14 August 2015

RawHyde Colorado--Women's Camp September 5, 2015


RawHyde Colorado has announced its first training camp dedicated solely to women! Happening the weekend of September 5, RawHyde looks to bring it's excellent training to the ladies. This is an excellent chance to sharpen skills and learn how to control that bike of yours, in an atmosphere of female comeraderie.

Check it out!

I had the opportunity to be in camp when Tara Mitchell (see comment in above picture) took the class on her F700GS. Though she had ridden for years, she came from a background of street riding, and off-road riding was new to her. Within the first day of training, her skills soared and so did her confidence. Of course, it helped that she had the right attitude and was ready to learn. She lives in northern Alberta, and after her ride home--that's right, she rode that bike down from the uppermost part of the province and back!--she is ready to continue putting her skills to use in the real world.

I truly wish I had known about RawHyde when I began off-road riding. I learned the way most people do--getting a capable bike and putting my unknowlegeable self into tough situations. In a conversation with Jim Hyde--the owner of RawHyde--I told him I learned the wrong way. The way I learned has put more women off riding than made them want to do it more. RawHyde is training the RIGHT way.

Why train with all women? There are a couple of reasons for this:

First, there are many women out there who have taken up riding to be able to accompany their spouse, SO, friends, etc., but have missed out on the basic fundamentals that can make them feel safer in their riding and have fun at the same time. And after all, isn't FUN the reason we are out there?

Second, I had no idea, NO IDEA, there was such a large number of women riders out there riding solely with the men they learned to ride from or on their own. This was me. Go ahead and browse back through previous blog posts and see how many women appear. Far too few. I have recently found a group of women to ride with, and HOLY SHIT! We have fun. We enjoy ourselves, support one another, and nobody feels the need to out ride anyone else. We have FUN!

I would also like to point out that although this is an official BMW training company, it is not required that you have/ride a GS. I've seen everything from a Yamaha XT250 to V-Strom 1000s in camp. Of course, every make, model, and year of GSs make an appearance regularly like my old girl! The other option one has is to rent a GS there. If you've thought about big-bike riding, adventure riding after years of street or little-bike dirt riding, this is a good way to see what you might like in the way of a bike.

I have one final thing to say about this. I loved my GS from the moment I bought her, however, when I learned the potential she had--and that I had as a rider--in off-road situations, I loved her even more. Ninety percent of the U.S.s roads are unpaved. RawHyde's goal with their Intro class is to make you feel confident in handling 80% of those. Think of everything you can see from that seat--that's definitely worth a weekend!

If you are interested, go to:


for more information on the company and training camp,

Or here to express interest in attending a training camp



P.S.--they have amazing food and there's beer and wine too!









Keywords: motorcycle, 1200GS, 800GS, 700GS, 650GS, training, off-road, adventure, dirt, dirty girls, Rock On, Badass, counter balance, BMW, Yamaha, KTM, Suzuki, Kawasaki, GS Trophy


12 August 2015

Horizons Unlimited--Grant, CO

"Going around the world on a motorbike is just the most amazing fun!" This was the first thing Lindsay Knapkin said in The Acheivable Dream: Ladies On The Loose, a film produced by Grant and Susan Johnson--Horizons Unlimited. I bought this film a few years ago, not long after I read Lois Pryce's books, Lois On The Loose and Red Tape and White Knuckles. It is a hilarious and inspiring film, and it made me want to get to know this huge group of people who also think traveling by motorcycle is the best way.

Horizons Unlimited has numerous events around the world each year, mostly dedicated to bringing travelers together for seminars and presentations pertaining to traveling the world by motorcycle. The Colorado event is slightly different than all the rest--it is a riding event. Thought there are presentations in the evening, the point of the Colorado event is to get out and ride. This year, base camp was at the Terry A. Gross (Geneva Creek) campground in Grant, CO. Most people came in on their bikes--of ALL varieties, though adventure touring bikes made up the majority--checked-in, and set up camp Friday afternoon/evening.

Loaded up and ready to roll. It was in the 90s when I left Denver--I was ready to get out of town!
Thumper on the right, Grant and Susan's new-to-them GS on the left, and a Harley in the middle.

The campground has a beautiful area, across a rickety bridge, where we were able to set up tents along the river. They didn't allow cars across the bridge, but we were told we could ride the bikes across, and by the end of the evening, the was nothing but motorcycles and tents as far as I could see. For future reference, please note the campground has pit toilets but no water--campers must bring their own.

I mean, come on! This is a beautiful site!
Josh drove the MINI that weekend because we were dog sitting. Oliver got to go camping with us!

