I met 4 other guys in Marienville PA this past Friday night to camp near the extensive ATV trail system in the Allegheny National Forest.
There was a forecast for 60% change of scattered thunderstorms all day Saturday which to me, isn't a reason to change the plan. Fortunately, the thunderstorms never popped off but it did rain, sometimes pretty hard until late in the afternoon so we went ahead into attack mode right after an early breakfast. We rode some of both the Marienville and Timberline loops and some of the forest road connectors in between and man, was it sloppy and nasty in spots, but overall the trails handled the substantial rain pretty well. The trails actually handled the water better than the forest roads where the sand turned to mud and you never knew when it was going to go from decent to no traction. It rained so hard at one point we stopped at this place deep in the woods under a tree because we couldn't see where we were going:
As soon as the rain let up enough to see, we continued the romp that led us on some pretty narrow ATV trails with steep climbs and bermed switchbacks that were a blast to ride at speed. We'd been bombing around all white knuckled at the traction and challenging terrain all morning when on this connector "road" we saw this sign:
What the...? If what we just went through didn't require some caution, I was pretty concerned about what was coming but it turned out to just be that it was two way traffic on this narrow ATV trail. We didn't see another motorcycle all day but saw several groups of quads out running around. They were often stopped because they had a harder time seeing where they were going than we did in the rain.
Some of you might remember that I really busted my ass back in May on these kinds of trails (3 shattered ribs and a collapsed lung) so this was my "get back on the horse" ride with the same guys. My goal for it was to come back home with no broken parts - me or the bike - and on that score was a success. It was fun to see the skills I learned at the BMW school work here in the wild. I think I've pretty much convinced myself that the 1200GS is just as capable off-road as the KLR I took on the TAT last year. It just takes a different approach on these big bikes in the hard, technical stuff and I really think anyone wanting to get more comfortable off-road on larger AV bikes would benefit from the BMW training as well.
I bought this '16 triple black 1200GS with the goal to ride it anywhere I'd take my KLR. I'm going to keep my KLR around for a while so that some local buds can spend some time following me around on it out in the wild on a few trips this fall. But after that, I think I might be moving my KLR along to the next proud owner and looking around for a much smaller enduro like the KTM 350EXC. That bike will open up more difficult single track trail systems in the mid-Atlantic area. I'm just amazed at how capable this bike is at eating up hundreds of miles of highway at a very spirited pace; ride pretty challenging off-road all day; and then ride several hundred miles home on the interstate. Just amazing.
My next ride is to meet up with my KLR buddies in N. Georgia and ride from there to PA, maybe farther north, as much off the pavement as possible - TAT like. We'll be camping the whole way and hitting up the trail systems in VA, WVa, and PA. The GS will definitely be my weapon of choice for that ride.