How to get into racing when you're older


76 replies to this topic
  • RockerYZWR

Posted January 24, 2014 - 09:36 PM

#1

What's the best way for a semi-older dude to get into offroad racing?  I grew up riding dirtbikes, but didn't come from a family with any interest in, time for, or history of racing, and except for a little motorcycle road racing in college and some hobby drag racing with the car that I built, I've never really been a racer at all.  

Well, after riding once in about the last ten years (a full day on an '06 CRF450X back in '08) I bought my WR earlier last year and have been riding as much as possible ever since.  Every single weekend and if possible after work during the longer days last summer I've continually tried to work on one skill or another while I'm out there, along with tweaking something on the bike or reading about how to do something to make it better (talking mainly towards suspension settings and build).  So in other words, the dirtbike bug has bitten hard and at this point it's the only hobby/interest I care about.  So I think I'd really like to get into some form of racing.

 

Only thing is, I'm almost 36 years old.  I stay in good shape, although I've been working on conditioning a lot more lately, because dirtbike riding shape is a little different than normal athletic or weight lifting shape.  I'm also probably going to move from eastern NM to northwest FL in the next few months or so (military) - that would put me a lot closer to the GNCC part of the country.

 

So do I just show up and enter in the beginner class and hope to not get run over?  My only two goals starting out would be to finish and to not be dead last.  

 

I'd like to hear from guys who started racing a little later on in life - or from anyone who races/raced with good advice for that matter.

 

 

 



  • roiala

Posted January 24, 2014 - 10:49 PM

#2

I was over 40 for my first start (European Enduro races), have not that much riding history or time to practice that you do. Still going to races and having great time. Goal was at first not to be last in every stage, now moved to litle higher goals of not beeing last in the race... I think there is nothing else than not to make your goal too high at first and try too hard at first and get hurt that way. Other than that just go and have fun, that it is for sure!

  • cynicryder

Posted January 24, 2014 - 11:30 PM

#3

I started racing enduros at 49 and am now starting my third season. just pick some form of racing you like, enduro, hare scramble, desert, motorcross, find an event close to you, and show up.  most events have a flyer that explain what you need, in addition to the basics, e.g. AMA card and/or district, how much it costs, signup times, etc... just show up to one, even if you don't ride, ask a lot of questions. most of use like to talk about it. if you're not sure what events you like, try a couple of different things until something resonates with you. after a couple of races, you will figure out what you need to work on to improve, i.e. specific skills, fitness, equipment, etc... I don't know whats available where you are,  here we have a variety of events to chose from. the ama site has a list of events and a good writeups about how to get started, and where some of the events are.

 

http://www.americanm...cing/getstarted

 

http://www.americanm...m/events/search

 

also, ask around at your motorcycle shop. maybe find some buddies who already race or want to get into it as well.

 

since you have a wr450, I assume  you are mostly interested in cross country (hare scrambles, enduros, desert races). hare scrambles are the easiest to get started in. they don't require extra equipment (odometer, computer, etc...), or dealing with pit stops, unless you ride a motorcross bike with a tiny tank. it's a good way to shake out your bike and figure out what things you need to improve on (e.g. specific skills, or fitness).

 

not sure whether there is anything different being your age or older. most races have age based classes starting at 30years, besides normal engine size based classes. here we have people that race at 60 and even at 70. just remember to be safe (wear proper gear), most of us have to go to work on monday, so we're probably more responsible when we race and use common sense.


Edited by cynicryder, January 24, 2014 - 11:36 PM.


  • Slackkinhard

Posted January 24, 2014 - 11:34 PM

#4

show up,  sign up, have fun.  Aim to finish....if you do, you did good.



  • Krannie McKranface

Posted January 25, 2014 - 06:44 AM

#5

show up,  sign up, have fun.  Aim to finish....if you do, you did good.

 

^^^^  That's it.

 

Go to the closest race to you, planning not to race, so you can familiarize your self with the process of getting your ama license, signing up, learning the club rules, etc.

It is usually more intimidating than the actual race, the first few times.

In CA, there is so much racing, and so many different kinds, it's amazing.

 

Go to the AMA site and sign up for the district (37. 36, etc) that fits your area, and check out all the scheduled races.

There are first timer instructions on the site.

 

Many clubs are not all that organized, so you have to pretty much keep in touch with club members or organizers to know when/where/what in advance.

 

MX is the easiest to participate in (no pits, no distance, no dust, etc) but in my opinion, the most boring.



