Dirt bikes

Trail Riding

In-between all the movies and cooking, we do still get out occasionally and do other activities. 🙂


In fact, almost two months ago we took a motorcycle safety course so I could get my endorsement to be legal to ride on the road. (Our bikes are dual sport, legal for the road, but rugged enough to ride on trails as well. GREAT combination.)

Day2 (1)

Don had to refresh his course certification also due to a new regulation with the military. I am glad we had an excuse for him to take it alongside me. I was crazy nervous; I’m not the best about learning new things. To my surprise, I really enjoyed the class (so did Don.) I learned a few tips and tricks that hadn’t come up in my trial-by-fire sessions on the trail. Don is a great teacher but he’s been doing it for so many years that some things come so naturally to him that he doesn’t think to spell them out for Miss Newbie. I also didn’t anticipate that everyone else in the class would have absolutely ZERO experience on a bike so the fact that I had been out a few times already on trails, and we had our own bikes to use in class, set us apart slightly. Most of our classmates treated us like we were both pros. LOL  Little did they know. Pro? Don. Yes. Me? Heck no. But it made me feel good and we had a lot of fun that weekend.

Now, when we go trail riding we can cut back to the parking lot using the forest roads and main roads if needed. Don’s also eager to get me out on the regular road to get more experience on-road and with traffic. I must admit, I am a little nervous about that. But I’m sure it will be less intimating the more I ride, just like everything else.

We also have some new gadgets to go with our riding hobby as well – a GoPro Hero3 and headsets so we can talk while riding.

The GoPro is a fun accessory. It’s a tiny little video camera that you can mount to your hobby toy (kayak, surfboard, snowboard, helmets, bicycle, you name it) and you can take video as well as still shots with it. The first photo in this post is one of our first still shots we took with the GoPro the first day we took it out. There was a slight learning curve to use it but we got it figured out in a couple of trips.

Here’s a one minute clip of me riding; I asked Don to mount the camera backwards so you could see me riding from the front, rather than me riding in the lead and watching the back of my bike.

I like the different view but he’s a traditionalist and seems to like facing the camera front.

The headsets are not just a fun accessory, they are essential, and beyond awesome. It is such a relief to be able to talk to one another without having to stop, try to yell over the bike, and/or through the helmets. We don’t have to press any buttons or do anything while riding. We just turn the headsets on when we start out and we stay connected the entire ride. When Don is riding in the lead, he lets me know what obstacles are coming up which is a nice benefit. We don’t have to stop to check in with one another which lets us keep going for longer periods. It’s really incredible and so worth every penny. It enhances the entire experience to have constant contact with the other person.

And, it turns out, the GoPro even picks up our conversations. Nice.

Here’s one last video for you; it’s only 40 seconds. Me and my goofy self crossing the biggest obstacle I’ve had to face yet.

Snapshot 2

The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.
~ Oprah Winfrey

All Geared Up

We geared up properly this weekend.

I feel slightly foolish because I’m a total newb and I feel like the outfit implies differently. But it also provides protection that everyday clothes and shoes don’t. For that, I am thankful.

Day 3 of learning to ride (for me) was good, rough in some ways, but good.

First off, the gear may look snazzy but it feels incredibly awkward and it’s just one more thing for me to adjust to. (Really? Do I have to?) The boots feel like bricks. I kept thinking, “How in the world is this thing supposed to fit between the pedal and the gear shift?” (I managed.) Then imagine wearing “coolmax” (cool my ass) boot socks, boots, and padded pants in 80 degree weather. Oh, and don’t forget the awesomely awkward goggles and gloves. Every inch of your body is covered by something and I was swimming in sweat. The price you pay to play I guess.

I had trouble enjoying myself at first. I was so overwhelmed with all the new sensations and the many things I’m still learning. Have you ever heard the phrase, “too much in your head?” This was my brain for perhaps the first 20-30 minutes. How am I supposed to move in all of this? OMG I’m so hot. Breathe. Flex fingers. Don’t death grip. Lighter touch. Breathe. I don’t think I’ve ever been this sweaty. Remember the clutch. Speed up. Shift up. Roots. Bump, bump. Relax. Breathe. Crap. Downhill. Slow down, shift down. Breathe. My goggles are not sitting right. HOW DO PEOPLE FUNCTION LIKE THIS? Eventually the gear felt more natural and I wasn’t so distracted by it which allowed me to focus more on handling the bike and enjoying myself.

Here we are taking a much-needed break.

That sign says *easiest* for trail rating. My ass. Maybe right there by the road.

Do not be deceived. This is NOT what most of the trail looks like.

We explored north of the camp this time. And thanks to poorly marked trails and maps we weren’t entirely sure we were going the direction we meant to be. Thankfully Don’s pretty good with a map.

Never fear, we found our way back eventually. I don’t think either of us anticipated being out for so long – 3 and 1/2 hours this time. We took a lot more stops along the way which gave me a chance to get some shots of the trails.

We even saw some wildlife! Two deer sprinted across our trail like lightning and surprised the heck out of us. I didn’t see the first one which crossed in front of Don but the second came between us like a shot. It was barely 6 feet in front me! It was pretty cool.

