Have you noticed the number of women riders has increasing at your local track? How about the quantity and quality of riding apparel¿not just off-track apparel¿targeted at women increasing? Either way, there’s no doubt that more attention is being paid to the fairer sex.
Lauren McCoy is part of the crew at Doc G’s office in Costa Mesa, CA. Obviously, since Doc G is the semi-official chiropractor to the MX stars, she sees plenty of athletes come through the office. She’s also active, surfing and snowboarding, but her two-wheeled riding experience had been limited. “I’ve ridden once before, but I sat on the back of the bike. I’ve wanted to learn how to ride, and not just being on the back holding onto someone.”
Fortunately, OP has an interesting program on their OP Girls Learn To Ride web site (www.opgirlslearntoride.com). There, they have links to various ways that girls can learn to skate, surf, BMX, wakeboard, mountain bike, snowboard, or¿best of all, get started on a motorcycle. We followed along as Lauren went through her first solo day on a bike.
The local affiliate on the moto side of the OP program is Dirt Bike Training Adventures, which holds almost weekly classes on the campus of Irvine Valley College. One very unique aspect of the DBTA classes is that they’re held in a decidedly urban environment, so it spares the participants the long drive normally associated with getting to an area suite for off-road motorcycles. It also provides enough visibility that quite a few people dropped by during the day, either to watch, or to ask for more information on learning to ride.
Fox Racing is one of the companies catering to the growing number of women riding. According to Fox’s Warren Johnson, “We’re the only company that has a total head-to-toe program. We offer helmets, pants, glove and jerseys, and this year we also offer a women’s boot. It’s basically our Tracker boot, so it’s a $129.95 price point. It’s an affordable boot, with a women’s last (the mold around which the boot is built), so it’s completely unique. It’s also got specific coloring that matches the women’s gear. It has a shorter overall height, and an anatomically shaped shin and calf plate, more for a woman’s shape.”
Warren also brought out some of the ’05 Fox Girls Race Line for Lauren to try out, including the Girls HC Jersey, which is available in adult ($29.95 retail) and kid sizes ($24.95). Colors on the gear includes Black, Navy, Grey/Red, and Purple.
The Fox Girls 180 pant has colors that match the jerseys, and a suggested retail of $89.95. It’s available in women’s sizes 3-4 through 13-14. Kids sizes are also available, with a $69.95 retail. Sizes run from 6-8 through 12-14.
They also have a Fox Girls Tracer helmet in a silver/black color combo to match the Black gear. It has a suggested retail of $139.95, and comes in XS, Small, and Medium sizes.
After signing all the appropriate forms (sign-ups are all handled prior to class days) and getting suited up, the class got underway with descriptions of the various pieces of safety gear, a pre-ride bike inspection, warm up, and running through the bike’s controls. They also learned a series of hand signals that the instructor used.
From there, it was onto the bikes, and a series of drills in how to use the clutch, starting, stopping, and both left- and right-hand cornering,
During a break in the action, we asked the President of Dirt Bike Training Adventures, Bob Barrazza, about how he got started with his school. “I was in the corporate world for about 13 years, and I was just tired of overworking and not really being rewarded for the time I was putting in. So I figured it was time to do my own business, and I already had my MBA, and I know how to work with the corporations, and it was a perfect fit to allow me to stay home with my family and spend more time with my two kids.”
“The idea was also born as a way to give back to the community, because there have been so many people out riding, and so many types of accidents. You’ve got to be able to be safe, so I wanted people to learn.”
How did he hook up with OP Girls Learn To Ride? “I’d seen their web site, so I got in touch with them, and they had a motocross type thing, but on a smaller, more sifted-down level. They only go two hours, not a full five hours. So I talked to the people that run the program and said, ‘Hey, let’s do it here, do the full program.’ They’d never charged as much for any program as they did for this one. They said it’d never work, I said, ‘I bet it will, let’s try it.’ We’ve sold out every single one that we’ve done with them.”
“I like the girls classes, because they learn so much better than guys. You definitely have to give guys a little more explanation, and you also see that the guys are more hands-on learners, versus the women who are more verbal learners. The guys, you get them on there, and they fall a little more¿they’re more hands-on, and have to learn by experience. The other part is, they definitely have to prove themselves wrong, because they come in with their ego. I’ve got to let them run their course to prove them wrong, before they’re going to start listening.”
“This program is also a try before you buy. The people I’m tracking with, about 25% actually buy a motorcycle within 30 days after taking the course. These are people who’ve never ridden before, and we’ve drawn them in through a different media than normal companies use. We’re in family publications. People are signing up for camps, they’re signing up for weekend classes. This is a whole new pool of consumers that we’re taking to the dealerships, and the manufacturers like it. There’s a lot of opportunity here.”
“The best part of this is location, location, location. People can come here and learn to ride and not have to drive two hours. For families that are busy, location is everything. They’re not going to drive two hours to learn to ride. We keep the classes at eight or under, and the price is $175 for an individual.”
After it was all over, Lauren looked extremely satisfied with her day, and appreciated the fact that it was a women-only class. “Coming into it, I was pretty nervous. I thought I might crash, but it was actually pretty fun.”
What was the hardest part for her to master? “Probably be learning to use the brakes, and learning to shift, and figuring out the controls. Right turns were also a lot harder¿but I definitely plan to continue riding.”