For some riders, a day out on the bike is a perfect way of escaping the family. For Herts TRF member Nick Dolan it's entirely the other way round. It's the perfect way to ride with his nearest and dearest. Two bikes, Mum, Dad and Kid all on a Green Road adventure...

TRF:

Hi Nick, thanks for taking time to talk to us. I really liked your story, it’s not every day that you see the whole family out for a Sunday’s trail riding. Maybe we could start with you, how did you get into riding dirt?

Nick:

I don’t know when I started thinking about DIRT but years ago I dreamt of traveling to Africa by bike. I had already done most Europe on road tourer’s, yet motocross and enduro just seemed like wild crazy men sports. When I went to the Excel Bike Show in 2015 and saw the BMW Off Road School I knew I wanted to go off road and saw the reality of travelling to South Africa (I had not seen or heard of the Long Way Down at that point). I booked and did level 1 with my Mate Paul Ramanath and we were both hooked on adventure biking!

My wife Michelle used to ride a 550 Qwaker before we had children, so now my goal was to get her back on the road. I managed to get Michelle to agree to try level 1 and after the initial shock and roasting I received from her she gave it a go. By lunch time she was bitten too. Now we’ve both done level 2 and done the Portugal trips with ORS (Simon Pavey’s crew).

Michelle makes it look easy

Oscar uses grab handles for stability

TRF:

It’s great to see you and Michelle your wife out riding together. It’s becoming more common to see a good mix of male and female riders out on Green Roads, to be honest the ladies tend choose smaller bikes. Why the GS?

Nick:

Selfish reasons I would say. Firstly, Michelle has fallen in love with the GS after the Off-Road Skills courses and she felt totally at home riding the GS1200. So, after a very short debate, she agreed to trade her GS700 for a new GS1200. My dream was of course that one day we might travel the world on them.

I had two wonderful & awesome K1600’s for 5 years and a Honda Goldwing for 20 before that. Big touring bikes were in my blood you could say. The critical point was after doing my level 2 off road with Mr. Pavey (ORS) I wanted a bike that could go anywhere. The GS was the logical choice as I don’t like big KTM’s or Ducati’s. Also, I had heard about the TRF and the opportunity to ride Green Roads. So, I traded my K16 for GSA! The dealer got the better deal, but I got what I wanted. Michelle loves her GS and grows more confident each time we ride.

Nick:

As you can guess by now, my goal was for us to ride together and one day travel on our bike or bikes together. Training was key to this, to attain the skills and the confidence and know that there would not be much that could stop us on our adventures.

The ORS training, I cannot recommend highly enough. These skills are also transferrable to the road riding, and helped Michelle regain her confidence. Llewellyn Pavey (BRAKE Magazine) was awesome and coached Michelle on road and off road.

When Michelle did her Level 1, she was so excited she pushed me (I did not need much) into booking us up for the Portugal ORS trip in Feb 2016. This was a week of Off road riding under guidance from the school instructors. Michelle then did her level 2 and I did level 3, we booked for Portugal 2017 (which just happened), there were 6 couples riding! We all have already booked for Portugal 2018! And several them have joined the TRF to continue green road riding.

TRF:

So the Herts TRF beginners ride, how did you hear about it?

Nick:

Its was strange, I had emailed the TRF and got an initial response from TRF and Mario, however it popped up in my Facebook feed as an up & coming event! And I then started to look at the TRF Facebook page, and email Mario, he was great giving me info and encouraging us to join in the ride. The rest is history. Michelle loved it, and Oscar on the back was awesome.

 

Mario leads the way
 

TRF:

Was it a case of convincing your son Oscar to come or the other way around? I guess it would have meant one of you would have to be on childcare duty if he hadn’t?

Nick:

Correct, Our older son was away at Airforce Cadet Camp, so yes leaving Oscar behind would have meant one of us doing child duty. Oscar was up for it and has the right gear so it was decided he would come on the back with me. He was excited to do so!

Oscar has come out with me on the back when doing IAM rides and IAM Slow Skill Days (well worth it for everyone). I had got Oscar the right gear from e-bay for this and in fact his boots were Kids MX boots, so he was wearing the right clothing and had a decent helmet. My plan was to ride slowly off road and be sure of his safety, as some of you know at one point I just went too slow and the bike gently came to rest on its side, Oscar was un fazed and simply hopped off while I righted the bike and he then jumped back on ready to cross the river in front of us!

TRF:

And how did the ride go?

Nick:

The ride was at a good pace, using the second man (or Corner-man) system meant I could ride at my own pace. Also, the fact that we all got paired with experienced “buddy’s” gave the reassurance that someone was there to help should I get unstuck. Michelle also had her own buddy which worked great.

We could have had more breaks during the ride, as it was a long day for beginners and novices. The tracks were great (nice and dry 😊 )!

Oscar was enjoying the challenge of keeping his feet on the pegs! My challenge was to not let the bike bounce around too much. However, the real advantage was the fact that Oscar is so light! I’m not sure how it will be with my teenage son Luke on the back once he comes back from Camp.

There were a couple of times I felt Oscar slip off the pegs and sit down, but he was ok. I was wearing a grab handle belt for passengers (so he held on to this the whole ride). Also, we both had camelbacks with water to keep us hydrated which is a must when doing long rides (on or off road). We got cheap ones from Amazon which work great.

TRF:

I think it’s great to see such an adventurous family outing, and I hear you’re 16-year-old son is on his way to getting 2 wheels too! I have a feeling this is all working towards some big round the world adventure…

Nick:

The next challenge is for Michelle to ride with Oscar on the back and I with Luke on the back too. At which point we will be a truly Green Road Family. Michelle and I are doing the Adventure Course at ORS in May and entered into the GS Trophy Challenge at the end of May in Wales.

All the TRF guys I’ve met so far have been great and more than helpful, even if Paul tried to kill me on MUD, Lynton for guiding me, Rob the photographer for his time and of course to you and Mario for the support and enthusiasm.

So, onwards to more motorcycle adventure with all the family.

TRF:

Thanks Nick! Enjoy the riding.

 
 

Photos courtesy Robert Mills Photography 

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