By Heather Wilson
The KTM East Coast Adventure Rally, a stop on the KTM AMA National Adventure Riding Series, presented by Kenda Tires, this past weekend offered challenging terrain and gorgeous routes. The event, hosted by Pine Barrens Adventures, was held in Snowshoe, W.Va., May 18-20.
As the KTM East Coast Adventure Rider Rally, the ride was a special treat for participants. KTM staff members were onsite with the demo rig, along with other companies, including: Magura, ADVmoto, Appalachian Off-Road Motorcycle Company, Eurosport Asheville and Solid Performance.
The event drew 60 participants, plus about 15 crew members, who braved the terrain. The participants rode a variety of adventure bikes, from KTM 450 EXCs to BMW 1200 GSAs.
Jack O'Connor, owner of Pine Barrens Adventures, traveled from New Jersey to West Virginia multiple times to organize the event. Satellite phones and devices were critical, as much of the area did not have cell service. Safety checkpoints were setup along the route, as well as sweep riders.
Friday was a taste of the routes to take place on Saturday and Sunday. It was approximately 80 miles long with a mix of dirt and road. The participants gathered for a catered dinner in one of the lodges atop Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Each day, breakfast and dinner were served as a part of the rally package, and riders gathered to tell their stories from the day.
The weather wasn't very cooperative on the mountain, with rain and thick fog every day. However, if you rode down the mountain, it was a clear and great for riding.
Event participant Jeff Shaw of Baltimore, Md., said both the paved and off-road sections were amazing.
“Sadly, for most of the ride, the beautiful scenery was just a blur,” Shaw said. “But this was no sight-seeing tour for us. Dozens of contiguous miles of groomed off-road gravel and tacky and mildly rocky dirt two-track terrain with 180-degree switchbacks having rapid elevation changes and no dust. The breathtaking roads had many high-banked corkscrew elevator sections where steep leaning right and left turns were an ear-popping thrill. These extremes were sensationally linked together using GPS tracks, one after another, after another.”
Shaw said that stitching this all together must have taken considerable time, study and talent.
Saturday boasted 180 miles of riding, 70 percent off-road.
I’ve now laughingly dubbed myself a “pro adventure passenger,” as I rode as a passenger at the KTM Adventure Rider Rally in Colorado last fall (read about that trip here). At this event, I rode two-up with one of the KTM district sales managers, Brad Skelton.
While most riders’ average speed was around 25 mph average, our group’s pace tended to be much faster. It was exhilarating and exhausting. One recommendation I do have for passengers is to get wider and more grippy aftermarket footpegs.
I even got to try my hand at the controls of the KTM 1090 Adventure for the last half hour of the ride with my riding buddy on pillion. It was quite an experience (and a sight!).
Mike Baum of Charleston, W.Va., said he had an absolute blast.
“As a West Virginia rider, I was impressed by the GPX loops,” Baum said. “Pine Barrens Adventures hit the highlights for the area, and it’s the first time I’ve rode with any kind of support structure. Definitely a new experience.”
Riders tackled 190 miles of terrain, 60 percent off-road, on Sunday.
“I couldn’t be happier for the first time at Snowshoe," said O'Connor. “The area has the best adventure routes on the east coast, and we used mostly the dirt roads through national forests and wilderness areas, connected by great pavement sections. The weather cleared up perfectly for us, and a positive was that there wasn’t any dust.”
Pine Barrens Adventures is slated to host three national adventure rides this year. O’Connor said, “Next year will be even better.”
The 2018 series is sponsored by KTM, Kenda Tires, ADVmoto, IMS Products and Seat Concepts.
To view the full KTM AMA National Adventure Riding Series schedule, visit americanmotorcyclist.com/Riding/Adventure-Riding. Be sure to follow the series' official Facebook page at facebook.com/AMAAdventureRiding. Post your photos from the events on social media using #AMAadv.