Wednesday after school Henry and I went riding. The weather was perfect, 70 degrees and dry. We rode until after sunset. Henry tried lots of of new tricks, riding one handed, standing up on the pegs, and looking far through the corners and down the straights.
I got some laps in on the pro MX track, really laying my Husky over in some of the rutted corners and concentrating on body position over the whoops.
Henry and I turned a bunch of laps on the flat track together. He was fast. He really likes the flat track even though it was extraordinarily dusty today.
After riding, we hit Arby’s on the way home and got ourselves a little dinner.
Henry was pretty pleased with our day of riding. So was I.
Saturday morning, the first real fall weather and light – it’s 50 degrees and windy, but Henry and I are undaunted. We returned to Ride Organic for some more father/son dirt riding.
Henry spent time on the Pee Wee track while I muddled around on the MX track.
Then Henry suggested we ride on the flat track. It was totally fun, and Henry picked up some speed.
My son Henry, age 7, noticed I had been packing up my Husky to go ride lately – “Where are you going, Dad?” he asked.
“I like to go ride at Ride Organic – it’s a place to ride dirt bikes.” I told him.
“I wish I could go to Ride Organic.” (This is the first time he has really shown an interest)
“Do you want to go after school on Wednesday?”
“Yeah!” – thus followed two straight days of questions about riding and declarations that he couldn’t wait to go.
As promised, I met him after school with the trailer and car fully loaded and ready to go. We arrived at Ride Organic, and Henry practiced his starts and stops (a ritual we created with his sister years ago). Then I set Henry loose on Ride Organic’s great little Pee Wee track.
Henry had a blast, and even made a friend. Together these two boys on their 50’s explored the pit bike track and the GP track in the woods – far more adventure than I expected for day 1.
I got to ride a little bit too, working on whoops and rutted turns on the Pro MX track. The dirt was really perfect, and I found I had to really get my inside foot way up as I railed through soft loamy ruts… a real treat.
It was hard to get Henry off the bike and back in the car, he was having so much fun. When we got home, he was so pleased with his day that he actually hugged his motorcycle on the trailer.
This makes two days in a row that I’ve taken my Husky to Ride Organic – beautiful weather, and another opportunity to reacquaint myself with dirt riding. I worked mostly on rutted corners, finding the right rolling speed at the beginning to motor out without standing the bike up and getting cross-rutted. I’m certainly not in riding shape – I got pretty tired pretty fast.
I’m hoping to do lots more riding, get those skills and stamina back…being off the bike for so long has been a bummer.
I went for a rare ride today, and spent the afternoon on Ride Organic’s excellent GP track. I met a fellow vet rider and we had a good time dusting off the cobwebs. Paul – glad to have met you, looking forward to riding with you again soon!
I really don’t get out on the bike much anymore. That’s a shame. And when I do get the chance, it’s easy to get bummed when things don’t go as planned.
My brother John talked me into going for a Sunday ride. I wanted to go to Dogtown Public House in Mexico Missouri because they are a client of my wife’s photography business. She shot studio portraits of a series of iconic dog breeds, and had them printed on huge canvasses to be the thematic centrepieces of this relatively new Irish pub. Because of time constraints with their opening, my wife had these giant prints drop shipped to the pub and never got to see the finished product. I like Irish pubs. I like long rides, and I like my wife’s photography – This seemed like a perfect destination.
I met up with John at his place in the morning, and we hit the road – he on his Bonneville T-100, me on my Z1000.
We took the freeways and highways all the way there – a fast, but boring 2 hours with not much to see. We arrived between 11:00 and noon – perfect timing, I thought, since Dogtown Public House’s facebook page said they were open at 11:00 on Sundays.
Right away, something didn’t look right. there were no lights on at the restaurant, and no hours posted.
Peering in the dark bar, I could see Amy’s photos on the wall. It was a nice looking place. But there was mail from the previous day on the floor by the front door – a sure sign that they weren’t opening any time soon that day.
