It was through this forum that I learned of RawHyde Adventures and eventually made the decision to go this year. I’d like to take the opportunity to provide a brief review on my experience. I attended the ‘Level 1- Intro to Adventure’ class June 8 – 10. My riding background: 23 years of street and track riding on sport bikes, sport touring and a pathetic (albeit brief) stint on a cruiser (which felt dirty). 30 years of mountain biking (non-competitive). And finally, 1 year on a true ADV bike, 2013 BMW R1200GS LC…’The Beast’. Reason for taking class: I like living and death seemed imminent taking this beast off the road. I was white-knuckling the hell out of my GS on simple dirt fire roads and always felt like I was about to go down...in a bad way…kind of what Macauley Culkin must have felt like at Michael Jackson's Never Land Ranch. My goal was to learn the basics and become comfortable so that I could go out in the back-country, ride and camp. Without death. Day 1 – Arrival: Getting to RawHyde is a bit challenging for the dirt noobs. RawHyde’s driveway begins after about 20 minutes travel on dirt roads. Once you get to the driveway, you are met with a seemingly 45 degree, boulder laden, washed out trenched road requiring a 4x4, roll-bars, sherpas and climbing gear. Remnants of WW I trench warfare equipment may quite possibly found underneath some of the rubble…..or so was my impression after 3 days of riding to get there. Put it in 1st gear, switch to Enduro mode, stand on the pegs, pray & go. The bike will slide around under you like an angry honey badger fighting off rape while your life flashes before your eyes. You have arrived. Attempted badger-rape behind you, check-in was quick and painless. Coaches met the new riders to help them unload, get settled in and find an ice-cold beer. Or single malt scotch. Classy. We then met our fellow students, staff, Jim Hyde himself and walked through a brief orientation. Once back in the clubhouse / dining room / bar / congregation garage, the chefs (yes, you read that right) brought out an exquisite dish of grilled salmon on corn puree, small herb roasted potatoes and an amazing salad all paired with a Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. This amazing meal was the “worst” of all our meals…they only got better (which honestly didn’t seem possible). Frankly, this was turning out to be mountain top 4-star restaurant that happened to teach ADV riding courses. The facilities were porta-potties and porta-showers, rustic yet cleaned daily. The hot water was instant and everything you need is provided (soap, towel, shampoo for those who still have hair, etc). Keep in mind the camp is at 10K feet on top of a mountain so everything needs to be trucked up including water. Considering this realistic limitation, RawHyde’s really done an excellent job here. Sleeping accommodations varied from tent-cabin hybrids (housing 4) to individual tents to sarcophagi type cubbies in a travel trailer (a claustrophobic delight). HOWEVER, each contained very comfortable beds, a night stand, LED lantern and plenty of hooks / nooks for your gear. Think of it as adult summer camp with some class & creature comforts. Days 2 & 3 – School: The generator kicks on at 5am…but you probably won’t hear it. Breakfast is at 7:30 and you roll out down the driveway-of-death to the killing-fields (....errr training grounds) at 8:30. Riding behind the coaches, suddenly the driveway seems quite doable and that’s your first lesson. The amazing coaches then start you off with very basic exercises meant to quickly get you over your fears of washing out, dropping the bike and getting it back up. Once you realize these fears are easily surmountable they guide you through incrementally more complicated exercises, each building on the previous ones. The logical progression is effective and confidence inspiring. Within 4 hrs I was comfortable executing moves and riding on terrain that terrified the hell out of me earlier that morning. BTW, I am not easily terrified….I’ve been married…twice. And survived a teenage daughter. By the end of the weekend the driveway-of-death melted into an easy to climb road where I could ride relaxed, confident and was now fun! Some exuberant students (who shall remain nameless) took to racing each other up it….boo-yah! Here’s a list of what was taught (almost all at slow speed, best for maximizing the skills); · Alternating standing on single peg to drive home importance of body position · Emergency braking stops and take-offs without touching the ground with your feet · Front tire breaks · Rear tires skids · Speed control via clutch & idle · Sharp & tight U-turns / figure-eights (both flat and off-camber) · Hill climbing and steep ride-downs · Switchbacks · Mixing all of the above while managing traffic with other riders · Turning around when stalled on steep inclines · Recovering from stalls on steep inclines · Managing sand · All with a heavy dose of personalized real-life pointers from the coaches A word about the coaches: A special shout-out to Matt, Tom, Bob, & Erin…our coaches. Each and every one is awesomely skilled, chock-full-o-knowledge, experienced, yet humble & down-to-earth riders who love riding but more importantly want to share their knowledge with new riders. Camp Support Staff: In addition to the coaches and Jim, there were 2 folks who kept everything running and did absolutely everything they could to make our stay exceptional; Phil (fleet master mechanic, wrench-extraordinaire and GS savant) and Lauren (the camp mom for everything else…too many things to list). My deepest gratitude to both of them. They were quintessential to the experience. Summary: RawHyde was more than a riding school. It felt like family. I left with new friends, an enhanced skill-set, confidence and an absolute joy and appreciation for what these machines can do. For us former dirt-noobs, it truly is life changing. I highly recommend it to all who want to learn how to ride their adventure bikes. I’ll most definitely be coming back next year for the advanced rider course. Hope this review is helpful to fellow riders. Ride safe & have fun!