Today is the first day of Fall (first full day) and with school in session, cold weather coming (if not already arrived) and now a month since the crowning of a Motocross Champion it's easy to get cooped up in the house especially if tracks near you close for the season.
Fall is a great time to go off-road or trail riding on dirt bikes with the kids and offer a different perspective than the whoops and jumps. If you're a dirt bike riding family and have never taken the time to venture down forest trails and obscure paths in the woods now is a great time to start.
Moreover, off-road dirt bike riding is a great way to introduce your kids to the sport. It's less intimidating and more relaxed than starting out on a Motocross track. If your child immediately takes to riding then you know a future in Motocross is around the corner. If they don't care for it much, then you won't have to invest the time and money it takes to start riding competitively.
Off-road dirt bike riding in the fall months gets you in places most people don't spend a lot of time and if you love the changing colors of the leaves you'll be awestruck. What you see from the roads or in your neighborhood doesn't compare to an immense canopy of red, orange and yellow leaves. Plus, off-road riding gives you a chance to talk to your kids about respecting public lands and teaching good stewardship of the trails and natural environment around them.
What's great about riding trails, if you're already vested into Motocross, is you have all the gear. What you wear riding on a Motocross track is the same stuff you put on for trail riding. Boots, gloves, helmet, jersey and pants. If it's really cold out you might want to invest in some cold or wet weather gear, so check out our Dirt Bike Rain Gear Guide for ideas if you need to add some layers. Check out our Motocross Protective Gear Guide for Kids if you're just starting out.
Remember, trail and off-road riding is about the adventure not who wins. Of course, winding curves, logs and a variety of elevation changes add to the fun but there's no finish line. What's more, this is a great opportunity to teach your kids to "share the trails." You'll quickly discover others enjoy trail riding in the fall so take the time to show courtesy by letting others pass, if necessary, and leaving room for oncoming dirt bike traffic.
Additionally, riding dirt bikes on forest trails or other off-road paths is not permission to ride wherever. Stay on the designated paths and within boundary areas. Trails that specifically welcome dirt bikes provide signage and other markers designed to show you the way and where not to go.
While watching the leaves drop, keep an eye out for wildlife not only for your safety but to see animals you might not normally encounter. The noise of your machines might scare off most animals but those used to passing dirt bikers might make an appearance yet keep their distance. Deer are a good bet in most sections of the country. Check your state's National Forest website to research what other critters to keep an eye on.
If this is your first time off-roading you'll learn quickly that a new set of muscles get tested and keeping vigilant to your surroundings is a must. Standing water poses some of the biggest threats because a puddle that looks a few inches deep might actually be more like a foot. An abrupt front-end drop can send even the most experienced rider over the handlebars. If you're taking the kids with you, always bring another adult - one in the front to keep an eye out for potential hazards and one in the rear to prevent children from lagging behind and getting lost. Overarching tree branches can also surprise so if you're in the lead make sure those behind you know what's coming.
Perhaps the best part if you venture out this autumn and trail ride with the kids is the quality family time. You not only get to share a great riding experience together but dirt bike riding can also give your children a sense of independence since they're the ones at the controls. Don't forget lunch either. After a few hours of great riding and beautiful sightseeing, grab the snacks and sandwiches you brought, find a place to settle down and talk about your day. Once you've refueled, both you and the bikes, pack up your stuff and get back riding. Don't litter. If there's no trash cans, take your wrappings with you.
Lastly, most if not all forestry and public lands require spark arrestors. Loud exhausts are not welcome and they carry pretty steep fines. If you need a spark arrestor, we carry a variety of spark arrestors for 2-stroke and 4-stroke bikes. Don't forget the first aid kit either!
Off-road and trail riding during the autumn months is a great time to get outside and enjoy your dirt bike. Respect the lands and other riders but most of all have fun and enjoy nature from the best seat in the house.
Written By: AndrewT