That's a wrap folks! We're taking a break from the summer heat and will resume classes in the fall. Make sure you sign up to the mailing list to get notified when new classes are posted!
I've had an amazing time this spring meeting lots of amazing people from all walks of life and sharing my love for dirt riding! It's great to see guys and gals stretching their skills and comfort zones to learn something new.
I can tell how difficult it is when I ask them to stand up or look way ahead through the turn, or lean the bike over and hang off the other side to counterweight. Asking your body to do something unnatural at the risk of falling while trying to maintain fine motor controls of the throttle and clutch is a tall order, but weekend after weekend I see students push themselves and it's amazing to see.
Even aside from dirt riding, I love meeting people who want to do something new in their life and add a new skill. Sometimes as we get older, we feel like it's too late to learn something new or we're too old to start a new hobby, especially something physical like dirt riding.
I think that's absolutely wrong!
Whether you're taking up a new sport like dirt riding or a new exercise habit, or other thing you've been wanting to do, it's a great way to remind yourself that you have an amazing mind and body that is capable of great things. Learning something new is a perfect way to re-engage yourself physically and mentally. As human beings we're designed to adapt to our environment and to new challenges and that's the 'in the zone' feeling you get when doing something just difficult enough to take your complete focus and be engaged fully in something.
It's great watching students get 'in the zone' focusing on turning or balance and when I ask them if they want to do more drills they say 'Yes! Just a few more minutes!' because I think it feels good to be focused like that, which we may not get in our day to day lives.
I'll end by including an email I got from a student who wanted to take the time to write up his experience with the class for a coworker of his and he was gracious enough to allow me to share it with you all. If you're ever curious about what day on the range is like, here's his perspective unedited. Thanks so much for the write up!
I attended the Beginner Adventure Class through Wandering Kings Adventure Motorcycle School (https://www.wanderingkingsadvmoto.com/), here is a little write up of my day. It was a one day class that I attended in May of 2019. I have been a motorcycle commuter for 25 years, I’m 56 years old and recently got a big adventure bike. I love taking it in the dirt, standing up is a blast! Prior to class I’d ventured off-road about 8 times for usually about an hour at a time. I’d watched a lot of YouTube videos on dirt and adventure riding, I thought my skills were probably ok and I’ve done a lot of mountain bicycling but wanted to get trained and evaluated. This class was perfect for that and it would be great for anyone interested in going from street to dirt or probably even someone who doesn’t have much motorcycle experience. It is not a substitute for the street survival and traffic interactions portions of the MSF Basic Course, however. Wandering Kings Adv Moto seems to be a one-man operation which in this case is a good thing. Jon’s day job is as what I understood to be a satellite systems engineer. So he’s a pretty smart guy. He is personable and a moto geek which are all things I want in a motorcycling instructor. He is there teaching because he wants to, he enjoys it and it shows. He has a real world approach too, so if you do something that is “not the MSF way” it didn’t seem to be an issue as long as you know what you are doing different, why you are doing it different, and what the consequences may be. For example, MSF says put your kickstand up before you get on your bike, I don’t like that because my bike weighs about 650-700 pounds and its tall so it’s hard to get on. As long as I knew the risks (when you sit and the stand is down, the stand may hit the ground and fling you off) and acted accordingly (sit down gently and be prepared for the stand to hit the ground and don’t get flung off) then it was cool. His primary interest is safety and you getting the job done rather than the step by step ‘rules' which, to me, is the way a skills class like this should be. The class is fun and ego boosting. Jon is definitely a “make them feel good kind of guy” which I think is really important in an off-road moto class. From my small amount of experience in off-road motorcycling, confidence and “go-for-it-ness” seem to be almost as important as true skill. I’m pretty sure that Jon told me that no one had ever fallen in one of his classes, someone fell in my class and it looked to me like a typical dirt fall, 1 mile per hour and the guy was fine (which was a lesson in itself, you WILL fall when motorcycling off-road and there is a good chance that it will be non-catastrophic and maybe even fun). Prior to class I had been watching the BMW challenges and other intense classes/challenges on YouTube so I was expecting something more technically demanding and mentally intense (not that I wanted anything harder, it’s