Originally Written December 19, 2019
It’s day two of our ride. The boys are all tired and stiff today. I stretched immediately after our ride and they just laughed at me…who’s laughing now? Me, I’m ready to go after a pot of coffee. Today’s goal for the ride is to ride into Nogales for a lunch at a taco truck. Oh yeah, that was a goal worth keeping up with the boys I was willing to take on.
Our leader took us through a canyon, up a mountain fire access road that had been mostly eroded down by some heavy rains the day before to a breathtaking lookout spot. The trip down turned into an epic learning experience for me.
The narrow roads in that area were covered in granite rock slabs and granite dust - no sense using the back brake whatsoever. I am a confident front brake user but quickly found out that using front and back brakes was not a good idea. While I manage to stay on my bike while skidding down a steep slab of granite around a switch back, I had to stop and take a minute to catch my breath. Hoping that was the worst of the steep descents was over I threw my leg over my torn seat and headed into steeper territory. The switchbacks and steep descents went on for over 30 minutes until we were finally down into a valley and about 30 minutes to tacos.
I was excited about tacos and didn't realize, while there were no steep descents into Nogales, we still had a few miles to ride on some super gnarly narrow jeep trails. I lived and made it into town for amazing tacos. We (meaning me) decided to head back home via some breathtaking easier riding roads. I'm glad we did as it was getting cold, we were all tired, our bellies full of Mexican goodness and we were running out of gas and daylight. We rode 6 hours that day. I'm proud to say I had the skills to ride all the terrain, including terrain I was not confident riding. As the day wore on I got used to riding and it made me a better rider.
I wonder what challenges tomorrow's ride will bring!?
Should I spend my money on a coach or a group workshop? I ask myself that question a lot. I have taken several coaching sessions, both in a large group and one-on-one. In most cases, I am happier spending the extra money on a one-on-one session, I feel I get more bang for the buck. Groups are great too, but I find groups usually contain a variety of skill levels and it's not always possible to get the attention I need in a large group situation.
I like that in a one-on-one situation I feel free to ask a myriad of questions, whether ridiculous or not. One-on-one allows me to fail without thinking my other ‘classmates’ are watching or judging. I can also practice one thing without having to move on to the next skill before I'm ready.
On the flip side, groups can be fun too, it could give the affordability to train with some pretty cool coaches. You also get feedback from other people and will probably make new friends. In addition to learning strictly from the coach, you can engage with and learn from others’ experiences.
So, ask yourself the question, “should I spend my money on a coach or a group workshop?” Decide for yourself which situation is right for you. My personal preference is one-on-one learning, whether I’m the coach or student.
The nice thing about FitRiders, is there are opportunities for learning from our community members, or you can opt into our one-one-one coaching program. Whether you need that additional accountability of having a one-on-one mentor, or if you just need to bounce some ideas off a supportive community, FitRiders has programs to suit your needs.
To join our group free for 60 days, visit www.fitriders.com. If you would prefer one-one-one coaching, try our FitRider Plus program. You get all of the community support of our FitRider Pro program, with the added bonus of having a coach work with you to reach your specific goals. What are you waiting for!
FitRiders wants to hear from you with your comments and suggestions on how we can better serve you! Please leave your comments below.
Flexibility. This is a very important subject. When you think of flexibility do you think of the Olympic gymnasts doing crazy things? If you think of inflexibility, do you picture the super muscly guys who can't bend over to tie their shoes? I listen to a lot of fitness and dirt bike podcasts and read a lot but I don't come across articles about flexibility very often and I'm not sure why.
What is the definition of flexibility? Range of motion as well as the “ability to adapt successfully to challenges to motor control, strength, balance, coordination, endurance, and mental and emotional focus”.* In other words, all the things you need to successfully ride your dirt bike.
Why should flexibility be part of our training? Think about your daily routine, do you sit all day, do you stand all day, do you do repetitive motions all day? I used to sit at a desk all day, that repetitive sitting caused my hip flexor muscles to shorten and become tight and stiff to the point I was having constant knee and groin muscle pain and injuries. Now my gym workouts, dirt bike days and rest days almost always start and end with stretching all the things. Why almost always, well I'm human and sometimes I forget. When muscles are tight, they pull on opposing muscles, weakening them and not allowing for the full use of the muscle. Stretching will allow the full use of the muscles. Think about doing squats, can you flex all the way to ground? Do you regularly stretch your quads, calves, hip flexor and glutes? Adding stretching to all of these muscle groups will allow for a fuller range of motion in a squat. We don't have to do the splits but being able to do a full squat is part of being flexible and an important part of dirt bike riding.
How important is flexibility for dirt bike riders? Think about going around a corner, sitting forward on the seat, leg outstretched, and you catch a stump. If you have loose flexible muscles in your leg, it may just swing back and you continue on your way. If you have tight hip flexors, hamstrings or quads and your leg is snapped back, those inflexible tight muscles are susceptible to injury and your day of riding may be over. I'm 5’2”, while I have had my suspension lowered and tuned for my weight and height, I still need flexibility to get my leg over the seat or be able to touch the ground. I also need to be flexible enough to lift my bike off the ground as I have short arms. Think back to the ability to squat I mentioned earlier. Being able to hold that squat while standing on the pegs of my bike, with my knees bent, while traversing some gnarly terrain, allows me to ride as aggressively as I need to so I can get through those rough spots.
