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Two years after learning how to ride a motorcycle, I embarked on a solo 23-day, 4,000-plus-mile motorcycle camping road trip into the Canadian Rockies.


After I got my motorcycle license, I


started doing homework on motorcycles. I knew I wanted to do road trips and camp- ing, and that I liked going down dirt roads. I knew products I liked best were designs that could do everything or at the very least, were multifunctional. That BMW 650 GS was on my radar, as were little 250cc endu- ros. Sitting on a few dual sports, I realized there was another challenge: I couldn’t touch the ground on a lot of them or even get the bike off of the kickstand. I am 5 foot, 6 inches, but am only a few pounds over 100. My mass isn’t enough to weigh a motorcycle down on its shocks, and I wanted to be able to stand mostly flat- footed on both feet at stoplights on my starter bike. While I deliberated on this, the stars aligned. I went in to a local BMW dealership for a second time to look at hel- mets. A salesman said a trade-in had arrived the night before, and it was exactly


what I wanted: a G 650 GS with panniers, and it was one of the low seat versions. Lacking confidence in my skills, I slowly and awkwardly rode a couple of loops around the dealership’s parking lot, did some price comparisons and bought it. A friend rode it home for me. I practiced riding around my neighbor-


hood. I tipped over a lot, which made me quite impressed with the hardiness of the GS. I emailed my MSF instructor a photo of me with my new motorcycle, thanked him for his advice on the BMW and told him I had not yet graduated from the neighbor- hood. His response was that he was coming over the next day, and we were going to ride beyond my neighborhood. That weekend he led me onto freeways and through a winding canyon. I did just fine! My ambitious self planned to go camping


at Joshua Tree National Park, where I rock climbed fairly often. Being a newer rider, I


was not aware of the different factors one needs to pay attention to when riding ver- sus driving, and it had not at all crossed my mind that maybe I should look at the pre- dicted wind speed through the section with the giant wind turbine farm. I was riding alone at night and despite leaning hard into the wind, the wind kept shoving me over half a lane. Scared, I pulled off of the high- way onto a side street. I was too shaken to ride further, either forward or back. I called a guy who had seen my awkwardness on the GS, and he asked me if I intended on riding off-road; when I said yes, he offered to teach me some dirt bike technique. He had a vehicle that could pick up me and my motorcycle. The next day he rode with me down


some dirt forest roads. That was exactly the vision I had for myself and my GS! I was beaming—until I tipped over. He took that opportunity to teach me a skill I have had to


June 2016 BMW OWNERS NEWS 69


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