We sat down with 10-time national champion, 8-time ISDE gold medalist Destry Abbott to learn what tips he has for fitness and race preparations, as well as demonstrations of how to best navigate various sections of an EnduroCross track.
EnduroCross Tip - The Matrix
Rekluse: What tips do you have for riders looking to improve their fitness and diet?
Destry: "Fitness is just as important as setting your bike up and if you can get in workouts off the bike, that is a great way to build a strong base. Of course there's also a lot of different ways to train (in-season and off-season programs). We train a lot different during in-season, then our off-season which is more about building strength and pushing a little harder then you would once you get to your race season. Most people don't realize that the in-season isn't really about pushing your body. Instead it’s more about training smarter, recovering from races and resting your body. A lot of times you're still recovering from a hard race and it isn't going to do any good to keep pushing and risk injury, because your body is tired. Of course the best training is always seat time and that's where you'll see your biggest improvements.
The other thing on that topic is learning how to ride the bike the right way. A lot of people try and muscle the bike around versus finessing it and learning to be one with the bike. We stand a lot and use our legs (strongest muscle in your body) and pivot a lot on the bike, which is kind of like riding a horse. The more you work with the bike and stay loose the less energy you'll use.
As far as diet goes, that’s honestly one of the weakest parts of my program. I love sweets and if it's in the house, I usually eat them. When I was racing full time, I would try and do a 80/20 program. I usually ate well, but didn't try and be perfect. If you try and be perfect, you'll most likely not be able to be 100% perfect and then people just give up. Set realistic expectations that you know you can keep. Eating the right food is super important and drinking fluids (water etc.) starting a few days before a big race is key."
EnduroCross Tip - Firewood Pit
What advice could you give someone gearing up for their next race?
"This is probably one of the things I would put most of my focus on. Having a great foundation on what days to ride and when you are riding, as well as making sure it's quality riding. What I mean by that is doing sprints, motos, working sections, and working on riding the bike the right way. The other thing is making sure your bike is setup right. Having the correct rider sag, suspension, clutch, tires, and so on. You hear a lot of guys in NASCAR talking about “I didn't have a car that could win today, because it was pushing." It doesn't matter how good of a driver they are, they still couldn't win in it. Well it's not as bad as that, but it’s extremely important to have your bike setup for the conditions you're riding or racing in. I know I would be working way harder if I was to race my MX bike in an extreme race and vise versa.
As most of my riders would tell you, the mental part is something I'm huge on. As you keep reaching a higher level this just keeps getting more important. The one thing I tell my riders is to always try and stay positive. It doesn't matter if you're in a race or after a race, there's always something to take away from it to help make you a better rider. If you're struggling in a race and you start getting negative about everything it will just snowball on you. You're not going to be perfect and just need to forget about the mistakes and move forward. Thinking about something that went wrong isn't going to help you move forward and is just wasted energy."
Are there any easy improvements that riders can make? Do you see any common mistakes?
"I would say the easiest improvement to do is setting your bike up the right way. The bikes these days are really good, but everyone has a different riding style and speed. The same bike that is great for one rider might be totally different for another. I know when I do EnduroCross or Extreme events I run the RadiusCX [auto clutch] which is like cheating and helps me save energy. Then in my MX bike I'm usually running the TorqDrive [manual clutch]. These are easy improvements and definitely help make my bike better.
As far as mistakes I see, I would say one of the biggest is coming to a race not prepared. What I mean by this is showing up and having to work on the bike at the race (changing tires, filters, oil, prepping goggles, etc.). I know that can be hard with someones work schedule, but I definitely don't want to be stressing on trying to get things done at the race and would rather be enjoying the moment and spending time with friends or walking the track."
EnduroCross Tip - Rock Garden
What do you like about running Rekluse technology? How do you choose between an auto and a manual clutch?
"The big thing for me with my 350 and 450 MX bikes is the Core Manual TorqDrive setup. The power delivery is really good and a little snappier. As I’ve said before, bike setup is super important! Once you get something that works, it also builds your confidence which in return makes you have even more fun on the motorcycle.
With my 250F and 350F, I run RadiusCX. These bikes are more for my extreme, Endurocross, and desert races. I can say I feel like it’s cheating having the RadiusCX in there. The power delivery is a tad smoother, which is great for off-road riding. What I like the most is the fact that I can still use the clutch like normal, yet “cheat" with the power down low and not have to worry about it stalling. I get to work with a lot of riders, and the biggest thing with this clutch is making sure you set it up right. A lot of people that try out my bikes don’t even realize it has a RadiusCX in it until I tell them. Which is the way it should feel! I ride some gnarly sections on these bikes and it’s for sure awesome to have when you’re going up long hills and trying to save energy. You always want to lug the bike more in the hard sections out west or even on the east coast. Can’t imagine riding or racing without it!"
If you want to learn more from Destry in person, he and the DA8 team will be conducting classes at the two upcoming EnduroCross rounds:
October 18th, Denver, CO
October 25th, Boise ID
Check out the DA8 Training website to register or learn more.