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Nicola Paoletti

When is it time to hang up the helmet?

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I'm 63 and have been riding dirt bikes since I was 10. I raced mx for 25 yrs. I haven't officially "quit" mx but my last one was 2008. I started road racing around that time and did some flat track racing as well as supermoto!   Most of my dirt biking now is trail riding... but I'm having a blast!  I love riding fast flowy trails but also enjoy challenging myself on the tight technical stuff. It's almost as much fun as racing motocross and I don't get hurt as much...plus it free!!!

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At 44, I realized I no longer bounced the same way as when I was in my early teens and twenties.  I had to face the same decision that you’re currently wrestling with; though, I came to the fork in the road after being medevac’d off the side of a mountain with a concussion and a separated shoulder.  Of course, the wife got involved; so, I hung it up…for a while.   My next door neighbor was a Brit who was a trials rider and asked me if I’d like to give it a try; so, I snuck off one Saturday morning with the neighbor and had a BLAST!!! Man, did I miss riding; but this was different, more controlled and in control.  Now, I’m a foolish 70 year old who owns three (3) old trials bikes; but, I still have fun even though I’m no longer flying through the desert at 70 mph on my 500 Huskey.  Getting older is about doing what you love; but, using your smarts doing it.  Good Luck.

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15 hours ago, mlatour said:

It depends on each one's specific conditions but myself actually find trail riding more of a risk due to all the crazy ATVs & SxS out there plus,

at least on an MX track there are no trees & rocks to crash into and, everyone is riding in the same direction (no risk of head-on collisions).

Come and ride S Alberta.  😃  The trail riding here is nothing short of spectacular with much of it being slow and technical with lots of vertical and a ton of stuff to challenge the most experienced rider.  We only use quad trails to access the single track and the riding areas are so huge the potential for head-ons is virtually nil.  

Trees and rocks, yep we have those, but speeds are generally pretty low so tumbles are typically not serious, just a few bumps & bruises is typical.

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19 hours ago, Nicola Paoletti said:

Hello everybody,

I am 48 years old and after 36 years of motocross I am in a big crisis, the second or third to be correct.

In the last 3/4 years I am constantly worried about getting injured, my rhythm si slower and slower...and I am not having the fun I used to have.

Is it the time to quit? 

I remember Ricky Johnson said thet he was going to quit the day he felt he was scared to ride.

I am in that situation.....but I still have a lot of passion  for the sport....

I would like to listen at yours opinion , maybe giving me also your age so that I can relate.

Thankyou

Do some off-road riding and racing. Change things up. Do a hare scrambles or a hard enduro. Or a sprint enduro etc??? Im 60. I rode and raced since I was 7. I rode mx and flat track and TT and hard enduro  etc. i have a couple of heart attacks under my belt and 4 stents and on blood thinners. I still love riding and racing but know I must adapt to my physical issues. So I adapt. I don’t ride and push to the edge anymore like mx tends to do. I go slower but at a good clip and never over my head. So my races are now way longer and I don’t care about the starts so much. It’s a 3 hour or more race Im in so the starts don’t matter as much. If you are  fast you will pass who is in front if you are slower the guys behind will pass you in an hour or so for sure. It becomes a pace game and you just keep at a good clip and save energy for a semi sprint at the end. It’s fun. What is fun too is riding through the pack! It’s way more fun than trying to get a holeshot and really not seeing anyone or just a few guys till the end of the race. The biggest goal is to not fall and get hurt. It’s enjoy the ride. It’s not get hurt so you can ride another day because the older you get the more fragile you are. I got a flock of friends that got hurt and cant ride or race anymore but wish they could. A fused wrist. A neck that Dr says if falling the wrong way will make one a quad. Some go on blood thinners and figure it’s time to quit too. It’s still a risk but purposely slowing yourself some limits some danger... Sometimes it’s the ego too that talks to you. I was an A rider before and I rode A class with the faster guys and would win .. Well I’m older and slower and with blood thinners I can fall and bleed out internally. I shouldn’t play that game anymore. It’s admitting a bit that you just aren’t going to be fast or ever get that fast and be ok with it. That’s hard for some. They rather quit. I still enter races and I can even sometimes win the older rider class.. Sometimes..or not sometimes and get smoked.. Still I have fun!! I’m still on the line and I can beat some guys sometimes 30 or 40 yrs my junior. Hey it’s just fun to be out there. I’m over mx. It’s just not that fun to me anymore. I’m over going around in circles for 20 minutes or half hour then waiting for the second moto way later.. A good 45 min to an hour lap is great or just riding a long race and never knowing what is coming up. So 3 to 5 hours and be surprised at each corner and having to adapt and figure how to ride as you see the course is great to me. 

