If one is to be a great motorcycle rider, one must learn all the different styles. I’ve been riding motocross for the past two years to get more comfortable with low traction situations while on road tracks. Motocross tracks typically offer all manner of traction conditions, from loose dirt, to hard-packed clay to deep sand and glorious, tacky mud. The nature of riding MX is to control it with your legs and let the bike move around freely below you.
To brush up I headed to a new track called Gotham Mountain MX with friends Angelo, Corey and Kelli. The temp was touching into 100 degrees but I put down about a dozen decent laps around the track. Corey and Angelo don’t ride tracks. They’re enduro riders – that’s when you ride offroad bikes through the trails. Gotham mountain has 300 acres of trails, so I figured it was my time to practice the nuanced skill of enduro riding. Enduro is all about reading the terrain, showing massive bike control at low speeds and skillfully traversing obstacles, like logs and boulders. Oftentimes, the trail you’re rolling through is no wider than your handlebars, so squeezing through trees is part of the game.
On the flat stuff, I was actually pretty good. I wheelied over concrete draining pipes that crossed our path, navigated the trail well and got over most obstacles on my first go. Then came the downhills. Part of the trail was on what felt like a 50 degree decline. That downhill destroyed me. I was trying to slow the bike with the rear brake to allow me to pick a direction and thread the needle, the whole time riding on slick stone surfaces and polished tree roots. I crashed about 10 times. It was grueling. The thing is once you crash, the bike falls halfway down the mountain. Then I had to chase it and try to lift it back up while still on the side of a decline and standing on the same shiny slabs of granite. I left beaten, bruised and exhausted. But I’ll do it again. Angelo and Corey taught me a lot about weight distribution and body position at low speeds. Phil Kavanagh – the founder of CCC has thousands of miles through Wales on his enduro and he also shared a great bit of advice – in enduro riding, especially downhill, don’t go slow – gas it, pick your line and hold on. That sounds about right.