Teaching English in Baotou, China While Racing Motocross

teaching english abroad chinaThere are many places throughout the world that I would love to ride motocross. I have never been to Australia or New Zealand and both of those places are on my bucket list of racing locations.

Thankfully, this last year I was able to cross off one more region from that bucket list—and it was everything that I thought it was going to be. I had always wanted to visit rural China and do some riding throughout the vast countryside, and I had the opportunity to do just that with a visit to a family member who was briefly teaching English in the country.

My cousin Tim was doing an immersion program where you teach English to Chinese middle schoolers as a part of a school program. He went there to TEACH English in Baotou, which is a great region of the country and one that is really looking for addition teachers.

There are, of course, other areas that are looking for teachers. English TEACHERS in Hangzhou are also in short supply and they are constantly looking for qualified people to fill vacancies in their classrooms.

Anyway, my cousin went there as part of a program he is doing at his school and he asked me if I wanted to visit. My answer, of course, was yes. I would love to! He knew about my dream to ride throughout the countryside, so he knew how much I would like to go, but the question was whether or not I could afford to make it over there at the time right now. Fortunately, I was able to scrape together enough funds to fly over there, and since I would be staying with him, I was able to save on housing. This was what really made it possible for my to take the trip.

The countryside, of course, is absolutely beautiful. It’s not wonder why Tim wanted to teach English here in China, especially in this region, because it is gorgeous. Climbing up some of these summits with your bike, you almost don’t want to leave the top of the mountain. It’s just that beautiful.

This is something people don’t always realize about China, just how rural areas of it are. There are huge vast wilderness all throughout the country. There are also just extremely concentrated areas that are some of the densest communities on Earth.

The experience was unforgettable, and I was sad to leave my cousin when I did, but I had to get back to work. I will say, however, that the program he was in was pretty cool, and for anyone looking to do any type of teaching work, it can be a great resume booster, teaching in a foreign country. And his program at least, offered PAID teaching English in Nanjing and other cities all throughout the country. At least it’s something to think about.

Racing while Studying for the CPA Exam

Studying for the CPA Exam with Roger and YaegerThis article is going to kick off our new series where we highlight one of our members to show our diverse backgrounds and unique community. Today’s highlight is Josh.

Most of the riders in the Squamish Dirt Bike Association have other jobs, careers, and ambitions in life. Not everyone wants to ride full time or wants to become a professional dirt bike racer. One of our members, Josh, is a student at the local community college looking to become a certified public accountant. Needless to say, he’s good with numbers and finances. After talking with him, I have a whole new respect for what CPAs have to go through to get certified. Here’s what Josh said.

He said that he has to study three to four hours a night for a few months just for one section of the CPA exam. Apparently there are four sections and some extra tests that he has to take after he passes all of them. Josh said that his goal is to pass all four sections of the exam on his first try, so he doesn’t have to waste time taking them over and over again.

I asked him what his plan of attack was and how he thinks he’s going to be able to do this. He said it’s not going to be a problem because he purchased two different CPA review courses to help him through his studying process. The first course he bought was the Roger CPA review course. Josh said it’s one of the best in the industry and is extremely entertaining. I’m not sure how a lecture about boring accounting information can be entertaining, but he says it is. He said to go here to look at some Roger CPA review information and examples.

Josh also said he bought a CPA study prep by a company called Yaeger CPA Review. This one is more informational and less entertaining, but he said that both were necessary to achieve his goal of passing the exam on time. He said the Yaeger CPA review study materials are more comprehensive and helped him more than the Roger ones. It’s pretty insane that he needs to purchase two courses that cost as much as his bike, but it’s worth it if he can make a higher salary I suppose.

I was so interested in what Josh was doing that I did a little research myself. Apparently, there are a bunch of different CPA review courses like the ones Josh used. I’m not sure we are going to have any other CPA candidates in our group, but I found Becker, Fast Forward, and Wiley CPAexcel review.

Everyone at the SDBA wants Josh to succeed and it just shows how diverse our organization is. We have people from all walks of life who love riding. Dirtbikes and the love of adventure can really bring people together. We all hope Josh achieves his goals of passing the CPA exam and becoming a CPA in the next few years and most importantly keeps riding his bike with us.

Writing for a Motocross Magazine

writing for publicationsThere was one point in my life where I wanted to write for a motocross-racing magazine. I always had big dreams of becoming a race reporter, traveling the country following the top racers and sponsors, and going inside the world of professional motocross. And over the years I have been given a few opportunities to do just that, but I never fully took advantage of them. I took an internship with a racing magazine when I was 20 and had a blast. I had a few short stints as a writer at several other magazines, but I never made a career out of it. I suppose I wasn’t wiling to put forth the full effort to being successful. I mean, I have always been a decent writer. I never mix up the difference between a flier and a flyer or other common grammar mistakes (But if I did, I would always hear about it on Twitter.). I know sentence structures and word placement and most importantly, I know racing.

But aside from being proficient at basic English grammar and writing and a good working knowledge of racing, the amount of time to make yourself stand out in the world of magazine journalism is tremendous. A few of my friends who stuck with it have spent years and years trying to develop a name for themselves in the industry—some have had moderate success and others haven’t. This kind of unpredictability is probably another reason why I didn’t pursue writing. I really prefer a more stable income where I can make plans and set aside savings.

