What Were the Parents (Not) Thinking
by The "Professor" Gary Bailey
You may not think this is an important subject because you don’t have kids or maybe it just doesn’t sound like a cool title. If you ride or know or love anyone who does, it is probably one of the most important articles you will ever read.
|The little guys are the future of the sport. But there won't be a future if parents don't take a bigger role in teaching them the rules of the track.|
I know you are busy. Please take five minutes and read this.
This has been a very hard week with several motorsports’ deaths. It is during these weeks that the sport we all love gets a bad rap in the mainstream media. It should also be a time when as racers and riders we all take a minute to stop and think.
Racing accidents for the most part cannot be avoided, but a crash on a track because a small child does not know or follow the rules can be prevented. If you ride, I am asking, no begging, for your help with this issue. I feel it is part of your responsibility as a rider no matter what your skill level.
This past weekend I spent three days at a practice track with all levels of riders out riding. Actually, this facility had three practice tracks open and there were upwards of 200 riders during open practice. The facility had flaggers present and the flaggers were “heads up” and doing a good job responding when anyone went down.
Let me set the scene.
Of the 200 riders there were riders on 50’s, beginners, all size big bikes and even some pretty quick A riders and pro level riders in the mix. This is not what bothered me though because for the most part all of the riders were doing a pretty good job watching out for others. Although my preference is for beginners to ride on a separate beginner track or for practice to be split (so that big bikes and little bikes are not on the track at the same time, especially when there are a large number of riders on the track), this is not what bothered me about what was going on out on the track.
What did alarm me was the young riders that entered and exited the track without regard or looking when pulling on or off the track. Most had absolutely no clue what was going on around them when they got the urge to enter or exit the track. They just entered and exited the track at will with no regard for where they were.
Then, it almost happened … Incredibly, no one around thought anything about it. But it scared the hell out of me.
After watching quite a few close calls (even though I have spent all of my life on the motocross track) by the end of the day I got so nervous all I could think is one of these little guys is going to get killed or cause someone else to be killed. Then, it almost happened … Incredibly, no one around thought anything about it. But it scared the hell out of me.
Picture this: a little guy on a 65cc bike with basic riding skills rides over this 6o’ table top on the right side of the track; then, as soon as he rolls down the backside of the table top he makes a hard left turn at the bottom of the ramp. Scared yet? Have you seen this before?
It gets even worse. As he pulls off the track, he is looking for his parents. Then, he spots them in the infield on other side of the track. They are just standing there, dad, mom and little sister. So, without looking he crosses the track again, at the very bottom of the down ramp of this blind tabletop to get to the infield where his parents are. I watch to see what the parents do. They do nothing. They didn’t even get it!
I am torn and finally decide, I have to say something to them before something bad happens. As I walk over, the little rider is pulling up. I proceed to tell the parents what I just witnessed and the mom just stands there like all is cool. So, I turn to the dad and tell him what just happened and he says, “yeah, I know we tell him all the time.”
What? I am thinking, you tell him all the time and you still let him ride? I ask the mom, how do you think you are going to feel when you are standing right there and watch your kid get hit and maybe even killed? I get the feeling they just think I should mind my own business, so I walk away in disbelief.
I have to wonder if this same kid had run into the street without looking, would the mom be so nonchalant or would she have screamed her head off? What is it about the rules of the road of motocross that parents just do not get?
I love this sport. It is my life’s work as a top racer when I was a pro and as a teacher and mentor. I still teach but I also share this sport with my family and grandkids. In our family though with the fun there are still some basic rules that must be followed. If one of my grandkids did what I witnessed this weekend, it would have been a very big deal. I would have been pissed. I would have had a long hard talk with him and set some “no ifs, ands or buts” rules. If necessary, his bike would have been parked until he was mature enough to understand and remember.
As riders and as part of the motocross family, I feel we all have an obligation to hold parents accountable to make sure that young riders are taught to appreciate the danger of entering and exiting the track and to learn the rules of how to do so safely.
Let’s keep everyone safe. If you are a parent, before you put a kid out riding you must teach these basic rules.
- Look both ways before entering or exiting a track.
- Do not cross the track without looking. Never cross the track at the bottom of a jump.
- Do not ride the track in the wrong direction.
- Do not to stop in the middle of the track.
- Get yourself off of the track if you crash and can move. You must also teach them how to pick up their own bike.
- Hold your line when riding and listen for bikes coming up behind you. Do not suddenly change your line in front of an approaching bike. Do not change your line at the bottom of a jump.
- Watch for flaggers or dust ahead to signal someone that may be down in the track ahead.
If you are a rider and you see a little-one breaking these rules, you must alert the parents. Please help me get this message out and make this sport safer for the kids. Say something even if you don’t think it is your job. If you ride, it is your job. I would rather offend a parent than have them bury a child and you should too.
Over fifty-three years of riding and racing and forty-three years of teaching, I have been pretty lucky. But, I have seen one rider killed in front of me and I cannot tell you how much that sucks. I can tell you that you don’t get over it if you witness it, which is why I guess I had to say something this weekend. I cannot imagine how it would feel to hit a little guy or to be his family.
Please speak up and pay attention and help educate parents and young riders for the future of our beloved sport. If you are going riding this weekend, please review these rules with your kids before you go. If you are a rider, please print this and post at your track.
Thank you for checking out this article. Other similar articles can be found in the archive section. I hope all of my articles help you become a better, safer rider no matter what your skill level. Because I am in semi retirement after 43-years teaching full-time, I only do private one-on-one coaching or with a small group of riders. Most of my time is spent in Virginia, however, if you are on the west coast I do spend some of the winter months in California visiting my kids and grandkids. If you are interested in scheduling a coaching session shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my website. You can come to the mountain or the mountain will come to you!
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.