One thing you can guarantee about motorcycle riders is they are always looking for new adventures and new experiences. In the past few years there has been a fast growing trend in motorcycling. Some people call it adventure riding and others call it dual sport riding. There are subtle differences between the two, but why get bogged down with details. Basically, it is riding a bike capable of on and off road riding. Some bikes are more targeted to street while others are more dirt oriented, but they will all get you to places most people will never see.
I have been riding for many years, but I had never heard of adventure riding or dual sporting until I saw Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor in a TV show called “Long Way Round”. In this TV show these two guys and their camera man, Claudio Van Planta, rode their BMW GS bikes from London to New York! I know these guys had chase vehicles, a big budget, and all the help they could ever need, but the adventures they had were undeniable. After seeing this show I was hooked. I decided that I wanted to have some adventures of my own.
Later that year I bought a 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 and I began to learn how to ride off road. I started off with low end motorcycle gear and I have been steadily upgrading ever since. I cannot express to you how important proper protective dual sport gear is. There have been several times that I would have been seriously injured without good gear.
Once you have your adventure bike you need to go through it mechanically and electrically and make sure everything is in order. Make a list of the tools you used and put a tool kit together. Where you are about to go, there is no help and it will be a long walk out. You need to know your bike well enough to work on it. You will also need some first aid skills in case things get hairy. I would also suggest carrying some basic survival items that will get you through a night in the wilderness if things get really bad. It may sound risky and dangerous, and it is, but you can mitigate most of that risk with a little preparation.
Now that you have familiarized yourself with your trusty steed, you have your protective gear together, and your first aid and survival supplies loaded up you are ready to roll! I would suggest starting off with a map of your local forest roads. The gravel roads will be a great place to get used to loose ground underneath you. As your skills increase these same forest roads often offer a large variety of trails that shoot off into the wilderness. If you leave the forest roads, I highly suggest having a riding buddy with you. Even something as simple as a big mud hole can leave you exhausted if you don’t have help getting your bike out.
Adventure riding truly captures the essence of what I believe motorcycling is all about. You can literally go just about anywhere you want and you have the freedom to leave the confines of the pavement and find new areas to explore. You will discover things about yourself along the way. You will develop new skills and your self-confidence will go up as you handle unexpected situations. You will find that your mileage may be less, but your fun factor and sights seen will be off the charts! When you attend your favorite bike night everyone will see you pull up on your muddy single cylinder thumper and you will be amazed how many of your fellow riders are interested in your stories. You may not be the best dual sport rider around, you may not be able to stand on your gas tank and ride around the parking lot, but you have ridden places they have only heard about!
I’ll see you out there on the trails. Heck, if you are stuck in a mud hole, I’ll even help you get out!