“Are you running your boots in?” I was suddenly painfully aware that almost everyone in the room was wearing casual footwear, not the adventure boots that I had expected them to come in. Having your goggle strap falling low on your helmet is a classic sign of inexperience in the dirt bike world, but at least that person can fix it once they find out. This was the first of many things that I learned on my first adventure bike ride, The Dusty Butt.
My mistake actually turned out to be a good thing, because I learned that while these specialized boots are good for casual riding and walking around without strutting like a peacock, they were not strong enough around the ankle for the kind of ride I was about to do. I was already planning on wearing knee braces, so it was an easy decision to wear motocross boots for the actual adventure.
My second embarrassing experience was a lesson in not changing my routine when it came to getting on and off my bike. We were stopped at a petrol station, bikes parked close because of the sheer volume of riders. Not wanting to put anyone out by squeezing past their bike, I tried to hop on from the right hand side, which is the higher option when it is resting on its side stand. The height combined with restrictive riding pants and a carry bag attached to the back seat meant the bike began falling, and once that much weight gets off balance it is hard to stop. Fortunately the guard bars did their job and I didn’t mind giving the boys something to chuckle about.
This incident and the section that followed showed a few of the things that I had done right. A Michelin Desert Race tyre on the front gave me the knobblies I needed offroad. A Desert Tractionator was brilliant on the rear, giving me knobblies that hardly wore at all even though I gave it a hard time. While the knobblies were noisy and less grippy on the tarmac, I was happy to cruise like a Harley rider on that stuff if it meant I could go more places on the dirt. Installing decent Zeta handguards and levers all around saved my ride from potential disaster a few times, and the Oxford soft carry pack was brilliant- I just needed to make sure I strapped it down properly to avoid something like a glove being put into custody….
More than anything else, I learned that this adventure bike riding is like a buffet of awesome experiences. While a race might be a refined main course, the sheer volume of good times is what makes this sport so enjoyable. Incredible scenery, endless gravel turns, challenging sections and great comradeship are just a few of the offerings. Not to mention the fact that I got to be a hooligan on two wheels again, with 100 horsepower to play with this time. At the briefing there were comments made that the Africa Twin’s like the one I was riding was so good it was like cheating. It really did make my life easy with all the agility I could want, and the legs. If this is cheating, then I am happy for you to call me Lance Armstrong. #itisaboutthebike