Defeated, John and I found a nearby pizza buffet, and had our lunch. We decided to take a more scenic route back home. We took 19 south down to Hermann Missouri, and jogged back East on 94, a pleasantly twisty and scenic ride through the wine country. The afternoon heat was not pleasant. And when we stopped for gas outside of Hermann, John’s bike wouldn’t start back up – the starter just ratcheted in protest when he thumbed the start button. We ended up bump starting it and resigned to riding straight home with no more stops.
94 was Ok, we had a fair few miles without being stuck behind super-cautious winery goers, but there were some times when we were behind some city-dweller putting along at 40 mph, and dragging his SUV’s brakes for a hundred yards before every corner. That makes the heat of the day even more unpleasant. 94 isn’t at its best on a hot Sunday afternoon, but it was still the highlight of the ride.
I have a new mission in life: I want to be a jumper.
I have piddled around on motocross tracks once every other month for a few years now, but I am not a motocrosser. When you talk about riding dirtbikes, the one thing everyone want so know is “do you go over those big jumps?!!” My lame response has been “well, no, not really, I’m new, and blah blah blah… wait, where did everyone go?”
Time to fix that. Big jumps: They look so easy and graceful when real motocrossers do them. Oh God, I want to do that. But I’ve been on a bunch of motocross tracks, and my self preservation instinct (limited as it may be) kicks in right before the commit point on the approach to a jump, and I decide a big NOPE sandwich would taste real good right now.
I dream of jumping. Nothing crazy. I just want to clear the doubles with grace. No Superman seat grabs, no sick triples. Just grace and competence without panic and gritted teeth.
I think about the things I would jump:
- A shark
- A double decker bus
- Snake River Canyon
- Your mom
But how do you get started? Jumping a motorcycle is the kind of thing the Fonz needed to build up to over several seasons of Happy Days. Who am I to think that I can learn to jump motorcycles faster than Henry Winkler? Clearly I need a plan. This is something that I need to work up to. Because I know for a fact that “just going for it” results in ambulance rides and a couple days in the hospital with a catheter up your woo hoo.
So today was day 1 in my personal campaign to become a semi-competent motocrosser. I’m gonna work my way up to jumping some shit.
I went to Ride Organic this morning with one goal: Clear the tabletop after the deep sand 180 degree right hand turn. This was a very safe goal. Tabletops are forgiving. If you don’t clear them, you land on high ground and just ride off the back side. I’ve seen lots of fast motocrossers blow this jump off – lolligag around the sandy corner and not clear it – so what? Heck every time I’ve ridden at Ride Organic, I lolligagged the corner and just bumped up the face of the jump, landing squarely in the middle of the table.
Right hand corners are hard. See, the rear brake pedal is on the right hand side of the bike. You can either use the brake, or you can put your foot out to stabilize and potentially save the bike from washing out in a right hand corner – you can’t do both. So whatever you decide to do – brake? Save? You’re committed.
Also deep sand is not a great canvas for anything other than slowing down and falling over. Bikes don’t steer in sand, they don’t coast in sand, and they don’t accelerate very well in sand either. The only thing you can do in sand is to kind of slew around on the gas – Crank that throttle and lean, and the bike will spray sand around as you carve a circle – point it where you want to go, and you will get there eventually, but not fast – you can’t accelerate in sand like you can on terra firma.
So put those things together: Tight right hand corner, deep sand, and a non-threatening but non-trivial tabletop jump right out of that corner… and you’ve got a nice low stakes challenge. Today I would work exclusively on that tabletop – I wanted to clear it repeatedly with ease before I went home.
First I watched a real rider do it.
Then I took a crack at it.
I’m happy to say that by focusing on one jump, and attempting it over and over, I was really able to make some progress and build some confidence. I have no doubt that I’ll be back at Ride Organic to work on another jump real soon.