TWT Forums  


Go Back   TWT Forums > Texas Offroad Riders > After The Dust Settles And The Mud Dries


Forum Jump
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-15-2010, 06:25 AM   #1
nevlec's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Houston, Tx
Posts: 355
DirtWise After Action Report

My son Matthew, age 12, and I spent the weekend of December 11-12 at the Shane Watts DirtWise Offroad School. The school was held at Triple E Ranch in Navasota. The cost of the school is $360 and info can be found here:

I signed up for the school in order to improve my dirt skills. My riding background is primarily street on sport bikes. I have done numerous track days, have commuted by bike for several years, and am extremely comfortable in that environment. I began riding dirt about a year ago as a way to combine my love of riding with spending time with my kids. I purchased dirt bikes for each of them and myself, opting for a WR450F. I chose a larger bike as I wanted to be able to have something I could dual sport with to ride in places like Big Bend. In retrospect a 250 would have been fine, but I’m happy with the 450.

My dirt experience consists of a few trips to Big Bend doing the park roads, a few roads off the park outside of Terlingua, a couple of days at Sam Houston National Forest doing the single track there and probably 10 or so days spent at Skull Creek, a property south of Cleveland I have a membership in via the Trail Riders of Houston, and a few trips to other dirt parks.

I would say my comfort level on dirt roads is high, and on single track low. Anything technical like deep ruts in tight woods and I’m slow as molasses. I found that a major avenue for improvement in my street skills was reading books like Lee Parks’ Total Control and Nick Ienatsch’s Sport Riding Techniques in addition to the Bible, David Hough’s Proficient Motorcycling. Track days and MSF courses rounded out the educational side of improving skills. As a new dirt rider I was humbled by the lack of transferability of my road skills to dirt. I was starting all over again and was looking for a way to duplicate the type of learning I had done for the street, identify the core skills needed and begin to hone those. I remember the mantra from the various books and road lessons – work on smooth and fast will come. So, with this mission I signed up for DirtWise.

The school consists of two days of instruction and is roughly akin to an MSF course for dirt on steroids. Shane has identified several specific skills he has students work on via exercises conducted in an open field and mixes in rides through single track in the woods where you can apply the skills in a real environment.

Class began promptly at 8:30 with an intro and then a warm up lap through the woods. I knew I was going to be stretching my comfort level as soon as I turned into the woods, the single track was as challenging as the most gnarly stuff you can find in Sam Houston my son and I were, with possibly one exception, the least capable riders in the class. Most, if not all, the other riders were experienced trail riders who had been racing for some time.

Drills were aimed at teaching proper body positioning, use of the controls, balance, and improving rider confidence. The superiority of the standing position in most situations was emphasized via many of the drills being done in both a sitting then standing position. Drills included a slow ride, riding with the front wheel locked, riding in a rut, fast stops, stoppies, fast acceleration, turning in circles, and riding along (straddeling) a log (grinding). After ever couple of drills we would head to the woods for a few laps to practice incorporating the skills in the trails.

Shane also pointed out specific skills to be utilized in the trails such as line selection by holding a class at a spot on the trail appropriate to the point he wanted to make.

The day ended around 5:30. It was a long day with a 30 min break for lunch and though I had done arguably the least amount of riding of anyone taking the class (did I mention I’m slow) I was exhausted. As soon as I crawled into bed my thigh cramped – that kind of exhausted.

We hit it again at 8:30 the next morning and moved onto more advanced skills like wheelies (I endoed twice), log crossing, drifting, and cornering in a rut. Same sort of format, drills mixed with trail rides. Class ended around 2:30 after an amazing demonstration of hill climbing by Shane up a ridiculously high vertical sand wall on a hill. Just sick.

My son was riding a CRF80, a small bike that made a doing a lot of the drills and riding in the rough trails difficult, but he kept at it, had a great attitude and really had a good time and I believe learned a lot. I learned how much I don’t know, but learned that like with sport bikes, there are specific skills you can work on to improve technique that you can then apply to various situations which will make you a smoother and eventually faster rider.

The school is fast paced, no frills, no breaks, hard core learning. Shane clearly enjoys what he is doing, has skills that mortals can only dream of, and works very hard at providing individual feedback and ensuring that all students at various skill levels get the most out of the experience.

I think the class could have been improved had there been trails that were less difficult for less experienced riders, but he has to work with what he has available, and when the trails became too much for my son and I we just retreated to the open field and worked on the skills such as slow riding, wheelies, etc.

