Ken Condon

5 Lessons of AltRider Conserve the Ride Rally

Broken footpegs, bananas in tailpipes, and a fire.

I’m a relative newbie when it comes to adventure bikes and I’m even greener when it comes to ADV gatherings. I heard about previous AltRider “ Conserve the Ride” rallies and saw videos of riders extracting a serious amount of adventure from their ADV bikes. It was time to see what it’s like in person.

With a bit of apprehension I load my Tiger 800 and point the F150 toward the Blue Mountain Resort in Palmerton, PA. Four hours later I am pitching my tent on a grassy field at the base of some dauntingly steep ski slopes.

Blue Mountain location
The Blue Mountain location is new this year and proved to be a great spot for eating, drinking and camping after a day dodging rocks and mud.Ken Condon

In case you didn’t know, AltRider is a company that makes protection parts for larger dual sport and adventure bikes. As a side thing, the company also organizes a small number of riding events on both coasts. Co-founder and President Jeremy LeBreton says “AltRider isn’t an events company, but we do host a few call-to-action events each year to motivate Americans to get out on their bikes and introduce off-road riding to the next generation”.

AltRider
Four separate groups converged upon this intersection. To the left is a fun big bike loop with long puddles and single-track go-arounds. To the right is slimy mud and baseball-sized granite rocks. Fun!Ken Condon

Friday night before the ride we get to hear Dakar racers and instructors Bill Conger and Angelo Vlcek tell tales of epic victories and failures. Before we break for the night, LeBreton gives a pre-ride talk and then we divvy up into advanced and intermediate groups. I added my name to a list of riders wanting to chill on the intermediate route.

The next morning our gaggle of bikes staged to take off. Our group consisted of two R1200GS’s, three Tiger 800s, a F800GS and a brave soul on a Versys 1000, all with 50/50 tires.

AltRider ADV rally
Ready to launch.Ken Condon

The morning GPX route leads us onto some twisty paved roads, but only a few off-road sections. After lunch my group decides to up our game and follow the Advanced PM route. A few miles up the road we turn onto a dirt road that leads us to a fairly steep, rocky hill. It turns out I am one of the more experienced off-road riders in our group, so I lead the ascent. My Tiger tractors up the hill as loosened rocks loudly smash against my aftermarket skidplate.

AltRider ADV rally
Steeper and rockier than it looks. A cinch on an enduro; a challenge on a 500 pound Adventure bike.Ken Condon

At the top, I look back to see…nobody. Uh, oh. I dismount to determine if a rescue is in order. I hear motors struggling up the hill so I wait. Eventually all riders make it to the top with the only casualty being a broken left footpeg mount off the Versys. With no hope of repair, the Versys is doomed to end the day early. A fellow Tiger owner volunteers to do escort duty and the rest of us continue on.

After a full afternoon of adventuring over more rocks, mud, and even through some single-track we decide to head back to camp. We were told the most direct way home is through a quagmire of muckiness. The good news is there is an alternative flat, two-track path. The bad news? It is surfaced with a deep layer of sharp baseball-sized granite rocks. We chose the rocky poison and motored home a bit white knuckled, but without incident.

We return satisfied to another warm meal and cold kegs of Brooklyn Brewery’s best hops. The flowing suds primed the pump for telling tales of heroic glory and/or epic defeat around the campfire.

Bonfire on a motorcycle rally
Bonfires are obligatory for end-of-day recounting of glory and defeat.Ken Condon

So, here's what I learned from the AltRider Conserve the Ride rally:

  1. Small rallies make it easy to meet new friends. With less than 100 attendees the atmosphere is intimate and welcoming.
  2. Participants have a wide range of experience and ability. AltRider uses sign-up sheets to match equally skilled riders to appropriate routes.
  3. Eastern PA has some challenging roads and trails. Providing GPX files beforehand makes navigation easy.
  4. Determined riders on big ADV bikes can get through some pretty rough stuff. Plenty of people are there to help if things get too rough and your bike decides to take an unplanned mud nap.
  5. Pennsylvania storms can be biblical. If you want a dry place to sleep, make sure you have some seriously beefy tent stakes and a hammer to drive them into hard ground.
ADV motorcycle rally tips
Tigers, trucks, and tents: what adventure rallying looks like.Ken Condon

Conserve the Ride is an intimate and relaxed adventure/dual-sport rally whose goal is to expand off-road riding awareness. For $300.00 you get two nights of camping, catered food, self-guided routes ridden with others of similar skill, a friendly atmosphere with evening presentations, a bonfire and free beer. For an ADV newb, the Conserve the Ride rally was a perfect introduction. For more info check out www.altrider.com.

AltRider
What good are new friends without some hazing? Part of the draw to rallies like this is the fun atmosphere.Ken Condon