Edited by hawaiidirtrider
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I had a bunch of things in My head to type, and Mlatour pretty much said it all.

May I suggest though, going back to your youth and get into classic mx/scrambles. Generally the speeds are lower, and it's mostly older guys with the same thoughts/fears as yourself. Way more relaxed than your usual MX meetings too.

I had the same issues riding track on a roadbike, going so fast it wasn't actually fun anymore. I was going to fix it by getting a classic instead of the 1000 sportbike but ended up back on the dirt again instead. It still took Me over 2 years to sell it, as I kept thinking I still wanted to do it, but the dirtbike ended up sucking up all My time/money. I still miss track riding though.

I think we've all considered giving up on this sport at least once, at least us older guys (I'm 53), but it keeps pulling you back. Park everything up and take a break for a bit if you need to, I'm sure the urge to ride will come back again.

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I think I might hang my helmet up, a year after I die. There will be no “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”.  I am 75 ride with sons, grandsons and have a new great grand daughter and will ride with her. I have been riding since the days of down pipes on the bikes. AMA dist 36 has a pioneer class (over 70) for cross country races. We ride the same course as every one else and have a couple of competitors in their 80’s. keep riding til you cannot ride Anymore. 

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4 minutes ago, anoldrider said:

I think I might hang my helmet up, a year after I die. There will be no “help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”.  I am 75 ride with sons, grandsons and have a new great grand daughter and will ride with her. I have been riding since the days of down pipes on the bikes. AMA dist 36 has a pioneer class (over 70) for cross country races. We ride the same course as every one else and have a couple of competitors in their 80’s. keep riding til you cannot ride Anymore. 

You are an inspiration to all. Good on you sir. Carry on 

Old guys rule. 

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78 this July

I am weak & slow, & I ride conservatively.  I still LOVE riding after 43 years. 

I rode lots of enduros in Colorado in my 40's. I was never any good, but I still loved it.  When they became too difficult for me, I quit......but I continued to trail ride. I have now transitioned into more ATV trails & dual sport.

I have been injured 3X over the years. Fortunately I recovered form all three.

Bought a used Beta 480RR last year after 14 years on a Honda CRF250X.....which I thought would be may last dirt bike.

I work out 5 days a week to keep up my riding, hiking & skiing skills. I do not consider myself an old codger!

If you adapt & accept change, you can still enjoy yourself w/o getting injured.

 

IMG_5858.JPG

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21 hours ago, EnglertRacing said:

Well I know some old d37 racers still hauling the mail in their early 60s...

But to answer your question

Have you considered changing verses quitting.

There's a whole wide two wheeled world out there.

Trials & hard enduro are a good to get into.

How about giving supermoto riding (not racing) a try?

Have you ridden a modern 5" or 6" travel mtb with 27.5" or 29" wheels are a dropper seat post?  If not and you remember bikes from 30 years ago, well its about the same difference as a twin shock elsinore to a new ktm 450sxf.  Its a whole world of fun....

You could get weird and try flat track for fun, or get into adventure riding.

To further this.

If you just feel out a new discipline its really fun as you don't have a high tolerance and expectation for it, I mean its like you don't have to go super hard to get your fill where as if you do something for xx amount of years you gotta push it hard to get the feelings your after, pushing hard theres more risk.  Its called chasing the dragon. Its more fun to practice something during the time of greatest improvement, vs trying to eek out gains long after you have plateaued

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Posted (edited)

In the words of the great Valentino Rossi, "I will quit when it is no longer enjoyable". Your pace doesn't matter and if you are riding scared maybe you should slow it down, determine if a slower pace is still enjoyable and then if it still isnt something that excites you maybe consider hanging it up. I broke 5 ribs, collapsed a lung and tore my shoulder up right at a month ago and I'm riding at a slower pace for a bit (dont tell my doctor) but I still enjoy it and I will slowly work back into it. We all ride scared at some point because the sport is all about progressing as a rider and pushing yourself to new levels is always a little bit scary...but its about finding that balance of progression and/or regression when you are below or beyond your limitations as a rider. I wouldnt let fear alone stop you unless its making the sport completely lack enjoyment for you.

