Backcountry Discovery Routes Provide Free Resources to Adventure Riders – And They Want to Help

Anyone who enjoys riding dual sport or adventure bikes should visit the website of Backcountry Discovery Routes (BDR) at www.ridebdr.com.  BDR is a non-profit organization whose mission is to establish and preserve off-highway routes for dual-sport and adventure motorcycles. Through education, advocacy, and promotion of responsible motorcycle travel, BDR seeks to preserve backcountry motorcycling opportunities for generations to come.

After riding an Oregon backcountry route nearly 10 years ago Paul Guillien, President and Co-founder of BDR, wanted similar opportunities elsewhere.  So, he and others decided to map a comparable route in Washington, then in Utah.  From there it became clear that there was a need to establish a non-profit to create and promote adventure bike routes in States across the country and BDR was born.  The vision of BDR was to identify and map routes and to provide GPS tracks and planning information free of charge to riders.    

Initially, Paul described the organization as a “scrappy group of volunteers” who worked tirelessly to identify routes and to promote safe and responsible use.  Then, about six years ago BDR was able to hire a full-time staff person, Inna Thorn, not only to oversee operations but to generate funding.  BDR has several avenues to raise funds including industry support, a supporter program, corporate sponsorships, State tourism grants and an annual fundraising event.  BDR also accepts one-time donations from individuals here.

Despite Inna’s strong presence, Paul still refers to BDR as “powered by volunteers.” The Board of Directors are volunteers, as well as the overwhelming majority of those who provide the on-the-ground scoping and mapping of routes.  Volunteers also represent BDR at trade shows, conferences and in meetings with land managers.

When asked about how BDR engages with land managers, Paul said “to some degree, we fly under the radar as we use routes that are already open and legal to ride; however, we understand that BDR needs to be involved in advocacy as closures threaten us as they do other OHV enthusiasts.”  While in some ways adventure riders are insulated from some of the concerns of other types of OHVs, they still face losing opportunities from massive National Monument and Wilderness designations and other types of loss of access.  Further, their favored routes are often those that are used the least, making them a target for land managers with limited resources and budget. 

As a result, Paul believes it is important for BDR to form partnerships with NOHVCC and other OHV organizations saying, “too many trails and routes are being closed to motorized uses.  BDR wants to partner with others who are fighting to keep things open.  We have passion, a budget and a following who is wiling to engage, let’s work together.”

Like NOHVCC, BDR espouses a responsible ethic. Paul said BDR believes that all riders should “Be responsible stewards of public lands – don’t speed, stay on legal trails and routes, be respectful to local communities and, if you open a gate close it before leaving.”

It is also important to note BDR’s commitment to safety.  In addition to supporting the use of all appropriate safety gear, riding with others and making sure riders have adequate technology to facilitate communication, BDR has a campaign to “Ride Right.”  On routes in remote areas it can be easy to assume that no one else is coming from the other direction. This may entice some riders to ride side-by-side with another rider – a dangerous practice which could lead to a collision.  Ride Right is an initiative to encourage riders to stay on the right side of routes.  More information can be found here.

BDR’s website features mapped routes in 9 states or regions – and provides GPS tracks of those routes free of charge to anyone who wishes to use them.  They also publish a high-quality waterproof Butler Motorcycle Map, a feature-length documentary film and travel resources for each route.  Just visit the website to take advantage of the hard work of BDR’s volunteers!

NOHVCC believes “a rising tide lifts all boats,” and is excited to work with BDR to protect OHV access. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.