“Your skills… uh… I think you need to come to the school,” Dakar legend Beppe Gualini says to me. “You are basic.”
Beppe is head instructor at the Ducati Riding Experience (DRE) Enduro Academy in Tuscany. However, he and a few members of the DRE team are bringing a truck full of Multistrada 1200 Enduro bikes to a few UK locations this summer, offering folks a taste of what to expect if they sign up for one of the courses in Italy.
Just about everyone is offering adventure riding schools these days. In the UK you’ll find schools linked with BMW, Honda, KTM, Triumph, and Yamaha, but Ducati keeps its school in Italy because, you know: Italy. It’s the Italian way of things that if something can be done Italy it obviously should be, because it will be better.
Beppe says his school is different than those run by, say, BMW or Triumph, because instruction is more tailored to the individual rider; courses are not broken into tiers.
“You come to my school, I look at you, I see how you ride, and I keep looking,” he explains. “Maybe you are awful in the morning, but the world’s greatest by the afternoon. Or maybe you still need to work on some things. It is stupid to say you are Level 1 because you haven’t taken a course before, or you are Level 2 just because you have.”
In other words, riders’ skill levels are assessed upon arriving at the school, and that assessment continues throughout the two-day course. So, you don’t find yourself stuck in something that’s too easy or too difficult. I’ll admit, it’s a set-up that appeals to me. I learn at an erratic pace.
I get the sense I would learn a lot if I decided to follow through on Beppe’s advice and attend his school. Taking part in a one-hour Multistrada 1200 Enduro Experience session at last week’s Touratech Travel Event, I found myself picking up foundational skills that I had somehow missed out on when attending both BMW’s and Triumph’s schools.
The course is free and sees riders developing their abilities via a number of obstacles, such as slalom, balance beam, and different kinds of bumps. There is also a short ride out. One of the things I found particularly useful was the emphasis on body positioning – not something that had ever really been discussed at the UK schools I’ve attended.
I think it may also help that the course is run by Italians, who, of course, have a very direct and Italian way of communicating.
“Everything you do is wrong,” one of the instructors, Alessandro, said to me at one point. “Don’t make yourself do something wrong. Don’t keep doing the wrong thing. This doesn’t help you. It’s OK to stop, to think about what you are doing. Then you can do it right.”
In other words, he had identified my tendency to metaphorically bang my head against a wall when flustered. I was weighting the bike as I would on the road, shifting my body into the turn, when I needed to be doing the opposite. (Methinks this behavior may have been partially responsible for my having crashed nine times when I visited the Triumph Adventure Experience earlier this year.) I knew I was doing things wrong but wasn’t taking the time to calm myself and work out how to do it right.
Considering I had taken one- and two-day courses in the past, I was surprised at how much I learned in just an hour. If you have an opportunity to take part in the Multistrada 1200 Enduro Experience, I recommend it. The course is fun, informative, free, and you get a chance to ride around on a snarling Multistrada 1200 Enduro.
It’s worth taking part just to ride the bike. It’s a surprisingly well-balanced machine. I didn’t drop it once, thereby spoiling my previously perfect record for crashing big ADV bikes off road.
The Multistrada 1200 Enduro Experience will be a part of the MCN Festival of Motorcycling in Peterborough on 19-20 May, and the Adventure Bike Rider Festival in Oxfordshire on 6-8 July.