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AMA Club Profile: Family Off-Road Adventures

February 13, 2014

Family Off-Road Adventures is best known for organizing and promoting the Yosemite Adventure Tour and the Yosemite Dual Sport Adventure. The rides are held in Northern California each spring and fall and like many events on the AMA Yamaha Super Ténéré Adventure Riding Series, it also raises funds for charity.

“[The rides] started with some friends riding Jawbone Canyon,” says FORA founder Lawrence Borgens. “We got together each year to ride in the Mojave Desert during the week between Christmas and New Years. Soon, we started taking family and friends down to Baja and riding the epic trails of the Mojave Desert and the High Sierras.” 

The next step for Borgens was to turn these activities into an AMA-chartered organization. Family Off-Road Adventures was born.

Since the inaugural Yosemite ride in 2008, hundreds of dual-sport and adventure riders have attended these two-day events. 

Participants are treated to unique views of Yosemite and the High Sierras, and are supported by sweep riders, a chase truck and support vehicles. 

Every day starts and ends in historic Buck Meadows at the gateway to Yosemite, and lunch is included. Saturday’s stop is at a local Indian casino where a never-ending sumptuous buffet awaits the trail-weary riders. Sunday’s lunch is served picnic-style trailside in Yosemite Valley.

One of the unique aspects of these events is that they are GPS-based.

That’s right, no rollcharts.

Participants receive a GPS download of all event routes, waypoints and track logs, then have the opportunity to attend a GPS class on the evening before the ride.

Routes consist of approximately 100 miles per day of two-track on U.S. Forest Service and logging roads, with some single-track “hard” splits.

The event is intentionally kept big-bike friendly and beginner friendly. It’s limited to 100 participants to maintain a more intimate setting.

“Many organizations advertise ‘once-in-a-lifetime, death-defying adventures,’” Borgens says. Family Off-Road Adventures is about taking great people to great places instead of being about the treachery of the trails.”

The philosophy of taking people to places of historic significance and scenic beauty shines through in everything about these events.

Starting a business was nothing new for Borgens, who operates three other businesses. He’s an award-winning entrepreneur recognized by the local Chamber of Commerce and the Sacramento branch office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

Forming a team with family members, then applying modern email, online and social media marketing strategies while utilizing computer automation in the registration process has allowed the company to remain small but still serve hundreds of participants in rides hosted by Family Off-Road Adventures, which is truly a family business.

Borgens’ business partner is his mom, Janet.

The primary event staff is Janet’s husband, Jim, and Borgens’ wife, Kimberley, along with their four children: Matthew, Aaron, Benjamin and Cierra.

Other family and friends also assist from time to time during events. Borgens firmly believes in the saying that “there are family that you’re born into and family that you choose.” No matter who is on the staff, they are all family.

This family’s love for off-road riding started with Janet’s father, Darold MacDannald. MacDannald lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident when he was 19 years old, before the invention of penicillin. But that didn’t stop him from building off-road racing trucks and winning some of the toughest races in Baja and the Mojave Desert, and owning three motorcycle dealerships in Northern California.

Janet’s two brothers, Neil and Dayl, also raced regularly. Neil eventually went on to become a professional motocross racer and he taught his nephew, Lawrence, how to ride when Lawrence received his first bike, a Honda QA50, at the age of 6.

Since the beginning, FORA has supported the BlueRibbon Coalition and, to date, has donated more than $4,800 to the advocacy group.

Janet heads up this effort and diligently contacts dealerships, accessory manufacturers and distributors to collect items to be raffled off at each FORA event. At their last event, almost $6,500 in donated goods and services were raffled off for less than $1,000, creating an incredible value for the attendees.

FORA has also chosen to support two local charities responsible for ensuring outdoor activities for disabled children. FORA does this by organizing a barbecue in conjunction with each FORA event. These activities have raised  more than $5,200 to help local children.

FORA is proud of its philanthropic efforts and encourages all AMA-chartered organizations to partner with a charity for the good of the community.

FORA has developed a solid business model for creating, promoting and executing quality dual-sport and adventure rides, and has built an enviable reputation.

FORA is now looking to expand to other parts of the United States by partnering with people who have a desire to go into business guiding events.

For information, or to learn more about events with FORA, go to FamilyOffRoadAdventures.com.

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