Fast After 40

September 15, 2016 by · Comments Off 

Fast After 40

When you’re in your late teens, the proverbial “fumes” (perfume and exhaust fumes) tend to distract you from racing. All-too-often, a promising teenage BMXer gets his drivers license, picks up a hot pit-tootsie GF, and they are off the moto sheets in mere months.

If they’re like me Read more

10 Things to Do When You Switch Sponsors

January 25, 2016 by · Comments Off 

10 Things to Do When You Switch Sponsors
In this week’s Pro Gate “Training and Coaching” section, we depart from the usual fare of physical conditioning and between-races must-dos for a little coaching session on making the best moves with your sponsor change, and completing the change from one sponsor to another like a pro (better than a pro, in some cases). We are entering the fourth week of January, and some of the points below remain unfinished–even among longtime, factory-savvy stars. So, we figured this would be a great time to list-out 10 steps you can take today, with an important 11th “bonus” point.

Of course, it’s not JUST for the hotshoe changing colors. Many of these tips go well as Standard Operating Procedure for any and all sponsored riders.

Ryan Martin with his new Speedco frame1. Get a good-quality photo of yourself, either in your new jersey or in a T-Shirt of your new sponsor. This is going to be key to many of the items on this list. If all you have is a phone to take the photo, use a broom or shovel handle to steady the camera, and take the photo OUTSIDE, with your local track as a backdrop (if there is no snow on it), or at the very least, on a plain background like a stucco or concrete wall. Take horizontal and vertical images of each scene, and if you are adding a frame like Ryan Martin above, do a few with and a few without the frame, then post the top three or four on your Facebook page.

Photos of a Velocity Race Bike2. If you already have your new bike, get some shots of you sitting on the bike, and some shots down a long street, or the first straight at your local track, with nothing in the background, of the new whip. Use the “1-2-3 method” to get a nice clean shot (someone off-camera holds the bike, and the photographer says “1-2-3-GO!” then quickly moves his hand out of the shot, to make it look like the bike is standing on its own).

3. Update your Facebook cover and profile shot with the new images (Facebook cover size is 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall, and the square “profile” shot is at least 180px squre). If you do not have access to Photoshop, you can use an online-resizing tool like

4. Update your Twitter profile and background photo. We see it all the time. Twitter is the lonely outpost that still has your photo from two sponsors ago. Now’s the time for a re-fresh of your Twitter branding to go alongside your FB. See the link below for the official Twitter specs, but for the moment: your header photo needs to be 1500 x 500px, your profile photo needs to be 400x400px and your bio should be 160 chars.

If you don’t have a personal website, style points granted for adding your sponsor’s website in your profile.

Pro Tip: Add a personal “URL variable” to that web address so they know that visitors were routed there by you when they look at their web analytics (example: – with no spaces). Test it first, so you know it works, as it doesn’t work on all sites.

Gate Nine Custom Number Plate5. Get a custom number plate. Now that you’re changing teams, you have a whole new universe of sponsors and co-sponsors to represent. If the team does not have a set design for number plates, hit up Gate Nine Design for a great custom plate. Order two so, if one gets damaged in a wreck or on the rack, you’ll have a spare, and no excuses why you can’t represent. Custom plates are $22 plus shipping, and there are price breaks for quantity/teams.

Ssquared Long Sleeve T-Shirt6. Order-up some of T-Shirts from your new sponsors. Even if you have to pay for them, it boosts your factory-flav, and your off-track image as a rider who is doing his/her best for their sponsors. Small investments in this area may-well yield big recognition from the folks at sponsor HQ. The old adage “dress for the job you WANT, not for the job you HAVE” is a big part of this.

7. Ask if your new sponsor and co-sponsors have stickers, catalogs or other “collateral materials” for you to keep with you, so you can represent best at the track (local or otherwise).

BMX News Training and Coaching, Presented by Pro Gate
BMX Training and Coaching, Presented by Pro Gate

8. Ask your new sponsor “how can I help?” The reason for sponsorship is to help your sponsors sell more product–don’t ever forget that! Asking how you can help them do it is a way to tell your new Team Manager that you will not only be an asset on the track, but also do your thing off the track as well.

9. Write personal race reports. You may not have done them with the last team, even if you intented to, but here’s a chance to get more professional in the new year. Reports of how things went at the races will not only give your team something to post on their own social media pages, but they will also tell everyone that you have your act together, and are conscious of how to promote yourself, and the brands you represent. Be sure to include at least three photos with each report. Feel free to use BMX News photos from the race if you keep the BMX News logo in the shot.

Share articles about your sponsors10. Share and share alike! Whoever your new sponsor and co-sponsors are, chances are good they will get media coverage throughout the year–whether here on News, or elsewhere. The easiest, and most effective thing you can do as one of their riders is to share-out any stories that feature those brands.

When we run a story featuring a brand that has 15 team riders, spread over a few teams, and the article gets 5 shares…well, that is a missed opportunity for that sponsor to get more recognition. Again, please remember that the whole point of sponsorship is to raise awareness of your sponsors’ brand, and help them sell more product. This is free, easy and makes a big difference, so do it whenever you can.

