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Colorado Safer MX Tracks

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Frequently there are comments about unsafe riders and injuries that should never have happened. However it never really seems like anyone takes action from this. I am currently taking a year off riding because of an injury that resulted from a near collision with a quad that stemmed from ignorance or an intentional act. Regardless I constantly see things at the track that make me ask why did that need to happen? I've come to a conclusion that this is mostly because no one told them...

So now that I have this year I can't ride aside from still hunting down the guy on the KTM quad that got me here, I thought I'd be productive and rally for a way to better our environment.

I'd love to see some kind of a license requirement for operating a dirt bike. Every motor vehicle requires some level of training before going out and doing it. I had to take a class for riding my sport bike on a track (and that was just a practice day). I don't think the training or certification needs to be anything major (or even costly). Make it an online course that takes an hour to complete. The class should focus on a couple key points:

1. Track Etiquette - how to get on and off the track, what it means to hold your line, how to safely learn parts of the track, how to jump, if you are 36" tall, how to ride on the pro-track safely, ... basically just orientation and way finding.

2. How not to be a pit squid - there needs to be something that says if you do donuts or drag race in the parking lot your are subject to a well deserved beat down - and you just have to stand there and take it.

3. How to deal with falls. They happen but how many times has someone neglected to signal before a jump. There are a plethora of anecdotal stories with this but many of the stories yield two injuries because someone got landed on.

4. Really basic first aid and safety gear. We all know it's gonna happen. We are going to ride up to someone who is unconscious. Fortunately there are enough of us who know how to control situations but the vast majority of riders don't know if you should move someone, when to call a medical professional, how to clean a scrape, ... just really basic stuff this is not intended to be EMT training. The safety gear really comes down telling people if you ride in a tank top and tennis shoes you will get hurt. This module should also state that squid riders who do get injured as part of their Jackass auditions will not receive treatment. You aren't going to wreck my day and in fact if you are still on the track, that double just became a triple.

5. Basic bike care. If you have a mechanic and all you do is ride then this part doesn't apply. But there are many people that get cheap bikes off Craig's List because they want to try the sport. Great! But there's too many parts distribution locations along tracks. It's not fun to watch someone bend a rim because they didn't check their spokes. It's not fun when someone's kick start lever hits you as you pass their bikes ... it's also not fun when I have to spend my time helping someone in the parking lot or lending them my tools because their $200 bike needs to be a gasket change. Or how many times have you seen people not have a source of air for their tires with 5 psi in them because the last time they rode was the day after Thanksgiving (last year).

But back to my manifesto and leading argument about making tracks safer to ride. There needs to be some more accountability for everyone. I believe a short educational forum should be mandatory for everyone before they can ride (and there should be some type of bi-annual renewal so we can all stay fresh on our knowledge). Track owners would need to enforce this policy without exception. It doesn't matter if you friends call you "Taddy" and you are pretty good at riding over obstacles - if you want to go on the MX track then get online the night before and get your "license".

I also believe there should be more prominent signage at the tracks that help remind people of track etiquette, where to ride, and by placing these at strategic points on the track it become a good marker for entry and exit points. The signage could also be used to show people where they should be riding. The arena cross track at Berthoud is pretty inviting and we all think we have the cajones to do it, but c'mon if you're a 200 lb. guy riding your kid's PW50 it only tears up the track and still won't get you a spot on the Nitro Circus team.

So that's my long winded pitch for getting some type of license program for motocross. Am I just ranting or pissing in the wind? Do you think this could get any traction? Does anyone want to help form a grass roots effort? Track owners, do you think this is a good idea - would you check licenses and erect some signs? Dealers, would you participate in this somehow?

Sorry this is long - thanks for reading it. I really want to see more people on dirt bikes and more people having fun. When people get hurt it's not fun and it doesn't encourage more people to try this. Injuries will still happen but my non-scientific survey makes me believe we could reduce injuries by 1/4 and have better standards of care when someone does get hurt.

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I understand your frustration. Passing a test to ride on a track wouldn't help any more than getting a driver's license would make you a cautious, considerate driver.

Motocross tracks inherently contain some element of danger, and it's not the layout of the track. That part you can control with your right wrist and own judgement. A huge part of track riding is coexisting with other riders or varying speeds and levels of control.

Watch the first turn of an MX race at the start. There is often a big pile up resulting from 25 guys trying to squeeze through a tight corner at full speed. No one crashes when taking that corner alone, it is an exercise in crowd management.

it is tough to legislate common sense, and everyone has a different threshhold for risk management. I avoid the tracks except in the winter when the mountains are snowed over, because they bore me to death with riding the same thing repeatedly. Plus, I don't heal so fast any more, and I don't get a lot of reward for the amount of risk taken.

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While I agree with the "you can't legislate common sense" statement, I also agree that there is a lack of what BlackOakTree has identified as far as "indoctrination education" for getting started in dirt biking. It is the simple stuff my dad taught me when I was in my early teens, just getting started racing. I had the luxury of a dad that was an AMA Pro Flat Tracker and a state championship cross country, hare scramble, and endurance racer. Putting together a simple, short, online training curriculum has a lot of merit, and I would be willing to assist. I spent 8+ years on staff at Purdue and another 7+ years in training development and delivery, so I think I understand the basics.

