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ADV EventsKTM ADV Rally: Discovering What It’s Like to ‘Bleed Orange’

KTM ADV Rally: Discovering What It’s Like to ‘Bleed Orange’

 Riding with the pros and sipping 'Orange Kool-Aid' in beautiful Crested Butte!

Published on 10.26.2017


 
All too often I hear that KTM riders swear they “bleed orange.” So, I decided to fly across the country to Los Angeles and ride to the KTM Adventure Rally in Crested Butte, Colorado to paint the town orange. This journey had multiple purposes: Compare the Honda Africa Twin to the KTM 1090 Adventure R (article on the way); Ride the REV’IT! #95 AWD 950 Super Enduro as hard as humanly possible — without crashing it (article also soon to follow); See what this whole “Bleed Orange” thing is all about.

Eleven hundred mixed on-road/off-road miles later, ADV Pulse Senior Editor Rob Dabney and I pulled into the hotel parking garage in Crested Butte. We decided to travel light and left the camping equipment at home. Friday morning I fired up the Honda Africa Twin and rode down to breakfast, parking it strategically in front of the KTM Factory Tent. Fellow New Jersey native, KTM Pro Rider, 8-Time National Enduro Champion, and “Jersey Shore” drop-out Mike Lafferty noticed fairly quickly that I had arrived. “Hey, you can’t park that thing here!” shouted Mike. Mike says we’re friends, but I’m still not sure; us Jersey guys have a great sense of humor.

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado
With so much great riding in between Los Angeles and Crested Butte, Colorado, we took the opportunity to compare the Honda Africa Twin and KTM 1090 Adventure R.

After being persuaded to move the Honda away from the KTM tent, I prepped my gear to head out for a ride on the REV’IT! #95 bike — a true KTM. I downloaded the REVER app to my android phone and loaded up the tracks for the days ride. REVER is the app that KTM used to distribute the routes for the event, it can also track your rides and makes it easy to share your tracks and photos with friends. KTM also provided GPX files for those running traditional GPS devices.

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado

To say that the KTM Adventure Rally is different than any other event would be a disservice. The sheer fact that the venue changes nearly every year makes each event a unique experience. With over 500 miles of tracks and a diversity of terrain from tar and gravel to rocky paths that wouldn’t even be allowed at a moto rally on the East Coast, riders could easily customize their own adventure to their skill level and no rider was left wanting more.

Maybe it was Colorado, or maybe it was KTM’s ‘Ready to Race’ attitude, but the difficulty designation of the “hard” trails were not to be taken lightly. Should you want to improve your skill level, you could always sign up (just like I did 3 years ago) and take some rider training courses from Dakar Rally podium finisher, Baja 1000 Winner and 4x ISDE Gold Medalist Jimmy Lewis, who offered training courses all weekend.

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado

Vendor Row is where just about everything happens at the KTM Adventure Rally. Which makes getting your suspension dialed in by Konflict Motorsports all that much easier. You could also browse luggage options from Wolfman and Mosko Moto, shop for gear from REV’IT! and KLIM, or farkle out your bike with aftermarket parts from Cyclops, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC and Black Dog all within 80 paces from each other.

When it came to motorcycles themselves, you could try any brand you wanted, as long as it was orange. KTM brought a large fleet of demo bikes, including the 1290 Adventure R, 1090 Adventure R, 690 Enduro R, all the way down to their 350 EXC. They even brought a couple of each and were not shy about letting people ride them. Which is refreshing when just about every dealership I know of (except Solid Performance KTM in Downington, PA) would never let you take a brand new bike on a semi off-road test drive.

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado

The most unique and alluring feature of this rally though, is that everyone gets to “Ride with a Pro”…. if they choose to. No other event that I know of does this (or has enough Pro’s on staff to make it a reality) making it even more of a treat for people to learn and be led by a true professional. I was lucky enough to be led by KTM pro rider Mike “The Situation” Lafferty (I lead him around at the Touratech Rally East earlier this summer so he felt obligated to let me tag along with his group). Mike is a fully-accomplished National Enduro Champ and his skills far surpass those of us mere mortals. He claims his days of going fast are behind him, but they aren’t. He recently won a ECEA Enduro Race in the AA Pro Class on his 1090 Adventure R versus 9 other AA Pros on dirt bikes!

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado
Enduro Champ Mike Lafferty was there to offer a helping hand and advice for anyone that needed it in the technical sections.

I’m always surprised by Mike Lafferty; by his friendly nature (to anyone but me), the amount of fun he has on his group rides and by his skills on the big 1090R. Mike took a mixed group of 14 guys out on the “Hard-Short” Schofield Pass route and brought everyone back to camp at the end of the day. He was there to help guide some of the less-experienced riders through the more-difficult sections like the treacherous rocky descents that left no room for rider error, or through a couple deep water crossings. Ironically, the only bike to have mechanical issues on the trail was a Suzuki DR-Z400. No matter though, Mike and his sweep rider got the rally attendee and his bike down off Schofield Pass and arranged for a pick up in the town of Marble.

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado
There were plenty of loose rocks and cliffs on Schofield Pass to get your orange blood pumping (even if you are on a Honda) and the views were beyond stunning.