I highly recommend the class for those looking to improve trail riding skills, though I imagine buying his DVD would be provide similar benefits if you are disciplined enough to actually go out and create the drills yourself and do them.

I plan on working on the skills at Skull Creek, setting up an area to work on the drills and do a couple of them before each trail ride.
Charles Nevle
2010 R1200GS
2015 KTM 500 EXC
nevlec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2010, 02:48 PM   #2
SilverBullet's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Harmaston, TX
Posts: 6,334
Re: DirtWise After Action Report

Good write up. I wanted to do this class before they relocated it from Houston to Navasota. Too far for me to ride back and forth each day on the dirtbike.

I have a copy of the Dirtwise DVD and what you outlined for your class does sounds almost identical to it. With that in mind my big question for you is whether you thought the $360 cost was worth it? How many riders attended your class? Was it Shane only as instructor or does he use assistants?

2013 Yamaha Super Tenere
2011 Husqvarna TE630
2003 KTM 200 EXC
2002 KTM 300 EXC
1974 Suzuki TM400

Last edited by SilverBullet; 12-15-2010 at 02:55 PM.
SilverBullet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2010, 03:01 PM   #3
Hemibee's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Panorama Village
Posts: 10,518
Next Texas class schedule:

March 24/25 2011 Dallas - New HardCore Advanced level DirtWise school

March 26/27 2011 Dallas - The original class

Neither are open for registration at this time

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.

2004 KTM 450 EXC
2001 Triumph Tiger - "Black Betty" - Gone
2013 Triumph Tiger 800XC - Jessica

"Male menopause is a lot more fun than female menopause. With female menopause you gain weight and get hot flashes. Male menopause - you get to date young girls and drive motorcycles." John Wayne
Hemibee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2010, 04:17 PM   #4
nevlec's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Houston, Tx
Posts: 355
Re: DirtWise After Action Report

Yes I think the $360 was worth it as I honestly do not have the discipline to go and do all the exercises and having very little dirt experience having Shane critique my technique was very valuable. To really get the benefit out of the class however, I will need to put into practice the lessons taught. There is no magic tid bit that he gives that will transform your riding, it is all the little things such as how to stand, where to place your body weight in different situations, where to aim the front wheel while turning in a rut, where to sit on the bike in a turn etc. This is where the DVD would be useful as a reminder/reinforcment of the ideas taught in the class.

It is just Shane, no assistants.
Charles Nevle
2010 R1200GS
2015 KTM 500 EXC
nevlec is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2010, 06:10 PM   #5
Keeper of the Asylum
Tourmeister's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Huntsville, Tx.
Posts: 45,423
Re: DirtWise After Action Report

Great write up!

I appreciate the offer of the loaner bike and I wish I could have take you up on it. Unfortunately, work got in the way. Sounds like the class was pretty demanding physically, like it might be worth getting in shape before taking it :doh;

I think I will start with the DVD maybe. Like you, I like the idea of having very specific skills/drills to work on. All my dirt riding "skills" have been acquired through trial and error... well... mostly error
Scott Friday

Total Forum Supporter Donations For November: $33.96 - Previous Month: $635.07 - Record High: Jan 16 $1539.42 - 111 Current Forum Supporters out of 20871 Users (0.53%)
Support TWT by shopping at Amazon

The number one rule for this forum!
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Eph 4:29 (NIV)
Think before you post. Leave out the vulgarity, personal attacks and foul language!

"However lofty the goals, if the means be depraved, the result must reflect that depravity." - Leonard E. Read

Lies are fragile. They require constant attentiveness to keep them alive. The exposure of a single truth can rip through an ocean of lies, evaporating it instantly. - Brandon Smith

If you want government to intervene domestically, you’re a liberal. If you want government to intervene overseas, you’re a conservative. If you want government to intervene everywhere, you’re a moderate. If you don’t want government to intervene anywhere, you’re an extremist. — Joe Sobran

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.' But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance. – Murray N. Rothbard

When one possessed of the Truth suffers from a heavy heart he is susceptible to a more dangerous affliction — the craving for power to eradicate error, to cause Truth to triumph by force. - Frank Chodorov

Where politicians flourish, long history has harshly taught us, people and their liberty wither. Where the state is god and the "public interest" worshipped, individual man will be found bleeding upon the altar. - Karl Hess