I think there are two different topics here. One is the conduct stuff, and the second would be the simple maintenance. I also have a healthy skepticism of everyone respecting the training to the point that it might change conduct... It certainly would for some, but, unfortunately there are those individuals who (even when forced/mandated to review the materials) would probably not change their behavior.

BlackOakTree: Sorry to hear you are on the injured reserve! I had to take 8 months off due to a knee injury about 4 years ago, and it really stinks!

It would be very valuable to get VDR's Pete and Terry's thoughts on the topic.

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I 'm sorry for your injury and your frustration with the whole situation. I've been there, been sent to the hospital from the track, been hit and landed on etc. I get where you are coming from but I don't like where you are going with it. You are trying to make an inherently dangerous sport safe, and it's just not going to happen.

I used to surf religiously when I was younger, and something that every good big wave surfer would do before paddling out was sit on the beach and watch the waves for a good 30 minutes. Why? Because the environment he was about to enter could kill him. Why don't people do the same thing at a motocross track? I do. Just from watching I can see which yay-hoo's are out there, I can see which jumps have messed up lips and are sending people ass over elbows. I can also find the riders who are my same speed and pull out behind them and have a more enjoyable ride. The only thing that regulating our sport would do is leave people with the expectation that others have been trained and allow us to lower our guard just long enough to get punched in the jaw.

If you know someone's bike is a piece of crap, pull over and let them by, don't race the guy. And certainly don't be afraid to tell them that its an unsafe machine not fit for the track. If someone is out trying to backflip in a tank top then let nature run it's course, they'll learn. And PLEASE don't expect VDR Pete to put together a training program and then be liable when someone gets hurt because his program failed.

I'll finish with a story from a few years ago. My best friend and I were training together on a track and came into a set of whoops at the same time. He was slightly ahead of me and got a little sideways at the same time that I got a good drive and was going to pass him. Instead we collided and both went down. Bikes all tangled together. We got up separated the bikes and found that mine had no damage while his pipe got tweaked, bark buster broken and seat torn. Who's responsible for the damage?

Answer that question and you answer all the other questions in the OP's post above. And the answer to that question is found on the waiver form that must be signed before riding on any track I've been on here in Colorado.

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What ever happened to assumption of risk. If you go out on a track get run over it's your own fault. Gee so lets make it simple your bike, your body, your problems.

Learn to avoid the squids.

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I agree with all the points raised. We assume a level of risk when we participate in this sport and we are accountable for our own actions. For the record this is not my first injury and I'm not trying to make this about me. I use my example to illustrate that what happened to me was caused by ignorance (I'm hoping) and that my situation is not unique. I frequently see situations where the lack of knowing has initiated that.

A good athlete will study their environment and react appropriately, but the vast majority of the riders are not able to react quick enough. Therefore I'm presenting that a small amount of education will decrease the number of situations. You can not regulate common sense but you can equip people with basic knowledge to make better decisions.

Take for example a drivers license. Whether or not we had some one teach us driving skills, we still had a drivers education class. Did any of that make use better drivers? No, it is experience that does that. But it did teach the fundamentals like knowing to drive on the correct side of the road, wearing a seat belt, driving drunk, and what to do in an accident. People still drive drunk and it leads to acvidents, but at least no one can say they didn't know any better.

In a track situation, how many new riders really know what it means to "hold your line", or not to get on the track anywhere, like the back of a jump? These are common sense things to many of us, but for the few people that don't know this, it might be one less incident.

If James Stewart gets hurt at the track it's his fault, right? In most cases it probably is. But what if a down rider is in his way and the result is a career ending injury to him because he landed on a rookie? You still can't point a finger - its a cloudy subject. But it's talent that was lost because of conduct that was poor judgement.

I think by having a captive audience it is possible to eliminate a couple of unknowns. Maybe this is better done as a voluntary program? Im trying to make this about enhancing the environment not necessarily changing it.

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Most tracks are on private property!!

Do you really want the government to govern?

Lets take this on ourselves to promote safety,most people that are new to this sport do not know the unwritten laws!When i see someone fresh to our track i ask them if they need help or have questions!Pit squids you will always have,i usaully turn them in to our mean mom squad and they always cool it(men make threats,women make promises)after they talk to them!

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It sucks starting out in the B (bonehead) class, they're not all bad but there is a lot of morons that try to ride like the experienced guys and end up taking themselves and other guys out. I find in the classes with more experienced riders they want to avoid injury just as much as you do (in practices anyways, races can get cut-throat) the only thing you can really do is watch your back, and if theres no flagger on the jump, dont fall! 2 years ago I swapped out on the jump, yellow flag went up, and morons all jumped anyways (B class) and a guy landed on my bike and mangled it and himself, but last year i didnt have one crash, if a jump even had the slightest pothole or lip on it i wouldnt hit it

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I am not advocating any more regulations! We have way too much already, and I, in no way, shape or form want the local, state, or federal government interfering. But what I think might be of value is a collection of lessons learned by those of us who have found ways to survive multiple years without (major) injury in the midst of a wide range of intelligence, experience (and bravery) levels.

