Like Riding a Bike
A perfect combination of outdoors, adrenaline, and fitness, the Mx Factory makes learning to ride motorcycles as easy as riding a bike.
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons
If you’ve ever wondered what riding a motorcycle is like, it’s just like riding a regular bike—except for the differences.
Starting with the gear, you wear long sleeves, long pants, boots, a helmet that wraps around your entire head, and goggles. In the already scorching heat, you have an added 30-40 degrees.
Next, you have a clutch, different gears you change with your foot, and a throttle that takes some muscle just to keep at a steady rate.
The bike is also heavier than a typical road bike, making it much more difficult to balance by yourself. You have to keep your core tight and press your thighs into the bike. The faster you go, the easier it is to balance.
Getting a hang of riding is quick. Once you’ve experienced it, your respect for the sport of motocross, and it’s athletes, is sure to increase. Mostly because,it’s not even a fraction of what motocross riders experience throughout a race.
Tyler Livesay knows the feeling first hand.
“It’s a really weird feeling and it’s honestly hard to describe,” Livesay says. “It essentially feels like you’re sprinting for 38-40 minutes. You feel awful, but you can’t really turn your brain off, like in running.”
Livesay is the owner and lead trainer of the Mx Factory, a motocross training facility just a few miles from Lake Travis. Originally from Florida, Livesay began riding and racing dirt bikes at age five.
He trained with some of the best professional riders in the sport, and eventually raced on a professional level himself.
But making a living as a professional motocross rider isn’t exactly a long term plan.
“It’s a short lived-sport. It’s hard on the body,” Livesay says. “It’s actually one of the hardest sports to make it [as a professional] because it’s such a niche and very competitive, there’s probably only 6-10 out of thousands who are making a really good living riding motorcycles professionally.”
Livesay transitioned into a different area of the sport through coaching. This ultimately landed him in Austin and at his training facility, the Mx Factory, which officially opened in 2014.
The Mx Factory stands on the property owned by Tillman Racing. It has a small track, built for training purposes rather than racing. It’s made of red clay and sandy loam dirt (hauled in from East Austin) and has two-back-to-back 50-foot table tops, along with a 75-foot double. It’s also deeply rutted for more of a challenge.
The property also has an event space that includes a full gym, equipped with a full pull-up rig, gymnastic rings, bars, bumper plates, airdyne bikes, c2 rowers, ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, and weights. There is also a 25-foot rock climbing wall, yoga room, and a theater for breaking down technique with film.
“Cardio is probably the most important thing, but you also have to balance the bike with your legs and core, so you have to have a strong lower body,” Livesay says about motocross training.
Yoga helps with flexibility and mobility in order to quickly move out of the way after falling, and balance for holding the bike up.
It also helps to riders to be able to move into a flow state. Since the race is so long, and your heart rate is at threshold, your body begins to shut down. Moving your brain into a flow state riders to focus, while the adrenaline helps mask the pain for the entirety of the race.
Livesay coaches and trains all levels at the Mx Factory, whether it be riders looking to compete or people simply wanting to learn how to ride. He wants people to try the sport, while doing it in the safest way possible.
“Our track is easy. There’s not a lot you can mess up on out there,” he says. “Our goal is just to get [riders] to where they are comfortable enough to go out and ride on their own.”