Diversity In the Dirt

December 26, 2017

As a child learning to ride in the woods of Black Mountain, North Carolina on a Honda 50 trailbike, I never knew about all the different types of terrain. All I knew was the dark, hard-packed dirt riding I'd enjoy after school. I always had to finish up my homework before I could go out and ride with my friends, so I was blessed to live in a neighborhood that was safe to ride in until dark. Remember those days when your Mom told you to be home before dark? We would be riding on the deep trails through the woods just as the sun would be starting to go down. If we didn't get home before dark, we knew we would be grounded for several days. So, when it was near dark, we were at full throttle. Of course, we had to slow it down when we hit the ice. You see, in NC, we also enjoyed riding on an iced-over pond in our neighborhood during the colder months. We enjoyed that... until we had to move.

Moving to Florida was an eye-opening experience. Sand was my new terrain. A few years ago, I started riding again, thanks to meeting the love of my life. He also happens to be a great trainer when it comes to riding dirt bikes. It was our first date when he took me water skiing. Afterward, we stopped by his house to put away the boat. Low and behold, in his garage was a sea of dirt bikes, all different sizes. My first question was "can we ride those?" He said yes and he had one just my size! It had been many years since I rode a dirt bike but it was perfect timing because my son was grown and I was looking to take on a new sport. My first rides began with a Honda CRF50 to learn the fundamentals again (brakes to stop and twist the throttle to go). We practiced in a large empty lot and rode in his yard too. When I was on that little Honda I felt like a kid again! Soon, I graduated to a taller Honda XR80 and, within a few weeks, I was shifting with a clutch and riding the wheels off of it around that field! Each ride gave me more confidence, so naturally, I was ready to go to a "real" off-road riding area.

There is a well-known riding area in Florida is called Croom. Since I was graduating from a field to real trails and hills, the next logical bike was the Honda XR100 with its larger wheels. Croom riding is where I experienced sand....deep sand, sugar sand, wet sand, powder sand... it was all so intimidating! There are many great trails at Croom that offer firm dirt and great traction, but I had to overcome my fear whenever deep sand showed up on the trail. I quickly learned that, when riding in sand, you need a perfect combination of speed, seat placement, relaxed grips, and momentum to carry you through the sand. Whoooooo... it was fun!

I learn something new every time I ride off-road. I have my own Honda CRF125 with electric start for trail riding and a Honda CRF150R for motocross tracks. Why two bikes? Once I experienced riding areas like Durhamtown Plantation, a huge off-road facility in Georgia, I realized that one type of bike is not suitable for all conditions. Durhamtown Plantation is a great place where I leaned to ride hard packed conditions with one-way trails and several motocross tracks all in the same area. All Georgia clay and no more sand. Diversity in the Dirt! Once again, I have been blessed to manage several bikes and ride on different types of terrain to perfect my skills.

Riding on different terrains, hard or soft, has helped me become more skilled and proficient, even when I am riding my street bike!

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