Where are you on your motorcycle journey? It's what you've been through to get to the rider you are today. If this was a video game, what level would you be at? If you've read my Joining the Boxer club post recently, you'll have an idea what "level" I was on at that time. That was BEFORE my recent trip to California. Going to RawHyde was like warp zones from Mario Brothers, allowing me to quickly get through levels in a very compacted amount of time. The short version is, I bought a used bike from RawHyde, then went to them for a 2 day Intro to Adventure course, followed by a 2 day adventure in the desert (BCA). Read on for more detail....
Buying The Bike
I was perfectly happy with my F700GS, until I saw a post on Facebook by RawHyde. It was a video of Jim Hyde showing off his 2015 fleet, now up for sale. It was an amazing deal that I had to look further into. All of his bikes come with the BMW Adventure accessories, 3 sets of tires, a free Intro to Adventure course, and a 5 day adventure with them. I called in, and got Jim directly on his cell phone. He answered any questions I had about the bikes, was super patient, and even tried to help me understand how beneficial the intro to adventure class actually is. I ended up having two different phone calls with him, and both times he was great. He even sent me photos of the bikes and helped me pick the exact one over the phone. Once I decided to make the purchase, he passed me on to his staff to take a deposit. After that, I was passed on to the originating dealership to complete the purchase, and arrange shipping. The bike is considered a demo bike, and so it's titled as a new bike. I arranged my own shipping to NJ, which cost me $600, and had the bike less than 2 weeks later. The dealership in question was Irv Seaver BMW, and they were great as well. Very responsive via email, and gave me a 15% discount on the BMW Nav V.
About The Bike
Every year, RawHyde gets a brand new fleet from BMW, and they sell the outgoing fleet. The bike I bought is a 2015 R1200GS with 4500 miles on it. I bought it in December 2015, and had it in my possession just days before 2015 ended. As I mentioned above, it's being titled with me as the first owner. It's the top of the line GS from that year, with every option ticked. That's a $20,960 bike, that I got at a significantly lower price. On top of that, it came with BMW original adventure accessories. The adventure skid plate, adventure pegs, crash bars, rear adventure pannier mounts, hand guards, and head light protector. The adventure pannier mounts are used as extra protection for the rear. The bike did not come with the actual panniers. On top of that, the bike came with half worn Mitas 50/50 tires on them, plus the OEM Anakee 3 tires in brand new condition, and another brand new set of Mitas E10 tires. The bike purchase also came with the Raw Hyde training, and 5 day adventure.
The condition of the bike was what you expect, if you have realistic expectations. These bikes are indeed used for 1 year as off road training bikes. They are dropped in the dirt quite often, so you will see scratches, and the bike will look used. Any damage to the bike is purely cosmetic, and the bikes arrive in top running condition. The type of scratching I had on my bike was; major scratching on the crash bars, major scratching on the lower half of the cylinder head covers, medium scratching on the hand guards, minor scratching on the rear seat handle grips, and 1 minor scratch on the bikes beak. The pannier mounts were actually brand new by chance. This is the type of damage I would do to my own off road bike. I expect to drop it in the dirt often, thats how I know i'm using it well. If your definition of a good looking GS is one in perfect condition that looks like it just came off the showroom then you should turn away now. My definition of a good looking GS is one covered in mud and battle wounds. I would only consider a RawHyde used bike if you intend on taking it off road yourself eventually.
Preparing For Adventure
I mentioned earlier, a few times, the purchase of the bike came with a free Intro to Adventure class, and a free guided 5 day adventure ride. Through purchasing the bike, I met a few others on a advrider.com thread that also bought at the same time. One of the others and I discussed trying to get to the training at the same time. We both could do the same weekend, but wouldn't be able to take off enough work to do the 5 day adventure. Instead we opted for the 2 day Base Camp Alpha trip. We scheduled it together, and booked a rental car together. We had a few months until the trip, and spent the time trying to hold back our excitement, and discussing what we would actually need for the trip.
We reconsidered all the gear we had, to make sure what we brought worked well in the environments we would be in. We were in for 4 days of intense riding, and some of it in the desert. We thought about sweat wicking base layers, venting and protective gear, helmets, boots, and what to pack. We had too much time to think about it all, but it worked out great. I felt so prepared when I was finally there. Audrey from RawHyde sent us a prep email letting us know what to expect on the trip, and listing things we needed. The specifics they tell us we need are; 1. Armored riding gear 2. change of clothes 3. toiletries and medicines 4. hydration pack (camel back) 5. flashlight or headlamp.
