< Disclaimer: I've been riding street and touring for 30+ years, no off-road experience (not on purpose, anyway). Over the years I've ridden airhead BMW's on various fire trails and gravel roads, but only when the paved part ran out. A few months ago I bought a '92 R100 GS, with the intention of riding fire trails, maybe some dirt roads in Death Valley, and doing some desert camping. When I bought the GS, it had worn-out Metzeler Saharas on it, and after some research, I put Conti Trail Attacks on it. I know Conti Trail Attacks are not really a full-on off-road tire. End disclaimer. > Recently I attended a local BMW club rally partly because they offered a session titled "Introduction to GS Riding", followed by a "Beginner" ride that afternoon. I did fine in the Intro class drills; the instructors took about two hours and covered balancing the bike, weighting the pegs, standing on the pegs, throttle and clutch control, washing out the back tire, light grip on the bars, let the front tire go where it's going, locking up brakes etc. We did figure-eights inside cones while standing on the pegs, riding laps on hard-packed dirt while standing on first the right and then the left peg with one leg over the bike, and a couple of times rode through a twenty-yard-length of coarse dirt maybe 24"-30" deep. After lunch, eighteen of us met for the "Beginner" GS ride. The leaders (husband and wife) were both very experienced off-road riders. They told us to lower tire pressure, "It's not a race yadda yadda, there's some sand on the route, wait for the rider behind you at turns". Some folks had route sheets, most didn't. We set out on paved county roads for about 3 miles to get to the GS route. When we got to the GS start point, I noticed the husband, who was going to be Sweep, putting on a disposable painter's face mask. I was thinking "I should get one of those from him", but his wife took off as Leader. I figured I didn't want to be too far back if it was going to be dusty, so I took off as rider #4. We went through a very bumpy paved washboard section, medium speed. I found out later that it was bumpy enough that it had knocked my thermos loose from the bungees on my rack. Oh well. Then we went through a stretch of one lane farm road, soft stuff (asbestos?) with incredibly bad visibility, lots of white dust, couldn't see squat. I dropped way back behind the guy in front of me to let the dust settle. Couldn't see anyone behind me. Surface was very loose and my front tire almost washed out, several times. I stayed up, barely. We stopped for a break and when he came up front, I asked the Sweep if that had been the sand section. The Sweep said, "No that's up ahead". I guess he saw the look on my face, and he shouted, "Practice your GS skills!" Long story short, we then went through went through at least a half-mile of soft sand, my bike wandering everywhere, dusty, couldn't see squat, not fun. I came around a turn and the rider in front of me was off his bike, facing me, turning around back onto the track. I asked if he was okay and he said yes, so I kept going. Then I came around a turn into an open cattle range, and the two riders in front of me are stopped. The Leader had tee-boned a cow and gone down. The other riders all caught up and we stared at the cows, and the cows stared back. Sweep caught up and we took a break. The Leader wasn't badly hurt, banged knee and scratched bike, and she continued the ride. After another mile or so of dirt farm road, we hit the next paved section, county roads. I stopped next to a guy with a route sheet, and he said "Nobody waited, where are we supposed to go?" We looked at his route sheet and my GPS and figured it out. I said "I'm done, I've had enough fun." As I was putting in my ear plugs for the ride back, the Sweep caught up to me and I told him I was going back to camp. My questions: #1) were there any other local Noob Inmates on that ride, and did you think it was a "Beginner" ride? #2) Nobody passed me, so I assume I did okay, but maybe it would've been easier if I had full-on knobbies on the bike? #3) Wouldn't it have been prudent for the Leaders to ride the route the day before, and warn the Beginner riders about the dust/lack of visibility, soft sand, and open range with large animals and no fences? Just curious.