Some – and not just our mothers – say we’re crazy. Some exclaim “You got this!” And others just nod their heads politely. What’s all this talk about a big grueling challenge?
First two simple acronyms.
BDR – Backcountry Discovery Routes – Mostly off-road routes created for dual-sport and adventure motorcyclists. The states we’ll tackle – Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and Washington.
LOM – Lost our marbles.
Our goal is to ride four BDRs – this summer. These routes will take us along 80% non-paved surfaces into some spectacular scenery, challenging terrain, high altitudes of up to 13,000’, backcountry camping, varied weather systems, and very, very small towns. We’re not sure what to expect as conditions can change quickly depending on the weather, maintenance or lack thereof, unexpected closures, and other yet to be discovered factors. The mileage for all four routes totals nearly 4,000. The BDRs are organized by sections to assist in planning.
- Arizona, 750 miles – 9 sections
- Colorado, 675 miles – 12 sections
- Idaho, 1,250 miles – 8 sections
- Washington, 575 miles – 9 sections
Another cool thing is that we’re pretty certain that no one has ever riden all these routes back to back.
The creators of the BDRs tell us that Arizona is the most challenging of all the routes. Sand, rugged terrain and heat will challenge us for sure. We’re beginning there because it works out for us geographically. To get to the start of the AZBDR we’ll leave Florida in mid-May and travel west 2,000 miles of mostly pavement. Why are we starting in Florida when we’re from Seattle? Because that’s where we left our bikes when we finished our last 14,000 journey in December which took us from Seattle to Alaska to Maine to Florida.
We’re expecting to roll into Washington sometime in September. On occasion our adventure will take us off the prescribed routes to explore other beautiful areas and visit family. We’ll hop back on the routes where we left off. Our flexible timeframe affords us the luxury of exploration.
How are we feeling about all this? We’re entering this adventure with excitement, trepidation, confidence, and some healthy fear. Our stamina, skills, and bodies will be tested BIG time. We have a number of factors in our favor…we have excellent bikes (which we maintain systematically) and gear for doing this sort of trip, BMW F650 GSs (800 ccs, twin cylinder.) We’re in good physical condition as we’ve stepped up our workouts the past 4 months to build our strength and conditioning. We’ve received excellent off-road training with PSSOR; bi-annual DirtyGirl training weekends with Gary Anderson and Roy Puchalski; and spontaneously instruction from our advanced rider friends. We are trained in risk management and current on our medical emergency training. Last year Shal earned a Wilderness First Responder certification and Steph earned a Wilderness EMT certification. We’ll carry a Personal Locator Beacon with us that we hope to never use. And we have lots of backcountry camping experience. Best of all we have each other and the amazing support of family, friends and people we don’t even know!
In addition to the challenging terrain and brutal heat there are other factors that add more intrigue to this lofty goal. Shal, 47, has nine years of motorcycle experience and is still re-habbing injuries from an accident four years ago. Steph, 50, has just 2 years of riding experience and has past injuries that make themselves known. We’re two women engaging in a male-dominated sport. 95% of the images we see are of men riding these routes. There are many accomplished solo female adventure riders traveling challenging routes around the world, but they are way less visible in magazines and films than the guys. Additionally, our bikes and gear weigh in at over 600 lbs and no doubt we will drop them from time to time and we’ll have to pick them up. We’re quite practiced at picking our bikes off the ground – and yes, it takes most of our strength.
So…we’ve prepared and considered ways to minimize risk, but of course any adventure brings its own unique risks and all the preparation and training in the world can’t eliminate those risks. What other factors make us think we can do this? Read Shal’s and Steph’s story.
Lastly, this adventure will probably challenge our relationship at times. We make a great team and are usually on the same page. AND like all couples, we don’t always agree on everything and we can get frustrated and angry with each other. We’ll get tired, hot, dirty, hungry, scared, and cranky and we all know the strain those conditions can put on a relationship. LOM? You be the judge. But first, wish us luck! And second, join our Cause.
Stay up to date on our progress – Follow our blog; Like Us on Facebook; Follow us on Instagram. We promise it won’t be boring, and your support means the world to us. ~ with attitudes of gratitude, Shal & Steph