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Dirt before Pavement.


Dave334478

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Over the last 4 decades I've found myself in many unusual situations on a motorcycle while riding on the street.

 

I've done the flying squirrel at 100mph+, I've been trapped between the front and rear dual wheels of a semi (bottom dump) trailer on the freeway at freeway speeds, I've sat on the side of my motorcycle waiting for it to stop sliding down the road after hitting some unexpected sand in a corner, wearing nothing but a Gi.

 

I've always walked away and have never had a major injury. 

 

I owe it to growing up riding dirt bikes. 

 

Before I ever hit the street, I was already accustomed to every emergency maneuver anyone can think of. So when something unexpected happens on the street, it doesn't push me outside of my experience.

 

I believe, everyone should spend some time off road, pulling whatever crazy stunts they can think up before they are even allowed to get on a street bike.

 

 

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I really can't argue with that logic.

Some professional racers, auto and motorcycle, go back to dirt often to hone skills.

Glad you're still in one piece!

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  • 6 months later...

Yesterday while finishing up the “puppy dog ride” in Vermont we came to the end of a dirt road that entered onto a main throughway that was under construction. They had signs saying “caution no pavement”. I thought that was funny. :classic_biggrin:

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On 1/6/2021 at 10:59 PM, Dave334478 said:

I believe, everyone should spend some time off road

 

I'd definitely agree that dirt is a great "bike control" training medium that all riders should experience . 

 

I had an old motocross style bike  - many, many years  ago -   expressly for desert riding with a group of friends (who were vastly more experienced than I was  :cool: ) ... learned a lot. 

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  • 2 months later...

Add me to the list of dirt rider first, street rider second.

 

I learned on the dirt in the summer of 1976.  Had many painful wipeouts where I learned when to use the front brake and when not to.  Made some really bad mistakes, kinda funny looking back on it.

 

But I credit the painful summer of '76 for my staying alive on 2 wheels ever since.  Riding since then and no accidents, not counting my clumsiness in parking lots.

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On 1/7/2021 at 12:59 AM, Dave334478 said:

 

 

On 1/7/2021 at 12:59 AM, Dave334478 said:

Over the last 4 decades I've found myself in many unusual situations on a motorcycle while riding on the street.

 

I've done the flying squirrel at 100mph+, I've been trapped between the front and rear dual wheels of a semi (bottom dump) trailer on the freeway at freeway speeds, I've sat on the side of my motorcycle waiting for it to stop sliding down the road after hitting some unexpected sand in a corner, wearing nothing but a Gi.

 

I've always walked away and have never had a major injury. 

 

I owe it to growing up riding dirt bikes. 

 

Before I ever hit the street, I was already accustomed to every emergency maneuver anyone can think of. So when something unexpected happens on the street, it doesn't push me outside of my experience.

 

I believe, everyone should spend some time off road, pulling whatever crazy stunts they can think up before they are even allowed to get on a street bike.

 

 

Morning Dave334478

 

With all those major accidents it sounds like you owe your survival more  to luck than dirt-biking.  

 

Off-road riding  can teach a lot of things, like  motorcycle control, loose surface braking control, as well as other usable smaller motorcycle control techniques but it doesn't do much to teach common sense, or much to teach a rider how to read impending on-road potential accident situations, or teach on-road bad situation avoidance in traffic.

 

I believe the  basic idea is to take what you learn in off-road riding (dirt-biking) then use that to prevent on-road accidents not survive them.

 

    

 

 

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I was talking with a young man who raced motocross, very successful at it, ripping corners way too fast, tripling jumps thirty, forty feet in the air. He said those of us that ride motorcycles on the street in traffic are nuts! I had to laugh.

