The Offroad Noobie Blues

The Offroad Noobie Blues

I just need a moment to be honest and to get this stuff off my chest. Maybe some of you can relate.

I had a great time this past weekend doing the Berkshire Big Adventure dual sport ride. I found it to be pretty challenging at times and introduced me to terrain that would have been outside of what I would say is my comfort zone. I managing to keep myself upright and rode through to the end. I wasn’t fast, but I got there eventually.

Overall I felt good about my riding and thought I made some progress. Until the following day when I began to watch videos of the ride. Holy crap.

Hanging my head in shame
Hanging my head in shame

I … Suck

Now with the gift of hindsight and video to back me up, I find it depressing. I just want to pack up all of my dirt gear and put it out at the curb for the garbage man to haul away.

Video is a blessing and a curse.

In our group no one at any time did or said anything to make me feel like I was an anchor. As a matter of fact, they gave me a lot of encouragement when I would make it to where they were waiting at the end of each trail section. But damn it, watching the videos back and seeing just how long they were waiting for me in some cases was absolutely cringe-worthy.

I feel terribly embarrassed.

The point of riding isn’t to compare yourself with others. I’ve been riding motorcycles long enough to know this. But here I am a noob all over again and find myself asking – when moving with a group, how can you do anything but? When you are the cause of people having to wait or worse yet worry, it can be hard to just brush it off.

Finding the time to go to an organized event for busy people with families can be tough. I just cant help but wonder – if you make them stand around waiting for you would they prefer if you didn’t ride along with them?

I don’t know if I’m cut out for this type of riding. It seems like I lack the right constitution or something. Maybe this off road business isn’t for me?

Sheepishly,

Embarrassed on Long Island

19 Replies to “The Offroad Noobie Blues”

  1. I haven’t ridden in dirt for many years, but I grew up riding (and occasionally racing) on it. IMO, having a dirt background helps a lot in certain street situations, but not many street skills xfer to the dirt. I crashed/stalled on water crossings/got stuck in mud bogs/fell backwards down hills/you name it a zillion times until things just began to click. You seem like a very determined person; I’d bet that if you desire to increase your off-road skill level, you’ll do just that. I also bet your’re being too tough on yourself, which is something I can sympathize with. More hours (no surprise there) and focused practice helped me; my Dad encouraged me to spend time working on specific skills such as jumping,crossing logs,hills (up/down/crossways),water, lofting the front, etc. We also goofed around with ultra-slow, trials-type riding. But it was easier in the ’70s ‘cuz many more people rode in the dirt and most of the mags had monthly articles for improving your skills.

    1. Thanks for the pep-talk, Doug.

      I think what it comes down to is that I need more practice and to suspend the drive to make myself crazy.

      There is no question that I am having an issues with expecting a comfort level that I have riding a street bike – that just isn’t possible right now. Too much, too soon. And then I end up beating myself up because it isnt there.

      So if Doug says… Ride More. how can i argue with that? πŸ™‚

  2. Oh, buddy, don’t sweat it. I used to participate in group rides every week and I can tell you from experience that nobody minds waiting for the last rider. By definition, there always is a last rider. And waiting gives everyone a chance to catch their breath. Other riders are focusing on their own experience, not thinking about yours. Only you are.

    Plus, you get better with practice. We all start off slow and those will talent (which you obviously possess) move up naturally.

    1. Thanks for the head-check , Ralph. There is no doubt I am my own worst enemy, imagining everyone miserably waiting on me.

      nobody minds waiting for the last rider. By definition, there always is a last rider

      Good point. I don’t mind being the caboose on the street – why would i mind here?
      It’s all in my head… it’s all in my head… it’s all in my head…

  3. Oh my.

    M’lady, you so don’t suck. Not sure if you watched the same vids of you I did, but there were some great clips there. What YOU don’t see (which is a shame because EVERYONE ELSE sees) is that you went all-in and were kicking butt, plain and simple. There were some real challenging sections out there, and you took them all in stride, rode well, took every obstacle and made it through. Did you watch all the clips were everyone was cheering about how much you were kicking butt?

    Even though I can speak succinctly about what everyone else was saying, I will merely speak for myself – I was totally proud of you and psyched every time you pulled up at each stop. Yes, there are times when worry comes in to play – but it’s not worry about your ability, it’s worry about the unknowns that have nothing to do with your riding ability. It happens when people care about you. And it’s not real “worry”.

