Natural Riding Ability?

I have always felt that those who grew up on dirtbikes as kids have a far greater ability to ride motorcycles than those who started as adults on the street. I thought this was because we got to play in the dirt without the worry of damaging a $30,000 Harley-Davidson with fancy paint and chrome. I also thought it was the lessons of traction learned by pushing a dirtbike until one knew the breaking point of traction. Not to mention one tends to bounce back up pretty quickly while in their teens. Not now though! I don’t even think I can bounce back after some light yardwork, never mind a spill on a dirtbike.

However I didn’t think of this: Larry Grodsky says in his book Stayin’ Safe that “even limited experience during the formative years rapidly establishes neuro-motor connections which the brain stores almost indefinitely. So an older novice might have more total miles, yet have to think about actions that the re-entry rider does instinctively.” In other words those who learn to ride motorcycles at a young age have a strong advantage because the brain is younger and still forming. The ability to learn comes more naturally at a young age. Instincts are wired into the brain and never forgotten. That explains why some people have that natural duck to water ability to ride and others have to work a little harder at it. Some riders whip their bikes around on a dime and some need a good fifteen minutes to get into a parking position. Some instinctively know how to roll on and off the throttle, feather the clutch and apply the brakes without thinking. Those are the ones who are always explaining the methods to the other ones who have to think about it. The same ones who have to learn it and practice to get on par with those who learned it in the formative years.

I wish I had spent time learning about something valuable back then when my brain was formative. Instead I was riding (and crashing) my dirtbike every chance I got. If the MSF could develop a time machine we could all go back in time and all learn to Ride Like A Pro.