11). Bonus: Learn everything there is to know about your new sponsors’ products. Be prepared when a would-be consumer asks you questions about the product. “Does it come in blue?” “How can I buy one?” (are the frames available from popular mail order outlets like Dan’s and J&R?).

If your rider is too young to be answering these questions, as the parent/coach, learn this info yourself. If you can’t answer something, don’t blow them off with an “I don’t know,” ask if you can pass their information to the sponsor’s representative or your team manager to get an answer, then write down their name, phone number and email address and make that connection.

—Mike Carruth


Social Media Art Specs

Gate Nine Designs

Ssquared Long-Sleeve Tee

BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

Testing and Recovery From Fatigue

January 18, 2016 by · Comments Off 

Training and Coaching: Recovery From FatigueBy Jake Stephenitch.
Last week Jared Becker submitted a fantastic article on overtraining, and how it affects performance. I thought we could dive into this subject a little further and give you a few ways to test if you’re becoming over trained and a few methods to use for recovery.

We’ll skip the physiology, since Jared did a good job covering it already. Here are three technology tools you can use to determine the state of your Central Nervous System (CNS) (listed in order of price and complexity).

1. The Finger-Tap Fit Test. This is just a free app that I found on the app store. If you don’t own a smartphone you could accomplish this same test on your computer or typewriters keyboard (If you’re a hundred years old) by seeing how many times you can strike a key in 10 seconds. The idea is, the more neurologically “fresh” you are, the higher you should score. We have all had days where we just couldn’t type or we just feel clumsy, well maybe you were just in a state of fatigue.

2. Heart Rate Monitor. Once again, checking your heart rate is something most smartphones do now. Just use any HR monitor app and place the tip of your finger over the infrared light next to the camera lens. If you’re still using a flip phone or bag phone, you can check your pulse the old school way by placing two fingers over your wrist about an inch below the base of your thumb and find the pulse. If you don’t find that you could also try the spot near your sideburns just in front of your ears. Count for 15 seconds and multiply that by four. This is best done while lying in bed in the morning. Keep track of your resting heart rates and start to notice the trends. If your heart rate is significantly higher than normal (~7-10 beats), that could be a sign of fatigue. Also if your resting HR is much higher than 60 beats per minute you probably should dedicate more time to recovering, Aerobic exercise, smelling flowers and going for long walks on the beach.

3. HRV monitors. This is another cool piece of technology that many athletes are starting to use. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. Your heartbeat isn’t as steady as you would think. There are little variations from one beat to another. With this technology, you can actually get a score representing your state of readiness. Monitors like the Omegawave Personal (About $200, link below) can not only give you information on your Central Nervous System but also your Cardiac System, plus give you suggestions on how to best train for that particular day.

Editor’s Note: Omegawave spotlights their product for use in motocross with Mike Hibner, Itasca BMX local from the 80s, and long-time friend of News (link below).

Whatever your chosen method, I suggest you use it for a while, and record the results (if your smartphone isn’t doing that for you) to establish some kind of baseline before you radically adjust your training.

You may notice certain types of training will affect your CNS more than others. It’s also entirely possible that, when it’s finals week at school, your heart rate is higher than normal and your tap-test score sucks. These are just indicators that you’re trending downwards and might consider changing/skipping your training and emphasizing sleep.

Here are a few things you can do to help move along the restoration process.

Scenario: you just hit a PR in deadlifting at the gym and you immediately go home, get in an argument with your parents and have to do homework the rest of the night. Your body hasn’t started the recovery process. Your CNS doesn’t know the difference between the stress of lifting weights, arguing with someone or being in a tight time crunch. Learn to shut down! At the end of a tough workout you should take a few minutes to relax.

Try Crocodile breathing! This might look a little funny in a traditional gym, but who cares. Most of those people are too busy looking at their biceps in the mirror to notice you lying down for a couple minutes.

Crocodile Breathing: A How-To
1. Lie on your stomach and relax.

2. Breathe in and out through your nose as quietly as possible. You want to breathe so gently that you can’t even hear yourself inhale and exhale. Breathe in for three seconds and try to exhale for 6 seconds then repeat.

3. As you breathe in you should try to get your low back to rise and fall as you exhale. If you can’t feel this you may need to give yourself some external object to feel. Place a small weight plate or anything (that weighs about 10 pounds) on your low back. Try to make that rise as high as possible and slowly fall down.

Here is an exciting video demonstration

If you do this correctly for a few minutes (up to around ten minutes), you should feel “different” when you’re done. Clean up your drool on the floor, drink your post workout shake and go home. This is also a great way to start your workout for some people that are notoriously anxious and tense. For some, calming down before a workout is a great way to achieve extra mobility without stretching.

Recovery Workout
If you want to workout but your HRV score isn’t very good, consider skipping your sprints or weight training session and just do some aerobic conditioning work. Use walking, jogging, bike riding, elliptical, etc. the method doesn’t matter that much. A good place to start would be to spend 30-45 minutes with your HR somewhere around 120-150 beats per minute.

