Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Riding School

Riding Schools

By Alfonse Palaima

Before a recent assignment riding through the Mojave desert with riders far more experienced than myself, I’d been afraid I’d bitten off more than I could chew, so I signed up for a one-day class to wake up my hidden dirt-riding talents.

It wasn’t my first mile off the pavement, and while I think I’m somewhat experienced, I’m simply luckier than anything else. I know there’s stuff I need to learn, and while I can head to the OHV park next weekend and ride in circles all day long, I’m never going to learn the right way through the turn until I ask someone better to correct my bad habits. So, who better to learn from than one of America’s finest?

Cue the family-operated Jimmy Lewis Riding School (JLR), a friendly, two-day, hands-on training session that’s a great first step for getting your dual-purpose motorcycle or MX bike onto the trail. The school has a welcoming feel, offering classes for adventure bikes and smaller-displacement dirt bikes, as well as providing a racing curriculum for those seeking to podium. The Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Riding School schedules classes primarily on weekends from autumn through spring, unless the school is attached to events like the KTM Adventure Rider Rally and the like.

So what did I hope to glean from this class? Proficiency in the sand, primarily…or at least learning how to tackle the terrain. OK, I know to lean back, sure, but what do I do when the front hooks up and I’ve got a two-foot escape window? Jump? Been there, done that, paid for the parts. I also hoped to learn how to regain momentum after stopping on a hill—which happens to me all the time. I get knocked off my line, bike pointed toward the trailside abyss and I lock it all down, saving myself but killing my progress. So now what?

Jimmy Lewis has been riding since he was a child, rising through the ranks to podium in the famed Dakar rally, and winning four International Six Day Enduro gold medals—and so much more. This man can ride a 1200GS better than many of us maneuver our desk chairs, and is also Editor-at-Large for sister publication Dirt Rider magazine. He’s been schooling road runners in the desert sands of California and Nevada since 1998.

By Alfonse Palaima
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