[WLF] PRO-Files: Amelia Kamrad - 05

RIDER: Amelia Kamrad

RESIDENCE: lawrenceville, New Jersey

GARAGE: 2011 husaberg fe390

RIDING TYPE: DUALSPORT - ENDURO - OFF-ROAD

 

Amelia Kamrad // RIDING HISTORY:

My parents always say that all my activities as a kid required a helmet (or should have) - horseback riding, bike riding, climbing, etc. Although I had a passion for difficult, dangerous sports, I wasn’t the most coordinated kid on the block. Numerous injuries later, including a broken wrist while running track in high school (yes, really) and a narrowly avoided knee reconstruction after a horse stepped on me, and I think my parents gradually realized that I was determined to learn how to bounce, toughen up, or find glory.  So when I rolled up on my then-boyfriend’s ‘74 CB 550 with my learner’s permit in hand in 2008 they chalked it up to another dangerous hobby and crossed their fingers behind their backs. 

Linking the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route path that we had chosen to the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route required a few highway miles. This is the approach to Valley of the Gods, Utah.

Linking the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route path that we had chosen to the Utah Backcountry Discovery Route required a few highway miles. This is the approach to Valley of the Gods, Utah.

This classy, egg-plant colored import was a bike that my boyfriend, Steve, and his father had pulled out of a garage in pieces a few years before and cobbled back together. It was love at first sight for me. Many sweaty summer hours were spent practicing on the aging, uncooperative clutch in an abandoned parking lot outside of Trenton, NJ. I shared this parking lot alternately with Trenton thug street-bikers practicing wheelies on their brand new Ninjas and cop cars that didn’t even question my motives once they saw a few of my cone exercises. A few weeks later I was the proud new owner of a motorcycle endorsement on my license and no motorcycle to my name. 

While I dabbled here and there over the next few years with perfect weather Sunday rides on bikes that weren’t my own, I didn’t have an all consuming passion for riding and was equally content to sit two-up behind my now-husband, savoring the chance to hug him for hours at a time. 

Riding the Seven Mountains Conservation Corp’s (SMCC) Trails (and bike) near State College, PA.

Riding the Seven Mountains Conservation Corp’s (SMCC) Trails (and bike) near State College, PA.

Six years later he took his Triumph Tiger Roadie (purchased for this two-up style street riding) off-road and came home grinning. The next available weekend he borrowed his little brother’s beat-up DR 200 and promised me that we’d start with an easy trail. The coaching he provided was limited to ‘try to stand up’ as I suited-up in my street helmet and sneakers. With that, we puttered off down a single track trail. Of course, that trail quickly devolved into ledges, sand, water crossings, and hill climbs - torture for a newbie and a guy on a Tiger still equipped with street tires. For the next hour we battled through the wilds of Pennsylvania; vindictive thorn bushes, octopus-armed rhododendron, angrily-angled roots, ruts older than father time. We traveled all of 1.5 miles before turning around to make our escape. I didn’t know any better than to assume this was what Dual Sport riding was all about; I was hooked. 

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What followed was a series of quick forays into the wild for another hit of fear-inspired adrenaline; skipping across rockfalls on the DR like I was riding a pogo-stick, melting my pants in fall after fall, screaming in my helmet as I followed my husband down yet another trail with a cliff drop off and huge rocks. We were in over our heads and loving it.

