Stephen Gall’s Basic Instincts over-35s course that took place last weekend out at QMP was a relatively unusual concept that saw the Aussie Motorsport Hall-of-Famer use his vast experience to work on honing basic skills in older riders.
The iconic Mister Motocross champion of the 70s and 80s (second from left) has coached more riders than most people have had hot breakfasts, and when it comes to dirt bike technique, his words are always worth listening to.
MQ’s own Operations Manager Simon Wadwell went along to check it out.
“I’d started to develop some bad habits lately, and I’ve felt as though I was riding like a gumby.
I’d never done one of Stephen Gall’s schools before, but I’d always wanted to. To me, he’s the master of motocross. His style was very professional, but really relaxed. He made all us old guys all feel at ease, and he talked in our terms and described things so everyone could understand them – he wasn’t afraid to make engine noises to illustrate how and where we should use the throttle!
“There were 11 of us. You had to be over 35 years old to participate, but most us were 40-59. I got heaps out of it. Particularly in the area of technique – it was all back to basics, the idea being that doing the basic techniques correctly helps you develop the advanced techniques. But he encouraged us and inspired confidence in me and at one point had me doing something I wouldn’t have ever had a crack at anymore, because it was too fast and scary.
“Being with other riders of the same era as myself was also good for the confidence. Some of the riders were road racers whose regular thing was Morgan Park track days, but because of Gally’s experience, he was able to find an explanation to relate to everyone. I really like his words, ‘slow down to go fast’…that worked for me!
“When it came to nutrition, I initially thought he was going to talk about pasta and no sauce, but in reality, it was just good, common sense advice that none of us take – like eat more veggies and cut down on the Coke and all the other crap. He also talked about what to eat on race day compared to the rest of the week.
“For me, I’ll go away from this with a new focus on nutrition and exercise, and determined to utilise the programmes he gave us in our workbook. Even the bike checklist was useful for me, because I realised there were things I’d forgotten, that over time had fallen off my own checklist. And that’s why this isn’t just an awesome course for a new person to the sport.
“I dug out a few faults in my own technique – probably the biggest one was that I was sitting down too early into turns, so he made me hang on a bit later - and I also learned that riding on the balls of the feet can be a big advantage.
“He was also big on the core strength and encouraged us to value that more too.
“Another useful concept for the old guys there, was an emphasis on ‘appropriate exercise’ – with a focus on building up slowly.
“I’d recommend Gally’s coaching for any age group, but especially for old guys like me who want to keep on riding and racing.
“I had a few other guys I probably could‘ve dragged along to this that might have been interested, but I race against those guys …and I want to beat them!” – Simon Wadwell