Never too old to learn.

Trip Start Jul 22, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
RawHyde Ranch

Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, May 16, 2010

I spent the past weekend at RawHyde Off-Road Training Academy learning to ride my 600 lb motorcycle on the roughest, crappiest and most decrepit trails to travel on. Why would I pay someone to torture me? (Because that's what it felt like.)

I have very little experience riding my motorcycle on road (in the grand scheme of things). I've been scared shit-less any time I come across a little bit of gravel or sand. If I want to continue exploring the world with my motorcycle I figured I needed some training. RawHyde is BMW's official training facility in North America. It just happened to be located less then 100 kms from where I am staying in California. Just a coincidence...NOT!

Without going into too much details about the weekend, we were taught all the basics about riding these big bikes in the worst terrain possible. The students/customers were all amazing. The personal stories of triumphs I heard, from surviving a plane crash and spending a year in recovery mode, to the pain endured overcoming testicular cancer, and knowing you may not live much longer. These individuals inspired me.

All but one of the (beginner class) students had many more years of on road riding experience then I, but in the dirt, all that experience meant nothing. We were all, more or less, on equal footing. The positive energy flowing through this group of strangers was amazing. We quickly bonded and all had a good laugh at the expense of the others, in addition to laughing at out own screw ups. Very few, if any one, got away unscathed in crashing or dropping their bike.

By the end of the first day, we were all extremely sore and tired, but no broken bones. A few felt like quitting. The chefs hired by Jim Hyde, the owner, prepared a feast for supper. We were well taken care of. Accommodations were first rate. The instructors were all top rate. They all cared for their students. None of them considered what they were doing as work. They were all having too much fun.

After some restless sleep, it was back on the bikes. Wow. Stuff I learned the day before was being done almost automatically. My brain and body had taken the previous days training and somehow  memorized it all...almost! During one exercise in the morning I was getting quite frustrated. I just couldn't get it. After a brief chat with one of the instructors the light bulb came on.

Think It! Feel It! Live It!

Yes, my motto was what I needed to do. I was screwing up whenever I "thought" about what I was doing. I kept on stalling the engine. I was thinking of the process but not feeling or listening to the engine and clutch. My body and brain had already shown me that it had listened to the previous days lessons and automatically knew what to do. It was time for me to take it to the next level.I had to stop "Thinking" and stop "Feeling" and just "Live" it. That is, Just DO IT!

We do not think when we breath. A virtuoso piano player doesn't "think" when he/she plays a piece. They don't actually "feel" the piano keys. They've practiced so long and somehow the fingers just "know" where they should be and what they need to do.

Things went much better after that. I still crashed and dropped the bike, especially when I tried going through the sand. I screwed things up on other exercises. But I never quit.

When I got up I was really worried about the 5 day expedition into the desert that I had signed up for. I could barely do what I was being taught. And this was without any camping gear and other items on the bike. But now I was a little more confident. Maybe I'll survive the Expedition?

The lessons over, the instructors ask if we want to go on a trail ride. Most say yes. The first obstacle is a very steep and rocky uphill. The rider in front of me crashes before reaching the top. It takes a long time for him to turn around and try again. I'm next. I almost make it to the top. I don't have to turn around but have a tough time not stalling the engine on the restarts. There's a steep cliff to one side that it distracting me. After 10 or so restarts and stalls the instructor rides my bike to the top. This is how my day ended.

Another amazing supper and off to bed. Tomorrow we're off to the desert to put into practice all that we've learned in 2 days of training.

Many thanks to Jim and his awesome staff of instructors and support staff at RawHyde.

PS. I've also included photos of the instructors and the other students.

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