I have just come back from 2 days in the mud. Not really, day 1 was quite dry and that’s great for learning the basics. When I started planning this
trip, one of the things I wanted to do was to get some off-road training. Having a trail bike and not taking it off-road from time to time is like having a 4WD in the city, and I hate those.
After much hesitation (it’s quite pricey), I enrolled for BMW’s Off-road Skills Level 1. No, I don’t own a BMW, we all know I ride a Yamaha Ténéré. No, it doesn’t matter. Yamaha doesn’t offer this service, neither does BMW France FWIW so I had to enroll in the UK course and that’s good news in a way because the school is run by Simon Pavey, a guy who got to the finish line of the Dakar rally at least 6 times, one of them while riding in Charley Boorman’s team for the Race to Dakar TV documentary.
I had no idea what to expect of the course and it exceeded my expectations. Not only I got to trial ride the whole BMW range of bikes, albeit some for a very short period but I truly enjoyed myself while learning. Day 1 was quite dry and it gave us time to soften up a bit. Off road riding is done while standing on the bike and although I had stood on the pegs before, I would always sit back to turn and do stuff. The idea of turning, or switching gears, or stalling the bike while standing on the pegs wasn’t something I was looking forward to. During day 1, we learnt some basic skills that would become very useful on day 2. We did some trail riding too.
Now, day 2 was something else, day 1 had started sunny-ish and had been mostly dry. Day 2 was typical Welsh. Rain, rain and more rain. As a result the same trails we had ridden the day before had become big muddy pools. Lots of fun. Really, we had fun, I didn’t think I would but I did. I fell off my bike only 3 times during the day (stalled), broke the brake lever (only need to put 2 fingers on it anyway), got my buttocks in the mud and my orange jacket is now brown and orange (I hope it will go back to orange again someday). I spent the whole day with my trousers completely drenched but it was a great day. Seriously, who comes to ride in Wales without his waterproof pants? Me, of course!
In the end it was all good fun, didn’t break anything (although I twisted my ankle on the first day) and had a great time with cool people. The crowd that this course attracts is a pretty nice bunch, mostly bikers wanting to expand their skills and adventurers preparing for their trips. I had a great time.
Tomorrow, I’m off to Brussels again in order to collect my passport at the Kyrgyz consulate and then it’s back to Paris one last time.