At last, a break in the weather in the UK and it could not have come at a better time for me as I went on an off-road riding day with Mick Extance. This was an “all girl” day of motorcycling with Aimee and Eleanor from Kawasaki UK and Suzy from BikeWorld and as we arrived at the location for the day the fog lifted and we had blue skies which enhanced a superb day of riding. Once we had been kitted out with the appropriate gear and boots, we had a comprehensive safety briefing and a session to get familiar with the motorbikes we would be using for the day.
Aimee, who had only previously had an hour of tuition on a bike and Eleanor, who had never been on a motorbike at all !!! both had 125cc bikes, Suzy, who has a tremendous amount of off-road experience, had one of the 450cc’s and I had a 250cc – all of the machines are Kawasaki’s and proved excellent bikes for our varying requirements. The 250 bike I had was very responsive and easy to ride which added to the fun element of the day.
Eleanor and Aimee had around half an hour getting used to the bikes on one of the fields before we set off and I was able to remind myself how it is “ok” for the back tyre to slide around!!! I’ve only had one previous day off-roading and that was with the Yamaha Off-Road school last year and there is such a change of mindset when it comes to riding these type of bikes rather than my usual road bike – as we all know if your are riding on the road and the back end slides you immediately think “oil or diesel” and it’s not a good feeling, but get on an off-road motorbike and sliding is “good”………!!!
Geraint came along to be “unofficial photographer” and general supporter. He joined Alan who was doing the filming for BikeWorld and Graham in the support vehicle for the day, and so was able to enjoy the fabulous views on offer in what is a stunning part of Wales. The tracks we rode on to ascend the mountain were gravel as can be seen from the photo, great fun to ride and set us up for the more muddy sections we would encounter as the day progressed 🙂
Mick and his son Adam gave excellent instruction throughout the day and certainly put us all at ease. Suzy also gave us a lot of encouragement and watching her ride the bike with such ease made it seem less daunting somehow. As Alan was filming the day, Suzy had to re-do several of the sections of track we had already covered to get the right angles etc., and by the end of the morning session she must have covered double the distance the rest of us had!! Just before lunch we were shown a challenging section to ride which firstly descended into the forest down a deeply rutted section to a trail of muddy puddles before having to ascend a track of rocks – I can honestly say I never thought it possible that I would be able to ride it, but………. not only did we all do it we were encouraged to do it twice :-)…… a great confidence booster!
Lunch was provided back at the base location and we then rode back up the mountain tracks and onto a motocross section before riding through the aptly named “puddle alley”!! To me a puddle is something you can step into comfortably in a pair of wellies – but in “Mick’s world” – you need to think on a slightly grander scale! If you had asked me at the start of the day whether I would see myself riding over such terrain I’d have thought you were mad…… but suddenly here we all were not only riding these bikes through the water but thoroughly enjoying ourselves whilst doing it! On the “muddy scale”, Aimee seemed to come off worst but only because Suzy had to pass her to do some filming at one point and this resulted in a mini tidal wave 🙂
When we all returned safely to base at the end of the day our smiles said it all. It had been a physically demanding day but we had learned so much and to have 2 girls riding the terrain that they did today without having any prior experience on a motorbike is testament to how relaxed we were all made to feel.
Would I do it again? Most definitely !