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ADV NewsTouratech Dirt Daze Rally Descends On New Hampshire

Touratech Dirt Daze Rally Descends On New Hampshire

Lush green mountains and views for days. It's East Coast riding at its best!

Published on 11.30.2020

The first Touratech Rally East was in 2015 in Huntingdon, PA. I was there with a small group of friends, and I made a few new ones too. Notably, William Scharovergerg, who at the ripe old age of 82, rode into the event, all off-road, from Rochester, NY on his rallied-out DR650. Roughly 300 miles! He immediately went to sleep, and the next morning gave us all a scare when I jokingly noted: “He might be dead” as I approached the tent and unzipped the rain fly to see if he was alive.

Thankfully, William had overdone it and simply needed about 36 hours to recover. For the rest of the Touratech Rally goers, the trail systems were lacking some difficulty in the Huntingdon area. As a member of one of the areas riding clubs, and keeper of some of the best local trails, those who rode with me got a full dual-sport style ride while the rest of the event attendees had a hard time overdoing it like Will.

After holding the event in the same location for the next couple of years, a big change happened in 2019. Realizing they had a golden opportunity to offer an event with double the impact, Touratech and Dirt Daze joined forces combining both events and promoters.

The 2019 Touratech Dirt Daze Rally was a complete success at their new location in South Pomfret, VT, with challenging trails, excellent training from DART with a full obstacle course, and an entire ski resort to ride around on, but 2020 threw an unexpected curveball. Touratech and Dirt Daze decided to move locations once again! The Fair Grounds in North Haverhill, New Hampshire, would be the newest location of the Rally. The decision to move the event also came as a shock as I know how hard it can be to execute and improve an existing event, let alone change the location again.

With more suspension travel than a KTM 1090R the Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE always raises a few eyebrows when jumping log piles on the obstacle course.
Touratech DirtDaze Rally
Some deep mud holes on the class 4 trails are best skirted on the sides to keep yourself from getting too muddy or even stuck. 

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How come no one told me how pretty New Hampshire is? Lush green mountains and views for days. I thought Vermont was lovely, but NH is a well-kept secret, apparently. The event ran from Wednesday to Sunday and I made the mistake of only showing up Thursday evening to ride Friday and Saturday. Note to future self, I suggest taking off work Wednesday to give yourself time to get up there and experience more of the event.

For Friday’s ride, I made an uncharacteristic decision not to go full out and do the most challenging route, and instead, I downloaded the easiest route to my phone to ride with some friends who were less off-road experienced. Taking my Scrambler 1200 XE out for a road and gravel ride isn’t the worst thing and, as expected, filled most of the day and would have satisfied most new or timid ADV riders.

Touratech DirtDaze Rally
The self-guided easy route on asphalt had the option to go to the top of Mount Washington.

Believe it or not, the best part of the entire Touratech Dirt Daze Rally was asphalt. The self-guided easy route had the option to go to the top of Mount Washington. You’ve probably seen bumper stickers that say, “This car has climbed Mount Washington,” and you’ve also probably said to yourself, “well, that must be lame if a Prius did it.” 

Twenty dollars per bike, and you’re clear for liftoff. With just under 8 miles of narrow, twisting two-lane asphalt, the Mount Washington Auto Road is the best piece of road I’ve ever ridden. With an average 12% grade uphill, there are just absurd amounts of traction, and overshooting one of the hundred hairpin corners would be hard to do on the way up. With a total elevation gain of 4,535 feet, you’ll be moving through the clouds three-quarters of the way up, and you’ll be above the tree line around the same time. Getting there early and on a weekday is recommended to limit the number of other tourists on the roadway, and you’ll get a better chance of having a clear view from the top without the later cloud cover. In short, was it worth the twenty bucks? Absolutely.

Ernie Vigil Touratech DirtDaze Rally
Ernie turned his loaner bike back into Triumph before the skills competition started so I convinced him to ride my Scrambler 1200 XE, and I promised him I wouldn’t post this photo but oh well.

Back at the fairgrounds, Yamaha and Triumph were doing demo rides. Triumph brought fan-favorite Ernie Vigil out to lead demo rides and interact with attendees. He and I discussed plans for ADV bike racing, and later he gave a presentation on the Baja NORRA race efforts with the Scambler 1200XE. Yamaha was doing demo rides on their long-awaited and sold out T7, while Triumph focused on the Tiger 900’s and a few Scrambler 1200’s could be taken for a spin. Honda was not on-site for 2020 but was in 2019.

Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE Touratech DirtDaze Rally
I heard the new Triumph Public Relations guy likes boats too. Good thing the Scrambler sounds good underwater as well as above.

