cody webb
Jeff Allen

Improving As A Racer And Rider By Cody Webb

EnduroCross champion Cody Webb talks about how to get better on a dirt bike

This article was originally published in the January 2018 issue of Dirt Rider.

"I consider myself to be David trying to beat Goliath," Cody Webb tells us. "That's why I'm always striving to be better. When you have a target on your back, you're always trying to improve. I just feel like I can keep improving because I'm not at the top yet. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway."

That’s the mentality most winners have, always striving to be better. Cody never had any kind of formal coaching, so like most of us he learned from other riders and through constant practice. Interestingly enough, Cody never even got on a dirt bike until the ripe old age of 19, spending his youth riding trials, something he excelled at.

Cody won the US National Trials Championship in 2010, and he’s utilized those unique skills to excel at EnduroCross and extreme racing, as have other former trials riders like Graham Jarvis and Taddy Blazusiak.

Cody Webb
"I consider myself to be David trying to beat Goliath, that's why I'm always striving to be better." —Cody WebbJeff Allen

In addition to his dad, who helped him throughout his trials career, Cody looked to pros Kurt Caselli and Kyle Redmond as mentors when he first started racing EnduroCross. Cody says that Caselli had a "tough love" kind of influence on him, though it always came across in a positive way.

“Kurt had his training grounds outside Palmdale where he lived,” Cody says. “He was super helpful in a sort of [jerk-ish] kind of way. He was always drilling me and being hard on me. Kind of calling me names, and telling me, ‘Quit doing that crap.’ Stuff like that. It was a friendly way of just talking crap to me. He helped me a lot, but the way he said it, it was just funny. It helped me out, and a lot of things he said stuck with me. That’s kind of the only real coaching I’ve had was just his recommendations on what I was sucking at and what to quit doing.”

Cody Webb
In addition to his dad, who helped him throughout his trials career, Cody looked to pros Kurt Caselli and Kyle Redmond as mentors when he first started racing EnduroCross.Shan Moore

Kurt gave Cody techniques to work on because he felt Cody had poor form since he was a trials rider who was now sitting down in corners. “I was just trying to clutch it the whole way through,” he says. “I wasn’t smooth. My outside peg, my foot was all weird and pointing outwards. So he basically just stopped me when I went out, dead in my tracks, and told me what I was doing wrong. The next 10 minutes I’d spend trying to do it. He’d stop me again and tell me a little bit better. Then he was happy when he saw improvement. Kurt was someone I looked up to and he was obviously good at what he did, so I was like, ‘I should probably listen to this guy because he’s winning things.’”

Turning was something Cody had to work on, and he still does today. “I’m always catching them in ruts and pulling my leg back, so I have these turn tracks I ride in the winter. I focus on doing 20-minute motos and being consistent.”

Coming from trials, a sport that doesn't require the high level of conditioning needed in motocross or extreme racing, Cody had to play catch-up with his fitness. But now that he's a full-fledged factory rider, he has the luxury of having a trainer. Former GNCC and National Enduro champion Charlie Mullins works with KTM's off-road riders on training and conditioning.

“Charlie gives me a weekly schedule, what I should be doing and eating,” Cody shares. “We have a whole training portal so he can go in and see all the riders and what we’re doing through the day with our watches and see what our heart rate was in motos. Sometimes it’s encouraging if I text him saying I felt great that day riding or my lap times were improved. You can look at the heart rate and you can see that your heart rate was even lower and you had faster lap times. So, it just shows you’re getting more comfortable and being more efficient.”

Cody Webb
Cody won the US National Trials Championship in 2010, and he’s utilized those unique skills to excel at EnduroCross and extreme racing.Shan Moore

Cody’s mom was an additional influence on his riding.

“My mom would film all my EnduroCross races,” he says. “We’d go watch them afterwards, and I hated watching it because we would just critique what I was doing wrong, and I knew it. I’d always come over off an obstacle and I was just lazy and didn’t have that aggression. Just lean all far forward over the front of the bike and roll on the throttle. I didn’t have great form, and I hated watching myself because the whole time we were like, ‘Look what you can do there to be better.’ It was self-critiquing and you’re just like, ‘Dangit. I suck at that right now.’”

When Cody practices on his home track, he is constantly making sections of it harder once he gets that section down—something he says is the key to improvement.

“I think it’s definitely better to practice [on something] a little bit harder than what the race is going to be,” Cody says. “My Matrix, it’s pretty tough to get rhythm, but it’s not super gnarly. It’s kind of a sandy base where I grew up, so it gets really chewed up and torn up. When I go to the races it’s just like a perfect, flat Matrix. It doesn’t get torn up. It’s like riding on a highway when I get to the EnduroCross series versus my track that’s all rutted up. We went to Denver EnduroCross this year. It was kind of sandy material too, and it was all chewed up. I was the only guy doing the double, triple, double rhythm through it. No one else could even come close. I think it’s just because I’m used to riding a beat-up track. It was just second nature.

Cody Webb
"My Matrix, it's pretty tough to get rhythm, but it's not super gnarly." —Cody WebbTanner Yeager

“When it comes to practicing for the extreme races, I have this trail that some psycho cut,” Cody says. “I’ve taken quite a bit of people on it and everyone hates it, so that means it’s a good trail. It’s good for like Romaniacs-style training. So, for extreme stuff, I think it’s important to keep making stuff harder because the sport is changing so quickly and the riders are so good. But for EnduroCross I think it’s kind of like supercross where it’s so specialized now you don’t want to make it so hard that it’s dangerous.

When it comes to conditioning, gym work is low on Cody’s priority level. He mostly trains on a bicycle.

“The gym is only supposed to be in the afternoons after I ride,” Cody says. “I never go to the gym then ride, just because your muscles will be fatigued so you’ll be riding with poorer form or be sore. I try and do most of my motos in the morning, unless I go to the moto track [which is open afternoons into the evening]. So, if I’m riding EnduroCross I’m going to ride EnduroCross motos in the morning. I’ll go home, rest, clean stuff up a little bit. Then late afternoon I’ll go on an hour to an hour-and-a-half road bike ride, fat-burning zone more or less, and do little sprints here and there but nothing crazy. All my intensity is mostly done on the dirt bike.”

Cody Webb
"I think a simple thing people can do right off the bat is just try and make smart lifestyle choices with your diet and your daily activities." —Cody WebbTanner Yeager

For the average rider, Cody’s advice is simple: “I think a simple thing people can do right off the bat is just try and make smart lifestyle choices with your diet and your daily activities. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you go into the office. Have grapes as a snack instead of chips as a snack. You can just start there with something simple, but that’s going to just slowly improve how you feel if you’re doing that every day. Everyone wants to put a light exhaust on their bike, but to be honest a lot of times you can lose weight yourself. I was chunky for a while when I was a kid. I just support a positive, active lifestyle. That’s what I enjoy doing now. I’m always doing something. I don’t like being stagnant. If you just increase your active lifestyle you’ll start feeling better and when you go to ride you’re going to feel more lively. From there, you just start working on technique on the bike and practicing the little things. Always remember to keep your fingers over the clutch and front brake. Always ride on the balls of your feet—Always kind of be in a squatted position. Listen to good advice, and just focus on the proper way to ride. No matter what, if you can just be more active and focus on technique when you’re riding, you’ll get better; you just won’t even realize it probably.”

If anyone has proven that hard work and an effort to improve can get you to the top, it’s Cody Webb, who sits at the top of the sport—but in his mind he still has a way to go to “get there.” “I guess one day if I win Erzberg I’ll consider myself Goliath. But for now, I like the role of David.”