Dirt biking is a great sport that encompasses several styles such as trail riding, motocross and trials (just to name a few). With each comes risk and the risk is obviously having a nasty crash resulting in serious injury or death. To ignore this is foolish. But what else is foolish is to avoid activity because of fear of what could happen. After all, the goal is to ride, not crash. But, crashes are likely to happen. So, in anticipation of the likely-hood of crashing, we dirt bikers must (or should if you are not currently) use our brains. Using our brains means several things.
Using our brains means staying in control. This is of utmost importance. No matter whether you are a racer or a weekend warrior, you must strive to keep control of the dirt bike at all times. Of course, to improve as a rider requires pushing the limits a bit, but this does not mean to exceed one’s ability to control. The fearless part here is to use your logical thinking by realizing your limits while not being afraid. The stupid part is to think of yourself as the King of Supercross when you put your leg over a motocross bike for the first time.
Using our brains means wearing the appropriate protective gear. Sure, we could be fearless and not care about this, but this would be stupid. As was said already, it would be smart to anticipate the possibility of a crash. Not because we want to doom ourselves into a crash because of fear, but rather by realizing a crash could happen unexpectedly. It’s just smart. Instead of going on about this, let me just illuminate using some real world examples.
Real world example of stupidity and fearlessness #1: A skilled motocross rider (let’s call him Joe) is out practicing at the local race track. While taking a break, he visits with friends. A girl there (let’s call here Lisa), a friend of a friend, seems excited about dirt bikes and confidently talks about having ridden in the past. Lisa convinces Joe that he should allow her to take his bike for a ride around the race course. The first act of stupidity here is Joe allowing Lisa (whom he had never met before) to take his KX250 two stroke out for a ride. Naturally, Lisa jumps on the bike wearing nothing but shorts, sneakers and a tee shirt. No helmet no gloves. Yet, all apparently is good as she starts the bike and throttles off. The glory of the ride was short however, as the seemingly fearless Lisa boldly gassed the powerful two stroke over a small double. In typical “beginner on a two stroke” fashion, the bike accelerated out of control while the now terrified Lisa hung on for dear life as the bike bounced over the double out of control. After crossing the double (more of a large whoop really), the bike was leaned over a bit, throttle still opened and the front wheel plowing at an angle as it lost traction. Lisa narrowly missed the two vertically planted rail road ties (which were used as track entrance markers) as she plowed her way between them. The bike then hit a rock (if I remember correctly) and the bike went to down solidly on its side slamming Lisa’s head into the dirt and of course, grating her once beautiful skin across rocks and gravel. I saw the whole thing and I thought she was killed. Fortunately, she was not. I do not know what the extent of injuries she suffered but I can imagine.
Real world example of stupidity and fearlessness #2: Rider A was a young rider who had been learning and doing fairly well at motocross and started racing in the beginner class. Rider B was an experienced intermediate level rider with gobs of talent equal to many pro racers. The discussion between the two involved the rhythm section consisting of about 9 or so smooth style whoops set up for moderate speed. Rider A asked Rider B “How do you hit those?” Rider B explained that he tripled in and thus could time his way through in a few hops. Moto time was here and Rider A was armed with knowledge from an experienced rider. On lap one, he came hot into those whoops ready to triple in. Things did not go well for him as he crashed hard, breaking both bones of his lower leg. No more riding for quite awhile. Oops. Certainly, there is a time when a rider is ready to try tripling a rhythm section such us this, but, stupidly doing so without thought, without respect and without skills and judgment ends perilously.
Real world example of stupidity and fearlessness #3 involves none other than myself. In my case, I had been riding a lot, about 3 times per week practicing and racing motocross. Once I had really stepped up with my seat time, my riding skills vastly improved and I was actually figuring out how to ride fast, how to use proper form etc. etc. Excited for the upcoming championship race, I was out practicing one afternoon. Things were clicking for me and I was riding pinned, railing corners and hitting all of the jumps well. I was convinced I was going to win the upcoming race. To this day, I think I would have. Anyway, the track was extremely rough and I was pushing myself hard lap after lap. I took a break for awhile but even though I was fatigued and tired, I decided to hit another set of laps. This proved to be a bad move. Skimming across a bunch of square edged holes, I hit one kind of hard, third gear pinned on my KX250. The hit jarred my hand on the throttle causing me to over grip wide open throttle and I could not let off as I reached a step down jump. Wheel spin, poor body position and awkward grip right at the lip of the jump caused me to loop out. My bike bounced and bounced a long way and I hit the ground really hard. I nearly tore my right leg off below the knee that day as well as breaking numerous bones, sprains, road rash etc. I could not ride or work for over 3 months. You see, had I been using my head, I would have known to stop when I was fatigued.
The whole point is that we, as dirt bikers, must respect what we do because it can have grave consequences. However, it can also be very rewarding. With dirt biking, we can gain fitness while improving our skills and experiencing the enjoyment. We must use our brains to think logically about what we can and can’t do and what we should or should not do. When it comes to learning new things and tackling new obstacles, it is prudent to do so intelligently while not being afraid. Don’t know if you can clear a big double? Though you will need to go for it at some point, you must do so while using your head. There are ways of figuring these obstacles out without blindly guessing the outcome. Don’t be afraid but be smart. Swallow your pride.