It pays to suck at riding!

It pays to suck at riding!

It takes a lot of mental growth for a human being to bluntly state he sucks at something.

It doesn't matter if it's digging a ditch, making a perfect meal, or riding a bike, we don't naturally do it.

Shame, lack of self-confidence, peer pressure, or a myriad of other possibilities force us into that corner, but what if owning it is the way out?

What if accepting we suck at riding, is the first step into becoming a better rider?

I believe it is, and I want to share some tips on how you can turn what many consider a flaw, into a strength.



It's irrelevant where in the world you took your license and had your first bike rides, if you are starting out, chances are you know how to operate a motorcycle, but no clue how to ride it.

And yes, those are very different things!

Knowing how to operate a bike means you know how to get the thing to move, and to stop, hopefully without crashing. 

Knowing how to ride it means that you and your bike are connected, feeding off each other. You adjust to the bike's feedback, you take external inputs such as terrain and weather into account, and you adapt your technique to whatever situation you are in.

There are many different levels of "knowing how to ride," and once you open that Pandora's box, you are talking about baselines.

So what are baselines?

The Oxford Dictionary refers to them as "a minimum or starting point used for comparisons," and that's how I would like to define it.

As a rider, your baseline should be what you actually know and where you are in your evolution.



Many of you may now be asking, "but how do I know what I know, or don't know"?

If you need to ask that, it is not wrong to assume the proper answer is not much, and that is ok!

Even the gifted ones amongst us weren't born mastering their skill, the difference between us mortal and those born with a gift is in evolution speed and peak form, not in the starting line, or at any other stage of the progress.

We all start from scratch, and if we want to evolve, I mean, really evolve, we need to own we suck at it from time to time!

We need to say to ourselves and others that we are trying, that we are eager to learn, and that this or that trail or maneuver is not something we are comfortable doing, yet.

Owning it puts you in a power position where you can choose the risks you take and set your learning speed as well as goals.



Some may say that learning off-road is expensive. I would disagree, and say it costs money.

It may be semantics, but if you boil it down, it isn't.

When you own your position in the learning curve, you also need to hold a few pieces of base knowledge:

  • You don't need the best bike. You need A bike.
  • You don't need accessories. You may need them as you evolve, but your evolution will dictate it, not your natural wish to farkle up.
  • Proper instruction isn't cheap, bad instruction is dangerous, and that can be very expensive.


Knowing that puts you once again in a power position, one where you won't be throwing money out the door expecting to miraculously improve.

Whatever money you spend will be premeditated, will be focused, and that will make the difference between your learning experience being expensive, and costing money.



It doesn't matter who your two-wheel idol is, they all have two things in common:

  1. It took them years of hard work and training to get to where they are
  2. The day they stop putting in the work, their skills start going down

That is something that we can all agree with when it comes to top riders, so why do we tend not to make the same assumption for our evolution?

Their goal is to race at the highest level, ours may be to go for a ride with our friends safely, but if we agree that we all start at zero, does the goal change the evolution process?

I don't think so.

The following graphic doesn't intend to show that evolution is always gradual, because it isn't, so it aims to exemplify that regardless of where you end up, evolution wise, we all have to go over the same steps.

Once you accept that, you will be willing to invest more time in learning, to take your time in each step, and to cement that knowledge before adding new tricks to your toolbox.

Learning takes time and hard work, there are no magic pills or shortcuts, and the faster you accept that the faster your evolution will be.

So embrace your position in the learning curve, own that you suck at a specific technique, or at all of them, and kickstart your sustained evolution into your riding goals.

It pays to suck! The ultimate riding tip.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published