Many of the efficiently, smooth, and precise supercross riders today rode BMX before they hopped on a dirt bike, leaving many to speculate that the skills learned while riding on pedals helps athletes learn to ride the jumps, timing lanes, and staying low on today's supercross tracks.
Back in the early 1990's when Jeremy McGrath came onto the scene, he revolutionized the way supercross was ridden. It was the first time in the sport's history that you saw a rider stay a foot or two lower off every jump by coming in with more speed needed to clear the jump, then soaking up the jump and bike into his body, ultimately scrubbing off tenths and seconds off every lap.
That concept of soaking up the bike is very similar to the way you ride BMX over jumps. McGrath didn't start riding moto until he was 14 years old because he spent his younger years riding BMX. Amassing 11 supercross championships, 125 and 250 combined and a record 72 main events wins in the 250 two-stroke class (pre 450 four stroke era), McGrath had jumping dialed. A lot of the ways he helped changed the way supercross was ridden can be accredited to his early BMX days.
And soaking up jumps wasn't the only benefit from riding BMX to prepare for supercross, there are a handful of other techniques that can be learned from riding the pedals to the dirt bike. XGames.com caught up with Cole Seely after a day riding BMX, using the cross training to have fun, work on breathing, and get some cardio in.
XGames.com: How long have you been doing BMX?
Cole Seely: I've been riding BMX since I was about three or four, super young. That's actually what I started out doing and then at around five I got a motorcycle. And I really haven't stopped riding BMX since I was three so the past 20 years.
At times I'll stop riding for a month or so because my schedule gets pretty busy but I always try and get out to the trails or the pump track when I get an opening. I feel like the preciseness of BMX helps with some of the skill for SX, transfer over.
So that's one of the similarities between Moto and BMX. How about timing? How does riding the pedals help you with riding the dirt bike?
The BMX bike has no suspension so there's no room for error and I think that helps with being smooth and timing on the dirt bike.
Are there any more similarities between the two?
Well, with rhythm sections, I feel like in BMX you can find ways to gain momentum and also slow yourself down by pumping a transition or getting heavy in a transition to slow yourself down. And when I get back to my dirt bike I find myself using those techniques to help myself be smoother or faster through a section.
What about using BMX as a training tool for fitness?
I'd say it's a pretty good training tool, especially riding the pump track, I've done interval training on that and it's hard to remember how to breathe when you're pumping and that's similar to SX. It's hard to find time to breathe and to remember to breathe, it helps to find a place to breathe and get some air back in you.
Do you have any tricks to help remember to breathe when you're on the dirt bike or BMX bike?
Usually in racing when I hit a triple or the finish line jump I'll take a deep breathe and I'm still breathing the whole time anyways but finding time in the air helps you calm down and get the heart rate down with some deep breaths. I think now too that it's become second nature to breathe in those spots because I've been doing it so long now. Riding BMX on the pump track though can be hard because I don't ride it that much and I haven't trained myself enough to remember. So when I do hit the pump track that's what I work on, finding places to breathe and trying to be as efficient as I can with everything -- I think all that translates when it comes to BMX and Moto.
For some that don't know what a pump track is, can you describe it and the workout it gives you?
A pump track is a 15-30 second lap time track, pretty tight and there are no jumps you have to do. You get around by pumping and using momentum. You try not to pedal the whole time, just pump with your legs and arms to gain speed. And because you're not supposed to pedal, pumping the whole time can spike the heart rate and in 30 seconds you can be completely exhausted. And because your heart rate spikes so quick it's another reason why it's good for Moto. It's good to learn how to control your breathing and heart rate when under a lot of stress.