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Stay Upright Adventure Riding course

Discussion in 'Businesses and Service Providers' started by cameronp, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. #1 cameronp, Feb 2, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2014
    Hi all,

    I've just got back from doing the Stay Upright Adventure Riding course. From what I can tell, it's a fairly new offering and so may well change over time.

    My background: I've been riding on the road for about 18 months. I dabbled a bit in riding my road bike on unsealed roads but didn't really have any idea what I was doing and never got really comfortable with the bike moving around on loose surfaces. I recently bought a DR650, which I've had for about a week, and hadn't ridden it off pavement until today.

    There was a group of four of us doing the course today (the maximum size for this course), plus an instructor. It was held at Stay Upright's facility in Hoppers Crossing, but it sounded like it may be moving to an improved location in the near future. The off-road range was quite small, but had a variety of surfaces including sand, a few obstacles and hills of varying levels of difficulty, and a decent amount of shade for a hot day. There were two people on big adventure bikes, me on a DR650, and one guy who borrowed Stay Upright's DR200 trail bike.

    The instructor started by explaining some basic theory, including: types of dual-purpose tyres and the compromises in each; tyre pressures; the various forms of guards and protection that are worth fitting to an adventure bike; why you should usually stand up when riding in the dirt; potential hazards of off-road riding; stopping distances and riding in a group; reading the trail surface and picking a line. This lasted for maybe half an hour.

    Then we were out riding for most of the rest of the day. The basic structure was, the instructor would demonstrate a riding technique, give us some exercises to try, and then set us off on our bikes. As we went through, the instructor would give us feedback and correct mistakes we were making. Things we covered:

    - Riding around corners standing up, weighting the outside peg
    - Slalom course (weaving around cones) on dirt
    - Braking on dirt, releasing and reapplying brakes when the front wheel locks
    - Hills: going up, going down, riding along a ridge, and safely stopping and turning around if you stall
    - Sand: going around corners, dabbing with your foot when the bike starts to slide, going up and down hills (I found this hard, but nowhere near as hard as it would have been for the poor guys on the 1200cc adv bikes)
    - Going over obstacles, lifting the front wheel (never quite got the hang of this one)

    It was all low-speed, technical work. I pretty much never got out of first gear the whole time - I imagine the guys with the really big bikes would have been feathering their clutch a lot.

    I found the course quite helpful in not only giving me a basic idea of what to do when my tyres aren't on bitumen, including getting the right body position and moving my weight around where necessary. Standing up on the bike felt incredibly foreign to me, coming from a road riding background, not helped by the handlebars being a bit too low for me to have a good posture standing up (todo: buy some Renthal/Protaper high bars). I also started to get a handle on my "oh shit the bike is sliding around I'm going to fall off and die" reaction.

    I certainly didn't master all of the techniques we were taught, but I did ride through terrain I would have thought impossible previously (or just had no idea how to approach), and didn't fall off all day. Greatly boosted my confidence and gave me a rough idea of what to expect in a few different off-road situations. Overall I'd say it was a worthwhile experience.
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