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Advice for 57-yr old novice single-track rider?

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Here's the deal...I've been riding motorcycles for over 40 years, almost all road riding. A few years ago I got an '00 KLX300R for easy riding on fire roads, etc. I've been "trail riding" twice with experienced riders and have had pretty dismal experiences. I guess the trails weren't too hard, but I fell so many times it was just not fun. In one of the crashes the end of the kickstand mashed my foot and broke it (yes I wear riding boots). So I vowed no more single-track!

Well, there is a big meeting of the New Mexico OHVA (I'm a member) in a week, and one of the members has encouraged me to show up and go trail riding with them the following day. I must admit I'm tempted, but I'm afraid I'll again get suckered in over my head.

I have a little dirt riding experience, but virtually all two-track. Can anyone give me a few important things to keep in mind if I'm crazy enough to attempt single-track again? All information will be greatly appreciated. I've broken almost every bone on the left side of my poor 57-year old body (foot, femur, pelvis, radius, ulna, humerus, skull) in bicycle and motorcycle crashes, and my wife and four kids count on my paycheck. Again, thanks in advance for any help...I just found this forum and it looks quite helpful.

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I must admit I'm tempted, but I'm afraid I'll again get suckered in over my head.

Just my opinion, but it is based on a fair amount of experience with relatively new dirtbikers in all sorts of terrain.

If you have doubts in the back of your mind, don't go. Rider aprehension is an amazing lead indicator of rider injury in my experience. The ability to confidently tackle singletrack comes from gaining confidence in riding less difficult terrain, like two track and fireroads. Master this stuff and my guess is that over time, you'll feel confident about your ability, your bike and will be looking forward to trying singletrack more difficult stuff. But don't push what does not come naturally. Jitters lead to mistakes on the trail, which can get your hurt. Going slow, maintaining throttle control, proper equipment and bike setup are also important, but IMHO are not sufficient to fully offset that little voice in the back of your mind that says "I don't feel very good about this....."

R

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I had a 1996 KLX250 and the kickstand on those and the XR's are dangerous. They just get caught up in everything. I sold the bike to a buddy and he removed it, cause it got caught on something. The KTM kickstands are OK, the trailtech or PMB Kick-it stands are much better.

As for riding single track, I'd agree with the previous poster in that you have to conquer your fears on less intimating grounds first. Sounds like just about everything to you is new, so you got to start with the basics. Road riding teaches you a little, but not as much as most people seem to think.

Do everything both standing and sitting like do a circle drill, stand for 5 circles then sit for 5. Brakes, stop with just front, then just rear, and do it both standing and sitting. Do these and other drills the same, concentrate on mastering all 5 controls. For more info see the Gary Semics MX videos, and see if you can a riding tips booklet that comes with new bikes. They seem outdated, but give you a place to start.

Each day try to learn something new.

Cheers,

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I agree. stay home this time. I am 47 and have been riding dirt bikes for a couple of years and street bikes since a kid. I do a little street bike instructing. The last poster is right. Street riding does not teach you a lot about riding.

If your cardio is not up to snuff work on that while you start watching the first two or three Semics videos and practicing those drills shown on the tapes. Work into it slowly, keep it fun.

I jumped right into Harescrambles. I am just catching up to my class. (Senior C) after two seasons. If your cardio is weak (mine was) you may fall into the "Spiral of Death" Its what I call it when you make a mistake, get winded and it clouds your thinking and your make another mistake and then another till your total exhausted or hurt.

Riding in the dirt is a lot of fun, It will make you a much better rider overall its like they say "the more you know the better it gets"

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Hey DR Greg, I ride with a couple of old timers 67 and 57. The 57 year old got into it ony 3 years ago and is now comfortable with intermediate technical terrain and tight single track. Speed was an issue for him at first. He was going so slow he could not keep his balance. I gave him a few simple rules to follow and he has come a long way in these last few months using them.

Rule 1: go fast enough to keep your balance and line.

