I used to pull in the clutch and just feather the brakes, as the sound of the engine braking was unnerving to me. Other folks pointed out that if I engine braked, I wouldn't have to ride the brakes as much, and that's led to a slight increase in speed for me, because I am starting to "trust" the bike more at speeds faster than I was initially comfortable with (engine brake in first is about 15mph, which seems like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride if I'm facing a steep downhill with a sheer drop-off to one side!). I still have to clutch in to prevent stalls from braking quite frequently, if that gives you any indication of the speeds I am dealing with. I have no doubts that this is solid advice if I was going a bit faster, but right now, I am both engine braking AND normal braking, and still feel out of control sometimes... Yes, it's okay if you laugh at me. I laugh at me too. I am not afraid of my brakes. If anything, I seem to get people staring in amazement at how slow I can manage to go while remaining upright. I am great at going ridiculously slow. Unfortunately, in places like the Fucking Scary Hill, this is more of a liability than a benefit, and I would have probably had a better time if I'd been able to deal with it just a little bit faster, because when I go that slow I get a lot more deflection, the wheel tends to go around more than over the shit in my path, which is destabilizing. Unfortunately, there was nowhere on that hill that was a good "braking area", what I could see was all shitty loose rocks. On the last part of that ride, I did start looking further ahead, realizing a bad part was coming up, and braking before I got there. I definitely need to better my terrain reading skills and be less paranoid of what's immediately ahead of me so I can look further down the road and set up my line. I figure that is probably one of those things that comes with practice. Oh man. I've never had to deal with a lot of huge rocky steps, but it's been a childhood dream to ride down a flight of stairs. How do you train that set of skills without falling on your face? Yeah, I picked a sub-optimal bike to learn dirt skills. Totally agreed. Sadly, I can't afford or keep two bikes. If I ever do get into a position where I can have more than one, I'll probably get a tiny little singletrack shitkicker. You do bring up a good point and that's that I should be a lot more familiar with how far I can push my brakes before they lock up. I've locked the brakes before, and it's kind of terrifying, so I just apply as much as I feel comfortable with and don't go faster than that amount of brake can slow me down. Maybe if I were more confident in my ability to 'emergency brake' I'd be less afraid of going a bit faster. Hmm. Yay, something I do correctly! Braking with both is one of the things keeping me from standing up more, actually. I don't feel like I can control my rear brake very well while standing, or I feel like my boot's going to slip off the peg (and I have nice wide pegs). It feels awkward either way. These are skills I really wish I had, but mistakes when I don't have health insurance and travel solo can be... suboptimal. That's why I've been kinda easing into this, and pushing my boundaries when I feel safe, with others. I could go balls out and fall over a lot, but I don't have the money for a lot of repairs for either of us. Before the accident, I'd never really fallen off this bike at anything other than an elderly walking pace. I'm starting to learn some of this, but I'm nowhere near there yet. I'm way better than I was though, and every time I do something challenging, I feel like I'm improving massively. I'm not entirely sure how to learn faster without taking unacceptable risks... that's why I like group rides. The only reason I haven't learned how to wheelie yet is my bike seems a bit too eager for it. Unloaded at a stop, when I start to go, I can feel the front end start to lighten a bit, so I'm particularly careful with feathering the clutch. My biggest worry in trying to intentionally wheelie is that I'll give it too much too quickly and loop it. I agree that it seems like a useful skill to have though, and I've seen videos (mostly trials) where such things were a critical part of the route. Agreed, and thank you for your advice! I don't find staging areas too often, though maybe I should seek them out more... Yeah, I have a couple of dual sport training vids and it's all drills, which is awesome, I just have difficulty finding a good spot to practice in where I won't be causing a nuisance. I don't really have a 'backyard'. Naw man, glad for your input! That's why the actual RR is orange! Thanks! Yeah, as I said above, it's sub-optimal for sure, and I'd love to give a smaller dirtbike a shot. I try to do most of my "boundary pushing" unloaded and around others, but the bike's still a pig even then. That sounds... interesting. I'd never heard of that kind of race! Yeah, agreed. On areas with less loose terrain, I've started using just a tiny bit of gas to help keep up the momentum. Faster = I have to do less balance work to keep the bike upright, as the front seems to deflect less. Up until the Fucking Scary Hill, I'd had no problem with creeping slowly down hills, but that one was just too steep and too loose for my creeping skills to work correctly. Yeah, my lines definitely need work. I'm at the stage right now where I'm starting to look up from "OMG THERES A BIG ROCK GOTTA AVOID" weaving madly and see where exactly I'm actually going now and then. It's easier on flatter or less loose terrain. My problem with "speeding through gnarly sections and braking on safer straight sections" is that often I can't physically see that far ahead. It's gnarly and then there's a corner - then what? Do you just take the corner at speed and hope you don't go barreling over a cliffside? This makes sense and I've done a minor version with "trouble spots", just gas it past a pile of rocks, but I guess I lack some perspective in relative gnarliness or something. :) I'm about 5'5", so pretty short. I didn't lower it and I have stiffer suspension, and it's still fine, I can almost flat foot it with all of my crap loaded up. I'd probably be a little bit more confident on a shorter, lighter bike, but it hasn't been a problem so far and I have no complaints. Easy as pie to work on too!