Go Play in the Dirt: Dirt Biking 101

It happened in slow motion, and I didn't know what to do about it. The track turned left but I didn't. With the bike on its side and my body on the ground, I stood up, covered in dirt, then tried to dust myself off.

The rider behind me immediately rushed to my assistance. He helped me pick up the fallen motorcycle, and asked me if I was OK.

Luckily, I'm clad in the appropriate attire to mitigate damages.

With a huge grin on my face, I said, "Oh yeah! Let's keep going."

It was my first time on a dirt bike -- and this was my first time falling. I'm glad we got it out of the way quickly!

Having started off life on two wheels on the road, this was a completely new sensation for me. The ground moves under my feet. On pavement, it usually doesn't.

The constant jostling of the handlebars and rocking motion of the wheels is unsettling. I feel I could go down at any moment.

Oh wait, I just did.

As part of Honda's Junior Red Riders, the manufacturer offers introductory instruction to kids and youth (I guess I'm a kid at heart) on learning the basics of dirt bike riding. I had the opportunity to experience this, having never been off the road on a motorcycle before.

Needless to say, it's a lot of work. I have a new appreciation of those who ride in this kind of environment on a regular basis. It's a great workout, too, and way more fun than spin class.

The most important part, I found, was the vision. Looking where you want to go is paramount. Considering I almost hit a tree in the trail-riding part of the day -- "almost" being the operative word -- I know now that I probably shouldn't have been looking at it.

While the bikes themselves aren't heavy, they do need constant feathering and input from the rider. It's exhausting. However, I found it to be so much fun. It's another skill set on two wheels that I'd like to hone at any possible opportunity.
Besides, a lot of professional road racers on the worldwide circuit started off as kids on dirt tracks. It helps develop an understanding of what a bike can do and how you, as a rider, can feel more comfortable in not-so-comfortable situations.

With a few hours of playing in the dirt, I thoroughly enjoyed myself; it gave me a new appreciation for what off-road riders can do.

By the end of the day, I felt proud that I was still in one piece. The instructors at the event were helpful and encouraging. Something I needed after I fell, then fell again.

My verdict? One sprained wrist, a few bruises, but two enthusiastic thumbs up later I'd do it again in a heartbeat -- or in the time it takes for me to fall.

Go Play in the Dirt: Dirt Biking 101