8. BMW R1100GS, circa 1996

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Before the WWW ruined the motojournalism lifestyle, they turned me loose on one of these for a week (maybe two) to ride to Colorado. Not only was the original GS a great bike for getting there (but not back), it also gave me great confidence when I got to Colorado and started blasting around its dirt backroads. Say, why are all these puddles still back here in July? (It never rains in California in the summer.) I even got the wife to fly into Durango for a little couples therapy and some trout fishing! Let’s take this dirt road that goes along the Animas River!

It was all going great even after the dirt road turned into single track, but when the dirt turned to slick goo after an unexpected afternoon deluge, things went to hell quickly: I slid the BMW’s rear tire off the trail and the rest of the beast followed amazingly quickly behind it, tumbling downward through the wet underbrush before landing with a tremendous splash in the river below, wheels up and steaming. Not only was I not getting the bike out of there, neither was anybody else except a party on horseback with a sling and a helicopter. Whoops. It was a long walk out that’s fun to laugh about now. Okay it’s not.

Moral: Know what the climate’s like, or might become like, when you take off into the unknown on an adventure.