Rule 2: look far ahead most of the time and check clear lines beside obstacles in front of you when needed.

Rule 3: stand on your pegs and put all your weight on one peg to initiate the turn and then the opposite peg to hold the turn and exit.

Your bike will go where you want it too and you wont be surprised by course changes coming up. 😢 Now get out there and dont worry about crashing. Tension kills your balance and fun. Wear protective gear and start to tackle single tracks! 😢

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Hey, thanks guys for the replies. I may have understated my dirt riding background a little; I'm not totally ignorant of dirt riding skills. I'm a cyclist, so my cardio fitness is pretty good: 5'9, 150 lbs (not overweight), left arm/shoulder pretty much recovered from shattered humerus last August. I think I'll go to my meeting; see who I can talk to about doing some easy trails, then show up the next day DETERMINED to have some fun! After all, what's the worst that can happen? Hey, don't answer that! ;-) ;-)

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I'm old also and been a MTB riders for years, then got back into dirt bikes last year. In many ways being a cyclist hurt my dirt bike riding. I ride the MTB twice a week, thats more often then I'm able to ride the dirt bike, and it takes me several miles go quit riding the dirt bike like a MTB. The biggest problem I have is remembering to get my butt forward on the tank and trust the tires a lot more. Being a cyclist you become accustom to slower speeds, tires not sliding as much and that one little seat with your feet clipped in. If your not on a bicycle then don't ride it like one.

Where you look you will go!!!!...if you don't want to go there then look where you do want to go. I prove this true all the time.

I truly believe that a dirt bike rider makes a better MTB rider then a MTB rider makes a dirt bike rider. Besides helping my hart rate and balance, I get a lot better work out and have lost more weight in one year by riding the dirt bike then the MTB ever did.

It works for me.

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If you want to ride trails, and are willing to accept some of the risks, you should do it. Ride with someone who is better than you but is willing to wait patiently, and don't try to keep right on his tail. He's there to show you the way, ride your bike up or downs hills you don't want to try (and you should be willing to admit this), and help push your bike back on the trail if necessary. Pick the easiest trail available and whatever you do, make the better riders go first - that way you won't feel like you have to go faster than your comfort level to stay out of their way. I still dump my bike more often than I'd like but as long as I keep the crazy level down and don't bite off too much trail it's usually just a small ding on the bike and a rash or bruise for me. Nothing like what you've described from your road experience.

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Hi I am new to trail riding this year, in 82 I had a motocross bike for 2 seasons. One thing I did and do practice everytime I ride is find an area that has alot of tight turns and not to many hills or tech stuff and ride with my feet up on the pegs as much as possible and when I do put my feet down around a turn I put it as far as the fork tube and turn.Feet up your balance improves 100%The less I fall the more fun.43 yrs 5'10" 😢 :cry:

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Hey, thanks guys for the replies. I may have understated my dirt riding background a little; I'm not totally ignorant of dirt riding skills. I'm a cyclist, so my cardio fitness is pretty good: 5'9, 150 lbs (not overweight), left arm/shoulder pretty much recovered from shattered humerus last August. I think I'll go to my meeting; see who I can talk to about doing some easy trails, then show up the next day DETERMINED to have some fun! After all, what's the worst that can happen? Hey, don't answer that! ;-) ;-)

The guys have given you some great advice. Get some practice that will build confidence. You are in good shape, and now, how well is the bike set up. My 300 KLX is set up very well, Visit us in the Kawasaki forum, or on planetKLX.com for a list of free mods. the 300 is a great single tracker that needs set up to function. Setting up any bike makes it work better, gives confidence and increases safety. Along the way you will make better time on the trail.

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WR450's making reference to the proper use of foot peg preassure to initiate and hold a turn is excellent and is often over looked

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Hi,

I'm a rookie too, so I wont even bother giving you riding tip's.

But if your kick stand is an issue, take it off. More often than not you can find a place to lean your bike against, a tree, a rock, or even a friend's bike.

