And by “how,” I mean ALL of the how. How to transport it to/from the trails, how to load and unload it once I’m there, how to maintain it and, of course, how to ride the thing.
I’ve gotten tastes of dirt biking here and there — Babes in the Dirt, off-road training at Coach2Ride, a women-only MX track day — and every time I had an amazingly fun experience. I was surprised by how many women are into dirt bikes, and the sight of them sliding around the track and flying through the air, ponytails whipping, was freaking inspiring.
But each of those times, I was meeting someone there who had a bike for me to borrow. (In the case of Coach2Ride, motos are provided.) When it came down to actually having a moto of my own, I just couldn’t get around the reasons why it wouldn’t work. I have girlfriends who ride dirt, but they live an hour and a half or more away, and the logistics of the LA area mean it just isn’t possible to do a spontaneous trail ride day. And going alone just doesn’t sound fun…or smart.
And anyway, there’s one glaring problem that puts the kibosh on the whole endeavor: I don’t own a truck, or even a large car (my Ford Focus is not capable of towing a trailer or carrying a moto on a hitch-mounted rack). So I have no way of getting the bike to the trail.
But then there’s my friend Nic. He’s been riding dirt bikes since forever and is constantly badgering me to go riding with him. And he has a truck.
I still resisted, talking myself out of it (you’ve got no time, what if you fall and get hurt, what if Nic pushes you way too fast, what if you totally suck), until….
We got an invitation to the press launch of the new 2020 Triumph Tiger 900, and it’s in Morocco. Morocco has been on my bucket list since I was in my early 20s, and this is a chance to go ride there (on someone else’s dime). The caveat: there would be one full day of off-road riding.
Press launches are typically testosterone-laden affairs, with a bunch of male moto-journalists (I’m usually the only female) riding at warp speed on unfamiliar roads on an unfamiliar bike in an unfamiliar country. I keep up as best I can on pavement, but now we’re talking about a tall, heavy adventure bike on what will likely be loose, rocky roads. And there will almost certainly be sand. Uggghhhhhh.
But I can’t turn this opportunity down! It’s Morocco, for goodness’ sake! There are tagines to be eaten, bazaars to be perused, camels to be seen…. After saying yes, I reached out to my friend Joslyn at Kawasaki, then I texted Nic. OK, I said. It’s time. Let’s go ride.
He was ecstatic.
He even volunteered to drive down to Kawasaki with me (two hours away) to pick up the bike, a 2020 KLX230R. I chose the KLX for several reasons: it’s a full-size trail bike, but with a seat height about 2 inches shorter than most dirt bikes — just enough to allow me to get my toes on the ground, it’s got enough power without being too much and it’s fuel-injected with a push-button starter. In a nutshell, it’s the perfect first, confidence-building trail bike.
I’ve already got the appropriate gear (see the list of my personal kit here), but if you’re just starting out you can get away with the bare bones: a dirt helmet (much more comfortable for this type of riding than a street helmet, trust me) and stiff, sturdy boots.
Let’s do this.