Motorcycle riding in the backcountry is not for the fair-weather rider. As a rider taking on the backcountry you have to consider the possibility of extreme weather conditions and, as a result of the weather, tough sections of trail. You may encounter anything from mud, sand, gravel, or flash flooding conditions. In addition, you have to be prepared for emergencies and mechanical issues. Besides the obvious concerns, riding in the backcountry is incredibly fun and exciting!
After four decades of riding off the pavement I’ve encountered many riders who have shared their apprehension when it comes to exploring the back roads. I completely understand where they’re coming from. There’s a lot to consider when taking off into the unknown, such as what to pack? what happens in case of an emergency? how much fuel will I need? how do I prepare my bike? The list goes on but fear not! This blog series is here to answer some of these common questions and provide you with the knowledge and support to feel comfortable and confident as you ride off on the road less traveled.
So, why ride the backcountry? Here’s my top 10 list of reasons.
Thrill of the unknown — every turn offers a new experience and besides the map and your GPS coordinates you never know what to expect around the next corner. I can ride the same trail each year and find the experience new and exhilarating simply because trails change over time due to weather and other conditions. You never quite know what to expect.
Wildlife — We’ve just finished up the New Mexico Back Country Discovery Route and we encountered bobcats, deer, wild turkeys, mustangs, rattle snacks, birds of prey, and too many cattle to count. For many of us these animals aren’t ones you encounter every day and it’s humbling to be in their territory.
Beauty & splendor of the region — If you love nature than you’ll love riding through the shaded twisty mountain roads in Utah or you’ll enjoy the breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in the Mojave desert. Each day there’s something new and rewarding to experience while you’re riding the backcountry — a taste of the unspoiled land and the history the area has to offer.
Camaraderie — There’s nothing quite like meeting new friends on the trail or building your existing relationships with those you take out on a ride. I remember when we took on the Colorado Back Country Discovery Route we’d come across other riders at challenging sections of the trail, such as large washouts, nasty stream crossings, or huge rock gardens. Everyone became a team and time and time again we help those we didn’t know, and they in turn helped us.
Support rural economies — One reason I love riding the backcountry is because you’re able to stop in different towns along the way. You get gas, buy lunch, rent a motel for the night. You’re pumping money back into a rural area that needs the support of tourists. Not only are you supporting these towns but you’re meeting new people and getting to know a new community.
Engage and promote eco-tourism — What is eco-tourism? Often the term refers to responsible travel to remote locations that promotes education and conserves the environment. I’ve always been respectful of the land and the places we travel through. My mission, and the mission of GSMA, is that we leave the remote regions we travel through as we found them and we learn about the areas along the way. What better way to experience some of the most unseen areas of the country than on the back roads.
Test your endurance & survival skills — Adventure riding is no walk in the park. To be able to maneuver through rough sections of trail you should be in decent physical condition. Not to mention, mechanical issues occur and sometimes it’s not as simple as a flat tire. If you aren’t able to adapt well in stressful situations you could be costing yourself your life. Being able to think on your feet, keep your calm, and improvise (at times) is necessary. That being said, testing survival and endurance skills can all be part of the fun!
Get away from the crowds — For many of us we live in larger cities or towns. We are constantly bombarded by people and even going on vacation anymore can feel like a chore since there are hoards of people everywhere. Exploring the outskirts of civilization can be as relaxing as it gets!
Takes you back to your roots — A lot of us probably grew up camping on the weekends and getting outside. Riding in the backcountry brings you back to your roots. You’re anxious to explore and life feels so simple, back to the times when you were young. Past troubles fall away and you’re in the moment, feeling a total connection to the experience at hand. That’s powerful stuff!
Add a little excitement to your life — Riding on the pavement can be rewarding, there are beautiful sites to see, such as the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon and the riding is usually laid back and easy going. When it comes to the sites, I want to see those same places just as anyone else but I’d rather get there on the backroads. Sure it might take a little longer and we might come across the unexpected but it’s a little extra excitement to your ride!
We want to know what you think. What’s your favorite part about riding in the backcountry? What’d we miss on our list?