How to ride a dirt bike: For dummies

Mark and I drove to Lithgow with the bike trailer behind us along the windy roads of the Blue Mountains.

Inside the trailer we have a KTM 450, a Yamaha WR 250, a double swag, an eski, boxes filled with cutlery, a water heating system, riding gear, a fire hydrant and a heap of food.

The sun was shining all the way along Bells Line of Road until we hit the turn off to Zig Zag Railway. All of a sudden a very dark, very low cloud came sweeping through the mountains. The wind picked up, and the rain went from pitter patter to holy heck is that hail really fast.

“I’ve never seen rain like this before…” I trailed off, squinting at the sleet, “MARK IS THAT SNOW?” The sleet rain (let’s go with snow) hit the windscreen with speed. My excitement got the best of me, so I decided to roll down the window to take a few pictures.

At that moment, we realised we forgot to pack the awning. You see, we had trusted the clear weather report and decided not to pack it at the last minute.

Luckily, the wind blew the clouds away and the sun came out. I was secretly hoping we would get some snow.

We drove deeper and deeper through the pine plantations of Lithgow to a quiet clearing where we set up camp for the night.

“This spot is perfect for a beginner,” Mark says as I look at the ground and see large pot holes, giant rocks, little rocks, puddles and fallen sticks, thinking to myself… Is he trying to kill me?

Mark reverses the trailer next to a tree, that looks like something you’d see in a Winnie the Pooh book. Mind you, in Winnie the Pooh they never featured garbage.

Mark backed the bikes out of the trailer and handed a pile of medieval armour to me. “Put this on.”

With a neck brace, back plate, shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, riding boots, goggles and a helmet I was ready to kick into gear, or at least try to.

I have short legs, and the Yamaha is quite tall. The helmet and the neck brace make it difficult for me to tilt my head down and look at where I need to move my feet to switch gears. I figure this is normal bike behaviour and trust the process.

Mark starts the bike for me and puts it into second gear. I put my left hand on the clutch and eagerly hold my right hand over the accelerator. He holds the bike steady as I slowly let go of the clutch and start twisting the accelerator. I rev the accelerator and roll along the rocky ground, surprised that the bike is still upright after 5 seconds, and how easy it is to keep it going straight.

Uh oh. My first turn. I either try to steer the bike to the left or I hit that ever so large tree in front of me.

I manage to turn the handlebars towards the road and gather some speed as I see the path straight ahead.

It’s not a bad start. With a few wobbles, I maintain an average speed of 17km/ph, puttering along the ungrated road. Mark zips past me and pulls over to the side about a kilometre ahead. He holds his hands out mimicking for me to put the clutch in and ease off the accelerator. As he goes to grab the bike, I shout “Don’t grab the bike, I want to see if I can dismount myself.”

The laughter brings tears to my eyes, and with that the riding goggles fog up. Without any bruises (thanks to the protective bubble wrap) I brush myself off and get back on the bike.

Mark gives me some wise advice, “If you panic, let go of the right handle bar.” Thanks Mark. In other words, if I panic I need to fall off the bike.




July 22, 2016

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