I’ve wanted to ride dirt bikes since I was a sproglette. A couple of my favourite (godawful) films were ones featuring bikes with a front wheel bigger than the back, and great big front mudguards. I nearly scored a broken offroader in my teens which I *still* think I could have got working which my ever-concerned-for-my-safety father made me return before I’d even taken delivery. Anyway, I finally got round to catching up with another one of these things that I wanted to do as a child and now as an adult no-one can stop me from doing.
So what’s been going on?
I recently watched “Supercross” (Imdb 3.2!) which is a stupid “boy meet girl near a motorbike race” film, “Too Muddy, Too Sexually Frustrated” or something. Anyway “vroom”.
A guy on a usenet group I read had posted a couple of times about an offroad place he’s been to a couple of times and clearly enjoyed himself:
Washbrook Farm MX
Up in Cambridgeshire it’s a well appointed farm conveniently next to a Hospital, I forgot to ask how useful that was. It’s a family run enterprise on some of their farmland with a pit area, two and a half tracks and really nice toilets.
I was introduced to the facilities, signed my life away with a disclaimer form, paid and got my silver wristband (signifying that I wasn’t to be trusted) and went to be kitted out with body armour: knee and elbow pads and chest, back and shoulder protectors; MASSIVE BOOTS, gloves, goggles and a comfortable crash hat. Also some charming yellow MX kit of trousers and shirt.
We picked out a small bike which whilst comedic for me to ride got me gently into the process. We went out to the oval that they keep tucked out of the back and did a quick rundown of the controls and safety. Checked I could start and stop competently and then started lapping the oval to get a feel for the gears and traction.
Perhaps 15 minutes later a rain shower came over so we took the opportunity to take a quick breather and switch up to a more appropriate bike.
Exactly like that one, since that’s the one I was riding.
We threw that around the oval some more since the gearing and power band is much more “severe” than the baby bike.
We moved over to the kids track before lunch, it’s got a notice up saying “MAX 85cc” so it felt all the worse being on a 125, surrounded by talented dwarves looking like pros on their kitted out 85cc monsters. I’d had a bit of a problem fully understanding getting braking done before entering the corner, and this track has various radius turns which don’t only go left like the oval did, but was obviously much more engaging. Sadly it rained a little more and the track became slimy. I started to struggle because at low speed you don’t eject mud from the tyre blocks, so you’re trying to corner with mud tyres on mud… fail. We broke for lunch and the weather cleared, the day just got hotter from there.
When I got back out to the track it was much dryer, with just one shaded corner to remind me what “slippy” was like, but my lap times and aggression kept rising.
I got graciously allowed to have a run in the afternoon novice group on the main circuit just before 3pm. My instructor got me at the back of the group and let me out when everyone else was gone and the leaders were only around half way around the track. This shrewdly allowed me about 3/4s of a lap of empty track so I could feel my way around. The main track is significantly different to the kids track in that it’s faster, wider and has WAY more height variation. A spine, a table top, berms and several other high points you can jump off. Although I got lapped into the floor by kids on lower powered bikes, I didn’t do too badly and did get one overtake done! Also, when I came off the track I got some congratulation for getting both wheels off the ground. I thought maybe I did, but with that much suspension travel you could be forgiven for being mistaken.
Completely shattering, I’m still feeling quite stiff and abused 24 hours later but thoroughly worth the expense and energy. A great day out.