I recently returned from Colorado Springs Colorado. There I participated in DONNIE HANSEN's MX ACADEMY 4-day MX camp. I'm a 40+++ newbie to riding dirt bikes. While I ridden street bike for some time, and even did a 3-day road racing school a while back, I never felt total confidence in my riding abilities.
Based on some professional road racers bibliographies, I thought that riding dirt bikes would be the means in which I could improve. Late last year I purchased a new KTM 450 SX to that end. Circumstances prevented me from riding the KTM however. Such as getting a new job and not having a vehicle to haul it However I had known that my conditioning would play an important part as to how well I rode, so I began a workout routine in the spring.
While searching for a MX school, I decided on Donnie's school because I would have the opportunity to ride an '05 KTM 450 SX. I thought which bike I learned on was important for me because I had heard that KTM's "rode" differently from the other dirt bikes. There was at least one person I knew who has being riding MX for sometime who believed the KTM's were difficult to ride.
All said and done, the camp went pretty well. I'm a little "banged up," but smiling ear to ear. I really learned a great deal, and improved a lot in just 4 daze! I need to continue to work on the fundamentals until they're instinctive. I wouldn't known where to begin, I would have never improved if it wasn't for Donnie continually coaching, driving home his points. I have to give it to Donnie and his assistant, Brandon, both provided excellent instruction and encouragement. I really happy I did this.
Here's my concise daily dairy:
Seeing the track for the first time, if I had known how the track" configuration, I might not have done this school. The course is comprised of "rhythm sections" was laid out over a hill. That track demanded that you already have good/very good skills because of them. To compound matters, my first time on a dirt bike, first time riding on a MX track would be a wet one. It started raining Sunday night and continued in the morning. The day would have been a complete "wash-out" for me if it was for Brandon taking me a side and working on my body positioning and braking which turning. I had the a least experience in the group and really struggled with concept of having to use both brakes. When riding street bikes, you seldom use the rear brake. Also I had no feel of the brake lever through the boots which led to me locking the rear brake. At least there was no place else to go but up.
That morning group continued to work on body positioning and braking into a corner. The day was dry. Donnie eventually showed me a simply part of the track in which I could practice. The second half of the day the group would practice gate starts. We were divided into 3 group Donnie admitted to me afterwards that he believed that I wouldn't be able to do this. He thought that I would continuously stall the motor. He cautioned that if I snapped the throttle open on the KTM that I would end up on my back. Instead I surprised him. In all, I only stalled out 3 times but for the most part, go away clean. My plan was to allow the other riders to get away first, as they all were more skilled, after they left the gate I would launch my bike. Twice however I got a wheel out in front of everyone. Once again Brandon gave me a great tip which allowed me to get clean starts. Wow that KTM is fast. Even with allowing everyone else to leave first, the KTM was so strong that I was able to catch them all. Tuesday was a much better day.
We would work on jumps today. Not a single jump at a time but we rode a loop that included a tabletop, a step-up, and a series of rhythm jumps linked by a sharp drop-off left hand turn. Once again to compound matters, it rain the night before so it muddy. I started slow, but as I became more comfortable began to increase my speed. I was getting a bit of "air" on the tabletop. Going from the step-up to the sharp left hand drop-off was "freakin" me out. Later however when I attempted to accelerate for one of the rhythm jumps, I forgot what I was told about opening the throttle in mud. The bike "kicked" sideways when I did causing a fall. The bike fell atop me pinning my left foot. While not broken, it was badly swollen. I was done for the morning but able to ride again in the afternoon.
Last day. This time the group was minus me. Donnie wanted me to continue to ride the simply section of the track that included the start gates which were left down and there was a single tabletop jump for resolve my body positioning troubles. So I'm traveling on a downhill section of the track, trying to read the terrain, trying to push myself faster, all the while Donnie's suggestions echoing in my mind when I glance over to the side of the track. There's Donnie wearing a big smile. He calls me over to tell me that my body position is much better and that I had gotten faster. But that I was pulling in the clutch and braking after I sat down rather than while still in standing position. Even on the last day the camp Donnie was still out on the track coaching us.
The first thing I would like to say is that all the hard work in the gym, running and bicycling really paid off. The second is that I wish that Donnie had a simpler track for newbie riders. Like nearby AZTEC FAMILY RACEWAY However Donnie and his assistant Brandon were always coaching, offering suggesting, hopping on the bike, even riding the bike as to demonstrate their point. Their instruction was clear.
What I learned during that 4 day was invaluable to me. I wouldn't have never thought to do things I learned there. Where as before the camp, I may have been a bit hesitant about riding my own bike, I now want to get out and ride.
Thanks Donnie and Brandon.