EVENTS

Once I managed to get my gear and bike together (riding a BMW G650GS at this point), I began attending ADV and Dual Sport events.  Not only did these events give me the relative safety of prescribed routes with difficulty ratings, sweep crews, gas stops, and fun options, it gave me the chance to meet other, like minded riders. I have never attended an event in any other capacity of life, be it a work event, birthday party, networking session, etc. where literally everyone there was willing to talk to you, wanted to chat about what you rode that day, and had words of encouragement for you - no matter if you’re at an ADV event, a Dual Sport event, an Enduro event, or anywhere in between. While some might pass this off as the 50 to 1 male to female ratio at these events, I chalk it up to good vibes.... Those good vibes and great trails quickly had my husband and I riding out to events weekend after weekend - as far south as Tennessee, as west as Ohio, and as north as Vermont. We made friends with riders from Charleston, South Carolina who insisted on riding the 9+ hours to events in PA (one of whom is racing in the 2017 Dakar this year, check out @wolfeyracing), from Rochester, New York who cook steak dinners from the back of their bikes, and a woman from Maine who quit her job and is riding around the country - all of whom I can confidently say would help change a stranger’s tire on the side of the trail, willingly let you lead them into the unknown, and drink a beer with you at the end of the day.

Enjoying the mud and rain in Hunter, New York.

Enjoying the mud and rain in Hunter, New York.

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THE ‘BERG

While I enjoyed riding to these events with all my gear on my bike, it quickly became a concern of how we’d get home if anything on the bike broke (I still have a dayjob to get to, man). After we helped a friend replace his clutch at midnight at one such event so he could ride home 7 hours, we started trailering more often.

At this point I started questioning my choice of the ‘larger’ bike - the 650 BMW. If I didn’t need to make it there on the highway, why was I picking up a 450lb bike in the woods? After much debate, and commandeering a few people’s bikes at events for a parking lot test ride, I sold the BMW and purchased a 2011 Husaberg FE390. Husaberg produced these bikes (notable for a 70 degree, almost horizontal cylinder) for a few years after being purchased by KTM, but eventually stopped all production. This used bike offered me pre-scratched panels and low hours; exactly what I was looking for. On a lighter bike I could manipulate steering way more effectively with my legs, I could pick the thing up when I made bad choices on the trail, I could fit down single track, and it sounded awesome. It was love at first braap.

At 5’7” I could barely manage getting my big toe to the ground on this bike when I bought it. As soon as I got it home I bought a low SeatConcepts seat which, paired with a lowering X-bushing, gave me nearly 2 inches - just enough to get one half-foot to the ground. I should note that even with these mods the ‘berg’s seat height is still higher than a stock Husky fe350 when side by side. That and the addition of some fold away mirrors and I was ready to get ripping.

On the ‘berg I ride more aggressively and can finally out-ride my husband on his frankenstiened Tiger Roadie every once in a while (his adventures are at @steve_kamrad on instagram). While there is a tendency at ADV events to judge those who don’t ride there, and a range of awe/shock at Dual Sport events when dirtbikers find a Tiger in their path, I think it’s super important to find the bike that fits your style of riding (even if it is a yellow DR 200 with very little power and much pogo-stick action). And if you’re lucky enough to have a second string in your garage, more power to you. Can I borrow your GS sometime?

ON GIRLS RIDING OFF-ROAD

I’m often stopped at events by guys asking how they can get their wives into dual sporting, or lamenting that their girlfriend won’t camp. While I volunteer to personally show up and cheer on any woman who wants to start riding off-road, I think there has to be at least a little bit of curiosity and grit in your personality to enjoy this sport. And while I’ve seen all ranges - manicured beauties ripping up hill climbs and casual chicks doing dirt donuts - the one unifying factor is a passion for the experience. Future dual sport women don’t just love the idea of riding dirt, they’re willing to clean mud out of their hair, work with the frustrating hydration packs, model the grotesquely shaped women’s chest protectors and learn from the dudes they’ll inevitably ride with. If she does show interest get her to an event so she can experience it, ideally one with a off-road class involved so she can learn the basics, and get hold of a beater bike, preferably low powered, that doesn’t require a supermodel length inseam.

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Scrambling up Jughandle Trail outside Moab, Utah on our way to ride the White Rim Trail.

Scrambling up Jughandle Trail outside Moab, Utah on our way to ride the White Rim Trail.

