Hey Bucky,
We're having a guys day tomorrow. All the girls will be gone for all daylight hours. :-)
We'll be playing on the dirt bikes I'd imagine. Didn't know if you wanted to try it or not.
I saw the e-mail while I was at work this morning.  I had ridden to work (in 25 degree temperatures), so I could scoot down to his house pretty easily.  But I'll admit, I was a little apprehensive about accepting his invite. Why?  I was afraid I might make a fool out myself.  You know, wad up one of his motorcycles or cause him to have to carry me in pieces to the hospital to be patched up.

I went anyway.  I figured I could make an appearance, and if it didn't look promising, I could just sit back and watch them ride.

They have fixed up a motocross course out in the open in their back yard.  And they have some trails blazed through the second growth woods at the rear of their lot.

Ryan picks a monstrous 100cc Honda from his stable, and begins warming it up.  It doesn't have a magic button: He fiddles with the choke, and the kick starter is new to me.

Once it is warmed up, he gives me the following detailed instructions (he would have given more, but I am sure he didn't want me to feel like a complete idiot):
  1. this is the throttle (its a little more sensitive than a street bike), 
  2. this is the front brake (its a little more sensitive than on a street bike), 
  3. the shifter is over here (one down, four up),
  4. the rear brake is here.  
  5. Sit forward to weight the front tire. 
  6. OK.  Go. 
I scrunch my long legs up and manage to take off in first gear and putt around the open course a few laps.  I avoid getting anywhere near the jumps they have laid out, keeping to the grass, mostly.

I become adventurous and shift up a gear, and make a few more laps.

This isn't too bad.  Nine horsepower moves you along all right.

Meanwhile, Ryan and his boys have saddled up and are riding around.  They give me wide berth -- I am certain because I am like a loose cannon here: Anything could happen. 

Ryan even takes his three-year-old son for a few rides over the course.  The tyke is enjoying it immensely. 
Ryan tells the story that earlier this week this son wanted to sit on one of the little motorcycles with his helmet on watching dad and other sons do some wrenching.  The little guy almost fell asleep on his seat after nearly two hours of intently watching.  Cute story, that.

I stay on the grass for quite a while, gaining a little more comfort with each lap.  There are a few places where there is bare, damp soil, churned up by the other bikes, so I cautiously head for those places to see what will happen.

I begin to goose the throttle a little while in the mud.  The rear tire scoots sideways all of two inches one time.

Woo, hoo!

This ain't bad!

I stop for a few minutes, and Ryan reminds me that I should sit further forward, and that the bike, with its knobby tires, will take curves in the grass at a surprisingly high speed.

I start out again, and get a little more aggressive.   He is right.  The thing doesn't slide out in the grass.  Now lets try the dirt.

A little more throttle in this turn.  Nothing to be concerned about.  A little more throttle in the next one.  Still nothing terrible is happening.  I gather courage and find that I can be quite ham handed on the throttle and still feel in control.  A couple of times, the rear moves out smartly, and but I keep on the throttle, and it is as if it almost rights itself.

I wonder how far I can push this.

The others are still circulating around the course, doing some jumps, and occasionally disappearing into the woods.  I have not been there, and don't think it is a good idea to try going there, either.

About this time, Ryan passes me, looking over his shoulder, and motions that I follow him -- into the woods!

I have to make a sharp right turn to get aligned with the trail.  I make that all right, and follow him through a maze of trees that seem a few inches closer together than the width of the handlebars.  Nevertheless, so far, so good.

The trail gets a little muddy, and I slither around and miss a few corners.  I manage to remember that the bike has brakes and a clutch, so I don't collide with any major obstacles.

Somewhere along the way, there is a large ditch with the path coming perilously close to its edge.  [Don't look there, Bucky.  Look where you want to go.]

That works out all right too, but then there are some small ditches and a steep incline to climb, all muddy.  I get stick in the first ditch and put my foot down into nice, soft mud.  I manage to power out of that ditch, but get stuck in another one.

I think I may have somehow gotten into second gear again -- or yet -- so I stall it a few times.  I am becoming more familiar with the kick starter.  

Ryan stops and helps manhandle my bike out of the quagmire.  The steep hill is too much.  I have not given it enough gas, and I am sliding backward.  Ryan again comes to my rescue, and rides my bike up the hill, handing it off to me again at the top, after I have managed to climb up after him.

By this time, I am huffing and puffing like a steam engine -- I am not used to this.  If I had a pacemaker, I'd turn it up a notch or two.  And I am sweating what seems like streams in my leather suit and all the insulation I have on because it was so cold when I left the house this morning.  You have to work to ride these things. 

We exit the woods, and I catch my breath for a few minutes.

I try a few more laps out in the open, and slide out a little more at times, but I don't feel close to being out of control in any of these.

Every time I stop, one of the kids stops too and asks if I am having a good time.  I am.  Thumbs up.  A great time, in fact.

Another of the kids stops and overhears one of these conversations, looks at his brother, and says, "Of course he is, he has a smile from ear to ear inside his helmet."

He is right.  I do.

Another son says that he has never seen anybody ride a dirt bike with street leathers on.  Well, that's all I have, so it will have to do for today. 

The muddy boot.  Evidence of my encounter with the ditch earlier.  

I am sure I have only been riding for just a little while, but it has been a great intro to the world of dirt.

And I am sure I will sleep well tonight.

Thanks Ryan and sons for a fine day getting a little dirty with you.