R2R Intro to Dual Sporting – A moto camping adventure

The first (hopefully annual) Ruts to RacelinesIntro to Dualsporting event in George Washington National Forest in VA was a fantastic way to spend a weekend. Part rider training, part ladies only adv/dual sport trip, lots of fun:)

As another rider put it, “I came with an open mind, and left a better rider. Absolutely love the encouraging environment of female riders.” While I think I have finally outgrown most “Intro” level classes, (we rode almost exclusively class 1 to easy class 2 roads), I was still able to find plenty of skills to work on, and the whole weekend was a bunch of fun. I would love a “level 2” version of this weekend to help push me more clearly into being an “intermediate” rider. Plus, I’m all but obsessed with dualsport/adventure riding right now. As with all things motorcycling, the better I get, the more fun I have. Rider training has been key to improvement, but opportunities are rare, so I’m grateful for this event.

Camping Friday night gave us all day on Saturday for a mix of instruction, and riding forest roads and twisty paved roads in the mountains.  We played in the creek to cool off, and Continue reading

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Hiking Bearwallow Mtn and Trombatore Trails near Chimney Rock, NC

If summer hiking in NC, go early and go high. 7 miles before lunch, with elevations over 3000 ft, the highest trails we could find in the immediate area, were thankfully not too bad for heat and humidity (my nemesis). The 2 mi (round trip) Bearwallow Mountian, and 5 mi Trombatore trails, share a trail head not far from Chimney Rock, NC, an area full of excellent hiking trails.

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Moto Heroes – Ina Coleman

Ina Coleman – Australian trials rider, and hard enduro racer. She has skills for days:

I love watching people ride like this, especially women my size. While I have no desire to race, much less hard enduro, it inspires me to see what’s possible on a motorcycle. I will probably never be able to ride at anywhere near her skill level, but it still motivates me to go out and work on getting just that little bit better.

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Quote of the Day

“Life has many risks. The most dangerous risk of all – The risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.”  – Randy Komisar, The Monk and the Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur.

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What is Adventure Motorcycling?

When asked to explain adventure motorcycling to the uninitiated, I usually distill it down to something like: “Traveling by motorcycle both on and off road on multi-day or longer trips.”

But that explanation isn’t really sufficient. I doubt I could ever explain the attraction in words, but the videos below are a pretty good effort. They aren’t mine, I’m not sure I’ll ever make the leap to producing video (its an enormous amount of work). Instead, they are my favorite videos from this year’s BDR 60 second film festival, (so they won’t take up much of your time). Maybe when people ask me what adventure motorcycle travel is about, I can just send them this link.

This second one is my favorite:

This was the 2020 winner. I think the music choice is extra dramatic and cheesy, but its beautiful to look at, well cut (the time lapse sequence is outstanding), and I appreciate what they were going for.

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Quote of the Day

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” – John F. Kennedy

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Moto Heroes – Taye Perry

I have a lot of admiration for the determination and perseverance of rally racers.

You have to really want it to rally race, especially at the world rally level, and even more so to race the Dakar. It takes a lot of talent and hard work to even to qualify to race. In her home country of South Africa, Taye Perry was winning the women’s classes in various types of off-road racing too consistently, so she started entering the men’s classes. Beyond just racing, there is significant additional time, money, and physical and skills training required to prepare to race the Dakar.

Dakar Rally Hero Taye Perry Interview:

Just being a good enough rider isn’t sufficient. You have to come up with the enormous amounts of money it takes to enter the race; entry fees, bike, gear, tools, equipment, travel, insurance, etc. Even for a privateer trying to go as cheaply as possible, costs are well north of $100k. People scrape together whatever sponsorships they can, fund raise, beg, borrow, and sell anything they can just to be able to race. And then Taye’s bike broke down in the middle of the desert during the second to last stage of the rally, ruining her otherwise good results until then. Such is rally racing. She eventually received a tow from one of the race cars, and ended up pushing her bike across the finish line, with a smile.

In case that’s not enough; she’s only 5’2″ tall, and races competitively on a full size 450 cc rally bike. Seriously impressive. “Desert Rose” indeed.

