Friday, July 17, 2015

Call me Adventure Diva - Dual Sport Riding Diva Style!

BMW GS650 

Never in the world would I have thought that I'd be riding a motorcycle, be a motorcycle instructor, tv co-host, or adventurer.  My life has changed so much in the last 4 years. WOW! is all I can say.

Today I was shooting a segment about off road riding for  Farkle Garage  a tv show I am a co-host on. I tried dual sport riding for the first time on a  BMW GS650. It was a whole different world to me, one where you're standing up on the pegs and shifting your weight. This style of riding seemed so foreign to the way I normally approach riding and very far removed from street riding. I have to say it was physically challenging, but very enjoyable.

It shares some of the common principles of street riding, utilizing your friction zone and good solid slow speed skills. There is no going fast involved in this type if riding, good slow speed skills are king. 

Shiz happens

Looking where you want to go to avoid target fixation is a key component to this type of riding, just as it is in street riding, so the basic skills are the same. You need to have your head up and eyes looking way down the trail, so you can avoid objects and fixating on them. Unfortunately I fixated on a cow pie in the field, yup, I rode through the squishy glob of poop.  I think cow pies would be excellent cone replacements because of the definite avoidance and ick factor. 

The local poop contributors.

Just as a novice street rider learns basic riding skills with exercises that promote good observation skills and friction zone development, it was that same build on skills approach that I am familiar with that was used to teach dual sport riding technique. We started out slow with getting the feel for standing on the pegs and body positioning on the bike. Once I got the hang of riding standing up and the fear factor abated a little it became more productive and easier.  The more I rode and was paying attention to my body position, it felt like the bike sort of melded with me, we developed a commonality and oneness. Eventually I was doing a cone weave standing up! Holy cow pie! It was wild surrendering everything you have learned and being more open minded to riding a different style than what you are accustomed to.

Ry showing me how it's done!

I was definitely a novice rider all over again. It was an absolute blast, but I think I would have to do some pretty hardcore fitness training due to the physicality of this type of riding. It definitely brings home to me how my novice students feel when learning a new skill. My interest is definitely piqued and I would like to learn more about dual sport riding.  Unfortunately  there aren't any pics of me standing on the pegs. I was too busy riding, and there wasn't anyone extra to take pics, but they will be in the Farkle Garage segment when it goes to air, so you'll have to stop by the Farkle Garage FaceBook page and check the episode out.

The Instructor Ry was great and very encouraging and walked me through the process step by step. We discussed riding gear and the different aspects of dual sport gear compared to street riding gear where you are more concerned about asphalt/pavement with sliding and abrasion. In dual sport off road riding you are going slower, so are more concerned about impact and wearing good body armour and comfortable lighter weight all purpose gear.  So again there is a good element of farkles to purchase! 

Safety is definitely a key factor and important to being successful in all aspects of motorcycling. I learned today that there is more to off road riding than just buying a dual sport bike and going for a rip on the trails. It truly is a different type of riding and riders will be better served if they are well prepared and take a course and have a good solid basic skill foundation. As with everything moto, you have the potential to get yourself into a whole lot of trouble in a big hurry. Riding off road can be unpredictable, particularly as most rides are in out of the way places, which may not be as accessible to help should you need it. So if you are going out, go with a buddy and if you can't make sure you tell someone where you're going and expected arrival at your destination and arrival home. There is also fabulous technology available for all motorcyclist who travel in the form of spot trackers which are satellite driven, they work where cellphones don't. You activate them and they let people you know you are okay or can trigger them to send help. These are amazing tech tools for motorcyclists or anyone who likes to wander.  I barely scratched the surface of the training during our short segment, I definitely see the value of learning from a professional. Who knows there may be a dual sport adventure or two in my future, but that also might entail a new bike, which due to my newest ride edition probably isn't in the cards any time in the very near future. 

The hub better make more room in our garage!

Another element to this style of riding is that women are embracing it! As with the basic rider course I teach, we have noticed that a significant amount of riders enrolling are women, it is roughly 40% . This speaks to women falling helmet over heels in love with motorcycling and that they are entering the sport at all levels of motorcycling, street, offroad, track, supermoto, motoX, touring, and scootering, nothing is off limits. 

One of the things I loved the most about today's adventure, was talking about what makes riding dual sports special. Seeing Ry's face light up when talking about the zen and magic of being intimately engaged in his surroundings and the passion for this and all forms of motorcycling. It was pure joy connecting on that level. It is the common bond all motorcyclists share, whether it be street, dual purpose, off road, track, weekend hobbyist, daily commuter or year rounder. We all love the feeling of oneness, the melding of mind, soul, and body with the machine. 

Ryan Austin is a professional riding instructor and police motor officer. 


SonjaM said...

I very much like the looks of the new baby GS. They are nimble and easy to navigate. I have had some off road training myself (on a trial bike) but the concept of standing on your pegs while there is actually a nice seat dedicated for your butt never warmed up to me, although the skills and muscle memory gained in that course saved said butt a few times in hairy situations...

Your path from scooter novice to advanced rider, riding coach and now co-host of a show with two-wheeler content is impressive, Dar. What's next?

Dar said...

Sonja - i think a trip to Europe is in order ;). My next few goals are: traffic and theory instructor, ride across Canada, do the full dual sport course and ride wherever the wind takes me. i have had so much fun, this has been a blessing and gift.

VStar Lady said...

Dar, I had such a blast last year doing the trails riding training with Clinton Smout at S.M.A.R.T. He is also world renowned for his dual sport course. Check him out. Cross Canada is a great ride ... you should.

Andrew Thomson said...

He, he, you're hooked now...

Adventure riding is absolutely fantastic! I like the concentration it demands and skills that you have to learn. And best of all I get to see places that are a little bit out of the way or off the beaten track.

Gravel rocks!

Zoe at Splodz blogz said...

Awesome, looks really fantastic and like you learnt a lot. I've not done any off roading and would love to, considering the BMW school in Wales for a weekend course sometime, I reckon that would be loads of fun.

What you've achieved in the last four years is brilliant, I bet it makes you smile every day :)

Richard M said...

Like Andrew said, I think you're hooked now… I've heard that dirt riding is a valuable skill and I wish I had taken it up before street riding. I'm also a fan of the BMW thumper and the twin variant.

Lynne Goebeler said...

I too wish I had learned to ride dirt as a kid, it makes you such a better street rider, but alas, can't turn back time! Glad you had fun!