Transitioning from one type of terrain to another is always a challenge, but when that transition also includes changes in direction and elevation, it really compounds problems for the average dirt rider.Fortunately, Honda desert ace Johnny Campbell has a few tricks up his sleeves he's willing to share. With seven (consecutive, no less, from 1997 to 2003) Baja 1000 victories, a Nevada Rally win, an ISDE silver medal and other honors too numerous to mention, he's seen his share of difficult riding environments and can certainly provide wisdom for this sort of situation.He demonstrated his technique at Honda's desert test area in the Southern California desert. Try it out for yourself the next time you come across something similar, and you should be able to zip through quicker and easier than you ever have.A. This particular trail drops down into a sand wash then turns right. Making this more treacherous is the sizable rock on the outside of the turn in the sand wash—exactly where you might normally want to go in order to maintain speed. It's tricky. "Transitioning into a different terrain, you really need to be focused on where the course or trail is turning and what kind of obstacles are coming up," Campbell says. "In this case, I'm coming down a high-speed road and dropping down an off-camber into a sand wash that's full of rocks."
B. "It's important that when I come off the high-speed road I have my speed down enough that I can avoid the obstacles in the sand wash." Standing up allows Campbell to maintain better control while braking in the loose rocks that litter this road, and also helps him see farther ahead and down into the sand wash. Remember: The faster you go—or want to go—the farther ahead you need to look.
C. "I transition from a hardpack road via hardpack off-camber, so I'm really concentrating on weighting the outside peg and trying to get the bike to hook up so it doesn't slip out of control and hit rocks." As you can see, Campbell has shifted his weight forward by this point because he's done with most of his braking as he drops down the off-camber. Thus, he wants to weight the front wheel as well as the outside (downhill here) peg for maximum steering control.
D. As Campbell drops farther into the wash, he begins to sit down, thus transferring more weight to the front of the bike. It's really not much different from going into a turn on a motocross course.
E. With his weight forward and fully onto the seat, elbows up, inside leg thrust forward slightly for balance and outside knee pressing hard against the tank, Campbell can confidently turn the front wheel hard, even though he's not completely done with the off-camber and into the flat part of the sand wash yet. You can also tell he's looking well down the trail, scanning for the next obstacle.
F. Campbell holds a tight line inside the turn instead of letting it drift wide where the one big rock is sitting (see the first photo). As he begins to accelerate harder, the rear of the bike squats and digs into the sand wash. "Being smooth is the key in this situation because it's easy to go too fast," he laughs, "and you don't want to go too slow so you have to really obstacles like rocks."