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Quote of the Day

“In practice, socialism didn’t work. But socialism could never have worked because it is based on false premises about human psychology and society, and gross ignorance of human economy. In the vast library of socialist theory (and in all of Marx’s compendious works), there is hardly a chapter devoted to the creation of wealth ‘ to what will cause human beings to work and to innovate, and to what will make their efforts efficient. Socialism is a plan of morally sanctioned theft. It is about dividing up what others have created. Consequently, socialist economies don’t work; they create poverty instead of wealth. This is unarguable historical fact now, but that has not prompted the left to have second thoughts.” – David Horowitz

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GPMX

What a difference a year makes.

I took this GPMX dirt bike class a year ago, and just had such a good time, I signed up for it again this year. After the class last year, I bought my first (tiny) dirt bike, received a little more coaching, and went riding a few times with my new dirt bike friends. The difference in my riding skill level became apparent at this year’s GPMX class.  I certainly haven’t outgrown this class yet, and still learned a lot this year (and had a blast doing it), but my riding is clearly at the next level.

At the end of this year’s class, we were led around a short trail ride through the on site woods trails. I am positive I would have found those trails challenging to ride last year, and I know for sure I could not have kept up, no matter how hard I tried, with the pace Marika set (which was not notably aggressive, I just would not have been good enough to keep up). It would not have been a fun experience for me.

This year? I was giggling out loud in my helmet I was having such a good time trying (successfully!) to keep up with the group. The pace was just a bit faster than I would have tried to ride it on my own, especially because I had never ridden those trails before, but I was delighted to discover it was not over my head. Instead of being too challenging, I found myself loving every minute of those woods trails, even when my boots got wet riding through the deep puddles that were still there after the previous weeks torrential rains. I left this class with a lot of excitement to do more riding, having had a great time improving my techniques and hanging out with awesome people, and completely ready to move up to my next dirt bike:)

This is part of why I love taking moto riding classes. Being able to clearly experience the progression in my riding ability is extremely rewarding. (Also, MK’s Women’s Moto Extravaganza at NCBike is an absolutely awesome event, and just a stupid amount of fun. Thank you Marika and Greg Pamart for providing this opportunity, its really appreciated).

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Hiking the Rock Castle Gorge Trail VA

Hiking 11 miles and over 1800 ft of climb in elevation (which we then had to descend) in one day is more than we’ve attempted in recent years.

It turned out to be entirely worth it. We’d never hiked the entire loop before, but we discovered that the Rock Castle Gorge Trail is incredibly scenic, and we had beautiful sunny weather with temperatures in the 60s to enjoy some welcome outdoor exercise. The 10.8 mile loop starts in the bottom of the gorge at about 1700 ft of elevation, near the confluence of two creeks. Depending on which direction you go, the trail follows either Rock Castle Creek, or Little Rock Castle Creek, up the gorge, before ascending to the Blue Ridge Parkway and connecting with the other Rocky Knob Hiking Trails, which reach over 3500 ft. I loved every minute of it.

Some pictures from our hike below:

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Quote of the Day

“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class — whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.” ― Frank Herbert, Children of Dune

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Moto Heroes – Megan Griffiths (Megs Braap)

Megan Griffiths, Megs Braap, Megan Griffiths Enduro/Racing – Canadian off-road racer, dirt bike enthusiast, general moto riding phenom, and creator of much appreciated video tutorials. I just discovered her recently, and her skills are blowing me away.

This is the first of Megan’s instructional videos that I stumbled across, where I was officially hooked:

As a street rider who’s still trying to figure out this off road riding thing, some of that video didn’t even look ride-able to me, and she made it look easy.

Being a short motorcyclist is an added challenge that taller people, especially men, often don’t fully appreciate. As a short, 5’4″ tall female rider, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a short woman ride with such a high level of skill and proficiency before watching Meg’s videos. (I think this is largely because motorcycling in general is a hobby still mostly occupied by men, so that’s who’s most visible. That in and of itself is neither here nor there for me, except for the shortage of visible female talent.) For me, being able to watch a talented short female rider is more relatable, motivating, and aspirational than seeing someone else ride the same terrain.  She’s only 5’3″ tall, and she gives me hope.

