When you're ten years old and you have your very fist dirtbike, it's pretty easy to get overconfident and decide that you're close to invincible. My parents did try to teach me some basic safety things, and so did the various other family members who rode. I wasn't allowed on my little Yamaha without wearing long sleeves, long pants, a helmet, and decent shoes. We weren't actually riding on any public roads at the time, either, instead we were riding on ditch banks out on the farm.
I'd finally gotten to the point where I was shifting the bike and I had just taken the very brave step of putting it into third gear. The ditch bank I was riding on was about seven feet wide, with a pair of parallel sandy tracks in the center and high weeds everywhere else. I was flying down the road while my parents were working on a tractor in one of the fields when I hit a soft spot in the road. I was going fast enough that I couldn't control the dirtbike as it skidded to the edge of bank and down into the ditch, which was about eight feet deep. It was empty and I'd been lucky enough to go through a patch of weeds that didn't include any sandburrs or puncture vines. My dad had taught me how to lay a bike over, so I managed to get my leg completely away from the muffler. The dirtbike and I landed in a heap at the bottom of the ditch. It knocked the wind out of me an left me pretty shaken up, but I hadn't hit my head and I could feel all of my fingers and toes. I got up and my legs were trembling. The Yamaha had died as soon as it went over the ditch. I picked the motorcycle up just as Mom and Dad got to me. Dad jumped down into the ditch and helped me haul the bike back up onto the ditch bank. Once we established that I was okay, my parents looked at me and Dad asked, “Gonna ride it back to the shop?”
“Yeah,” I answered. I was scared, but I wasn't dead.
So, twenty minutes and a swig from the water jug after my first dirt kiss, I was kick-starting my Yamaha and riding it again.