Most women have some pretty hefty challenges before we swing our legs over a seat. We are smaller in stature, not many have been very athletic growing up, and have spent most of our adult lives being mothers and caregivers. Women tend to have less muscle strength, especially in the upper body. We also have to deal with our monthly ‘friend’ which is no friend at all, it takes a huge physical toll. Those that have had babies tend to have weaker core muscles as well and possibly separated abdominal walls (Diastis Rectis). What we have over men; we tend to take les chances - hence less injuries, we have amazing balance, our lower body strength and endurance is far superior to the boys, and we can multitask better which equals faster learning.
I have spoke to many women whose husbands or boyfriends want them to ride and they give it a try. Generally, women giving it a try for the first time are out of shape and overweight, and from the majority of women I have talked to, have bad injuries the first or second time out and give up. I would also like to point out, unless your partner is the most patient person in the world, husbands, boyfriends or whoever, are not the person you want to be learning from.
So how, does a woman get into dirt biking for the first time without getting hurt? Start at the gym. Get yourself a program designed to make you stronger (not necessarily skinnier - you can be fit and chubby!). Take a month or six weeks to build some muscle, gain some balance and upper body strength.
In the meantime, what about a bike? That's up to you to try them out for size and yes, go for a smaller bike where you can touch flat footed. My first bike was a Kawasaki KLX 125. Yes, it was too small and in 3 months I bought a Honda CRF 150 that I rode for a season. I'm glad I started with those bikes. I could touch the ground no problem, I learned how to do some pretty cool manoeuvres with bikes that had poor suspension and not much power. Guess what, I didn't hurt myself once.
My teacher (husband) was and is the most patient person in the world most of the time and I'm grateful for that. He followed behind me on miles upon miles of double track for months. When I ‘graduated’ to single track, he spent countless hours behind me while I paddled around corners, eyed up logs for 5 minutes at a time and in some cases, help me pick up my bike when I dropped it in precarious situations.
I still work hard at the gym, staying in shape. I do it because it makes riding easier. I also ride with guys. Dirt biking is still a guys’ world, unfortunately, but being strong and in shape helps me keep up.
My point is, girls, get out and ride! Take it at your pace. When you are confident at one speed, turn the throttle a bit more. Maybe take some coaching if you can find it (if you are interested, I do coach women and if I'm in your area, I'm happy to get together). Tell your husband, boyfriend, whoever to let you be slow. Ride at your own pace, they will wait for you at the next intersection.
The benefits of this plan will be a fitter, more confident you. You will get to explore places you wouldn't normally get to explore. The coolest thing I find when tackling harder terrain or riding with a new bunch of dudes is, that after the ride, I can pat myself in the back knowing that I can do this, at my pace, and most of the guys are patient and are happy there are chicks who ride.
What are you waiting for!? Please drop me a line if you want to ride but don't want your husband, boyfriend, or whoever to be involved; I get it! Let's get you fit and on the bike, you won't regret it.
Karl Tettmann, Co-Founder. Avid health and fitness coach who just loves to ride.