6 Essentials For Riding Dirt Bike Alone

Finding riding buddies at any given time can be difficult at times. If it’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon and everyone is busy, but you have a perfectly good dirt bike sitting in the garage that is begging to be ridden, what’s going to stop you? Some people will never ride without someone else with them due to safety risks. While I completely understand that, some people have schedules that make it very difficult to find riding partners, and that shouldn’t make you get rid of your dirt bike.

So, if you really want to ride your dirt bike like I do but can’t find friends to ride with, it’s time to get yourself and your bike ready for some  solo adventures. Not only are there things you should bring with you in case of emergency, there’s some general guidelines that you should follow when riding alone so you reduce the chances of an accident.

Phone

Whether you’re out riding in your backyard, or 10 miles out in a forest, it’s a good idea to bring a cell phone. If you or your bike can’t make it back safely, you need to be able to contact someone for help. This alone can save you from most disasters.

Wallet/Cash

Having some ID and cash on hand can also get you out of a jam. In a worst case scenario, someone may need to know who you are and who to contact. A concussion may knock you out and cause some short-term memory loss. Also, if something breaks, you run out of gas, or your dirt bike needs a tow, having some money with you will save a lot of time, and may allow you to get help from the right person. You can put your wallet and phone in zip-loc bags so they stay dry.

Hand Tools, Not Tool Hands

Riding Alone In The Woods
Riding Alone In The Woods

Have you ever tried fixing or replacing parts on your dirt bike without any tools? It sucks, doesn’t it… This is why it’s a good idea to bring a small tool pack along on your solo rides. Adding more weight to my ride is not something I’m fond of, but in this case it can possibly save me hours of frustration. If you already ride with a small backpack, just add some of the most used tools for your bike, such as a few wrenches, a pair of screwdrivers, pliers, duct tape, zip ties, a spark plug, and anything else you might use on a regular basis.

You Might Get Hungry/Thirsty

Always bring water. You don’t always know how long you will be out for, and dehydration can be very dangerous. Not drinking enough before and during your riding session will drain your energy, and it will cause you to lose concentration. A camelbak is the most convenient way to carry water since you can mount a hose to your helmet to drink while riding. You can also store some small snacks or extra tools in the available pockets. Having a couple energy/granola bars with your water can give you just enough juice to safely get you back in home case of emergency.

Don’t Be Dumb

It’s just something I have to say because it seems like every time I get on a dirt bike I feel like conquering the world. Unfortunately, this is not the best mindset when flying solo on a dirt bike. While dirt biking is inherently risk-taking, if you’re pushing yourself as fast as you can go, an accident will happen sooner rather than later. One little divot or tree that you oversee or miscalculate and you’re on the ground. Going fast is fun, and it’s so easy to get the adrenaline pumping, but if you come up to a very challenging and/or dangerous obstacle, I encourage you to take an extra minute to decide if it’s worth taking the risk. You can stay get faster by riding in your comfort zone; it’s called riding smarter. A few little bobbles or near-misses are okay every once in a while; that means you’re running at a good pace. But if you’re coming close to hitting things or wiping out every couple minutes, you need to slow down.

Tell Someone

Last, but not least, if you’re going to ride alone, ALWAYS tell someone where you’re going and about how long you plan on riding for. A family member, a riding friend that couldn’t make it in time, or even a good neighbor if you happen to have one. Even if you’re an experienced rider, all it takes is one little accident to produce a life-threatening situation, and being stuck out in the middle of nowhere without anyone knowing where you are is one of the worst case scenarios.

This article is not to scare you from riding alone (although I believe it’s always safer to ride with someone), but merely to prepare you and to help reduce the number of dangerous situations. So please, plan ahead, ride safe, and have fun!

-Tom Stark

Bought New Motocross Boots & Can’t Shift – Break-In

Buying new motocross boots is both a great feeling and a tough one (pun intended) as well. Riding with fresh gear can be like riding a new bike because everything is tight and still altogether. However, when you buy new boots, they are usually hard as a rock and suck to ride in without breaking them in first. That is, unless, you spend several hundreds bills on a pair of MX boots that don’t require break-in.

If you’ve never put your feet in a new pair of boots, just imagine putting your feet in ski or snowboarding boots; stiff and weird to walk in at first. If you can’t bend your ankle up and down then you will have a very hard time shifting, and using the rear brake will have much less feel because you have to move your whole foot.

So, how do you break them in so they’re actually usable for a race or long day in the wilderness? The easiest, although probably the longest way is just by riding with them until the leather of the boot is broken in. Before I go any further, you should know that for dirt bike riding boots work properly and help protect your feet from injury they have to be stiff. If you happen to fall off your bike and land on your feet, and you rarely land perfectly flat, you need the boots to hold together and not flex because your feet are going to do the same.

It can take several hours of riding before your new boots are feeling comfortable, so I wouldn’t do any important rides or racing with them until they are.

If you want to break them in with little to no riding, you can work your riding boots in off of the bike. It’s as simple as bending the boots back and forth at the ankle (where it would normally bend while riding. Just grab the top and bottom of the boot with your hands and flex the shin towards the toes, and then back the opposite direction. Keep doing this for a few minutes until you feel the leather start to loosen up.

New Motocross Boots
New Motocross Boots

Once you’ve worked the boots in with your hands, put them on your feet and buckle it up. Don’t need them too tight as you won’t be riding quite yet. You’re basically doing the same thing as you did with your hands. Just crouch down so your knees are bent and rock your ankles back and forth so the boots stretch out.

After doing this for a few minutes, the your new boots should be flexed enough to be able to ride with them. Go ahead and gear up and hop on your dirt bike for a ride. This simple process will help break your fresh boots in with minimal riding. A good 30 minutes of riding with shifting and braking involved and you are ready to race again with better support!

There’s many other ways to break in your new dirt bike boots, such as heating them in the oven, walking around in them all day, as well as soaking them in water and walking around in them until they loosen up. Any way you do it, there’s going to be some break-in process before you are able to ‘feel’ the shift lever and brake pedal while riding.

If it’s hard to shift at first, try sticking the toe of your boot under the shift lever and lift your entire boot up. It’s a good technique to get used to in case you are standing and need to shift.

Ride safe, and go moto!

-Tom Stark