There’s something about the kids going back to school that has an end-of-the-riding-season feel to it, especially since the major professional series (motocross, Superbike, enduro, etc.) are starting to wind down. If you’re like me, around this time of year, you’ll occasionally be taken off guard by a sense of regret and minor self-loathing that you didn’t accomplish all you should have on two wheels by this time of the year.
Cheer up, though. I’m here to remind you that the season’s just getting started, particularly if you ride off-road.
Nothing against track sports such as motocross, roadracing, dirt track or hillclimb (all are absolutely amazing, by the way), but if you want to maximize your seat time, off-road riding and racing is one of the best deals in motorsports. Not only do you get in plenty of miles, but at most events in most parts of the country, you get to ride stuff that’s open just once or twice a year.
Sure, you have to pay an entry fee, making them more expensive than just going trail riding, but consider what you get: miles of professionally laid-out trail, carefully arrowed routes, a couple hundred riding partners to keep you company, and at sometimes a free meal when you’re done -- oh yeah, and a chase crew!
For most of these riding opportunities, look no further than local enduro and hare scrambles series (such as the Appalachian Championship Enduro Series here in Ohio). Nationally, there’s the AMA Rekluse National Enduro Championship Series and, for cross-country racers, the Grand National Cross Country series and the AMA Racing West and East Hare Scrambles Championships.
There are other options, though. The AMA KTM National Dual Sport Trail Riding Series and the AMA Yamaha Super Ténéré National Adventure Riding Series include two-day events all over the country. While these aren’t competition events, many are organized by local clubs that have long histories of putting on off-road races. Route sections often include enduro loops, and several of these events have a reputation for putting even the best riders to the test. (The adventure rides are designed for large, adventure-class bikes like the Super Ténéré and the terrain reflects that.)
In fact, the only difference between some of these events and an actual enduro is at a dual sport there’s no need for time keeping, and the end of the day won’t include a trophy presentation.
The best thing, though? There are a ton left on the schedule (dual sport, adventure ride).
As for me, this coming weekend I’m hitting the second day of the AMA KTM National Dual Sport Trail Riding event, put on by the New Straightsville Enduro Riders in New Straitsville, Ohio. I took my oldest son, Noah, to his first dual-sport ride earlier this year -- a local event organized by the Zanesville Trail Riders. Although our day was cut short by Noah’s clutch going south at the 20-mile mark, he had a good time. Not only did he get a chance to put his motorcycle operator’s permit to use, but he rode several miles with Motorcycle Hall of Famer and former International Six Days Enduro rider Jack Penton (vid below). While Noah may not get to ride with Jack on Sunday, he will have the pleasure of being told that as the son of an AMA employee, he won’t get a chance to win the 2011 KTM 530 EXC -- pretty much the gnarliest factory dual-sport bike known to man -- that’s up for grabs by everyone riding in the national series.
If you’re in the area, swing by. You won’t get a trophy, but you’ll definitely go home with some memories. And that KTM would like nice in your garage, wouldn’t it?