Some highlights of what I ended up buying/bringing:
- champion 3/4 length sweat wicking bottom base layer
- champion long sleeve sweat wicking top base layer
- Rev'It vented cayenne pro suit
- Nexx XD1 adventure helmet
- Old pair of snowboarding goggles
- helmet hair liner to absorb sweat instead of letting helmet get sweaty (or a bandana)
- Forma Adventure Boots
- hat and sunglasses for when off the bike
- bug spray / suntan lotion
- a dry sack and rok straps to attach to the back of my bike for quick access items while on BCA
- a rain suit
- wet wipes (for many reasons)
- scotch (my buddy mike brought a bottle for the BCA and everyone around the campfire was thankful)
- camel back / water bladder - you will be drinking constantly
- i'm sure im missing a few things here .. but preparation overall is key
RawHyde has two locations, one in Colorado and one in California. The CO location is for the summers, as CA gets too hot. We were the last group of the season at the CA location. Arriving on site, you follow a long scary driveway (i thought our rental car was going over the edge a few times). At the end of the driveway we saw cars parked on the left, and on the right a few huge RawHyde trucks. As we were pulling in someone walked up to us, greeted us, told us where to park and where to go after that. We got a quick tour of the grounds and were then showed to our bunks.
The first room I remember seeing is the Bar / Hangout area. It's filled with amazing old BMW's that are famous for one reason or another. Some for being in the Dakar, and I think one of them was Jim's first bike as well. They had a Bar that has fridges full of beer, and a decent amount of alcohol available. Next to that room was a large dining room, and after that was the kitchen. The kitchen was running all day, staffed with amazing chefs. The kitchen is also where we filled our water bladders as needed, or grabbed little snacks like bananas or granola bars.
They had a few outdoor bathrooms, the portable type, but nice ones with proper sinks. Out back around the bar area side of the building they had a few large sinks for brushing teeth or washing clothes or whatever. Past that, on the rear of the building was outdoor showers. I heard they had indoor showers too but i would never know. The outdoor shower was my favorite part of the trip. At the end of a long day of riding, grabbing a beer and showering outside, amongst the mountains, as the sun started to set was one of the highlights of my trip.
Our bunks were in a semi permanent structure with a tent like roof. It fit maybe 10-15 people. We each had our own quarters, with a bed, water, shelves, a window, an alarm clock and a few hooks. It was perfect for what we needed and made the experience that much better. It made it easier for us to meet others in our group.
That first night we had an orientation in the bar room before dinner. They served us drinks and apps. We all hung out for a bit until Jim gave us his little intro speech. I won't ruin too much of the experience for you by getting too much into detail, but it was a great first night and a great way to get to know everyone.
Over the next couple of days we got to see more and more of the ranch. It has many different hidden areas, each great for a different purpose. It's really a beautiful location, I never wanted to leave.
Intro To Adventure
Again, i'm not going to go into so much detail to ruin the trip for you. I can't even remember all the things we did. I'm just going to give you a brief description and how it improved my riding. We started Saturday morning with a great breakfast, and another orientation ran by Jim in front of the bikes. He went over some basics for us. Shortly after, the first thing they taught us is how to pick up our bikes. I was a pro at this before I came to RawHyde, so I just watched others : )
They split us into two groups, the more confident group and the less confident group. A few people never rode on dirt at all, ever, and it didnt matter. Everyone was getting a training that would turn them into a different rider just 2 days later. They took our group to different areas through out the day, training us at first with simple things. The simple things were meant to be the building blocks, and as the day went on things got harder, more interesting, and more fun. The instructors were really amazing. They constantly communicated with us, on an individual level, letting us know exactly what we were doing wrong and how to correct it. It got to a point where if the instructor said we could do it, we knew we could do it, and went in to it without being as nervous.
The day went on, with an organized lunch, more training, followed by a beer in an outdoor shower. After that we had dinner where we discussed the day, and just had a lot of fun together drinking and hanging out. Some hung out later by the fire pit, but I wanted to get to bed early. I was on NY time, and either way, i wanted every ounce of energy I could have for the next day.
Sunday was similar, Breakfast, more training, lunch, more training, beer in shower, and dinner. The training that day got progressively more challenging as expected. We did some things that really pushed us further and it felt great. I noticed that while I was really good at one thing, and someone else wasn't, later on in the day it would be reversed where I was having a lot of trouble with something, and that same someone else was excelling at it. It showed that everyone struggles at something, and with practice anyone can get good at this. I witnessed skill levels across the board dramatically improve. Our relationships with the instructors was a huge driving factor. Each instructor had a different unique personality. If one instructor gave you advice, and it didnt click, the next instructor would give you almost the same advice and it would click that time. It was about personalities at that point.
