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Old 19 Jan 2010
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Santiago, Chile
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BMW Off Road Training

Howdy -- this is sorta kinda trip planning, not quite route planning, but still I hope somebody finds it useful:

My daughter and I are prepping for a three month run from the US to Argentina, departing (finally) next Saturday (Jan 23). Rides are BMWs, R1200gs (me) and her F650gs. We're truly pumped. As "the Papa", I can't believe my luck to have such an amazing daughter, who would want to spend three months on the road with her pop. But I wander...so...

We spent this last week end at the BMW Performance Center in Spartanburg, South Carolina, taking the two day off road course. Of all the money and effort invested in bike prep and such getting ready for this trip, I don't think anything else we've done comes even close to what we've gained taking this course.

Please don't get me wrong -- I have HUGE respect for all the folks who head out 'round the world two weeks after buying their first bike -- but with a little time to get ready, a little personal prep couldn't hurt, yes?

So to the point; My only regret is not taking this course years ago. Anybody who wants to tune up their skills pre-launch should really consider taking the course. The instructors dialed in perfectly to what we needed for where we're headed. The bikes and facilities were nothing but the best, and though it was one hellova workout, the skills we picked up are gonna be more useful than ALL the other preps we've done, combined.

I know doing the course isn't cheap. I'm sure for many (and me until recently) it would be considered an unnecessary extravagance. But what do you suppose one crash avoided would have cost? And what if said mishap ended the "trip of a lifetime", or produced a serious injury? That's the justification that worked for me.

I've no affiliation with these folks, and gain nothing from this post, but if you're even thinking about tuning up your off road skills, I'd suggest giving it a thought, and taking a peek at our write up at


Cheers --
Mike R.
Santiago, Chile
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Old 19 Jan 2010
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: California
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Good move ... but ...

Great idea Mike and glad you are feeling more confident on the bike now.
But one course won't get you all the way there. And on your bike, even with my 30 years off road and competition experience, this would not get me through on your GS. Too heavy and too tall for me.

If you stay to paved roads you should do OK. But keep practicing dirt riding whenever you can. Lots to learn and SEAT TIME is what really counts. Big heavy loaded up bikes scare me now riding off road ... but I'm an old git.

I don't think you'll be doing the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia or riding mud too much, but I wish you all the luck and safety! I had a R100GS fall on me ... hard pannier trapped my leg. Nearly broke it. Also, paddling in sand can be tricky too.

I'm sure they taught you guys that carrying a bit of speed is often the best way to make it through. Especially through rocks. I suck in sand and mud, hope you're better than me.

Don't forget to look out way far ahead, stand up, breathe! and GAS IT!
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Old 19 Jan 2010
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Santiago, Chile
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Thanks for the words of encouragement, Mickey. I look at this just like ski school. No matter how good you are (or think you are), you can always pick up something if you just check your ego and listen. These guys gave us full measure and more -- all we had to do was pay attention and commit to doing what we were told.

Yep, the GS is a big bike, but many years ago I figgered out (while laying in a ditch where an old BSA had tossed me) that anything with more torque or horsepower than I have can't be mastered through strength or size. It takes skill, and that comes from learning and experience. period.

Like you said, eyes up, throttle control and balance are key. Just like swingin' a hammer, if you look at the nail, you'll hit the nail. If you look at the hammer, you'll hit your thumb. If you're not in control, you'll hit your thumb, and if you don't have the hammer's balance mastered, you'll hit your thumb. Every time.

Be safe, have fun, laugh out loud --

Mike R.
Santiago, Chile
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