Mike Day and Donny Robinson recently started a new virtual BMX coaching company, Pedals 2 Medals.
Today, Mike guest posts here on ProGate.net with one of the articles on their free weekly email tip known as #WinningWednesdays. We are big fans of Mike & Donny here at Pro Gate HQ, and this is a perfect primer for keeping your gate start on-point.
After the article, be sure to follow the link below to subscribe to #WinningWednesdays. A new article every week!
Set Up Right for a Great Gate Start
By Mike Day
There is so much going on in a BMX gate start, but I always break it down into three parts: proper set up, timing, and technique. I do hundreds a week, still trying to get that feeling of the perfect gate.
When you analyze those three parts, the key really lies in the proper set up–thats the foundation to a good start. If you have the wrong set up then everything you do with your gate will be “off” a little (or a lot).
I remember having to change my gate set up when it went to the random start, and it’s not easy. It will take some time but practicing a good set up before getting into all the other movement will help when trying to get that perfect start on race day. Here are a few things that I go through in my head when I get into the gate.
-Stand tall and keep your chest up and back flat. You want your butt a little behind the seat when standing. You do not want to be crouched over with a round back.
-Crank position is huge to a good start. When you line up in the gate make sure that your rear crank arm lines up with your rear chain stay of your frame. You want your cranks level in the gate level to the slope of the gate not flat ground. One click higher or lower is alright, but not too high. That might feel good during your first pedal coming out, but your second pedal coming around will make you stall out and ruin your technique.
-Don’t lock your arms or legs straight out–always maintain a little “bend.”
-Roll your hands forward on the handlebars. I see so many kids at the track with their hands rolled down. Yes, that might be more comfortable, but you’re never going to get an explosive start with that kind of form. You want the elbow, wrist, and top of your hands in line when you stand up.
-Keep your feet flat on the pedals. It sounds like a basic point, but a lot of people drop their heels and push the pedal forward but you want to be pushing down.
-Keep arms and legs loose. You do not want to have a ton of pressure on the bars and cranks. With the gate being a random start you want to be able to explode, so being “light and ready” always works better.
-Lastly, I always try and visualize the perfect start in my head before I get into the gate. What it looks like, feels like, and where I’m going to be coming out.
Next time you’re at the track, practice this setup until it’s comfortable. It might feel a little weird at the beginning, but these are the basics to a consistently-good start. After this feels comfy, watch for “next steps” in future WinningWednesdays messages.
*Photo: Great Pro Gate shot from Duke City BMX at the 2014 USA BMX Spring Nationals. Photo by Mike Carruth