Friday night, after we had all eaten bar-b-que made by the locals, Fritz Sampson gave a presentation on his trip from Ireland to Mongolia. He had some nice pictures and fabulous video which accompanied his stories of being on the road, meeting people, and conquering the dreaded border crossings.

This guy rode his Harley down with some friends, but before they left, he decided he didn't have enough space for everything he wanted to bring. So, he fabricated this box for his bike.
Ready to roll Saturday morning. Several of these riders split from us at Jefferson, and we rode on to catch a larger group at the summit of Boreas Pass.

Saturday morning, we awoke to a beautiful day. I would only be able to ride part of the day as I had a wedding to attend that evening. Listening to where people would be riding, I decided I wanted to hop in on the Boreas Pass ride. The group would be going on to do other riding, but I would be able to blast home in time to get cleaned up and go to my friend's wedding.

This is Charlie from Boulder. This pic shows that Boreas is relatively smooth, but I was still amazed to see Charlie bumping down the pass. Pic by Fritz Sampson
Wide open, easy road. Beautiful scenery abounds on Boreas Pass and I loved every minute of it. Pic by Fritz Sampson

Boreas Pass goes from Como, off 285, into Breckenridge on highway 9. It is an easy pass to ride, even if you're on a chopper. This is a pass I could easily do in a top gear, but it tends to have traffic on it. Any car can make it easily to the summit and back down, as it is well maintained. There is even a place in Como where one can stop and pick up a guide for a self-guided tours. Numbered markers along the way correspond to different historical facts, and this is a popular place to escape to for a weekend drive.

Fritz Sampson--this was his first real riding since breaking a bone in Mongolia and having to end his trip early. We had a really nice day on our F650GSs!
Plan B--1150GS
Fritz and I have cousin F650GSs--mine is the older, more beat-up cousin.

When we got to Breck, we rode over Loveland Pass to the Loveland Ski Area and on to Georgetown. I had never ridden that pass, but I thought it might be a nice substitution for the interstate. It was a great road, and the summit had amazing views. In Georgetown, Fritz and I had lunch together, before we went our separate ways--Fritz over Guanella Pass to camp and me back to Denver and a wedding.

After the wedding, I managed to get back for two presentations, one being Grant and Susan's story of riding around the world from north to south. They had many pictures and good stories to tell. For being a couple of mild-mannered Canadians, they sure know how to have adventures! As the presentations ended, a number of us hung out around the campfire, enjoying beer and some music by two people I'm not sure any of us knew.

Wanda on her nearly new V-Strom. She went from a Yamaha V-Star 650 to the DL650, and is just getting to know her bike. But, it sounds as though this woman likes to ride as much as I do!
Stephen--he rode Mosquito Pass on his Super Tenere. When I asked him about the ride later that evening, he smiled, shook his head, and said it was a challenge. After riding Mosquito recently, I am super impressed.

Sunday was the end of the event, and people packed up and slowly headed out. It's hard to describe the feeling I have as I see campgrounds emptying and people rolling out, but I usually feel a heaviness in my heart. I know that I will see some people again in the future, and I know that I will have enjoyed the company of people I may never see again.

Luckily, I was able to hook up with three other people to enjoy a fun ride home--Livio on an 1150GS, Sawyer on a DR650, and my friend Dusty Wessels on his 1200GS. We rode over Guanella Pass into Georgetown, where Dusty and Livio traded bikes for a short time. The plan was to ride the frontage road, missing Sunday I-70 traffic, into Idaho Springs, where we would pick up Oh My God Road.

On the frontage road, since we weren't riding very fast, I rode with my visor up. Boy was that a bad idea! There I was, pleasantly riding along, when all of a sudden a large insect hit me square in the nose and exploded on my face. EXPLODED! I could feel bug guts all over my skin, and they speckled my sunglasses. Thankfully, Dusty pulled off the road a few minutes later and I was able to examine the carnage. Whatever color the bug was on the outside, he was bright orange on the inside. There were streaks of orange guts across both cheeks, and covering my nose. I hastily wiped it away thinking, "Ew, ew, ew eeeewwwwww!" When I tried to wipe the lenses of my sunglasses clean, the sticky orange guts spread across the plastic in a film, and I had to resort to spitting on them to get them clean.

Ah, the glamorous motorcycling life....

As planned, we picked up Oh My God Road in Idaho Springs. If you live in Colorado and have never ridden it, you should. It is a short road which, paired with Two Brothers Road, takes you into Central City. The views are magnificent, and I imagine that if it is done in a car or large truck, one may say "Oh My God!" as they look over the steep drop offs. On a motorcycle, it is just fun to ride the road looking across the valley and at the beautiful color of the rock and mineral on the sides of the mountain.

