Past fears of off-road terrain turns into confidence inspiring exhilaration to take on the impossible. [fimg=left]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/2009_F_800_GS_off-road.JPG[/fimg]Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG - Oct. 16, 2009 A 2009 F 800 GS on a steep descent in Moab, Utah late last year -- You can take on a “GS Experience” of your own after being trained to do so. Spartanburg, SC -- Over the previous two years, at least 500 Motorcyclists have experienced BMW’s Motorrad rider training at the BMW Performance Center. Led by professionally certified instructors, the program offers on- and off-road training courses. When BMW invites you to experience a variant of their Motorcycle on/off road Training program, BMW Automobile driver training and an X3, X5 and X6 manufacturing plant tour, you do not pass up the once in a lifetime opportunity. Despite the inclement weather (low to mid-50 degrees and an incessant rain), it was extremely informative, completely practical, absolutely nerve racking, physically draining, totally exhilarating and another experience I will remember for the rest of my life! General Overview – The BMW Motorcycle On/Off-Road Training experience is not simply a rider training program prepping the new rider for his or her first on or off-road ride. Instead, it is a short preparatory school in which a rider of any skill level will become better equipped to handle situations on the road or trail that most motorcycle training programs will never address. Although this is a somewhat short entry, when the program is laid out in more detail and accompanying action shots of the riders taking on the individual training exercises, you may find the fuel saving nature of bikes goes well beyond the simple back and forth to work commute and into the realm of going where few have gone before. Basically, you are trained on how to handle your bike when encountering an on-road emergency avoidance situation, higher speed corning and a full on high speed panic stop. While off-road, the courses prepare you to ride demanding slower speed technical trails, steeper terrain, ascent failures for any number of reasons, deeply rutted roads or trails and even how to ride in deep sand and gravel. Namely, what to do when you experience one of those “Oh $**t” moments while on the road or more challenging obstacles stumbled upon while on a back woods fire trail or 4-wheel drive Forestry service road to name a few. Whatever the challenging obstacle up ahead is, BMW’s Rider Training will prepare you to navigate what used to be an insurmountable impediment that would have placed many non-trained riders on their back side. Instead of packing up and heading home, the days ride now turns into discussion with family or friends about the delight everyone had in besting those same challenges around the camp fire or over dinner at a new favorite restaurant later that evening. From a CleanMPG perspective, what the On-Off road courses offer is the ability to forget about a camper and tow vehicle to experience an outdoor adventure. Instead, your next journey can take you closer to nature than you have ever been before and do so while consuming far less of our planets natural resources then would have been consumed previously. BMW Motorcycle On/Off-Road Training pics Introductions and class room.---------------------------------------------------2009 BMW 1200 GS Overview. On-Road training in progress.----------------------------------------------------BMW 650 at 69 mpg in the rain. Rut and Trail riding exercises.---------------------------------------------------Hill climb failure exercise. Trainers - Lorne Banks, Ray Helms, Bill Conger and Ross McKinney.-------The actual 1981 BMW R 80 “Amigo” that crossed the Darien Gap. The R 80 bike and its rider, Ed Culberson played a key role in the design of the excellent Aerostich Darien gear I was wearing as explained in the CleanMPG - Aerostich Darien Gear Review. After an On/Off-road training course is completed, those that would not have been willing to take on an off-road adventure ride previously will surely consider a BMW “GS Experience” adventure for themselves. Trust me, I am and you will too BMW Automobile Performance Training pics This one was off my radar and I suspect to receive a few PM’s saying WTF were you doing down in SC anyway??? It was fun but not the sort of driving any one of us would consider economical. Until BMW creates a working prototype of the Vision concept that buries the Prius, Polo TDI, Fiesta TDCi, Volt and Tesla that is One of the BMW X5d’s taking on a mild hill climb with a 38 degree angle offset on the top. The X5 is capable of ascending a 60 + degree slope and up to a 45 degree lean angle before coming to rest on the roof To give you an idea as to what 38 degrees looks like from the drivers seat, the last pic in the collage (sorry about the rain) was actually taken by me while belted into the drivers seat and “through the sunroof” at the BMW 3 and 5-series cars on the Long Race track immediately to our right! 2009 BMW 335d and its 8.6 mpg achievement around the track A 500 + HP M5 drifting in the wet. M5 drifting left and then right and an Isetta w/ trailer from a bygone era. Along with an M3, M5, 7-Series and X6, BMW brought out a red 335d for me to drive around their short Race track. The 8.6 mpg it allowed was not pretty but it beat the pants off what the Twin-turbo’ed SI-ICE 6’s were pulling, a consistent and much lower 6 mpg on the same course. After my second drive on the race track, I was well on my way to being motion sick and still had 10 more laps in 5 other BMW’s to go! The timed racing at the end proved fruitful as a BMW marketing manager (thank you Sergio) was my partner who taught me in real time what to and not to do allowing a fourth place finish in our group of rider/drivers. Without him, a much lower place finish and possibly a few DNF’s surely would have occurred. The instructors were having a blast drifting the M5’s on the longer course... With 3 students on board too! I tried to skip it but as the last car with the last group came into the staging area, everyone encouraged me to take a ride anyway. The Driving instructor was grinning from ear to ear while I had all the skin pigment of a ghost along with a hint of green tint for posterity. I started lunch about 20-minutes after everyone else for obvious reasons Basic Conclusions The BMW Rider Training program is an excellent course making the beginner, intermediate or advanced motorcyclist an even better rider. Similarly, after completion of the 1 or 2-day program(s), you will be capable of experiencing an on/off-road motorcycle adventure to just about anywhere in the world... Ok, so maybe not every destination but I can promise you BMW’s “GS Lifestyle” will make inroads into your psyche as you contemplate riding to some locale highlighted in a future National Geographic Special that few have experienced before due to the sites far off the beaten track location. A thank you goes to my instructors, Lorne Banks, Ray Helms, Bill Conger and Ross McKinney as shown above, Frank Filiatrault and Abby McDaniel who helped put the event together from a participant logistics POV and Roy Oliemuller, BMW Motorrad Communications Manager.