining more momentum for the "snap". Some riders also roll their wrists forward on the gate so their hands are kind of wrapped around the underside of the grips as this can help you pull your weight forward.

Timing
Is everything!!! And it's so much more than just waiting for the gate to drop and going. If you wait until the gate's gone, you've already missed it! It's not just a question of going at the end of the beeps or when the light changes, you need to know in advance when it's going to release (relative to the first "beep" or the first light) because your body movement will need to start before that. It's tricky and it takes practice and commitment.

Leading crank height
Another important aspect is getting over the "dead spot" after the first crank where both cracks are vertical and you're struggling to get the next turn initiated. Experiment with different starting crank heights and see what works best for you in terms of minimizing that point. For me, I start with my leading crank quite high (three or maybe even four click from horizontal). I've been told that this is all wrong and I should start with it lower, but I do it for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, with your leading leg bent, you can engage the full power of your thighs. If you imagine our football again, you won't get much pressure on it if your leg is almost straight, but bend your leg more before you start, you can use your thigh muscles to much greater effect and with more control.

Secondly, with your leading leg more bent, it feels more natural (to me anyway) to get your weight further back without stretching or locking your leading leg.

And thirdly it means, for a given gearing, you'll travel further on the first crank meaning that by the time you hit the dead spot you'll have travelled further down the start hill and be going faster, thus minimizing that dead spot and getting you through it and onto the second crank quicker.

As I said, I'm sure the pro coaches out there will disagree and will say you get a better snap with your leading crank lower. All I can tell you is what works for me. The answer is to try various different options and see what works for you.

(On a brief aside, don't feel you have to look up at the lights. I never do, I just look at the gate and listen to the beeps. To each their own, try both and see what feels comfortable.)

If you have the facility to watch the elite guys gating frame by frame, then go through how they do it in slow motion - it's incredible how much they really surge forwards and how early they begin to move! And when you bear in mind that in supercross a lot of the guys are running huge gearings, you can see just how much timing and technique can achieve in terms of launching the bike forwards.

Consistency
You might be the best gater in the world, but if you only get it right one gate in six, it won't be enough. Consistency is king!

Now no-one is 100% consistent. Who remembers one of the Olympic racers hitting the gate in the timed seeding runs? But it's important to aim for. And that begins before you even get to the gate. When you turn up at the track and you're in the queue for gate practice, don't waste that time, utilize it! Listen to the anouncement and the beeps, and listen to how they fit with that particular gate. Listen to how the gate drops and the delay between it releasing and hitting the ground. This is important because this is the big variable between different gates. You want to get that rate of drop drilled into your subconscious so that your body knows how and when to apply maximum power.

And one important consideration - only do this when you're near the start hill, don't do it from the other side of the track. Why? Because sound travels relatively slowly compared to light, meaning that what see and what you hear from the other side of the track will be out of sync in terms of accurate timing. (For the boffins, sound travels at around 700mph while light travels at, wait for it, 186,000 miles per second!!!) Ever noticed the delay when you see someone kick a ball 100 yards away but you don't hear it for another second or so? That's easily enough to throw your gate timing right out!

Practice
Ultimately there is no avoiding the fact that you're going to need to practice. But, as I mentioned on my first post, a lot of it you can do on the street without a gate.



Wow, think I got a bit carried away!
Hope it's useful anyway.
:)
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Re: gate technique

Postby monkeymoped » 12 Jun 2013, 12:41

xiphon wrote:Slightly off topic, but...

Is this the same monkeymoped from SDH?

Seems quite a few DH/4X riders are migrating to BMX racing...

8)



Hi mate yes i am off of sdh
i've still got my dh bike but it'll only be 4-5 times a year now , but i live clise to harthill so 4x is still close to my heart but theres a new bmx race track been built near to me in liverpool so i joined the manchester bmx club and go to the out door there every thursday for the club night and i'll be doing 2of the last 3 club races and may be 2of the last 4 regionals but its well worth getting into mate
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Re: gate technique

Postby xiphon » 12 Jun 2013, 12:44

monkeymoped wrote:
xiphon wrote:Slightly off topic, but...

Is this the same monkeymoped from SDH?

Seems quite a few DH/4X riders are migrating to BMX racing...

