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Discussion in 'Racing' started by J Lewis, Dec 5, 2011.
I'd be interested in this type of training.
Five years ago at the Tecate Hare Scranbles we had a very similar talk behind that beat down box van you had or still have. It helped me alot, a Coke in the hydration system works, thanks.
Nice to hit this thread. I ride technical rocky stuff a lot where I live but far less bike time than I'd like due to my schedules, so I joined Seth and did Charlie's Rally School a couple of years ago and got myself to the Mongolia Rally that summer where I finished mid pack much to my surprise. Basically a year of prep and physical training for a rally that's a great option for the first timer due to pretty easy terrain with some challenging navigation and lowish cost. I agree that riding the actual rally gave me the most in terms of confidence and a sense of what it takes to do double that at Dakar in terms of stages, but I doubt I would have gotten half as far without the learning I got at Charlie's school. Finances are keeping me from getting to another rally so I filled the gap by going to Rally School again last year which was a great way to get a cheaper rally fix closer to home. Maybe something to think of adding to your school/training concept to help fund it?
I think your idea is great if you can get it into a viable package with enough support. Yes it would be nice to have more North Americans at a level to win the Dakar but what's wrong with over the hill casual types wanting to go out and have some fun? For many recreation businesses those are the guys who keep those businesses afloat because they have the $$ to foot the bills. And yes starting young is key to being great when you're older, but not all of us are that lucky.
On the subject of smaller close to home navigation rallies, there are a few of us here in Newfoundland working on trying to build a 5 day event. We got bogged down with some government departments and finding suitable routes for stages. The areas we thought would be great turned out to have a lot of A to B and dead ends but very little in the way of stuff we could loop around etc to make the navigation interesting. We're still working on it.
Lastly I would be interested in a supporting role, I just can't see myself getting the means together for Dakar before I feel my age would be totally against me. I'm definitely interested in some of the African rallies etc as a more reasonable objective instead.
Maybe I can buzz out to Parhump for a visit when I go to Vegas in February for some company training?
So, the biggest hurdle seems to be that a lot of the guys that are interested in participating at any level would also like to rent bikes.
I have tried to make contact with some guys who rent plated bikes, since a lot of the routes we would use require this and have had no luck. There are strict dirt bikes available but that really limits the where you can go.
The upfront costs to have even a few bikes is preventative for me at this point, maybe by next year that will change.
One thing I was considering is, for the guys planning on going onto a rally is coordinate a program where they buy the bike they will race and use it for the training and then have it prepped and shipped to the event. I have a few connections on guys who have done this and some guys that are looking to expand. In fact that is part of the plan that JCR has in the works to expand thier effort.
I also have the capability to safely store bikes if some riders wanted to leave the bike out for the season, which might be an option.
Or maybe someone else has a better idea?
I say you use your considerable clout with BMW and have them supply you a fleet. It seems to me they owe you something something from the past.
We started in 2004. Lotsa progress already.
Edit: I attended the previous incarnation of Jimmy's rally training in 2003, in preparation for the 2004 Dakar. The things I learned were very valuable. We started helping riders of all levels with bikes, parts and logistics in 2004. Since Jimmy's training was unavailable from 2004 to 2011, we set up our own Rally School, which was structured differently, but owed a lot to Jimmy's original concepts. We helped dozens of riders learn about rallying, and quite a few raced in the Dakar and other international rallies. With 2 little kids now and no time to get away and do these schools, I've decided to stop our Rally School. I believe that Jimmy is considering something a bit different than our Rally School, but I strongly urge anyone considering a rally race to attend. I think that the perfect American rally racer will be an experienced desert racer who is also a rabid adventure rider, and who takes the time to learn and practice the completely different game of rallying.
Yes you have, and commendable job you have done.
However, having followed the rally since infancy, I would have to say that Jimmy Lewis is the first to really catch the buzz. Not that people don't still get glossy eyed when I talk about Dakar, but at least many of them know he competed and did well.
I'm giving you both high marks!
I don't know what the costs are going to be, but what if you gave a slight discount to anyone who is willing to bring a second bike for someone else to ride? They can save a little on sign up costs plus get a little money from the person borrowing/renting their bike.
That money might not be worth their effort and wear on their bikes so it would also take a little generosity, but a rally school put together through adv seems likely to foster just such generosity.
Also, have you thought about talking to the Klim guys about helping sponsor a rally riding school? I could put a bug in the ear of one of my friends there.
Storage and modification for follow up rally is a great idea. I know that I'd just ship my rally bike out and leave it there until the camp is complete.
Rental bikes? I would avoid anything to do with running a rental bike fleet .... unless you're thinking of running Adventure Tours & Training ... a la Chris Haines Baja Adventures? Kind of a different deal.
If Nevada is not big enough (:eek1) ... you could always set up the training in Baja. Use sections of the 1000 and work your way down and back for a week or two. That might work up a sweat ... Go in August to prepare for the Argentine Summer. (Nov. to January)
Seems to me anyone serious about rallies will have to have some bucks or serious sponsors going in. They'd have at least two or three race bikes of their own, no?
They could just use regular 450's to train on ... and attach some sand bags to replicate extra fuel load. Doing the training in Mexico could limit your liability ... a big concern in the USA, no? Better if every rider rides his own bike.
Having ridden with groups in Baja for a while ... I'd not take down more than 6 or 8 riders max. More and it becomes a clusterfuck everywhere you go ... creates problems with food and accommodation. But planning is everything. I'd teach a French course as part of the training.