  • beezer

Posted January 25, 2014 - 07:53 AM

#6

show up,  sign up, have fun.  Aim to finish....if you do, you did good.

 

That's the way to do it.

 

BTW in the offroad world 36 isn't old.

 

I see guys twice your age still out there.



  • cynicryder

Posted January 25, 2014 - 07:54 AM

#7

many of the world class enduro/rally riders are 40+



  • FastRides

Posted January 25, 2014 - 08:00 AM

#8

Rocker,

The previous advice above is excellent, and you'll find a lot more similar info by searching on TT (I did the exact same thing years ago when I came to the same cross roads).  Congrats on 1) getting bitten by the bug and 2) getting yourself a WR.  Your story sounds very familiar to my own (I was 37 when I embarked on the same adventure in 2007).  I had not owned a bike since the early 80s (a 1978 black and yellow YZ80 to be exact), but had done a good bit of mountain biking over the years and stayed fit.  Well, about 2 months after riding someone else's KX450 for literally 15 mins (at my wife's suggestion!), I bought a brand new '07 WR, and was riding all the time and working on basic skills just like you're doing.  Then a friend of mine introduced me to hare scrambles in northern Nevada.  While initially very intimidating (races are normally 80-100 miles), they were abosultely a blast.  I raced a full season until I had to PCS for the Navy back to Ca.  HS had more appeal to me personally than MX and are arguably better suited to a WR (not that one can't race MX if so inclined).  There's nothing quite like being on a start line with 80-100 people and waiting for the banner to drop (and becasue the classes are so well structured, it's a pretty level playing field).  I think your mindest and approach will serve you well - finishing is the goal and having fun while you're at it.  You'll have a steep learning curve, so don't let your age or lack of racing experience keep you from going for it. Again, congrats and best of luck.



  • deaconjones

Posted January 25, 2014 - 08:46 AM

#9

 

 

Only thing is, I'm almost 36 years old.

 

         :angry:



  • cynicryder

Posted January 25, 2014 - 08:52 AM

#10

so here is what I did... like I mentioned, I started at 49 with enduros. I got a free xr350r and I picked the one that was closest to where I live and showed up the day before (enduros usually have signups the day before as well). this is a good idea, in case you forgot something. the first event was the hardest thing I ever did. I finished the course, but missed a check point (DNF). basically, in enduro, you're are in good shape if you can finished one in the first season. even though it was hard, there were plenty of younger riders who were spent at the side of the trail, so that made me feel like I was in OK shape to do this. I finished all the other enduros that season, and even managed to finish two of them without hour'ing out. the second season, I decided to do some practice hare scrambles before and in between enduros.  this was a good idea, and I probably should have started with hare scrambles the year before. our hare scrambles are 1.5-2 hrs and it's usually possible to enter two races on a weekend, i.e. one in my age class and the other in my engine class. the hare scrambles were long enough, that the holeshots/starts didn't matter at all and long enough to test mods and equipment on my bikes, before a full enduro. in the second season we had 5 of the 8 enduros back to back (each weekend) and I was pretty spent at the end of the season. it was a good feeling, but took a couple of months to recover from some the joint injuries I incurred. I started the third season with a hare scramble and on a new (to me bike). the first race was good, and now race prep seems all routine, including check-in, sound check and all the that. my bike had a mechanical failure on the second race, which is good that it happen during a scramble (1 miles push) and not an enduro (many miles).

 

the cool part in all this, is that I met several new friends in enduro (the most friendly) and introduced a couple of co-workers (one is about your age and the other in his forties). so, just go and do it. the first goal is to just get out and do it and don't worry about how well you will do; most likely you will be surprised.

 

in retrospect, it was harder to get started than to actually finish a race. it seemed like there was always something that got in the way. e.g. is my bike too old, am I too old, or there were other obligations, or I was worried that I didn't have all the equipment in place, basically excuses. what finally did it for me, is that a co-worker a little older than me, who was always talking about his love for sailing and the plans he had when he retired, had  a heart attack and died. i.e. he was here friday talking about stuff, and didn't come back monday. that experience basically made me realize that you just have to go out and do this stuff early, rather than talk about it. you never know when you're going to go (heart attack, automobile accident on the way too work, illness, etc...).

 

so just show up, if you're missing something, there are enough people at the race who would be happy to help out a newbie (especially enduro/cross country); the organizers are usually very encouraging as well. we all want new blood in these races...lol

 

when I get too old for enduros/hare scrambles, I will probably try snowboarding ;-)


Edited by cynicryder, January 25, 2014 - 08:55 AM.


