Two Wheels In The Dirt

A humbling day for me

By Genevieve Schmitt

All smiles at the beginning of the day.

This past week involved another few days of traveling (Ive had a nice break from the road for about a month) this time to an all-womens motocross class put on by Kawasaki. It was held at Elsinore Motorsports Track in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Im a street rider through and through. I took the MSFs DirtBike School two years ago. I figured Id learn a few more things in this motocross class being taught by motocross veterans Mercedes Gonzalez-Natvig and Rick Johnson. They have a school called MX School of Champions designed to help pros ride better.

The group assembled by Kawasaki for a day of motocross training.

The 15 or so journalists, female role models, and female mx riders that Jan Plessner, the p.r. rep. from Kawasaki, assembled for this one-day class had a range of experience from very advanced to very beginner. I fell just above very beginner putting me at beginner. Sheesh! I was so nervous the first time riding that KX100 dirtbike on the “baby track” as it was called the easy track for beginners. I had a lot to learn.

Mercedes Gonzalez-Natvig instructs the group of beginners.

They say (the infamous “they”) that if you ride in the dirt well youre a better street rider. Well, Ive heard that said about riding on a race track, too. So which is it? The dirt and the street are very different forms of motorcycling. There are many dirtbike riders who have never ridden on the street. Its like boating. There are many people who drive powerboats whove never driven a sailboat. (Do you “drive” a boat? That sounds funny to me.) Just because you do one, doesnt mean youre trained to do the other. Its a whole different genre of two wheels.

Champion supercross and motocross rider Jeff Emig, one of the instructors, gives me some pointers.

I have to say I had a frustrating day. The mx bikes idle very low, so if youre not engaging the clutch and turning the throttle just a little bit, the bike stalls out, at least my bike did. I had on new boots that were not broken in so they were hurting my foot. Not good. Im not used to wearing so much gear (calf protectors, elbow protectors, bulky boots, chest protector) so I felt heavy on the bike. I did OK, but I became frustrated when I had to keep kick-starting the bike.

Riding in the dirt looks like a lot of fun. Flying around a motocross track, getting some air how cool is that! I just wish I had started to learn when I was younger, when I wasnt so set in my ways. Part of my problem was I didnt want to relearn techniques I was taught in the basic and experienced motorcycle training classes.

Mercedes watches me during a drill.

Dirtbike riding is completely different than street riding. I admire those who do both well and enjoy both. There arent many of you. Most of the dirtbike riders Ive met dont ride on the street and have no desire to. Again, its like the boaters. You either enjoy the whole sailboat thing where you have to be more engaged as a driver, or you kick back and drive a powerboat. Its almost two different personalities. Just like dirtbike riding and street riding.

Riding cautiously around the pro motocross track.

But dont let my curmudgeoness ways steer you away from giving dirtbike riding a try. Its great exercise, can bring you places a street bike cant like on dirt trails and is full of fun people.Go ahead and sign up for the MSFs DirtBike School, You can also contact the MX School of Champions by visiting their Web site

Until next time…
Peace and passion,

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