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Nicola Paoletti

When is it time to hang up the helmet?

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I raced Tote Goats and Go Karts as a kid. I eventually moved up to Motocross on a punched-out Bultaco 360 Pursang. I even played with some flat track stuff for a while. But, my passion was jumping and this was way before Nitro Circus and Ronnie Mac. TBTH, what got me excited about jumping was watching an episode of Happy Days where Fonzie jumped a bunch of trash cans on his Triumph. Crazy, but true.

I just walked away from it all in 1986 when I was 21 years old. I never rode a bike seriously ever again.

On February 3, 2022, I decided to get back in. I bought an ex Al Baker 1982 XR500R and started riding again. I am 55 years old, 6'-3" and 215 pounds without gear. I ride like an absolute maniac. I am signing up for MX school in Anza and I have my eye on a 2002 CR250 so I can pursue the really extreme 'Nitro Circus/Ronnie Mac Style' jumps.

I think, at my age, I am less afraid of dying or getting hurt than I was a as a youngster. I am smarter now too and I "listen" to the bike when it starts to get loose. I feel like I can think and react more clearly and faster than I could as a kid, when I tried to solve every problem with whisky-throttle.

I think my greatest fear is not living 100%...

Every once in a while, I still perform the "MX Readiness Test" my first MX coach - Mike Swaney (RIP) - gave me..

Mike said, "Run a tub of bath water and sit in it. When your balls float to the top, you are done. As long as they sink, keep pinning it..."

Abandoned_MX_Track.jpg

Resized_XR500R_Abandoned_MX_Track.jpeg

Edited by El Extremo
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On 6/2/2020 at 5:01 AM, motrock93b said:

I started back into dirt bikes and MX racing at your age, after a 28 year break. I approached it differently, and with more discipline and practice. I focused on technique and studied videos. My riding vastly improved, as did my race results. 

DUDE!!!!

+1....

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67 and have slowed down a bit because I question things more. Rode open class bikes for 47 years, have KTM 250 XCF plated so I don't worry about running from cops. Pull my helmet off and typically get"Have a nice day and be safe" when they see my white hair. Have to agree that your head has to be right to ride, my worst crash on a street bike happened because my mind was "elsewhere".  Always told people that riding took total concentration and was a great way to clear your mind because you had to. Wish I had listened to my own advice that day.  The track shouldn't determine if you hang up the helmet. You need a different kind of track ie: trail, desert, single track, trials, etc. 

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67 ,  still ride daily ,,  street ,  mx ,  trail ,  whatever ....   Now have an 11 yr. Old grandson to ride with .   Started him out at 5 .   Now getting harder to keep up with him .....   Loves going to the track we own ,  old 1/4 mi. Dirt track...   he was track champ in his class at  4 5 , 6  ., then we shut it down ....   now it's a great single  track with  access to   1000 acres of  Floodway ,  farmers fields , canal banks ,  and  50 acres of old practice trails next to the airport ...  we go , take all day and just ride ..ride ,, ride ,,    usually on Sunday ,  so  I usually take Mon. To recoup ....   not going to stop .  Till Death do us part ....

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Thankyou very much to all your answers and points of view!

Very refreshing and I tell you...You gave me some confidence back!

I live in Italy and we don't have all the land as you have there in USA/Canada, so the "enduro" is quite complicated and not as satisfying compared to the beautiful and wide spaces you have there.

One of the point I like most is "go back to the roots", so I will go back to 2 strokes, I always liked the 125's.

The 4 strokes did indeed kill my mojo a little.

Thankyou so much for all your support! I feel young now after reading so many advise from veterans that are "way younger" than me in their mentality.👍

Regards to all my friends💪

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On 6/2/2020 at 7:22 AM, 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

Well I can offer an explanation of a 302 in my state ( an involuntary committement  )  simply, when you're a danger to you or someone else.  That doesn't seem to apply in your case on a conscious level, but subconsciously it might.  Clearly, if you are second guessing yourself on a regular basis, you need to take a break at minimum.  You don't have to be physically riding to have a passion for the sport. There are many ways to participate if not on a riding level.  I'm 74, raced a few times but didn't really enjoy M/C that much for several reasons but still enjoyed watching it as a spectator.  I was a decent hill climber with our local groups of guys and also riding woods/trails and a bit on the street.  I just started again after a 42 year hiatus but I didn't stop for the reasons you stated.  With several physical issues that will catch up with me sooner rather than later, I'm making the most of what I have left..  You should have many years left. Use them wisely and enjoy yourself.  I have a friend who is a year older at 75 and he still enjoys going on on his own track in his back yard..  But that's him.   Good luck.

