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Old 03-30-2012, 11:37 AM   #1
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In the beginning... First rides....

Howdy,

I remember back before our first kid was born and I was thinking how cool it was to see entire families on bikes at the trail heads and trails in the Sam Houston National Forest near where I live. I knew that was something I wanted to do if our future kids ever showed any interest in riding. I never had dirt bikes when growing up. My Mom's philosophy was, "If it doesn't cut grass, you don't need a motor on it!" Dad briefly tried to violate that law with a 1974 CB 450, which I did get a few rides on but which mysteriously vanished less than a year after he got it. Apparently that went down the memory hole and was never really spoken of again... Until I finally got into riding as an adult in my early 30's. I got into street riding and quickly racked up a few hundred thousand miles on various street bikes. Then I found Advrider... It was all down hill from there

I started coming here and reading the ride reports. A buddy of mine had an 01 R1150GS that he "forced" me to ride a few times... Well, that was all it took. I got the dual sport bug. After nearly five years of trying to have our first kid and multiple miscarriages, we decided to get on with life. So I went out and bought almost the biggest and heaviest bike I could find to learn on... an 02 R1150GS. I flew to Colorado to get it and rode it home to Texas. Two days after I got home with the new bike and spent a boat load of money, my wife informed me she was pregnant... Had I known that all it took to have a successful pregnancy was buying an expensive bike, I would have bought the bike years before and passed on spending all that money with the fertility doctors only to be told "nothing is wrong" Anyway, I LOVED that bike, but after about 40 thousand miles of crazy adventures, it occurred to me that something a little lighter and less expensive to repair might be in order. Also, kid number two was now on the way and I had to start getting serious about this whole family finances thing.

Sarah at the bike show in Houston 2005 (almost 1 yr old) and on a Honda XR50


Not as excited about the Kawasaki


She was digging the HP2, but was not real thrilled about sitting behind some guy she just met


She really liked the Ural, and so did Mom!


Enter the KLR 650. I know lots of folks like to put down the venerable KLR, but they are great bikes. I dragged this one all over the place and the more I rode it, the more I looked for nasty technical stuff to ride. Even though it was light compared to the GS, it was starting to feel heavy.

Here is a shot of Sarah at about 2-1/2 yrs old on the KLR


And Daniel (about 8 months old)


Daddy about to ride to Mexico with Richard and Uncle Roger... (2007)


After a trip to Colorado to ride all the mountain passes around Ouray with a bunch of KTMs, I started getting the orange fever... By this time (fall 2010), we had our third kid. Sarah was now 5-1/2. Daniel was 3-1/2. and Rachel was 2. We would take them to the bike shop and let them sit on the little dirt bikes, checking to see if they could work the controls, reach the pegs, touch the ground, etc,... However, I told them that they had to learn to ride their pedal bikes before we would talk about getting a dirt bike. Sarah did not seem to concerned about the "when" of this and took her time learning to ride her bike. Daniel on the other hand... We could not keep him off the bike and in the summer of 2011, he decided it was time to ride without training wheels. Not to be outdone by her little brother, Sarah decided it was time for her to ride as well! Both did great and now I had to get serious about the dirt bike thing.

Fast forward a few months and I am at one of our local bike nights. A friend shows up and mentions something about another friend having a KTM 450 or something for sale at what sounds like a too good to be true price. It was. BUT, it was still a smoking deal on a 2010 KTM 530 EXC! Of course I convince my wife that this is a great bike because I can use it for my increasingly technical dual sport trips and for woods riding with the kids. In the process of negotiating with the owner, I mention this rationale and he says something about a CRF 50 that his daughter has but never rides. I ask him if it is for sale, one thing leads to another and...

A sweet low hour 2010 KTM 530 EXC and a 2008 CRF-50 with maybe five hours on it!


Daniel went with me to get the bikes and we stopped on the way back to get him some gear. He couldn't wait to get home and wore this for almost the entire two hour drive back


He couldn't wait for me to get it off the trailer either!


