Facebook Sessions: Neville Cooke

TRF

OK, so lets start nice n easy. What was your first experience of motorbikes? Do you remember the first time you ever rode one?

Nev

Yep easy one that. It was a stripped down scooter on a field - my mates had acquired it and one of them showed me how to ride. It was not moving so I gave it full throttle and let the clutch/brake out and it took off hit a ramp and went skywards. Ouch!

TRF

Cheers Nev, an interesting introduction! Perhaps one that others will relate to. So lets skip forwards a few years. How did you first hear about the TRF and what made you want to become involved? What was the world of trail riding like back then?

Nev

I have always had a motorbike since the age of 16. Passed my test on a 250 aged 17 and bought a 650 Kwak the next day, had odd dirt bikes DT125, er 250 Suzuki just for a bit of fun. The TRF bit came about by accident we were having some mild winters so I got into big trail bikes. First a Tenere 600xt then a Kwak KLX 650. Just for riding on the road. My mate had a XR500 and encouraged me to go out with him. Not such a good idea on road tyres. Another “ouch” Moment! Anyway he/we would ride anywhere and everything and neither of us knew what was legal. When I had my final big off I along with another mate picked up a pair of XR 400's and we then decide to join up as my mate had a mate in the TRF. Unfortunately this was all after NERC so we now ride what’s left!

TRF

So, I guess at first it was just a case of ride anywhere which is maybe a lot of people's attitude when they first pick up a dirt bike. What changed? Why don't you subscribe to that attitude now? What is it about the TRF that makes it important for you to fight to keep lanes open legally?

Nev

It was as if “I had seen the light” sort of moment and only started riding legal lanes. It did mean I had to make the choice of who I rode with but gradually most of my riding buddies come round to my way of thinking and one of the first questions I ask when I meet someone for the first time “are you in the TRF?”

TRF

Ha! I have visions of you riding along and having a beam of light shine down on you as you realise the way forwards. If it was a movie you would look up as though it were a sign from heaven with a smile on your face, only to realise it was a police helicopter trying to nick you! Well, it's good that you saw the light. So, why do you think the TRF is important with the current situation of lane closures and threat to the future of trail riding? What did you have to say to your friends to convince them to come with you?

Nev

No drama stories. We never got pulled by police or chased by shotgun wielding farmers. I think if they keep closing lanes it will return to how it used to be but until that day I will ride the legal stuff with my TRF mates and slowly we are getting through to the rest. We as a group will gladly take anyone out once but then we expect them to join. We have recent members who have been paying someone to guide them round the peaks for a day for the same cost of a years TRF membership!

TRF

Thanks for all your answers, they are spot on and a great help. Just to finish up, any chance you could share a story or two from your years trail riding?

Nev

We do a water splash - it used to be patrolled by an Indian Golden Pheasant which hated trail bikes. It would attack your front wheel so if you got through the splash safely you had to contend with this mad bird! Funny to see this bird knocking blokes off their bikes!