So, what does a Solicitor from SorryMate do with her annual leave?
Sun and sand in the tropics? Gondolas and fine food in Venice?
Spanners and mud in Derbyshire? That’s more like it!
This was a no-messing-about, five-day motorcycle maintenance and off-roading course.
The ‘bikes we were using were Royal Enfield Himalayas, a great “what you get is what you see” sort of machine, which was easy to strip down to get to the workings.
I then spent a very enjoyable day, taking wheels off and putting them back on again, learning how to repair both tubeless and tubed tyre punctures, sorting out the battery and air filter. Finally, and for me most satisfying of all, a full oil and filter change. Magic!
Days Two to Four we were taken to the off-road venue, which is a superb site in the Derbyshire countryside. It is set out for various outdoor activities including paintballing, quad-biking and orienteering. The motorcycle off-road section had forested areas, rough tracks, hills and a huge tractor-rutted long-grassed field. Every single area was smothered in several days’ worth of wet, wet rainwater. Muddy or what?
I’d never ridden an adventure ‘bike before so the first thing for me was to get used to the controls, starting on the car park – about the most gravelly surface I’ve ever seen, but flat. So, after sliding round there a few terrifying times I was off into the field to go and explore the tractor ruts and puddles. The Husband, who was in his absolute element, had already gone off to see what mischief he could get into and came back, covered in mud, already having discovered every hazard, before I’d even left the car park!
Our instructor is an experienced off-roader and green-laner, who has completed the Scottish Six Day Trial no less than 24 times. First things first, out come the dreaded cones, placed ridiculously close together (to my mind at least) on the slippery grass. Slow speed throttle and clutch control is the key here, but it didn’t take long to get the hang of that, by which time I was really enjoying the ‘bike, and the new experience.
Over the next couple of days, we were treated to brilliant instruction around all the different aspects of the site. The most difficult were the steep muddy hills, made worse by the deep tractor ruts.
The terrain became more and more challenging as the days went on, the ruts deeper and the water wetter, but all the time we were learning new skills and losing our fear.
Did I fall off? OF COURSE I FELL OFF! Apparently all part of the experience!
The final day – how to wash down your motorcycle properly after off-roading! This might sound basic but, in reality, gave very useful information about how to do the job thoroughly and safely.
All in all it was a great week and I would heartily recommend it for improving riding skills and simply gaining more confidence.
The timing of our trip to Derbyshire was perfect, as we were able to take part in the annual Ride To The Wall (RTTW). This is an event when thousands of motorcycles make their way to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, from various start points.
Once there, a service of remembrance is held with an opportunity for all to pay their respects to those fallen service men and women at The Wall. This is a stone structure, engraved with the names of those who have given their lives in the service of the country since the end of the Second World War.
What a great event. We rode in, picking up more and more ‘bikers along the way. Eventually over 7000 motorcycles turned up. This is quite a spectacle in itself and the military precision with which they were parked up is testament to the work of the – voluntary – organisers.
So you can keep your sun, sea and sangria!
Originally posted in Motorcycle Action Group MAG Magazine
Liz Hoskin is a solicitor and Accredited Senior Litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. She rides a Triumph America and a 1995 Ducati Monster. SorryMate is a firm of solicitors working exclusively to help bikers get the compensation they deserve after an accident.