    Nobody cares about waiting the VERY short period of time for everyone to group back together, so I hope you can put that to rest. I challenge you to find a single person in that group that wouldn’t LOVE to do a dirt ride with you again, any time, anywhere. bah, skip the group – I’ll talk for myself. I loved getting to do that with you and look forward to many more.

    Please give yourself some credit – you are really doing well.

  4. Waiting is what a group of dirt riders does. You wait for the next guy. It’s a safety issue and common courtesy. I’d be more worried if I found myself in a group that didn’t wait for people.

    Ride lots. Keep learning. If you feel like you’re stuck in a learning rut, take a training course.

    Ride lots.

    Ride lots.

    Ride lots.

    1. “stuck in a rut”?
      I see what you did there πŸ˜‰

      Yes, you’re right on all counts.
      I dont mind waiting on other people in street scenarios, i dont know why i am so hung up on feeling like i am ruining other people’s rides by having them wait on me. I guess if they really felt bothered or put out, they’d say so. I’d better learn to trust that.

  5. I echo everything crudmop says I have seen your immense progress in the past couple months personally. You went from a timid packed dirt rider to one who didn’t even blink at the terrain in the berkshires. I distinctly remember seeing you go full tilt through an ocean or two if you think that doesn’t take courage or skill your mistaken. If you feel like you were out of control going through it you weren’t. A lot of that riding mine included is pointing and shooting and trusting the bike which you do. Controlled chaos as I have said before. And I will ride with you anytime because I trust you as a rider and you ride your ride. If you aren’t the fastest big whoop sure some of us worry like crudmop said but when he said to me on the trail about getting worried the FIRST thing I said was don’t she doesn’t ride above her head which is a great quality.

    But hey I could talk all day but simply put you are doing awesome keep it up! And when are we all riding again?

    1. Thanks, B.
      I could so hug you right now.

      I’m definitely learning a lot riding with you guys. When I can see you anyway πŸ˜† I think just watching you guys working the bike helps me to learn by example. So, we’d better get back out there soon.

  6. Ready your post sounds exactly like me when I started out with my local group of dirt riders. They were all on nimble 600-singles and I was on a hulking great R1200GS. On every type of terrain they were flying ahead of me and always waiting for me to catch up. Β In my case, as soon as I caught up they set off again not giving me a chance to catch my breath.

    After that first ride I was ready to jack the whole thing in. I couldn’t believe I was so bad.

    Luckily I decided to go out with them again. Before we set off one of the guys said that if I need to rest when they stopped then I should say so. Talking to them I also found that they all had suggestions, hint, advice and they all said how impressed they were with my riding last time… even though I thought I was cr*p.

    So don’t give up. Get back out there and, more important than giving it your all, talk to the other riders out there. They’ll be almost certain to be willing to share advice, praise and at the very least trail-tales that will make you want to get out there and ride!

    1. Hi Adrian-

      if I need to rest when they stopped then I should say so.

      Funny how that works, isn’t it? So simple, but sometimes it can be hard because you don’t want to feel like you’re putting anyone out. you’d rather shoulder the weight yourself.

      I guess though, that they’d rather wait at the trail for you to collect yourself rather than at the emergency room.

      Oof, the GS is huge. You must be Superman! πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the advice and the encouragement!

    1. I miss you, Ed!
      Why you no come round?

      I kinda doubt that ( a lot) but thanks πŸ™‚
      Looks like you and the donut-wheeled TW are having a great time out there in the mountains. The scenery that you get to take in is so beautiful.

  7. First off, I love your website and frequently visit, but have never commented before.

    Years and years ago, when I had my dirt-bike, I rode lots and was probably pretty horrible at it, but I didn’t care, I had fun riding it. I had a blast riding it in fact. I rode on trails, usually alone because I didn’t know anybody else (I always left my location and estimated time of return with our duty officer) and I my only concern was that I was having fun. Sure people were faster, jumping higher, and carving corners much harder, but that wasn’t the point of being out there. Don’t focus on trying to keep up, just focus on having fun.

    1. Hey Russ-
      You’re right. It’s all about having fun. And I really did have a great time riding the event.

      A few people who were on the ride, that read this post basically told me to stop being an idiot – no one minded waiting, etc. So , I just have to put that noise out of my head and get back out there and keep riding.

      Glad you finally decided to say ‘hello’ πŸ™‚

  8. What are you talking about? I saw your other post first (with video) and you were flying through the water and the rough terrain, am I missing something? someone always has to come last and it’s okay to wait, last year when I did the Pinelands enduro, my friend Wayne had to wait for me, big deal he’s a little better than me, what matters is that you had fun πŸ˜‰

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