This summer, power blogging couple Dave and Deb of The Planet D have undertaken an incredible challenge—to go from "never having touched a motorcycle before" to becoming bona fide touring riders in the space of one motorcycle season. Can they do it? What does it take? Check out the video below, and read on!
I've been following Dave and Deb's career, off and on, for the last few years. Their story is pretty great: tired of workaholic schedules, these two Torontonians took up full-time travel in 2008, just in time to take advantage of a just-becoming-popular medium: facebook. With a good sense of adventure, engaging writing, and real entrepreneurial flair, they have managed to travel full-time, get paid decently for it, and have visited over 80 countries. Many readers identify with their "every-man and every-woman" appeal; I admire their scrappy, do-anything ethic.
Becoming a truly great rider takes a lifetime. But what does it take to go from the written test to tackling legendary Ontario twisties in just one season? That takes courage, and Dave and Deb would need all their scrappiness just to get started—never mind conquering Ride Lake Superior.
I was intrigued. Ontario has a wealth of motorcycle routes, roads, events, friendly dealers and repair shops, but could a pair of completely new riders conquer it in one season? If anyone could, it was Deb and Dave. And I was along for the ride.
Their schedule is ambitious: riding in Grey-Bruce, Peterborough and the Kawarthas and doing a dirt bike training weekend ... but before all that, there were a few things that needed to be taken care of before they even looked at a bike.
The first was to get their M1 licence, which required a pretty simple written test. For anyone considering becoming a motorcycling, this is the easiest part. You can read all of the steps on getting your licence in Ontario here. Essentially the M1 is a written test and can be taken at service centres all over Ontario. Dave and Deb took the test in Woodstock, Ontario and passed with flying colours! While they were technically able to ride a motorcycle, they followed the best course of action which is to do a weekend course to get their M2 licence before actually heading out on the road. For new riders, this is always the best way to get rolling.
Finally, before their weekend course, they needed to make sure they were safe for their summer ride, which means getting them suited up in all of the latest and best gear. Parts Canada was gracious enough to supply these two adventurers with gear that would keep them safe and comfortable throughout their entire trip. AlpineStars riding pants, jackets, gloves and boots make up the bulk of their gear, with HJC helmets. If you're looking for great gear, whatever stage of your riding you're at, check out one of their dealers.
When it came time to actually begin their on bike training, Motorsoul Riding School was chosen because of the in depth experience they offer. Owner Ginny Allen revealed some of her secrets, but to say that this program is different than most other riding schools in Ontario would be an understatement. The training consisted of one Thursday night (Ginny says she hates taking a Friday night away from her students) in the classroom where students review real-world scenarios and sort out the paperwork required to get them licensed.
Motorcycles were graciously provided by Honda Canada, who strongly believe in getting riders started with the right bike. Three bikes; the CBR125R, CBR250R and even a CBR500RA were available to train the two riders, with the aim of building their skill level from bike to bike to bike. Having done this course myself a few years ago, I can attest to the value of their philosophy - getting started on a smaller displacement bike that is created specifically for new riders and then progressing to intermediate bikes before taking on bigger touring bikes is an essential progression for all - not just the safety conscious.
Deb's account of their weekend of training is essential reading for anyone who's considered riding a motorcycle. Read her full overview of the experience here. It's an incredibly heart-felt take on what learning to ride is like, going from challenge to challenge, until ultimately you're able to combine the multiple skills required to drive a motorcycle. Needless to say they both passed, and are on to the next step of their adventure, and the quest toward Ride Lake Superior!
Ginny's committment to getting Deb and Dave trained properly extended so far that she even accompanied them on their first big ride; touring Grey-Bruce counties. For those skeptics out there, she regularly schedules rides with her students to make sure that they've absorbed all the skills they need. Watch the next episode in their adventure, by clicking the links at the top of the page!