Guest post from Jason (above left)
On a recent telephone conversation with Sideburn Gary, he was enthusing about all things trail riding, his new hobby. It sounded like the kind of carefree riding we did as kids, when one of the scruffians from the council estate would steal a bike and let us have a quick go on it before the Police turned up.
With me being the kind of guy who’s easy to whip up into a stiff peak frenzy, it’s understandable why the heck I was standing in my local KTM dealership only two hours later, looking at loads of very orange and very pointy motorcycles. There is no way I’m going to buy a used dirt bike, as it’ll be probably be one from the aforementioned scally.
I’ve been coming into this shop for years, but only ever to have rock hard old tyres removed from some manky old flat track wheels I'd picked up. The new salesman walks over, asks what am I looking for, to which I reply, 'A 250. “Why a 250”, he enquires. 'I’ve no idea.' We walk over to a pointy machine and he points at it. It looks exactly like all the others and declares it to be a 250. I’ve bought a tonne of bikes in the past, I know the questions to ask, 'Who painted it, when was the engine rebuilt, etc...' But I have to say I’m lost for pertinent questions. Turns out KTM did the engine and painted the frame too. We both look at each other, unsure of what to do or say, before he gets the courage to ask, “Do you want it?", to which I reply, 'Er, OK.' And with that my card is debited and as I walk out of the shop he says, "hat’s your address for the V5 title?" Oh wow, it’s road registered, I didn’t even know that.
My first adventure is at an off-road facility, 150 acres of woods, mud, swamp-like ponds and an area which I now call, the infinite coconut forest of dreams and huge climbs (which also double up as huge falls, as it turns out). I follow Matthew, one of the regulars. He’s a great guy, with lots of experience making him a great guide. Right until the fucker disappears down what I can only describe as a huge cliff. Should have had a sign saying, Twinned with the Grand Canyon. The only grip available was gravity's upon me.
Panic, adrenaline and fear fully in control now, I could see Matthew had made it to the small river at the bottom. I however had long since parted company with my bike in a Superman style. I could see my bike below, it’s progress halted by a tree. Stare at something and you’ll hit it? I landed on my bike, the aforementioned bloody pointy KTM. The next thing I remember is being held aloft by Ross, a fellow DTRA racer and all-round good guy and now my hero. I could only mutter, my thumb hurts.
A snowy day at The Infinite Coconut Forest of Dreams and Huge Climbs
The KTM is amazing, it laughed off the fall and is ready to go, I’m impressed. Coffee and a biscuit later and I’m good to go too. This time when I fall off I’m left with a rather large, what looks like a shark bite, from the sharp and pointy foot peg. I’ve no clue why I fell off. The front mudguard is broken and pointing down to the tyre. Kinda reminds me of snarling Emu.
Remember Rod Hull and Emu, just before Emu attacked, his beak would curl up? Anyway, I pick the bike up and away I go. Another rider is waving furiously and pointing at my front wheel. I think, yYah, alright mate, calm down it’s just a broken mudguard and wave back. He becomes more insistent and blocks my path and is yelling something I cannot hear. He points some more. Ah, now I see. There’s a branch sticking about 2ft beyond my front wheel, split over my gear lever and held in place by a hungry chain. Hmm, perhaps that’s why I’d been pogo'd off.
'Shark bite' Baby shark?
Black thumb nail which subsequently fell off, new scar on my leg, which looks evil and happy at the same time. Next Halloween, I’ll definitely not be wasting time carving a menacing grimace into a pumpkin with a kitchen knife, I’ll just throw it at the foot peg. I’ve had a lovely day and can’t wait to do it all again.