To a road rider looking for an adventure bike, it's often all about a big engine and somewhere to plug in the heated jacket. Swapping the GS for a tiny 250 just seems crazy, right?

For East Midlands TRF member Paul Chamberlain, it was just the change he needed to gain confidence and learn the skills required for riding Green Roads. It turns out going back to basics on the small bike makes the experience of the big one that more enjoyable.

January 2014, Sunday 8.00am. Nick barks into the lay-by on his KTM. Quick introductions over the two of us set off to ride some of the Peak Districts Green Roads. I've been riding road bikes all year round for the best part of 40 years. I've toured Europe between Slovenia and Portugal. When it comes to covering the miles on tarmac I'm well within my comfort zone. Today though will be a new experience.

Apart from the very the occasional minor diversion onto very easy Green Roads on my GS Adventure I'm well and truly a tarmac rider. I'd got the 2004 Yamaha TTR 250 about six months previously from a very generous friend. Having taken a fall followed by a painful trip in the Air Ambulance in Wales he had made a promise to his wife to keep on the black stuff. I straightened up the handlebars, rebuilt the carburettor more times than I care to remember, joined the TRF and here I was.

The morning progressed with the next few lanes being significantly easier. We stopped for a chat now and then. I got a few tips from Nick, he had a smoke, we carried on. We we covering countryside I thought I knew well, but we kept riding past “Not suitable for motor vehicles” signs, going through gates, farms, trails, fording streams... I was hooked.

Then we got to Hollinsclough. Even after a couple of years I find the ride down to Home Farm a challenge. Let's just say I had to pick up the bike quite a few times. The ride continued through Three Shires Head then circled back towards Buxton for a well earned lunch. Frankly, I was knackered. I keep myself reasonably fit, I swim 3 to 5k a few times a week and I don't spend all day sitting down, but this was something else. The afternoon was generally easier, my skills were improving, I was reading the conditions much better, it was fun. I got home around 5.00pm and spent an extended period in a hot bath.

I don't remember the last time I had been so tired. I had lost count of the falls somewhere in the mid teens. Two weeks later and I was out again. Wearing less clothing, expending less nervous energy, knowing roughly what to expect I made it home less tired and hungry for more. And I had only fallen off four times. Result!

I'll happily take my GSA on a number of trails which adds variety and some fantastic views. I've ventured along a few trails in Portugal even when loaded with luggage and a pillion. I now better judge the appropriate clothing for a day on the lanes. I know when I need to rest. I'm strong enough to stop. I don't ache like I did after that first day.

In retrospect, Nick did an excellent job of assessing my skills, or lack of, and occasionally taking me out of my comfort zone, then easing back so I could develop. Thanks. Two years later I'm retired and have learned that I like riding on Green Roads at a slower pace than most. I don't like keeping others waiting and I like to take my time. Having more free time means I tend to go out mid week, normally solo. I better understand my limits and won't venture onto the more difficult lanes when riding alone. I am still developing my riding skills. I'd judge myself as competent, not skilful. A good proportion of that competence is unconscious too. I'm not at the point where I consciously analyse my riding and think, for example, I need to lean back more. Most of the time what I do seems to work though. When things get unstable I find myself sitting down and paddling. That transition from sitting to standing when doing a hill start is quite tricky. But I'm getting there. I've taken out new riders, and shown visitors the lanes I know. I'm happy to do that as long as they can put up with my gentle pace.


The TTR250 has been excellent. Easy to ride. Easy to maintain. It's got a lowering link to suit my little legs. I have no desire to get anything else. That being said I spent a day at the Yamaha Off Road Training Centre in Wales where I enjoyed the extra power of the WR250. If I was to get another bike it would sit between the TTR and the 1200GSA. Small and nimble enough to ride on Green Roads but powerful and comfortable enough to cover distance. I know the TTR could do that, but loaded with luggage and a bigger fuel tank that engine is going to struggle. We will see.

Thanks for the bike Chris Knight and Nick Gidlow for your patience and knowledge.

The TRF is made up of members and bikes that come in all shapes and sizes. If you are looking to explore the UK on anything from a big GS to a tiny 250 trials bike why not join us and become part of a community of adventurous trail riders dedicated to the conservation of Green Roads.