published at 24.08.2012, 11:02

BMW Motorrad’s leading GS range leads students through Death Valley

The world’s most respected travel enduro range was selected as the motorcycles to help a group of university students complete a six-day, 1,000 mile (1,600 km) expedition through the notorious Death Valley in the Mojave Desert in eastern California.

The nine students from the Southern Adventist University had been given two choices at the outset of their Adventure Leadership Class – an academic route with lots of theory, or the chance to plan an epic expedition that would enhance both their leadership skills and CV/resume. Naturally, they chose the latter…

What followed was two months of planning a big adventure where the group would learn through practical experience and teamwork, just what it took to become outdoor leaders.

Written proposals were sent to BMW Motorrad USA and official training and travel partner RawHyde Adventures in California. Owner Jim Hyde agreed to help the students with the planning and preparation for the kind of training that is necessary in order to ride a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure or an F 800 GS deep into one of the hottest and most inhospitable places on earth. Death Valley is so called because at 86 metres below sea level it is the lowest point in the USA. It is also the driest and hottest, and holds the record for the highest reported temperature in the western hemisphere (134 °F (56.7 °C)).

With BMW Motorrad USA sponsorship that paid for insurance to cover the students while biking, and RawHyde Adventures sponsorship that included the use of R 1200 GS Adventure and F 800 GS motorcycles, on-site training and a staff guide to accompany the group through the desert, it was time for their amazing journey to begin.

Under the guidance of RawHyde’s trainer Lance Thomas, the six-day trip saw the group experience adventures like riding through gale force wind gusts, and being forced to camp out in a sandstorm. The highlight of the trip was the descent into Titus Canyon – a 27-mile (40km) steep and narrow dirt and gravel road that starts in Nevada and ends in Death Valley.

The group returned to the RawHyde ranch with no injuries or bike wreckage – in fact out of a $2,000 budget they had set aside for damages, they only had to replace a single headlight.

With the ride completed successfully, the group spent most of their last day at the ranch helping Jim with various projects, including building a new advanced riding trail for the RawHyde Adventure Academy to use in training.

Safely back at the University, the students can now reflect on a successful project that has provided them with useful leadership skills and a glimpse into the wonderful world of adventure travel, BMW Motorrad style.

“The students stepped up to the challenge,” said Doug Tilstra, director of Southern’s Outdoor Leadership and Education Programs. “By completing this considerable planning project, they have demonstrated the skills of competent outdoor professionals.”

This was a view echoed by Jim Hyde, who was impressed to see how the students handled the BMW bikes and quickly adapted to his teaching methods.

“They picked it up very quickly,” he said. “Statistically, five out of 10 people struggle to learn these kind of skills, so I wondered if their adaptability came from being accustomed to learning as students – their minds seemed so flexible.”

For more information on RawHyde Adventures, visit