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I have this "crisis" from time to time.  Then I go for a trail ride and its all good again.  65 years old and been riding on and off since the early 70s, consistently since the early 2000s, didn't ride much in the 90s, was into 4x4 pretty much then.  Stay off the street and race track and you will be able to ride as long as you can put a leg over a bike.

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Alright, here goes a story I've told many times. If you've heard it before, you're about to hear it again!

Years ago, I was a ridercoach. (1 of those bums that waves their arms in a parking lot with noobie riders going this way and that.)

Anyway, I had an old guy, Bert, (Late 70's.) that wanted to "learn to ride." (This was about 2000 or so.)

He took the class, and he successfully completed the course.

After he got his endorsement, he went shopping for a motorcycle. He ended up buying a used Honda VLX. Small/lightweight/easy to ride bike. Perfect.

He bought some used saddle bags and he was set. 

During class, I tell all my students that I belong to a group (NOT A CLUB,) of motorcyclists that mentor new riders as the curriculum during class is inadequate. Some ride with us, most do not. But, the offer is always there. We have rides almost every Sat/Sun. We also go over the importance of maintaining your bike.  Anyway, Bert would ride with us on a regular basis. Our usual rides were about 100 miles and 3-4 hours in length. Some rides were multi-day, 2000+ mile rides. (Usually to Northern Calif, or Grand Canyon.) 

Anyway, Bert had kids/grand kids scattered all over the USA. Once he got "comfortable" riding his little Honda, it was nothing for him to leave Oceanside, Ca, and head for Arkansas, or Seattle, or Denver, or Penn. Yup, he'd pack a bedroll and some skivvies and off he'd go. He musta put about 100,000 miles on that little VLX. He always had it serviced regularly. Eventually, after a couple years, the size/weight of the VLX became an issue for him. He traded it in on a Honda 250 thumper. Kept his bags, and kept on riding to visit family and friends. He musta put another 50K on that bike, at least. Anyway, he'd return to ride with us occasionally, when h was in town. 

He always showed up kinda scruffy, and thin. He made a point to chat with me before our "pre ride" chat for that day's ride. I asked him how things were going.

He said, "I have been alive for 85 years, and I have NEVER been as "alive" as I am, right now. I've done more living in the past 5 years, than I did the previous 80."  

This told me something. Right then, that motorcycling is much more than a "vehicle." Motorcycles are actually, a vehicle. (I'm not talking in the physical way, here.) 

Old Bert has been gone now, for about a dozen years now. But, I've never forgotten Bert, and what he taught me about "life."

He passed away in his kitchen at 86, but for awhile, he was one of us.   

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👍👍 I just turned 75 and waiting on some surgery to repair some stuff. Expect to be healed up and on a new 250/300 for enduro and HS  by middle Sept.  Don't get in my way!

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Posted (edited)

   I'm 64 and  just as passionate about riding as I was when I started in my early thirties.You might say I live for it, It's that importent. One thing that never sat well for me was seeing older riders ego's get the best of them,I went through it myself when I started racing but fortunately recognized it early on.Adult men having childish tantrums,making lame excuses,jealousy,envy and cheating ,Generally being undignified.After seeing that kind of behavior in myself and others one to many times I made a commitment to myself that,If I could no longer behave in a dignified manner in the sport I love it would hang up the helmet.A big part of that dignity is acceptance and attitude,Tweaking ones ego. Accept your limitations and embrace the challenges of your new reality.With that in mind you will automatically delve deeper into the great untapped character building areas of your psyche.All the while having fun doing it.IMO, A long satisfying riding career is perhaps more about attitude than aptitude.

  

Edited by widebear
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I'm 64 and still ride trails and dualsport.  I started racing in 1972, and quit racing in the mid 80s, then did a race in 2003, then did a few 2012 through 2014.  I don't care if I never see a track again, but I would miss my trails if I weren't riding them.  When I get too old for riding big tall dirt bikes, I'll reconsider....and maybe switch to little short dirt bikes.🤠

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I think it's very different for everyone. Im 69, I bought a used Dualsport a year ago, and love trail riding, and singletrack. I'm looking into an enduro bike right now, or possibly a trials bike.

I love learning new techniques whenever I get a chance to ride. I'm still very much a newbie, and try to be as carefull as possible, old bones and all, but the fun is awesome!

