The Dirt on Riding Un paved Roads.
IT’S THE END OF THE ROAD for many. But it’s just the beginning for those who are comfortable and confident when the pavement ends and gravel or hard packed dirt begins. Why is it we get so uptight when things get loose underfoot (or under tire, as it were)? Because things feel a little weird and unfamiliar on dirt. The motorcycle moves around more beneath us on unpaved surfaces, the front wheel seems to wander and the handlebars come alive in our sweaty palms. In reality, while things feel loose, there is typically more traction on hard packed dirt than riders expect. All of that movement the machine is doing? It’s just the bike’s natural way of finding a suitable path forward. That said, there are a few techniques unique to riding unpaved roads vs a hard, smooth road surface.
Stay lose. Avoid fighting the bike’s surface and, instead loosen your grip and let the motorcycle find its way. Remember the bike doesn’t want to fall any more than you do; it wants to keep moving ahead and stay upright. Keep your eyes up, looking well ahead and the bike will follow. Shift your weight from your seat to your feet. With arches on the pegs (or boots flat on the floorboards) and knees against the tank, steer with your lower body and less with your hands. Unlike riding on pavement, you’ll want to keep your body upright, allowing the bike to lean beneath you in corners to maximize traction. While all of this may feel a bit awkward at first, you’ll soon become more comfortable and more confident as you discover just how well even a large touring motorcycle can navigate dry, unpaved surfaces. And the end of the pavement will be just the beginning of your next riding adventure.
National Road Captain
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ASR Ohio District Coordinator and National Road Captain at Azusa StreetRiders Motorcycle Ministry
Michael Theodore is married to Laureen, and both are devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Michael serves the Azusa StreetRiders Motorcycle Ministry as both National Road Captain and as Ohio District Coordinator. He is passionate not only about riding, but also using motorcycles as a witnessing tool to affect souls for the Lord Jesus.