The Safety and Future of Rally Racing and Riding

Following your bliss in life sometimes leads full circle. Completing events such as the Dakar rally or an adventure ride across the North American continent come with great satisfaction, but a measurable risk. The question comes back to – “what are people willing to do in order to complete their dreams?” Exploring the outer limits of human endurance is inherently connected with danger. Also, we would like to pay tribute to those who have fallen from our sport while living their dream. What price are people willing to pay? Fabrizio Meoni was once quoted saying, “if everyone finished Dakar, the dream is over.”

Adrenaline is a Double Negative

The adrenaline has been brewing for some time now and finally the time has come. Imagine the Dakar Rally or a popular trail ride like the Colorado 500 or the Nevada 200. You have been planning this ride for months, making all the arrangements necessary from home and work. Finally arriving and the smell of freedom and being around your riding buddies. You are surrounded by many off-road legends and friends that you see yearly. Riding off on the trail, all of your turns are perfect and the control of the bike is impeccable, 10 minutes later you find yourself on the ground after blowing past a turn that was not well marked and your wrist hurts. Many emotions are running through your head, the first of these are answering the question if you can continue to ride. Then comes “how could this happen in the first ten minutes of the first day,” followed by, “do I have to go to the hospital, and how am I going to explain this to my wife and work?”

Most of us have experienced this frustration during our riding careers. But what really happened? First, most injuries occur in the beginning of a ride because riding is not balanced with the adrenaline. During these times you feel like you are riding flawlessly and in complete control. In fact, riders tend to over correct the bike, are often not scanning properly, tend to overshoot corners, and the list goes on. Also riders forget to take the corner at the optimal visual apex.

The Optimal Visual Apex

Generally, most people take corners in such a way that sets them up best for the next corner. On the trails, there is often oncoming traffic. The idea of the optimal visual apex is to take the corner as to give the best view of an oncoming motorcycle or a huge rock after the corner. This concept is taught in motorcycle safety schools.

Ride within your envelope

To avoid early morning adrenaline rush accidents, several strategies are at your disposal. First, ride within your means. Never let adrenaline trick you into riding over your ability level. You may ride like this for a while, until it catches up with you. When you ride with adrenaline your scanning abilities for obstacles on the trail are compromised. In fact, most riders perform better during the latter part of a trail ride. Take the time to warm up, feed your brain the proper nutrients to be able to think clearly. Remember, the ride is supposed to be fun, treat it as such.  A good rule is to ride at least for one half hour at medium pace, this will allow you to warm up, and then you can consider increasing the pace.

Top ten secrets to riding within your envelope

Never forget that you are riding a heavy rally bike

Realize the trail is marked for trail riding speed, not race speed

Most injuries occur in the first minutes of a trail ride

Adrenaline is a double negative

Take the time to warm up

Proper hydration and nutrition for optimal brain function

Never make a pass that puts another rider in danger

Respect the size and weight of the rally bike

Go with what you know

Utilize the optimal visual apex


Next post is the Italian Rider Story…