It was over some local happy hour brews at the Mid-Altantic Overland Festival that I first pitched Bryan Campbell, Gear Patrol
's resident moto journalist, about surfing the sand in the NJ Pine Barrens. Bryan had a loaner Honda Africa Twin on hand for the event, and was thirsty for some serious off-road riding in the coming months. We discussed the plan: learn the basics of sand riding at Pine Barrens Adventure Camp's Dirt 101 Course
, and if that went well I'd navigate and shoot photos while he experienced his first ADV moto rally at the Pine Barrens 500, all three days and 500 miles of it. Solid Performance
, a KTM dealer and WP racing performance shop in Downingtown, PA brought the fun with a KTM 690 Enduro R that had been flashed and modded with an Akropovic exhaust for Bryan to ride and review. The backbone of the plan was our #mlotacomacamper with Woolrich Edition Four Wheel Campers Flatbed
as a towing vehicle, base of operations and sheltered wrenching location during the inevitable October downpour.
ADV Moto riding and 4x4 Overlanding have a lot in common. Both disciplines require a fair amount of navigational ability with a map, roll-chart, or GPS, as well as off-road friendly tires, a decent amount of suspension travel and underbelly armor to protect from rocks and debris, and enough spares and recovery gear to self-rescue if you break down or get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Tank bags and backpacks hold spare tire tubes, tools, even epoxy putty for welding cracked engine cases.
Weighing in well under the 400lb mark, our bikes made it through deep sand whoops and singletrack enduro trails with relative ease. Although a cold Nor'easter storm on Saturday made the loose sand ruts soupy and the riding more a test of survival, we knew we could return to the comfort of a heated camper and a full case of Dogfish Head "Pennsylvania Tuxedo" Pale Ales in the 85L fridge to dull our muscle aches. Even in the dim light of an all-day rainstorm the 160w rooftop solar panel provided plenty of juice to the camper batteries for recharging phones and booster packs.
Solid Performance customer Mitch Davis is not afraid to let rip on his superbly set-up KTM 1290 Adventure R.
The final day of riding was the icing on the cake--increasingly tacky dirt and shrinking mud puddles kept us laughing in our helmets at our good fortune. As in all things adventure, a dependable basecamp, the right gear and a solid helping of stick-to-itiveness always brings the team through!