The accepted wisdom is that without the state, society would collapse into lawlessness and crime. In fact, lawlessness and crime define the very nature of the state and the society organized by it. - Bionic Mosquito

But the myth of the rule of law does more than render the people submissive to state authority; it also turns them into the state's accomplices in the exercise of its power. For people who would ordinarily consider it a great evil to deprive individuals of their rights or oppress politically powerless minority groups will respond with patriotic fervor when these same actions are described as upholding the rule of law. - John Hasnas
Tourmeister is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2010, 06:22 PM   #6
gixxerjasen's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Far East DFW
Posts: 11,211
Re: DirtWise After Action Report

Yea, I'd imagine it'd be kind of like trying to learn a musical instrument by video. You really need someone experienced to kind of help you, critique you and guide you along.

I have his video and have tried some of the exercises. I usually end up in the situation however with other riders who are like "Hey, let's go ride" and head off into the trails. And to be honest, the trails are more fun than doing drills in a field, so I end up on the trails. I plan on dragging out the dvd and taking it with me on my ipod or android. I did that last time with my ipod. Watch a section, go out and do it, watch another section and go out and do it.

I'd still love to take his class however as I think it would be highly beneficial. Glad you and your son had a good time, thanks for the report.
My Blog
Current Bikes:2007 Yamaha FJR1300AE | 2016 Suzuki GSX-S1000 | 1998 KTM 250 EXC | 2001 Suzuki DRZ-400E
Family Bikes: 2006 Honda CRF70F | 2005 Honda CRF230F
gixxerjasen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-15-2010, 07:15 PM   #7
kojack06's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Temple, Texas
Posts: 2,069
Re: DirtWise After Action Report

I have never heard a bad report on his riding courses and they are suppoased to be well worth the money.
kojack06 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2010, 10:10 AM   #8
NitroRoo's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 623
Re: DirtWise After Action Report

Thanks for the writeup! Sounds like a great class, would love to attend one. That March 26th class sounds good... that's my birthday
ZRX 1100, KX450f
NitroRoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-16-2010, 10:38 AM   #9
TWTourist's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: South Texas
Posts: 2,593
Re: DirtWise After Action Report

Nice write up. I'm very interested in this course. Like you, my background is on the streets. Just started DS'ing a couple of years ago and still have a lot to learn. Riding on the streets and in the dirt are more different then people think.

I too my start with the video since it's going to be awhile before i'm back in Texas.
TWTourist AKA:FJR Bandit
IBA# 49404

'12 Wee-Strom Adventure
'12 R1200RT (Gone)
'13 FJR
TWTourist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-21-2010, 03:03 PM   #10
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Wylie,TX
Posts: 118
Re: DirtWise After Action Report

Good report Charles. Considering we were the only riders on larger, street legal 4 stroke bikes, we did pretty good. Short of the guy "Ken" on a CRF450 most of the other riders had smaller KTM 2 strokes.

The one thing that became evident rather quickly is that we were out of shape compared to the other riders. The trails were pretty beat up and rutted in a major way but still doable. My problem here was that I had to spend too much time getting out of the way as the faster riders bagan to lap us.

I noticed that we were able to complete most of the drills but at a slower pace than the other, more experianced riders. The "U" shaped rut had me beat. I never did get around one properly. By mid morning the second day muscle fatigue started to set in and I couldn't keep the pace. Ended up doing one or two trys at a drill and moved off to the side as to not slow up the other riders. Operating the clutch at this point was becomming a chore.

Your son Matthew was looking good out there. He had some trouble grinding the log due to the ground clearance of his bike. Shane seemed to offer some one on one instruction that helped Matthew gain the confidence to clear the log on the other side. Shane also stayed on me for using more than two fingers on the clutch and seemed to be watching everyone closely.

All in all a had a great time and I feel that the instruction was well worth the money. Other than the trails being less than ideal the class size could have been smaller. What happend to water crossings? Thought that was part of the class?

One thing to remember about the trail riding portion is this. Shane kept telling the young ones that it wasn't a race. We were supposed to be practicing our slow ride skills and line selection on the trail. Somehow this was lost in translation.
06_Wr_450 is offline   Reply With Quote


Go Back   TWT Forums > Texas Offroad Riders > After The Dust Settles And The Mud Dries


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:05 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
All Rights Reserved, Scott Friday 2003-18.
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=
Page generated in 0.20433 seconds with 10 queries