Wednesday, April 11, 2018

My first off-road motorcycle riding class!

Are you getting the most out of your dualsport motorcycle? Have you ever wanted to improve your skills and take adventure riding to the next level? Is this the year you tackle a Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR)?

No to question one - but I'm trying!
Yes to question two.
No to question three - that's always going to be beyond me.

It's finally happening: I'm taking an off-road riding clinic! The BMW Adventure Off-Road Riding Clinic, in fact, on April 13, at Moulton Falls Winery & Cider House in Yacolt, Washington. It's sponsored by BMW Motorcycles of Western Oregon in Tigard, Oregon. It's an 8-hour clinic, and the claim is that it's happening rain or shine, and that all skill levels are welcomed.
We will have a training course set up on five acres adjacent to the winery where Shawn Thomas and Lance Thomas (aka the Adventure Brothers) will spend the entire day providing instruction and subsequent drills of best practice dualsport riding techniques.
The clinic bills itself as "open to dualsport enthusiasts that want to learn more about adventure off-road riding, regardless of skill level." I surely hope that's true...

Attendees are allowed to camp overnight at the winery, but as it's going to be rainy and near 40 Fahrenheit (about 4 Celsius) at night, so we'll be staying at a hotel in Cougar the night before and the night of the clinic. There's supposed to be "after clinic camaraderie at the winery", and we'll partake in that, without alcohol, at least a bit before we head to Cougar for the night and then home the next day.

I'M SO NERVOUS!! (and excited)

Update: I took the class!

Me trying to be an off-road riderClick on the photo. Do I look scared? I was!

Most of the motorcycles were BMWs, but there are were also two KLRs (one was mine), a KTM, two or three Suzukis, and, of course, Stefan's Honda Africa Twin. And maybe a couple of Yamahas - I don't remember entirely. But the class was geared towards big bikes, not dirt bikes, and that is what I was looking for! There were only two women - me and another on a BMW. I was hoping for at least a few more.

I learned a lot. I learned that I'm overly terrified of dropping my bike. This class would have been a great opportunity to really, really push myself regarding several techniques, and while I did push myself, I didn't nearly enough, out of terror of dropping my bike. Probably half a dozen people dropped their bikes, people that are much better riders than me. They didn't fall over while going fast: they dropped them trying to do a complicated turn, or trying to stop on wet grass, or trying to stop in a new way on gravel. But they also were all mostly younger than me and haven't fully realized their mortality.

I'm really glad to have taken the class. It's given me a ton to work on outside of class. I've ridden on about 40 miles of gravel since then, most of it standing up, and it feels completely different now - I go much faster, and that's a good thing, because I've been passed by bicycles on gravel, and the humiliation is pretty hard to get over. I feel much more in control. But I'm also horribly out of shape, and this technique has really brought that home to me, starkly. I also wish I had practiced standing and riding and taking tight turns MUCH more before the class - I'll continue to do these things, every weekend, if possible.

Here are about 50 photos from the event, most of them NOT taken by me or Stefan.

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