Dusty and I split from Livio and Sawyer in Blackhawk, and rode on to Nederland. The Sunday traffic was annoying, so we cast aside plans to continue on the Peak to Peak highway, and had lunch in Nederland at a brewpub. As we perused the menu, I said I was ordering nachos and Dusty said he was ordering wings--let's share! We agreed, remembering we had decided on the same thing in a brewpub in Moab last April. It's becoming a thing. Following our lunch, we rode to Lyons together, and then split, heading in opposite directions. It had been a good day, and a nice end to yet another fun Colorado summer weekend.

Sawyer, Dusty, and Livio in Georgetown. Guanella had nearly no traffic on it, and we had a fun ride heading over the pass.





01 August 2015

Trail Time In Colorado

I got back to Colorado late afternoon on Friday. My little cat followed me around as though she were my shadow, not even pretending to be mad at me for being gone. Though I had been riding long miles for three solid days through the desert and high country of Colorado, Saturday morning I got up, did some basic maintenance on the bike, and took off for an event in Longmont, Colorado.
Wolfman Luggage was having an open house with deals on luggage, other vendors on site to talk to, a raffle, lunch, and a viewing of the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route DVD. I own several pieces of Wolfman Luggage, and I not only love the products themselves, I love the company and the role it plays in the community and economy. The owner actually rides--he has been to many of the RMAR events and donated goods, which means he actively puts money back into trail preservation--and the gear is manufactured in the United States. Because of his ties with RMAR, I happily ran into other people with whom I have previously ridden, shared steaks and beers with, and sat around campfires with while there. I didn't know what to expect from the IDBDR DVD, but it was a great look at what the route holds scenically and road-wise. I'm looking forward to riding up there next year.
While at the Wolfman Open House, I ran into a fellow RMAR event rider, Dan Wilson, and we briefly discussed heading up to Rollins Pass after the video was over. I, however, had worn jeans and no riding pants, while he wore hiking boots and not motorcycle boots. We decided it was probably not a good idea to tempt fate. Rollins Pass is an easy trail, but one never knows when a root might jump out of nowhere to pull you off the road or break your foot....
The next day, I still had Rollins on my mind, and Josh and I decided we would head up that way. It was a gorgeous day, and perfect for getting out of hot Denver and into the mountains. We made it much further this time than we did when we were the in April--check that blog post for pics of bikes in snow if you haven't already seen it--and there was little traffic to have to contend with.
At the lake, about four miles from the summit.
Easy trail with lovely scenery. I mean, it is Colorado after all!
The only tough part of the trail. About halfway between me and the end of the snow is a boulder that I needed a hand getting my rear wheel over. No problems coming down though--gravity wins!


That is SNOW. In my footpeg. In JULY!
This awaited us near the top of the pass. We couldn't go up to the tunnel.

Unfortunately, the simple fact of it being the middle of July did not mean there would be no snow. I know, you would think so, right? We were able to make it through one berm, but the second one stopped us--and anyone other than hikers or mountain bikers carrying their bikes--from going to the top. The following week, after posting these pics for the Front Range Dual Sport Riders group to let them know what current trail conditions were, a group decided they would head up to show me how it was done. Conveniently for them, the berms had shrunk considerably over the week, and they were able to post pictures up at the top for me to see. We had been one week early....

The next weekend, we would be attending the Horizons Unlimited event in Grant, CO, but between the weekends, as we had little planned, we went out on one more day ride. We headed south on 285 to Bailey, where we turned to head toward Wellington Lake. The road down is a wide, easy dirt road I have ridden before, and we flew down enjoying the mid-week lack of traffic. At one point, we slowed as we passed a very large group of teenagers on mountain bikes, miles from anything, or so it seemed. All I could think of as I went up the following group of rising switchbacks, was how glad I was to have a motor under me!

The last time I rode that way was a couple of years before, with Ian and Josh. In fact, it was the first time I did a water crossing on my bike, and they took me that way just so I could do one. That time, after doing the water crossing, we headed back towards highway 67, through the Pike National Forest, to Pine and home. This time, however, we kept heading south, riding miles south through wilderness and burn area, until we hit highway 24. It was a very easy dirt ride with gorgeous scenery. It made me thankful that I leave the pavement and get to see all that is out there.

Remember, people, you don't get to see this unless you leave the pavement. FYI--although I prefer to do it on a motorbike, most of this road is fine for vehicles. Hell, I could have driven the MINI on much of it.

Remember, 90% of the roads in the United States, and 95% of the world's roads are unpaved. You're missing a lot if you don't leave the asphalt!