I bought a new thing. Splurged, same price as a lot of used things these days, and yes we had to travel to a different Province to buy it because of lack of supply. I bought a 2020, brand-new-out-of-the-box, KTM 390 Adventure. AND I LOVE IT.
It’s been a while since a blog, and a lot has happened in our lives. With all the upset in the world, we were forced to find a place to settle for the winter and rented an apartment in Kelowna, BC. Next week we move to Trail, BC to start a new chapter in our lives after, what I call the “winter of hell”. So, in the meantime, I bought that 390.
I’m not going to review the bike, there are a million YouTube reviews already, but I will say, having had the privilege of the gyms being open here in BC all winter has saved me a boatload of issues. While the 390 is a dual sport that is lower than most, I’m still only able to reach the ground on a tiptoe with the bike leaned over and one cheek hanging off the seat. I’m thankful for my strong core and legs. While the bike is only 390 lbs wet, I’m thankful I spent time this past winter not only maintaining the muscle and strength I had, but to work on other areas I had been neglecting like my shoulders and lower back. Having built strength in my low back was a game changer. My posture is great, my endurance in the seat on the moto is up, the next morning I don’t have a sore or tired lower back either. I am able to move my 390 around parking lots (I have to walk the bike to back in or out of a parking spot) with ease as well.
I get why people don’t spend a ton of time in the gym, but being a 5’2”, 125-pound woman makes throwing that bike around soooo much easier. I don’t have bulky, fatty legs to swing over the seat, I can grip the bike easily and longer with my knees and upper legs, and my endurance standing on the foot pegs is pretty much forever. We forget the physicality of riding a motorcycle and the strength and endurance it can take to do a lot of off-road riding. Even the weight of the bike can present a problem to a short, scrawny person such as myself, and I want to be successful and explore lots of places. So, I lift weights.
I’m not going to preach to people about the benefits of the gym or even losing the extra weight, that’s on you and no one can change your mind except you – but I’m closing in on the big 5-0 and being as fit as I am, makes a world of difference. I take no medication; I sleep like a baby and most days have loads of energy and some to spare. Even the extreme stress I have been under over the winter has started to dissipate and I credit a lot that to pushing myself to go to the gym, if even for 20 minutes. Physically, my body has been strong, although showing the uncomfortable physical signs of stress and depression that I have been battling for the past 6 or 7 months. I am starting to heal quickly in mind and body. The only constant I have had in my life for the past 8 months has been my access to the gym or some form of exercise and I thank the gym rats for helping me keep on track, so I didn’t lose my mind. Those brief friendships helped me through the darkest days of my life, and I am thankful to all those people.
While I’m not a saint in the gym, nor have I been eating like an Olympian, my time at the gym has been an outlet to keep me sane. Wherever you are living right now, and your ‘rona circumstances, I encourage everyone, no matter how hard it is to get in shape, eat super healthy at least 70% of the time and get some form of exercise other than a casual stroll through your neighbourhood. I know it’s hard to get motivated. Trust me, I have never experienced depression firsthand before and it sucks. If you have or do battle depression, I genuinely hope you are doing okay. Even the act of going to the gym and sitting on a workout bench and observing and talking to those around me has helped my state of mind.
The warm weather and sunshine and the greening of the outdoors is helping me a lot and the excitement of starting a new job and living in an unbelievably beautiful, out of the way area, in BC has me motivated to put a smile on my face and get out of bed every morning.
After we get settled in Trail, BC, I hope to be sharing our explorations of the mountains on our dual sports. We bought a backroad map of the Kootenays and it will be years of exploring before we even repeat a road, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
Cheers and happy riding!
Originally Written December 19, 2019
After the Tucson Dual Sport ride December 7 and 8, Mike and I spent a week in the Tubac area exploring the jeep trails, single track and fire roads. On our last day in Tubac we spent 5 hours tackling the single track. The terrain we tackled veered from easy going to scary, pee your pants kinda trails. As I always say, it was an adventure!
Much to my chagrin, we ended up on the super gnarly trail we tackled with our friends on the first day. I’m going to admit, I was a bit angry and scared we ended up in that spot as there was no way to turn back and no chicken route out. The first long uphill, well I managed to ride halfway up before getting off balance, hitting a rather large boulder and spinning my bike around 180 degrees into a barrel cactus. It took us about 20 minutes to sort that conundrum out. However, I did that entire gnarly trail, with help only twice. After we got out of the super gnar, the rest of the trail, while still challenging, seemed like a piece of cake.
After hours of single-track riding, we took our time riding home. It was getting late in the day, we were sweaty, and tired. It began to get cold in the shadows of the canyons and we were out of water. So, the slow and easy way back it was for us; nobody needed to wipe out and get hurt now after all the challenges we had overcome so far.
It was a beautiful ride home. We took a sandy, dusty road alongside the railroad tracks that meandered south into Mexico. We caught up with a freight train that had a Canadian flag painted on the last yellow boxcar all the way back to camp. The bikes managed to stay in one piece and so did we.
Our time riding in Arizona was a memorable one to be sure. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and the challenging terrain has certainly made me a better rider. Time for beer and tacos. 😊
Originally Written December 19, 2019
It’s day two of our ride. The boys are all tired and stiff today. I stretched immediately after our ride and they just laughed at me…who’s laughing now? Me, I’m ready to go after a pot of coffee. Today’s goal for the ride is to ride into Nogales for a lunch at a taco truck. Oh yeah, that was a goal worth keeping up with the boys I was willing to take on.
Our leader took us through a canyon, up a mountain fire access road that had been mostly eroded down by some heavy rains the day before to a breathtaking lookout spot. The trip down turned into an epic learning experience for me.
