We've all been there.
Whether it's your first time behind the wheel, first day of high school, first day on the job or the first time at the Motocross track - things go better when you know what the heck you're doing.
Experience always helps but isn't nice to know some of the more obvious rules or even unwritten rules of the moto track so you don't look like a spode?
We spoke with some of the "Guys That Ride" at MotoSport and interviewed Rick Wylder who co-owns and operates Thursday Night Motocross in Portland, OR for what new riders should know before they hit the track.
- Bring the Proper Bike
Don't bring an enduro or off-road bike to the track. These bikes, called dual-sport or trail bike, often have lights, a kickstand, a larger fuel tank and are heavier than their motocross counterparts. They just don't get the job done on a track filled with triples, tight corners and whoops.
- Wear a Complete Set of Safety Gear
Helmet, boots, gloves, chest protector, goggles, knee braces and the proper riding attire. You're going to crash, eventually, and if you crash your first time out you don't want it to be your last time out. Wylder said you don't have to break the bank with top of the line gear, however, he recommends spending the money on a high quality helmet. Bones heal, your brain doesn't.
In addition, get all the necessary gear not some of the gear. If you can't afford it - stay home until you can.
- Watch Other Motos
It's a good idea to spend a day at the track, without your bike, purely as a spectator. Watch other riders and figure out how practice works, the staging area, when to come off and when to go on. When it's race day for you, watch the other motos to ensure you haven't missed anything.
"Part of the insecurity is they don't even know where to go," Wylder said of new racers. "Additionally, it's worth the money to watch a race somewhere and determine if you need to practice your skill sets."
- Use Practice Time Wisely
Before every moto there's practice. Use this opportunity to understand the layout of the track. Know where the jumps and corners are and get yourself prepared for any rough track areas where you or other riders might lose control.
Another thing - practice time is practice time. Don't ride aggressively. People who ride aggressively in practice usually get lapped in the race and the other experienced riders know it. Plus, you could raise the ire of a veteran rider who just might decide to "welcome" you to the sport when the gates drop for real. Now that's embarrassing!
- Bring "Fans"
It may look like it but Motocross is not really an individual sport. Once you're on the track, sure, but you'll need help with all that gear and set-up at the gate. It can definitely ease some of the anxiety of riding a track your first time if you bring a friend whether they're experienced or not In addition to the physical support, Wylder said the moral support and "fan base" from friends and family brings an unseen value that goes a long way.
- Hold Your Line
In simple terms, focus on what's ahead of you not what's behind you. First timers may think the polite thing to do is move and get out of the way of other passing riders. This is not the case. Because your helmet and goggles inhibit your overall field of vision a bit, you've got no idea who is coming up from behind you. By moving out of the way, you might collide with another rider (or worse get landed on) who assumes you know enough to "hold your line."
- Turn the Gas On
An obvious suggestion but just like some people forget to remove the camera's lens cap, your nerves might takeover and you'll completely forget to turn the gas on.
- Have Fun
Motocross racing is a blast and most people get into the sport for the excitement, adventure and overall fun of racing around at high speeds and being outside. Relax - you're not Ryan Villopoto - and enjoy the sport for what it is.
You're now ready to tackle your first moto. You won't get all the details down on your first ride but hopefully we've covered the basics so you can at least have a memorable first ride and then can't wait to do it all again. Soon enough, you'll be teaching riders new to Motocross and helping them have a great first time out too.
Written By: AndrewT