From a Harley road rider to finding my true passion for adventure off-road riding on a BMW R1200GS
It’s never too late to start riding
My motorcycle story starts later in life than many. Growing up, my weekends and after-school hours were filled with outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, kayaking, skateboarding, and cycling. My parents instilled in me a love of all things outdoors, which I will be forever grateful for.
Motorcycles caught my eye when I was quite young. The sound of the engine revving down the street, the wide smiles worn by every rider (ever), and, let’s be honest, it was just cool as heck. Everything about it appealed to me.
But a motorcycle culture was not a part of my upbringing. No one in my family rode, so I would settle for the occasional opportunity to sit on my friend’s bike and dream.
My desire to spend time on 2-wheels would not be suppressed, though. As I got older, mountain biking on single-track and tree-lined trails filled the need. My then-girlfriend (now wife) also rode, and we enjoyed countless hours on two motorless wheels.
Every chance I got to borrow a motorcycle from family or friends was one I eagerly took. But with no formal training, my self-taught approach was to apply my mountain biking techniques to motorcycle riding.
Fortunately, it all worked out, and the generosity of all those brave enough to lend me their wheels helped to confirm what I already knew … I needed a motorcycle!
My first motorcycle
In 2006, a Harley Davidson Streetglide was my first bike. I was in my late 30s at the time and felt very comfortable on this tourer. It was a great bike that brought me & my wife (as pillion) on many adventures through multiple countries for 6 years.
The Harley community is fantastic, with many organized events and general comradery. As much as I loved riding the Streetglide, there was still something missing…
Our first ADV motorcycle experience
A motorcycle touring holiday to Morocco was the riding experience that expanded my passion for riding into adventure off-roading.
This particular tour was about 80% on-road through southern Spain & Morocco. We traversed the beautiful Atlas Mountains with the BMW carrying us with ease and comfort.
As we continued east, the land leveled out, and we soon found ourselves surrounded by sand. The tour guy explained that our campsite was out in the desert, so it was time to leave the pavement!
To say that the first sand ride was memorable would be an understatement. We rode, we tipped over, we got up again, and we kept going. It was not an easy first sand experience, but I loved it and vowed to figure out how to do it well.
Morocco was amazing, and the BMW GS bike won my heart with its versatility and proficiency on any terrain. I was hooked!
My journey transitioning to off-road ADV riding
Making the switch from on-road touring to off-road adventure riding has required a lot of hard work and many hours of training.
I bought a used BMW Sertao G650 to begin my off-road journey. My thought was that a smaller cc adventure bike would provide a better learning opportunity than jumping right into a 1000cc+ bike. In hindsight, this was not the best choice for me.
The seat height of the Sertao was higher than the 1200GS and did not provide a huge weight saving. In reality, the BMW 1200GS was simply a better fit for my height & body type. Lesson learned & the following season, I traded the Sertao for a used 1200GS and have never looked back.
I am on my second BMW R1200GS currently. Both were purchased used and have served me well.
The key to my progression as a rider has been seeking out skilled instructors, learning from them, and practicing what I was taught. Nothing advances skills more efficiently than repetitive practice. I can not emphasize this point enough!
Earning my Off-Road Instructor Certification was a natural progression of my motorcycle journey. Sharing my knowledge and helping others achieve their own riding goals brings me much joy.
Every year since purchasing my first ADV bike, I have attended some form of motorcycle training. I will never stop learning, expanding my comfort zones, and exploring my full-riding potential.
The birth of ADVMotoSkillZ
As an expat ADV off-road rider living in the Middle East, I ventured out into the desert sands more and more. Navigating the sloping dunes became my go-to weekend activity. The only downside was that my wife, Kristen, could not join me as a pillion on this terrain.
We often spoke about how beautiful the open desert was and how people worldwide should be able to see it. Kristen was already a hobbyist photographer, so we started our planning!
To adequately capture the vastness and beauty of the desert, we bought a DJI Mavic Air 2 drone. So with me on my GS and Kristen as the drone pilot, we started filming. After a few online courses in video editing, our YouTube channel was born.
We started posting lots of sand dune riding, as well as local wadi rides and single-track. As we started including riding tips and training ideas in our videos, we really began to find our niche.
Today, the ADVMotoSkillZ online ecosystem includes our blog, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and a modest shop with t-shirts and other branded wearables.
I specialize in training riders to advance their off-road riding skills by teaching efficient practice drills for maximum learning. These are the same techniques that have helped me along my journey.
What’s next for ADVMotoSkillZ
Our online presence is ever-growing via this blog, YouTube, and social profiles. Our emphasis will continue to be on skills & drills for off-road ADV motorcyclists.
As an online business, we seek international partners for in-person training opportunities. ADVMotoSkillZ can provide training at your local facility or join a tour in your region. Please submit your proposal for consideration here.
Businesses interested in collaborative relationships can message Kristen here.
We continue to explore new formats to deliver training information. To be the first to learn about these new initiatives, be sure sure to sign up for our ADVMotoSkillZ Notice Board mailer here.
Thanks for reading our story. If we inspire just one rider each day to expand their off-road riding skill set and achieve new goals, then we are happy!
RIDE WITH CONFIDENCE