So you bought an Adventure bike? That’s cool. Then, most probably, you would have also purchased a few essential accessories and riding gear that you might have stumbled upon while browsing the web and scrolling through social media.
Okay, now you have gone for a few rides on your ADV and, perhaps, realized (like many of us did) that although the motorcycle is super comfortable on UAE’s long straight roads, it is also a capable machine on terrains where there’s no sign of tarmac. Terrains like the wadis, tracks, and even sand. Overwhelmed with the new findings, you ask yourself, “Can I really handle a 200+ kg bike on the slippery, uneven and remote terrains?
The best way to tackle this question is simple – training! Nothing beats learning from the professionals and, that means Touratech – a name which is highly popular amongst the motorcycle community and you must have heard it too. In case you haven’t, Touratech means “Touring Rally Racing Technology” and this is a world-renowned company when it comes to accessories for motorcycles and motorcyclists. It is into the business since 1990. It built one of the first “motorbike computers” (the IMO-200T) which was eventually used by the Jutta Kleinschmidt in the Paris-Dakar rally. Today, Touratech has an extensive range of products that would help many riders’ dreams become a reality.
Touratech has been offering on- and off-road motorcycle training (including one-on-one sessions) in the UAE for the last 10 years. As a result, the company is well-versed with the kind of terrain conditions we have in the region. Its last off-road training program was held in November and I’m glad to report that I participated in one of the basic sessions. Following is my experience of the same.
Day one started with a gathering and short briefing at Touratech’s facility in Al Quoz, Dubai, followed by a road ride to Hatta where the training ground was set up. There were around 40 participants divided into two groups – Basic (which I was in) and Advanced. The trainers were top-experts in the field such as Brandon Grimstead, winner of the 2020 BMW GS Trophy; his father Mike, who’s an accredited instructor at BMW Motorrad International Academy. We also had Rob Gregory, one of the first instructors who conducted the BMW Adventure bike training in the UAE. Currently, he’s a track instructor at Silverstone, UK. Also joining us was Jorge Osorio, the main man behind Touratech Middle East who is into off-road adventure riding and motorcycle touring.
As with everything sensible in life, you start with the basics while learning to ride a motorcycle off-road. While the Touratech team checked and prepared the bikes, we were kept busy in an hour and a half long theory class in which several topics were covered, such as standing riding position, understanding the bike balance point (where you walk around the bike holding it with only 2 fingers!), how to lift a fallen motorbike, and eye target fixation (the fact that you always head towards whatever you are looking at). In the end, the main message was – you have to find the right balance between your riding skill levels and your confidence.
The teaching methodology throughout the training was very clear for every skill – why do you need it, how do you do it, demonstration of how you do it and… then you do it yourself! The practical sessions were great to learn about throttle and brake management, body positioning, and also how to walk next to your bike.
After a delicious meal, everyone was ready to ride. The group was lead through a scenic route around an area where all the skills that we were taught earlier in the day were put to test. This was the norm throughout the whole training session.
At the end of the day, those who camped on the site set up their accommodation and refreshed themselves in the suitable facilities. Later, a pleasant dinner was served around a campfire where, of course, the conversations did not drift away much from motorcycles and the impressions of the day.
The next day included more practical exercises such as low-speed slaloming to develop the low-speed balance (which is one of the most important skills in off-roading), downhill and uphill riding technique, emergency braking on low-traction surfaces, how to turn your bike around when you can’t progress uphill and, of course, some awesome rides where the pace and difficulty levels were significantly high.
Another interesting point was that the refreshment points were distributed for the entire day (hydration has a huge impact on the body and mind) such that the beginners could witness what the advanced riders were practising. This was very well thought by the organizers as it kept the motivation levels of the novice riders high!
At the end of day 2, a simple ceremony was planned for the distribution of certificate and medal. The motorcycles were once again prepared for the ride back home, during which I had a feeling of contentment and achievement and, of course, sore muscles!
As is the case with anything motorbike related, the camaraderie, helpfulness and respect among the riders were maintained at all times during the entire training session, which is amazing considering that the participants included individuals hailing from different backgrounds.
Touratech organizes two events per year. The upcoming one is planned for February 2021. I will try our best to join the Advanced training and continue to hone my riding skills so that I can enjoy riding my ADV off-road in the Middle East.
Video Credits: Tambutso riders