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Getting back to ADV Riding and what it means to COAR

A personal note to myself and my riding buddies - by Greg Skarvelis

· Rides



There are certain places where deep, spiritual, meaningful and revolutionary thoughts come to me. The shower is a big one. I come up with ideas, plans, dreams and a lot of other things while in the shower. This phenomenon also happens when I am on a good backroads ride on one of my motorcycles. Sometimes, when I subject myself to Cold Plunging, I also come up with big thoughts! I won't go into why those are the times that these big thoughts come up, but I will share with you one that has been bouncing around in my crazy head recently.

What is ADV Riding? Have I personally lost my way in what ADV is to me and what my vision has been for COAR? Well, spoiler alert, the answer is YES, I have lost my way a bit and I believe COAR is on an evolutionary journey with change for the good!

So let's start with what I have grown up thinking ADV riding is all about and some history of my leap into ADV.. ADV riding to me, has always been about the travel. About getting on a bike packed with camping gear (or at least a few days of clothes) and setting off on a ride that takes you to somewhere new, somewhere that brings great memories to the forefront of my attention or a destination I love. It also means a challenge, whether it is the riding that challenges me, the camping in unknown locations or just the number of days on the road with my thoughts. I used to travel alone. I travelled alone a lot and loved it. I have always been comfortable going to new places, in new terrain, with nobody but my thoughts to entertain me along the way. All of those adventures up until 2009, were on asphalt. I rode many cross country trips finding the best twisty roads a state had to offer.

However, I always wondered what was down the dirt road I just passed? What was I missing? What unfound adventures await? So, my first ADV ride was back in 2009. It was mild, but it was all I needed to turn me in that direction. I had a Versys 600 that I had kitted out with luggage, picked a couple campgrounds in southern Colorado, and set off. GPS tech wasn't the greatest back then, I didn't have proper dirt tires, I had ZERO offroad training, not something I recommend to new riders now. All I knew is that I wanted to be "out there" in the wild, finding myself, finding my peace. I had a rough idea where I was going and headed that way, trying to find dirt where I could and where I felt I could handle it with the "ADV" bike I had kitted out. In the end, it was fantastic and started me on a crazy path of this addiction we call Adventure Motorcycling


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After I returned, I bought a 2005 BMW R1200GS. Back then, it was just a few unique riders that you would see handling these beasts. Most of them inspired like me, by the famous Long Way Round movie starring Ewan McGregor and Charlie Borman astride two BMW GS motorcycles kitted out for Adventure! My first GS was bumblebee yellow and fantastic! So fantastic, I traded my Versys and a VFR800 to a guy that had a 2006 R1200GSA. It was an even bigger beast, pure, 8 gallons of petrol, no ABS, no cruise. They both had weird quirky turn signal controls that made you cut people off at first until you got used to it. I could barely touch the ground, but I didn't care, I was hooked. I rode the heck out of both and eventually brought them and myself to Central Oregon in 2013 from the beautiful state of Colorado.



2005 GS and 2006 GSA - With my Brother on his 50th at Crater Lake

My present to my brother Nick for his 50th. We rode down to Crater Lake, he road the Bumblebee and I road the GSA.

So the back story complete. ADV riding was now ingrained in my blood and I endeavor to turn down every dirt road I can find. I also tried every ADV bike there was, Beemers, KLRs, Africa Twins etc, you name it, I probably owned one or own one now. Yet, it is not about the bike, it's about the Adventure I am about to have on it. The Adventure of kitting a motorcycle out to make it my own and the Adventure of finding out what I can do on the bike and where I can go.

Okay.... so great, I like big bikes and I cannot lie. What's the problem?

Well, glad you asked. The problem is, that as our COAR group has grown, I personally have grown and not in a bad way. However, we have gone a smidge astray from what I feel is the Adventure portion of my passion. I also feel that COAR has strayed slightly, for no reason other than it follows the COAR founders interests at the time. That's not what we want. Let me restate that differently. COAR is about opening up the world of Adventure riding by connecting people to each other, riding with them, learning with them etc. COAR is about exploring the great state of Oregon and Beyond. Finding new places, riding new trails, sleeping in the great outdoors and learning some things about ourselves while we are at it. That rush when you tackle and obstacle, when you overcame a fear or anxiety. That grin when you slide around a dirt corner. The smell of the trees while you are cruising through the forest. The pleasure of meeting new riders and experiencing new places. That's adventure riding.


So, that sounds cool Greg, but why does it matter? Let me tell ya, it matters a lot. The allure for me, was always getting on a bike, twisting the throttle and finding somewhere cool to ride to. Along the way, enjoy good food, great twisty paved roads, get dirty off road and then settle in at a cool camp spot or a town with character along the way. "The journey is just as important as the destination". Read that again. "The Journey, is just as important as the destination".

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The journey - it isn't all cake walk. There are challenges is so many ways that come up in ADV riding. Whether it's mechanical, directional, injuries. It's all possible and yet, nothing may happen. The anticipation, preparation is actually more important than whether it happens or not. The story, the adventure, is in all the inbetween parts of the journey that make you sweat, cry and bleed.


The adventure can look and be so many ways, to so many people. That's the beauty of Adventure! You don't need to go 90 miles an hour on Gravel roads, you don't need to jump boulders like Pol Tarres (he is badass). But you do need to have fun, test your limits, open your eyes and enjoy everything around you and the art of Adventure. Find out something new about yourself.... that's always a possibility too.


It's great Greg, that you have had this epiphany and want to get back to your ADV roots, but what about COAR? We'll, as I mentioned and as a couple good friends of the group have mentioned to me, we have veered slightly off course. But my eyes are wide open now. I see the wrong turn and want to correct it. I want to get COAR back to focusing on Adventure. That being said, I personally committ to you, to put more rides and events out there committed to the art of Adventure. It's not about the bike, it's about the Adventure and I think COAR is going to get back to that with what we are about. Hang tight, get your knobbies on and let's do some Adventure!!


Leave it to the women in my life to bring attention to what is missing. So how and what has changed with COAR? Well, good question and maybe I should offer some insight, because I realize, I skirted around some of the problem above? COAR has clearly shifted in recent months in focus around OHV and what I would consider Dual-Sport riding. While certainly this type of riding can inspire Adventure, it really isn't what Brian and I have both felt COAR and ADV Riding is about. So that shift back to Adventure (ref: everything I wrote above), to exploring the unknown, for gazing at the stars and challenging ones self in both physical and mental is what COAR is about and what we are on a journey to return to. See you on the trail and I can't wait to hear about your own adventures.

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Brian, Michael and me on the Southern CABDR. That was a sweet Adventure!