MUD, MUD, GLORIOUS MUD
Classic mud position, weight back, a lot of counter balance with inside
Having expressed myself on someone elses attempts at a “Mud Tire” and while researching the
archives for suitable piccies to go with my comments on the “how to” portion of what I was trying to
explain I happened on almost a roll of pictures on a section which was, Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud !
My cousin Tom Arter on a MkII Cota at the Weald of Kent Trial in 1971.
We both loved mud and I think we both finished in the top 10
So today we will look at all the problems a mud section caused some very experienced riders and
see the errors they made. Many people, panic when they see mud! Maybe because its a bit of a
novelty here in the USA, maybe they don’t want to get the bike dirty, perhaps they have a fear of getting
stuck or even sinking ?
At both ends of the spectrum there are the too fast and the too slow attacks, but mainly the causes of
failure are a lack of appreciation of how the mud, and it comes in many varieties, chalk, sand, peat,
clay, forest leaf mold, bayou goop etc, will affect you and the bike. We as a rider need to be VERY
flexible to deal with the fast changing circumstances, and to that end a very wide stance is essential.
We also need to be prepared for sudden weight changes fore and aft and have excellent throttle
control to deal with the grip, no grip, portions that we will come across. We also need to appreciate
that we will encounter various level of resistance as we plow through the goop and be prepared for
the changes and not panic.
As we enter our mud hole the bike will of course be subject to the resistance of the mud and will slow
down, in some cases violently, and come to an almost dead stop. We can of course attempt to prevent
this by having our weight well back and keep the handlebars straight. However as we slow our weight
comes forward pushing the front end deeper and creating more resistance……. if it happens violently
then as your body moves forward you tend to close the throttle and panic dab ! Keep the weight back
and feel the bike slowing and keep your balance…….. in fact the mud will keep the bike balanced so
NO NEED to dab. If it won’t move forward, first try more power and if that isn’t working too well then
flick the bike left and right between your legs to get sidewall traction and then as the “icebreaker”
moves forward alternate on and off bursts of throttle……. all without using your feet.
OK, we now have some idea of what we may encounter so time to read the section.
We enter the picture top left on some dryish stuff and then need to come to the left (in the picture) of
the yellow marker card. Already a line is developing and a slot is partially filling with water. For those
thinking otherwise the mud under the center water was both deep and thick, circa just over the knees!!
Same section, ….. must pass to the left of the marker (as we see it) then get up on the bank where
Nick Turner is by the yellow ribbon. Then complete the turn where I am and pick a line to the uphill
exit. We can see some wheeltracks in front on Nick going back into the bog , but there are no tracks
coming out…… which just maybe a clue that it ISN’T a good line !!
While YOU can’t walk it, feel it, or smell it let me tell you the first right hander to line up can be done
on firmish ground. The section by the Yellow marker board is thick sticky sand type mud with about 6″
of water on top. About 6′ past the card there is a firmish 18″ high bank where our line should be to get
out and up on the top of the very slippery bank. Choice 2 would be to stay in the water but there is no
clear exit and it will be difficult to keep the front wheel from trying to climb out with a host of resultant
inside dabs. The turn where I’m walking will soon be a mess as all the mud brought out of the hole
will fall off riders and bikes and make the whole area very slippy which is why I’m exploring the
furthest outside line on some dry vegetation for extra grip.
First we will see Ralph Foster, the current Modern Classic Expert Championship Leader trying a
wider line in the water and as he often tells me he isn’t too keen on mud or deep wash sand.
As we can see the approach was too wide into the deepest goop and the bike almost came to a stop
as evidenced from the front wheel “bow wave”. This has thrown his weight forward and a panic dab
ensued as he mentally thought he was going to stop.
Back in control with a big handfull of power and the front wheel is rising, the bow wave increasing,
and the giant rooster tail shows forward progress as his weight goes backwards. Reason for loss
of marks….. POOR LINE & PANIC.
Next we have Steve Richardson from Canada, who regularly competes in this event and can often
runaway with the win in Modern Classic Intermediate.
A nice fast entry, weight well back and bars straight, but in this case TOO FAST if he was going to ride
the upper bank line.
