Troy Thompson of New Hampshire has experience raising children who fell in love with the sport of motocross. Motocross is a great way to teach a young person about responsibility, dedication, and the importance of picking oneself up from a fall. Today, Troy Thompson of Salem, NH will share some of the advice he learned to be most beneficial when teaching a child how to thrive in the world of motocross.
A common mistake for kids who get into motocross without a proper guide is attempting to ride on an uneven surface. Whether a new rider is a kid or an adult, Troy Thompson of Salem, New Hampshire, notes that they should look to start on a flat, dirt road. Any uneven surface is likely to have ruts in the tracks that will cause issues for inexperienced riders. While everyone falls when they first get started, it can be demoralizing to never travel more than a few feet without falling off one’s bike. A straight, flat surface provides the ideal practicing ground for any new driver.
A lot of manufacturers will advise that new drivers start with training wheels. Troy Thompson of Salem, New Hampshire, only recommends utilizing that advice if a rider is six or younger. The problem is once you start with training wheels, you are going to see your child experience just as much fear regarding the removal of the training wheels as they experienced during their first couple of rides. It does little to help a rider gain experience and only delays progress that could have been made during previous excursions.
Troy Thompson of Salem, New Hampshire, implores parents teaching their child how to ride a dirt bike to make sure that the bike isn’t too large. The typical starting point for a child is a 50cc dirt bike. These bikes are smaller, lighter, and easier to maneuver. Even older kids can benefit from starting on the 50 cc dirt bike. Anything larger is going to be a significant jump up in weight from the bicycle they are used to riding. This can cause a lot of unnecessary trepidation. It’s also possible that the weight may be too much for them to handle, so this unnecessarily raises the danger factor. Now, Troy Thompson of Salem, New Hampshire, does want to point out that the 50cc dirt bike is unlikely to have a long shelf life as a kid grows up. Instead of purchasing this type of dirt bike, Troy recommends renting or borrowing from another motocross family for a few trial runs. Most kids can move up to a 110cc dirt bike after only a handful of rides on the smaller dirt bike.
The best way for a child to learn to ride a dirt bike is for their instructor to focus on one point of emphasis during each trip or practice session. As most parents know, kids can become overwhelmed when they are provided with more than a few tasks to complete all at once. The first trip out should be something as simple as how to drive in a straight line utilizing the throttle and the brake. Repeating this task will give them a sense that they have mastered a skill. Don’t get into gear shifting until after a child has mastered the straight line. When looking to teach a child how to turn their bike, Troy Thompson of Salem, New Hampshire, recommends walking beside them as they look to turn around. The natural inclination will be to brake hard and then turn. This can lead to the weight of the bike overpowering a smaller rider. It’s important to teach a child how to turn properly.
What’s great about the teaching model of one skill at a time is that the progressions can feel like a reward. Troy Thompson of New Hampshire notes that once his kids learned how to drive in a straight line and turn, he was able to put the dirt bike in second gear. This provided more speed, which is what a lot of kids are most interested in enjoying. Finally, rider form is critical. Everything from how to sit forward on the bike to how to utilize the knees instead of the arms to turn the bike will need to become like second nature for a rider.
Be sure to make a child stop for plenty of water breaks and to keep them motivated with positive reinforcement. It’s okay if a young rider is experiencing falls; it’s part of the learning process. What is imperative is that the parent is there to teach them the importance of sticking with it and pointing out progress as it is made. Parents can also easily get frustrated, so Troy Thompson of Salem, New Hampshire, recommends entering every training session with an expectation that mistakes will be made, but perseverance will pay off in the long run.