Some people have the ability to ride on dirt without blinking an eye.
Others however, have a bit of a tough time when the tar ends and the gravel starts.
For me, this is a cultivated fear. I never had a problem with dirt until I upgraded to a 1200cc BMW GS Adventure. At over 250kg, I did not want this monster crashing down on me.
So, in light of the 2014 Adventure launch this week, I toddled off the BMW Motorrad Rider Academy at Zwartkops for their Off-Road Level 1 course.
One simple exercise gave me the wake-up call I needed. Our instructor, Mike Grimstead, made us walk around the bike, balancing it with a single finger. A quarter of a ton squared off against my index finger. We both won. The machine is balanced – it will not fall. Trust between myself and the Adventure had been lacking all this time.
Once the mental leap had been made, the day became much more enjoyable.
The course starts off with some theory, which includes elements such as tyre care and choice.
Thereafter came the balancing exercise, followed by practise and more balancing practise. Thereafter, we mastered uphill and downhill control.
The afternoon saw us learning emergency braking on dirt and gravel surfaces. Initially my heart in my throat: emergency braking and dirt always equated to an emergency room in my mind.
However, it was incredibly easy (and rather enjoyable) under Mike’s tutelage.
A dirt road ride-out toward Pelindaba finished off the day.
While the course is aimed at improving off-road skills, I have found that it has also made a change to my daily commute. There is a greater sense of ease on the bike as I trust it to do what it was made to do.