I was not a natural on a dirt bike. In fact, teaching me must have been both annoying and comical to Jason. We headed back to the dirt parking lot, where I practiced the skills I had learned on the quad, but with the new challenge of two-wheel balance along with the zippiness of two-stroke power, I was on a KDX 200 that someone had previously ridden into a pond, Jason bought it cheap and rebuilt the engine. Jason sat on the tailgate of our truck and watched me make multiple attempts to go back and forth from him; stalling, falling, cursing, laughing, but never giving up. I was determined to learn how to do this. At one point, I wandered off into the field and hit a ditch endo’ing onto my face in the dirt. Up again and back at it, it wasn’t long before I graduated to start riding in a field near a friends’ house that had hills, and trails, and some creek crossings where I could continue to build my skills.
Then the day came that I made an important decision every motorcyclists makes… am I a two-stroke lover or a four-stroke lover. We were out riding in a field off of Hwy 4 near Pittsburg, CA and we were practicing on some rolling hills. I was having a difficult time with the shifting and throttle control on the hills, Jason rides over to me on his XR600 and suggests we switch bikes so I could try riding the four-stroke. “Nah,” I say, “that bike is so heavy I can barely push it around in the garage. If I fall I won’t be able to get it back up.” He persists, “Just give it a try, I promise you will like it better.” Me, “No.” Him, “Common.” “No.” “Just try it.” Finally I cave in and I switch bikes. We ride around for about 15 minutes and I am much happier. Jason rides back over to me, “Do you want to switch back?” “Well, I am already on it, so I might as well keep riding it,” I reply. I can see Jason’s ‘I told you so’ smirk through his helmet. He knows it is time to get me a four-stroke.
A few days later he comes home with this….
The XR250! Best dirt bike ever! Well, ok, she doesn’t look like much, but seriously you can not go wrong with one of these as a beginner bike. An oil change, new chain and sprokets, new plastics and a new seat and this bike was ready to go. We headed to do some trail riding… Carnegie, Hollister, Forest Service land in Tahoe, Stoneyford, Southern California desert riding, we had a blast trail riding together and with groups of friends.
Then Jason had the urge to give motocross a try. He signed up for a race and performed very well. He was winning trophies, gaining points, moving up in class ranking, making a ton of new friends and having a blast. Jason LOVES motocross. Pretty soon we were at motocross races or practicing at the track every weekend and doing less trail riding. If I wanted to ride more I was going to have to start racing. I started riding the XR250 on the track, but the soft suspension, weight of the bike and gearing was not conducive to track riding. Time for an upgrade. I bought a 2000 YZF250 from one our new race buddies, Tony Allen. This was the best dirt bike ever!
So much lighter than the XR, it had a green sticker so I could take it trail riding year round and a suspension that would not bounce like a spring toy at a children’s playground when I jumped it. A few weeks of practicing and I was ready to give motocross racing a try. I raced the +25 Beginner and Women’s Beginner classes to get my feet wet. On the grid for my first women’s race, my husband and our friend Tim there to give me moral support.
My first race start… EVER. My blue tail is just barely visible at the back of our little pack. E-Street MX Park.
Through racing motocross I was able to work on improving my riding skills and increase my understanding of how the bike responded to body position, weight transfer, my controlled use of the brakes, clutch and throttle improved. I learned to clear tabletops, and doubles and step-ups… still not brave enough to try a big triple though.
I was doing pretty well in MX, getting some trophies and having fun with my husband and my friends. Through the urging of Cat, my best MX racing friend, I signed up for the 2005 Lillipution Hare Scramble at Prairie City… then it finally happened I got a taste of winning, in head to head competition. What could be better?
To be continued...
One of the three well-known California road racing clubs; AFM offers a place where you can participate in races, watch as a spectator, or even take part as a turn-worker on the course. There are competition classes for almost all motorcycles; you can race what you own, build a bike specifically for racing, or maybe even pick up a pre-set-up bike through member want ads. Competing in expert club racing can be used to qualify for a pro racing license. Explore the website for further information.
Women race with the men?
Yes, races are structured by bike size. Women race in the same classes as men that have the same sized bike. However, there is a growing interest among women in racing , so many racing clubs have added a women’s class to encourage the ladies to give it a try.
Formed in 2001, SMUSA is now the premier Pro/Am supermoto series in the country. Many of the well known American road racers such as Bobby Fong, Joey Pascarella, Cameron Beaubier, Elena Myers, Tyler O'Hara, Garrett Willis and others all competed in Supermoto USA's Nor Cal Championship where they developed their skills.
PC Dirt Track in Sacramento, Ca holds a series of the oldest and most traditional type of motorcycle racing, flat track - sometimes referred to as “dirt track” racing. A uniquely American type of motorcycle racing. Riders finesse their machines sideways through the turns, just inches apart from each other.
Since 1924, the AMA has protected the future of motorcycling and promoted the motorcycle lifestyle. AMA members come from all walks of life, and they navigate many different routes on their journey to the same destination: freedom on two wheels. The AMA sanctions more motorsports competition and motorcycle recreational events than any other organization in the world. No one who has ever seen an AMA Pro motorcycle race ever forgets it.