just what I happened to expect). It was not particularly intense. I’d say that the class was on par with, but easier than, the MSF beginner street class. I had even removed the fog lights from my bike prior to class as I was afraid that multiple drops would take a toll on them, this was unnecessary. If you really want to keep your bike upright through the entire class it is likely that you will (“Not falling” is a big ego boost). If you don’t have crash bars, it will probably be ok. If you don’t have a skid plate, maybe you can use one of Jons bikes for the riding over obstacles lesson, I felt like the 4x4 obstacle was hitting my skid plate pretty hard and without one I would have been uncomfortable and worried about the damage to my bike. In the 6-7 or so hours of class we did about 5 hours of drills interspersed with several 5-10 minute discussions. So it was mostly riding drills on a flat dirt parking lot with little orange cones, but it has a little hill and obstacles to ride over so it worked out just fine. We discussed most of the relevant stuff in section 2 and did most of the exercises in section 3 in this handbook : https://www.msf-usa.org/downloads/DBS_Tips_Practice_OHM.pdf. It is an MSF Dirtbike school class, so you will get a little card in the mail afterward too! I believe it’s an ‘advanced’ class so we tested out of the really basic stuff, he seems flexible and tailors the curriculum according to the students’ needs and like I said he seems to really like boosting students ego, that works well for me and I think a lot of people. I’d say that within the first 20 minutes of riding we were past the really basic stuff and I felt all three of the students were learning. The students consisted of me and two other guys (I think he said 3 or 4 is his max per class), one was a street racer dude who I think had never touched a dirt bike (he rode one of the class bikes I think a 250 Yamaha) and another guy who I think got his first bike recently (I believe he had just taken the MSF basic rider course) and he rode it, a 450 (I think) Honda dual sport. Jon had a Kawasaki Versys (so somewhat big-ish) and I think a middleweight dual sport. I was on my 1200 cc Yamaha Super Tenere, Jon knew to tailor some of the exercises for the size and weight of my bike and seemed to have a good sense of what would be hard with the weight and size. I think Jon dealt with the bike differences and our differences in skills and backgrounds quite well. He also does private classes and the price isn’t much more than the regular class, if you were to get a few friends together for a private lesson I can guarantee that you will have a good day. One thing to keep in mind is that he may not offer classes at Carnegie in the really hot summer months. I was there the first week of May, the forecast was for 80 degree weather. I think we got lucky, it was windy all day (maybe it’s always windy there) and I never really felt hot (I wore mesh street pants with heat-out long thermals underneath and padded underwear and an under armor shirt and long sleeve heat-out top without jacket for most of the drills – I did put my mesh jacket on for the hills ride at the end). He also has some protective gear that you can borrow if you want elbow or knee protection without your jacket. Also, Jon brings gas, but be sure you have enough, I think the nearest station is like 10 miles away in Tracy. Bring lots of nutritious energy laden food and drinks. I’m not in very good shape but kept eating and drinking throughout the day to keep my energy up (pretty much every chance I had I would drink and take a bite of something), the other guys in my class were a lot younger than me and we all got a little tired (you will be standing up and sitting down hundreds of times in the day) but we still had enough energy at the end. Jon mentioned that in some of his previous classes people were so tired they could barely stand on their bikes by the end of the day. As Jon said “You can definitely count this as a ‘leg’ day.” One of the other students had done ‘leg day’ in the gym the day before and he definitely said he could feel it, so plan your workouts accordingly. Not wanting to embarrass myself, I worked out a bit for a few weeks before class, just walking for basic cardio, but I did go out to my bike a few times a week and do standing up exercises (stand up / sit down, repeat, repeat fast, repeat slow - all with boots on) and it probably helped my legs, feet, and back. At the end of the day he took us for about a 30 minute ride up in the hills of Carnegie svra, mostly on the easiest of the trails (pottery loop) and that was great too, it was nice to practice some of the skills for real right after class and having him there to help. Some of the trails at Carnegie are pretty steep, if I had gone on those trails solo, I would have worried that the trails might get too hard /steep and so I probably would have turned around. As it is, I go to Carnegie about once a week after work and ride those same trails and quite a few others. So, yeah, it was a great class and a really fun day. I learned a lot and got confirmation and tips on the things I already knew. I highly recommend getting out and giving it a try.