The last time I cried on a dirt bike was about 4 years ago. I had recently taken the SoCal Supermoto class and had so much fun that I decided I needed a Supermoto bike. Like immediately. So naturally, I made an impulse purchase that following week. This bike ended up being the wrong bike for me in so many ways. In my own defense, I was dazzled by the fact that the bike had both an off-road and Supermoto set up so I could swap it out. All I had in terms of a dirt bike at the time was my 1977 Yamaha DT 400 so I figured this would be a more modern upgrade. I took home the new 2002 Yamaha WR 426 and immediately had my boyfriend Evan help to swap the Supermoto set up for the knobby tires. He was pretty adamant that this was not a good bike for me but I chose not to listen. We were headed to Kennedy Meadows the next weekend and I was stoked to have a new dirt bike to ride the trails. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and I let my excitement and impatience get the best of me.
Not only was the WR426 a really big, really heavy motorcycle for me but, the gearing on the WR had been adjusted by the previous owner so that there was also very little low-end power and almost zero first gear. Additionally, the previous owner was a huge dude that probably weighed 80+ pounds more than I did and had the suspension set up for him. The perfect set up for a 125 pound person on technical single track, right? WRONG!
Once we got to Kennedy Meadows we were ripping around on some for the double track trails and all was going well. Then, I washed out in the sand and tipped over. I was not strong enough to pick up my own bike. Problem #1, right. Luckily my dude Evan was there to support. Other than tipping over, I was having a pretty good time. It wasn’t until we got to a pretty technical and rocky single-track trail that I got my ass handed to me. Like I said before, there was almost zero first gear and no low-end power on this bike. Both of which are pretty crucial in technical sections. I kept stalling and having to kick over the bike. Like over and over again to the point of exhaustion. Then I got the front tire stuck between some rocks and stalled again. I kicked it over and tried to ride it out like 5 times. Not happening. Evan was a bit of a ways up ahead on the trail so I did not have him right there to help. Then, I tried to lift this heavy ass bike out from the rocks… also not happening. By this time, I was so physically exhausted from trying to (wo)man-handle this bike, constantly having to kick it over and lift it up. I got back on the damn thing and started kicking it again and it would not start. This is when I started crying. LOL I think I might have screamed out of frustration as well. LOL. I saw Evan walking down the trail and quickly wiped my tears away. I was a little embarrassed. Not because I was crying but more because I had put myself in this situation. Wrong bike for me in the wrong terrain for the bike set up. Evan helped me to get the bike out and we made it back to camp.
My ego was hurt because I thought that I should have been able to handle that. It did not take me long to erase that kind of thinking though. Not only is it not productive but it is also just ridiculous. Dirt bikes are supposed to be fun. Challenging yes, but mostly fun. This experience made me realize the importance of finding the right kind of bike for me, getting it set up for me and the kind of riding I like to do. That day I felt like I had regressed as a rider. Like I was taking a step back and not moving forward and improving my skills. It wasn’t until I got to experience a bike that was set up for me perfectly that I really saw myself improve. I had my Husqvarna FE 250 set up for me by getting it lowered 2” and adjusting the suspension to accommodate my height, weight and riding style. So much goes in to the way a bike is set up and they can all be adjusted. You can reference my previous blog about suspension to hear more about that.
The moral of the story is not to make sure that you have an awesome partner or friend like I did to help you handle you bike. Although it certainly helps and I am forever grateful. It is to do the research and get a bike that is right for you so you don’t cry on the trail. Crying is ok and natural and I personally believe that if you have never cried on a dirt bike then you are probably not doing it right. I am not going to say that this is the last time I will cry on a dirt bike. BUT, I can say that it is the last time will cry because I bought the wrong bike for me.