I could write for days about this subject but I'm going to keep it short because I want you to get flexible and discover the benefits of being flexible not just to ride a dirt bike but to build strength, protect joints and make your everyday tasks easier. Don't forget, the FitRiders program focuses on stretching and flexibility, especially when it comes to the muscle groups used most by us riders.
* Foundations of Personal Training, 2nd edition, 2016, p. 126
For most of us, if we are not essential workers, we have been home for a long time. Many of us can feel overwhelmed, particularly if we are spending a lot of time on social media. Either we feel anxiety about getting this disease, or we believe we are being lazy if we haven’t taken the time to declutter the house or learn a new language. The reality is, many of us are stressed out just trying to keep ourselves and our families healthy. Add in the challenge of trying to work from home while homeschooling youngsters, and you may find yourself saying “what free time!”
There is hope and opportunity that can come out of this situation. There are many things we can do now during this time to help our wellness that don’t involve a lot of extra time.
Homeschooling in traditional subjects aren’t the only things our children will learn during this pandemic. COVID-19 and germs have come to the forefront; now is a great time to teach children some habits around cleanliness. Most of them understand why they are at home and can’t socialize with their friends. This may be the only time they will listen to you when you tell them to wash their hands before dinner. Try it, it just might work.
Food and Nutrition
North American self isolation seems to revolve around a lack of toilet paper, flour and canned goods. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with an abundance of food, and are able to shop or order groceries in, now is a good time to take advantage of the fresh meat, fish, fruits and vegetables available. If some of your favourites are not available, the opportunity exists for the adventurous eater to try something new. If you can’t find beef, try lamb. If you can’t find apples, try mangoes. I just bought a case of mangoes at the grocery store for $8! While it seems crazy, you just may end up eating healthier than you did before.
The abundance of food in North America can also lend the opportunity to explore new types of cuisine. Spices also seem to be plentiful, so try a new ethnic cuisine that you always wanted to try but were afraid to make. Now’s the time to break out either the Instapot or slow cooker, or both. Even though the Instapot and slow cooker cook food differently, using one of these appliances means that you don’t have to spend time in front of the stove. The machine does most of the work, and there is only one pot to clean afterwards.
This is a great time to take care of your bike. Many trails are still closed in some areas due to either weather conditions or self isolation measures. Now is the time to do that maintenance you have been putting off. Some things can be easily done at home, some things may require some skill or the watching of YouTube videos. If you find yourself mechanically inclined, go for it! If not, some bike shops are still open for service (always call ahead first) and would probably be thankful for the business.
With the quarantine, fitness at home programs are booming. Gyms are closed, and community recreation programs have ended. If you are missing your regular gym, fitness class or sport, why not give FitRiders a try. Our program takes only 20 minutes a day and uses no equipment. So, there is no need to rush out an buy any expensive equipment. The program is designed to get you into adventure riding shape when the riding season begins. Right now it feels like it will never come, but it will.
Even with children and spouses trying to get your attention, you can still carve out 20 minutes for yourself. You owe it to yourself. If you’re a morning person, and the family isn’t, try morning workouts. If you’re a night owl, try it after you put the kids to bed. Better yet, get the whole family to join in! They’re missing their recreation programs too! It’s free for 60 days. You have nothing to lose, except maybe a few inches around the waist.
In the winter of 2015, I booked myself the trip of a lifetime: I was going to go to Mongolia on an epic dirt bike adventure ride! This isn’t something that most people get to do often, and I was stoked! Then I realized, I need to get into shape. 14 days of epic off-road riding, averaging 200 km/day, it was more riding than I had ever experienced before.
I had booked my trip for July 2016. With just over 6 months to get into shape, I hired, Karl, a personal trainer. When I met with Karl, I told him of the type of terrain I would be riding, the number of hours I would be spending on the bike. Not only did I want to get in shape to handle the ride, but I needed a strategy where after a long day of riding, or after sleeping in uncomfortable Ger camps, I would also need some sort of recovery mechanism. With that, Karl helped me come up with a strategy to get fit for the ride, and how to keep the muscle aches and pains at bay while on the ride.
For 6 months, I worked from the comfort of my own home to get in shape. No gym membership, just some basic free weights at home, body weight exercises and a yoga mat for basic stretching. My wife Maria would often join me in the fitness routine, as she found it helped not just with her riding, but all the other sports she loves to play. That was all it took to get into the kind of shape I needed to be in to ride Mongolia.
When I returned home from Mongolia, I wondered if there were many other middle aged guys like me that would love to do the same type of bucket list trip, but what was holding them back from going was the thought that they couldn’t handle the terrain at their current fitness level. In fact, there were many middle-aged guys on the same trip that directly benefited from me showing them some stretches that we all did at the end of the day in front of the campfire. If this program helped me, then maybe this program could help others who also want to do these same bucket list adventures.
And so, FitRiders was born. We have members all over the world, of varying ages, men and women, who know that the key to having better riding adventures is to get into shape. So, what are you waiting for? What’s holding you back from getting in shape for the ultimate adventure ride. Get Fit to Ride! Join the Movement! Join our Community!
Karl Tettmann, Co-Founder. Avid health and fitness coach who just loves to ride.