Motorcycle sales are up and the industry is flourishing. The top manufacturers are having a hard time keeping up with the demand. Women currently make up one of the fastest-growing segments in the industry. More and more new riders are bringing fresh perspectives to the motorcycle community. These are all incredible changes for a sport that has experienced difficulty growing over the last decade. With all these new riders out and about, where will they go? To the trails or the motocross track?

Historically, the data has shown a high percentage of dirt bikes never see the motocross track. Typically, off-road motorcycle trails follow a similar trail rating system to ski runs and mountain bike trails. You can plan your ride by selecting trails using a simple trail rating system ranging from green, blue, black diamond, and double black diamond. This simple yet effective rating system connects new trail riders with a difficulty ranking system that they are likely already familiar with. Without a recognizable ranking system, motocross tracks can be intimidating to a new rider.

As a coach who works primarily with new to intermediate level female riders and in honor of International Women’s Ride Day, I wanted to create a simple guide to help new riders tackle the track for the first time. Additionally, as a rider who came into the sport without any family ties or friends to help lead the way I know how scary it feels to roll up to the track by yourself. With a little know-how, taking on the track doesn’t have to be a huge scary leap. Plus, it will help build new skills you just can’t practice on the trails. So let’s jump in!

Call Before You Haul!

Most motocross tracks have a system in place to help manage track time for riders with various skill levels. These same systems also are very helpful for beginners looking to ease into motocross riding, but it’s not something that is commonly advertised. Often this information is readily available on the track website, but I always find it helpful to call and talk to a real person. Here are a few examples you’ll likely find at your local motocross track.

1. Organized Practice

This is a great way to get track time with a group of riders that are close to your skill level. It’s also great for the safety of all riders! If you’re unsure what class to ride with it’s always best to talk with someone who’s in charge of organizing practice or someone you trust that can truthfully rank your skill level.

2. Progressive Jumps

Most public motocross tracks don’t have jumps where riders are forced to navigate high consequence landings as you see in Supercross. Many motocross tracks have jumps that are built for progression. For example, it’s common for a jump to have several options for landings, which is where the terms double, triple, and quad come in. This way riders can progressively work their way up to bigger jumps and the track is friendlier to a variety of skill levels.

3. Flaggers

This is a huge part of track safety as all motocross tracks have blind spots. Flaggers play a crucial role in keeping practice or race days running smoothly by alerting other riders of important information via colored flags. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the flag colors and their meaning before getting on the track.

4. Multiple Tracks

Not all, but many facilities have several tracks ranging from a beginner-friendly course to a GP-style track with wide sweeping turns. These are usually great options to spin laps on before heading over to the main track.

Riding Smart and Track Safety

1. Hold Your Line

It can feel counterintuitive to not pull over to let the faster rider by, but it’s much safer to hold your line when there are other lines available to make a pass. Making a sudden change in direction can cause a collision rather than make it easier for the faster rider to get by.

2. Track Entrance and Exit

Pay close attention to track direction and where you are allowed to enter or exit the track. Most tracks will have designated locations for this, but if they don’t keep in mind what obstacles may be blocking you from the view of other riders on the track. As a rule of thumb never enter the track on or near the landing of a jump, for example.

3. What to do if you crash

First and foremost, if you are able, get up and off the track as soon as possible. Always remember to take stock where you are on the track in relation to obstacles that may block the view of approaching riders. If you can alert a flagger, do so as quickly as possible. If there are no flaggers, position yourself in a location that is safe and visible to other riders to alert them of other down riders, bikes, or various hazards that can result in a pileup. Things happen fast in motocross, always be alert!

4. Know the Rules

Familiarize yourself with the track rules and study the flags commonly used in racing and practice. If you’re unfamiliar don’t be afraid to ask other riders or the track owners.

Take a Sight Lap

Sight laps are used to familiarize yourself with the track before getting out and dropping the hammer. Taking a sight lap can help you know what obstacles are ahead and how to prepare for them. It’s best to not let your ego get in the way and to get to know the track well, I personally always take a sight lap even if I know the track well because conditions can change from day to day.

Most importantly remember that riding motocross is FUN! It’s hard to beat the feeling of finding the flow and nailing perfect lap times. Motocross tracks offer a great learning experience for riders of all skill levels and the community aspect is absolutely incredible. Whether you’re an experienced trail rider or brand new to riding the motocross track is a great place to practice fast-paced skills. If you’re new to the sport, it’s also a great place to hang around like minded people.

Plus, who doesn’t love riding perfectly groomed dirt first thing in the morning? It’s the closest thing we dirt bike riders have to powder days on the mountain. You don’t have to be a pro or huck big jumps to ride on the motocross track. Now get out there and go spin some laps!

About Kaitlyn: She is a former employee of MotoSport and current USMCA Certified Dirt Bike Coach & Dirtastic Coach .