After our first “No Maintenance” dirt road the group was properly warmed up and ready to pilot their various ADV bikes through more Ohio River Valley terrain. A short challenging off camber trail climbing in and out of the woods followed by a scenic gravel road then a nice twisty two lane paver leading into another no maintenance dirt road and onto the next off-road challenge spot… this would be the pattern of the day and is the pattern of Appalachian ADV’s signature style, ADV Dual Sporting.
A chip seal road led us past a farm with free-roaming cattle, chickens, a lone donkey, and an overly excited dog. The cows stood chewing the cud mere feet from our iron steeds on the shoulder of the road, between old junk tractors, and next to the rundown farmhouse. As we crawled along the little dog barked with a huge smile on his face, attempting to corral my R&G armored Yamaha Tenere 700. Cutting through the middle of the open farm on a county road of dirt, the Old MacDonald just waved and watched the train of bikes ease past.
Our chosen dirt road led us down through a tight ravine and once at the bottom, I lead a team of diverse riders and assorted bikes to the entrance of the Double Pleasure Hill Climbs. A couple of the guys that tackled this spot on our Brush Creek Daytripper Rally didn’t hesitate and shot up the initial climb to show the newer guys the line. One by one the team accomplished the first steep but short ascent through the brush, a confidence booster for the rookies.
The second climb started in a small valley a couple hundred feet down from the exit of our initial climb. A banking right turn into the woods started us off, then another swing back to the left followed by loose rock to accompany us on the half mile incline. The initial turn’s gnarly rut grabbed a couple of the bikes and gave them a closer look at the dirt. Helping hands from fellow rally riders ensured everyone successfully made it to the top. With only one way in and one way out, each rider had the opportunity to see the view from both northern and southern facing angles. The slower pace heading down gave everyone a great vantage point of the hilly Brush Creek valley.
The day’s course was set up as a 115 mile loop with a dozen optional expert off road sections adding another 10 miles. The shortest of the 12 challenge areas was around 240 feet and the longest coming in at two and a half miles. Most everyone took a turn in the dirt, from the newbie to the seasoned ADVer. Which in my mind meant the routing was set up perfect, fun yet challenging enough to give everyone a chance to test their skills.
One of Appalachian ADV’s new friends was also new to ADV riding and definitely spent time on the ground, as indicated by the new scars on his Barkbuster hand guards. The Barkbusters did their job and protected his levers as well as his hands when he jumped up this little bushwhacking launch pad and didn’t quite stick the landing. Our friend from Long Island pushed his limits, had fun in the woods, learned something about himself and his bike, and definitely got his money’s worth out of The Fools Ride on April Fools’ Ride Rally! That is what it is all about…
Our ADV Dual Sporting pattern continued as we roamed the hills and valleys on tarmac, gravel, and dirt of various conditions. One of my favorite challenge spots called Creek Time Fun Time gets us into the woods on a bushwhacking trail but not before a few hundred feet of creek riding to cool everyone off. The two riding groups met here in the woods as we shared stories of the ride up to that point and watched a few guys tackle a short but very steep hill climb with a surprise two foot drop on the back side as soon as you hit the top.
Just to make sure everyone gets nice and wet, a bit more creek was lined up before getting back on the gravel. My T7’s R&G Tidy Tail made sure the rider behind me was able to shower off some of the dirt from our earlier escapades! Not only does the Tidy Tail shorten up your rear end, giving the bike a more streamlined aggressive look, but it also greatly enhances your roosting abilities!
Dirt, pavement, no maintenance road, gravel, expert section, smile, repeat… the two Fools Ride groups forged ahead on the Brush Creek Daytripper Route, continuing to challenge their skills and endurance (mental and physical!). The expert sections were spread throughout the course as well as each surface type to give riders a mental break. After sweating through a challenging spot it’s nice to grab some throttle to get the air moving and to allow your mind and body a minute to reset before the next surface change.
The first challenge area after lunch is the second longest and also happens to be my second favorite on the course. If you guessed my favorite is the longest you would be correct, but you will have to wait for the next article to hear about that one! The Woods Slop challenge area is a one and a half mile off road bonanza with trails running through the hilly forest, skating the edge of a swamp, and finishing with a small section of single track.
Blink and you’ll miss the entrance off of the dirt road as you have to run through a bit of tallgrass and a small hump. The initial section runs through a group of pine trees on the edge of a pond with a little circle down to the shore before a root filled climb zigzags you to the top of the first hill. A loop around a small wooded ravine brings you to the first decline to the back of that little pond. The downpour of rain two nights before ensured we would have a chance to run through the swampy end. One of our new guys found out that the correct line choice with the right amount of throttle is necessary to push through the muck!