If you need to keep your kick stand then find a way to secure it in the up position when you think you might be riding in ruff terrain.(zip tie's or what ever)

I need my kick stand as I commute to work. I noticed that my brother inlaw's KTM 450 had this heavy duty.. Aahhhh.. "rubber band" that he could use to hook on to his kick stand to keep it up. So I went to a KTM dealer and bought one for under a dollar and jury riged it to my DRZ400s.

Now I need not fear my kick stand comming down. But...

I've never ridden single track either... 😢

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The KTM's come with a rubber band like thing attached to the air box. You can put this around the foot of the kickstand to keep it from falling down. I thought about doing the same thing for my old KLX, but sold it before I tried it. I just don't like the angle on the kick stands that follow the swingarm. I like mine to head up towards the subframe and be out of the way.

I love the PMB kick-it stand, on my YZ. Much better then the stock KTM or MSR I have on my KX.

Cheers,

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My first years some buddies took me, as a beginner, on some advanced, REALLY, REALLY, tough single track, switch backy, snotty, rocky, STEEP, skinny, spooky trails one day and that was the best thing that happened to my single track performance. RIDE TOUGH TRIALS, then the easier one are just that.

My second advice is to use the front brake 95% of the time and the back 25% of the time. Works the best for me.

Like stated above, the mind game you play with yourself is your worst enemie. Relax, breath, stay loose, look as far ahead on the trail as possible and have fun... and don't worry about catching up or keeping someone off your ars.

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I compleetly agree with EM_rider, go out and ride where you are comfortable. If you are not comfortable you wont have fun and that is the point, isn't it? When I first started I was draged over trails that were way over my head at craxy speeds. I did not enjoy it and didn't learn anything since I was concentrating on survival not riding better. I survived since I'm 19, but I would have sold the bike if I had felt free to do so (pressure from Family) I don't wish this experiance on anyone.

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OK guys, after all the very good advice (also in "Stand or Sit" thread) I think I'm going to go riding with the New Mexico OHVA folks on Sunday. Been out in the back yard riding a tight little course on my KLX300 (both sitting and standing), and I think I'm up for it. There will be an "A" and "B" group (guess where I'll be). I'll post a brief report Monday of my experience (just to thank all the VERY helpful folks that have responded...not that anyone is particularly interested).

And it was funny about the "sit or stand" thread - the first responder summed it up when he said "yes"...there were many diverse opinions. So I'll just do what feels right.

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Standing is good, keep your feet on the pegs Takes some discipline but you'll be better off in the long run!! when in doubt get up on the tank, elbows out attack position!

Confidence and momentum are your friends 😢 :cry:

Waiting to here from you on monday!!

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Back in the early 70's when I first took up trials riding we were lucky enough to have a site where it was mostly clear and had little "stages" of rocks, fallen trees, short steep hillclimbs and other obstacles set out in a big arena like clear area where folks could ride over them one at a time with good approaches, exits and not a lot of stuff to hurt you in a fall. Being able to practice in an area like that was a huge confidence builder. I doubt I ever got more than a 1/4 mile from the truck the first 1/2 doz times I went riding and didn't miss it a bit.

For later I found that the drills on these training bits made it easier to judge the trail ahead and put together the right sequence of moves to get through the tight stuff.

I guess this is much the same as the martial arts. You work on the individual drills first and then chain them together into what is needed during a match or a ride.

And don't discount the effect of exhaustion on your riding. I'm 51 now and I'm just getting back into dirt motorcycles. But I've had a lot of windsurfing and mountain biking over the last two decades and I can assure you that a long gruelling ride will sap your energy and when that happens the older bodies seem to shut down. When that happens I find my concentration and commitment to the right moves suffers a lot. And in many cases riding, like many other sports, is about commitment and timing to the proper moves rather than brute strength. When that commitment and timing suffers a fall is not far behind. When I feel myself get that tired I just get off and push the bicycle over the obstacle rather than risk it.

It's better to be slow and survive than to be a broken hero....

Hoping to read about how much fun you had rather than problems. 😢

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