I can attest that 40+ years of street riding on 20 different bikes will not necessarily prepare you for big adventure bike riding. I knew it was time for a change in my evolution of motorcycle riding. I consider myself very proficient at street riding, and even touched a racetrack back in the 70's. Apexes have always been my favorite way from point A to point B. Having said that, I figured that it shouldn't be a giant difficult jump into the big adventure bike world. Right. After doing every bit of research humanly possible, I settled on the Africa Twin. The 2016 and 17 AT's looked like they would certainly fit the bill, but when I read that a longer travel, bigger tanked Adventure Sports model was rumored, I held off and put a deposit down on the ATAS back in May of 2018. To make a long story endless, I eventually found myself the owner of a 100 foot tall behemoth with a fuel tank as wide as Texas. Even though I rode a KLR a few years ago for a infinitesimal period of time (twice off road), and a XR650L for an even shorter amount of time, nothing prepared me for the terror and screaming inside my helmet that was about to take place riding Texas in the dirt. I soon discovered that the learning curve for me was going to be steep and long, if not impossible, to become anywhere close to proficient. So after installing Outback Motortec crash protection along with Barkbusters guards I figured I was as ready as I ever was to venture out into the unknown. In addition, (not being completely foolish) I bought a subscription from Garmin along with my new InReach GPS unit with SOS and satellite texting. After putting about 3000 miles on the behemoth and some of those on easy level dirt roads, I found myself on a friday morning 8 miles in on a road that I had been on in my Jeep a year earlier, and remembered it as being pretty easy to navigate. The road became rougher and rougher, and there were downhill sections that at this point were, I have to admit, scaring me bigtime. I ended up losing the front on a downhill section of the road, got the front wheel caught in a shallow rut, and crashed Texas into some bushes and rocks to my left. Though I had practiced and lifted the bike up off the ground in my level green front yard, here I landed off camber into the bushes and I saw that I wasn't getting it back on its feet by myself, at least with the limited knowledge I had on maneuvering it to where I could lift it. By the grace of God, after 30 minutes of grunting and sweating, four young men came around the corner on dirt bikes, had mercy on me, and lifted Texas to her feet again. One guy followed me as I made my way up and back out, almost as terrified as I was coming down initially, not to mention the cliff to my right. I finally got to the paved road, got off the bike, paused for quite a bit, and pondered my latest change in motorcycle disciplines. I knew that something had to change. Riding was no longer fun. The absolute terror and the white-knuckling, if at all possible, had to stop, but I knew without a doubt that the adventure bike was what I really wanted to do. I was finished with the endless corner strafing of years past. I had watched countless YouTube videos of big bikes being ridden in places that I wanted to go, which included downhill, uphill, sand, rocks, mud, ruts etc. But I have to say, that day I was totally discouraged and fully bummed out about the whole thing. This bike was quite an investment for my wife and I, and I knew I didn't want to be a Starbucks poser. I would sell it first. And, no, I couldn't and wasn't going to get a smaller, shorter bike to make it easier. Fast forward to September 21st at 5:16 pm. I find myself walking into Rawhyde Adventures in Castiac, CA for their "Introduction into Adventure Riding" weekend training course. It took using vacation money to be able to attend, but again, something had to change. I knew it, my wife knew it. This weekend was going to be very pivotal in the decision whether I continue on in the direction I wanted to go or not. I was way nervous, very apprehensive, and maybe a little excited - but mostly nervous. If this were a road race course on pavement on a high powered sportbike, I had it down, but here I was completely out of my league, way over my head, and just figured I undoubtedly would make a total fool of myself right from the start, I mean, how else could it possibly go? I didn't know what to expect, and I was the only non BMW bike on the entire premises - that didn't help matters for me either. Let me cut to the chase and tell you this. It was the best money I have ever spent on anything pertaining to motorcycles in my 40 years of riding. I went from not knowing if I was even going to continue riding, to being so excited about adventure riding I cannot even express it. There were 6 others in my group from various walks of life. We went from a basic locking up of the rear wheel and skiding, to descending big rutted gravel strewn hills with front brake only. We went from a sit-up and beg street riding position to, off the seat opposite side counter balanced turns on loose surfaces. I completed every section, though not textbook, I didn't drop the bike once. (came close at least 10 times!). I ran the optional harder ribbon course three times, the last time feeling the most comfortable because of the great instruction I had received from Rob and Bill. I was really fearing the deep sand, but three times through the sand pit successfully alleviated the dread I had at the start of my weekend. From Audrey in the office upon arrival, to Bill and Rob, our instructors in the field, to Jim the owner - everyone there at Rawhyde were top notch, not to mention the guys I met who were also attending the training. The instructors would encourage, and yet weren't afraid to yell, "Joe, PIVOT that foot on the peg like I told you to!" That weekend was the hardest, most exhausting thing I've ever done on a motorcycle - but it was the absolute best time ever on two wheels. Gentleman, seriously, I left there changed. Something had changed. The basic "toolbox" of new riding techniques to practice and the new understanding I left with, is absolutely something that will without a doubt help make me proficient at riding Texas. Interestingly enough, now when I ride, I noticed that Texas has shrunk quite a bit and now me and New Hampshire are getting along just fine. I apologize for the long post, but maybe it will encourage someone who now possibly find themselves where I was in doubting or being frustrated with the move into the ADV world. Latch on to someone who knows what they are doing and then apply what you learn. It changed everything.