All this talk makes it sounds as if I don’t write at all though! I still consider myself a motocross writer, just not for a racing magazine. After all, I run a popular blog all about motocross which many of my friends read each and every day. That in and of itself is a success. Not many people can claim that they do that. I’ve also written a number of local profiles of my riding group that travels around to different destinations throughout the country to compete. While we aren’t professionals, we do compete in a number of regional races where we often rank. If we bring home a trophy, our local paper is more than happy to run a spot about our trip and it’s a great time!

But for anyone who does want to pursue a career in motocross writing, the path to successful career really is no different than any other one. It involves a lot of hard work, long hours, and practice. You’ll need to be both knowledgeable about writing (obviously), you can’t confuse words like dieing vs dying, and you’ll also need to know a lot about the sport itself. You’ll need to make yourself current and keep track of the rankings. Be knowledgeable of all of the latest equipment on the market—and always have a current writing sample ready to send off to anyone who asks for one. Oftentimes you can make or break a job offer by having a quick, prompt writing sample that showcases your best work ready to go. And, as you write more, be sure to update the writing sample you send around.

Staying Safe in the Mountains: Carry a Compact 1911 with Grips

custom M 1911 grips for your gunOne of my absolute favorite places to ride in the entire country is the Pacific Northwest Mountains. There are some great trails for dirtbiking and the scenery is fantastic. You can set up camp at the summit of a mountain and ride for house up and down the trails, taking short hiking detours or even fishing. Camping out overnight under the start is another gorgeous time. The night sky is so brilliant and clear that it doesn’t even seem real.

A major concern, however, when trail riding through the mountains is safety. Of course you have the standard safety measure of dirt bikes, such as helmets, boots, pads, etc., and this is somewhat heightened because of the terrain you will be riding over in the mountains, but the primary concern you want to watch out for is wildlife.

On our trail rides, it’s not at all uncommon to see bear, wild boar, snakes, or any other assortment of creatures roaming around the wilderness—and you need to be prepared to deal with them. People of different persuasions choose different safety measures, but I personally never go trail riding in the mountains without my 1911 handgun. If a bear is charging at you and your crew of riders, you need to be able to do something about it, and you can’t always ride away—and sometimes that’s is the worst thing to do.

Bringing a handgun will ensure the safety of your and your crew during your trip on the trails. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What kind of gun did he say?” I personally use a 1911 wood grips handgun, which shoots a .45 caliper round. This should be plenty of stopping power to stop a bear in its track with just a few shots.

I wouldn’t advice and smaller handgun grips for protection because the stopping power just won’t be there. Bears are big animals and they have a lot of force and momentum behind them. If you see what charging at you, you want to be able to stop it dead in its tracks. There is no time to mess around.

There are different 1911 grips podcasts where you can learn all about the different options available to you in the world of handguns and firearms, but most people will give you similar advice.

The number one concern when taking a biking trip should always be safety and you cannot be safe if mother nature is out preying upon you.

Other than that, as I said the trip is a beauty. And don’t get me wrong, I have only seen 3 bear on the half-dozen or so trips that I have taken in the mountains, but when it comes to safety, you always want to be safe rather than being sorry. Nothing worse than someone getting wounded trying to run from a bear or worse yet dying from an attack on your overnight campsite—especially when the cost of staying safe is so minimal.

Be sure to carry a gun, and cover up your food and store it high in the trees. That is the number one things that will lead bear to your site and if you do that, hopefully you will avoid them altogether.

Freestyle Motocross

free-style-motoI love riding my dirt bike. I take dirt biking trips just about every month, sometimes more. I go racing, I work on my bikes constantly, but the one thing that I never was able to get into is freestyle motocross. I tell you what those guys are real daredevils. Those people are doing back flips, tail whips, no hand landers all like it’s nothing.

Last week I went to a freestyle motocross competition and it was incredible. Some of the tricks that these people are doing are just insane. I mean they’re flying off of 50-60 foot jumps doing back flips. It really is incredible. But besides getting to see all of these sweet tricks this time around, it was really reminiscent of my first time seeing freestyle motocross. I had only been to a show one other time with my dad when I was younger, and I remember back then I thought it was just as cool—if not cooler.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a school night, so my mom didn’t want us to go but my dad and I went out anyway because we knew that it was going to be awesome. When we got there we could hear the sounds of the biking warming up down on the stadium floor and sight of blue smoke rising from all of their tail pipes.

They performed for what seemed to be almost two hours and I could not get enough. I had just gotten my first digital camera and I was taking all kind of pictures and taking videos of them going over the jumps. After they were done all of the riders went outside and signed autographs and talked with all of the attendees and I was so stoked to meet them. I had them sign my little racing jersey at the time—which I still have to this day—and I was excited as can be. When we got home mom was sure mad at us, but of course she asked to see all the pictures we took!

For the longest time after my mom and dad both wouldn’t let me do any types of tricks on my dirt bike and if they caught me they would ground me from my bike. I snuck some in every now and then but I mostly followed the rules because I couldn’t stand being without my bike for any amount of time at all.

