Fitness is important for Off Road Adventure Riding. We all know exercise and good fitness are important, however, sometimes we lack motivation to exercise. I know I have this problem. For me, having specific fitness goals helps keep me motivated. For years, I enjoyed elk hunting and would exercise with that purpose in mind. If I were more fit I could hunt longer and go deeper into nasty canyons where elk hide.
I still enjoy hunting, but now my passion for the outdoors is channeled into my dual sport dirt bikes. I love rugged trail riding and exploring new routes for my RockyTrax dual sport and adventure bike tours. My fitness is important for Off Road Adventure Riding, so now I use my enjoyment of off road riding to fuel my motivation for keeping fit. With winter coming and the riding season winding down, this is a perfect time to focus on those fitness goals rather than hibernating on the couch for several months.
To help motivate my fellow fitness procrastinators, here are five reasons I have found that being in better shape helps improve my off road riding experience:
Number 1 – You can ride longer with less muscle fatigue.
Riding a dirt bike on technical terrain is physically demanding. Your body is constantly moving with the bike and absorbing the bumpy terrain. Legs are performing dozens of micro-squats a minute. Your core is balancing your body and your gear which is in constant motion. This requires endurance. The more endurance you have, the longer and further you can stay on the pegs while still enjoying the ride.
Number 2 – You can help prevent riding injuries.
Spring of 2018 I jumped on my bike after a dormant winter of no riding and no exercise. Shortly into the ride my skid plate caught on a big rock causing the bike to suddenly stop. I didn’t crash, but the sudden halt jarred my shoulder causing instant pain. I later learned I had micro-tears in my shoulder and it would take many months to rehabilitate. My lack of shoulder strength and muscle tone led to injury and months of limited arm mobility and rehab.
A year later, I was out on a ride and found myself going over the handle bars in a low speed crash. But this time I had spent months rehabilitating my shoulder and improving my overall fitness. I landed on my previously injured shoulder, performed a single tuck-and-roll and stood up in a heroic pose. Much like Iron Man when he comes in for a hero landing. Okay, so it didn’t look that cool, but it felt pretty good considering how fast and hard I landed on the ground. My improved fitness helped prevent another shoulder injury and kept my body from flailing out of control across the road.
Number 3 – You can keep going when the going gets tough.
Ride long enough on technical terrain and you’ll eventually find yourself struggling to keep your bike up right. Drop your bike a couple of times in uneven terrain on a hot day and fatigue sets in fast. Fatigue leads to more potential bike drops, thus increasing fatigue, etc. We’ve all been there; it’s miserable! This kind of fatigue doesn’t just affect us physically; it gets in our head and affects us mentally and emotionally. Having both strength and endurance mitigates bike drops and keeps us going when they happen.
Number 4 – You can walk out when your bike breaks down in the middle of no where.
In many parts of the Western United States, you can be in vast areas that are basically uninhabited. Consider how fast you can cover rough terrain on a dirt bike. In less than 30 minutes you can easily find yourself many miles from help should your bike break down. Having the physical ability to walk for help while wearing heavy motorcycle boots is crucial.
Number 5 – You can keep riding when you are old and gray.
I don’t know about you, but I love this sport and I hope to still be riding in my 70’s. A great way to ensure this is to take good care of my body and pursue a lifestyle of fitness.