Rachel got in some seat time on the CRF50 as well, modeling for now ;-)


Daniel posing before getting his first ride with Daddy (just over 5 yrs old)


Can you tell Sarah is excited? (almost 7 yrs old in a few weeks)




Making Daddy's new ride look good (just over 3 yrs old)








Then came the first rides... I started out riding with them, using the Moose training wheel bar for my foot pegs and letting them put their feet on the bike's pegs. I had them hold the cross bar on the handle bar and I worked the gas and steered. This was just to let them get used to the feel of being on the bike. After a little of that, I let them work the gas with my hand on theirs so I could show them the concept of partial throttle. This wasn't really an issue for Sarah, but Daniel was really ALL or nothing with the gas! The dude wants to go FAST! Anyway, I then let them do the gas while I steered and finally I just held on and prayed while they did it all. Satisfied they had the basics, I got off and let them do it alone...



Sarah with an old street helmet. She gets a new dirt helmet real soon...


She likes pink




Sarah and Daniel both do great. One his own, Daniel actually does use partial throttle when cornering. Of course he is wide open on the straights! It also doesn't take him long to discover the joy of doing full throttle donuts!! Sarah struggled with target fixation for a few minutes and then it "clicked" for her and she was good to go after that.

Even Mom and Rachel got in on the action


Waiting for Daniel to hand over the knee/elbow guards


Ready for action


She got in a groove and was really having fun cornering. We are still working on keeping the eyes up. Sometimes she did it great and other times it looked like she was staring at the front wheel, hehe...






Eyes up!!


And back down :


And really leaning into the fast turns!!


Now it was Daniel's turn. Did I mention he likes to go fast?















I didn't even notice the shirt until Beth pointed it out later when looking at the pics with me




Well, this was all happening right around Thanksgiving. Come December the rains came... and came... and came... It wasn't until mid January that we could even get back out in the yard to ride some more. Needless to say, Sarah and Daniel weren't real happy about that, but they were pretty patient given their ages and level of excitement. In February they got to do some more riding and I finally decided it was time to lose the training wheels.

So I finally took the Moose training wheels off the kids' CRF-50. They were bugging me about wanting to ride without them and they seemed ready. Daniel took to it like a fish to water... Sarah was a little less confident, but did great once she actually got to it. For both kids, I would start the bike, have it on the side stand in neutral, then have them get on from the left by grabbing the left bar, then the front brake (without giving it gas at the same time!!), swing the right leg over and put their weight on that foot, then retract the kickstand and put the bike in gear and go. Both of them got the hang of it real well after only a few tries. Daniel is already begging me to take him to Grandmother and Papa's house so he can ride the trails in the woods!

Daniel has great balance and keeps his eyes up all the time










After every couple of laps around the yard, I would have him pull up next to me and stop. I would motion with my right hand for him to use the brake and not just coast to a stop. The first few times he was trying to put his feet down before he stopped and he fell over once. I explained that he should wait until right before he stops, lean the bike to the left and catch its weight on his left foot. He fell over the first time and wasn't happy about it, but he got right back up and kept going. I caught him the second time. The third time he had it and did it perfect every time after that.

Sarah waited VERY patiently for her first turn. She was pretty nervous because she gets herself all talked up beforehand. Watching Daniel helps her because she sees that he can do it and then she can't let her little brother out do her Being taller, she doesn't have the issues with holding up the bike. Her issue is eye placement. At first, she wanted to stare at the ground right in front of the bike. This would make her all wobbly and she'd chop the throttle. So her first few laps were tense... FOR ME... I worked out a hand signal for her so that when she saw me, I could tell her to keep her eyes up and stay on the gas. It took her about 10 minutes and then all of a sudden I could see that she "got it!" After that she was ripping all over the yard, looking for things to turn circles around, doing donuts and generally just having a blast. I made her practice her stops as well. She even went so far as to always put the bike in neutral at each stop.









When she got comfy on the bike, she went for Ludicrous Speed!


Here is Sarah's first attempt without the training wheels


And then after she got comfortable


Here are some shots taken with the iPhone.

Notice her eyes! She had trouble keeping them up at first, but soon got the hang of it.




