Off road motorbike adventures are the stuff my dreams are made of. The stumbling block; I don’t know how to ride off road. So, when I had the chance to try, I jumped at it.
Walters Arena is 4000 acres of disused quarry and occasionally ‘Walter’ occassionally allows people to ride their motorbikes around it. Over the 4000 acres there is a mixture of gravel and wooded tracks to challenge every level of rider. Plenty to test me.
My off-road experience is unimpressive. Fortunately, I have a good imagination. To the onlooker I am bumping up and down curbs or riding across camp sites. In my head, I’m making easy work of a dry river bed or traversing the Savannah.
Walters is light on refreshments so the lone coffee van draws a small crowd. The terrible coffee doesn’t keep the crowd but the view of the gravel circuit does.
Once into the arena, confident riders putting GSs through their paces, standing on the pegs like trial riders. No learners. My Savannah disappears.
Even though I was the master(ish) of curbs, taking my 800cc Triumph around the track seemed a tall order. I had booked some time on a FE250 Husquavana.
The Huski is light and so tall I could only tip toe the ground with one foot.
My guide pulled away, riding one handed over stones and rough gravel. He watched me instead of where he was going. I felt self conscious and made a couple of awful gear changes. This was going to be a very slow game of follow my leader.
Obstacle one; a 45 degree gravel slope. Stopping wasn’t an option as I couldn’t touch the ground. Even if I could put my feet down it would be like stopping on marbles.
Only one thing for it; I twisted the throttle as far as I dared, the tyres dug in and very obligingly, the Huski popped up the hill without a complaint. I had to stop myself patting a thank you on the tank with glee. From slow to pro. Then back to slow again when I was overtaken by a swarm of GSs.
We continued round the track. The marble sensation of the gravel became less daunting and we completed two circuits including section through the woods.
Rejoining the crowd at the coffee van I watched the experienced riders and if I was to get any closer to my off-road adventure, it was time to take the Tiger round. It wasn’t, fancy and it wasn’t fast, but I practiced until I could complete a lap standing on the pegs. Only just off the learner mark but another step closer to my off road dream.