Chad Oakley sits atop his late model BMW R1200GS motorcycle while at Bill Dragoo’s Adventure Rider training course in Lexington, Oklahoma. Chad was using what looks like Metzeler Tourance tires on his bike in the sand. I know from experience that those tires don’t do so swell in the sand. I rode 50 or so miles in the Mojave desert in soft sugar sand ni 110 degree temps with those tires on my fully loaded BMW R1200GS Adventure a few years ago and it wasn’t the least bit fun. I never dropped the bike but it was not what i would call an enjoyable ride. I hope Chad enjoyed his ride better than I did!
At the urging of friend and writer Bill Dragoo, I attended the third annual Rawhyde Adventure Rider Challenge last May held in Castaic, California. The day before leaving for the competition I traded my 2008 Honda GL1800 Goldwing for a 2009 BMW R1200GS Adventure – my dream bike and by far the best bike I have ever ridden. What a great choice. I borrowed some luggage and loaded up my camera and camping gear and headed west for two weeks of riding, camping and taking pictures. What a perfect gig!
My goal was to photograph the competition at the event. These are very difficult pictures to do right. You not only have to deal with the elements – dirt, dust, sand, mud, wind and cold – but also you have to ride your bike along some pretty challenging trails, loaded up with camera gear. You also have to hike over 600 acres of steep hills to get the good pictures, loaded down witih two heavy D3 cameras and lenses, along with off-camera flash & stands. Photographing the competition was WORK, let me tell you. While the other riders were relaxing after a hard day of riding, I was back at camp hunched over my laptop, processing photos and cleaing equipment for the next day.
As I write this I am making plans to attend the 2010 event. Jim Hyde and the folks at Rawhyde Adventures always put on a great event and are really nice folks to deal with. I will once again be riding my BMW R1200GS Adventure there, but this time I will be riding with Bill Dragoo, camping for 2 weeks along the way. Afterwards we plan to travel north to Yosemite and trail ride in the Sierra Nevada mountians for some upcoming stories in Adventure Rider Magazine. Should be a great time once again! We should be publishing several stories from this trip.