How to choose the right adventure riding school

How to choose the right adventure riding school

Its been a while since my last post, as I've been setting up the Braaaaaapp Nation off-road Bootcamp in the sunny and warm weathered Portugal.

During this process, I've had some fascinating conversations that I believe will be of great value to all of you, and with that in mind, I will be sharing them in the upcoming weeks as a segment dedicated to off-road schools and teaching.

It should come without saying that as a certified off-road instructor myself, I am quite vocal as to the need for riders to have proper training, after all, without it, riders will never be able to take full advantage of their bikes.

Assuming that many of you agree with me, and with so much offer for off-road training globally, how can you choose the right school for yourself?

How can you guarantee that you will spend your money on high-quality teachings?

I believe you have to follow three rules:

 

  1. Choose a teacher, not a rider.
  2. The curriculum is essential.
  3. Training values need to be seen in perspective.


But what does all of that mean?

 

    • Choose a teacher, not a rider.

We, as humans, tend to be amazed by things we cannot do.

It doesn't matter if it is magic, math skills, flipping a pancake, or in our case, as riders, fantastic riding skills.

Unquestionably, some riders are just astonishing, and when searching for schools to develop our off-road riding skills, it is easy to find coaches and trainers either showing off amazing bike tricks or flexing awards to stand out.

Don't take me wrong, anyone that can do some of the maneuvers I've seen coaches and trainers do, or have competed at a high level in competitions like the Dakar or the Baja 1000, deserves all my respect, as it should yours.

Still, it speaks zero to their teaching abilities.

A good instructor is someone that can guide you from zero to wherever you want to go, and hopefully, even above your expectations.

A good instructor is someone that can help you unlock skillsets when you are stuck in your progress.

A good instructor is someone that can relate to your difficulties, regardless of the level you are on.

Winning races and producing unreal maneuvers speaks volumes to someone's ability to ride, but it speaks nothing about their instructor abilities.

Let me leave you with a name - amongst others - you may have heard, Bill Belichick. 

With 6 Super-Bowl wins as head coach and two more as defensive coordinator, Mr. Belichick has never played one minute of professional NFL football. 

In this context, don't be mesmerized by riding skills.

When it comes time to choose a school to improve your riding, choose one with instructors, not high-class riders.

A good tip is for you to contact the school or instructor directly.

Ask questions, explain what you are trying to achieve, and see the answers.

Good instructors will be able to engage in conversation, guide you over what they can do for you, and inspire the kind of trust you will get when choosing your doctor, for instance.

If the answers seem vague, or it is all chucked as "super-easy" and with no options to suit you and your specific needs, consider steering clear.

Regardless of where you are in your evolution as an off-road rider, if you have difficulties, it is pointless how easy it is for the instructor, it is not for you, and your troubles should never be undervalued. 

    • The curriculum is essential.

An excellent way for you to understand if a school is good or not, and if instructors manage it as opposed to highly skilled riders, regardless of their background, is to check their curriculum.

It is not uncommon this day an age, with the growth of dual-sport and adv riding, to see retired racers and even just great riders with no racing experience opening school days and off-road training weekends.

And there is nothing wrong with those, as they are the gateway for many into the sport, but as far as sustainable training goes, they tend to come short.

A good instructor understands that different students are searching for different skills, are searching for specific skills, and may require different paths to get where they want to go.

That cannot be achieved with one "do it all" class.

High-end schools will usually offer a 3 level program, complement that with specific skills training, and some may even have workshops ranging from mechanics to expedition preparations.

Some will also dive into orientation and maps, not forgetting the all-important short and long trips so that students can practice their skills in the real world side by side with their instructors.

Notice that I did not say anything about the school's facilities, as I do not believe that it is as relevant as their curriculum.

I've met, and even operated school programs out on the field and not in a private facility, and the results were equally excellent. 

Don't take me wrong; it is a lot more comfortable for everyone to be able to have a private location where exercises can be permanently prepared, where there are locker rooms and a place for theoretical classes.

Still, it is not nearly as important as having an excellent instructor with a strong curriculum to teach you.

    • Training values need to be seen in perspective.


With this point, I am not by any stretch of the imagination implying that more expensive schools are better, but there is a price to pay, and even if it looks lavish at first glance, it probably isn't.

Getting certifications for instructors, building curriculums, testing exercises, designing teaching methods, paying for facilities and insurances... all of those and more, not only cost a lot of money but are a considerable time commitment.

When we see the price for a good training day, we only see the tip of the iceberg, and we need to be aware that much has gone into making that training possible.

Schools with poorer curriculums, or good riders trying to make some money on the side with the occasional off-road class, can offer much lower prices.

This means that if you spot significant price differences between your available options, it may be a telltale of what's being offered on the low end, and more in-depth research may be in order.

Now, if a low price may be a sign of concern, a higher value shouldn't be a clear indication of quality.

The best schools around the world tend to charge anywhere between 175 and 250$ per day of training, with some going a bit higher, varying with the number of students per class, and if hosting or rental bikes are needed.

Now let's understand why that is not that much.

Assume you just got a new adventure bike, new helmet, suit, boots, gloves, and you even thrown in some farkles for your new ride. 

If we are talking about a new adventure motorcycle and gear, that will cost you anywhere between 10 and 25k, give or take a couple of thousand.

If you do ten days of training with your bike, which will allow you to go over the full curriculum of most schools, that will cost you anywhere between 1750 and 2500$.

Those values will always be a fraction of the price you paid for all your gear and will give you a tool that will never depreciate or wear out.

Think of instruction not as an extra expense, but as a way to validate every single motorcycle-related dollar you will spend from that moment on.


How to choose the right adventure riding school


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