The narrow roads in that area were covered in granite rock slabs and granite dust - no sense using the back brake whatsoever. I am a confident front brake user but quickly found out that using front and back brakes was not a good idea. While I manage to stay on my bike while skidding down a steep slab of granite around a switch back, I had to stop and take a minute to catch my breath. Hoping that was the worst of the steep descents was over I threw my leg over my torn seat and headed into steeper territory. The switchbacks and steep descents went on for over 30 minutes until we were finally down into a valley and about 30 minutes to tacos.
I was excited about tacos and didn't realize, while there were no steep descents into Nogales, we still had a few miles to ride on some super gnarly narrow jeep trails. I lived and made it into town for amazing tacos. We (meaning me) decided to head back home via some breathtaking easier riding roads. I'm glad we did as it was getting cold, we were all tired, our bellies full of Mexican goodness and we were running out of gas and daylight. We rode 6 hours that day. I'm proud to say I had the skills to ride all the terrain, including terrain I was not confident riding. As the day wore on I got used to riding and it made me a better rider.
I wonder what challenges tomorrow's ride will bring!?
Originally written December 19, 2019
We have been riding here in Arizona for almost three weeks. Our adventures have taken us into desert areas that have you looking for Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner, to awe inspiring views over endless mountain ranges in every direction.
We met up with a couple of Ontario riding peeps early December. One of the guys has a house near Tucson and lives here and rides 6 months of the year. He took us out for 2 days of epic riding.
Day one we met for breakfast in a little desert town and headed over to an area near Tubac to ride some newly built single track. After being lost on Jeep roads for a good 30 minutes one of us finally spotted a trail marker. The single track was a total of 28 miles, built in 2 mile sections. Most of my single track experience I have had has been in Ontario, rutted out, muddy, stumpy and nice flowy trails. Yup, this was a whole new experience and challenge for me personally.
The first two trails we did were challenging but I didn't have any problems. I did invent new swear words but made it through without anyone having to help me.
The third trail, well it started off nice, a few challenging rock steps and some deep water crossings but all within my skill set. Then I came around a blind corner and slamming on my brakes I just stared at the challenge in front of me. How the ‘H’ was I going to conquer a trail that started up a steep gravelly, loose, rocky incline, including several rock step switch backs and then a trail on a steep side incline with nothing but large boulders on the trail, a cliff ascending into the heavens on one side and a cliff descending into the depths of hell on the other? I had no confidence. However, I put my bike into first gear and tractored up as far as I could go before I wiped out. Our fearless leader, a highly accomplished rider, had to rescue me a couple times as the other two in our party were themselves having difficulties.
When the four of us finally found a spot to rest I made note I was the only person in our little posse not dying of heat stroke, lack of hydration or energy. I'm 120 pounds, my bike is approximately 240 pounds and I had 15 pounds of supplies in my backpack. After a brief rest and a snack, we rode the remaining mile out of that specific trail, and spent an hour finding our way back to our vehicles on some pretty gnarly jeep roads. I felt good about my riding and patted myself in the back.
Pumped and ready for Carne Asada with Mexican grilled bulb onions for dinner we headed back to the Canuck’s casa for dinner! And a beer or two…
Flexibility. This is a very important subject. When you think of flexibility do you think of the Olympic gymnasts doing crazy things? If you think of inflexibility, do you picture the super muscly guys who can't bend over to tie their shoes? I listen to a lot of fitness and dirt bike podcasts and read a lot but I don't come across articles about flexibility very often and I'm not sure why.
What is the definition of flexibility? Range of motion as well as the “ability to adapt successfully to challenges to motor control, strength, balance, coordination, endurance, and mental and emotional focus”.* In other words, all the things you need to successfully ride your dirt bike.
Why should flexibility be part of our training? Think about your daily routine, do you sit all day, do you stand all day, do you do repetitive motions all day? I used to sit at a desk all day, that repetitive sitting caused my hip flexor muscles to shorten and become tight and stiff to the point I was having constant knee and groin muscle pain and injuries. Now my gym workouts, dirt bike days and rest days almost always start and end with stretching all the things. Why almost always, well I'm human and sometimes I forget. When muscles are tight, they pull on opposing muscles, weakening them and not allowing for the full use of the muscle. Stretching will allow the full use of the muscles. Think about doing squats, can you flex all the way to ground? Do you regularly stretch your quads, calves, hip flexor and glutes? Adding stretching to all of these muscle groups will allow for a fuller range of motion in a squat. We don't have to do the splits but being able to do a full squat is part of being flexible and an important part of dirt bike riding.
How important is flexibility for dirt bike riders? Think about going around a corner, sitting forward on the seat, leg outstretched, and you catch a stump. If you have loose flexible muscles in your leg, it may just swing back and you continue on your way. If you have tight hip flexors, hamstrings or quads and your leg is snapped back, those inflexible tight muscles are susceptible to injury and your day of riding may be over. I'm 5’2”, while I have had my suspension lowered and tuned for my weight and height, I still need flexibility to get my leg over the seat or be able to touch the ground. I also need to be flexible enough to lift my bike off the ground as I have short arms. Think back to the ability to squat I mentioned earlier. Being able to hold that squat while standing on the pegs of my bike, with my knees bent, while traversing some gnarly terrain, allows me to ride as aggressively as I need to so I can get through those rough spots.
I could write for days about this subject but I'm going to keep it short because I want you to get flexible and discover the benefits of being flexible not just to ride a dirt bike but to build strength, protect joints and make your everyday tasks easier. Don't forget, the FitRiders program focuses on stretching and flexibility, especially when it comes to the muscle groups used most by us riders.
* Foundations of Personal Training, 2nd edition, 2016, p. 126
Karl Tettmann, Co-Founder. Avid health and fitness coach who just loves to ride.