Selasa, 18 Januari 2011

Taking The MSF DirtBike School

Executive summary about Dirt Bike School by Bill Kresnak

If you want to be a better street rider, learn how to ride in the dirt. So here I am, wearing all kinds of strange clothing, riding a completely unfamiliar motorcycle…and heading right toward a rock.

The rock sits precisely at the entrance to a tight righthand turn on a trail at the Honda OHV and Environmental Learning Center in Colton, California. Courses in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's new DirtBike School are conducted at various locations around the country, but this particular class is being held at a very special facility run by Honda near Los Angeles. The students range from a 16-year-old learning the basics to older riders like myself, who want to improve their skills.

Some of the others have no background in dirt-riding. I have no trouble admitting that I need training.

DirtBike School Coach Amber Bickel warns us from the beginning that we will be dealing with "real rocks, not foam," along with sand, ruts and plenty of other challenging surfaces. Since there are no speed limits on most trails, she notes, it's considerably easier for novice riders to get in over their heads, particularly when they're riding with more-experienced companions.

You ride over your limits, especially when you get tired. Our first session on the bikes takes place in a flat field, where we practice straight-line riding and controlled starts and stops. Between riding sessions, there's more classroom discussion on a variety of subjects, including responsible trail riding.

"We need to stay on the trails and be courteous to other trail users," Bickel says, noting that many trail closures result from complaints about irresponsible riders.

"Go slow past campers and other people. And when you come across horses, turn your engine off until they go by.'' Those acts of trail courtesy will help keep riders welcome on public lands.

The idea, as in the MSF's street courses, is to simulate on the training range the challenges you'll face in the real world. Fortunately, the Honda center is equipped to give novice riders a taste of that, with a trail that winds through five distinct ecosystems. We fire up the bikes and take to the trail single file. The rock is a perfect example. I leave the Honda OHV and Environmental Learning Center convinced of two things: First, you really can become a better road rider by learning to ride in the dirt. And second, even if that weren't true, riding on the trail is so much fun I need a dirtbike in my garage.

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