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I’m pretty sure this wasn’t 30/40 ft high in the air but I probably traveled that far in distance. First moto good, second moto not so good. I spent the next ten days in the hospital with broken stuff. It wasn’t all bad, they kept me chemically smiling for most of that time. :classic_biggrin:
 

image.thumb.jpeg.e421594c8ef6b5b12c2f3a5f54c43eec.jpeg

 

Point to my comment? I don’t have one, except that is one cool picture! :yes: :classic_biggrin:

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Dirt forces you to learn bike control if for no other reason than you're constantly making inputs for where you want the tires to be. As it becomes second nature applying it to pavement even though you're going faster is easy and at times even boring. This is Kenny Haynes and my buddy Dave exploring some Colorado two-track a few years ago, just cruising going with the flow. 

 

https://waybill.smugmug.com/Colorado-videos-Sept-17/i-gCTbQ6x/A

 

 

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  • 9 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

I'm coming to this thread a bit late but would like to chime in with my thoughts. Like many here, I started out on dirt bikes or what then was called a "trail bike" because it was street legal but came with high fenders and knobby tires. At age 14 I cut my teeth on riding and taking spills in the dirt, learning the importance of balance and body positioning, braking, and most of all having fun. 

 

That was over fifty years ago. 

 

In the intervening years, I've had many younger men approach me about getting into motorcycle riding and I've told them all the same thing; get on craigslist or similar and buy a cheap used dirt bike. Take your lumps in the dirt and get a feel for what it's like to ride on different surfaces and the outcomes. For younger men with families, I REALLY stress this and have told many to not even consider riding on the street until their children are grown and out of the house. I guess that's a symptom of getting older......giving advice in the extreme.

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I just take it for granted that I learned on mini bikes, dirt bikes, small street bikes, before finally moving up to full size bikes, with little time off between transitions to bigger sizes. I've taken a couple advanced riding classes, I constantly try to improve and learn technique, I take pride in my skills and know that there is room for much improvement.

Now I see people in their 30's, 40's, even 50's decide they want to ride and go out and buy a bike that is way too big to learn on. Some take a two day course, get their license, and think they're good to go. Some just ride, poorly, and go get their license (barely), and way too many just ride without a license (one guy with his wife riding pillion last weekend, bought the bike last year, his first ever, an 800 pound Harley no less, kind of pissed me off, but what the hell do I care?).

I worry about all these people starting later in life but not taking the learning process seriously enough, but generally it makes for nice low mileage used bikes to be available on the market, if they haven't been crashed from poor skills.

Dirt skills are the base for good street skills, of that I am pretty sure.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Really late to this thread.  Yes my dirt riding days taught me a lot about riding control, and not to panic when the bike gets squirrely and to be able to regain control.  Much of the low speed stuff I learned was with my much missed trials bike which pays dividends every time I’m maneuvering tight spaces like parking lots.

 

I would add that aside from dirt riding, nothing taught me more about backing it into a corner like riding on a studded up ice racer.   It was a very safe place to learn feet up near full lock power slides at 80+ mph. Don’t get many lumps learning the art of getting sideways on ice. The ice offers super consistent traction and if you do lowside flop, being dressed like the Michelin Tire Man even saves a bruise.  Having no fear of the sudden stop against an immovable object on a frozen lake really amps up being bold.

 

I’m in agreement with dirt rider that street skills are a different thing and it is all about situational awareness and applying some of those dirt learned control techniques when needed.  

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1 hour ago, Paul De said:

and not to panic when the bike gets squirrely and to be able to regain control.

 

One of the reasons intuitive dirt skills can save your bacon. Also when bad stuff happens in front of you, trying to stop may not be the best solution. those old dirt skills can help you avoid stuff by quickly changing trajectory. You already know that riding into a field, lawn, or even ditch, or jumping a curb isn't that big of a deal.  Of course if the Nazis are chasing you jumping a fence is a great solutions too. :cool:  :grin:

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I started riding dirt bikes before the 1st grade.  I remember it being that early because my dad kicked my butt when I rode my non-street legal bike to school and he got a call from the principle and the po-po.  I got a call that afternoon from a strap.