8)



Hi mate yes i am off of sdh
i've still got my dh bike but it'll only be 4-5 times a year now , but i live clise to harthill so 4x is still close to my heart but theres a new bmx race track been built near to me in liverpool so i joined the manchester bmx club and go to the out door there every thursday for the club night and i'll be doing 2of the last 3 club races and may be 2of the last 4 regionals but its well worth getting into mate


I'm just up the M6 near Preston (London Road is my closest track). Maybe see you at Manc some time!
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Re: gate technique

Postby monkeymoped » 12 Jun 2013, 12:46

Thanks chris
i'll try to implement these tips at gate practice on thursday night
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Re: gate technique

Postby monkeymoped » 12 Jun 2013, 12:47

xiphon wrote:
monkeymoped wrote:
xiphon wrote:Slightly off topic, but...

Is this the same monkeymoped from SDH?

Seems quite a few DH/4X riders are migrating to BMX racing...

8)



Hi mate yes i am off of sdh
i've still got my dh bike but it'll only be 4-5 times a year now , but i live clise to harthill so 4x is still close to my heart but theres a new bmx race track been built near to me in liverpool so i joined the manchester bmx club and go to the out door there every thursday for the club night and i'll be doing 2of the last 3 club races and may be 2of the last 4 regionals but its well worth getting into mate


Yes mate defo the last regional is at preston may be see you there


I'm just up the M6 near Preston (London Road is my closest track). Maybe see you at Manc some time!
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Re: gate technique

Postby 750Rush » 12 Jun 2013, 17:05

Wow , thanks again. I always thought the gate drop was random and not always at the same time, but then I have only done two gate sessions inthe last 27 years :oops:
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Re: gate technique

Postby ChrisCarter » 12 Jun 2013, 18:18

750Rush wrote:Wow , thanks again. I always thought the gate drop was random and not always at the same time, but then I have only done two gate sessions inthe last 27 years :oops:


It's random between "Watch the gate" and the start of the beeps (up to a maximum of five seconds I gather) but once the first beep has beeped it's always a fixed duration between then and the gate dropping.

As was pointed out to me on another thread, this means you have about two-thirds of a second to "go" which eliminates the possibility of riders rolling back and then surging forward (which you could do in the old days with manual gates and "Riders Ready, Pedals Ready, Go" but which was never actually allowed).
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Re: gate technique

Postby incey » 14 Jun 2013, 15:34

Chris has provided excellent advice overall however I have a couple of additions. Firstly the most obvious is that gate starts are only random within a defined band. The timing from the call is .75s minimum and 2.75s max . The max call seems a lot longer when the adrenaline is at running at full bore

Keep in mind that the gate fall speed is different at some tracks and you can get much benefit from watching at close range as per Chris' advice. Some of our tracks have a light system and some don't so if you train on the lights you might be disadvantaged at some tracks. Some riders watch the gate fall but I don't think they are very often 'front of pack'

I think there is a train of thought lately that for clipped in riders the second pedal is the 'power' pedal is getting some traction ( no pun intended) this means that the front pedal is lowered so that it is more easily cycled into a pulling and pushing motion from the rear pedal.

If you are only learning then a level pedal stance is best. Once your gates are dialled then and only then experiment with dropping or raising pedal height

Keep in mind that gearing is at least as important as stance, and crank length also plays a part

Try not to change to many things at once. Lock in a basic stance, timing, balance point etc as habit then change one at a time to look for improvement
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Re: gate technique

Postby ChrisCarter » 14 Jun 2013, 15:58

Sound advice from Incey and I'd concur on all points. Definitely right to start with a basic setup, practice it, then make one change at a time (if you think any are necessary) and practice that before you change anything else.

Concur also on the point about clips. I've never ridden clips and it's unlikely I ever will, but I can see that it would potentially alter things slightly.

And I've learned something too - I didn't realise that 2.75 seconds was maximum as someone told me ages ago that five seconds was the max. I was wondering why the random gates never ever seemed to be at the five second maximum!

Just goes to show, you're never too old to learn something new.
:)
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Re: gate technique

Postby monkeymoped » 14 Jun 2013, 19:01

This is all sound advice cheers
i ride clipped in for dh and 4x .but learning to gate on flats for bmx and then i'm going back onto clips, personallyi just like the control and feel that being clipped in brings
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Re: gate technique

Postby detomaso » 19 Jun 2013, 22:36

Great advice and appreciated as a newcomer; plenty to practise away from the track :D
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Re: gate technique

Postby Mikku » 15 May 2017, 04:38

Sorry to resurrect this thread but as a recent returnee to the track, the advice is invaluable. In my first race last month I was concentrating on balancing rather than when the gate dropped, so as a result I was last away every time. I've since been going to some gate practice sessions and am now getting better, though find myself wheelieing too much, so need to sort that out before the next race at the weekend!
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