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  • beezer

Posted January 25, 2014 - 10:13 AM

#11

I think it's safer to race then trail ride.

 

Unless of course you're "that guy" that always rides over his head.

 

Don't be "that guy".

 

I wish I had stopped riding MX when I was 30 and raced off-road.

 

I would have spent much more time riding than sitting in a lawn chair waiting for an 8 minute moto to run.



  • pomoco

Posted January 25, 2014 - 10:41 AM

#12

I wish I was only 37. You have a lot of riding and racing years left. I didn't get back into riding until 42.

  • grayracer513

Posted January 25, 2014 - 06:36 PM

#13

I wish I was only 37. .


I wish I was only 47

  • Krannie McKranface

Posted January 25, 2014 - 06:48 PM

#14

I wish I was only 47

I wish I was only 56



  • grayracer513

Posted January 25, 2014 - 08:09 PM

#15

I wish I was only 56


That would be nice, too, but I figured I might as well make a really big wish. Besides, the guys in the Super Senior (50+) class around here are too fast.

  • armweak13

Posted January 25, 2014 - 09:20 PM

#16

As a lurker this was a really good thread, i'm in the EXACT same boat as RockerWR450 but over in central Cali. I think you guys might have just inspired me to start to racing too. Its never too late :)

  • RockerYZWR

Posted January 25, 2014 - 11:49 PM

#17

Guys, there's a ton of great advice here and I really appreciate it. I know 36 isn't all that old but the competitive side in me knows that not growing up racing, having to focus on a career during the week, and having been out of riding for so long prior to getting this bike really makes ever being truly fast very unlikely. So I'm happy just to get into it, be around it, and have fun with it. At this point also with my career and everything I can't afford to hurt myself too bad, so this really will be a personal enterprise to just get out there and have some fun. I don't know when I'm moving just yet, but I want to keep getting better out here on the rocks, sand whoops, dunes, and low traction rocky hard pack and show up back east and get right into it. Just have to keep riding as much as possible and keep working on conditioning to fight the arm pump and be able to ride hard for two hours at a time.

And I'll most likely start out on my current bike, but definitely won't rule out picking up a race-only bike to thrash around on eventually.

Again, thanks a lot for all the inputs. I'm looking forward to making this happen.

  • cynicryder

Posted January 26, 2014 - 08:58 AM

#18

That would be nice, too, but I figured I might as well make a really big wish. Besides, the guys in the Super Senior (50+) class around here are too fast.

what do you race, CC or Enduro ? D36 ?



  • Slackkinhard

Posted January 26, 2014 - 10:32 AM

#19

Guys, there's a ton of great advice here and I really appreciate it. I know 36 isn't all that old but the competitive side in me knows that not growing up racing, having to focus on a career during the week, and having been out of riding for so long prior to getting this bike really makes ever being truly fast very unlikely. So I'm happy just to get into it, be around it, and have fun with it. At this point also with my career and everything I can't afford to hurt myself too bad, so this really will be a personal enterprise to just get out there and have some fun. I don't know when I'm moving just yet, but I want to keep getting better out here on the rocks, sand whoops, dunes, and low traction rocky hard pack and show up back east and get right into it. Just have to keep riding as much as possible and keep working on conditioning to fight the arm pump and be able to ride hard for two hours at a time.

And I'll most likely start out on my current bike, but definitely won't rule out picking up a race-only bike to thrash around on eventually.

Again, thanks a lot for all the inputs. I'm looking forward to making this happen.

 

practicing in the western deserts will bring a world of humbleness in the eastern woods.


Edited by Slackkinhard, January 26, 2014 - 10:33 AM.


  • mrgem

Posted January 27, 2014 - 07:13 AM

#20

I have nearly 4 decades on you and I hope/expect to be riding fast for another decade.

 

One thing you might consider is vintage racing. The local vintage racing organization in this part of the country has classes not only by machine and level of expertise -- they include your age for riders over 40. We have guys well into their 70s riding vintage MX and Hare Scrambles. 

 

Can you get hurt more easily than a 20-year-old? Yes, I broke my foot last year on a bad landing coming off a double jump at a local MX track (still hurts). But riding against people your own age helps to keep the competition from being too overwhelming.


Edited by mrgem, January 27, 2014 - 07:22 AM.





 
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