Next thing to work on was the hanging toes... I mentioned that if she were trail riding and a root caught hanging down like this, it could break the foot/ankle. I showed her how to get the ball of her foot on the peg and she did it from then on


I drilled them both on the braking and stopping. They do have a bit of trouble squeezing the front brake lever without rolling their wrist back in the process and giving the bike more gas. At one point, Sarah had the front locked and was still cruising. She did not panic. She just let off the brake and recovered, then went around for another try. I showed them how to keep the pinky and ring finger wrapped around the throttle and use the index and middle finger to pull the brake. I switched my brake hand signal to just moving those two fingers on my hand to remind them and it worked great.



Here is Daniel coming to a complete stop inside the box!


After they got bored with the braking drills and I was satisfied they were doing it right, we set up the slalom course. Of course, after the last cone I had them to a 90 turn right into a stop at another set of cones so they could practice standing the bike up as they exit the turn and brake at the same time. They both blew through the cones a few times but were soon stopping right at them every time, putting a foot down and waiting for me to give the thumbs up before they went around for another go. We finally quit after Sarah had the front tire wash out on her while swerving around a cone. there are still some pretty good ruts in the yard from when I was using a tractor to move pea gravel from the front yard to the back to fill their playground box. The grass hid the rut and the tire went down the side of the rut right as she was leaning. She wasn't going fast and was fine. She even picked up the bike by herself and immediately started trying to get it into neutral. By then it was getting late and was time to put the bike away. She was still in good spirits about the whole experience though.





Now I need to get a second bike. If I head to the trails, I don't want to have to leave one of them behind while I take the other out riding. I also need to get them some real boots and chest protectors. I think we'll head to the bike shop this weekend.

I can't wait to start riding with them and making memories together. Up until now, their experience of motorcycles was watching me go off on trips, attending bike nights and Pie Runs (monthly meet/greet event), and helping me work on bikes in the garage. Now I hope to combine the trail riding with some weekend camping so we can work on shared stories that hopefully they will tell their kids someday.
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:15 PM   #2
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What a cool story. Way to go. They will never forget it.
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:54 PM   #3
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Great post. Nice to see a willing dad, eager kids and a supportive mom all headed in the same direction. This will be a source of great memories in the future (which comes all too soon.) You're doing a good thing. Congratulations and thanks for the post.
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:57 PM   #4
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Awesome, Scott! Terrific photos and story. More importantly your kids are fantastic. Looks like you are just at the beginning of some very good times!

Appreciate your post. Keep us inmates updated on the adventures with your family! Best to all!
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:01 PM   #5
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That is awesome, some great tips for others teaching their kids to ride. My little guy is almost 4 ,I would like him to have one of these little bikes by 5. Did your kids know how to ride a pedal bike with out training wheels before they went without training wheels on the Honda?
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Old 03-30-2012, 11:13 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by D-Pow View Post
That is awesome, some great tips for others teaching their kids to ride. My little guy is almost 4 ,I would like him to have one of these little bikes by 5. Did your kids know how to ride a pedal bike with out training wheels before they went without training wheels on the Honda?
They learned to ride their pedal bikes without training wheels in July 2011. I bought the CRF with training wheels late Nov 2011. All told, they maybe rode the CRF for about 3-4 hours each (if that) with the training wheels. Each time they both would ride for about 20-30 minutes. So it wasn't all at once. Once I saw they were doing really well with stuff like eye control and throttle control, then it was time to take the training wheels off. I do have the rule that they must stay in 1st gear, but I don't have the throttle governed down. Most of the little 50's have some kind of throttle setting that lets the parent set the max throttle level. The big thing is being able to hold the bike up without the training wheels. That is why I would make them mount the bike, hold it up, retract the kickstand, then practice their braking/stopping, killing the motor, putting the kickstand down, and dismounting from the kickstand side. When they got that down, their confidence went up a lot.

Every kid is different though. A few years back we took the oldest out to watch some local races. They had a 4-5 year old class racing wood trails. Some of those kids were just freaking amazing!!! I only wish I could ride as good as some of them I don't know how parents get their kids to that level so soon. I have heard of some kids learning to ride dirt bikes before their pedal bikes. We decided that we weren't gonna push them.
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Old 03-31-2012, 06:25 AM   #7
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What a great story. I have a 20 month old daughter and I just sat her on a toy four wheeler at Toys R Us the other weekend and she was ready to go. I felt inside like but its her choice.

