Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Monday 30th May 2014 Riding my Yamaha TT250R Off Road

Happy as a pig in mud
Whilst writing this, I am nursing my left thigh, by having a bag of peas dangling from my belt of my trousers onto my leg. I have a very sore leg, but today’s riding was worth it. The peas are doing a good job cooling down a huge bruise, which many motocross racers would be impressed with. I am almost proud of it! Nobody learned to walk without falling over and hurting themselves, I certainly will not learn what I can do on the bike, off road, if I don’t push myself, which will result in some falls. I can then think about what I did wrong and learn and hopefully keep the bike upright when I am in a tricky situation next time. I’d been observing the riders yesterday, manoeuvring the bikes through some tricky situations on the track, and I knew that I would like to copy that.

Jonathan, a friend of mine, came round on his bike, and we set off to a farm with a track, not far from where I live. I have never been there before, but Jonathan had been in the past, messing around with friends on dirt bikes.

Changing into Jonathan's jacket using his inappropriate bike as clothes horse
We had to stop for some fuel on route. I rode up and pushed the side stand out and let the bike rest on it, whilst Jonathan filled up his tank and paid. In the mean time, I was thinking how I could ride off in a minute. I realised I was stuck on the bike, not sure how to right the bike again. The bike is very tall, and now the ground was very far away. I could swing my legs and my feet would not reach the ground. Up to now, I had been finding it difficult to get on and off the bike, and now I had it on the side stand, astride it, and I didn’t know what to do. When Jonathan came back, I told him of my silly predicament. He helped me get off, and then we took the bikes over to the corner of the petrol station and I spend some time swinging my leg over. I felt a bit funny doing it, but this problem had to be solved once and for all. I now know how to do it. I have to push the handle bars full lock towards me, keep the front brake on, drop the bike towards me and swing my leg in the air, and over the bike, and I am on. Simple. Once you know how to do it. Getting off I just had to move my butt of the seat and stand on the ground and get my other leg back to join the other. Pew. I hope I can do it each time. The Ducati Monster 696 is definitely easier to mount.

We rode on to the farm. The riding was less stressful now then previous rides as I now have one mirror to keep and eye on the traffic behind me. Jonathan had brought over two, but the thread of the right hand mirror was damaged so it could not be screwed on. I think having one left one mirror is luxury. Poor Jonathan shook his head when fitting it. A dirt bike with mirrors!! Shocking, just not done. I must say it does look a bit strange, but I feel happier knowing if somebody want to drive into me I will know before impact which idiot it is. Not that it matters by that stage, I suppose. I have no indicators so this mirror is going to be treasured like not mirror has.

Who's that coming over the hill? Is it a Monster? No a Yamaha
Jonathan spoke to the owner of the farm and we then moved to a large area of what looks like wasteland. Round the sides of the open space there were manmade hills of various heights and steepness. Jonathan rode around on his bike looking for the track he and his mates used. I, in the meantime, tried to follow him, and got stuck on the first hill and had to step off and let the bike roll back down. Not a good start. I then kept to the middle, flatter part and started to get the hang of it. When I felt happier riding on muddy ground, I eyed up some of the hills and decided to go for it. I didn’t have a clue what I would find behind the hills, but it didn’t occur to check it out first. I thought I deal with what I find. Well, I found deep rutted puddles and then straightaway the next hill. No time to change your mind, but you just have to get up the next hill and see what happens then. It all went well. Jonathan came to me and he hopped on the front and was going to show me the track. Now two up on a dirt bike is a laugh, you get bounced around and not easy to stay on. At one stage, we cornered and found a huge puddle and no way round it. We took an impromptu short cut over very bumpy ground. 

Back in the middle I took the bike and I had a go down the track. There was a particular muddy narrow path with the verges knee high and thick oozing mud. I edged through it and came back to the middle and then decided as I could do it, to do it again, but this time not so slowly but try it at a higher speed. I had almost slipped and slithered through this very difficult part again of the track when the bike or the path, (but definitely not me) changed the position of the bike. I had no time to stick my leg out and the bike and I ended up on its side. I now have a bruise with a capital letter on my left thigh. The mud had reached every part of the bike and grass was hanging on the handlebars. I picked up the bike and then got on and finish this path. I wasn’t ready to stop trying. I rode along to the next lot of deep puddles. Again I went down, but this time my leg was pinned under the bike and I couldn’t lift it up. Jonathan pulled at the bike and I used my free leg to push the bike upright. It was funny to be in such a stupid place: Narrow path filled with soft oozing clay up to your ankles. Quite a laugh. We could hardly stand up.
I can do it!
Pure fun

