An early morning start, with everyone stripping their bikes of panniers, GPS’s, Windscreens, Mirrors, and any other Farkle that doesn’t protect the bike. We all know we’re dropping our bikes at some point during the course, it’s just a matter of who’s going down first.
We are introduced to the team from Max BMW (including Max himself), and Bill Conger, our instructor. Bill is a Dakar veteran, with the scars to prove it. Actually, I’m not sure about the physical scars, but certainly from the tales around the bar throughout the weekend, a few mental scars have been left behind from Dakar!
One of the first things Bill teaches us is how to pick our bikes up. Now we’re all sure we’re doing down… probably more than once each too!
The lessons through the first morning session are a gradual progression of skills, much of which looks very abstract at this point. We learn about standing on the pegs to lower the bike’s center of gravity, and how to lean opposite the turn on gravel (which still messes me up as I want to lean INTO the turn), and then a few clutch control drills.
The next thing we know we’re all riding in circles, learning to ride while doing scissor kicks with each leg, then kneeling on the seat, then standing on one side of the bike (and the other side), and eventually riding side saddle. It all looks like we’re being trained for a dog and pony show! I’m sure it will all come together by the end.
By lunch time we’re all getting pretty tired, and a few of us have to pick our bikes up already (and we haven’t been out of first gear OR THE PARKING LOT!)
After lunch we do some pylon drills to further reinforce low speed corner on slick surfaces, and then head off for a quick ride on some gravel access road and a nearby field for further cornering techniques.
I’ve learned a ton today, and some of it I still have yet to uncover the use for. I’m so tired, though, I doubt I’ll be up to late tonight pondering those mysterious riding skills. I’m sure Bill will reveal this secret tomorrow…. zzz….