One of the biggest draws to Pahrump is off-highway driving. When you come here, you’ll see all kinds of Off-Highway Vehicles (OHV). Fully loaded jeeps, side-by-sides, ATVs of all sizes, and more. The preferred mode of transportation in the desert for Jimmy Lewis is motorcycles or dirt bikes. He loves this sport so much he’s made it his full-time business.
Jimmy Lewis Off-Road Riding School
He started his first training school for venture bikers or dual-purpose motorcycles in 1999 on a lakebed near Primm, NV, near the state line. When the infrastructure began to grow, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) moved Jimmy and his training school to Pahrump. He discovered this is the perfect place to teach motorcycle riding and his school is booming.
Classes are usually two days long and offered one to two times a month on Saturdays and Sundays. The class size runs from 6-17 students of varying skill levels.
He’s currently working on permits to offer off-road tours as part of his business. Day trips, as well as overnight excursions, are in the permitting stage. It will be a great way to explore the desert and learn how to ride safely and properly.
Las Vegas is a convenient city to fly into, and Pahrump is only an hour drive over the hump (the Spring Mountains). Many people come to learn how to ride and also to escape the harsh winters found elsewhere. Classes are scheduled between October and May. When the temperatures reach 90°, the school is closed until the next fall.
Jimmy’s Qualifications to Teach
If there’s any doubt as to Jimmy’s qualifications to teach motorcycle riding, you can put your mind at ease. He’s been riding since he was 8-years old and at age 17, he went from motocross (which is done on a track) to off-road racing which can be anywhere from 10-12 miles up to 1000 miles. Following are some of the races you’ll find on his resumé.
- 1996, 1997, 2000 and 2001 – Paris to Dakar or “The Dakar” which took as long as 21 days finishing third place in 2000, which was the best for any American
- 1998 – Baja 1000 where he finished first overall
- 1989-1992 – International Six Day Enduro, known as the Olympics of off-road motorcycling, where he won four gold medals and became World Champion in the less than 23-year-old category
- 2000 – was the overall winner in the Dubai Rally
- Editor for Dirt Rider Magazine for eight years
- Off-road editor for Cycle World Magazine for 12 years
Five Things You’ll Learn at Jimmy’s School
- The fundamental techniques of riding at a high level They focus on tactics that often prevent some riders from advancing their skills. Other schools teach the “when in doubt…gas it out” method. Jimmy doesn’t believe in that strategy and prefers to focus on safety. His motto is, “when in doubt…stop!” He teaches students how to ride slow and learn the basics. Once you achieve these skills at a slow pace, you can speed up with more confidence and be a safer rider.
- The appropriate way of braking The front brake is more powerful, and the rear brake is for control. Knowing the difference between them and how to use each one correctly will help you avoid spills.
- The four essential parts to riding a motorcycle You’ll learn how to properly execute the following basics:
- Initiate a turn
- Control a turn
- Balance is key Jimmy won’t let you mask a balance issue by telling you to go faster. When you start to fall, you have to know exactly what to do. It has to be instinctive because you won’t have time to think about it. Jimmy teaches balance and the importance of distributing your weight. His wife, Heather, who is a forensic scientist and very analytical, instructs on muscle memory and breaks down how it works.
- Traction and how to keep it Keeping traction is vital to maintaining control. You’ll learn how to retain it, as well as what to do if you lose it.
Jimmy’s Related Businesses
In addition to teaching, Jimmy tests motorcycles and associated products. He produces a podcast on www.dirtbiketest.com where you can discover what they are testing and the results. This information is also posted on Facebook and YouTube.
Off-Road Riding is as exciting now as it was when Jimmy was 8-years-old. He refers to himself as an addict. With all of his experience, he feels Pahrump is one of the best places to ride in the country. The dry lake beds, soft sand, gravel, rocks, and lack of mud distinguish it as a perfect place to learn and have fun.