Learn how to get it right on your next big adventure
Riding techniques: Mastering riding in Mud
It’s the bane of even the most experienced rider, but once you’ve mastered the right technique, riding through mud can be enjoyable, Robert Wicks shares his secrets
It can make for some great photographs and post-trip stories, but riding through serious mud is arguably one of adventure riding’s tougher challenges, particularly for someone who is still building their confidence. Ultimately, practice makes perfect and you should remember that even though it’s a skill that can be difficult to master, it’s worth having in your repertoire in case you get into a tough situation.
Riding in unpredictable conditions such as mud generally means less traction to count on, hence less control. Unlike more stable surfaces, riding through mud means you need to plan further ahead for any change in speed or direction, and to then make this change at the appropriate time. Be aware that mud conceals what’s beneath, so be prepared for unexpected ruts and stones.
Generally speaking, there are no secrets or easy answers for a rider wanting to move a heavily-laden adventure bike through mud. As a general rule, walk it first and if you can’t stand on it, you probably can’t ride it. Technique can vary from standing up, through to a lot of paddling with your feet as you proceed. Be prepared to take your time – moving through thick mud can be a slow process.
If the mud is not too deep and you can still stand up, use the neutral position. If you feel you are losing traction, then shift your weight to the back of the bike to help the rear wheel grip and drive. If you are losing steering control, then try to move forward to put more weight on the front wheel, helping it to grip and steer. Ride in a taller gear, keep the revs low, and ‘feather’ the clutch when necessary.
Momentum is your friend, especially on a big bike, so carrying a degree of safe speed will always help in these con- ditions, and linked to this is the need, where possible, to use open, flowing lines which will help to maintain your speed. Remember at all times to try and pick the line which offers the most grip. If you do feel the bike moving about, remember that you can move and adjust your bodyweight to compensate. That said, these need to be subtle adjustments and you should try to avoid any sudden changes in weight shift or throttle oscillation. Steering control in loose conditions resides in the legs and hips, and you will find the bike is tremendously responsive to peg inputs.
The principle of keeping the tyres perpendicular to the surface is most important, as even a slight angle can send you sprawling. In muddy ruts, always try to align your body and the bike so that you are not fighting the edge of the rut, but try to keep the front well weighted to maintain grip and steering control. A gung-ho approach of blasting at speed through a long patch of mud seldom works for bigger bikes. Instead, commit, look up and ahead, and keep the bike moving at a brisk walking speed.
Your bike may also overheat during a period of slow riding and higher-than-normal revs, so check the radiator to ensure that it is not caked with mud. Make sure your bike has tyres that are best suited to dealing with the mud. A road-going tyre or even an intermediate tyre is always going to struggle. You might also want to look at moving the front fender up so it doesn’t clog with mud and hinder the rota- tion of the front wheel.
If you do get stuck, jump off quickly and push with the bike in first gear – oh, and take that all important photo to show your mates!
Robert Wicks is the author of four acclaimed adventure motorcycling titles from Haynes Publishing. he has always had a passion for adventure travel and motorcycles and has worked in the media and sports marketing industries for much of his career, including several years with the Superbike World championship and MotoGP. an avid outdoor enthusiast and keen photographer, his travels have taken him to more than 50 countries around the globe.
Photography: How to set and shoot panoramic images
ABR’s photography expert Simon Thomas shares his secrets to creating the perfect panoramic photo
There’s nothing like the feeling of escaping on your bike to a wide, expansive landscape, opening the throttle and getting lost in the moment. Whether you’re surrounded by distant mountains, desert or an endless savannah, the moment is still special.
Being able to capture and share an image of that vast landscape you’ve just ridden into is pretty special too, as is the technique used to capture those wide panoramic images that we see in magazines like Adventure Bike Rider and on the web. Sure, there’s a learning curve to getting it right, but once you’ve nailed the technique, I guarantee you’ll be addicted to creating more and more dramatic panoramas.
