A few years back I started riding dirtbikes. Up to that point in my life, I had it all figured out. At work, I had built and maintained marketing databases better than any of my uninformed superiors could have done and I knew it. I had been the top salesperson in a couple of different positions and, at that point, had a well-rounded background in different facets of the motorcycle industry. I knew the industry. I had my ear to the ground and I was a passionate motorcyclist, heck, some of my bosses didn’t even ride and others seemed to have no clue about motorcycles at all! Thankfully for them, I did. There were instances where I had a really hard time working on projects that I knew weren’t as efficient or focused as they could be. Most of the time, I would reluctantly put my head down and get the job done. Other times, I’d voice my opinion and get myself in trouble. I was, in a word, obdurate.
When I started riding dirtbikes, I approached things the same way. I know how to ride motorcycles, I’d been riding fire-breathing 1000cc street bikes for years. I was excited to begin ripping this little 250 around. As soon as I got into the sand on my new (to me) KX250F, I realized I had no f*cking idea what I was doing. I was all over the place flailing from side to side down the first sand wash. I’d knife the front, get up and do it again a few feet later. What the hell was happening?
Thankfully, for this first foray into off-road riding, a friend and mentor had set up this excursion with herself and two others who had been riding for nearly a hundred years between them, to help teach me the ways of the dirtbike. Which was good, because I had never felt more hopelessly lost in trying something new. Especially something that I was sure I knew how to do.
They spent the next few hours and numerous occasions over the following days teaching me the fundamentals of riding off-road. I put everything I thought I knew in the back of my mind, listened carefully, applied the techniques I was taught, and continued to work on them. I had no choice. My riding improved exponentially over the three days and, as they say, the rest is history. I love riding off-road. I love exploring in ways only a dirtbike can offer and it’s now what I spend my personal time doing away from MO and why you’ve seen more dirt-focused content here than in the past.
Part of the reason riding offroad became such an instant passion for me, was because I pushed everything I thought I knew into the back of my mind and listened to those who were more experienced than me. It also helped that my mentors were rad and what they taught me instantly worked when I applied it. Turns out listening works sometimes. Huh. Weird.
I look back and in just the past three years the outlook that helped me hone my dirt riding skills has completely changed the way I learn. This job is yet another example of getting thrown into the deep end for me. I wasn’t a writer prior to becoming an associate editor at MO (surprise, er maybe not). I felt that I had something to offer the website and could provide a different perspective for readers, so I applied and Sean Alexander hired me. From day one – well not exactly day one because Duke was salty that he didn’t get a say in the hiring process – I had a helpful crew around me of great writers who have been in the industry for a collective… long time. Kevin warmed up to me eventually and became one of my best mentors, taking the time to explain his edits and wouldn’t hesitate to give me macro-level advice, rather than just punctuation edits. I learn from Evans, Troy, and John on a daily basis, and have even been lucky enough to garner advice from other moto-journos in the field who I’ve looked up to for years.
I’ve learned a lot since that day in the desert crashing my brains out left and right. Mostly, I learned just how much I didn’t know. I’m not perfect, and I’m still plenty bullheaded, but I’ve learned to listen and be open-minded and in doing so, I’ve become a better student. There’s always something to be learned, particularly so when you think you know it all.