I’d prefer a bike to a car.
Those words never sounded weird in my head till I said it out loud to my friends, and the expression on their faces was priceless!
“Who chooses a bike over a car?” said Mark.
They all looked towards me, waiting to hear what could have prompted me to say that, and I wasn’t ready to be a laughing stalk that night, so I did what I could;
“It depends,” I stuttered. “Speed, location, weather, Y’all know all those things matter right?”
It was better than not giving a response at all, so they all played along and we moved on from there. But I never really did.
Riding a dirt bike had always been a dream of mine ever since I was 14 when Cousin Johnny took me out on his Suzuki DR250/350. The feeling of the dirt bike vibrating beneath me was memorable, as well as the adrenaline that followed it as I faced the wind rushing towards me at a very high speed. That feeling was the best I had ever had, and for a very long time, I longed for more of it. A few years later, on my 20th birthday, I got a brand new Kawasaki KLX125 as a birthday gift from Cousin Johnny. I was so excited, at the same scared for myself. I loved riding a dirt bike, going at high speed all for the love of the adrenaline that comes with it, and I couldn’t wait to try out my new bike.
My first few attempts were off track, and I mainly go to the trail which is just a few miles away from where I stayed. I practiced on the rocky trails alongside other riders, both new and experienced, and it was always fun, and sometimes ended badly for me. After a few weeks of consistent practicing, I got better at riding on rocky trails, and it was time to move on to the bigger stages.
It was just three weeks left to the local dirt bike championship, and I had only two weeks to practice before going for the audition.
My first time practicing on a full-sized dirt bike track was an overwhelming experience. I could see younger kids riding at high speed of about 120 stokes with ease, and more experienced riders launching their bikes off doubles and throwing whips in the air. Everyone seemed to have what it took to win this championship except me, and luckily for me, Cousin Johnny was there to assure me that the feeling was normal.
Cousin Johnny was very patient to help get my stance in an overwhelming environment, and he was sure to repeat the safety guides to me repeatedly.
“I understand that this is a competitive environment and your instinct will tell you to be the fastest, but believe me you don’t need that,” said Uncle Johnny who ran down to where I had fallen off the bike.
On getting to the track, I had seen this lady try out a stunt, and I was hoping I could get it too, but instead, I landed on the hard rocky ground. It wasn’t much of an embarrassing situation as my attempt to try the stunt was nowhere close to what she did.
“Sure, I will take easy,” I said as I picked myself up from the ground and lifted my bike back to the starting line.
“Take a deep breathe and slow down till you find your pace, and remember what I always say; you can do anything if you are keeping riding at your pace,” Cousin Johnny whispered into my ears before stepping back for me to take another shot at it.
Those words echoed in my head, and for some reason, I had believed in it. I continued the practice that day at a slower pace, and five days to my audition, I was confident that I might have what it takes to win this.
I took it real slow, slow enough to try out basic but creative stunts, enough to make the judges fall for me – according to what Cousin Johnny said. He had won the championship a few years before my first experience on a dirt bike, so I guess it is safe to call him a veteran.
I wasn’t picked after the audition after I lost in the final lap of the final test race. I had fallen behind in the race when I tried to maneuver around the biker who was just ahead of me, but behind the tree was a stone with its top slightly protruding above the ground, and I had to either slow down or risk crashing. I won the third place, but only the top 2 were to be selected. I admit that the feeling wasn’t pleasant, but I was pleased with myself for what I had achieved in 2 weeks, and I now had a lot of dirt biker friends who I could practice with till the next competition.
I have fallen numerous times, crashed a few times, walked away with a few bruises due to wearing the right gear, and more. But my overall first time experiences on a track were amazing, and I can’t wait to continue to ride and learn more.