Monday, 25 March 2013

Training - Part 2

With 35 days to go, the Silk Road team were in Ystradgynlais (that's in Wales if you hadn't guessed)for the second briefing and training session.

The Off Road Skills courses are run by Simon Pavey who is a motorcycling legend having competed in the Paris-Dakar Rally on 6 occasions, finishing 4 times. Simon and his team of instructors put you through your paces in the 4000 acres of Walters Arena. The forest, dirt tracks, fire roads, hills and steams are an off-road playground.

We were given the brand new BMW GS 1200's to ride with 0 miles on the clock when we started them up. What a bike! Traction control, ABS, lots of smooth power and awesome brakes. A worthy successor to the long line of big twin engine BMWs.

However good the bike is, if the rider is a duffer it isn't going to get far in these conditions. It was a really stretching couple of days during which I thought about putting the motto "All the Gear and No Idea" on the side of my panniers several times. By the end though I had regained my confidence riding in rough conditions and was keeping up with the pack. But when you see the experts riding these things you also realise how far you have to go. Luckily we seem to have a couple of really good riders on the expedition, so I am looking forward to learning from them as we go.

If you want to have a lot of fun on a great bike, I can think of no better place to start than at ORS -

Monday, 11 March 2013

Training - Part 1

In a couple of weeks the Silk Road team are heading back down to Wales for a course at BMW's off-road school. It will be great, but what I really need is more on-road skills.

Kevin, Simon, Pete, Deefor.
So time for a brush up and some advanced technique. Two days in Royston with Sgt Paul Mostyn of the Met Police's motorcycle branch to put us through our paces.

We were introduced to the POWDERS check of the bikes and the IPSGA system for safe riding. It is hard work concentrating all the time but after a few hours my riding was much better. Smooth, in control and fewer dramas.

Then the ROSPA test. Simon (from Cambridgeshire's force) took us out for an hour long assessment. Despite a number of "why did I do that" moments, I managed a Silver pass while my fellow trainee got Gold. Well done Pete!

The course and test were organised by BMW Rider Training, part of the Globebusters set up. High quality as ever and a chance to catch up with Kevin and Julia on the last few bits of admin. Great to meet Pete as well. He is going to be Van Man on the Silk Road. Good to meet you Pete.