I would not push them to race just let them ride for now. I have a friend who wanted his kid to race hard at such a young age and the kid just looked like he was out there trail riding. So my buddy sat back and figured that his son was not going to be a racer like him, well the kid turns it around one day and wins a couple of Loretta Lynn titles and just made the main in this years Daytona Supercross.

I see a pit bike track in your yard coming soon.
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Old 04-05-2012, 10:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by shocker4her View Post
I see a pit bike track in your yard coming soon.
My folks live just a few miles from us on 10 acres. The back 7 acres are wooded and have trails from the ATVs. After last summer's killer drought and the crazy heavy rains the last few months, the trees here in Texas are dropping like crazy right now. The local National Forest trails have ALL been closed indefinitely pending removal of all dead trees within 150' either side of the trails. No telling how long that will take!!?? Anyway, I am going to get busy with the chainsaw, machette, and tractor to get some of the bad stuff cleaned up at my folk's place so the kids can start riding those trails. Nothing real technical but there are at least some small gulleys, creek crossings, roots, sand and small hills. It should be perfect for a new rider. I can also follow along on the ATV or my KTM. In return for my work to clean up the place, Dad has agreed to let me host a cookout/riding day for some of the other guys on my forum that have kids about the same age as mine and are also learning to ride.

I recently told the kids I was heading to North Carolina at the end of May to do some dual sport riding and the first thing they wanted to know was if they could come and could we bring their bike!? I wish!!! I do look forward to getting to ride with them though and maybe someday doing trips with them and sharing adventures!
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Old 04-08-2012, 05:47 AM   #9
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Don't have kids, never wanted any...but your pics and story do give me a twinge of regret! I don't remember a lot about my childhood at that age, but I do have distinct remembrances of my Honda Trail 50 and following Dad on dirt roads. Those are good memories. The guy that lives across the road from me has a grandson whose father unfortunately died; he bought some little bike for him to learn to ride and he does loops around the property with him on his big 'ol 2 stroke. It's been a real kick to watch the kidlet go from barely moving to trying to do jumps over the septic mound. No doubt Grandpa is going to be the kid's favorite family member as he gets older.

It's impressive that you're not just teaching them to operate a bike but to actually control it and learn techniques. I salute you as Father Of The Year.
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Old 04-24-2012, 09:59 PM   #10
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Well, both kids have had one or two minor "crashes" now. They have both washed out the front end by locking the front brake at pretty low speed and both have just tipped over when stopped. Neither has been hurt.

Sarah really likes doing the slalom course but I have to make her practice braking. Tonight I had her work on using just the rear brake and keeping her eyes up while braking. She tends to want to look down when stopping. She did slide the rear a few times and keep control. So her confidence is growing.

Daniel started out the evening riding really well. After a previous crash he had been putting around pretty slow and looking kind of tense the last time he rode. Tonight he was looking more relaxed and was carrying better speed so that he was smoother. Then I motioned for him to stop... That is when he slid the front and dumped it. He was almost stopped anyway and just landed on his hands and knees, but that was enough for him to call it a day.

Daniel HATES crashing and is becoming less excited about getting to ride and reluctant to get back on. Given their personalities, this is the opposite of what I expected. Sarah is usually the more reluctant and fear driven of the two. However, she is a good bit taller than him right now. Maybe some growing time for him will help so that he will feel more confident about having both feet securely on the ground. I'd hate to see him give it up and miss out on being able to ride together. It is frustrating because I know he loves it and he's good at it, but I don't want to push him. Hopefully seeing Sarah continue to ride will get him to keep getting back on that horse...

I keep telling him that Daddy has lost count of the times he has hit the ground...
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:56 AM   #11
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Heeeeessss BACK!