Eventually the rule was lifted and I could do whatever I wanted, but by that time it wasn’t that attractive to me. I was more focused on racing and doing it competitively that I kind of lost all interest. Now I look at it and I can’t even imagine practicing some of those tricks.

Maybe I am just one of the racers who is too sissy to do any type of tricks. Well, maybe so, but I like going fast instead of flying through the air. That’s what I prefer to do on my bike.

Weekend at the Races

race-trackI’m a big fan of going to the racetrack. It’s good practice for other types of riding and it’s overall a fun experience. This last weekend we took a trip up to our local racetrack and spend the weekend with some old friends who we haven’t seen in a long time.

First think I do in order to head out for a weekend of racing is get the trailer ready. We have a pretty big bike trailer that can hold up to five bikes, all of our gear, tools, etc. It’s a beast to drive with, but it is really handy. So the first thing I do is do a complete once over of the trailer. I check all of the tire pressure, I check to see if the lug nuts are tight, and I check all of the taillights and turn signals. Then I do an interior once over. I make sure all of the tools are in the proper place and nothing is missing. We work on our bikes, so much that our tools get spread out all over the place, so this really is the most important step.

After I am finished checking all of our gear, I focus on the food. Just like our trips to the sand dunes every year, we bring lots of food! We always bring a grill and have a big old-fashioned grill out for the races. The racetrack is perfectly situated for it too. Where we park and grill out you have a great view of the entire track and can watch everything. It’s great because even the people who aren’t racing can see everything that is happening.

the-trailerEverything is done. All the gear is packed up. It’s time to drive to the track. The track we usually go to is about two and a half hours away. It’s a little bit of a drive, but nothing too major. It’s takes awhile to get set up once you’re there so we try to get there a little bit early. Also, we want to secure our primo parking spot to view the track.

Next what we do is tune up all of the bikes. We take them all for a preliminary ride along the track to make sure everything is running smoothly and to get them up to operating temperature, and if everything looks good it’s time to race!

For those of your who have never raced motocross, it’s an experience like you’ve never known. First of all, after you finish one or two races, you are completely beat. Racing motocross is one of the hardest workouts you will ever experience. You know the feeling you get after a long day of tubing out on a boat? How your entire body is sore? Well, multiply this by about 100 and that is how you feel after a race. It is very much a physically demanding activity.

But the thrill that you get from flying around the corners, or riding across the moguls cannot be beat. And of course after awhile you grow accustomed to it and it doesn’t wear you out quite as much anymore.

This week I finished 2nd and my buddy finished 3rd. I was so close to getting 1st place, but I messed up on the final lap when I hit the final jump. I didn’t quite clear it and it cost me a second and my first place spot.

If you ever want to go racing, let us know and we’d be happy to let you come with. We usually go at least once a month.

Yearly Trip to Sand Dunes

riding-on-the-dunesAs many of you know we generally try to go to different places each year to get new experiences riding that we haven’t had before and see new and exciting terrain. There is one location that we make sure to go to every single year, however. And I mean every year. It’s by far my favorite trip of the year because it is such a unique terrain to ride on. What am I talking about?

None other than the California sand dunes.

Imagine as far as you can possibly see of sand. Not dirt, but sand. Just pure sand as if you were in the Sahara desert. But instead of the terrain being flat like a desert is it is full of hill and dunes that towers hundreds of feet. This is exactly the experience that you get when you go riding at the dunes.

You’d be surprised at how many people have never been to sand dunes before. They are just astonished when they arrive and see the sheer volume of them. Dirt bikers are no exception to this and most of them have never been riding on the dunes before.

This makes them a little uneasy when they first take off too because the sand is a little different than most terrain you’ll ride on elsewhere. I usually put on a paddle tire on the back wheel that helps you go better in the sand. But I have never had anyone regret taking our annual trip out to the dunes.

Anyway, here’s what our usual trip looks like. We pack up everything we need for the weekend in our trailer and haul it down then. And when I say everything we need, I mean it. We pack tents, sleeping bags, food, clothes, grills, etc. Anything you would possible need, we make sure to bring it along. This helps to save on costs because the trip itself can get pretty expensive. To get access into the dune park you need to get an “Off Road Vehicle” sticker and flag to put on your bike, not to mention gas for the trip there and for your bike to ride on the dunes.

Once you get there, it’s three full days of riding. Nothing but flying around on the dunes. Going off jumps. Going through mud pits. Zooming past trucks and dune buggies that think they are fast. I hate to break it to all of you dune buggies, but nothing is faster out there on the dunes than a dirt bike. Pound for pound, dirt bike have the most torque and can cruise so much faster than anything else out there. So much so that you really need to be careful—especially because so many people don’t know what they’re doing out there.

After a full day of riding we go back to the camp site and have a fire, cook some food, and relax. Then we start it all over the next day. It is the best trip of the year.

The only problem with it. Sand get everywhere! You need to do a complete tear down of your bike after a trip to the dunes and clean everything because that sand will tear your bike up. But then again, I like working on my bike!