Recently I read a story about Gleb Travin who travelled around the USSR and the arctic for three years on a bicycle in the years 1929-1931. His bike trip started out in Vladivostok, and then continued along the southern border of Russia.
And today on a 100 degree Friday afternoon in the year of our COVID 2020 approximately 96 men, possibly one weakling and two women arrived at Rawhyde Adventure Camp (Castaic) for a sponsored clinic paid for by Long Beach BMW Motorcycles.
“No man can ride a motorcycle in 100+ degree heat and emerge unchanged says I.” We are now proof of this.
To Gleb our machines today more resemble spaceships than what started out as a bicycle with a motor attached and as an after thought.
Our motorcycles today are the SUVs and 4x4s of the world. Many owners like me with a brand new BMW GSA 1250 are obviously nervous the first time about taking them off into the dirt, even though that’s what they were designed for.
Today is Sunday, the training, riding, excellent food, entertainment, camaraderie with new friends made is now all behind me.
For us, Rawhyde condensed their training into one actual days of skills building by offering daily sign ups to various classes based on our needs. For instance Kevin, Ky myself from Bike Bro’s MotoCamping club have never taken our less than a month old GSAs on dirt roads.
According to Ky it’s more than getting it dirty. He was afraid of dropping a nearly 600 pound behemoth and then struggling to pick it up. Besides parts are expensive. Guess what? All that worry faded away within the first half hour of the first 0900 skills building dirt class.
Since we are all human we have this innate desire to compete, to test themselves and to push the limits of what it is to be human. The BMW GS motorcycle with its torchy, yet fast performance engine that is perfectly balanced allows that. The challenges that we put our selves through allow one’s true character to reveal itself. Kevin’s GSA is just over a month old and he has already ridden it over 7k miles. My new GSA less than two weeks old is almost half way there. These guys inspire me to be not only a better rider but, a safer trained rider.
In this modern era everything is now carefully orchestrated. So why worry about the hurting part. You can always rest tomorrow. This training and all the trips offered by Jim Hyde of Rawhyde Adventures is about as close as anyone of us will likely come to a Paris-Dakar or Baja 1000 experience. So, this is why we create our own little mini versions of adventures. It’s also human nature to want to observe others in action, especially under extremely arduous conditions. And we got to do just that during an adventure challenge from the comforts of a little shade and 100+ degree heat in the shade.
We learned how to stand up on the big bikes while holding our appendages out, much as a rodeo cowboy does with his horse, including simulating a dismount – all while moving in first or second gear.
Next we practiced balancing the bike while walking around it, then working only the clutch to walk the bike up a hill and then back down. And if you dropped the bike it was not the end of the world. The bike comes fully armored protecting all the vital parts.
You could suddenly see the light bulb going off in our way of looking at anything off pavement as now doable. According to Rawhyde dirt riding skills improve your street riding as well.
And that’s just what we did right after lunch. Around a 100 mile loop through twisty broken asphalt, sheer drops without guard rails and some roads within sight of the five freeway.
Many of our National Parks have some of their most incredible natural wonders at the end of a dirt road. I like to call many of these roads forest service roads. We’re not talking single track riding but, the training we received prepared us for this type of riding as well.
Death Valley is America’s second largest national park, but according to Rawhyde it sports only 150-miles of paved roads, while there are over 1100-miles of dirt roads.
The guy on the right is BMW Motorrad 2016 trophy winner. He entertained us for nearly an hour about his seven days and nearly 900 miles of riding and special tests in Thailand that put the 2016 BMW through its paces.
I can’t think of another specific model of motorcycle that people are so willing to abuse simply in the interest of proving that it can be done and that my friends is the cool part.
Yea. It makes me damn glad I finally got one.
Imagine that…in actuality, almost all of Death Valley’s most incredible views and natural wonders are 10 to 30-miles into the back country on rough, dirt roads. And most of our National Parks are similar.
After a confidence building dirt skills class we were fed a nutritious and healthy lunch. A class on round the world packing demonstration followed. Around twenty of us signed up for an area tour outside of the training area that included riding to the recent burn areas. All of this riding was on twisties pavement as all of the off road travel is restricted on account of a high fire warning on account of the extreme heat.
For additional perspective, consider this fact: more than 95% of the world’s roads are unpaved. And just to prove the point here are a few statistics from some of the great places in the world to visit. (From Rawhyde)
- Our home country the good old U S of A has more than a third of its infrastructure unpaved. We have about 4.5 million miles of roadways in the U.S. and nearly 1.3 million miles of dirt roads and trails. Who says there’s no place to ride?
- Canada is 60% unpaved.
- Mexico is 64% unpaved.
- Colombia is 80% unpaved.
- Bolivia is 93% unpaved
Ultralight (Kevin!) is the practice of packing super-lightweight backpacks for hiking and camping treks, made possible by a wide range of (special) gear that usually weighs in at mere ounces.
Motorcycle camping trips on the other hand can be both comfortable and easy too, when we borrow some tips and gear from the ultralight backpackers
And so my hats off to you GLEB and to the BMW GS MOTORCYCLE.
From Siberia and Central Asia, Gleb went on to the Caucasus; from the Caucasus he went on to Crimea, Ukraine, Moscow, Leningrad, and Murmansk.
Imagine the polar opposites from arctic ice to the polar desert. Gleb Travin today can be referred to as an extreme cyclist. Books have been written about him in Russia as well as films but, I could not find any translation to English.
The picture above is of a Mormon wagon complete kit just as it travelled the trail. Another inspiration to the Americana spirit! What a history we have in such a short timeframe.
CJ tried fitting a rooftop tent atop his BMW only a problem with the pannier mounts kept the project from happening. Instead he opted for a second story.
Seriously, just kidding. As you can tell he did not attend the packing light class.
And that my friends about wraps it up for our Rawhyde Adventures and BMW LONG BEACH.
But wait, seeing that all of this adventure was coming to an end Kevin, aka Coach, Panda Bear, Buddha, or this morning Ghenkis Kahn wanted more.
More in the way of riding twisties. He got it as a group of five of us led by brother Ky made their way to Highway 33 for some more spirited riding on twisties through Ojai, then on to the Malibu pier for fish tacos.
And I got a free Michelada. If you’ve ever woken up to a hungry bear who doesn’t get a good breakfast you’ll know that Kevin is not one you want to skimp on when it comes to a good breakfast- (in his opinion) the foundation for a great day.
Now all he has to do is lighten his Traveling kit in the way of Gleb. And as I said earlier- No man can ride a motorcycle in 100+ degree heat and emerge unchanged. We are now all proof of this.
Thank you one and all for an outstanding and date I say free sponsored weekend.