On July 9, 2017 I found myself participating at MotoVermont's Off-Road, Dual-Sport Adventure Riding School in Jay Peak Vermont. I met this incredible young man named Eric Milano who owns the company and rider-instructor. There he is on the photo above left to me, coaching me, giving me encouragement that I can do the hard drills and learn the techniques to keep me alive during the world tour.
Day 1 of the course is the meet and greet with some super tasty local brew - we were staying at the luxurious Jay Peak Hotel, so we could enjoy the brews safely. The dinner at the Foundry was fabulous, part of the package. They even had a vegetarian selection for muah!!. MotoVermont's training course is held at Jay Peak Vermont Ski Resort that not only provides the best king size bed with luscious clean puffy pillows (yeah, for me because I had just spent 2 nights in a tent) but other amenities as a pump water park. This training was pure luxury to me with the accommodations, I will never be able to afford anything like it again. This summer I've decided not to go on my usual long distance ride which is very expensive. Instead, I decided to funnel that money and energy into preparing and training for the world tour. I was very fortunate to learn about MotoVermont's course which offered both a nice vacation for a few days and incredible off-road training.
Yes, the waterfalls, below is a little video of one of them in the area. The waterfalls are a major attraction during the carefully planned route by Eric.
Day 2 were the drills at the resort's parking lot. OH, the rain was SO welcomed as it cooled us off during the intense workouts. There, we learned how to control the machine using a variety of techniques that I will not explain in this blog. If interested, please see Eric Milano or Bill Dragoo (the primary instructor) for details. I do not want to bore you with technical details of what we learned, just take the course and you will find out!! You will learn all the techniques of how to control that machine safely in the trails. The best part was that Susan Dragoo was demonstrating the how-to's using a larger bike. Apparently she enjoys a Sherpa at home. MotoVermont provides rentals, she was using one of their bikes and showed us all that it is not the size or weight of the bike to use the machine properly, it is the skill that you own. I was very happy to see a petite woman demonstrate such skills. She not only demonstrated the skills but also took photos as part of the package that MotoVermont provides during the course. At the end of the course you receive a link with all the photos taken by her.
You will also receive a nice high quality certificate with a personalized letter from Bill and Susan. Cute hey!!! Now I can call myself a true adventuress - with the right credentials - LOL. It was so sweet to receive the certificate via US mail, boosted my spirits.
Photo credit - Eric Milano - MotoVermont. He shared this photo on Facebook and wrote, "some rain the day prior made for fun mud riding". Indeed, huge accomplishment for me with Eric's help. During one of the crossing, I and a few others dropped our bikes in the deep mud. Eric came to my rescue and in the process lost his glove. I am a little sad, perhaps we can send him a new pair.
Below is a little slideshow I created with the photos collected from Susan's link. Ok, it is 6 minutes long, sorry. I used iMovie on my Mac, I could not figure out how to do a batch slow timer for all pictures, so there!!! Ha. No time to reduce each individually :-(( As soon as I am able to use Adobe Premiere, I will edit the video. She did such a wonderful job collecting them.
Day 3 - more drills and ride to implement our learned skills. I was in ecstasy while riding with the group at a slower pace. One thing that I truly enjoyed with MotoVermont's class was the schedule. Everything is planned thoughtfully with Eric modifying as needed. The trails, pizza, the wildlife and the waterfalls were spectacular. He rides with the group and a tremendous highly skilled rider. He also gives great tips to each one of us during the drill sessions and on the trails. One tip he gave me was that when I cross a bridge, I should follow the track versus riding the middle. During bridge crossings and tunnels, I always ride in the middle, I always worry about grease, but bad habits are hard to break sometimes. He said that in the US and Canada we have good bridges, but that may not apply to other countries. The boards in the middle might be rotten. I never thought about that, great tip!!
I think the hardest part for me during the session was waiting for the large GS's to be lifted, the boys dropped their bikes quite a bit. In addition, they did the illegal pass on the trail just to get in front of me and drop their bike, rude boys. However, it is part of the course while they learn. Any course you take with large machines will have that minor slowdown. We all drop our bikes. I experienced it with another course I took this summer. I wrote a blog about that!! Below is a little video of the banana boy on his BMW 1200 GS. Wish someone had captured it on video, the bike was going around in circles as the throttle got stuck open. It was precious!!
There was a really cute couple that continued to encourage me to push on during the difficult portions of the drills. Yes, sometimes I felt that I could not do the drills (the old lady is speaking here now - me :-))). Look below at my selfie. Hey, what is a blog without a selfie, had to do it - hehehe!! The girl to the left and her husband with the beard, they are awesome riders and were lovely. At one point the bearded guy ended up teaching and guiding us. He also came to my rescue when I struggled with a specific trail while Eric was at the hilltop helping a boy pull that large heavy GS bike up the hill. The guy just sat there like log on his bike waiting for Eric to rescue him, he could not handle the machine and made no attempt to get out of the trail. I felt terrible for Eric pulling him the way he did. Once Eric got him to safety, he could no longer continue and took me and a few others via an alternate route.
I loved the couple below, such wonderful attitude about learning. As of writing this blog post, they were on an off-road adventure in Utah and Colorado. He is @steve_kamrad and she is @millieonthemove on Instagram if interested in following their adventures. The call Instagram the "Happy Place". Love it!!
The photos below were taken by @ThinLineRide - her name is Carmel and is currently on a one year long ride - please see her site. https://thinlineride.wordpress.com/author/thinlineride/
Slideshow below, compliments of Susan Dragoo.
Breakfast and more trail riding with stunning views with bridge crossings. We also stopped at a maple sugar farm, lovely stuff.
I highly recommend taking this course. It is the best in New England. There are no other courses like this because it will be a little vacation while you learn to master that large (or small in my case) motorcycle. It is not offered very often, but when it is available, grab it!!! I came home and feel so much better using my foot pegs while leaning and hugging the gas tank with my knees. Imagine, a little squeeze of the tank, lean in the right way and that machine will do magical things for you..... I have so many skills, I can even move the bike using that "friction zone" and balance the bike properly with one finger. I am not scared of my machine now. However, I still have not been able to lift my own bike alone. Hopefully during the world tour there will be someone with me to help when drop occurs, or a stranger willing to help a damsel in distress!!
I felt that the boys with their large GS's came out feeling the same as I did, happy with their new skills. One guy completely amazed me..... he rode all the technical trails, even the "baby head trail", which I decided not to ride. This boy mastered the steep waterfall trail with ease on mud, roots, steepness, trees and all the fun involved in tackling such a beast of a hill. When he started, he was very concerned about his riding ability - he confided in me. His wife accompanied him and enjoyed Hotel Jay's facilities while he learned how to ride his motorcycle. It was super cool to see them. I am mentioning this boy with his wife in my blog because if you are considering taking a course, sign up for this one, and bring a family member. If they want to learn, even better, otherwise they can hang out at the luxurious Hotel Jay.
I feel very confident now that I will be safer on the trails during the world tour. That was my goal, to acquire more riding skills that will keep me alive in remote areas. The course has prepared me well and I look forward to sharing those experiences with you, just as I am sharing this incredible experience I had this summer with MotoVermont. For now, place a bookmark on your browser for MotoVermont. Continue to check the schedule and take the course, you will not be disappointed. Don't expect the course to be easy as I have painted a pretty picture in my blog, it is extremely challenging. It does not matter how good of a rider you feel you are, the course will help you in many ways, or at least, get away from the daily hustle and bustle of work life and enjoy upper Vermont as a mini-vacation.