Kids and Motocross Racing: What Parents Need to Know
Motocross racing is a great sport for kids. It teaches them discipline, goal setting and the satisfaction of winning. It also sometimes teach them about the disappointment of losing. Still, make no mistake, motocross racing can be rewarding, but it is also dangerous. Here are some things you need to know that can help you decide if motocross racing is right for you and your child.
Although it is not really unusual to see children as young as 4 years of age riding around on a bike, it can be difficult for younger children to get around on the track and 4 is usually about the earliest that children will ride and compete. Many times, however, younger children can and do start their initial training on a 50cc bike with training wheels, so it really is up to the parents to decide when their child is ready to start learning. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) states on their website that before their child begins training in the sport, parents need to honestly access their child’s desire to ride and also their ability to ride before they “line up at the starting gate.”
Everyone knows about parents that take baseball and soccer games a little too seriously. Unfortunately, some parents behave the same way when their child participates in motocross racing. If you have a competitive nature, keep in mind that racing is suppose to be fun for your child and it is not just about the winning. It is always nice when a child does wins a competition, but if winning becomes more important to you or to them than enjoying the experience, it is probably time to take a step back an re-access things.
Dress your child for the crash, rather than for the ride. Staying safe on the track is all about wearing the right kind of safety gear. Your child will need a helmet, goggles, body armor, long sleeve shirts and boots. Although it is not mandatory, you should also consider knee and elbow pads, as well as a pair of gloves. Since the sizes of gear can vary greatly, it is best to initially take your child to an actual dealer and receive some assistance in sizes and fittings. When looking for a suitable helmet, pay attention to the DOT and SNELL certification ratings. The dealer should be able to explain the differences in the ratings to you. While it may seem practical money-wise to buy a cheaper helmet, you should consider that it is actually the most important piece of safety gear that your child will ever wear out on the track.
Motocross races and classes are generally divided up first by the size of the bike and then by the experience of the rider. This is not true in all cases though and it is also possible that they will divide classes up by bike size and the child’s age. Younger children (4-6 year old and 7-8 year old) typically will ride a 50cc bike. If your child happens to own a 70cc bike, however, they can often still learn in the beginning classes.
Interestingly, this is one sport in which boys and girls actually compete in the same type of motocross races. Girls often do, however, have the option of switching over to Women’s classes when they reach the age of 14. They can then stay in the Women’s classes from the age of early teen right up into adulthood.
Jeff Kane blogs for Gokart.org where you can find out more about involving your kids in motocross.