Marble also happened to be where our lunch stop was. It was surreal to just be in Colorado riding motorcycles, but then throw in a lunch break with a legend like Mike Lafferty, Quinn Cody (4x Baja 1000 Champ), Ronnie Renner (5x X-Games Step-Up Champ), Taylor Robert (3x ISDE Gold Medalist and top Endurocross racer) or Paul Krause (3x Baja 1000 Champ) and that once-in-a-lifetime experience self recognition thing happens and you feel pretty good about all your recent life decisions (that’s the only way I can explain it). This is a style and format every manufacturer should look into and imitate — if KTM isn’t already employing all the top pros, that is.

Riding with a pro wasn’t the only experience that blew me away. I also got the opportunity to ride the REV’IT! #95 Bike and find out firsthand how this custom machine is much more than just a show piece or catalog eye candy. Look for more to come about me pushing it to its limits through Schofield Pass soon.

Crushin’ the REV’IT! #95 Teaser Video. Stay tuned for more!

Post epic group ride and “awards dinner,” some of us rally vets hopped on the Crested Butte courtesy shuttle that runs down into town every 15 minutes from the hotels and back. Crested Butte is a great little town with plenty of options when it comes to restaurants and watering holes. If you do it right (walk into the right bar), it’s a good way to cap off your trip with KTM staffers, vendors, pros and the rest of the ‘orange blooded’ riders you’ve spent the last 60 hours with.

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado
During the awards dinner, KTM had an open mic where anyone could come up and share entertaining stories about what happened on their rides.

One last note about Crested Butte. It’s a small destination ski town and while visiting, I encourage everyone to obey the speed limits and rules of the road. I also want to personally thank Officer Adams for his leniency, discretion and professionalism. I had my second encounter with him in two years (the first time I met him was because of someone else’s riding in the group: Davin, sales manager at Icon Motorsports), but I was assured that next time I’ll be read my Miranda Rights if my paperwork is lacking again. KTM would like to keep relations with all of these locations intact and we, as Adventure Motorcyclists, need to do our part.

KTM Adventure Rally 2017 Crested Butte Colorado
The police are friendly in Crested Butte. Just be respectful and keep speeds down around town.

The 2017 KTM Adventure Rally was an experience like no other; the KTM brotherhood knows no bounds. Imagine returning to work on Monday and saying “I rode with Quinn Cody this weekend!” Sure most of your coworkers wouldn’t understand and pacify you with a “That’s Cool” but you’ll know how cool it really was. I went into the Rally thinking that KTM riders who “bleed orange,” would be standoffish like an exclusive club, but found out that they’re actually an inclusive family. One that’s Ready to Race. The 2017 KTM Adventure Rally sold out with 350 attendees, KTM has not announced the location of the 2018 Rally yet but they say they are considering Utah. Hopefully I’ll see everyone out there next year.

Steve Kamrad Author ProfileAbout the Author: Steve Kamrad has been labeled as a “Hired Gun” by one of the largest special interest publishing groups in America. His main focus now is video content creation as a “Shreditor” (thats shooter, producer, editor all in one nice, neat, run and gun package). If he’s not out competing in a NASA Rally Race you can find him on the East Coast leading around a rowdy group of ADV riders. Some say Steve_Kamrad has the best job in the world but he’s not in it for the money. He’s a gun for hire that can’t be bought and that’s the way we like him.
Photos by Matt Burbach

Author: Steve Kamrad

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12 thoughts on “KTM ADV Rally: Discovering What It’s Like to ‘Bleed Orange’

  1. Sounds like a fun time. Sadly, I won’t be owning a KTM because like so many ADV bikes, THEIRS ARE WAY TOO TALL FOR MY 29″ INSEAM. It’s getting frustrating.

  2. The sweep rider/tow bike was actually me, a participant. I’ve known Mike Lafferty for a couple years and was just helping out if needed. I originally used six 24″ straps and an innertube to get his bike most of the way out until a real tow strap arrived via the real sweep rider. I did drop it once getting him up a hill.

    I rode in from Ohio on that old white 950 with the XXL fuel tanks. I enjoyed event and I’m looking forward to getting away from racing and attending more Adv events in the future. Not sure if you remember who I was since we only did that one ride together.

    Was nice meeting you Steve

    • There were multiple routes for different skill levels as well as taste in what that person considers Adventure including basic gravel road back country touring. Just be advised if the route does state “Hard” or “Difficult”, there will be challenges. On day one there was one guy who turned back when we left the gravel roads and went to the primarily dirt/rock 2 track. Just don’t do what he did and go off exploring on your own, then drop your bike while lost and start walking out because you can’t pick it up.

      It’s not uncommon for one of the ride leaders to ride a person’s bike for them up or over a difficult section. Mike Lafferty told me he typically has to ride at least one bike on each of the events he does. If it’s only 1 or 2, that’s a pretty good indication most guys know their limits. It happened later on during the early stages of day one on the same route above where a guy became stuck on a climb. Mike rode his bike the rest of the way and the stuck rider returned to the bottom on Mike’s bike and made it back up 2nd try.

      Try to get in on one of the Adv classes offered by Jimmy Lewis or one of the other Pros. Jimmy’s class in the Morning is primarily on bike handling then in the afternoon he makes you apply those skills to real world obstacles. At least the one I attended years ago went that path ending in a gravel pit.

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