Aerobic conditioning rejuvenates you by stimulating the Parasympathetic nervous system. A highly-developed aerobic system will also help you recover between races, and have more in the tank for the mains on Sunday.

BMX News Training and Coaching, Presented by Pro Gate
BMX Training and Coaching, Presented by Pro Gate

Other Recovery Methods
Ice baths are a popular method of recovery for BMXers. Jumping into a freezing cold bath Saturday night at the hotel may or may not be doing what you want. As you can imagine, when you jump in and shock your system you may be stimulating the Sympathetic nervous system. This could be exactly what you don’t want, but test it for yourself by using the above testing methods. Maybe you would recover quicker if you sat in a warm bath, stretched, foam rolled, massage, etc. rather than taking the Polar Plunge.

The king of recovery methods is still sleep. Ideally you would want to go to bed and wake up about the same time each day. Sleep in a cool, quiet and super-dark room. Turn your phone on silent and charge it away from your bed so you’re not tempted to message your girlfriend in the middle of the night. You might also find that taking a shower or bath before bed really helps you to sleep.

All these tests and recovery methods, when used properly can help keep you at your optimal readiness. Some say there is no such thing as overtraining just under-recovery.

Jake Stephenitch is owner of Spark BMX Training in Sandwich, IL. Check out his website for more articles on BMX Training, and contact him with any follow up questions via his website (link below).


Website: Spark BMX Training

Website: Spark Fitness Culture

Helper App: CNS Finger-Tap

Awesomeness: Mike Hibner on Omegawave

BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components

Review: Greg Romero’s Race Day DVD

December 28, 2015 by · Comments Off 

BMX Training Race Day DVD

The fifth in Coach Greg Romero’s DVD series covers every-aspect of race day preparation, visualization and positive-response. The 30-minute program packs-in four high-impact chapters, plus some closing thought that will help you prep at the local track before you hit the parking lot on the day of the next big race. “Race smarter and use your head to win” is how G frames it in the opening titles.

Chapter One: Preparing for the track.

In the opening chapter, Coach G covers the all-important preparation leading in to race day. This is material that is not normally covered, and gives viewers insider tips on how to arrive and thrive with a “Business Focused Approach.”

Chapter Two covers warmup strategies. One of the key quotes in this chapter is “Don’t over-do it. It’s not a training session, but a quick session to wake up the mind and body.” Coach G gets into the granular details on how to structure your warm up, whether you have 10 minutes between laps, or several hours–making it primo for any rider, in any class.

BMX News Training and Coaching, Presented by Pro Gate
BMX Training and Coaching, Presented by Pro Gate

Chapter Three is all about making the most of your practice time at the races. You may think it’s just about ripping a gate, and trying to get out ahead of the guy next to you. But there is so much more you should be doing to optimize your few laps on the track before race time. Coach Romero gives us three goals to stick to for all practices. One of the things we liked most about this chapter was the advice Coach gave on working with different gate set-ups, and how you can adjust your form to get the best start.

The heart of the program is the fourth and final chapter: Race Strategy. “BMX Racing is a very quick and competitive chess match” is how the chapter starts, as he sets the tone for the lessons to follow. Again, Greg goes super-granular and shows more than a dozen examples of actual race footage, where he critiques the on-track moves of both elite and amateur riders, then gives live-tips on how to best execute your race strategy when faced with these scenarios.

“Tactics are a big part of racing. Sometimes riders lack the bravery to employ racing tactics and all they want to do is ride in their own lane the entire track.” This quote gives a blunt peek into the real-deal world of what a BMX coach does. He is there to make you race smarter, and at your best–and sometimes, that means confronting the elephant in the proverbial room and helping you get past your “nice guy” ways on the track.

Coach G closes out with some solid advice you should use in practice and training sessions at the local track. “Work on race simulation in practice,” and “practice executing when the pressure is on” are both key tips, among many others, to help you in those important sessions when it is not down to a 20-minute practice session before a group of super-important race laps.

BMX News screened the DVD with a couple trusted reviewers–”Coach Dads” themselves.

Here was some of the feedback:

“This video is great. The narration is kind of dry and emotionless, but the material is definitely on-point. There is a lot in here that we work on in our own “coach dad” sessions, but it will mean a lot coming from Greg Romero to reinforce those points.”

“I’m ordering a copy so I can sit my rider down and make him put on the headphones to watch it (a few times).”

The tagline for the whole program is “Prepare, Strategize and Win!” This DVD delivers on the first two in a big way. Order it, watch it repeatedly, then the third part is up to you.

At the end, you’ll find an exclusive link to a bonus-content PDF on goal setting. The five-page PDF gives you goal setting advice, examples of how you might set your goals, and a form you can complete to get on the proper path to setting your own goals–which is important for anyone who is truly-serious about taking their racing to the next level.


Order the Race Day DVD

BMX News Promax Top Story, Presented by Promax Components