Level 3: The Next Step Training Program
Intermediate level Adventure Riding
There are some amazing places to see in the world that require something more than basic off road skills. Examples are nearly endless, but here are a few:
Mosquito Pass, located near Leadville Colorado, is the highest dirt road pass in North America. It's one of the "crown Jewels" of adventure riding, but it should only be undertaken by someone with "intermediate or better skills because its rocky, it's very narrow... and has some sheer cliffs to transit along. However, trust us when we say it is an unbelievably rewarding ride that goes way above the timberline... with views that go on forever.
"The Haul Road" to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. This is another of the crown jewels of Adventure because it takes you 300 miles past the Arctic Circle, to the furthest north point in the "Americas" 411 miles each way of marginally maintained dirt road. The Mojave desert, Cinnamon Pass, Engineers Pass, Titus Canyon, Copper Canyon… all these names represent places where wonderful riding exists that is slightly beyond the reach of the "Intro" level rider.
Motorcycles like the BMW GS, KTM 990 Adventure, KLR 650 and other similar bikes are the SUV's of the 2 wheeled world yet most riders do not come close to utilizing the full capabilities of these remarkable machines.
RawHyde Adventures recognized this fact in 2003, and developed a program called "Adventure camp" to address the lack of formal off road training available in the Adventure Riding community. Our "intro to Adventure" program has been a starting point for thousands of adventure minded riders in the years since.
Most riders who finish our introductory program feel that they have a solid foundation in the fundamentals of riding a big bike off road, but they leave us knowing that they are only beginning their "career" as adventure riders. Becoming a proficient off road rider is not something that occurs overnight; it requires a commitment to ongoing training, practice and application.
The Next Step has been carefully designed to continue the training process where our Intro to Adventure program wraps up. When riders complete our "intro" program they have a good understanding of the fundamentals of off-pavement riding and a basic level of comfort on logging and forest service type roads of America.
The Next Step addresses the skills necessary to safely increase your speed on the trail and to begin riding some of the more challenging "jeep roads" that are numerous in the back country. This course will improve your ability to assess the terrain in front of you, and also choose the proper path to navigate. We will address riding in rough terrain, deep sand, mud, how to manage "obstacles" and much more.
There are several important elements to focus on if you wish to improve as an Adventure Rider. These are proficiency, finesse, accuracy and control. If you cannot work the controls with proficiency and finesse, or accurately get the bike to go where you want it to, you will become frustrated quickly.
In our basic program (Intro to Adventure) we teach the fundamental techniques necessary to ride "off road" in an easy to moderate controlled environment. The Next Step focuses on total control in a more open environment and on difficult terrain. Difficult terrain is "category 3 to 5" (Click here for definitions). In order to ride in difficult terrain a rider must have excellent balance, and be able to perform many tasks simultaneously and hold a precise line.
Why would you want to learn to ride in difficult terrain? Well… there are many reasons – perhaps you want to travel the world? If so you need to know that less than 5% of the worlds roads are paved, and what passes for a "road" in some countries is a rugged 4 wheel drive road by our standards. Beyond "world travel" more than 80% of the infrastructure of America's national and state parks are unpaved jeep tracks at best.
Terrain Difficulty Ratings
These trips are a mix of pavement & graded dirt, hard pack roads. Generally flat with some mild hills and descents.
These trips will be a mix of category 1 riding and some steeper hills and descents, with possible sand and mild ruts in the roads.
These trips will contain both Cat. 1 & 2 as well as some "jeep roads" which will have, off camber tracks, some short rocky sections and possible steep rough sections. The difficult sections will be "short" giving you time to relax between the challenges.
These trips will be mostly "off road" on Jeep tracks, long stretches of rugged terrain. Be prepared for more physically demanding riding, with damage potential to your bike if you "drop it".
These will be the tough trips. Be ready for washouts of roads, boulders, rock ledges, mud, deep sand, very steep terrain. You will need crash bars, skid plates, knobbies etc for your motorcycle.
Proficiency, Finesse, Accuracy, Control and Confidence
The 5 segments of The Next Step training:
You must be autonomously proficient with the controls before you begin more difficult tasks, (refer to sidebar above) Our first drills focus on rapid shifting and braking combined with acceleration and deceleration, skidding and turning exercises.
This concept focuses on things like "slipping the clutch" to ease through tough places, a momentary skid to help initiate a turn or change direction quickly at the bottom of a hill. Finesse also means avoiding the problems created by a heavy hand on the throttle.
Riding the tight tracks of the back country leaves little room for maneuvering. Your ability to pick and hold a line is critical to becoming a better enduro rider & many times a path between two obstacles may only be inches, or a series of ruts may leave very little room to navigate your way. Simply stated; your ability to hold a line is the difference between success and failure as a back country rider.
Our curriculum for the Next Step has many exercises designed to help you learn to select a clean line through obstacles and rough terrain.
Total control is not only about controlling your bike, but it also pertains to your attitude and a realistic perspective of your ability and your physical conditioning. The practical side of our control drills focuses on higher speed braking and turning, hill climbing and descents, and "single track" exercises.
The US Army learned long ago that putting soldiers through an obstacle course did marvels for their confidence and RawHyde has developed a "confidence course" just for that purpose. Our "confidence course" is comprised of many things but a partial list includes a series of jumps, half buried logs, exposed logs, narrow beams to be ridden over, a boulders course, a giant teeter totter & more. Once you have conquered the confidence course the rest of the world is tame by comparison. The bottom line however is increased confidence. The confidence course is designed so that you can study each obstacle, learn how to approach it, and then after a demonstration from your instructor you conquer it. You will find yourself "whooping" with satisfaction as you complete each challenge.