This story is part of an ongoing blog about the realities of getting into dirt bikes: the good, the bad and the ugly. Brutal honesty only and there might be a naughty word or two.
Saturday, January 18, 2020: T-minus 2 1/2 weeks until Morocco.
The number one obstacle for me when it comes to riding dirt bikes is the lack of a truck. I drive a small car, so a hitch-mounted rack isn’t even an option. But where there is a will – and some generous, helpful friends – there’s a way.
My boss let me borrow his hitch-equipped Nissan Pathfinder so I could join my two good friends, Julia and Joslyn, for a day in the desert. We have a lightweight folding Kendon single-rail trailer at the office, and with its low height and built-in front wheel chock it was a cinch to load the bike by myself.
Having a trailer like this is WAY easier than loading/unloading into a pickup truck. I don’t think I could’ve pushed the bike into a truck bed alone.
Both of my friends were bringing their husbands, but as it turned out I was happy for their company. While my first two dirt riding experiences with my guy friends were positive, I’ve learned that including males in any physical activity can often mean an overabundance of testosterone and ego, and an uncomfortable or overly pressured experience for me.
The same activity with females, on the other hand, feels welcoming, safe and just more fun. I have a feeling you know what I’m talking about.
Anyway, it turned out that Joslyn’s husband knew the trail system well and he became our ride leader, keeping us out of the hairy stuff and pausing regularly for water breaks. He and Julia’s husband rode out in front, doing the go-fast guy thing while us girls kept to a more moderate pace.
Then we came to a steep, loose descent and I full-on panicked. Descents are my kryptonite, almost guaranteed to turn my arms to steel and my legs to jelly. I slid to a stop at the top, looking down and trying to talk my pounding heart into just chilling the heck out.
I waved the rest of the group on when they paused at the bottom to wait for me. I didn’t want them to witness my cowardly behavior – I figured I’d be walking the bike down. But then Joslyn’s hubby turned around and rode up to me.
“How ya doing?” he asked.
“Not good,” I laughed nervously.
“I get it,” he replied. “This is a scary one.” Then he calmly explained how to get myself down the hill – all stuff I already knew (eyes up where you want to go, first gear, use the clutch to help moderate speed but realize that momentum is your friend, etc) – but somehow it helped to hear from an expert rider that I already had the skills to get down. The only thing stopping me was my own fear.
He waited patiently while I pep-talked myself, then I released the clutch and rolled down in a totally controlled and uneventful way. Which is exactly what I knew would happen.
Fear is a funny thing.
We all had a great day of riding, and by the end it was clear that our co-ed day was good for everyone. The boys got to ride fast and play together, the girls got to bond and build (or re-build) our confidence.
I doubt I’ll have another opportunity to take out the dirt bike before Morocco, but I’ll definitely be hitting the trails on my Giant e-mountain bike…and that’s a whole other story….