edit: I should also add that I'm only 32 and I heal fast so I understand the difference in our current riding experiences but I think dirt bikes are horrible investments financially but there really is no greater return on investment that enjoyment/happiness so it really comes down to how much fun you can still have and asking yourself if it provides you more enjoyment that whatever you might replace it with in your life

Edited by ThaRickestRick
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Consider getting into dual sport riding with some motorcycle camping, yes it’s slower, but then your gracefully getting older which means your gonna get slower in thought and reaction time, leave that crazy stuff for the fearless younger generation, start riding through the world not past it, it’s time for adventure 

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Nicola,

Started riding at age 10 in 1963.  At 66, my body reflects the results of short travel suspensions, safety gear of the day and a right wrist that paid far too little attention to the brain for far too long. Today, I ride like a gentleman. Not to say that backing it into a long, constant radius corner on a well maintained forest road, or the occasional low orbit launch need to be completely avoided, just managed. So far, every riding day continues to result in my desire to do it again tomorrow. Physical ability and mental focus seem to fluctuate more frequently with age, requiring adjustment of my riding style. Failure to do so results in anxiety. In my case, I have come to realize that if I'm not having fun, I'm not doing it right.

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If you raced MX for the competition only then maybe try another sport. If you love to ride a dirt bike then try other venues. My last MX race was 1978. Since then I have done Road Race, Enduro, Hare Scrambles and Trials. Current adventure is Hard Enduro skills. I have gained more control over my motorcycle in the last five years then I thought possible. Trying to acquire the skills involved in doing what Graham Jarvis does can keep us mortals busy for the rest of our lives. Just turned 70 this past April and no end in site. My last two years of MX involved riding support races at the nationals so I understand the thrill of railing a berm and jumping into gravity cavity but we all slow down sooner or later. I find just as much enjoyment from tackling hard obstacle, it is just different and maybe more age appropriate.

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On 6/2/2020 at 9:22 PM, Nicola Paoletti said:

Hello everybody,

I am 48 years old and after 36 years of motocross I am in a big crisis, the second or third to be correct.

In the last 3/4 years I am constantly worried about getting injured, my rhythm si slower and slower...and I am not having the fun I used to have.

Is it the time to quit? 

I remember Ricky Johnson said thet he was going to quit the day he felt he was scared to ride.

I am in that situation.....but I still have a lot of passion  for the sport....

I would like to listen at yours opinion , maybe giving me also your age so that I can relate.

Thankyou

I was in almost the exact same position. Just not enjoying it. So, just tried to remember when I had the most fun. That was the transition from an 80cc 2T to a 125cc 2T. So, got back on 125's. Been having a blast ever since.

Grab a 125, and mix things up a bit, add some trail riding into your riding.

Get back to the roots of what got you passionate in the first place.

Checkout ADV riding. Lots of younger blokes like us :D (I'm 49), are getting into it. Including myself. Checkout the new Yamaha Teneree 700's. I've also just bought a Husky 701 SM for some summer on road fun.

Sprint Kart racing is great fun, and no more expensive than MX. Cheaper I'd say. Got any kids? Karting will teach them race craft like you wouldn't believe. The over 40's class has the most fun.

"Variety is the spice of life".

Edited by Drop-Bear
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AHRMA!!  It is what I want to try next from the races I have attended: Tracks are tamer, bikes super fun, folks laid back, way less do-or-die obstacles, and best of all, no modern 4T 66mph straightline rhythm sections...

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I’ve been riding 52 years, I’m 64.

 I quit racing a very long time ago- I slowed down quite a lot over the last number of years. I now go for precision and control.  I do a few trials competitions- but still quite careful.  It takes longer to heal up than it did when I was 20. 

One reason I am riding carefully and slowly is I want to keep riding as long as I can.  Could be many, many years yet.

  The different focus (rather than going fast)- is quite enjoyable and just as satisfying.   Well, I think so anyway.

Edited by lotus54
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Rode KTM & Huskies most of the time. Got back into riding after 3 years off from racing. Bought a used 2008 Yamaha xt 250. I was bored in a couple of weeks. So, I bought a KTM 250 EXC 2 stroke and now I feel normal. Use the xt to rabbit trail and trips to town. If I would of been afraid of injury on the xt or katoom, I would of hung my helmet up.

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Around here the old motocross crowd has turned to building insanely tough and challenging hard enduro trails. It’s very technically challenging, an incredible workout (much more than motocross), and less dangerous. The speeds are low, usually first and second gear, so the injuries are mostly bruises instead of broken bones. 
 

Don’t quit riding, just get the mindset of “low and slow!”

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