Sunday nights dinner was a little different, as a lot of the group was going home. They handed out certificates and we had our last night together. The next morning a decent amount of people went home, while the rest of us were to continue on to the BCA. It was sad to see them leave, but we were excited for the next half of our trip.
Base Camp Alpha
This is where all the magic happened. Everything we learned in our two day training was put into real world use. BCA is a trip out into the Mojave Desert, where we camp out in Jim's base camp, and then ride back the next day. That's the simple way of describing it. We finished packing our provided duffle bags, and set off around 9AM. The support truck took the bags keeping our bikes nice and light. We went through some highway, then some sand in the desert (not a dune type desert). We stopped for gas and snacks, and to repair one of the bikes that had a cracked cylinder cover. They had a replacement cover with them in the support truck. We pulled off a little later by an incredible rest stop near a really cool red rock formation. We met the support truck and had a prepared lunch. After that we rode to an abandoned mine in the mountains. It was a steep rocky dirt path that tested our limits quickly. When we got to the top, we had some rest time, and then continued back down the mountain through a sandier route that eventually led us back to the steep rocky dirt path down the mountain. We then rode through misc roads and dirt to get to Base Camp Alpha.
Once there, our support team was already busy preparing things. They had a truck container that was the camp kitchen and storage. There was a shower and an outhouse to take care of business. They supplied us with tents that we built our selves, as we made our selves at home. We hung around the fire, had some really delicious dinner, and dessert! It actually rained for about an hour which made it more fun. We spent great time with our instructors, who were no longer instructing us. Now, they were just group leaders and friends. More drinks, more fun, and again I went to sleep earlier than most so I could have energy for the next day.
We woke up, had another delicious meal, and ... waited for the rain to stop. It never rains out there, but of course when I show up it rains. It was still fun, it passed and by 9AM we were on the road again. All tents packed up, all duffle bags re-packed and put on the support truck. We made our way through town and out to the Pinnacles. It's another rock formation in the middle of nowhere, that was a sight not to forget. The road there was all challenging off road. A mixture of dirt, rock, and sand. Getting there was the a lot of run, and riding through the pinnacles was amazing. We stopped for a break while at the pinnacles, and then moved on through some back roads and highway. We stopped for lunch with our support truck and went on to the next challenge. We were at this point heading in the direction of RawHyde, but instead of going through the mountains via highway, we were taking dirt roads. We spent hours on this incredible, steep, challenging, sandy dirt road over the mountains. The scenery was not lacking, and we were constantly being challenged by the road. It was my favorite part of the trip. I wasn't the fastest, but I did it. I stayed up the entire time, I went at a decent pace, and I had a lot of fun. My confidence was high. We eventually all stopped at a vista, took a group photo, and that was the end of the dirt for our trip.
We continued on through some twisty back roads, and then stopped to get gas and a snack. The leaders warned us there might be rain in our future and to put on any rain layers if we had. We were about to ride for a couple hours through some twisty mountain roads. I had rain gear, but most others didn't. I figured if it did rain, it would be a short amount of time, and i'd rather not be in my rain suit for over 2 hours. We continued on, and the roads were a lot of fun, and then the rain started. It poured on us through the mountains, but it was still beautiful and fun. Our road followed a river, and through every turn was another beautiful site. After about 30 minutes it stopped raining. We came through a turn, and the sun was shining bright. It was quickly very hot again, most of us were standing up while riding on the highway just to dry off. That last ride back was a lot of fun in itself.
It sounds like a short amount of time, but the riding we did out in the real world, immediately after our training, did amazing things for us. It took our new skill level from the training, and tripled it's value. We were now much more experienced riders, all in 4 days. It's a drastic difference, just like skipping levels in a video game.
Leaving the ranch was so sad. It's really like leaving Disney Land, you just want to stay a little longer. A few of us quickly showered (again with a beer in hand, outdoors), and went straight back to the airport. That was it, it was all over. I made sure to give Jim a quick hug before I left, and thanked him for everything. I also made sure to give a personal good bye to everyone in our group, and every RawHyde team member I could find. It was like a family. It was like summer camp. It was like a group that went to battle together. No one wanted it to end.
I would do this again in a heartbeat. Buying a bike from Jim was the best thing I ever did in my moto life. It allowed me to have an experience ill never forget, and have the bike I always wanted, at the best price I could find it for. The buying experience was a pleasure. The training was incredible, and the trip was impactful. The biggest danger about this entire experience is the increased thirst for adventure.
I'll never forget the experience, the staff, the group we had. The entire thing was an emotional experience. It wasn't a cold class room like feeling. It was a feeling of brotherhood, of adventure, and experience. That's not something you can get just anywhere. Jim runs a world class facility. Now I just need to start saving up for the Next Step class. Maybe I'll start a youfundme page : )