Yesterday I headed up North to enjoy my other favourite form of motorcycling, off-roading! It's as simple as that, getting off the street and riding on trails, off the road. Riding through the woods, sliding around loose dirt corners and accelerating over jumps is incredible fun! And it's the jumps I personally can't get enough of! It's the kind of motorcycling which is full of fearless fun and gettin' dirty!
Off road riding never requires good weather or roads; in fact the worst conditions are usually sought accenting the - challenge! The bike gives you lots of feedback as it shakes and wiggles beneath you. The handlebars move around constantly from the terrain and sometimes, as is in my case, the seat comes up behind you and whacks you a good one on the rear!(riding over a log for example) You relax your grip and let go of all that mental jibber-jabber visualizing that it's you, you are the "being" with the knobby tyres riding over those chunky rocks!
It was when I moved to the Caribbean I started riding duo sport and off road motorcycles. There really was no other choice as a paved road was a challenge to find. The island of St. Maarten was accessed namely by gravel roads or dirt - not conducive to the usual fun sought on a sport bike. On the French side of the island, St. Martin, the motorcycle club built a track on the beach it was all sand- deep sand! I tried it often but seemed to always get buried - too challenging and heavy for my abilities- then. There was a lot of local rider talent to be found on that island! I recall the president of the bike club (I was also a member) could literally ride the entire island on the back wheel of his Honda XLR500 – the longest wheelie I've seen- to date!
It’s a given in dirt riding that you fall, pick yourself up and do it again. And here's where I like to bring into play “guy” mentality -minimal thinking, more doing. It's that mindset of fearing a fall that creates a mental set back. Of course the bike can get out from underneath you and yes you are not free from danger. It was two years ago now I fell wrong and the handlebar went into my ribs resulting in two small fractures. But it's the spills which are great fodder for laughs and après off road stories! The bikes are designed to take abuse as is the special moto-gear required - you'll not see a rider without full gear. It’s a rough and tumble sport that’s super fun, physical and totally skill enhancing! I've always likened motorcycling to skiing-and off road riding even more so. As in skiing (or snowboarding), when you fall, you learn. I’ve had some days though, where I fell so repeatedly, it was exhausting! It's hard work especially as the day moves on- picking up that motorcycle!
Getting dirty is such a fun part of it –so I challenged the women riding with me with a prize for the rider who ended up being the dirtiest! Stipulating language didn't count! The prize went to Nancy who lost it in a corner and in the midst of a huge puddle! In my case, the day was evident when I removed my helmet - a dirt brown moustache! (Sweeping in back of the group ensures eating a lot of dust!)
Ah yes, my moustache, mud covered boots and a few bruises - the proud souvenirs of an exhilarating day where not just riding through challenging terrain and improving 'trick riding' skills is enough - it's the fact of getting dirty- the proud tell-tale signs of a day spent off-roading! Come join us next time!