Looks like Steve missed the required 30 degree turn to get up on the upper bank and is now
committed to a very late big dab to try and get up there…….. or perhaps he was trying to stay in the
water in which case the left side of the his front tire is being retarded due to the slope of the bank and
the front will continually try to climb out and force the back round in an arc
Now as more power comes on he is going in deeper and the bike is begining to lean left and the
front will again keep trying to climb out with the result of a series of annoying inside dabs
…….. and yet more legwork and power to get out ! Reason for loss of marks…. TOO FAST.
So no luck so far from two good riders who are clearly not in their element. Lets see if Nick Turner
from the UK can do any better on something he should be familiar with.
The nice wide line up on firmish ground but he has already clogged up his tires! (Stay out of the mud
if you can) Legs are a little too close to the tank and it will be hard to cope with any unexpected slip of
the bike on a mound.
Steady line with good counter balance for the 30 degree turn…….. but it looks slow to me!
This will need to be good or lucky as he comes to the 18″ bank he is almost out of momentum which
will mean a lot of power to get over it. Problems here if you don’t make it you will either dig a big hole
with the back wheel……. loop it if it suddenly bites on dry dirt…….. or be forced to use both feet and lift
it out with power…….. lets see what happens????
Up and out or is he ? It looks like a good position, and indeed would have been, had there been more
momentum. However it is going to take more power and some lightening of the back wheel as he is
still too slow.
Nick realises his mistake and puts on more power and his weight is now over the bars and as is often
the case when going for more power you end up pulling the right bar towards you. So he now has
power and full right lock ! You can imagine what will happen next……….
The back hops up and he rapidly tries to correct his line but the new momentum forces him down the
slippery bank…….. only a foot away from his intended line but from this position its a bit like the
F4 Phantom in a flat spin……… NO KNOWN RECOVERY!!!
A predictable series of slow speed dabs as the mud clogged tires offer no grip on the wet bank.
Overall reason for loss of marks in this section….. TOO SLOW.
Lets try again and see if we can “get it right” and so far we have seen, POOR LINE & PANIC from
Ralph, TOO FAST from Steve, and now the other end of the spectrum, TOO SLOW from Nick.
Our next mud disciple is Phil Drury, also an Engishman, so this should be right up his street !
Reasonable entry and speed about right, but the knees are too close to the tank. If you keep your
knees this close in, like past masters Gordon Farley and Sammy Miller, you must be able to counter
with very quick movements of upper body. Note the “line” for the intended slot, it requires a left, right,
left sequence with all the counterbalance changes.
Good speed, correct counter balance as the bike turns to his right to follow the least line of resistance
Here comes the final left turn and the front wheel is about to enter the deep hole in front of the bank.
His weight at this stage is on the WRONG side, so unless he corrects VERY quickly when the wheel
enters the hole it WILL crab to the outside of the bank, and depending on speed, might jacknife on
The CRITICAL moment, …. we can see the “crabbing” as the resultant forces displace the slop at 90
degrees to his front tire. The bike is slowing, his weight is to the inside of the turn, and his elbows are
bending putting more weight forward lowering the front wheel into more resistance……….. unless the
weight changes to outside and back a dab will surely follow !
The front end lowers, the expected dab is taken, and the observer’s finger goes up!
On line, power back on, and a series of inside dabs to get the back wheel up and out
Dabs done, 3 marks lost, and back up in the perfect position with correct counter balance for the
slight left turn and ride along the bank. If only this position had been achieved before the last big hole
we might have seen a clean. Reason for loss of marks……. BODY WEIGHT & POSITIONING
OK, so now its my turn and you the reader might be able to see the differences from previous
attempts. Looks like I’ve got an audience already !
Nice wide entry staying off the mud with legs wide apart and weight well back. Note my tires are still
Medium speed entry with increasing power, legs braced and relatively stiff arms to stop weight from
Power coming on, body weight changing to counter balance the upcoming left turn. Slight right turn to
stay in the slot for minimum resistance.
Front wheel in the slot, time to be opening the legs again for the upcoming burst of power……
Legs wide apart to counter any rear wheel side slip, power on, weight coming forward as the front
wheel hops out
Weight easing back as the rear wheel bites and the power comes off allowing me to steer to my dry
Idle along the bank with counterbalance and still keeping the wide stance.
Furthest outside dry line in the vegetation for the exit line up…… and of course this was all in 2nd.
Well that was MUD, and thanks to Brenda who took all the photos, we can see all the good, bad and
the ugly of this section. At some stage during this season I’ll ask her to do another series on other
types of sections that create complete mayhem for a lot of riders.