OK, it’s my lunch break, so now I can write more. 😉 Silly day job.
We were up at the ass crack of dawn on Saturday (literally — we woke up before sunrise) to get ready and drive to the track by 7am. Turned out that we didn’t need to rush; the shuttle wasn’t even there to take us from the road track to dirt staging area until almost 8:30am. Ah well, we got to hang out with the other ladies and get some incredulous looks aimed at our dirt gear. I thought it was interesting that all of these super kickass experienced track ladies were impressed that we were doing the dirt class.
We met our fellow dirty girlz on the shuttle over to the dirt track; besides the four of us, there was Kate (who rides a R1150GS) and Nancy (who rides off-road only, not street, but I don’t remember which dirtbike she has).
The dirt class itself was held on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s motocross track. Kawasaki was sponsoring the class, so they had a big trailer with a tent and all kinds of bikes from KLX110s to the KLX250S dual-sport.
If the bike selection was good, the coaching staff was amazing. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the names of all of the coaches (we split into two groups, so I only ever talked to our group’s coaches), but our group worked with Tania Satchwell, the 2001 Women’s Pro National Champion. Another of the coaches was Mercedes Gonzalez (5 times Womenâ€™s MX Champion â€“ Loretta Lynnâ€™s Amateur Nationals and 9 times Womenâ€™s MX National Champion IWMSA, WMXA, WMSA, WIMSA).
The class itself was really fun — it was an MSF class, so we did the same sort of drills that you do at the Basic Riding Course, only on the dirty and rocky course. 🙂 We practiced braking and not freaking out when the rear slides (“gas off, clutch in, rear brake, front brake”) — totally opposite of street riding. Effective, though, and I can’t wait to try it out on the XT!
We did a few large ovals practicing standing up and sitting down, which I was pretty good at, but then they also had us practice shifting up and down all while standing up. That one was a little trickier for me; I kept accidentally shifting into neutral when going from 1st to 2nd, oops. By the end of the drill, though, I was vaguely competent.
I think after the ovals we did cone weaving, with an emphasis on “steering” by standing up and pressing on the inside footpeg. The bikes are so light and reponsive that they really dance around those cones and weave! It was a little unnerving at first, but got fun fast.
Then we did long, tight ovals and small, tight circles. These are the bane of my existance on the street, and I didn’t always do much better on the dirt. 😉 Actually, that’s not totally true; I did well on the ovals and on the counterclockwise tight circles, but those righthanded circles still tense me up like crazy. I think my brain just doesn’t like going clockwise, since my skating crossovers are weaker in that direction, too.
Our final drill was to do a really tight S-sort of weave down the length of the long oval. It involved doing both the press-on-inside-footpeg of the weave with the counterbalancing of the tight circles. This was definitely the hardest drill (so, of course, that’s when the photographers and video crew came out, heh), but we were all wooping and cheering and hooting and hollering. I don’t think I ever made it around the full circle without missing at least one cone, but I definitely improved by the end, and was laughing and having a great time.
After the drills, Mercedes took the four of us from our group (myself, Yosh, Kristina, Nancy) on a little trail ride over and around and through the motocross track. Becca’s group had gone earlier while we were still doing drills, so they were on a water break and Becca was able to take some really awesome pictures. Thanks again, Becca!
I was second in line, right behind Mercedes, and was a little nervous at first because of the tall hills, deep ruts, and soft sand in places. After a few minutes, though, my brain finally switched on and told me, “Carolyn, how often will you ever get to directly follow the lines of a national champion??”. After that, I could relax and smile and let Mercedes do all the hard work of picking lines.
And then we sadly got back into the shuttle to head back to the main track for lunch.