Simon Pavey is a legend in the GS community, having spent the last 15 years at a dedicated riding school in South Wales teaching thousands of BMW owners how to take their first steps off-road. In January 2015 the Australian fulfilled a long-held dream of his own: to compete in a Dakar Rally with his son, Llewelyn.Because of his success as a Dakar privateer (10 rally finishes so far...) as well as his Chief Instructor role at BMW UK’s Off-Road Skills training academy, the Australian is well known in the BMW Motorrad world. Over the years, he has taught countless GS owners how to ride the dirt – including Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman in preparation for their Long Way Round voyage.In 2015, the school will be entering its 16th year – a fact that Simon is very proud of – and last year saw around 1,000 riders pass through its doors for a wide range of training courses at the incredible 4,000-acre facility in the Brecon Beacons. The starting point for many is the ‘Level One’ Off-Road Skills, where owners from across the globe come and find out just what they – and a BMW GS – are capable of on the dirt.“We’ve developed a really varied programme here and are getting a lot of customers from all over the world. We’ve recently had Brazilians, Indians, Australians, Canadians, Americans and many more doing courses. We’re lucky to have a fantastic off-road park here with such a variety of terrain – I’ve been riding around it for 15 years and I’m still finding new trails. I feel like the school has a great reputation and I’m proud of that. We spend a lot of time choosing and training our instructors, ensuring that they are a lot more than just great motorcycle riders.”Once people have completed the first course, they are usually hooked and many return for levels 2 and 3, where the skill level and technical challenges increase. There are also many other courses to choose from, including skills development days, adventure travel training, an adventure maintenance workshop and even courses for women only. A choice of adventure tours allows GS riders to put the newly-acquired skills into practice in countries like Portugal, Spain and Australia, in conjunction with other BMW Motorrad-approved travel and training partners.With BMW Motorrad’s GS range now offering a choice of seven models in various configurations, and sales of the liquid-cooled R 1200 GS and GS Adventure boxers largely contributing to the brand’s continued record sales success, it’s clear that the fascination for these ‘go-anywhere’ travel enduro bikes is stronger than ever.For anyone with an ambition and desire towards adventure travel, their appeal is simple, yet obvious. Most of the world’s roads are unpaved, so if your motorcycle isn’t capable of riding on gravel, or even badly-surfaced asphalt, then you are seriously limiting where you can go and what you can see. That’s why training yourself to be able to get the best out of your bikes off-road is a ‘no-brainer’, according to Pavey.“If you’re only riding your GS on road, then you’re only scratching the surface of what it is capable of, and are seriously missing out on discovering its potential – and your own of course,” he says. “Training is the first step of discovering the exciting world of adventure riding and the many possibilities it offers. The GS community is a worldwide network of riders all united by their love of this formidable model series. Wherever you ride and whatever your level, you will always be welcome – the most important thing is to take those first steps…”Training and travel aside, it’s still the Dakar Rally that excites Pavey most though, and this year he was able to tick another item off his bucket list when he contested the 2015 Dakar Rally with his son Llewelyn, the first time a father and son pairing have competed in this prestigious race.Simon’s huge experience at the Dakar, in both Africa and South America, was invaluable at this year’s event – which was as tough as any he can remember – and also came with its fair share of drama for both of them. But true to form, Team SP FiFTYONE made motorcycling history and became the first father and son team to finish the rally.“What a Dakar that was, not just for Lel, but also for myself,” he said. “There was intense desert heat, sub-zero mountain temperatures, altitude sickness, dehydration, medical drips, crashes, salt corrosion, blowing oil lines, electrical issues, long-distance towing, deep mud, and much, much more to cope with. But you always know that you have to deal with whatever they put in front of you and remember that if you’re suffering, everyone else is suffering as well!“Even though the Dakar has been a major part of Llewelyn’s life for many years through my efforts, his first attack on the legendary event was all about concentrating, conserving energy and making the finish. It was a tough baptism for fire for him, but he did it – in what will surely be labelled as one of the hardest Dakars in recent history. That brings my tally to 10 and at my age I should know better, but the Dakar is one extreme human adventure that really gets under your skin.”So, the message is simple: get on your GS and learn the skills because there’s a whole world out there waiting for you. And who knows where it might lead…?Find out more about rider training courses offered by Simon at www.offroadskills.com and remember there are courses all over the world also supplied by BMW Motorrad approved training partners. Discover these in the ‘Experience’ section of this website.
February 2015 | © BMW Motorrad
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