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[smoothly slow] or [smoothly fast] or [smoothly in between]. This depends on the traction available and regardless of conditions, it’s released fully within 1 bike length. That’s not a far distance but the nuance between a smooth fast and smooth slow release is precise and you’ve got to practice it hundreds, if not thousands of times so that you do it by instinct. The Sequence of Your Fundamentals At the same time as the clutch is releasing, the eyes should IM- MEDIATELY fixate on the first turn spot (The one I told you to identify before prepping your gate spot) and your feet should be lifting to the pegs and immediately pressing down. The reasons for your eyes focusing ahead and your feet com- ing to the pegs as fast as possible is that it helps you accelerate bet- ter. It works because by looking forward, you’re better able to deter- mine level and make weight trans- fer adjustments to keep the bike level and driving straight. If you’re feet aren’t on the pegs, you can’t press down on one peg or the other to straighten it out. Plus, pushing your feet down on the pegs and pulling straight back on the bars forces the back wheel into ground. This increases traction and acceleration which keeps the bike straight too. Interesting tidbit, my index fin- gers are both completely crooked at the tips from all the years of pulling on the bars so hard with my thumbs pressing them over toward the pinky finger side. The speed and timing of your shifts is incredibly important. Good 125 pilots could shift as fast an F1 electronic shifter…sadly, that skill has been lost to the 4 strokes. 1. Belief You’ve got to practice it, over and over. You’ve got to review it in your mind, over and over. Thou- sands of times. So many times that the movements are instinctual. So many times that no matter what gate pick you have, you know that you’ll make the best out of every start circumstance. A Great Start My greatest start moment was at a CMC Saddleback, 125 Pro, early 1975. Full-Gate. Gary Denton and Davie Taylor had swept a clean start path 40 yards up the dry, rock hard start hill. CMCs Stu Peters pulled the gate and it fell forward. I completely blew the clutch release and went sideways on the slippery hard clay. I was 5 yards behind and dead last. But I was lucky though. My FMF, Emler and Jon R tuned bike with a custom Emler/ Jon R designed FMF pipe that I made myself was the fastest 125 on the planet. I immediately went for the left side fence from my spot 10 gates over. I passed half the pack going up the long start hill by lightning shifts and pulling straight back on the bars while unweight- ing my butt just above the seat and forcing my feet into the pegs. I passed up to about the top 5 by out braking them into the first turn and then passed all but hole- shotter Gary Denton going down “YOU’VE GOT TO PRACTICE IT OVER AND OVER.” DIRT ILLustrated \\\\\\ Vol. 1 + Issue 5 + Page 90