Posts Tagged ‘dirt bikes’

Examiner Resurrection: Learning Dirt-Biking Techniques

Monday, July 31st, 2017

Dirt Riding Training

This Examiner Resurrection is dated in that I have since acquired a dual-sport bike and have a lot more dirt riding under my belt. Still, the points it makes are timeless and it was not a bad thing even for me to reread the material.

Learning Dirt-Biking Techniques

Riding motorcycles in the dirt is not the same as riding on the street. That may not come as a surprise to a lot of people but until you try riding in the dirt you may not realize how different it is.

I had the opportunity yesterday to receive some dual-sport dirt-riding training. I’m doing some coverage of the Adventure for the Cures ride that kicked off today and Sue Slate, the organizer, invited me to participate in the training session. Let me backtrack: The “Dirty Dozen” riders participating in this breast/ovarian cancer research fundraising event are all experienced street riders who have not ridden on dirt before. Thus the training.

Of course I accepted the invitation. So at 6:30 a.m. I was headed up the hill to Keystone in order to be there for an 8 a.m. “working breakfast.” You might be amazed how cold it is on an August day at 7 a.m. at 10,000 feet. My fingers were ice cubes.

The training took place, as so much motorcycle rider training does, in a parking lot, although this one, of course, was unpaved. The trainers were Andrea Beach and Bonnie Warch, of Coach2Ride, a south California riding school specializing on dual-sport riding.

Having only recently taken a refresher Beginning Rider Course (BRC) from T3RG Motorcycle Schools, where they told us to grab the brake lever with all four fingers–a practice I was working on adopting–I was surprised to be told that in dirt biking you want to always cover the lever with two fingers in order to quicken your response time. OK, so now I unlearn.

Andrea also told us you don’t counter-steer on the dirt; you turn by putting your weight on the opposite peg from the direction you want to go. You also shift your weight. That is, if you want to steer left, you lean the bike to the left but counter the lean by moving your weight to the right. This initiates the turn while keeping the bike’s center of gravity stable.

The fact is, this is the technique they taught us in the BRC for tight turns at slow speeds. That’s something else I had been practicing since I took the class so this was good reinforcement.

Another difference is that when you go dirt-biking you tend to stand up on the pegs a lot. Not exactly a recommended practice on the road. First off, standing up serves the same purpose it does on the street where you momentarily stand up to cushion a hard bump. Cruisers, with their pegs way out front, aren’t suitable for this, which is why I always prefer a bike with the pegs underneath me. And on the dirt you’re always dealing with bumps so the need to be able to stand on the pegs is obvious.

Secondly, you get better control of the bike when you stand on the pegs because it shifts the center of gravity down. Dirt bikes tend to be very tall because of the suspension, and this counteracts that situation, which is good.

So after a couple hours of training we took off up a fire road to put it all into practice. This was only the second time I’ve ever ridden dirt but I remember the first time being a lot of fun. This was a lot of fun, although way too short.

We rode up, making a point to steer around some potholes and obstacles for the steering practice, and deliberately hitting others for the practice that afforded. By the time we got back down I was really getting into standing and steering with my weight. It had taken awhile but I had found the comfortable–read “less tiring”–standing position and had developed an understanding for the direction to grip the tank with your knees. Some things you can hear about forever but not really understand until you have a chance to do it.

Will I do more dirt riding? Man, I’d love to, although not having a dirt bike or trailer is a bit of an issue in that regard. Or any place to store them. We’ll have to see what I can figure out.

Biker Quote for Today

When you’re on a motorcycle you’re never lost if there is still gas in the tank–you’re just finding new roads!

Kids and Bikes Belong Together

Monday, October 20th, 2008

I saw an item recently about how the legislature in Massachusetts was considering prohibiting anyone under the age of 14 from riding a dirt bike. This ban would apply to snowmobiles and ATVs as well. My research suggests that 10 is the age currently set by law there. Other states range from no legal restrictions to various other ages.

Dad preps son's bike before MX raceI have real problems with these laws. I was out at Thunder Valley Motocross Park last week and there were racers of all ages. Take a look at this photo of a dad working on his son’s bike in preparation for the race. This is family togetherness, parents and children out doing really fun things together and building strong family bonds. (Also notice the camera attached to the top of the kid’s helmet!)

I can’t tell you how much I wish this would have been my father. My dad was a good father but he was a bit removed and there wasn’t much we actually did together. I was nuts about motorcycles and saved money and planned to buy my first bike when I turned 15, which was the legal age at that time. The day arrived, I had the money, and my mother told me there was no way I would ever have a motorcycle while I was living in her house.

Contrast that to a dad who buys his son a bike and all the gear, takes him out to ride, and spends all that time with him. I loved my father and I miss him but I would have given anything for him to be more like the dad in this picture.

So the idea that the nanny legislators of any state think they have to protect children from their apparently idiot parents just does not set well with me at all. Sure kids on dirt bikes fall down. So do kids on bicycles. And skateboards. We all had our share of bumps and bruises while growing up. That’s what childhood is, a chance to learn what works and what doesn’t work so well. You do something stupid and it hurts and you think twice before doing it again. Protect your child from all injury and what happens to them when you’re no longer there to protect them?

Biker Quote for Today

It’s like this: Whenever there’s a car accident, people go, “Oh, it’s a car accident.” Whenever there’s a motorcycle accident, it’s outrage.–Jay Leno