Jimmy, another option would be to find some people that are fairly local and are willing to rent their own bikes to you (your students, really) for a few days. They don't have to be full-on rally bikes, you could for example have clamp-on navigation towers that could be added to most 450s in a few hours, so you could transform these "ordinary" bikes into at least good training bikes. No upfront cost, except for you having to invest in some navigation towers, but that's little compared to trying to buy and maintain a fleet of bikes. Sure, there would be wear and tear on the bikes, so perhaps you could have an event insurance to cover that, or have the participants responsible to cover the damage (I know I'd be willing to do the latter). I don't think this option would be for everyone, but it might cover some. This goes a bit towards what Pendragon was alluding to.
I really like the storage option you mentioned, that would be very useful to some of us.
Finally the idea about buying the bike, using it for training, then having it shipped is good. Neil (BlueBull2007) did that when training and then competing in the 2011Sertoes, and it worked well. This might lead you into the business of helping put the bike together, which I am not sure you want to, but that might be the expectation.
How many BMW's in the Dakar this year? Seriously, getting a mfg to donate bikes is difficult at best.
Jimmy, I'd certainly offer to help or support. PM sent with some other info.
Cheers and Happy New Year,
Since this would be training, and not actual racing, what would be the range of bikes that will work for the routes you have in mind?
I mean minimum-maximum. Would a KTM 950 be too big? A 225 Serow too small? A rally bike would be ideal, but some people will be renting bikes for the African rallies, or don't have their rally bike yet. The ability to use a non-optimum bike for the training might yield more participants, since bike rental isn't viable.
Since I suck at motorized riding, I'm game for helping by driving. As long as I have a mtn bike to go toodle around on while waiting, I'm a happy camper!
Just brainstorming here for fun.
Recruiting top riders seems like a really good idea. It won't help much making the class a financially viable thing, but starting with the Jonahs and Quinns is obviously the best strategy to find elite competitors. And since they already have sponsors it might be easier to persuade them to support a rally effort than approaching a company from scratch.
That's fine for the objective of developing elite riders, but why not let the pretenders help pay the bills? (And I mean "pretenders" in the best possible way--I'm a pretender and damned if I'm not handsome as a boar in a barnyard.)
Sure, if having both groups created a worse experience for the best riders then it would be a problem, but if the class was structured in a way that those with real potential still learned what they came to learn (without the other's feeling ignored or slighted) then why not? Depending on what his groups were like, Charlie would have an informed opinion as to whether or to what degree this would be a problem for Jimmy.
I'm guessing anyone trying to do this should be talking with Rally PanAm since they've put so much effort into it in the last decade.
This is directed at RPA and Jimmy both:
In terms of getting sponsors for serious racers, Maverick (gas stations) might be a company to start cultivating a relationship with. Did you hear about the guy who won a Lamborghini and wrecked it the first day he had it? He won that from Maverick. They have the Maverick Center in Salt Lake & frequently have things like Monster Truck events there. They've worked hard to be "Adventure's First Stop." (If you don't have a Maverick by where you live I bet you've been to the one in Moab.)
More ideas for bikes:
Maybe some people could "pay" for the class by donating a street legal 450 (used, but in working order). Depending on the working condition of the bike it might be worth the admittance of 2 or more riders.
I have one neighbor that runs a residential eating disorder treatment center and says that the insurance he pays for having his own river rafting equipment and equine program is ridiculously high, but another neighbor that has been a river guide for years told me that the insurance for taking people on trips in his equipment is surprisingly reasonable (in part because companies will let you insure clients for a given week, so you don't have to buy a year-long policy).
Or, you could just have your guys walk behind the no-motorcycle attendees making VROOM sounds.
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+++ PLUS ONE!! +++
Bringing in top level, sponsored factory riders would affect the financial viability of a Dakar training school ... with riders come sponsors ... and in their wake lots of "normal" non pro riders who want to learn and rub elbows with the Hot Shots. All good.
Both the pro riders, their agents and sponsors need to want to Do rallies and make a commitment ... be willing to see future financial gains/prestige it could bring ... and realize it will be a slow building process ... not instant CASH flow. Seems to work for the big Euro sponsors from a broad variety of segments.
Fun Fun Charlie understands this probably better than anyone in the USA ... a true Pioneer.
Good stuff ... absolutely a good thing to have non pro riders in the mix. This will help the bottom line and make it really fun and educational.
But the Pro's kind of need "special treatment" and should be somewhat apart from the non pro's ... this could help them get to the top level required to stay out front. All could be fun no matter what.
Making it pay and sustainable is the hard part.
I'm not going to be living the Dakar dream in this lifetime, but I would definitely be interested in the fun/support type of participation. The toughest part for me would be scheduling. I'd have to play it by ear as dates and rates become more defined.
Unfortunately I no longer have my 640 Adventure, but it looks like I'll have a new (to me) '07 525 EXC as of this weekend (street legal and plated).
I'll be watching this thread to see how this great idea develops. Thank you, JL, for continuing to share your experience and knowledge!
I guess Ad-mo is not interested in working with you on this one? Seems like they are positioned properly, with bikes in the area, as well as ties overseas where they could potentially then also supply bikes to rally competitors.
Win-win apart from a pretty heavy toll on the machines, but they are already giving them to knuckleheads like me to thrash.
Not familiar with them, they do general bike rental? If so it might make sense for individuals to take care of the rental through them on their own. Then Jimmy could focus on the training itself and not have to worry about all these logistics?