However, the biggest thing that I wish those women (and men!) starting out riding could experience is the encouragement. Contrary to my early ideas and misconceptions, I wasn’t surrounded by a bunch of angry dirtbikers trying to get round me on my first foray into the woods. It’s much more likely you’ll have a group of riders stop to help you (and yes, cheer you on!)  than to give you grief for going too slowly. From Vermont to Tennessee and as far west as Colorado I’ve only ever experienced positive, enthusiastic encouragement from fellow riders. I feel accepted into this amazing riding community and I wish there were more women riding on the east coast that could take part in it with me! Feel free to message me!

BIG ADVENTURE

I’ve met people from all over the country at these events who I wouldn’t hesitate to ride a few more miles with given the chance. 
Last fall one such bro-hammer (@carlos_barrios_adv) my husband and I met at an earlier event called us up and pitched a Colorado/Utah ‘best of’ BDR trip for the Summer of 2016. He didn’t even get the words out before we had signed on. We spent six and a half days riding in some of the most jaw-dropping scenery on the most epic of trails with three guys from Rochester, NY.  The guys we rode these Backcountry Discovery Routes with were virtual strangers when we got into that pickup truck to trailer out to Colorado Springs, but somewhere in between the altitude sickness, bike maintenance and primitive camping wake-ups, and in between the trying-not-to-die on the White Rim Trail in July (at 108°F), injury maintenance, and gas stops, we each had one of the best experiences of our lives. There is no doubt in my mind that anyone who wants to do a trip like this can find like-minded riders to experience it with and have an equally eventful trip. The first step is making it out to an event near you to meet fellow riders.

(Right to Left)Carlos Barrios, Steve Kamrad, Amelia Kamrad, Ron Willie and Marcin Suchodolski shown at Engineer Pass, Colorado. Day 3 of our 6.5 day trip.

(Right to Left)Carlos Barrios, Steve Kamrad, Amelia Kamrad, Ron Willie and Marcin Suchodolski shown at Engineer Pass, Colorado. Day 3 of our 6.5 day trip.

SMCC Boys

One of the awesome groups of people I met while at one of these events were the guys from the Seven Mountains Conservation Corp. These guys run a non-profit dedicated to sustainable use of the trails in middle-Pennsylvania, and are passionate about dual sport motorcycling. Not only can they loop together a wickedly good route through the trails in and around Bald Eagle State Forest for the various events they coordinate (check out the @AltRider Conserve the Ride for big bike friendly trails that range from easy to arm-pump hell - or the Seven Mountains Dual Sport Ride for a more enduro style bike focused event), but they’re also committed to ensuring these trails stay open. With more and more state recreation departments moving to close trails or kick out motorcyclists it’s super important that we support groups like this, not only with donations or membership, but with our time. A lot of these groups are run by a few individuals and the amount of work they tackle is astounding. By showing up at a volunteer trail maintenance day you can help them to keep those trails in rotation and ensure that these guys get to make it out on the trails for some riding time of their own.

The early days of off-road for me in Bald Eagle State Forest, PA on my BMW 650GS.

The early days of off-road for me in Bald Eagle State Forest, PA on my BMW 650GS.

MORE HISTORY

My parents still seem to view my riding with a little trepidation. I’m sure they must be wondering how I’ve managed to not scare the crap out of myself yet - little do they know it’s a daily exercise I participate in enthusiastically.

My dad has always drawn parallels of my activities with those of my late-grandfather; when I started riding horses, dad regaled me with stories about his time in the British Cavalry in India; he was part of the 13th/18th Hussars (the mounted band).  So it was with a great flourish he produced a picture a few months ago after delving further into Grandad’s military career. Instead of showing Grandad on a beast of a horse, this picture showed his unit with, of all things, motorcycles. Turns out that in 1939 the British army was realizing they didn’t need quite so many mounted men during World War II and decided to transition the 13th/18th Hussars from horses to some new technology; Royal Enfields. They were given motorcycles and told to learn how to ride them - then set loose in the wilds of Dartmoor to figure their bikes out. I can’t help but feel a little closer to my bike and to my grandfather knowing this. The history there just makes riding that much better. 

