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Reader Story: RawHyde Adventures Training with Dad by My Side

Finding focus and excitement with my BMW G 310 R during the pandemic

By Madison Traviss, Des Moines, Iowa
10/30/2020

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rawhyde adventures training madison travis
Getting some mid-exercise hydration on the RawHyde Adventures training course while listening to instructors.

In the throes of a global pandemic, I bought my first motorcycle, a 2019 BMW G 310 R. Given my budget and skills (minimal) and goals (lofty) I had my eyes originally set on the R 1200 GS; tall and proud, equipped with crash bars, and built for the forest service roads I longed for. Alas, the vast plains of Iowa were void of used GS models. I needed to start somewhere and this little spitfire was my ride.

Despite all of the tension building in the world, the awkward and sometimes unnatural learning of motorcycle anatomy gave me a sense of humbled confidence I needed. I began to learn how to use my weight and hips for turns, grasping an understanding of my electronic Bop It! game (twist right hand throttle, press right foot down to brake, release left hand clutch, flick up and push down left foot for gear changes, twist it, pull it, Bop It!). I could feel my hand muscles gaining strength and memory. My dad would ride my motorcycle to parking lots for me to practice in, and I rode on side roads and in cemeteries. I found a focus I hadn’t found anywhere else other than backpacking. It was cultivated through addressing my most basic physical and mental needs; tapping into and away from the lizard brain.

This past year brought cancellations, heartbreak, and major bad energy. In June, only after a few of months of practice, my dad, our friend, and I geared up and packed up the motorcycles for our ride through more than 100 degrees and high humidity amongst the monolithic silos of Nebraska. Flat straightaways turned to mountain twists where we were greeted with a sunny hail storm and a sea of motorcycles.

rawhyde adventure training madison travis bmw g310r nebraska
All packed up on my G 310 R, "Minnow," starting the ride from humid, flat, and vibrant green Nebraska to the RawHyde Adventures training facility in Colorado.

We had arrived at RawHyde Adventures in Guffey, Colorado, a weekend course where off-road motorcycle skills and confidence building are developed. RawHyde founder, Jim Hyde, with his esteemed team of riding instructors and staff, energetically greeted us setting the tone for our upcoming experiences.

Rumbling generators brought early wake ups, quick hot showers, and coffee where we bonded with fellow riders about aching bodies from gravel rides and socially distant meals with a slight lean in just enough to hear stories of stoke. Slowing down on the loose gravel gave intention for the smooth pavement, an intention to trust the bike below me and the skills within me. My little 2019 BMW G 310 R "Minnow” swam amongst the 800 and 1200 hearts of the big fish.

While my classmates were playing in the friction zone with their clutch control, the quirk of my bike challenged me to utilize the “throttle zone.” My bike’s clutch couldn’t be adjusted and given its minuscule friction zone, this led to the discovery of the “throttle zone,” identifying how much rev I needed without stalling to participate alongside my classmates for slower exercises. The lower handlebars on my bike required a more athletic stance with bent knees clutched to hug the engine. All of these little nuggets of knowledge were gifted by instructors who were eager to share these adaptations. I got tossed. I took deep breaths. Rocks slid under me. I adjusted my stance.

rawhyde adventure training madison travis colorado
My dad's friend, Gerrit (right), and my dad and I at the completion of the course before our ride home.

The aliveness I was once chasing rode right alongside me again. Taking time to get out of my head, focus on the horizon, and worry less about the small rocks at my tires served as a reminder to trust myself, to trust my bike. In an environment where I anticipated feeling like an outcast given my age and gender, I was simply a rider. The honks of camaraderie after a successful mid hill start; the dusty thumbs up and head nod from instructors to acknowledge looking into a turn; kind eyes listening to your stories of the day at the end of the night; and the sense of communal pride during graduation. It felt raw and human in a time of uncertainty; a solid reminder that we are students, always reconnecting to our purest versions of our inner child in this wild world we call home.

rawhyde adventure training madison travis dad
Me and my dad peeling off our gear after the long stretch back home at the end of a 807-mile day.

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