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Old 01-14-2010, 12:19 AM   #7
nicomama OP
Rugged Rider
 
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Joined: Mar 2008
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
Oddometer: 468
On to the Dirt Class

Saturday morning's sunrise 38 mile ride on the 78 hwy through Escondido was a little slice of heaven what with its farmland, horse country and hill twisties. Didn't know I'd have this much fun even before I got my dirt legs.

Lovin' the scenery...




And, then a bigger smile took over as soon as I spotted the twisties up ahead...




When you live in the city there is nothing like a little country to brighten your day. Make that a little horse country...



Got to the Barona Speedway outside of the quaint little city of Ramona around 8:30a. This track is a popular spot and apparently the only clay track around, so the dragsters, muscle cars and race bikes had already started lining up to try their hand at an ego boost...



As soon as I pulled up, I noticed that Andrea was already helping her two kid students for the day and their dads unload their bikes...



One of the great things about Coach2ride is that Bonnie and Andrea match the wide array of loaner bikes to the ability of the rider, and the cost of renting the bike and protective gear is included in the $175 course price. What a bargain!!

As introductions were beginning, I quickly scanned the range and noticed cones were already set up on slightly sloped ground for Paul and I to get some good practice turning and braking on uphills and downhills...



Andrea coached the two 8 and 9 year old boys that day on a separate range. One of the boys had no experience on a bike whatsoever. But, with Andrea's easy-going way, kid-friendly instruction and lots of encouragement, she had him using a clutch and confidently tackling technique easily by the end of the day.

Here Andrea goes over the features of the bike...



How Bonnie and Andrea slowly move from theory to practical is a brilliant confidence builder. They have the riders sit or stand on the bike to get a feel for the maneuver in a static position, while holding the bike in place...



Here Andrea stresses the importance of elbows up for a stronger riding position and easier reaction on the grips and levers...



In no time the boys were cornering and braking smoothly with Andrea's expert instruction...



Then it was our turn to get started. Bonnie grabbed a Yamaha WR250 for Paul and began going over the features...



We couldn't wait to hop on our bikes and get out for some practical experience on the range. With only two of us in the class we got extra special attention and were able to pinpoint what techniques we needed additional work on and put the extra time into nailing them.

What's wonderful about Bonnie and Andrea's instructional approach is that even with a larger class with various skill levels they customize the curriculum to engage and challenge on all levels. Everyone walks away thrilled with the new knowledge and riding confidence that they have acquired by the end of the class.

Here Bonnie demonstrates the technique for lightening the bike to get over obstacles...



We really worked on controlled slow speed, which was somewhat difficult for my DRZ's touchy throttle in first when practicing standing and turning. But, like with all things, practice is key. You just need to get out there and run it over and over again and then take it to the trails.

Bonnie and Andrea have chosen the most perfect venue for this dirt bike school on the Barona Speedway grounds. You not only have plenty of range room for practicing technique drills, but there is also a wide spectrum of types of terrain to practice on throughout the immediate area ranging from ruts, hills, obstacles, gravel to sand. Plus, right off the range there was a challenging little single track that gave us some good practice for our 2nd day trail ride.

By the end of Saturday, Paul and I had gained some great confidence in our dirt abilities and were so ready to take Bonnie's thorough instruction, inspirational riding ability and encouragement to the next level.

Andrea loaded the trailer...



before posing for a photo with Bonnie and the rig...



We had definitely worked up an appetite after a day of drills and could already feel our bodies and the effects on unused muscles.

So, it was off to the nearby town of Ramona, where the local coffee shop has a feed post to tie up horses as you sip your brew.

We opted for a family-run colorful Mexican restaurant to satisfy our hunger. Although, we got momentarily side-tracked as we walked past a furniture store only to find a miniature furry donkey on a leash out for a walk.

Bob, one of Andrea's racing sponsors who owns Ramona Cycle Supply joined us for lunch with his wife, Pat, and granddaughters.

Here is one of his granddaughters totally enthralled by the "oversized doggy"...



As we stepped into the El Michoacan, we were greeted by colorful decor, a wonderful warming fire place and an oldfashioned jukebox that got the girls dancing to work up their appetites...



I ordered a chicken salad to keep it on the small side, so I would still be hungry when I got back to my friend Chris' house and their delicious bbq...




After an enjoyable late lunch and a fun recounting of the day with the group, I hopped on my bike and was met by a sky on fire with one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've seen in awhile. What a way to start my ride back.

Once I got to my friend Chris' house, her husband Steve slapped some fillet mignons on the grill while pan grilling sliced onions. Chris took care of the roasted asparagus and we were salivating while the aroma filled the air...




What a way to end an already perfect day. Ahhh, sitting down to this tantalizing and flavorful meal and sharing stories over dinner really made me count my blessings. It's these beautiful friendships that are the true wealth in our lives.

This slab 'o' beef aint half bad either...




After continuing hours of catching-up conversation, I hit the sack to be ready for my initiation into dirt trail riding. I was chompin' at the bit.
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