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Overcoming Fear Riding BMW Motorcycle Steep Dirt Road Rider Pose
Jennifer overcame her fear of riding on non-paved surfaces only by facing that fear head-on. Here she is sitting on her BMW F 650 GS after happily accomplishing her mission.

My friend Ryan and I have a favorite breakfast spot that’s a perfect motorcycle ride away from my home in Sedalia, Colorado. Perfect, except for the four-mile stretch of dirt in the middle of the 100-mile trip. However, while donning motorcycle gear and leaving the house this particular day, I wasn’t thinking of the challenges of Pine Creek Road.

We left Sedalia on Hwy 67 and rode up Jarre Canyon, where the elevation rose and the temperature dropped. The road tightened and the twisties ensued, making the ride fun as I practiced my cornering skills. There were many areas where gravel had washed across the pavement, and I needed to exercise caution, but what a great learning experience!

Following the pavement to the Sprucewood Inn, where Pine Creek forks to the right, I realized I would have to traverse four miles of dirt and a steep grade to reach Platte River Road. I wasn’t concerned about the dirt, but the steep grade and tight corners had me frightened.

I had been over this stretch of road a hundred times, but never while piloting my 2001 BMW F 650 GS. However, the further we rode, the slower I went. I crept around the banked blind corners, not always in my lane. Ryan, riding his own bike behind me, was cringing and praying that a car didn’t approach from the other direction and run us both over.

The road is well maintained but narrow and sometimes covered in washboards. That day, the washboards werent bad because the county road grader had recently been through, making the surface a bit soft. These conditions did not improve my outlook and I was becoming more anxious as I approached the 15 percent grade.

Overcoming Fear Riding BMW Motorcycle Steep Dirt Road Signs
Steep grades, sharp curves, dirt, and stones made for a pretty scary ride!

Truly rattled, I practiced my motorcycle mantras out loud as I rode: Eyes up, look where you’re going, don’t use the front brake, you’ve got this, guide your bike. But none of it was helping. I was in first gear in panic mode and riding the rear brake, traversing the best parts of the road as it wound steeply downward. My mind was not considering the potential danger of oncoming traffic as I weaved from one good spot in the road to another avoiding washboards and deep sand.

Overcoming Fear Riding BMW Motorcycle Steep Dirt Road BMW F 650 GS
The BMW F 650 GS is designed with off-road features that handle gravel and dirt roads like this one well, but the first time off the pavement is very unnerving!

Finally, I made it to the bottom unscathed, without mishap. When we reached the river I pulled over in the parking area somewhat proud of myself for making it. That’s when I received the mild scolding about endangering both of us. Realizing that I’d been a little paralyzed by fear and quite careless, I apologized and promised to do better next time. We rode on to our breakfast spot, but after the hungry bear pancakes, we went home the long way, on the pavement.

Throughout the summer I often thought of that ride and my poor performance. I wanted to go back and ride it again. I wrote in my journal about that day, and as I reread the entry I knew I needed to share the experience with others, and overcome my fear.

Practice Paid Off

I called my friend Kim who is also a photographer. Convincing her that this would be a fun mountain outing to see the leaves change color was not too difficult; she is always up for a fun day and pretty pictures. Riding up the canyon I was grateful for the new-found confidence I didn’t know I had. I traversed that road with little trepidation and, dare I say, a bit of skill. Riding all summer in various conditions and many miles had infused me with a sureness that I lacked four months prior.

I took in the scenery and appreciated the Indian summer hues. It’s only been during my last few rides that I have become comfortable enough to survey my surroundings. Breathing the fresh air and taking in the fragrance of fall are things I have always valued most about being a motorcycle passenger. Now, to be able to create the experience for myself is oddly surreal, almost like I never believed I would achieve it.

This time, when I approached the sharp turns and the steep downhill section of Pine Creek Road, there was no paralysis; only confidence.

Overcoming Fear Riding BMW Motorcycle Steep Dirt Road Downhill Ride
Here I am reaching the bottom of that 15 percent grade in my own lane!

Jen Sincero, the queen of badassery says, “Our entire experience on this planet is determined by how we choose to perceive our reality.” During my first ride to Pine Creek my reality was fear. On the second trip my reality was confidence and the freedom to enjoy the experiences that life offers. Grab life by the bars ladies. It’s worth it!

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5 thoughts on Overcoming the Fear of Riding a BMW Motorcycle on a Steep Dirt Road

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this inspiring article! I was totally riding with you on your first trip down the scary road. I am a very new rider and often find myself a bit paralyzed with fear and unfortunately doing things quite inappropriately for safety. I haven’t turned my baby (Honda CTX700) on it’s side yet, but I have been close. Your wonderful article has made me feel like I am ok, others have conquered their fears and I will too. When everything is going smoothly I am in heaven! I live in the country and the smells of hay and horses and burning wood sends me to the moon and back. Yahoo! I love the newsletter as well. I read it over and over and over!

  2. I am so glad for the opportunity to share my story. I appreciate the comments and the positive feedback.Best to you all!

  3. Very inspiring. I’m not afraid, except for pride hit. Do not have appropriate bike myself, but inspired to load up on insurance, rent, and test courage to gain experience.Thank you for this story!

  4. Great article! My boyfriend (who has years of experience over me) is always reminding me to practice and look up! Thank you for sharing your adventure and advising that we aren’t alone.

  5. Wonderful article! I completely understand the fear and anxiety you shared so perfectly. In many of the backroads where I live it’s gravel roads that bring on the cold sweats. Ha ha. Not so much just the straight roads, but having to make turns especially in gravel parking lots and hills. I do believe you’re right about confidence helping us to be better riders (along with much practice) Proud of you!

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