A weekend at Rawhyde Adventures training on the behemoth...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Trpldog, Sep 26, 2018.

  1. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    IMG_7317.jpg IMG_7315.jpg 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.
    #1
  2. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks

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    Great advice. My friend took an off road course here in BC. last weekend. He is 72 ( like me) and wants more adventure off road. He was very pleased with the training, the turf was not as good as yours, but still he is more confident now. We are heading to the hills tomorrow. He is on a Ducati desert sled, me on the X Challenge.
    #2
  3. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    Excellent! Let me know how the ride goes.
    #3
  4. shelglass

    shelglass No Place Like Home

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    Sign me up!!!!
    #4
  5. Mofrid

    Mofrid Been here awhile

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    Thanks for posting this.
    #5
  6. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    I couldn’t keep quiet about the change in confidence that even a small amount of correct training instilled. Like any discipline worth doing, if I’m going to make mistakes in the learning process, I’d rather make mistakes learning a correct technique, because the practice will eventually pay off. Practicing a wrong technique will just put me further down the learning curve without me knowing it.
    #6
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  7. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks

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    Well we tried, the road to our trail was washed out. Big detour then he ran out of time, next time I guess. He hopes to find me in Borrego next year Feb. 2019, I will have fun showing him around, get him some sand experience:clap:lol3
    You should come down too, I am in the Palm canyon hotel & RV in Borrego for the whole month. Steve
    #7
  8. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    Ya can’t fight a big washout. Even with unexpected stuff, it’s always good just to be on the bike, especially with a friend or two. Two friends and I are planning on doing some off roading around Zion National Park in Utah next month. Just saw the Palm canyon hotel online, looks pretty cool. Are you there for vacation? Good to hear from you! Joe
    #8
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  9. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks

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    Yeah, vacation, like retired. We took a month with the RV in BS 11 years ago, I was 61. Next winter, I asked for 4 months off, no can do, so I quit. spent Dec. til April in the desert, always said I would find work when we got home ( BC in Canada)
    That never happened, been way to busy to look for work! Have fun in Zion, we did 10 days in Moab 2012, here is my report from another DS site. https://forum.dualsportbc.com/forum/bc-adventure-bike-section/adventure-rides/12189-moab-oct-2012
    #9
  10. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    Great report from the Moab trip! Our trip to Utah is only a 3 day spy out the land kinda trip. Just to ride somewhere out of our area here in Southern California. We have booked a hotel in Hurricane and we’re just going to play it by ear as far as choosing a route to ride, as it looks to be loaded with almost too many roads to explore.
    #10
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  11. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks

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    I think you made a good move to adventure bike. Anyone can do slab, but for me, the challenge of a little danger to see some places probably only.1 % can get to is really satisfying. By danger I mean falling ,and sometimes getting a little lost!
    I heard if you give yourself a good scare, you live 1 day longer, so get out there and scare yourself a little.
    #11
  12. KnucklesInTheWind

    KnucklesInTheWind Adventurer Supporter

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    Nice write up on RawHyde and your path to dirt ...very articulate. Bravo! Are you planning to do their “Next Step” course?
    #12
  13. hooligan998

    hooligan998 Save a life, grope your wife.

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    Love the post Trpldog. After 30+ years of riding, I too am looking to go in the same direction you have. I ride big displacement sportbikes at breakneck speeds through the curves and love it, but I want something different. Something from my past. I grew up on a Honda SL70 in Michigan riding trails, fields and gravel roads and want to return to that. The AT is one of the bikes I've been looking at as well. And I'm researching a few schools to get me back into it.

    Have fun!
    #13
  14. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    FC2EDD04-2575-48AE-BE8F-A769986BE7CA.jpeg
    Just do it. We’re not 20 years old anymore. I’d rather hit sand at 8mph and be working hard and enjoying the ride and the scenery as opposed to hitting sand in a corner at 75mph and ending up getting too hurt to ever ride again, or worse. One of those few times I made a mature decision in my motorcycling career. It has been very hard (for me to transition) but I know the rewards will become greater and greater rather than less and less, especially as compared to the direction I was going traveling in before.
    #14
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  15. black 8

    black 8 coddiwompling motographer

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    Thanks for the RR...

    I slowly made the transition from supersport, to naked, and finally adventure bikes as I neared retirement - I couldn’t see myself railing the curves in my 50s...

    Now retired, I moto camp and do multi-week/day rides exploring various places on/off road... as Trpldog stated “We’re not 20 years old anymore”...
    #15
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  16. enrich

    enrich Adventurer Supporter

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    Good posts as I'm attending Rawhyde's intro course later this month. Lots of road experience but 0 off road. Excited to learn but also a bit apprehensive...
    #16
  17. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    Best move you could make. Where are you taking the course? I was apprehensive going in also. I've ridden like you, on the street for years but a real noob on dirt. I cant tell you what it will do for your confidence level. I crashed off road before taking the course on my Africa Twin Adventure Sports, but after the course, that very (rocky downhill) off road situation that I freaked out on and caused the crash, I learned how to handle in the training. I went from not knowing if I would even make it up Rawhyde's gravel driveway when I arrived, to running their hard ribbon course without falling at all at then conclusion of the training. I slacked off since then on practicing after taking the course, but I'm making a determined effort soon as the weather breaks to spend dedicated time practicing what I've learned. It will change everything. No exaggeration. All the best. Let me know how it went when you get through.
    #17
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  18. enrich

    enrich Adventurer Supporter

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    Going for their Intro course in CA 23-24 of this month, and the BCA immediately thereafter with a couple of friends who are also 100% street HD guys who are seeing if this is something they're interested in. Don't know if this will turn me into a true Adv Rider, but good training is always good stuff.
    #18
  19. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    Excellent! If you ask Jim Hyde or the instructors, they will probably remember the Lone Sushi Africa Twin back in October. You are going to love it. Let me know.
    #19
  20. Trpldog

    Trpldog Adventurer

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    Lone Sushi at Rawhyde among the bratwurst.

    IMG_7315.jpg
    #20