I had been thinking for a while that there must be more to off road riding than what I could figure out by myself. I red about a few people who went to the BMW off road academy in Germany before they took off. About a year ago, I started looking for another closer option. I found one in California called RawHyde Adventures. Even though it definitely looked cool, it was too expensive to register just yet. I promised to myself that if I would save enough money before leaving, I would go. So there I was, two months before leaving and sending an e-mail to know if there was still a spot available before my departure. Less than 2 days after, I got a call back to discuss my options. I registered for level 1 and was able to get a full day of private lesson on Monday as I could not spend two days for Base Camp Alpha. I was happy to let my parents know about it and they very kindly offered to pay for the course as it would increase my safety on the trip. I was happily surprised! J
I left my job on Wednesday May 21st. The next day, I was driving my car to the buyer about 4 hours away from my house. We transferred the ownership and he had someone drive me to the airport. I got in Los Angeles from Montreal at 9pm local time. The next morning, I took a shuttle from the airport towards the RawHyde Ranch about 90 minutes North of Los Angeles. I got there around 10h30am (too early). I did the pre training which allowed me to get confident with a new 2014 1200GS before class started the next morning. We had a welcome dinner in which we all explained who we were and why we were there. I had the chance of having a wonderful group. Food was that night, like the rest of the weekend, just amazing.
We started the first day doing basically what I did the previous afternoon: slow speed control and other basic drills. We then spent the afternoon working on braking and cornering techniques: really good stuff. We ended it with a test on the Ribbons Course. Only a few of us could go through it the first night.
The next day, we went through hill climbs and descent, as well as sand riding. I was feeling really confident by that point and could not wait for my private class the next day. That night, I assisted to the preparation meeting for Base Camp the next day. I must admit that I felt very tempted when Shawn described it.
The next morning, everyone left but me. I got to know Will who was awesome. We discussed various things to consider while embarking on an extended trip like this. Then he took me for a ride in the Ranch. It was pretty easy to start with and then I lost him on a hill climb. I learned how to balance my weight to get more traction and kept going. We then did a few things they do in level 2 and left the ranch. We went in a sandy off-road park. A few hill climbs, sandpits and cool trails later, we left again towards another park.
There, it was very easy going up. Then we had to go back down. The trail had been closed for unknown reasons, but we decided to try it. Going down all the time, it was pretty narrow and was right next to a cliff the whole way. It took us more than an hour to go down and a fair bit of focus! I thought I was out of it at some point as it was hard for me. Then Will told me it was probably one of the hardest trail he has ever done… It helped! We then got back and I needed to get ready for my shuttle. Will prepared an awesome (too many things to enumerate) sandwich while I was getting ready to leave: Thanks man!
Overall, I am very pleased with my experience. Coaches were amazing, food was off the charts, facilities were well thought of, support staff were awesome and I radically improved my off road riding skills. I had the opportunity of making new friends: really cool people from BC, Andres from Columbia kindly offered to ride with me when I get there and coaches offered me a place to stay in California! I strongly recommend it if you can go!