Jean Turner

Southwest and Outbound: 2018 GEICO Adventure Rally and Camp

Race seasons are winding down and the holiday season is ramping up… it’s an exciting time of year—new bikes are making their grand arrivals, fall weather beckons you to come play outdoors and one-off events treat us to an annual injection of throttle-twisting antics. The GEICO Adventure Rally and Camp, in an all-new format and location for 2018, hit all those marks and a few more in its latest edition in Julian, California.

This year, the GEICO Adventure Rally took it outdoors in a first-ever camp-style event at a new venue, the Stagecoach Trails RV Resort, marking the Bonnier event’s first visit to Southern California. Perhaps it was the SoCal proximity, perhaps it was the draw of an all-new map and more than 100 new points to discover, or perhaps it was the chance to test ride a fleet of brand new Honda motorcycles, but the 2018 GEICO Adventure Rally & Camp saw a record number of participants, with the rally portion of the event completely sold out for the first time.

Africa Twin and a Stagecoach
Africa Twin and a StagecoachJean Turner

“A record number of riders came out to our new Southern California venue, Stagecoach Trails RV Resort,” said Tonia Troncone, Manager of Consumer Engagement at Bonnier Events, aka the Queen Bee of ADV. “This year we added live music and movies to our already jam-packed activity schedule of test rides, skills tests, classes, vendors and of course, the rally. We couldn't have been happier with the amazing turnout.”

More than 240 ADV Rally participants split into teams and plotted their own adventures, this time extending from two days to a three-day Thursday-Saturday format. As usual, teams base their routes on a map and clue book with geo-points of varying difficulty in order to collect points while tailoring their own custom adventure ride.

The rally portion was scored in large part by REVER, the navigational app created for and by adventure motorcyclists. With geofenced locations, scoring was automated with a challenge leaderboard keeping a tally of all the teams’ points. The Julian location, nestled between the Anza-Borrego desert and the Cleveland National Forest, allowed for a good mix of POI locations, from the sandy desert floor to the Laguna Mountains, stretching from north county, San Diego all the way to the Tecate border crossing.

“The rally caters to riders of all skill levels,” explained REVER’s Blake Conner. “For those that wanted to be challenged, we offered sand, sand and then some more sand, in addition to some black diamond-rated trails that are no walk in the park. For those that didn’t want to chuck their $18,000 ADV bikes down a cliff, we also created some exciting but less demanding blue trails, or for those that really just wanted to take in some scenic vistas, some easier paved locations.”

Alpinestars tent
Hanging outside the Alpinestars tentJean Turner

Even with the rally portion of the event sold out, plenty of day participants enjoyed the base-camp activities alongside rally riders at the Stagecoach Trails RV Resort, such as product demos and displays from our vendors including Alpinestars, Race Tech, Maxima, Motoz Tires, Magura and Moose Racing to name a few. True to the hands-on experience of the ADV Rally, sponsors did more than just showcase their loot. Alpinestars offered free boot demos with an array of styles and sizes to choose from. Some lucky riders also stopped by Race Tech for a quick suspension “check-up” and then pulled into the Maxima camp for a lube treatment. And all the event sponsors ponied up some serious loot for gift bags and raffle prizes.

The test rides from Honda proved to be a major draw of the event, with Big Red offering up a fleet of Africa Twin motorcycles, including several Adventure Sports models—both standard and DCT-equipped—for a spin. The Adventure Rally and Camp marked the first event that Honda offered up test rides on its all-new CRF450L dual-sport, one of the most talked-about bikes of the year.

Fasthouse ready to ride
Fasthouse ready to rideJean Turner

KTM was also on hand to showcase the tantalizing new 790 parallel twin in adventure trim. We know it’s coming, but KTM has yet to release this highly anticipated model. This particular pre-production 790 Adventure was lookie no touchie… unless your name was Quinn Cody. Lucky bastard.

More basecamp activities included the daily skills tests by REVER. The Box, The Curves and The Plank tested the skills of even the most experienced riders, while also providing happy-hour entertainment for the local “peanut gallery,” the group of hecklers that was reliably on hand to point and laugh at the brave contenders. A free basic ADV riding skills course was offered by Lance Thomas from Adventure Brothers, and a more advanced class was hosted by Gary LaPlante from MotoVentures.

When each day’s riding was done, happy hour came courtesy of the Tap Truck, with craft brews on draft by the campfire each night while much-needed sustenance was dutifully provided by Daddy’s Famous Foods.

“This year's event was epic,” exclaimed Tim Collins, Executive Director of Marketing at Bonnier Motorcycle Group. “The new venue is a dream destination. Motorcycles, apple pie and adventure by day, friends, craft beer and tall tales by night. What more could you ask for?"

After three full days of riding, Saturday night’s closing celebration was a big one, not only for those eager to see who topped the points challenge, but for the big ticket raffle items up for grabs. Bridgestone tires offered up a set of its spankin’ new AdventureCross AX41 tires. How new are they? These hoops are barely making their way to U.S. shores right now, but one lucky participant will find a set under his tree this year.

Christmas came early for a number of riders, including the winner of a new set of Alpinestars boots—winner’s choice from the whole catalog. Moose Racing’s Dick Burleson (eight-time National Enduro Champion, Husqvarna legend, King Richard… yes, that Dick Burleson!) handed out some Moose swag. KTM decked out multiple riders with jackets, packs and gear, Galfer doled out multiple parts and accessories, and even more raffle gift packs came from MotoZ Tires, Magura and Maxima oils.

2018 GEICO Adventure Rally and Camp By The REVER Numbers:

Total number of ADV Rally participants: 242
Total number of points to discover: 101
Highest number of POI found by one team: 67
Total number of POI visits: 1,456
Total miles logged by ADV Rally riders: 16,246

motorcycle trip planning
Left: Planning is the key to victory.
Right: Pointing and laughing. It's all part of the Adventure Rally skills course challenge.
Jean Turner
riding the plank
Left: "Riding the plank" is a lot harder than it looks.
Right: Honda brought a sleigh full of toys for the good girls and boys.
Jean Turner
father and son in Ural sidecar
Left: This father/son duo took teammate to a whole new level in their Ural sidecar.
Right: ADV riding skills course by Lance Thomas of Adventure Bros.
Jean Turner
Honda Africa Twin and CRF450L
Left: Honda brought out Africa Twins and CRF450Ls for test rides.
Right: The "Curves" skills test was a popular spectator event. Who put that rock there?
Jean Turner
ice cream break nitwits
Left: Ice cream break and map check in Julian. Bonus points for team shirts.
Right: Happy hour came courtesy of the Tap Truck.
Jean Turner
cowboy jack johnson and apple pie
Left: Cowboy Jack Johnson plays a mean guitar
Right: Whats more American than Julian apple pie and motorcycles?
Jean Turner
campfire and Adventure Rally champions
Left: This is where the bench racing happens.
Right: Adventure Rally Champions: Team Manatee - Eric Watt (Africa Twin) and Greg Albin (R1200GS)
Jean Turner