What the heck is this sissy Dual Sport stuff?
Dual Sport means many things to many folks. Let’s start by recognizing that DS is a niche market. Now in that niche we are further segmented by several types of riding ranging from the Adventure Bike crowd to the untimed enduro events. The majority are in between those two making for an entertaining ride that has some challenges and some easy spots but all fun.
GLDS caters primarily to the “happy medium” DS rider. Most of our events stick to smooth and scenic two-track forest roads. These are connected with some dirt and paved roads. We even sneak in some single track trail when it’s not whooped out.
Here’s the typical breakdown from a couple “long” loops we’ve put together for our events:
|Whiskey Creek Classic A Loop (easier ride)
St Helen XMas in September A Loop (typical ride)
|2T = 57.78 miles = 48%
DT = 39.55 miles = 33%
GV = 8.25 miles = 7%
IT = 3.87 miles = 3%
PR = 12.95 miles = 11%
|2T = 80.28 miles = 70%
DT = 15.56 miles = 14%
GV = 3.12 miles = 3%
IT = 5.08 miles = 4%
PR = 11.16 miles = 10%
The abbreviations are: 2T = two track forest road; DT = dirt road; GV = gravel road; IT = single track trail; PR = Paved Road.
The use of public roads requires the bikes to be street legal (and so should the rider). Did we mention bikes? Dual Sport is about motorcycles. Not that you can’t have fun on your Quad/Jeep/Rhino/Mongoose but DS riding is designed for and best ridden on motorcycles.
DS riding is really about the ride, not the destination. It’s the enjoyment derived from being outdoors. Seeing the sights. Camaraderie with your fellow rider. Enjoying the whole experience. DS is not about competition, nor is it about speed.
Dual Sport in the basic form refers to on and off-road capability. Ride some trail, hop on a road to connect to another trail. Run out of trail, ride the road back to camp/home. Things evolve over time, of course.
Some consider DS to be the original form. They are trail riding first and foremost. The use of roads is a necessity to connect to more trails. This is more of the untimed enduro (meaning not a competition) and the course will consist mainly of trail. Bikes in use will be of the pure dirt-bike with just the most basic options required for street legality.
Many consider DS to have morphed from the primarily trail side to the primarily rustic road type of ride. The two track forest roads provide a trail-like, rougher and scenic experience without the concentration and physical exertion required for pure trail riding. At the same time it’s more challenging and more interesting than pure road riding. This type also allows for the widest variety of bikes to enjoy the ride, from the more dirt bike side to the more road bike side.
Some have taken Dual Sport to a different plane with Adventure rides. This form is primarily roads, although dirt roads are preferred, and the distances are much greater than the other types of DS. Much larger bikes are generally used which are not as well suited for the trail riding the other types partake in.
Some folks like to go off on their own for a DS ride. They pull out the map or pick a star (not) and head “that way”. They take the most interesting route they can find. Some plan ahead. Some have GPS units that tell them when they are lost.
Others have made an event out of it. They make up a loop that uses the best stuff an area has to offer. They document the route on a route sheet and draw it on a map. The route sheet tells the rider which turns to make – kind of like having a back seat driver without the yelling. Technology has been integrated into this stuff now with GPS units being used with varying degrees of success.
The cool thing (of many) of DS riding is being able to ride into the gas station and restaurant. Ride, fill up, ride some more. Repeat. Good stuff.
As GLDS mainly covers the happy medium of the DS crowd – the forest road riders – the routes and the bikes reflect this. Think of street legal dirt bikes. Think of forest two tracks.
Most of all enjoy the ride.