“The band was to form the Regimental motor-cyclist troop. But, when nineteen new motor-cycles arrived, there were no instructors available. Each bandsman, therefore, was told that he was to be given a motorcycle as a birthday present. The official handbooks and instructions were issued and dates laid down on which tests and inspections would be carried out. The bandsmen were instructed to find for themselves ways and means of learning to ride and maintain their motor-cycles.” Miller, Major-General Charles H., History of the 13th/18th Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own) 1922-1947. Chisman Bradsaw Ltd, London 1949  -  James Albert George Nunn (Amelia’s Grandfather), shown fifth from left

“The band was to form the Regimental motor-cyclist troop. But, when nineteen new motor-cycles arrived, there were no instructors available. Each bandsman, therefore, was told that he was to be given a motorcycle as a birthday present. The official handbooks and instructions were issued and dates laid down on which tests and inspections would be carried out. The bandsmen were instructed to find for themselves ways and means of learning to ride and maintain their motor-cycles.” Miller, Major-General Charles H., History of the 13th/18th Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own) 1922-1947. Chisman Bradsaw Ltd, London 1949  -  James Albert George Nunn (Amelia’s Grandfather), shown fifth from left

Outside of the epic adventures and events, you can find me out riding pretty much every weekend during the riding season and even in the winter when the weather breaks. Winter time gives me the chance to ride in the NJ Pine Barrens with less heat and traffic - and a chance to beef up on riding in sand. In the summer if I’m not at an event on the East Coast I’ll be out in the woods in Bald Eagle State Forest doing some more of those perfect-weather Sunday rides, albeit on dirt this time.  Steve and I create a yearly calendar in the late winter of each year with our plan of attack to hit the most events possible. We’ll hit about 20 events this year, assuming no bike or person injuries. 

I’ve also been chosen to represent REV’IT! In their first ever female sponsored riders team in 2017. This means I’ll get to test out REV’IT!’s ADV gear designed specifically for women alongside four other awesome ladies from around the US. I spend more time in my moto jacket and pants than in any other single item of clothing, so it’s super important to me that it’s comfortable - not so with my first few generations of (men’s!) ADV gear - and durable (I still manage to hit the ground more often than I’d like). I have to say I’m looking forward to getting back into a properly fitted jacket (without a horrendously shaped chest plate!!).

Recent riding in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey testing out the new REV’IT! Gear.

Recent riding in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey testing out the new REV’IT! Gear.


AMELIA KAMRAD IMAGE GALLERY - CLICK Images TO VIEW


As far as broadening our riding horizons - I’ve really wanted to head outside the US to ride - I just got back from a trip to South Africa last April and cannot wait to head out there again, this time with some contacts who can help us get bikes and trails sorted. In the meantime, this last trip to Colorado shows that there is so much riding to do within the US and I can see a trip out west becoming a yearly pilgrimage. However, as an East Coast girl I can’t knock the opportunities to ride that exist in the northeast, especially if you can get to know a local rider who will show you those un-discoverable trails that get your heart rate going. Out here we have multiple rides available to us every weekend all within what we consider to be a short trip (3 to 5 hours from home). Chances are if you’re attending one of these events you’ll see us out there - come grab a post-ride beer with us!

Love at first sight: my 2011 Husaberg FE390.

Love at first sight: my 2011 Husaberg FE390.

[WLF]

MESSAGE FROM THE TEAM:

We want to send out a huge THANK YOU to Amelia! Even though she rips it up clear across the country Amelia and Steve have always been a huge support of WLF! We don't get to see too much seasonal change here on the west coast, we need to get out to the east side and hit up some of this amazing terrain! Make sure to check out Amelia's Instagram page and give her a shout!

 

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