READY TO RIDE
By Julie Musil
“Ready to ride?” Dad shouts to Devin over the rumble of their dirt bikes.
“Let’s go,” Devin answers. He’s always ready.
Devin’s hands vibrate as he throttles up the mountain trail behind his house. The bitter wind numbs his red, runny nose. The dirt below is just the way he likes it: slightly muddy after the recent rains. The whine of his two-stroke motor is music to his ears, and the wobble of his knobby tires is like ballet on two wheels.
A motor? On my bicycle?
Devin’s love of this sport began at age eleven. But dirt bike riding humbly began in the 1800's, when engines were strapped to ordinary bicycles. Can you imagine a motor attached to your bike? Because most roads were not yet paved, these bikes were driven on dirt. Picking up steam and popularity since the end of the second world war, dirt bike riding has evolved into an exciting, challenging sport.
Catch me...if you can!
Dirt bike riding demands qualities such as strength, endurance, and balance. And did I mention guts? Dirt bike riders have a thrill-seeking nature, an inner courage, and a need for speed. Riding on a track or trail is not your ordinary bike ride. Whipping around turns, soaring over jumps, and balancing your body over a powerful, heavy machine takes serious skill.
Safety Equipment = Less Injuries
Injuries are a pain; so how does Devin protect his body while riding? Dirt bike riders wear helmets and chest protectors. They wear goggles to protect their eyes, and riding gloves for comfort and better grip. They also wear tall, steel-toed riding boots, a jersey, and padded riding pants. Devin’s crashed a few times, and fortunately his gear got the knocking, not unprotected body parts.
The Pros Know
Dirt bike riding also has professionals. One type of pro racing is called “Motocross.” This word stems from “motorcycle” and “cross country.” The AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) hosts major competitions throughout the year and all across the United States. Riders at the top of their game compete against each other for national titles in a number of age-, skill- and machine-based classes.
Icy Fingers or a Hot Head
But Devin, he just likes to get out and ride. He’ll ride with his dad, or with friends. He’ll ride the dirt trails surrounding his country home, or the salt flats of Baja California. He’ll ride when the cold air stiffens his hands, or when it’s so hot his helmet makes his head feel like a baked potato. Devin’s main competition is himself. He challenges himself to zoom faster, soar higher, and constantly improve his riding skills.
“Nice ride,” Dad says when they return, after their noisy bikes are silenced.
They peel their helmets off and, despite the cold, sweat trickles down their faces. Steam rises from their overheated heads, and their fingers slowly straighten out after gripping the twist throttle.
Devin smiles and thinks, yep, nice ride. Then asks Dad, “When can we go again?”