By Tom Hinz

In the past two weeks I have been to eight different riding schools. Now, for someone that is used to riding about once a week (and by that I mean floundering away in a weekly REM race at the back of the 250 beginner class) this sounds like a great thing. But to tell the truth, I am really just more confused. The problem with going to eight different schools in such a short period of time is twofold: First, there is just too much information to take in and have it all be remembered. The second is that every class I went to said to do something different from what I was told the previous day. And of course, they all said that their way was the only way to do it! For example: Marty Smith told me to stand up to the apex of the turn. Gary Bailey ridiculed people for doing this. Kurt Henricksen told me to drag the back break on left hand turns to keep traction, Marty Smith strongly disagreed with this– (The exception to this rule was Ryan Hughes who focused on line selection, and just once in a while recommended a small change of technique.)

After two weeks of back to back schools, the million dollar question is…..What school is the best? It really depends on what you want to get out of the school, but here are a few pointers to help you choose:

The first thing to consider is do you want a group lesson or a private lesson? The advantage of a group lesson is that generally the price is lower, the class has the track to itself, and you can see what others are doing right or wrong. The down side is that you will not get individual attention. The up side to the private class is the individual attention. You will not be moved along for the sake of the class. You can do something until you get it right. The next thing to consider is the personality of the instructor. If the teacher rubs you the wrong way, you won’t learn as much. For example, Tony D and Gary Bailey both teach group lessons. But a big difference is that Gary is much more intense than Tony. By intense I mean Gary will tap/hit you with a stick if you get something wrong. He will get the people that do things the worst and use them for examples of what not to do. But, the people going to a Bailey school are more likely to be racers then at Tony D.

You also need to consider what you want out of the class. If you are looking for an overview of everything and you do not want regular sessions, look at group lessons. They are usually cheaper, and they have a system that works for most people. If all you want to do is work on corners, then private is the way to go. If you are looking to make a career out of racing then your only option is to have regular lessons. If all you are looking for is to go on to the practice track without killing yourself or anyone else then you will need less work! Some people will be better with different ages and skill levels. The person that gets you to move from being a fast novice to a fast intermediate might not be able to take you to the next level.

Don’t be too impressed with any given instructors race history, just because someone is fast, or was fast, does not mean that they will be able to teach you to go fast. The bottom line is you need to call the instructors, ask them questions, then go and try them out. After that you can make an honest assessment if you can learn from them and if they can help you meet your goals.

For more information and a complete story on MX schools, check out the August issue of Dirt Bike Magazine.


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