Here’s what some our former students have said about us. I attended the 2018 KTM Snowshoe Mountain “500” ADV Rally and it was a blast! In spite of the weather, this rugged Appalachian mountain adventure ride turned out to be one of the most thrilling of my life! And I have previously traveled to and ridden in some very cool places.
This was one hell of a weekend. And by “hell,” I mean far more intense both physically and mentally than I expected, and worth every single penny of the admission. I think I expected an MSF-style course but for dirt. The difference – for me, at least – was that the Dirt Camp 101 made me think more.
I came into this having ridden mostly street. I rode dirt when I was a little kid, but mostly I just commute on the highway now. I want to do a BDR, and maybe a Pine Barrens Rally, and then some big epic ride, so I knew I needed to get experience off the road. What I didn’t expect was how valuable the time standing around and talking would be. Mike’s way of explaining things just clicked, and the care he took in explaining, demonstrating, and discussing in Q-and-A was a lesson in itself. I’m a teacher, and I learned a lot about how to talk to a group about complex, abstract things. But Mike’s humor and straight-forward explanations really stuck, and when we were riding, it was like his voice was in my head, telling me what to do. It’s weird how much philosophy is involved, and he made that clear – the way you think about your relationship to the bike, how you see the trail with wide-eye and narrow focus, and how your body relates to balance, it was more than helpful. Even riding home on the Garden State his words made me feel more in touch with the bike. And his trail-side chats about ecology, cedar trees and frogs was a bonus I didn’t expect. I felt like we were getting lessons not just in riding, but civics, history, and philosophy too.
Speaking of what I didn’t expect, the other thing I came away with was Bill’s instruction about writing stuff down. It’s funny, Bill didn’t jump in too much, but when he did, lightsjust lit up in my head. His words have real power. He’s a smart, well-read guy, and everything from old-knowledge vs. new-knowledge to the importance of journaling to make learning “stick” – it really helped me as a human, not just a rider. The whole reason I’m even writing this is because of him: reflecting on the weekend is as important as doing the rides.
And the riding itself – damn, my body hurts. For my money, there’s nothing more valuable than an experience that changes you, and the physical demands of this course certainly did that. This weekend gave me experience doing things I didn’t even know I couldn’t do – skidding the front tire, counter-weighting to get out of ruts, simply stuff like covering the front brake and clutch with two fingers. Even crashing was fun. Well, not fun. But valuable.
I was talking to a couple of guys at the end, and all of us felt good about dumping the bike, because almost every time, Lissa was there, not letting us get back on until we thought through what we’d done, and what we should have done. Her words and calm, sure way of examining mistakes made them into real learning moments. The scars on my bike mean a lot more to me, because of the questions she asked and the advice she gave. I cannot overstate how valuable this question was: “So, what happened there?” When she asked me that, I looked at my bike on the ground, looked at my entry line into the corner, saw my tire tracks and my dabs, and actually thought through it. Having people who force you to reflect before you jump back on – that’s the thing I learned most.
That’s probably too much. But really, this weekend was intense for my body and my brain. Thanks, Jack, for putting something like this together — and finding this crew. The humor, intensity, support, all of it was far more than I expected. I think I said this to you, but I’ll say it again here: I came into this weekend not knowing what I didn’t know. I can’t image doing a BDR without your folks’ instruction.
Hope to see you all again,
Both the paved and off-road sections were amazing, made more challenging yet by the eyeball flattening speeds we were traveling. Sadly, for most of the ride, the beautiful scenery was just a blur. But this was no sight-seeing tour for us. Dozens of contiguous miles of groomed off-road gravel and tacky and mildly rocky dirt two-track terrain with 180 degree switchbacks having rapid elevation changes and no dust. The breathtaking roads had many high banked corkscrew elevator sections where steep leaning right and left at 80 plus mph was an ear-popping thrill. These extremes were sensationally linked together using GPS tracks, one after another, after another. Stitching this all together must have taken considerable time, study and talent.
The accommodations were fantastic at Allegheny Springs Lodge where I stayed in the resort and the provided food was delicious and plentiful. I want to compliment the KTM Professionalsonsite supporting the ride, among them Mike Lafferty and Russell Bobbitt, who were very approachable and friendly to the attendees. Not your typical athlete personalities, but true ambassadors for the sport and the KTM brand. I expect to see more riders involved with ADV as time goes on. It is an evolution of the Dual Sport rides we already do, with the bikes featuring greater fuel range, true off-road capability coupled with the street cred of a bad-ass sport-bike. Because of their comfort and luggage and gear carrying capability, many of the rally attendants had ridden there from home, some many hundreds of miles away. Still others rode smaller dual sport bikes with extended range tanks, affording 120 miles between re-fuels.
Summing it up, I can’t wait until next year, so be on the lookout for more news to come!
Jeffrey R Shaw
Dear Jack and Mike,
I want to express my gratitude by telling you guys what an excellent experience I have. The whole event was great! The camp, class, place and food! Also meeting all the experience riders from Chris’s group was great too. Since they shared their knowledge and friendship. The fire under the stars with funny stories was awesome. Thank you again all for your professionalism and warm friendship. I will see you again hopefully in future events as I get more experience.
Thanks again for a really great weekend. I learned new skills and improved on existing ones, but the best part was making new friends.
Thanks for the awesome weekend. Rayna and I really enjoyed it!
John and I had a great time taking your class. It was fun and filled with information. I truly appreciated the flexible delivery that Mike used. He was able to wrap his instruction around each rider’s individual needs. John and I each came away from the class with some very useful skills to improve our off road riding.
Want to thank all of you, Jack, Mike, Mani, and Scott, as well as all of my classmate, not only for a great educational experience but a fun weekend with folks that enjoy adventure riding as much as I do.
What we learned should make all of us not only better off road riders but equally as important, safer off road riders. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Hey Jack – first – I had a blast last weekend and learned a lot. I grew up riding in the backyard and local sand pit but never had any formal instruction. The techniques you taught were terrific and I feel much more comfortable riding and I can now pick up my bike without fear of throwing my back out! Much thanks!
Hey Jack and Mike,
Thanks a lot for a fun weekend of riding and learning.
It was good to put some off road time on the Honda, meet some people, and learn from the pros. The Pine Barrens is a beautiful place to ride, and I’m glad I got to see some of it. Please let me know if you plan to do a “graduate” ride, and I’ll plan to ride the PB300 when you reschedule in the fall. In the meantime, “elbows up, head up!”
I had a great time and learned more than I’d hoped to. The program and the instructors are great. I’m sure I’ll see you all again, hopefully at the PB300!
The 2nd day involved a ride through the Pine Barrens with plenty of time to stop, chat and enjoy the beauty of the area. Mike Bradway led a nice discussion about the biological diversity of the Pine Barrens, conservation and minimizing the impact of motorized travel through the delicate ecosystem. Quite unexpected and brought back fond memories of the talks I used to give as a kayak instructor in the area. Good stuff. Just goes to show that everyone on 2 wheels is not out there to tear up the woods and leave a trail of trash in their wake…