Whoops can make or break a race, or a fun day of riding for that matter. They are also the hardest terrain to master, as there are no two alike, and can change over the course of a day.
We spoke to Levi Marana, who races for Temecula Motorsports, for input and a demonstration on the subject. He pointed out one thing to keep in mind when attacking any kind of whoop section; “Stay loose and let the bike work under you so you don’t get tired, and adjust your style for different types of whoops.” He added that a rider should always hit them straight on, stay on the gas once committed, and lean back to keep the weight on the rear tires.

Supercross whoops are the most challenging since they tend to be very large. If the peaks are spaced close enough together, a rider may be able to skim over the tops of the bumps. But once committed, do not hesitate, as loss of control or a crash will result if the front end of the ATV drops. Other supercross sections will need to be tackled in a rhythm (rhythm sections). There are infinite variations of rhythm sections. For example, it may be best to double all the whoops. Other rhythm sections may require singling the first whoop, then doubling the middle ones, and tripling out. The famous Loretta Lynn’s “Ten Commandments” whoop section is well known for its ever-changing combinations of rhythms every year.

Probably the easiest of whoops, these are usually more evenly spaced and a rider can keep the throttle pinned through them. Marana prefers coming into these obstacles a gear high so he can power out of them.

Staying in control through these whoops that develop on the entrance of a corner may be as simple as hanging on tight. However, as they worsen, a rider may have to coast into the corner with constant throttle through the bumps and brake late. The braking bumps can become so severe, a mix of techniques may be needed to negotiate them fast and under control. One such example would be to stab the brakes before the whoops, then let off the brakes and apply steady throttle to avoid suspension packing. Follow with late braking in the corner.

Acceleration whoops develop on the exit of a corner or at the landing of jumps. It’s best to negotiate them like any other bump section. Keep the front-end light and power through them. However, when rough terrain develops after a jump, it may be necessary to begin jumping farther to clear the whoops. Another method, if possible, would be to jump shorter to allow setting up for rough stuff. If neither is really possible, then be prepared to hang on and stay steady on the throttle upon landing.

These whoops will vary the most since they develop naturally throughout a race. They can be a mix of all the whoop styles, and Marana says, “You attack desert whoops one-at-a-time and keep the quad under control.”

Pounding through whoops can be extremely fun and offer a rewarding sense of accomplishment. But they can also be the cause of some of the worst wrecks. So, as with hitting jumps, master this obstacle in steps and don’t get in over your head. Practice and apply the appropriate techniques to develop a sense of how to best to negotiate the terrain effectively and safely. Soon, experience will take over and properly negotiating that next bump ahead will be automatic!