If you’re new to dirt riding, we’re glad to welcome you to the family of off-road riders. Having fun is your top priority, and to ensure you get the most out of your ride you need to know how to ride responsibly.
Land closures are a reality of off-road recreation, so everyone needs to do their part to minimize the impact on the environment, and help keep riding areas open. One way to do that is to tread lightly.
Before you ride, make sure your motorcycle is in the best operating condition. Your owner’s manual outlines the routine maintenance you should perform before each ride. Carry appropriate tools and supplies just in case. Check the weather forecast before you go as well.
Next, plan and prepare your ride. Equip yourself with maps so you don’t get lost, and get to know the local regulations. If you have to cross private land, ask permission first. Learn to read trail signs, too. Generally they match those found at ski resorts. That means green signs for the easiest trails, blue signs signify more difficult trails and black signs warn of the most difficult trails.
Once you’re out on the trail, there’s a host of things you can do. For instance, never ride alone; always use the buddy system. Tell someone of your planned route and expected return time. It’s also a good idea to have a backpack or fanny pack with emergency items, such as water, energy bars and a first-aid kit. Stay on marked trails, and never ride off the designated trail. Going slower is safer: Many trails are two-way, so you want to make sure to leave room for an oncoming rider. Always give the right of way to faster riders or when riding uphill, and to hikers, mountain bike riders and horse riders.
If the trail you’re on crosses a waterway, cross only at the designated areas. If you have to open gates, make sure you close them after passing through. Moderate throttle use on turns to reduce wheelspin, which can tear up the trail. Never make excessive noise, which might disturb other off-road users or livestock.
There’s another general rule as well: If you packed it in, pack it out. Garbage, that tire tube you managed to puncture or that little piece of bodywork that chipped off in a tip-over—take it all with you so you leave the riding area as you found it.
Treading lightly has its own reward—helping to keep riding areas open for you and everyone else to enjoy.