Henry and I spent Saturday morning riding our dirt bikes. Henry brought both the 2-stroke PW50 (which he learned on, and loves) and the bigger 4-stroke TT-R 50 which he is learning to operate. Henry rode the PW50 for about 4 minutes before switching to the bigger bike. He stuck with it for the rest of the day and made big strides in in his shifting and braking on the more complicated machine.
I got to ride a little on my bike, but spent most of the day tagging along behind Henry. He’s really building his confidence, and his initial reaction to most tricky situations seems to usually be the right one.
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 post is late in coming, and I didn’t get any pictures of this ride, but my wife and daughter and I spent a great afternoon trail riding at Coyote ATV Riders in Coulterville, IL
As is her style, Helen, my eight year old daughter was the first one geared up and riding, and the last one to come in off the trail. She tackled some tough stuff, and motored right through it.
My wife did really well too. It had been almost two years since her last trail ride, and at the end of the day, she was catching air off the jumps at the practice track.
I’m really glad my daughter has her awesome mom to look up to.
I have owned motorcycles for 24 years. I bought my first dirt bike eight years ago, a fire breathing beast of a Yamaha YZ426, set up for supermoto, and tuned to near “grenade” status by its original owner. Over those eight years, I have learned my chops with a wrench because of that bike – having taken it completely apart, and restored it to running order to cure the failures it endured from its previous high state of tune. It’s a better bike than when I bought it, and I’m a better mechanic and rider now too.
In 24 years, the one major thing I’ve never done was ride at a motocross track. I have raced TT scrambles and supermoto on the big YZ. I’ve raced in the woods on my smaller Yamaha. But inevitably, when people hear you race motorcycles, they light up and ask “Do you go over those big jumps?”
It’s deflating to see their faces fall when you say “No, I race real fast on asphalt, or dirt, or between trees…”
They don’t care. Everyone wants to see the jumps.
So, for the last few months, knowing that my big old Yamaha is more reliable and easier to ride than ever, and knowing that I’m at this juncture where my riding skills are getting better, but my physical fitness has just barely passed its peak – I decided this was the year to try motocross.
My friend, and dirt riding rock star, Matt Pursley texted me a few weeks back to see if I’d like to go to a motocross practice day. Matt’s five year old son, Colton, and my seven year old daughter are at the same stage in their motorcycling – skilled enough to make it around a track, interested enough to learn new things, and slow enough not to put themselves in any real danger. Matt wanted to take Colton to the MX park for hist first ride, and suggested my daughter Helen would enjoy it too. Helen and I agreed it was a great idea.
We went to Archview MX in Washington Park, IL for a Saturday practice day. The weather was hot. The staff at Archview were fabulously friendly, more so than at any other racing venue I’ve ever been to. Helen signed up for the “Youth Junior” practice class, and I signed up for the “Big Bike Novice class”
Helen and Colton went out on the track first, and found the deep ruts in the loamy corners challenging, with their small wheels. But they both figured it out, and circulated the track, obviously concentrating.
I went out for the first time with some trepidation. The jumps look HUGE when you first encounter them – like walls. But I quickly realized that the jumps were very well built, and well prepped – As long as I hit the jump face with an even throttle hand and squeezing the tank with my knees, the jumps were quite easy.
Not that I was jumping very far. Each big jump is built to allow three easy ways to clear it – First by rolling it, as the kids like Colton and Helen were doing. Second by doubling it, that is, jumping to a next little lip at the top of the table top. And third by tripling it, jumping to the far down face of the hill. I spent my day working on cleanly doubling the jumps. A few were easy to double. Some I didn’t get until my third time out. I would “case” them every time – land with my front wheel over the lip, and the rear wheel behind. Casing the doubles over and over in the heat, was quite a workout. At the end of each session, I would tiredly wend my way back to our pit, struggle to pull off my sweaty gear, and then pour icy water on my head and get a drink. I usually only had a few minutes to recover. I had to get Helen ready to ride, and then go back out on the track on foot to assist her if she got stuck or had a crash.
Helen had a great day. She experienced jumping her motorcycle for the first time – something she has wanted to do ever since she was four years old. I was very proud of how she dealt with the heat and the difficult track.
My wife, owner of Speed Of Life Photography, came out to the track too. She brought her camera, and took all of the pictures in this post.
I am blessed. Blessed to have a smart, coordinated daughter who shares my enjoyment of motorcycles. Blessed to have friends like Matt and Colton who encourage us to try new things. Blessed to have the health and resources to go throw a 240 pound motorcycle over big dirt jumps on a July morning. And blessed to have a wonderful wife who supports my silly hobbies, and can take a mean picture too.
I spent my Memorial Day holiday riding street bikes with my dad, his co-worker Brad Clevelend, and my little brother John.
Brad, and my dad, and I rode from O’Fallon IL to a gas station in Eureka, MO to meet my brother. He was there when we arrived.
We wound our way from Eureka through Pacific, to Gray’s Summit, up to Labadie, in to Washington, across the Missouri River, and finally to Augusta.
When we arrived in Augusta, we had a confrontation with an awkwardly placed stop sign. Three of us made it past the stop sign unscathed. Could have been worse.
We had lunch at the Augusta Brewing Company. Motorcycle parking was tricky, because their parking lot was on a steep incline, but it was worth it – the food was good, and the view over the Katy Trail was very nice. Their IPA was pretty good too.
My daughter Helen, my dad, and my brother John decided to go to Moto Europa this evening. It’s a beautiful new motorcycle dealership close to the SLU campus and the Fox Theater, and adjoining the wonderful Triumph Grill restaurant. The plan was to meet there, have a little appetizer from the restaurant, and just chill in the presence of beautiful European motorcycles. Dad rode his Triumph Bonneville T100, and Helen and I rode on the Kawasaki Z1000.
We crossed the Mississippi river into downtown Saint Louis just as the last orange rays of sunset were diminishing. It was a very pretty time of day, very fitting for Helen’s first Interstate motorcycle trip.
Moto Europa is a great place to look at motorcycles – Helen had the Milwaukee’s Best soft pretzel appetizer dish from the restaurant, and we looked over beautiful bikes together.
Mark Oldham of Moto Europa took good care of us, telling us about Moto Europa’s many upcoming events, and giving Helen pointers on racecraft. Mark is a very gracious host. Before we left, the General Manager gave Helen a Michelin ball cap and advised her to insist on Michelin tires for all of her bikes. Does Michelin make 10 inch off road tires? No matter – Helen looks good in her new cap.