Rise to the challengeMay 29, 2016
Slide AwayJune 12, 2016
You've been on a motorbike since you were 16. You think you know everything there is to know about getting from A to B on two wheels. And then all of a sudden someone re-writes the rule book inserting a massive dose of Green Road adventure.
That's just what happened to Jools Moore after he stumbled across the TRF's Big Bike community on Facebook. His GSA 1200 was never going to be the same again…
Today was one of the best motorcycling days I’ve ever had, EVER! I’ve been riding since I was 16, but never have I had a day like today!
Pretty much 99% of my riding over the last 24 years had been on road, and the short tracks I’ve taken off road when camping or messing about have been just that, short and messing about……………Well today was different. It was long and there was no messing about!
I joined up with a Facebook group called Adventure Bike Trail Riding
a few months ago with an interest to find out more about riding off road.
I know, yes I can do the BMW off road 3 day course at various levels, but that’s £500 each level, and today was no more than cost a tank of Petrol, a Mars bar and a bottle of water, & it was most likely, more fun in a day than you would ever get on a course.
They organise group ride outs along certain Green Roads up and down the country and are associated with Trail Riders Fellowship
(TRF) who are a fantastic organisation dedicated to using, and maintaining the UKs rich, and historic lanes. I met up with another rider from the group in London this morning, and we rode up together to the meeting place… the Red lodge Transport Cafe, in the Thetford, Suffolk.
On arrival we were greeted by the other guys that had already arrived, grabbed a cup of coffee, a bite to eat, introduced ourselves, talked about our bikes, off road riding experiences, general chatter and fun patter. When all the riders had arrived Chris & Mark gathered everyone around and briefed us all about the days riding ahead, the rough route, what kind of terrains to expect, protocol if we met horses, dog walkers and other cars, then we were given the choice of joining the Intermediate or Expert group!
That choice, for me was simple, the Intermediate one, as I did not want to injure myself trying to keep up with the elite riders as for me this was my first real day of Green Roads and unpaved tracks…EVER!
After that, people divided up and joined up with the group of their own preferred riding speed. Each group was given a brief training session about how the ride worked, about the lead rider and his instructions he would give to the group, that there would be a sweeper: someone who has done the ride before has off road/green lane experience and who rides last and makes sure everyone gets through OK.
With that in mind the Expert group left first, 5 minutes later it was us. We turned right out of the Cafe, left into a side road and into the first Green Road of the day! Mud and slippery grass, narrow and bush lined. Soon it was into another, wider, more muddy track, with ruts and bumps & puddles the size of small swimming pools to ride through!
We covered mud, sand, grass, gravel, tree stumps, low hanging branches, single track and wide lanes, occasionally onto the tarmac again for a mile or two before we turned left or right into even more lanes! Chris, our ride leader, stopped before each section of terrain and informed us what we could expect to find up ahead.
I rode the best I could for the inexperience I had. Sure I’ve watched off road tutorial videos about techniques and balance, but nothing quite prepares you for the real thing than riding the trails themselves. I rode hard, I came off the bike many times and eventually didn’t worry about it, I had slips and slides on many sides, but I kept pushing on as did the others.
I rode through puddles and ruts and deep long trenches of mud and water, sand and gravel and loved every minute of it!
Soon we pushed on through more lanes and fields, passing cattle, Traveller's and riding through low tunnels & low hanging trees. Some of the group left after 2 thirds of the loop in order to get back home and rest before another full day of Green Road riding, another because the of the wrong tyre choice (even with the tyre he did really well and earned my respect for the distance and terrain he covered on those tyres).
Out of nowhere one of our group came off his bike for no real reason on a mud road, and sadly his whole headlight section came cracking off, but it didn’t put him off, he swallowed it up, took it like a man and strapped it to his back seat and carried on Whilst dealing with this, the Expert group came up form behind us and stopped to say hello, and rode off again.
I must say the team spirit was amazing, from a bunch of strangers turning up at a cafe to ride Green Roads, we turned into a team, helping each other out of trouble, lifting bikes up out of the mud over and over again, and looking out for each other like friends.
I’m looking forward to the next time, hopefully on a sunny day and with less mud & water on the ground, but the mud added another dimension and a wide variety of riding conditions that you would not get in the dry. SO much fun! My body hurts from using muscles I never knew I needed to ride a motorcycle, my bike is/was dirty, but it all added to the great day we had!