I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into well-meaning friends and family, and a conversation like this happens:
“How are the kids doing?”
“Great- They’re riding Motocross!”
“Motorcycles?! But isn’t that dangerous?!”
Ha… I mean, yes it can be. Let me explain.
Motorcycles and dirt bikes in general are inherently dangerous. There comes with it pure adrenaline whether jumping, cranking around a turn, taking that first ride, or even spectating. This is true for seasoned riders as much as little kids just getting started. Thrill. Freedom. Risk.
Calculated risk is what’s important, however. No caring parent would toss Tiny-Timmy onto a mud spitting, ethanol-guzzling, bone-breaking steel-stallion, in flip-flops and a Paw Patrol t-shirt, rev the throttle and holler “Let ‘er fly!!” They might not say it out loud, but you know that’s the vision some people see in their head when you say “They’re riding motocross”. From the first timid lesson, through the long journey to that first ride on the track- families and mentors carefully calculate their rider’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. The life lessons begin from there.
There is a beautiful concurrent relationship between coaching a kid on a dirt bike and instilling character-building life lessons. They are one and the same. Things like: trust your gut, don’t bite off more than you can chew, patience, perseverance, spatial awareness- the list goes on and on. The relationship is of a teacher and a student. Trust. Support. Growth.
The rider acquires understanding of the value of a dollar, maintenance, planning, and the importance of protective equipment. They learn in order to do anything big- you can’t go it alone- they are a valuable part of a village. A cog in the gear. It doesn’t take long before they are eagerly supplying that same sense of support to others around them. Confidence and compassion, equally earned.
Some of my most cherished memories at the track involve witnessing seemingly small children assist smaller children who have dumped (not an ‘if‘, but a ‘when‘). In this community, it’s not unusual to see a child-rider support another- and their bike- safely off to the side of the track, then set them up to get going again. In more acute situations, mothers and fathers can be seen sprinting in from all corners of the arena to render aid to a downed rider- no matter whose rider it is.
All the encouragement, drills, and community in the world can’t replace well-fitting solid protective equipment (and hawk-like supervision)- every prudent parent and coach knows this. There is never an excuse to ride a dirt bike without a strapped helmet, chest protector, thick pants, and motocross boots- at the very least. Once riding beyond the back yard, motocross pants and jersey, gloves, neck-collar, and knee pads are vital.
We recently acquired THIS Alpinestars neck collar that fits snugly with THIS Alpinestars chest protector to prevent what could be life-altering neck and spine injuries. Why we like this one: It’s super comfortable, and easy enough to take on and off without faltering when riding. A quality piece of protective equipment at a great price. **Check back later to find out why it’s important to select the hard plastic collars over soft (less expensive) ones in an article detailing motocross protective equipment.
Until then, keep supporting your young riders to chase their dreams, challenge themselves, and conquer things bigger than previously conceivable. It sets them up for a life worth living, and fuels a relationship that will go the distance.