Another pit stop…

Here’s a closer look at the hill coming down toward where Don is standing.

Here’s another look at the path I took coming down this hill…into a tree.

Please excuse my sad stick figure skills.
It’s supposed to show you where my front tire and handlebars were.

I was trying to maneuver the decline with a little speed (probably all of 5-10) rather than just coasting and braking which was my method most of the time. It didn’t work out. There was more of that tricky loose sand here and I knew I was in trouble as I started to veer off the trail. I managed to slow down enough that I didn’t hit the tree with any force but I was resting against it when Don came back to investigate my absence which is why his bike is facing the opposite direction. My clutch cable came free as I was coming down the hill or when I hit the tree. It happened too fast to say but it was definitely disconnected once I was stopped. I couldn’t get it into gear to disentangle myself from the tree. I wasn’t sure what I did. LOL  But it was only a few minutes and Don had it re-connected and we were good to go. Back in the proper direction.

Before this little mishap I also had one full-on wipe-out and another incident with an incline that was just too technical for me. I promise I wasn’t hurt! Not even any bruises or scratches. The hill I just couldn’t make it up, too steep, too much loose dirt and gravel. I killed my engine going too slow. I didn’t even try to get up it. I just asked Don to do it for me. Too much, too soon for me.

My wipe-out was another loose sand issue; that shit is hard to ride in! My back tire shifted in the sand, I was losing my balance, and I think in my attempt to keep my balance I jerked on the throttle, which I’m sure you can imagine isn’t what you want to do when you’re already losing control. I sort of went down to my left but because I was throttling I didn’t just fall off or over, the bike wanted to keep going and was spinning out from under me while I sort of laid across it. My right leg was on the engine and exhaust and if it had not been for my new padded pants and head-shielded boots, I’m sure I would have been burned. As it as, my new pants did get singed a bit but I was not.

Those white marks are NOT part of the pattern of the pants.

So after feeling slightly foolish and encumbered by my sweltering new gear, I was thankful to be wearing it and I’m certain it paid for itself in one day of riding. The boots, while feeling clunky and stiff, were a blessing as well. I can’t count the number of times I planted a heel or foot to catch a fall that might very well have twisted an ankle if I’d been wearing simple shoes.

The moral of my story: wear the protective gear. Even if you think it’s silly.

Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.  All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better.  What if they are a little course, and you may get your coat soiled or torn?  What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice.  Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Riding. Day 2. Trails.

We went to the Kisatchie National Forest yesterday for some trail riding. We explored the Vernon Enduro Trails, southeast of Leesville, LA. You can see a trail map here, if you’re so inclined. We rode the two shorter trails south of the Enduro Camp and we tried to do the small loop just northwest of it but part of the loop was closed or we got turned around. Either way we rode around a little above the camp but we didn’t fully explore the mass of trails to the north yet. Maybe this weekend…

I started out a little rough but by the end of two hours I was enjoying myself.

We took a break and took pictures in this open area so I don’t have any pics of the actual trails. The trails are a mixture of hard packed dirt, sand, gravel, and tree debris, as well as lots of roots. Some areas were open without many obstacles, some were a little more tricky.

Don made a comment when we were done that you can’t frown while riding. Well, some people can. I did. For maybe the first 30 minutes. I just I don’t learn new things well. I can remember similar unpleasantness when I was learning to snowboard about 14 years ago but when I mentioned it to Don he said, “Yeah, but with snowboarding you cried.” So at least I have that. There’s been no crying with riding. But man do I go kicking and screaming inside. I know it’s because I’m afraid but I don’t know what I’m afraid of most: getting hurt, looking stupid, making a mistake, or not being able to figure it out. Wait a minute, sounds like I don’t like to fail. That’s it. I knew that! Well, I’m just going to have to keep working on that.

As for my second day out riding, I stayed in 1st gear, barely moving, and only coasting down the trail if it had any decline to it for a good while. By the time we left I was moving from 1st to 3rd and was getting up to about 15 mph, maybe a little faster; I was keeping up with Don without him stopping to wait for me so I count that as doing pretty well.

There were definitely some squirrely moments. I almost lost it a few times. And…I did have my first spill. Nothing major! I know some of you (parents) are worried. I was trying to get over some roots in the trail and after getting past the worst of the roots my back tire was squirrely and I had one of those moments where I twisted the wrong way and gunned the engine so then it really got squirrely on me. And…I lost my balance and…tipped over into sticker bushes on the side of the trail. So I didn’t run into anything. I didn’t get hurt. I wasn’t even going very fast at all. The stickers did scratch me up a bit. LOL  Too bad Don didn’t take a picture. Although I do appreciate that he was more concerned about my well-being than pulling out the camera to immortalize the moment. All in all, I think it was good for me. I learned a little more of what not to do and hopefully learned a little more about how to control the bike to avoid those kinds of things in the future.

On a totally different note, when we were done and loading up the bikes, this little fella was taking a break on my shoulder.

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
~ Dale Carnegie