Ladies of Dirt 101: Introduction to Adventure Riding
Some of us have the strong urge to explore beyond our daily surroundings. We dream of high mountains, vast deserts, and the shorelines of faraway places—constantly longing to traverse the roads less traveled—far from cities and towns, down dirt paths, to remote campsites. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely envisioned yourself traveling to these places via a motorcycle. For someone with little to no motorcycling experience, this can seem a daunting task, especially for women who want to step into a heavily male-dominated riding style.
Six vibrant and adventurous women joined the Zacker Adventures team in Tellico Plains, TN, back in August to learn to ride their motorcycles off road at their first ever all women’s class—the Ladies of Dirt 101. Some participants had been riding for years, while others were basically new to riding, but all shared common goals; to become more comfortable on a motorcycle, to learn to handle motorbikes off the beaten path, and to gain the confidence to set out on their own riding adventures.
Marisa demonstrates various standing techniques to the group.
The training weekend began Friday afternoon as everyone rendezvoused at Cherohala Mountain Trails Campground, a beautiful motorcycle campground located in Tellico Plains that so graciously agreed to host our course for the weekend. We spent the evening getting acquainted over dinner and then learned how to make camping stoves from soda cans while having fun playing with fire starters. Everyone was excited about the upcoming training over the next two days.
The goal for Saturday morning was to improve each student’s ability to maneuver and control a motorcycle at very low speeds, because “if you can’t do it slow, you can’t do it fast.” Most of the drills consisted of clutch control and riding while standing, two essentials to riding off road. As with any class of this nature there was frustration at times, and there was joy at times, as everyone pushed themselves to try techniques they never had before.
Marisa and Todd demonstrate proper cornering technique at speed.
In the afternoon, we set off on what most would call their first dual-sport ride. Equipped with Sena helmet communication systems, we were able to discuss cornering and braking techniques while riding the gravel loop around Citico Creek. No one had any idea that within the first day of our off road riding careers that we’d be on a twisty gravel road following alongside creek beds and beautiful mountain ridges in the Cherokee National Forrest. By Sunday afternoon it was time to tackle even rougher gravel roads as well as our first water crossing on part of the Trans American Trail.
The instructors senced the confidence rising in each student as they tackled more than they may have originally envisioned for the weekend. The ladies pushed themselves outside their comfort zones, some riding further away from blacktop than ever before. That’s what adventure riding is all about—pushing yourself to do extraordinary things in extraordinary places, and these amazing ladies did just that! Each one of them left with confidence to ride any gravel road, a sense of independence, and most importantly, a sense of adventure! Happy Trails!
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“I was HUNGRY to learn how to handle the beast on gravel. After one day of instruction I felt so much more ready to tackle the curves and more. Day Two I was taking curves in gravel better than I’d ever thought I could and I’m just beginning! Add to that the great instructors and mentors and awesome women to learn with and you’ve got the ultimate learning machine.”—Kim Teems, Student
“I went from a two to a 10 on the confidence scale this weekend. Besides seriously improving our off-road skills, we had an awesome time in a beautiful, relaxed setting while making incredible new friends and connections.”—Tracy Mayo, Student
“The Ladies of Dirt course was such a good opportunity to go back to the basics and get rid of bad habits. I already feel like a better rider and can’t wait to continue to practice the drills that we learned.”—Cory Wall, Student
Want to become a more confident and comfortable off road rider? Check out Zacker Adventures for more upcoming classes, from basic to advanced, to fit your riding skill level. Through their “Unfiltered Experience” you will learn to ride off road, how to camp, and how to travel the forgotten roads. It will leave you seeking adventure around every corner. For all the adventurous women out there; look for more Ladies of Dirt events coming soon. ZackerAdventures.com