 

I rode my Penton all over Texas in the dirt....a few races...a few hill climbs.  I could slide/trail brake it with the best of them.  I could pull a wheelie and ride it until I was tired of it....so grew up with dirt skills. I use to sit on it backwards and ride it around.  I had 3 good dirt bikes growing up.  Thats all I rode from about age 6 until age 15.  It's been street bikes since.  That said....I'm not sure my dirt bike time translates much to our 600+ pound street bikes with linked brakes, traction control, high center of gravity, etc.  You can turn off traction control on my bike, but I know of no way to uncouple the brakes.  Trying to do trail braking just doesn't work.  I suppose in a slide in gravel or dirt counter steering experience is good, but the mass acceleration of these heavy street bikes is likely to cause a high side.  I dunno....maybe I remember more from my dirt days than I think.  I know it might be different on a GS as I've never owned or ridden one, but in my mind when you get over 500lbs with linked brakes I wonder.

 

 

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30 minutes ago, roadscholar said:

 

One of the reasons intuitive dirt skills can save your bacon. Also when bad stuff happens in front of you, trying to stop may not be the best solution. those old dirt skills can help you avoid stuff by quickly changing trajectory. 


I remember something happening right in front of me and scrambling those old dirt skills to try and avoid a bouncing @Endobob

 

Of course the GoPro just a minute before got shut off so no proof of it ever happening. I’m glad he was ok other than a few scrapes. :thumbsup:

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I believe if confronted with a panic situation especially at speed, ingrained avoidance techniques will still surface after being dormant for years no matter how big and heavy the bike, it just takes more force to move them. Like to think so anyway. I learned early on in racing (cars) trying to avoid bad shit in front of you means driving around (or thru) it, slowing down in time isn't an option ABS or not. One of the first things they teach you is if someone spins in front of you drive toward it, they won't be there when you get to it.

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1 hour ago, roadscholar said:

I believe if confronted with a panic situation especially at speed, ingrained avoidance techniques will still surface after being dormant for years no matter how big and heavy the bike, it just takes more force to move them. Like to think so anyway. I learned early on in racing (cars) trying to avoid bad shit in front of you means driving around (or thru) it, slowing down in time isn't an option ABS or not. One of the first things they teach you is if someone spins in front of you drive toward it, they won't be there when you get to it.

Afternoon Bill

 

You really need to practice the avoidance method  a LOT as you won't have time to think or revert. It needs to be ingrained in your muscle memory so your body is reacting before your mind even registers what is happening.   

 

I pretty well always ride avoidance just about any time I ride & it drives my wife nuts as she doesn't react until I am well off-line & on my way around the problem. 

 

When that car suddenly pulls out on front of you, or runs a stop sign, you need to be most of the way around the problem before your mind even registers what is happening.  That comes from well ingrained daily practiced muscle memory.  

 

 

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That practice is definitely part of my everyday riding. It helped tremendously to go through an advanced riding class, of which I am about due for another.

 

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46 minutes ago, Hosstage said:

That practice is definitely part of my everyday riding. It helped tremendously to go through an advanced riding class, of which I am about due for another.

 

Afternoon  Hosstage

 

If you are a long time seasoned rider then those advanced riding classes don't do much, at least I haven't found them to be a great help. 

 

If you can worm your way into a real police training class (actually classes as they are not a one day affair)  THAT is where the real learning comes from. 

 

It will leave a mark so take an older motorcycle that you don't cherish & pre-prepare to have your ego adjusted, but you WILL come out the other side with a FAR BETTER  understanding of motorcycle control  & what your motorcycle is capable of. 

 

The above, plus ride with a group of very advanced dirt riders with properly setup & powerful dirt bikes on narrow, twisty, tree lined, rock/log strewn, deep sugar-sand 2 tracks.   This will either make you a better avoidance rider, or make you quit dirt riding with that group (I have seen it go both ways) .

 

 

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58 minutes ago, dirtrider said:

Afternoon  Hosstage

 

If you are a long time seasoned rider then those advanced riding classes don't do much, at least I haven't found them to be a great help. 

 

 

 

 

I totally disagree.  I have been riding bikes for 40 years or more and started in dirt.  But I have learned something from every class I have ever take no matter the level of it.