Following the track we find a tree has fallen over our intended path but some of our 4-wheeler friends have blazed a trail around to help guide the way for us 2-wheeled pilots. Once back on track we come to our next climb back to the top of another ridge but first a sharp, muddy, hard right must be executed around a tree. Downshift and apply the rear brake to initiate a hook slide, plant the inside leg and push your weight down on the peg leaning the bike, bend the outside leg forward and get your knee into the R&G Tank Traction Grip for stability, put your eyes where the bike needs to go, feather the clutch, twist the throttle smoothly and let the rear tire kick out into a power slide. Once around the treed corner shift your weight back to center and start to climb baby! Avoid the rut on the left! Pop over the small downed tree! Dodge the vine hanging low on the right! Don’t get caught by the thorn bush hanging over the trail! Weave up the slippery leaf covered hill and keep on the gas!
At the top of the hill a marshy flat spot keeps everyone paddling from the saddle as the bikes wobble through the muck and our sharp turn back into the canopy. Once into the trees the trail becomes more overgrown as we have to weave around and through small spaces. A couple tight spots require the perfect line with just enough space between our wooded friends and the bar end weights. Back at the edge of our ridge I lead the team down the leaf covered hill, single track style.
I get a little too aggressive on the rear brake and the backend tries to overrun the front, locked and skating! The wet leaves are slicker than ice but a calm mind reminds me, “pull your foot off the brake goober before you go down.” The rear end snaps back in line as I gain momentum and I feel the thud of a tree hitting the rear crossbar on my pannier racks. Luckily, I keep my balance and find my way to the bottom. The excitement isn’t over as we need to pop over a couple more small downed trees and up and over another small leafy hill before exiting back to the dirt road through a surprisingly deep water filled mud hole, which took a couple people by surprise.
I didn’t think about it in the moment but once we stopped at the end of our mud bog exit I realized that the Tidy Tail along with R&G’s small Aero LED Indicators made a difference on that leafy downhill single-track. The Tidy Tail and Aero’s really tuck into the bike, meaning fewer things are sticking out, meaning fewer things are trying to catch something to make you fall, meaning fewer things get broken (on bike and on person). Which is good, not only for my pocketbook but for not expelling extra energy picking up a downed bike. If the OEM tail and signals were on the bike they likely would have hooked the tree and potentially been ripped off, which would have thrown the bike, and me, to the ground. The rear pannier crossbar used to tuck under the OEM tail so it and the gigantic OEM turn signals would have definitely gotten a close-up look at some bark at the very least.
Installation of the R&G Tidy Tail was straightforward with everything you need in the box to pull off the OEM and slap on R&G’s fender eliminator. Directions were easy to follow with descriptions and pictures, which was extremely helpful. Compared to the thin and floppy OEM set up, the Tidy Tail makes the T7 look much cleaner and more aggressive and pulls the license plate up directly under the brake light to help keep everything compact.
I also grabbed the R&G Aero LED Indicators to help keep the streamlined appearance on the rear and to tidy up the front. Those LEDs are extremely bright and I like the fact that there is a light on the end to help make them more visible. If your OEM uses incandescent signals then you will want to get the R&G Micro LED Turn Signal Resistors so the lights fire at an appropriate speed since the incandescents use a different power band.
ADV Dual Sporting… dirt, pavement, no maintenance road, gravel, challenge section, repeat… the Brush Creek Daytripper route on The Fools Ride on April Fools’ Ride ADV Rally delivered sweat filled, adrenaline flowing, muscle pumping, mind stimulating excitement to those willing to take on the task! And those that did had a huge smile on their dirty faces, a sense of accomplishment, and a bond from our shared adversity and experiences. Our Mission BBQ dinner at the end of the day tasted that much better after physically and mentally challenging ourselves and the limits of our ADV bikes. For those brave enough, Sunday’s Hardcore Encore would truly separate the men from the boys and test the ADV bike skills of the team.
The goal of ADV Dual Sporting is to get people outside, enjoying nature in a way that only a big bike on small bike terrain can do. Man and machine versus nature…no…man and machine with nature.
This article originally released on the Twists & Turns Blog over at Twisted Throttle!
The first in a series of articles inscribed by the Twisted Throttle Ambassador and Head Fool at Appalachian ADV, Kane Wagner...
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