Ride a Dirt Bike in Alpharetta

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Alpharetta, Ga., has plenty to choose from when looking for unique adventures, but there is one hidden gem that fills every daredevil with excitement: the expansive Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Campus. It is definitely a “must do” in Alpharetta, and having never been on a motorized bike before, it was time for me to cross “learn how to ride a dirt bike” off of my bucket list.

2The state-of-the-art MSF facility is dedicated to expanding rider education and motorcycle safety opportunities. On any given day, you’ll find street bikers taking basic training, youngsters learning how to maneuver ATVs, groups team building, families learning the elements of dirt biking or, in our case, a class of first-time riders eager to learn. After signing up for the basic rider course, I felt a zing of excitement and recruited a friend (who also had never been on a bike before) to join me.

The day started off bright and early as we suited up with protective gear and learned basic hand signals and safety precautions. All training courses include motor safety gear from head to toe, certified coaches and CRF Honda dirt bikes. After we were properly geared up, we hopped on our bikes (already personalized with our names!) to learn basic skills and rules of the road. Before we knew it, our class of 10 was doing figure eights around orange cones and standing while make turns. I couldn’t believe it!

3We continued the day doing some drills, and as each instructor gave the lesson, my classmates and I would look at each other with wide eyes as we tried to picture ourselves completing the tasks. The instructors would ensure us that we could do it and were enthusiastic and patient with us as we took the time to learn the drill. The instructors were phenomenal. They were patient and motivational as we weaved around the cones and tried our newly learned skills. After each round, we were greeted with high fives and congratulations. Needless to say, after about 20 drills, we were exhausted and ready to head home to relax. It was a fun-filled day, and we can’t wait to try another class at the campus.

Tips for your first day:

  • Stay hydrated. The staff has a cooler filled with bottled water for you to have throughout the day. Make sure to use it.
  • Eat breakfast before gearing up. You need a lot of energy.
  • Be patient with yourself. Jumping on a bike for the first time isn’t easy. It sometimes took me longer to learn the skills than my classmates. I would get frustrated with myself at times, but I kept trying and eventually got the hang of things.
  • Bring snacks and pack a lunch. You have a few breaks throughout the day and an hour for lunch. We packed our lunches, but there are plenty of restaurants nearby, so a quick outing to grab a bite would work, too.
  • Don’t plan to head to the gym afterward. Pushing a 250-pound bike around and sweating under all that gear can wear you out. Plan to relax after your lesson (maybe even plan a trip to an Alpharetta spa).
  • Have fun and enjoy the ride!

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation campus is located within the American Honda Complex at 1450 Morrison Parkway. For more information about the classes offered or the campus, visit www.offroad-training.org. For more information on where to find adventure and accommodations in Alpharetta, Ga., visit www.awesomealpharetta.com.

Caitlyn BlizzardFlorida native turned Georgian, Caitlyn Blizzard graduated from the University of West Florida with a degree in Communication Arts.  She is the communications manager with the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau and loves advocating all the fun and unique things to do in awesome Alpharetta. She enjoys exploring metro Atlanta attractions and restaurants and spending time with her miniature schnauzer, Winstyn.

Girls Day in Alpharetta

Alpharetta Farmers MarketAlpharetta, Ga., known for its year-round family-friendly events, welcoming community, delectable foodie experiences and exceptional shopping, is the perfect place to plan an adventurous weekend getaway with the girls. I had been trying to get my friends together for awhile for a girls’ day, but with our busy social and travel schedules, it is hard to find a day when everyone is free. Thankfully, the girls were free on an action-packed weekend in Alpharetta, so we decided to take advantage of the beautiful Georgia summer day to explore. We started off the day piling in my Camry in Buckhead around 7:30 a.m. and driving up to Alpharetta, a mere 22 miles north of Atlanta.

Our first stop was the Alpharetta Farmers Market, which was already bustling with couples on leisurely morning strolls and families planning their meals for the week. The vendors had that great Georgia hospitality and were eager to strike up conversations and to let us sample their specialties. We were blown away with the variety of goodies available, including everything from fresh fruits and veggies to homemade Bloody Mary mix.

Exploring Alpharetta Art in the Park in downtown AlpharettaAfter browsing the market and making a few unexpected (and very tasty) purchases, we made our way over to Milton Avenue just around the corner to browse the pieces at Alpharetta Art in the Park. The event happens the last full weekend of every month from April to October. Each piece of art on display was created by local artists, some of whom were creating art as we were strolling through.

The streets of Alpharetta were filled with people, and the doors of the downtown shops were propped open and ready for business. We dropped into Sis and Moon’s to browse the eclectic artwork, Gallery 35 to see pieces from local artists, and the Cotton House Antiques and Consignments to get some decorating ideas. Each store was filled with shoppers looking for great deals.

Having a fun time at Bucca di BeppoNext, we were off to lunch at Bucca di Beppo. The staff was exquisite; they led us on a tour of the kitchen (where the highly coveted “Kitchen Table” sits) and to the back room where we had our own private vintage setting to dine in. We all shared a bowl of apple gorgonzola salad and chicken saltimbocca topped with sage, prosciutto, artichoke hearts, lemon and capers. Authentic Italian fare was just what we needed to refuel for the rest of the day.

After filling up, it was time for the spa! We were greeted with warm smiles at the Youthopia Medical Spa, a world-class skin rejuvenation and total body wellness facility. We checked in easily with an iPad as we sipped coconut water and talked excitedly about what procedure we were having done. Each of the girls had a different service, including a pedicure, massage, teeth whitening and facial. We were beyond pleased with the staff’s service and have all vowed to return on our own for another spa day.

Then, we were off to Vino 100’s weekly wine tasting party, which takes place every Saturday. (They also offer complimentary wine tasting daily.) After sampling an excellent array of wines, we ventured to Alpine Bakery and Trattoria for dinner, where we were immediately greeted with friendly hosts who seated us in a quiet table toward the back of the restaurant. The lighting and soft music created the perfect ambiance. Our appetizer was a combination of a caprese salad stacked with mozzarella – my taste buds literally jumped with excitement! We continued our delectable meal with the grilled sea scallops and the lobster, alpine rustica (penne baked with shrimp, chicken, prosciutto, and gratinata sauce), lobster ravioli and baked fussili bolognese. Everything was delicious, and we were “forced” to end the meal with a slice of one of Alpine Bakery’s famous cheesecakes, which was enough to feed all four of us for a week.

Enjoying great company at Matilda'sIt was time to cap off the night at Matilda’s. There is something special about Matilda’s – maybe it’s the hospitable environment and the diverse crowd nestled around funky tables enjoying the company of friends as they share bottles of wine and goodies from picnic baskets. Or maybe it is looking up and seeing that you are comfortably settled under perfectly placed pine trees that make you feel like you are in your own little world as you sit back and sway to the funky tunes of the performing artists. Alpharetta is well known for its Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, but the smaller music venues are starting to set themselves apart and help pinpoint Alpharetta as a music lover’s destination. Matilda’s was the perfect spot to end our day. As we walked back to my car to head back to Atlanta, the planning was already in full force for the next girls outing in “awesome Alpharetta.”

See a video of our Girls Day in Alpharetta here.

Caitlyn BlizzardFlorida native turned Georgian, Caitlyn Blizzard graduated from the University of West Florida with a degree in Communication Arts.  She is the communications manager with the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau and loves advocating all the fun and unique things to do in awesome Alpharetta. She enjoys exploring metro Atlanta attractions and restaurants and spending time with her miniature schnauzer, Winstyn.