Here’s how it’s done
Panoramas are created from photographing a number of images in sequence, and moving the camera slightly between each shot and then stitching the images together in a post-processing program like Photoshop.
Bear in mind that creating a super wide image doesn’t necessarily make for a great photo. The trick is to make sure that you’ve got something of interest in your foreground, middle and background. Keep a lookout for trees, lakes, a posed motorcycle, (my favourite) mountains, dramatic skies or even a road that sweeps around a long bend or disappears into the distance.
To make sure that your images line up you’re going to need to use a tripod. This will also ensure that your huge panorama is tack sharp. Remember to turn the VR (vibration reduction) off. Adjust or loosen the head of your tripod to allow for smooth movement through the horizontal plane. Yes, that just means left to right or vice versa.
Now, tilt your camera into a portrait position. Shooting in portrait will allow you to capture taller images. In turn this means your finished panorama will have more details and give you more editing and cropping options. Shooting in landscape orientation is a newbie mistake, so avoid it.
Set your camera to manual exposure, this ensures that each image in your sequence is exposed equally (no images are brighter or darker than the others). Set your exposure for the brightest image in your sequence. To be safe, go ahead and dial in 0.3 – 0.7 stops of exposure compensation to ensure that you don’t loose detail in the brightest areas of your images. I like to shoot somewhere between f8 and f16, this means I can capture a stronger field of depth and my image is sharp from front to back.
Point your camera at what you want to be the focus of your panorama and press the shutter release button halfway down to focus the lens on that spot. Now, turn your lens from Auto focus to manual. You’ve just effectively locked in that focus. Alternatively, just select manual focus on your lens and turn your lens ring to focus on your subject or, somewhere between your foreground and background.
It’s picture taking time! The key to creating great panoramas is to ensure that each of your images in your sequence overlap. How much overlap? Well, my advice is make sure that each image overlaps the last by 1/3 to a half. Too much overlap is better than too little.
I use Adobe Bridge to select my image sequence and Adobe Photoshop’s automated ‘Photo-merge’ feature to align and stitch my sequence together.
The shot here was taken by Lisa and is comprised of nine separate images stitched together to form this one panorama. Asia’s famous Silk Route makes for one hell of a backdrop.
Go get stitching, you’ll be amazed at your own results.
Simon and Lisa Thomas have ridden their way into a life that most of us can only imagine. this year is the start of their 12th year on the road and in those years the duo has amazed an insane 420,000 miles on their ride through 78 countries and six continents. along the way they’ve traversed 27 deserts, survived a broken neck in the amazon Jungle, cheated death and become professional photographers, writers and public speakers. www.2ridethworld.com
Medical: Dealing with a concussion part 2
In the last issue of Adventure Bike Rider, Doc Edwards explained exactly what a concussion is, in part two he describes what to do if you’re unfortunate enough to get one.
Most people don’t think that there is much to do after a concussion has happened, but in reality there are certain things you should do to speed up recovery and ensure you’re well cared for.
Decrease inflammation through diet and supplementation
It is clear from research that the brain heals better when avoiding glucose and fructose and other processed carbohydrates in the diet. In fact, the benefits of putting yourself into a state of nutritional ketosis by eating a diet high in fats and low in carbohydrates is sup- ported by research. By ketosis I mean that your body is using fat for energy either from consuming a high fat/low carb diet or fasting.
Consume healthy fats
Make sure you get your fats from healthy sources such as those from fatty fish, freshly pressed oils, pasture raised meat, and DHA fish oil supplements. Also consume marine food such as oysters and fish. Fish that contain the highest amounts of DHA are easy to remember by thinking of the SMASH diet. Smash stands for salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring.
Other supplements that decrease in- flammation are high levels of curcumin, coconut oil (MCT oil), and DHA.
