From as little as £189 Suzuki will lend you a brand new dirtbike, all the gear, professional instruction and even a fully-enclosed track to ride on at Wheeldon Farm in Devon. And it’s a top day out.
And then TWO asked me to go to the Wheeldon Farm off-road centre in Totnes, Devon to ride a couple of Suzuki’s 2008 motocross bikes. Urry and Cantlie have both been before and told me I would have a brilliant day out and would learn a lot. Apparently Cantlie has lapped the indoor motocross track at Wheeldon Farm in 37 secs. I assume, quite indifferently, that that is quick.
There’s a RM125 two-stroke to ride and a RM-Z250 four-stroke and if I’m not in Exeter A&E I can have a go on a RM250 two-stroke Edmondson replica enduro bike later in the day. I choose the RM-Z250 because it sounds more gentle. It isn’t.
Within a few laps of following the instructor I can’t work my hands properly. This must be what I’ve heard referred to as arm pump. Not had it before, at least not in a motorcycling context.
Cantlie told me that I would find Wheeldon’s clay track almost perfect. Bollocks, it’s far too bumpy. The instructors are very good. They tell me what a berm is and how I should move my beer belly around to aid front end grip. The bike is incredible with amazing suspension and I do believe that if I’d used this in my McQueen jump I wouldn’t have hurt my testicles.
By the end of the day I am extremely tired, but I think I have improved quite a lot. I even risk a few laps on the ‘stroker’. Just as I’m thinking how good the photo will look as the front wheel rises after a small jump I start to slide back along the seat opening the throttle a bit more. The front wheel comes up higher and I slide further back. I think I’m going to get hurt but through sheer panic I manage to close the throttle and prevent a loop.
Anyone can spend a day riding at Wheeldon Farm and everyone should. If you haven’t ridden a modern motocross bike you aren’t a proper biker. Besides, even the skills learnt in a single day will hugely benefit your road riding because riding on the dirt is all about balance and maximising grip. Most importantly, your confidence in riding on wet and slippery surfaces will be increased. Best of all, you get to wear some seriously macho riding kit.
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