All About The Whoops

Dec 21, 2016

The whoops can be very intimidating. The top pros make it look easy but when you see guys crashing it can leave you filled with doubt and fear. In fact, as we tell our riders all the time, if you can do rollers you can do whoops. Here's how:

Wheel position - the wheel positions will be very similar to rollers, the only real difference being that the back wheel stays on the ground in the rollers, and in whoops the back wheel stays on top of the whoop, hopefully. The front wheel is light in both whoops and rollers, just touching down on the tops of the approaching whoop or roller each time. In whoops, the farther the back wheel drops down in the face of an approaching whoop, the more momentum is being taken from the overall speed through the whoop section.

Body Position - this is everything in whoops. The knees need to be behind, or at least at the foot peg, gripping tightly, controlling what is happening with the back end. The upper body needs to be low, not standing up, and the arms bent, so as not to straighten them out, shifting more weight to the back, potentially letting the front end get too light, meaning you have to either back off or shut off the power to get the front wheel back down.

Steady Power - The worst thing in whoops is for the front wheel to drop, which is what happens when you shut off or even just back off the power, unloading the back suspension. For every action there is a reaction. When you lighten the back, you weight the front, and when you weight the back you lighten the front. No magic or rocket science, just physics....

Last month Colleen described wheel position, body position and the importance of steady power. Here she talks about balance, entry speed and staying with it if you get a little out of shape.

Having that balanced position over your bike, gives you control of the front and back end of the bike. The weight on the rear wheel from the knees being back, and from the power being applied, keeps the wheel tracking and pushing you forward in a straight line, and keeps the front wheel light. Just enough weight on the front end by keeping the upper body low and the arms bent, keeps the front wheel from coming up, but does not encourage it to drop down in between whoops..

Entry is everything in a set of whoops. Again, if you think about what you are asking your bike to do when you enter, it is not hard to figure out what is needed to keep the front wheel from dropping. Steady, consistent speed, not chopping the power as you enter is the proper way to come into a set of whoops. It does not have to be wide open, just steady. Very few riders can build speed in whoops, and it is the rule more than the exception to lose speed in them. Everything you do on your bike is either allowing or preventing a smooth run through the whoops.

The greatest challenge in a whoop section is to not panic if something starts to go wrong. If you lift your upper body when you think you are in trouble, you are shifting more weight to the front and pushing the front end down. The last thing you want in whoops, is the front end dropping. If you shut off the power when you think you're in trouble, the back end unloads, shifting weight to the front, pushing the front end down, again, the last thing you want in a set of whoops.

Stay in the right position, which will 99% of the time prevent things going bad, and either try to gently brake your way out of trouble or just finish what you started, not shutting off. Stay in the correct position, and most likely you will be out of them quickly and out of trouble. Just don't panic.

So, to recap: Steady power entering, toes/feet pointed in, not out, knees gripping behind, or at the foot pegs, chest down, and arms bent. Do not chop your power in the whoops. Steady, consistent speed, and build entry speed as you get more and more comfortable in them. Faster is easier only if you are in the correct position. Faster could also really hurt in the wrong position. Learn to do them right, and you will learn to love them.

Good luck!

Colleen Millsaps

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