How often do you see classified ads for dirt bikes that read “must sell, baby on the way”? How many of your riding buddies ditched the bike as soon as they found out they were expecting? The number of riders giving up on their passion because of a child is depressing to me. I just had a baby recently and had been asked numerous times leading up to its birth, “so are you done with dirt bikes then?” Why on earth would I be done with dirt bikes because of this and why are so many willing to relinquish their right to ride?
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying abandon your responsibilities and neglect your family. Just think long and hard about tossing away your favourite pastime because you’ve become a parent. I was terrified that bringing a kid into this world would be the final DNF of my riding career. I had to prepare myself for what was coming and hope that I might be able to help others in a similar situation.
Now that I’ve entered this child rearing period of my life, I do see the struggle. You’re tired, you’re broke and your free time is slim to nil. It takes a lot of effort to keep the dream alive and the following three things are the most important to starting off parenthood on the right foot. You’ll need a supportive spouse, a plan of action and some patience.
The most important factor to keeping your livelihood and continuing your riding addiction is the support of your spouse. If your better half was the one spearheading the “sell your dirt bike” campaign, you have a long tough road ahead of you. This person needs to know how important riding is to you. My wife knows that without dirt bikes in my life, I’m miserable, depressed and about as much fun as a colonoscopy. Dirt bikes are my stress relief and she knows it. She’s seen me without riding and is the first person to say “go ride your dirt bike” when I’m starting to lose it.
If I wasn’t riding and I resented my spouse and child for taking it from me, what kind of parent would I be? A happy parent will be a better parent every time! If my family has to sacrifice a few hours a week for me to have some ride time, it’s a small price to pay. In return, be sure to provide your spouse with their own leisure time as this is crucial to you keeping yours.
If your spouse is not crazy about your riding hobby and shows it, start the dialogue now, before it’s too late. Indicate that you are not yourself without dirt bikes and let the negotiations begin. Most reasonable people will be able to come up to some sort of compromise. If you can’t get some kind of effort out of them and they list it as a deal breaker…Well, there’s no saving you and may God have mercy on your soul.
I consider myself very fortunate to have a backyard track and some riding spots very close to home. This makes squeezing in bike time easier but for those of you that may need more time to get a ride in or are trying to chase a race schedule, pay attention to this next section.
Have a plan of action
I guarantee you if you’re just going to wing it and ride when you get a “free” day, you won’t. The most action your bike will see is when you trip over it getting to the lawnmower. Setting aside a game plan for not only riding but bike maintenance, training and budgeting will keep you and your family in the loop on your second life.
Schedule ride days ahead of time. Evenings. weekends, races? Whatever your goals are, set your schedule accordingly and be realistic. Involve your spouse and childs schedule to ensure dates are chosen properly and do not conflict. In between riding days, try to schedule your bike maintenance, workouts and any other extra curricular into smaller time increments throughout the week. Wake up earlier, go to bed later, do what you have to do, because it’s worth it.
When things are premeditated and written down, they are destined to happen. Don’t just expect next weekend is free because it won’t be. A properly laid out plan shouldn’t disappoint either party but be prepared to compromise when you have to. Some riding is better than no riding at all.
It’s also possible to deviate from the plan when necessary, to both sides favour. So if little Johnny chips a tooth and needs medical attention, you may have to put the bike back in the garage that day BUT… If Graham Jarvis shows ups and wants you to show him your local spot, little Johnny’s recital just got shit canned for some riding!
The next step is something I have so very little of and is the hardest part of this journey.
My goal here is to keep more people on their dirt bikes. I do understand that every situation is different and maybe you truly can’t ride for some time, and that’s fine. Maybe just don’t sell the bike? Tuck it away in the shed so that when life finally levels itself out you can get back at it. As much as I hate this saying, you do have to “trust the process”. Work through the stress and create a plan for life that will keep you and your family happy.
Some months you may only ride once or twice. Any day on the bike is a good day so enjoy the finer things about riding while you’re out. I used to complain about getting geared up and geared down. I’d get all pissy if it was raining or was too hot. Cold weather riding was only tolerated and not enjoyed. You may think that driving two hours for an hour of riding seems crazy, soon it won’t feel that way. Embrace every single moment, otherwise you’ll start to feel it’s not worth the hassle.
Now I can look forward to my kid possibly following in my footsteps and that’s the dream right there. Then your significant other can’t give you shit for going riding because now you’re actually having family time! If you’ve really pulled in a keeper, your spouse will ride too. Now family game night turned into family moto time!
I’m far from an expert in this category. I’m just going through it as we speak. As I discover new enemies to my riding throughout this journey, I will add new articles to this series to keep us all riding. If you’re going through this with me, please reach out and we can keep each other motivated. If you know a friend in this situation, please pass this along.
Back to changing diapers!