Riding Dirty - Femmoto's MSF Dirt Bike School sponsored by Kawasaki

Femmoto 2007 is a Women's Only Track day event held every year during the October long weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

2006 was the first year that Kawasaki brought dirt bikes to Femmoto and sponsored a half-day MSF Dirt Bike school on a dirt track headed up by Mercedes Gonzales and her team of talented female dirt riders turned teachers.

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The MSF Dirt Bike course offered is a great class for any woman who has ridden dirt or is interested in riding dirt. Most of the women I have talked to that ride dirt were taught by their brothers, boyfriends or husbands. Their training usually consisted of how to start the bike and how to stop the bike and a "don't fall over and break anything" warning when riding the bike.

I remember when I took my first road course how detailed it was and how basic "the basics" were when you learn something from scratch. If you've had any formal rider's training you know what I'm talking about.

It begins at the beginning - in the beginning there are orange cones.

There's no difference when you take the MSF Dirt Bike School sponsored by Kawasaki at Femmoto, except the orange cones are laid out in the dirt and the course is being taught by 5 time Women's MX Champion and 9 time Women's MX National Champion, Mercedes Gonzales.
Mercedes' teaching is technical. Even when you think she is not looking she can see how many fingers you have on the brake lever. She's an amazing reader of body positions and can see what you are doing right or wrong a half football field away.

Yes, there is a right and wrong way to ride in the dirt. Riding a dirt bike - I have learned - is much more complicated than not crashing and scratching the plastic.

If you are a woman who has a dirt bike or wants one, take the Kawasaki sponsored MSF Dirt Bike course at Femmoto. It's never too late to go back and start at the beginning. If you're a husband, boyfriend or brother who taught a woman how to ride in the dirt, consider getting her this course as a gift. Learning the basics from a professional like Mercedes, who has been racing dirt since she was 7, is some of the best safety gear available on the market today. Anything that can keep a loved one safe on a bike is a good investment.

Last year a couple of husbands and boyfriends stayed back a safe distance and watched the riders go through the drills. I'm sure Femmoto wouldn't mind a few more guys on the sideline taking pictures and cheering the ladies on.

I had a chance to interview Mercedes Gonzalez about her teaching philosophies at Kawasaki's School of Champions.

PK: What's the most important thing you want the women to take with them today?

Mercedes: I want the women to have confidence that they can handle the motorcycle, and that they have the fundamentals to be able to go trail riding or get on a motocross track and just have fun with whoever they are with. The only way to instill that is by teaching the fundamentals and the technical skills and to create a certain amount of confidence in them. If they go away with that then that's great for me.

PK: No big jumps the first day?

Mercedes: That comes with time, you can't do everything in one day, but you definitely go home with a sense of accomplishment and a sense of confidence. The next time you go riding you will know a lot more than what you came with today. All you have to do is go home and remember it and practice it and you're just going to start progressing from there.

After spending an afternoon in her class I got the feeling that she didn't have to be here in the dirt, teaching people to ride around orange cones - she wanted to be here. Mercedes builds foundations in each of her students, from the ground up.

This year at Femmoto 2007, Kawasaki is once again offering the MSF Dirt Bike School as well as a new Mini-Moto course. The Dirt Bike School is a half-day course offered as a morning session or an afternoon session. Last year some of the ladies who took the morning course also signed up for the afternoon course because they were having so much fun and learning so much.

If you think this could be you and you want to dedicate a day to riding in the dirt, consider signing up a morning course. When you're at the track, see if there is room in the afternoon class to buy another session while you are at the track!
I honestly wouldn't recommend booking a whole day in advance because it's a physical course and even if you are in great shape, you may find yourself wanting to spend the afternoon relaxing your muscles in the hotel pool.

Check out all the details at http://www.femmoto.com and make sure you don't miss the banquet - see you there!

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Source: Bikeland.org

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