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Quote of the Day

“I think that science fiction, even the corniest of it, even the most outlandish of it, no matter how badly it’s written, has a distinct therapeutic value because all of it has as its primary postulate that the world does change. I cannot overemphasize the importance of that idea.” -Robert A.Heinlein, “The Discovery of the Future,” Guest of Honor Speech, 3rd World Science Fiction Convention, Denver, Colorado (1941)

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Mayo River State Park

Most of North Carolina’s State Parks have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic. I had hoped that our small local Mayo River State Park would remain open, but it was finally closed off as well until sometime in May. While understandable, it’s disappointing to lose one of our regular places to go for a walk. The Mayo River State Park is one of the state’s newest, and is a developing collection of properties mostly along the Mayo River. Its a small park that I would not drive across the state to go hike or paddle, but as a local amenity it is very nice, and a worthy addition to the state park system. The roughly 2 mi loop trail at the Mayo Mountain access has only been available in recent years, but has become a favorite place to go without having to drive very far.

The Deshazo Mill access is still open, although we noticed the two picnic tables at the trail head have been removed. Currently, this small access has a short, 0.75 mi one way trail that goes by the Fall Creek waterfall, along the creek, and then along the Mayo river. Before they added the small gravel parking area and improved the trail, we used to “sneak” our motorcycles in as far as the falls on the old road bed.

 

We can’t really do that now, but its worth it for the extended trail and improved access. Its quite pretty (and a lot busier) now, and we appreciate having another nice local public trail we can go to on a whim.

 

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Ride and hike – Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve (Bent Mountain Falls)

We don’t usually combine the two, but since the weather was too perfect to decide between going for a ride, and going for a hike, we decided to do both. Inexplicably, we’re still occasionally finding new places to explore within day ride range.

We happened to find the Bottom Creek Gorge Preserve on a previous day ride, and are still perplexed that we didn’t already know about it. Our five mile hike exceeded all expectations. This Nature Conservancy preserve is as nice as any state park. The trails are fantastic and varied; the property includes a small patch of some extremely rare chestnut trees, and some old-growth hemlock (we were aware of neither while there). The overlook of the second highest waterfall in VA (Bent Mountain Falls) is worth the walk. Other conservancy trails I’ve hiked have simply been a nice public amenity; a pleasant place to go for a walk in the woods. Bottom Creek Gorge is an outstandingly beautiful piece of land, which we enjoyed in beautiful sunny weather, book ended by excellent dual sport riding exploring unpaved back roads in rural VA. This was a good day.

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Quote of the Day

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates

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Moto Heroes – Joey Evans – Death before DNF

“I’ve realized that when things are really tough and there seems no hope for the future, it’s sometimes just Chapter One of a really cool story, and the ending is entirely up to you.” – Joey Evans

How far would you go to pursue your dream?

From Para to Dakar

I first became aware of rider Joey Evans through Lyndon Poskitt’s videos, especially during the 2020 Africa Eco Race, where Joey was a welcome personality on Team Races 2 Places. I hadn’t really appreciated that Joey had spent several years as a paraplegic after an accident, eventually overcoming huge odds and continuing problems from his spinal cord injury to be able to ride again. When I learned that he wrote a book, I bought it, and devoured it short order. Its an even more extraordinary true story than I could have anticipated.

While Joey’s passion is rally racing, in case its not obvious, this is not a book about motorcycles, or motorcycle racing. While I appreciate the insight into the world of endurance racing and the alluring Dakar Rally, From Para to Dakar is remarkable for so much more. Its an incredible story of overcoming devastating hardship, impressive mental fortitude, and nearly superhuman perseverance and determination to pursue a goal.  As one reviewer wrote, “This could be a ‘how to book’ because it reveals on so many levels the way to live. The power of positive thinking, shunning negativity, the importance of having a goal and the determination to succeed. Its a treatise on living a happy marriage and raising children successfully.” Inspiring is an understatement.

After what he’s been though and accomplished, at this point I’m pretty sure that Joey Evans could kick a puppy at this point and I’d still admire him. That guy is made of tougher stuff than most. I rated his book a rare five stars, I’m that impressed. I’m willing to grade the writing on a curve. Its better than most (including myself) could do, and plenty good enough to do justice to the story, even if using a ghost writer may have been better (maybe). I’m just grateful he took the effort to write the book, and was willing to make his story public. I agree with other reviewers that our world would certainly be improved with more people like Joey and Meredith. These people are really living, even if I think he takes his “death before DNF” philosophy way too far.

Edit: Good timing – this excellent ADVRider interview with Joey Evans happened just weeks after this post.