The things everyone asks about at these rallies are weirdly similar to someone asking about a wedding you attended. How was the food, how were the drinks, accommodations, was the DJ too loud? The food was excellent and handled by a well-staffed caterer. Drinks were easy to come by, but I brought my own and shared them with close company. The fairgrounds had a ton of space to pitch a tent, decent bathrooms (more will be on-site next year), and the outdoor showers were great. As for the DJ… well, maybe not the dance floor you were hoping for but I gave a presentation about the day I, and a group of friends almost died due to being snow locked in Nevada (nearly had to push the rescue button on a spot locator) and some other presenters were there as well.

Touratech DirtDaze Rally
Picking the line over the whoops that drop immediately down into the water pit.

Bike games and good hangs were all found back at camp as well. The slow race was won by Mitch Davis this year (not me like last year), and he donated the prize money to Chad Warner’s charity efforts through “Motorcycle Memories, Stories from the Road” only after I guilted him into it. After a decade in the ADV community, you make some incredibly close friends that let you tease them a bit.

Choose Your Route

At the 2020 Touratech Dirt Daze Rally, the guided rides were varied from beginner to advanced, and each route was scouted and pre-ran by the group leaders, one lead, and one sweep rider. 

Touratech DirtDaze Rally
Early in the ‘Let’s get Dirty!’ ride it was clear traction and momentum may be an issue for some.

There were five different guided rides to choose from, with two or three sets of ride leaders taking out groups of eight to 14 riders. For Saturday’s ride, I went for the advanced ride with the “fast” group leaders.

It turns out the “fast” group leaders on the “Let’s get DIRTY!” ride were the same guys I rode with last year in Vermont. So they poked fun at me, asking if my bike was going to break again (I put a hole in my radiator [through the radiator guard] of my Scrambler with less than 500 miles on my new bike last year.) As good as Vermont was, New Hampshire was better. 

Touratech DirtDaze Rally

The day started with some muddy and rocky sections on some downhill trails. Locals would call these class 4 roads or unmaintained roads, more like two-track trails that I would never suggest taking if you’re new to adventure riding or if you were sporting anything less than a 40/60 tire like a Mitas E-07 at the minimum. After the first couple of miles, two of the “Let’s get DIRTY!” ride groups made some adjustments and moved some riders around to accommodate a less skilled group and a more capable group.

Touratech DirtDaze Rally
For most of the hard route a big single like this 690 Rally Kit built bike would be the perfect choice.

Touratech and Dirt Daze have always done a good job of making sure people have fun, and no one is left behind. A massive undertaking and accomplishment for an event of this size. The ride leaders were very efficient and professional at making the distinction between someone who has and someone who doesn’t have what it takes to keep up the pace of the group ride (slow but steady). The return time for the “Let’s get DIRTY!” ride specifically says: “4:00 pm if nobody does sumpin’ stooopid.”

Touratech DirtDaze Rally
Being on a group ride is always safer than going alone. 

The 22% of Saturday’s ride classified as offroad could take 90% of the time depending on tip-overs and getting stuck with these large adventure bikes. Fortunately for me, the “fast” group consisted of only one large ADV bike after the reshuffle. My Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE with MotoZ Desert HT tires and myself are now chasing around the ride leaders on a KTM 500 and an older Yamaha 450. At that point, the pace of the “fast” group was, in fact, moving quickly through the best trails I’ve ever ridden at any of the TT Rally East events.

Later in the day, at the lunch/gas stop, a few friends on BMW 1200 GSAs wanted to join back up with the faster moving group. A few failed hill climbs required some help, and a strangely massive culvert water crossing had to be negotiated with care, but no one was ever in any real danger of being left behind or getting in over their head. We were close to being overwhelmed, but the ride leaders did such a fantastic job pre-running that no rides came back with reports of people turning around or a trail being unpassable. Some gpx files were labeled: version 9. A true testament to the dedication of the ride leaders, making sure everything went as smoothly as possible. We made it back around 5:00 pm if my memory serves me correctly. 

Touratech DirtDaze Rally
The smaller dirt bikes certainly had an easier time on these muddy trails but if you look closely the KTM 990 in the back is doing a wheelie, proving the easiest way to get something done isn’t always the funnest.

The Touratech Dirt Daze Rally 2020 was a much-needed break from the 24-hour news world we have all lived through this year. It was a glimpse at the past (the before fore) and hopefully a reminder of what the future can be. With about 350 people in attendance, we all did our part by staying socially distant and wearing masks. It’s been three months since the event, and no one has reported a case of Covid linked to it. So by just following simple rules, we managed to pull off a great event that left no one sick or left behind, and hopefully, I’ll see you all next year, preferably in New Hampshire, since if you couldn’t tell, I loved it.  

Photos by Bryan Stephan Grimes

Author: Steve Kamrad

Steve 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.

Author: Steve Kamrad
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9 thoughts on “Touratech Dirt Daze Rally Descends On New Hampshire

  1. Pingback: Touratech Dirt Daze Rally Descends On New Hampshire - ADVENTURE & OVERLAND MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL

  2. Great event! Rode a 1200GS from CT. Rode motorcycles in the woods, met new friends,took a lesson,camped out- What is not to love! Can’t wait for next year!

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