The next hour or so Jonathan gave instruction and I practiced. It was such fun. It felt brilliant to try something what I was just told I could try and then it worked. I fell of one more time when I tried to climb a hill and the bike went a different way I wanted to go and I ended up almost head first into a mount of clay. The bike handlebars ended up feeling bent. Jonathan rode the bike and sorted it out with a good kick. Who needs tools.

When we left the bike looked like it had been used for what it had been designed for. Mud was flying of the bike in all directions as we hit the main road. My mirror was useless as it been well covered in mud and pointing the wrong way.

A good day. Next time I must put the right clothes on. I have lovely Alpinenstars enduro jacket and pants and proper boots too. Why I forgot to put them on is a mystery. Thank you Jonathan for lending me your jacket and helmet.

Sunday 29th May 2014 Watching motocross

I wasn’t going to stay long, but as life changes sometimes unexpectantly, so did this day. My plan was to see a friend and his son racing for the morning and then go to drive to Peterborough to see friend to talk bikes, and girly talk too of course.

On setting off, I send a quick text to her to see if it was still ok to meet up, and yes, everything was fine. Then a few miles down the road, my mobile rang and she said her son had become ill and was taken to hospital. All change; I thought I might as well spend the whole day watching motocross. Unfortunately I wasn’t dressed for muddy fields at all, and looking at my feet, I saw my pretty lace shoes. Sigh, more ruined shoes. This is not the first time I killed of some shoes. Oh well, this would be a good reason to buy some new ones….

Normally, my car is filled with gardening tools and wellies, but on leaving I had taken them out. So, no wellies to change into. It would have looked silly anyway; shorts and wellies!

I drove through some gorgeous Northamptonshire countryside. In the past I used to live in Kettering, and then, I didn’t have a very high opinion of the countryside there, but this part of the county is very different.

The weather was good and I felt all the bikes were out today for a good ride, enjoying the day. I felt very jealous! Driving a gutless car on windy roads doesn’t do anything for me.

I didn’t see any signposting to the event, but this didn’t matter, as getting nearer, the motocross stood out as a beacon at the top of the hill on the opposite side of the valley. The sun lit up the trailers and cars as if the spotlights had been turned on.

On arrival and turning into the field, I took one look of the steep hill ahead, which lead to the track, and thought it would be best to leave my car at the bottom, and walk up. The engine under the bonnet is the size of Flintstone's car. It would be stupid to expect miracles. Shame I wasn’t on the Yamaha TT250R. It would have been a good place to practice.

It had been raining on previous days, but the ground was not too bad. During the day it you could see the ground drying out.
Dad to the rescue
I thoroughly enjoyed watching the little children racing round. They are so capable of doing something quite challenging.  If a child crashed, fathers would come running to their rescue, picking them up, starting the engine again, and plonking them back on and giving them encouragement. Most adorable. The children I meant.
In one race, thirty odd children aged roughly between eight and thirteen showed what a pickle they can get into. When the bar came down at the start of the race, some racers opened the throttle too fast and ended up doing some spectacular wheelies, ending up on the ground. Racers who were late of the start line, had nowhere to go and it quickly became a heap of bikes and children, like an ants nest. Fathers and marshals untangled the lot and send them on their way.

As I was planning to have a go at some off roading the following day on my Yamaha, I kept looking at how the racers were positioning themselves in different situations. I noticed that sometimes they would be sitting very forward and at other times further back. I worked it out, if you need grip at the front, you would slide forward, and the back can move around, as it likes. I am going to practice this tomorrow. I thought it is better not try the jumping yet, even though the riders made it look so easy.
I watched and photographed the races from different places, walking up and down this hill. I kicked myself for not having taken my canon camera with me, so I had to use my telephone instead.

Lost no calories unfortunately as there was a good burger and chips place, so all lost calories where replenished in no time.

I left feeling I had a good day and was looking forward to tomorrow when I would have a go myself.
I like to thank Mike and James for letting me photograph them. I also like to thank Mark for allowing to use his pictures from his phone.