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Quote of the Day

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” — John W. Gardner, Saturday Evening Post, December 1, 1962

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TET – Trans European Trail

If I could do whatever I wanted in life, I would definitely spend some time touring around Europe on a motorcycle via riding the TET.

(Not right now obviously. This is assuming the Covid-19 outbreak calms down and we’re all allowed to leave the house again one day.)

The Trans Euro Trail is a volunteer powered 36,000+ mi, 27+ country, dual sport route through Europe. Modeled after the Trans America Trail, the TET attempts to link together as much off pavement riding as possible.

I’m especially impressed with the founders enormous efforts to gather and centralize the information required to establish the TET, their foresight for how to sustain their efforts, and for making the information and GPS tracks accessible to anyone who wants to ride it. The website with all of the information you need to ride the TET is brilliant, and the extra effort to establish a formal TET organization as a non profit company was probably worth it. The community owned structure should avoid some of the problems other projects like this have encountered, and should really help the effort remain dedicated to serving its enthusiastic community (mostly by keeping the tracks updated), promoting responsible trail use, and preserving off road riding opportunities. They represent the sport very well.

Given how much I’ve enjoyed riding BDR routes in recent years, and my desire to ride the TAT, riding the TET  seems like a natural extension. It would be such an incredible way to travel.

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Quote of the Day

“One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” ― Milton Friedman

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Spring

March in NC is the time of year when we’re reminded where all of the pear trees are growing. Earlier this month, we enjoyed the show from some wild trees along our evening walk.

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NEBDR

The tracks for the new 1400 mile North East Backcountry Discovery Route (NEBDR) were published in January this year. I pre-ordered the Butler map for the route before it even started shipping in February.

I’m pretty excited about riding it. Maybe later this summer?

The BDR group puts together a movie to promote each route, and then releases the tracks, maps, and movie when the new route is complete and ready to be released to the public, usually in January each year. The movie is shown at moto dealerships across the country before it becomes available to for purchase. Its a fun get together with other dual sport riders, and a chance to get a sense of what the route will be like. We got our chance to watch at Frontline Eurosports in Salem, VA in early March.

The NEBDR is the 10th route developed by the BDR group, their second in the eastern US, and their longest route to date. This is a really long dual sport route, with a lot of variation. There are some technical sections I’m a little anxious about that look distinctly more difficult than anything we rode on the MABDR. I hope I’m up for the challenge. The recommendations to plan for 8-10 days to ride this thing are probably correct.

We’ve ridden three BDRs so far; the MABDR (mid atlantic) in 2018, and the COBDR and NMBDR (Colorado and New Mexico) in 2019. Based on those experiences and what I’ve read, I probably want to ride all ten published routes. The BDR group has a goal of publishing one new route per year (which is a massive effort), so I have some riding to do to catch up.

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Quote of the Day

“Many people die at twenty five, and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.” ― Benjamin Franklin

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Moto Heroes – Linda Bick

“57 Years of Global Biking. Port Lincoln’s Linda Bick is a global adventurer.

From finding herself in the middle of an earthquake in Pakistan to negotiating bordercrossing across Asia, she’s travelled by motorbike to five continents since the 1960s.

And she’s mostly done it alone.

“What have I learnt? I’ve learnt that most people in the world are nice and kind and a lot of them are friendly, and they just want to live a life peacefully with their friends and family around them.” ”

 

I love her personality and attitude that comes through in that video. She’s a fantastic inspiration. Given my interest in motorcycle over-landing, I’m surprised I had not heard of Linda Bick before this year. She’s clearly a star in the “who’s who” of the motorcycle over-landing sub-culture.

(Again, this video was posted on facebook, and I’m not sure how to embed the entire post directly on wordpress.)

I also enjoyed this interview with Linda Bick on Adventure Rider Radio from November 2019.

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Trans America Trail (TAT)

This is a pretty neat article on the Trans America Trail, a cross country route of mostly off-pavement travel developed by a very dedicated motorcycle enthusiast.

County Road 363, Tishomingo County, Mississippi. Photographs by Joshua Dudley Greer for The New Yorker

( “Dirt Road America” was published in The New Yorker in November 2019. Hopefully it won’t go behind a paywall, and the link won’t break.)

The TAT has been on our radar for a long time, and remains high on the list of motorcycle trips we’d like to take.

 

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