As luck would have it, I attended Ricky Carmichael University at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park the day after I competed on the same track in an amateur AMA Outdoor National. Nevertheless, there I was, with 70 riders of all different ages and abilities, taking motocross instructions from The Goat—The Greatest of All Time.
After a quick breakfast, we were split into five groups. My first one-hour session focused on covering the inside of corners during downhill braking. Jeannie Carmichael, Ricky’s mom, basically told us to put our nuts on the tank, our butt on the outside of the seat and our inside foot up by the handlebar. This worked really well, and I could see from her toughness why Ricky became such a great rider.
Our next session dealt with starts, which are so important. Jeff Emig, four-time national champion, told us to keep our feet in front of the pegs while maintaining a neutral body position but with a slight tilt over the front end. It felt great doing this, and Emig used me as an example of a student doing it right.
Hour three was under the guidance of Kevin Foley, nine-time AMA Loretta Lynn amateur national champion, and Jeff Ward, the first rider to win every major AMA motocross national championship. In this tricky uphill rhythm section full of whoops, I got way faster after being taught to lean back while keeping the balls of my feet on the edge of the pegs for additional leverage. Not only was I faster than in yesterday’s race but also in much better control.
After lunch—during which a nutritionist spoke about the importance of hydration and a protein-rich diet—I got lessons from Carmichael himself. Are you kidding me?! This 15-time national champion, with 150 wins to his credit, was teaching me how to take a slippery corner. Throttle control was key. By being smoother on the gas, I kept the bike mellow and ended up being much faster.
Six-time AMA national champion Jeff Stanton taught the final session of the day, a rhythm section leading into a hard right corner. By squeezing my knees as instructed and setting up for the corner by getting my elbows up and placing my butt on the outside of the seat, I once again picked up speed.
And that, at the end of the day, is the point of RCU: to make you a better, faster rider. Although this was only the fourth RCU event held, there will be more. Hit www.rickycarmichael.com for more information.
Nathan Cernicky, our Associate Editor’s 17-year-old nephew, won three MX championships in Pala Raceway’s (Pala, California) Back-to-School Fall series.