- Alyssa Roenigk, ESPN The Magazine senior writer
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Last week, I had the pleasure of spending two days at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif., riding dirt bikes with the Red Bull crew and a few members of the media. Because there’s no better way to learn and understand a sport than to try it yourself, many companies and magazines in action sports hold ride days throughout the year, be it in snowboarding, motocross, skateboarding or surfing. They invite the media to come out and gain a better understanding, improve their skills and have fun. I’ve been to a few motocross ride days and have ridden dirt bikes a handful of times while at athletes’ homes reporting stories. But last week was special.
I moved up from a 125cc bike for the first time. I went trail riding. I did a few -- OK, more than a few -- things that scared me, and I learned skills I didn’t think I’d ever have the opportunity to learn. I got a bit banged up. And I had so much fun. These days are one of the many things that sets action sports apart from other sports. And they are a wonderfully humbling way to put into perspective just how gifted the athletes we cover truly are and how hard they work.
At ride days, the athletes do more than ride. They instruct, and offer tips and encouragement. Red Bull athletes Ryan Dungey and James Stewart came out on Day 1 to do just that, then gave interviews to preview the upcoming outdoor season. After Friday’s riding session, we toured the X Fighters freestyle course and spent time with the freestyle athletes, who thankfully did not feel the need to hand out lessons.
Then we parted ways, went home and altered our eBay alerts to include “used dirt bike.”