As an example, I really connected with the surfer taking time to evaluate the wave conditions before heading out, because he or she knows there is danger. Motorcycle riders should do the same. I usually scout out the back sections of the VDR hare scramble course before the start just to see if there are any surprises, and to see the condition of the dirt.

It might be interesting (and entertaining) to see what "Holding your line" means to different folks. We've all been told to do it at most riders' meetings, but what does it really mean?

I have managed to enjoy riding/racing for 45 years by being cautious of the so-called "squids" and giving a wide berth when overtaking less-experienced riders. At the same time, I have been bumped completely off the side of jumps by more aggressive riders overtaking me and not respecting me "holding my line" on the extreme right edge of a track. So holding your line doesn't always mean you won't get punted off the track.

For me, I race partly because of the risk. It gives me a thrill, has allowed me to get some regular exercise and meet some really neat people. However, I calculate the risks with every section of the track and make decisions on what I'm going to do based on my current physical state, the ruts, visibility, jump face and landing area conditions, and the skill level of riders in front and behind me.

Sometimes I choose wisely, and sometimes I don't!

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A good athlete will study their environment and react appropriately, but the vast majority of the riders are not able to react quick enough. Therefore I'm presenting that a small amount of education will decrease the number of situations. You can not regulate common sense but you can equip people with basic knowledge to make better decisions.

I hear what you are saying, but I think it's the very same venues that could use this the most (maybe Watkins?) is the same place that won't invest in the technology or time to do it. On the other hand the tracks that don't need it as bad (Thundervalley) would probably be the one to do it.

In my opinion if you are going to ride at Watkins or the south side of IMI mixed up with the quads you are taking the same kind of risks as the guy riding in a tank top.

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What ever happened to assumption of risk. If you go out on a track get run over it's your own fault. Gee so lets make it simple your bike, your body, your problems.

Learn to avoid the squids.

Well Guys,

heres a good, funny read on the topic from a perspective of "that guy"

http://vurbmoto.com/dmxs/blogs/dmxs-blog-are-you-guy/7350/

Bryan

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Are you new to riding? Adding any sort of additonal lisencing or governing is a awful idea on so many differnt levels, as soon as I read that your post had lost any reason that it had. If you Want to ride somewhere that quads inhabit do it mid week so your less likely to get hurt by one. As far a track riding it's about being smart. Seems most accidents happen for guys on there first dozen laps or so, for me personally those for dozen laps are my slowest and for a reason. Open practices riders seem to ride in groups and clog the track up, I wait and ride when the masses are resting. I will say tracks should only have one entrance/exit onto the track, most of ours do. The beginner practices are scary to watch, I can see how a guy would get hurt riding with that group.

Let's face it any sport is going to be dangerous but additional governing is not the answer, people are stupid and always will be.

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Been on both sides at VDR hare scrambles. Busted up a few ribs 2 years ago when a rider did not hold his line and turned right into me as I was passing. Have also been taken out by faster riders who thought they were Josh Hanson riding for the last transfer spot. Its a risky sport and I always try and ride within my limits. You can't control what other people do.

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I think more signage at tracks stating safety rules would help, couldn't hurt.

I would also like to see a vet type track, like the one at Pala.

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I think more signage at tracks stating safety rules would help, couldn't hurt.

I would also like to see a vet type track, like the one at Pala.

I agree. A track facility with multiple tracks like Pala or Milestone would go a long way towards track safety, but something tells me that $50 to ride wouldn't go over so well here in Colorado.

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I agree. A track facility with multiple tracks like Pala or Milestone would go a long way towards track safety, but something tells me that $50 to ride wouldn't go over so well here in Colorado.

$50 would be a little steep. Many of tracks already have the land and the equipment, it just making a track that is wider, prepped, add more turns, and no 4th gear jumps.

I went by Pala on a weekday last fall, the vet track looked amazing, and it had the most riders. The main or pro track looked really tough. There were fewer riders on the that track.

From an economics standpoint it may make sense to do offer a a good and challenging track that is user friendly. It seems there are lots of us older guys hanging out at the tracks.

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the track marshall or ref (if your track has one) always sees guys riding out of there ability, not holding their line, almost causing wrecks and anything else unsportsmanlike, but they never say anything about it, its not that hard to stop the guy when he pulls off the track and tell him to quit f*ckin around and riding like a dick

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So bascially tracks should build a track for every riders wants? All tracks should have stop lights, marshalls or the community should self police. Why not enforce all riders must be encased in a bouncy ball to prevent injury? Whether you guys want to hear it or not, these are the reasons tracks are going away, or you have track owners like Watkins that are simply fed up with the riding community and are not doing anything but collecting your money. And to all your VDR patrons, the only reason that place got a face lift is cause his land deals fell through, believe that. Also believe, there are a lot of us that like going big, 4th gear pinned shit. I guess I am reallly confused what anyone even wants after reading through all of this. Everyone of you has a diferent plan, ever try to please everyone in your family? now try a large group

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