Originally Posted by MotoMind
The whole point of doing it (gymkhana!) in a parking lot is that you're dealing with real-world conditions. I can tell you that running a bike on shagged knobbies through a gymkhana course is the most entertaining thing ever. Yes, I lowsided once, but the speeds are so low that you can't get hurt.
I agree. Of course I'm not at the level of a top rider and I don't throw my bike around as much as they are, but I did have multiple instances of tire slippage due to debris, be that a bit of sand or a loose pebble, while leaning the bike.
I guess if you are ok with the idea of dropping your bike (and they do drop their bikes during practices ) and have decent crash protection on the bike as well as your own gear (notice they all have crash bars installed, even on the sports bikes), then it really is a good experience either way.
The first few times my tire slipped at an angle, my heart went to my feet. I didn't lay my bike down, but it got upset from my shaky throttle hand. After the first initial scare, you start to learn what your bike can and can not handle. I know that I can lean the bike pretty far and even if it hiccups on the sand, as long as I keep my throttle steady it pulls through. Of course I'm not talking about riding yards and yards in sand, while dragging my knee. A small patch is what I usually encounter. But that feeling of bike slipping away for a fraction of a second is a good learning experience, so you are not taken by surprise if something similar happens on the road.
I'm just saying that a general feel for what happens when you encounter sand, is a good learning experience, so that you are not panicking, like you would the first time. Also keep in mind that this is coming from a rider who hasn't been on any dirt bike or off-road, ever. So this was a new experience for me.
Please don't take what I'm saying above as a reckless advice, everything and everybody has their limits. Also a good judgement is important on your part. I started with slow exercises on my old 250. Slow u-turns, slow 8's, basically everything we are suppose to learn and know after MSF. So this sport is a progression from SAFE and responsible riding. It is based on the skills that we as riders need to know, just taken to another level. Actually running 8's is another branch of Gymkhana. Riding a set number of 8's and beating your time is something they do as well. I love riding them, and when you get into the rhythm and into the zone it can be an almost meditative experience.