Vitamin C/Glutathione/Vitamin E
Vitamins C, E and glutathione have all been used in the treatment of TBI (traumatic brain injuries) and are thought
to decrease the free radical induced oxidative damage and cell membrane damage that occur. The studies that are out there show that a high dose vitamin C is what is most effective.
Glutathione goes to work inside your cells to protect your mitochondria. Your liver produces a certain amount of it naturally though many factors, including diet, toxin exposure, alcohol, medications, stress and ageing can all deplete your supply – leaving you vulnerable to oxidative stress and free radicals.
A good way to increase glutathione is by taking N-Acetyl L-Cystiene (NAC) packets found in most pharmacies.
Vitamin D3 and K2
On to more vitamins, consume a blend of vitamins D3 and K2, both of which can help with brain injury. Vitamin D and K should really be thought of as one since they work together. The more important point in talking about vitamins D and K is that most people are deficient in these. Deficiencies are associated with significant impairment in cognitive performance.
Decreasing stress in the body
This entails decreasing excess stress hormones produced by the body. Stress can be caused by numerous things, though decreasing stress is paramount around the time of a brain injury and that is why most doctors recommend rest during the initial period and, if severe enough, the patient is put into an artificial coma. The best things to help in this regard are music, meditation, controlling light and noise, getting enough sleep, and patience. This is where having a therapist can pay off as being able to talk about things in a controlled environment can relieve stress.
Nootropics are called smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers. They are said to improve certain aspects of mental function including working memory, motivation and attention. All of these are affected in brain injuries. Many doctors will prescribe nootropics during the period of a brain injury for several reasons.
Amphetamines such as Adderall and methylphenidate help improve performance on memory, control and task completion. Wakefulness promoting agents such as Modafinil increase alertness, particularly in patients with brain injury and sleep deprivation.
Adaptogens increase the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety, and/or fatigue. If you want a ready-made package of adaptogenic herbs, Tianchi is the best on the market.
Magnesium can have neural calming and anti-inflammatory effects and has been shown to help in the treatment of brain injuries. It is an essential dietary mineral, and the second most prevalent electrolyte in the body.
Optimising sleep is complex and has many steps. Apart from the many supplements that exist to improve sleep quality, it is important to be sure that you do not develop apnea, which is one thing that can happen to people who have brain injuries. You can purchase monitors for in-home use to see if you have apnea or not. This would be well worth the investment.
Now, all this refers to when it comes to brain stimulation are the different cognitive training games. Examples are Luminosity and Brainscape. Learning a second language is effective treatment for a brain injury as well. Use an app such as Duolingo.
Information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor nor the treatment you may receive in a hospital. If you have an injury to your head, please have it properly evaluated by a medical professional.
Johnathan (Doc) Edwards M.D. is a veteran physician for the KtM red Bull Dakar rally team. During his medical career he has completed training in anaesthesia, sports medicine, nutrition and massage. Doc Edwards has completed five Dakark rallies as well as many adventure rides and has written a book called Chasing Dakar. he rides a KtM 640 adventure motorcycle and continues to help aspiring rally racers prepare for the Dakar rally.
Ask Dave: ABR’s resident expert of everything bikes answers your questions…
Q. Dave, I have recently given a tired old Honda CRM250AR a new lease of life, with hours of TLC, new parts and lots of heart and soul, I love riding it so much, however as it was more designed for short rides or competitions, the seat becomes somewhat uncomfortable after an hour of riding. Without upgrading to a larger more comfortable adventure bike, is there a way of modifying the seat to make it more comfortable? Phill, Brynmawr
A. Thanks for writing in, Phill, before we do anything, allow me to congratulate you on acquiring one of the best relatively unknown trail bikes about.
While you ask specifically about the seat let’s first look at the minor details that can be easily adjusted to help you get comfortable on the bike. Changing handlebar and footrest position can alter the comfort on any bike quite a bit and sometimes making these small changes will affect how you sit on the bike, taking some of the pressure off ya bum.
