Trail Rider Magazine
By Sidney Dickson
“Dual Sport,” what a stupid term. When did that happen? Was it way back in 1989 when some investor yuppie discovered he could actually ride his special “Paris Dakar Alpine Marco Polo Discoverer” (1000cc model) for four miles on a road not fourteen inches deep with reinforced concrete? What a load.
In 1903 George Wyman rode, pushed and carried his motor bicycle from San Francisco to New York City. That was not “dual sport” because then there were not paved roads. After WW I, paved roads started to invade our world. One winter soon after WW II, Jerry Bolt rode his Harley Davidson 45 to Florida, rode the Alligator Enduro, and then rode back home again, back to Pennsylvania or thereabouts. Was that dual sport? How about when in 1958, an American schoolboy took a BSA 250 cc from Grenock Scotland, to Sarajevo Yugoslavia, and back? Was it dual sport when Danny Liska rode his BMW twin from Alaska Arctic Circle to Tierra Del Fuego and then from the North Cape of Norway to the Cape of Good Hope in south Africa in the 1960’s? How about when John Penton used a BMW R27 for an enduro bike? Were these all early examples of so called dual sport? No. The foregoing people were merely motorcycling. In the days before button start and motorcycles as jewelry for the elite, any motorcycle was liable to go on dirt, even a Vincent twin. People have been traveling off-pavement on motorcycles since the earliest days of motor vehicles. More recently, we have gone off-pavement for the same reasons that Danny Liska did in previous decades: it’s the most fun with the least hassle. It’s the hassle part that troubles us now. The public, the government, and we as motorcyclists should not support the idea that our love of riding the dirt is anything new or intrusive.
Off-pavement travel has a long rich history in the USA and elsewhere
We should not have to renew our claim to our privilege and right to use the less-traveled ways that are being closed to us. We fall into a dangerous trap when we accept from the government the “privilege” of riding within closed loop “recreation areas.” Our government would have us riding in ever-smaller circles, until we disappear up our own tail pipes, or turn into butter like Sambo’s tigers. Off-road motor travel is more than just frivolous entertainment or “recreation.” It is a valid form of transportation.
Since 1989, I’ve crossed the continent four times, seeking out the earthen trails. For the moment, it is still realistic for Dave Ely to contemplate riding off-pavement from Salt Lake City to his family homestead in Vernal, Utah. Ron Stokes can plan to follow the Pony Express trail across Nevada to Salt Lake City. It is still possible for Sam Correro to a make a roll chart of a trail, mostly on dirt, from Colorado to his home in Mississippi, and on eastward through Georgia toward the Atlantic. I call my effort to seek out an interconnecting net of off-pavement thoroughfares the American Earthen Trails Project. This is not an organization, a club or a business. I think of it as a movement or a mindset; amounting to the notion that there are public earthen ways throughout the USA; linking coasts and borders. Historically these are and have been thoroughfares, right-of-ways. It has been the right of the public, the people, us, to travel these paths.
We must not allow the government or anyone else to shut us out from traveling established routes – especially across public lands. Legislators and bureaucrats, such as those in the forest service and the BLM, continue to arbitrarily close important thoroughfares such as the forest road from the San Bernardino Forest down the escarpment to Lucerne Valley in California, a critical part of my original cross-country path. Until recently, there was no question about the rights of miners, loggers, farmers, horseback riders and motorists to use old roads. Now we are in a defensive position. We have organized a resistance in groups such as the Blue ribbon Coalition and the AMA. Join these organizations. Send them your money and do your part in contacting lawmakers where that is the appropriate thing to do. Lets become encouraged. We’ve been on the defensive attempting to save the routes we now enjoy. Its time to take the offensive. Let’s get back some of the areas previously closed. Those closings are not the word of God. What the bureaucrats have taken from us they can return. The right to travel off-pavement must be maintained, even if they have to call it “dual sport.” Ride on Dave. Ride on Ron. Ride on Sam. Danny Liska, wherever you are, you ride on too!
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