A journey starts with the first step – in this case, a wet one.
Having researched Enduro riding in Spain too many times to recall, I find my focus redirected to the days back (some 11 years ago) in NZ when we had a bike meet in Lake Manapouri. In classic South Island style water came from all angles.
No doubt today won’t be as hideous (I’m hoping).
Arriving early having ventured from the hotel, Señor M. knocks on the window of the car politely and a little displeased with the conditions.
Evidently, the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain, but not today.
TIME TO GEAR UP
Boots – check, knee and elbow pads – check, padded trousers, under armor, back brace, Enduro top (to look the part) protective gloves – check. Waterproofs (stale green), Señor M. reassures us (a group of 5 adults) that we’ll be pleased to have them within an hour. Helmet, we’re ready apart from one thing…
All this excitement/adrenaline seems to have caught up with me. De-kit, reKit we’re off.
ABOUT THE BIKES
Other than they have 2 wheels, Señor M., only rides Yamaha’s WR 250cc and WR 450cc options whilst there are smaller 125cc bikes available – 4 stroke.
These bikes are robust and have handed ALL that experienced and novice riders can throw at them.
Ok, so which bike?
Well, there’s always a tendency to go big.
The 450cc is an awesome machine and the riding style is certainly different. Couple of positives, the noise and raw power available (for those who actually do know what to do with it).
Weighing in at circa 95kgs (post Christmas weight ) the 250cc have more power than I would endanger myself with – certainty speed was not the issue but, talent.
Positive for the 250cc bike, more maneuverable and copes with 2nd and 3rd smoothly (the range we’d be operating within) and slightly lighter.
The larger 450cc bike tends to want to run in a higher gear otherwise the throttle is sensitive (opening and closure) – making for a jerky unbalanced ride. Don’t be lazy and make the gear changes.
5 guys (on this occasion) aged between 25 – me (40 something). 2 Spanish, 2 USA and the Jersey man.
Experience, ranging although everyone had road bikes and therefore we thought we knew how to ride Enduro!
Ability therefore, novice to just above novice.
Think it’s important that if you’ve never ridden a motorcycle before, shifting the gears and throttle control, braking hand and foot, Enduro is probably a lesson too far. With that said, if you’re up for it, don’t let me hold you back!
Kit and familiarization.
Bike road skills. Yes, the exercises are simple but the basics aren’t natural for everyone.
Listen to how to improve your body stance and position, weight distribution and how, when and where to focus.
All ‘common sense’ albeit once you’ve being told. Clearly, plenty of people have Royally Screwed Up, take their advice!
On to the tracks and into the hills.
This is where the fun begins and those tips on the road skills come fully into force.
Note, everyone’s going to have a spill at some point and look like a prized pickle. We’re all equals in that regard.
Hills, steep hills.
Hills that you’d never think a bike could or should be subjected to but it’s happening and all being well, you’re on Top (of the bike).
Lunch and the best-tasting Beer you’ve ever had.
Yapping, meeting new people, polishing off an epic fish and chip plus all the good stuff that’s so frequently infrequent (being off the grid, ironic as this is being typed up frantically whilst my recall remains)
Time to face the challenge again.
Knowing that standing up is the first key of a bunch that, combined would make for a graceful rider.
But before hitting the puddles and spraying mud everywhere, just trying to relive the observations, tips and techniques to enjoy the afternoon.
Here’s a few tips:
- Don’t be a ‘cling on’ rider, your body will soon be screaming at you;
- If you’re clinging hold of the bike, adjust your body position forward, bring those elbows out, relax and breathe;
- Let the tool do the work – don’t force the machine as it only ever wants to go straight. Align your straight with your bikes strategy; and
- Push forward going up and back out going down. Ok, off again.
Insane views of the Mediterranean Sea, hills, beaches and dwellings. Some falls, engine overheating and pins and needles starting.
Find your groove and notice that your cheeks are causing you pain from smiling so much.
Speeds and skills are coming along well and confidence has increased 10 fold. Time to slow things down before going above and beyond the 1st day station.
Coped with the uphills and downhills and now back on road, refuelled and power hosed the bikes ready for the next set of crazy kids tomorrow, lucky things!
Dekit, taking off the boots is a cardinal pleasure. Feet can breathe again.
Call the wife and kids to say that nothing is broken!
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