Five Mistakes not to make whenever getting yourself into a new sport:
When starting a new sport/hobbies don’t feel embarrassed to be the worse at or last one. ASK tons of questions to people who are fluent in whatever activity it is your practicing and quite the contrary, you should embrace doing new things.
Be careful whenever leaving your confort zone; in fact, I wouldn’t even recommend being away of your confort zone until you feel totally familiar with that new activity… this is usually when accidents happen. Don’t take dares from your already experienced friends too seriously… believe me, it won’t go well!!!
“Started from the bottom.. now we are here”. Do not go ALL IN until you are sure you want to stick to the sport/hobbie. It usually takes some time to master any sport or endurance activity (unless you are some kind of Travis Pastrana or something like that). So take your time, learn how to deal with frustration, borrow equipment from people who have been already in the game for some time until you decide to invest in it.
Once you have decided that this might be the hobby/sport/activity you are looking for, save some money or buy top of the line equipment. It will save you money at the end and you will enjoy way more whatever it is that you are doing. (My dad used to tell me while I was growing up; “It is not the the arrow, but the Indian…” Saying I could not be more against to nowadays.. the arrow makes a sh@$t of difference).
Involved people that are close to you in any way you can to participate in this activity. Wether it is for motivation, support or even as training partners, it will make a world of difference. Try getting them involved as soon as you think this is the sport/activity.
Let me just start this post by saying that this has definitely been the most extreme adventure trip I have ever done… If you don’t believe me now, you will once you see some pictures ahead and read this piece.
I had driven dirt bikes in the family ranch since I was a kid, but never actually liked it so much to actually buy a real dirt bike. Used to riding all terrain 250’s as the biggest engine there wasn’t much real enduro I could do. But the day came when a friend in work bough a 450 and convinced me to get a real man’s bike (mistake #3). I should have stayed with my Yamaha 250, but no… instead I went and bought a KTM 450 from a friend.. bike which I could barely start, not to mention lift it up from the floor…
Anyway, I started getting to spend more time on the dirt bike in the afternoons after work, and headed for the hills inside the ranch. Eventually I even started building trails, and after a month of it we even brought in some mini-shovels to do some digging to create more technical terrains for the dirt bikes.
After a couple rides outside the ranch near La Colonia de Tovar, El Harillo and El Paseo de los rios my friend from work invited me for a weekend long enduro trip in the Caribbean coast of Venezuela, more specifically from Catia La Mar to Playa Cepe(passing through chichiriviche de la costa, Puerto Maya and Puerto cruz).
THIS IS A TRIP FOR EXPERIENCE ENDURO RIDERS. Trust me, it soundS way easier than what it actually was. Also keep in mind that there are people that make it to Cepe from La Colonia de Tovar (a much easier and the one I should’ve taken) but this was the route this guys wanted to take and the route which broke me.
Dirt road within nature
First you pass through small mountain tows where asphalt road exists. After going up and down several times, eventually you make a left turn and suddenly you hit dirt roads. Later you pass a family house where a lady was drying out cacao beans and where people in dirt bikes stop to buy some gas for the remaining of the trip (since a tank will not be enough for a round trip and there are no gas stations from this point on). Keep in mind that this home is in the middle of the freaking nowhere, in the middle of the rain forest… Then, just a few meters after leaving the house, you realize that the real adventure has just begun, suddenly you enter a single track with Cliffs at your right side with drops from 20 feet to not having ending can be seen from the single track. The place is beautiful… trust me, but once you are on your dirt bike and realize that a false move may cost your life, then you realize there is no space for mistakes and forget the beauty of the place.
HINT: Keep in mind that Playa Cepe is the second ecosystem with the most diversity in the world following one in Indonesia. In order to get here by car you gotta get through National Park Henri Pitierr, which was the first one in Venezuela and one of the fist ones in South America.
BREAK: At this point is when I thank my Father for coming with me (remember as I mentioned above that I had little experience in enduro trips involving dirt bikes). He knew I had little experience in this kind of trips, so he decided he would accompany me for safety, since he had ridden dirt bikes from a young age… and also because he was interested in by how difficult the ride sounded.
From this point on I can tell you that I got to a very dark place in my mind… What was supposed to be a 6-7 hours enduro trip turned out to be a 14 hour trip. We started riding at 7am and got to Cepe at around 9pm. Mainly because of weather conditions the days prior to the trip, several trees fell in the middle of the single track path.. now just imagine lifting your (250lbs/115kgs) over six times trying to get it over a massive tree. Not only that, but we only carried snacks, instead of real food because we though that with the Empanadas we had have for breakfast earlier at Chichiriviche de la Costa we would had enough fuel on us to reach Cepe, so at one point during the day we were literally starving, dehydrated and weak as you can’t imagine.
I was so weak that at some point during the ride I felt into the cliff (picture below), but by some kind of miracle I landed 8-10 feet in the middle of the free fall in top of a tree. Luckily enough a branch got caught up into my motorcycle and stopped it from falling above me. Not only I would’ve lost the motorcycle, since there was no possible way on earth to pulled it back up, but it would’ve carried me with her the entire way down to I don’t know where.
Eventually the group spread out according to the different levels different riders had… Since it was getting darker we decided it would be for best, so if something happened to the guys with least experience (aka. myself) people ahead could find help. Anywho… my father stayed with me, but was also very weak and night was approaching. At some point he even said to me:
“carajito, te voy a dejar morir… no me dan las piernas, le voy a dar hasta el pueblo que quedan como par de horas para comer y traerte comida”.. which translates to: “little nugget, I am gonna have to leave you behind here…. cant feel my legs for much longer, gonna ride for a couple more hours until I reach Cepe, have something to eat and head back to bring you some food”.
This was my breaking point honestly… I thought to myself, things are so so bad, that your father is gonna turn his back on you because he is so weak that he thinks that if he stays helping you, neither of you will make it to the beach for the night. Trust me.. there weren’t good thoughts going through my mind when I imagined myself spending one night in the middle of the tropical forest in Venezuela. Not only because of wild animals, but then I also thought that the “malandros” (thugs) might find me in the middle of the freaking forest.
Suddenly we got to a creek and the terrain flattened which was good news.. we were probably close to a town or even to the beach which meant Cepe…. from this moment own survival mode just clicked into my head…. I was shifting even without pressing the clutch!!!! That’s how tired and weak I was!!!! after just a quarter of an hour we made it to Cepe to find out that everything was closed and that we had nowhere to eat. On our way to the posada from the beach, a lady heard my dad and I speaking about starving and invited my dad and I into her home and cooked us some Arepas which tasted like heaven (if you don’t know what Arepas are, google it right now and try to find a place near by you which sales them… they have been ranked the best breakfast in the world for quite some years in a row now). Everybody had made it safe to Cepe, but every single one of us was exhausted… even the guys with most experience riding said it would be imposible to go back the next day on the same way we came in.
The entire adventure and risk was worth it… not only because of the experience, but because of how beatiful Cepe is. Not to brag about Venezuela (there are very few things we, Venezuelans, can brag about right now), but I have been fortunate enough to travel to what I believe to be lots of countries and few I have encounter to be as beautiful as Venezuela.
Anywho, we decided it was impossible to return riding our dirt bikes, so we had to take some peneros the next day….. It was trully an amazing experience… it showed me how vulnerable we all are… But without a doubt, the best of all is that I was able to experience this with my Father!!