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14 hours ago, Nicola Paoletti said:

Thankyou very much to all your answers and points of view!

Very refreshing and I tell you...You gave me some confidence back!

I live in Italy and we don't have all the land as you have there in USA/Canada, so the "enduro" is quite complicated and not as satisfying compared to the beautiful and wide spaces you have there.

One of the point I like most is "go back to the roots", so I will go back to 2 strokes, I always liked the 125's.

The 4 strokes did indeed kill my mojo a little.

Thankyou so much for all your support! I feel young now after reading so many advise from veterans that are "way younger" than me in their mentality.👍

Regards to all my friends💪

Take a flight here to Colorado, and I will loan you a bike from the Motherland and show you around- 

 

293140708_bikesloaded.jpg.24c1b1886009cd1451480fcb8029a22a.jpgimage.png.f7d804f3b9d28e666bdc716712590d0c.png

 

 

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4 hours ago, NORTY said:

Alright, here goes a story I've told many times. If you've heard it before, you're about to hear it again!

Years ago, I was a ridercoach. (1 of those bums that waves their arms in a parking lot with noobie riders going this way and that.)

Anyway, I had an old guy, Bert, (Late 70's.) that wanted to "learn to ride." (This was about 2000 or so.)

He took the class, and he successfully completed the course.

After he got his endorsement, he went shopping for a motorcycle. He ended up buying a used Honda VLX. Small/lightweight/easy to ride bike. Perfect.

He bought some used saddle bags and he was set. 

During class, I tell all my students that I belong to a group (NOT A CLUB,) of motorcyclists that mentor new riders as the curriculum during class is inadequate. Some ride with us, most do not. But, the offer is always there. We have rides almost every Sat/Sun. We also go over the importance of maintaining your bike.  Anyway, Bert would ride with us on a regular basis. Our usual rides were about 100 miles and 3-4 hours in length. Some rides were multi-day, 2000+ mile rides. (Usually to Northern Calif, or Grand Canyon.) 

Anyway, Bert had kids/grand kids scattered all over the USA. Once he got "comfortable" riding his little Honda, it was nothing for him to leave Oceanside, Ca, and head for Arkansas, or Seattle, or Denver, or Penn. Yup, he'd pack a bedroll and some skivvies and off he'd go. He musta put about 100,000 miles on that little VLX. He always had it serviced regularly. Eventually, after a couple years, the size/weight of the VLX became an issue for him. He traded it in on a Honda 250 thumper. Kept his bags, and kept on riding to visit family and friends. He musta put another 50K on that bike, at least. Anyway, he'd return to ride with us occasionally, when h was in town. 

He always showed up kinda scruffy, and thin. He made a point to chat with me before our "pre ride" chat for that day's ride. I asked him how things were going.

He said, "I have been alive for 85 years, and I have NEVER been as "alive" as I am, right now. I've done more living in the past 5 years, than I did the previous 80."  

This told me something. Right then, that motorcycling is much more than a "vehicle." Motorcycles are actually, a vehicle. (I'm not talking in the physical way, here.) 

Old Bert has been gone now, for about a dozen years now. But, I've never forgotten Bert, and what he taught me about "life."

He passed away in his kitchen at 86, but for awhile, he was one of us.   

First time I've read it. Very glad I did.

"You don't stop riding because you get old. You get old because you stop riding".

RIP Bert.

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Man don’t even think about hanging up your helmet, I’m 63 gave up mx Racing and went to vintage mx for a few years but now I’m a trail rider, it’s hard to give up the competition thing but now I’ve gotten use to be just a trail rider, I’m hanging on to my 490 Maico and might hit a vintage mx race down the road but try the trail riding thing it’s not bad, look at some trail riding in other locations like Moab Utah now that looks like fun, don’t quit riding brother just change riding styles 

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Oh yeah I forgot to tell you also I know you have some stories to tell the youngsters, just remember the older we get the faster we were

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2 hours ago, Donaldp said:

Oh yeah I forgot to tell you also I know you have some stories to tell the youngsters, just remember the older we get the faster we were

In a way it’s true. The old bikes are a different animal than new bikes. It’s easy to go fast on new plush bikes with estart and great suspension etc. It’s all wonderful though. Inside I’m still stoked thinking about riding etc. Sometimes physically I’m hurting a little as I get older with conditions and ailments but the joy of riding keeps me thinking and feeling young.

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