So the other night I was in the garage working on my 1200 GS to get it ready for an upcoming trip. Daniel comes in and wants to ride the dirt bike! Sweet. He sounds pretty enthusiastic about it too. So I get him geared up, warm up the bike, and turn him loose. No drills this time. I just want him to get some seat time and get his confidence back. Within five minutes he is blasting around the yard and can be heard laughing inside the helmet as he goes by, especially when the bike backfires! It never backfires for anyone else, but somehow he gets it to backfire a lot. I think it's because he likes to hold it at full throttle a lot and no one else does that.

Anyway, after a while I motion for him to come over and he executes a perfect stop. He agrees to try some rear brake drills. Previously he had watched Sarah doing them so he new what to expect and did not seem anxious about it. So I run over the steps for him and the hand signals I will be doing to help him remember as he is doing it. I find a nice level spot and stand where I want him to stop. I send him around the yard and have him come back to me. As he approaches, I point at my eyes to remind him to keep his eyes up and on me. Then I motion for him to let off the gas and push down with the right foot, still pointing at my eyes. He comes to a nice stop, leans left and supports the bike, while holding the front brake he leans right and supports the bike, then clicks the bike into neutral. That last step is REAL important! Sometimes they forget the bike is in gear and will rev the engine, on purpose or by mistake, and the bike starts to take off. So I have been working on making sure that once stopped, they apply and hold the front brake while putting the bike in neutral. Daniel executes three or four perfect stop/starts and then I remember to take a video, except my iPhone is inside. By the time I get it, he has decided he's had enough and it's time for Sarah to have a turn On his last stop, he loses his balance and falls over to the right side. This time he doesn't seem to care and we laugh about how Dad has done the same thing but has learned when to just let the bike go and EJECT! So we talk about how it is more important to worry about him getting clear and staying uninjured than it is to worry about hurting the bike. It was nice to see him over come his fears, get back on the bike, and ride well. He is now very excited about riding again

Sarah has lost none of her enthusiasm. She spends the next twenty minutes zooming all over the yard. Sometimes I can hear her laughing inside the helmet, but more often I can hear her reciting my instructions to her for how to do something, like leaning the bike in a turn or the steps for coming to a safe stop. I never told her to do that, but it is funny because in my years of riding I have very often found myself speaking out loud and telling myself what I need to do. I don't know why, but in a tight spot, especially when riding on dirt, yelling at myself to do what needs to be done keeps me from panicking and keeps me focused. So I encourage her to continue the habit.

Rachel is our three year old. She's not happy about the fact that she no longer gets rides on the bike now that the training wheels have been removed. Without any prompting, she has decided that her way of participating is to help Sarah and Daniel with getting their gear on/off and putting it away after they ride. Of course, she occasionally also helps them practice their obstacle avoidance maneuvers when she runs out into their path without realizing they are coming They've gotten good at watching for her and going slow when she is in the area.

The national forest trails are still closed here because of all the dead trees due to last summer's intense drought. It is very frustrating because we are heading into the serious heat of Summer and we will have missed an entire Spring season of trail riding. It has finally stopped raining and things are drying out, so hopefully I can at least get them over to my folk's place to ride the trails on the back of their property. The kids are starting to get bored with the back yard...
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:47 AM   #12
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New subscriber to your thread, Scott.

It looks like the riding bug is in the family DNA. What you are doing now with your kids they will remember and admire you for always.

Hearing those giggles and seeing the happiness in their eyes speaks volumes.

I will continue to watch your family's riding journey, as we too, have young ones wanting to ride (oldest son already rides; youngest joining the ranks next year.)
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:53 AM   #13
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I forgot the mention that Daniel has taken to zooming around the yard while standing on the pegs. A while back I had set up a small ramp for them to practice standing and absorbing bumps. Parts of the yard are a bit rutted from the tractor used to fill the play ground area with pea gravel. The ground was pretty soft at the time because of rain. Both kids like to ride through the rutted area and stand while humming real load so they can hear their voices stuttering from the bumps
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Old 05-02-2012, 02:04 PM   #14
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:48 PM   #15
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Wow, this looks like a great way to get your kids ready for riding. I have 5 kids (Yes, my Wife and I know what causes them, and we are very good at it.) and we are on an acre of land. I would love to teach my kids to ride, but my wife is not nearly as supportive as yours. That is one of the reasons I don't even own a bike right now...
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