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9 hours ago, dirtrider said:

Afternoon Bill

 

You really need to practice the avoidance method  a LOT as you won't have time to think or revert. It needs to be ingrained in your muscle memory so your body is reacting before your mind even registers what is happening.   

 

I pretty well always ride avoidance just about any time I ride & it drives my wife nuts as she doesn't react until I am well off-line & on my way around the problem. 

 

When that car suddenly pulls out on front of you, or runs a stop sign, you need to be most of the way around the problem before your mind even registers what is happening.  

 

 

 

All true dirtrider for most riders, practicing the avoidance mindset is important. But like you, decades of dirt riding plus car racing have made me hyper aware of the surroundings and situations although I know the reflexes are waning these days. Because of the speeds in racing you're always looking for and dealing with stuff way out in front. Racecar drivers are mostly predictable and going in the same direction (usually), street drivers on the other hand are neither so I get plenty of practice just around my neighborhood : )

 

When (I was) riding just putting on the helmet triggered an extra level of awareness and caution from the years of competition. On a couple occasion traveling 80-85 in the left lane of a crowded six lane interstate and seeing tire smoke then a spinning car bouncing off the guardrail 100 yards ahead, while the cars between us were on the brakes hard and some getting caught up in it I'm looking in the mirrors for a clear path to the right shoulder or grass beyond it.

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I raced low budget circle track cars for a short time, been riding for over 40 years, always looking for my "out". We go thru safety driving classes at work also, the key of course is to always be aware.

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 On a couple occasion traveling 80-85 in the left lane of a crowded six lane interstate and seeing tire smoke then a spinning car bouncing off the guardrail 100 yards ahead, while the cars between us were on the brakes hard and some getting caught up in it I'm looking in the mirrors for a clear path to the right shoulder or grass beyond it.

Afternoon Bill 

 

That statement kind of covers my the reason for my statement above.  That can help & is way/way better than most riders but by having to look in your mirrors looking for an out  you have already covered at least half of the 100 yards before you even make a move. 

 

A good (constantly practicing)  avoidance rider should already have that out & be moving quickly off line long before their mind can decipher the mirror data & get the body to react.   

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26 minutes ago, Hosstage said:

I raced low budget circle track cars for a short time, been riding for over 40 years, always looking for my "out". We go thru safety driving classes at work also, the key of course is to always be aware.

 

Any kind of motorsport competition is good training for survival on the street, but try this for 12 hours on the world's roughest (paved) track with 85 other determined assholes trying to occupy your space, we're on the left going around the outside : )

 

2.jpg

 

 

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23 minutes ago, dirtrider said:

Afternoon Bill 

 

That statement kind of covers my the reason for my statement above.  That can help & is way/way better than most riders but by having to look in your mirrors looking for an out  you have already covered at least half of the 100 yards before you even make a move. 

 

A good (constantly practicing)  avoidance rider should already have that out & be moving quickly off line long before their mind can decipher the mirror data & get the body to react.   

 

Again true, it all happens in a fraction of a second, I probably didn't write it that way (correctly). 

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4 hours ago, Skywagon said:

Trying to do trail braking just doesn't work. 

BMWs actually trail brake very well.  You can definitely use the brakes while cornering and that includes the front brake.  Trail braking is not just using the rear brake and if done correctly really helps set the bike into the curve. Some of the best examples of trail braking that I have found on YouTube are from Canyon Chasers worth a look. 

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I do use both brakes. What I mean by trail braking is rear only to slide into a corner.  How does the RT do that..like flat track.  Those bikes don't even have a front brake.

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11 hours ago, Skywagon said:

I do use both brakes. What I mean by trail braking is rear only to slide into a corner.  How does the RT do that..like flat track.  Those bikes don't even have a front brake.

 

You are mixing definitions.  Trail braking is defined as braking with your brakes into a corner while turning and gradually releasing those brakes (usually prior to corner apex) as you progress through the corner.  What you are referring to is more of a pivot turn.

 

 

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11 hours ago, TSConver said:

You are mixing definition

 

Thanks....well that explains why I was confused with the post saying the RT does great trail braking.  I understand what you said now.

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