Life continues to move along while we are staying at the ranch. For those not familiar with the ranch, this place is an active business. We have 10 owners including Kim and I. All of us are into riding and racing off-road motorcycles. Most have been involved in the sport for 40 years or more. We put on events at the ranch and we also have open riding. To ride at the ranch you have to be a member. If you want to know more, you can visit: hardwoodhillsranch.com
One of the aspects I really enjoy about staying at the ranch is meeting riders from all around the area that come to ride. Most come to ride our 30+ miles of single-track trails. I have been riding a couple of days each week to try to get some exercise. I am working on another post to describe what we do. I will include some GoPro footage to give you an up-close and personal view of the very technical trails and show you why it is such a great workout.
Another form of riding that is popular with some riders is Dual Sport riding. This is where we take an off road capable, but street legal motorcycle and go on an adventure ride on the miles of dirt and gravel roads in this part of Missouri. This form of riding is becoming very popular all over the country. You can go to any gathering of motorcycles these days and see the many motorcycles with luggage mounted on the back. Many riders have moved away from the big street machines, like Harley Davidsons to brands like BMW that make these Dual sport machines.
I think there are three classes of Dual sport machines:
1. Big – Usually over 700cc engines. More street capable, but usually with large knob tires to do some off-pavement riding. Not suited for trails at all. These bikes weigh between 400 and 600 lbs. Favorite brands include BMW, KTM and Yamaha.
2. Middle size – Engine size between 500 and 700 CC. Not as comfortable on long paved sections of roads, but more capable on unpaved. Much lighter with weights between 320 to 400 lbs. Not great on single track trails, but good riders can get through a trail. Most popular brands include: KTM, Kawasaki, Suzuki.
3. Small – This class is for any dirt oriented bike that has been made street legal either by the owner or the factory. Engine size is below 500 cc and weights are between 250 and 350 lbs. These bikes can go anywhere. They are very uncomfortable on long street rides, but get them off road and watch the fun begin. The traditional dirt manufactures shine in this category: KTM, Husqvarna, Yamaha, Honda
I own a motorcycle the fits in the middle size and small classifications. I have ridden for miles and miles on the dirt roads that surround the ranch. It is not uncommon for us to ride for more than 100 miles in a day of exploring on our dual sports. My favorite kinds of rides have almost no pavement in them.
This past weekend, we had some members come to the ranch from Kansas City. They went for a long ride on Saturday and had so much fun they wanted to do it again on Sunday. They invited me to join them. We headed out at 10 AM. The weather was a perfect sunny day. We rode for about 70 miles and stopped to look at some cool rock formations along the country road.
We had a Husky 650, a Kawasaki KLR 650 and my Suzuki DR650. We rode for a while and followed a GPS track, but then I took the lead and we just decided to freestyle it. We generally knew the direction we wanted to go and we just tried to stay off pavement. We headed to a local town and had a good lunch. Lunch always seems to be part of a dual sporting day. I got in contact with Daniel (the son of one of the other land owners at the ranch) and he lead us back. We stopped off at a creek crossing to admire the crystal clear water.
One of the best things about doing a dual sport adventure is not knowing what will be around the next corner. We saw a large buck at one stop. Later I was leading and there was a miniature mule standing in the road. It would not move for us, so I had a rather involved conversation with him and then he got bored and moved along. It turned out to be a very enjoyable day.
If you used to ride motorcycles and feel like getting back into riding, I would suggest dual sporting as a way to enjoy riding and adventuring without the traffic.