Moving the bars closer or further away, raising or lowering them, either by changing for a different bend or using bar risers of some description is a good start. When it comes to footrest position, try out different positions, like higher or lower, or moving them for- ward or backwards. Subtle changes like these make the bike fit you, rather than you adapting to the way the manufac- turer has set it up for Mr Average.
Back to the seat changes then.
There are various products that have been designed with the purpose of adding comfort. Some of these may not be suitable for a trail bike though.
Sheepskin is a favourite, but can get very soggy if you’re out in the rain or riding lots of wet ruts.
Inflatable pads that fix to the seat and can be very easily adjusted are a well used and well liked method of preventing numb-bum and improving long distance comfort.
In the same vain, gel pads that strap on to the seat can be comfortable and easily swapped to other bikes. A great solution if you’re planning on getting a second steed for different occasions.
The more permanent way of improving comfort though is to take your seat to an upholsterer and either have the type of foam changed or better still get a gel pad inserted. This may cost a little and be difficult to alter once set up if it isn’t spot on, but if you get it right it can make a world of difference.
My other suggestion is try some padded shorts from your local cycle shop. It might sound a bit strange at first, but I know many people that swear by this, and it’s a great way of improving comfort without making any changes to the bike. Alternatively, nick a cushion from the sofa and tie it on with a bit of string, job done!
Read More about Phill’s Honda CRM250AR custom build on page 152.
Legal: which trails can I legally ride?
ABR’s legal eagle, Andrew Dalton, takes a look at the legality of trail riding in the UK
The law on green lanes is simple but messy. Your starting point is that a road marked as a byway open to all traffic on an Ordnance Survey map should be OK to ride, but life is never that simple. If you cannot read an Ordnance Survey map, maybe green laning or adventure biking should not be your thing, but if you can read a map, the fact that that the OS shows a byway is half the battle. The next question is ‘is it a restricted byway?’ If it is marked as restricted nothing with a motor can go on it. The next test is does it have a traffic restriction order (TRO) showing no access to bikes or bikes and cars? A lot of green lanes are shut in the winter, some are for motorbikes only, and nothing else with a motor can use them. Check out www.trailwise.org.uk for a comprehensive list of green lanes around the UK and their status.
Bridleways and footpaths are strictly forbidden, as are common areas of land for use by motorised traffic, but the police have limited powers. Riding on bridleways, footpaths or common land is an offence under Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act, but it is a non-endorsable offence carrying a maximum fine of £1,000. The police do have powers of seizure of vehicles for repeat offenders but notice has to be given under Section 58 of the Police Reform Act 2002.
The highways authority must mark out the route and status of byways and they must be marked with reasonable clarity. The test is whether or not a person unfamiliar with the area could route themselves around the byways without excessive difficulty.
The truth of the matter is that the police have no method of policing byways or bridleways, it is respect for the law which stops riders using the countryside illegally. The chances of being prosecuted, in reality, using an off-road route unlawfully with a mud splattered number plate are about nil. However, fall into the hands of an angry farmer with a shotgun and the consequences might be a lot graver than a fine of a few hundred pounds. In my experience and in the experience of others who have been confronted, confrontations can escalate very quickly. Country dwellers know the police are almost ineffective on byway patrolling, so they may take their own somewhat liberal interpretation of the law of self help and trespass.
If you fancy using the UK’s network of green lanes then join your local Trail Riders’ Fellowship – they will know where the legal lanes are and you will find other riders to ride with. I occasionally ride solo on easy lanes on my 99kg AJP 240 but on my 140kg Husqvarna I rarely ride alone – getting pinned down by your own bike if things go wrong is a real risk and byways are often quite deserted.
Andrew Dalton is an ex-despatch rider turned solicitor and barrister with over 20 years experience in the field of motorcycle law. He is a regular motorcyclist running an R1200GS and an AJP240 green laner and a regular European and UK rider with well recognised expertise in both British and European motorcycle law.