On 5th & 6th August 2007, we embarked on a fabulous two-day training exercise with BMW’s off-road school in Wales. Arriving the night before we checked in to the Abercrave Inn just a few miles down the road, bursting with anticipation and excitement at what lay ahead. Next morning, at breakfast, we met several bikers clad in off-road gear and it became clear that we weren’t the only ones there who were going back to school!
We arrived early to sign up and sort out boot hire before grabbing a cup of tea and being issued with our bikes for the duration of the course. (Or so the theory goes! Between us we managed to dismember and disembowel a total of three bikes!)
The course was brilliant – more than either of us had expected. Our instructor, Alan, an irish chap nicknamed ‘even bigger paddy’ by his colleagues, had the patience of a god and managed to teach us the tricks of the trade with the greatest of ease, always keeping a calm outward exterior when actually he must have wanted to strangle us sometimes.
The first exercise was, fittingly, how to pick up your bike. This is a helpful skill to have, especially when you have a habit of tilting sideways and then toppling off! Indeed, Cathy did manage a couple of intimate moments with the ground over the course of the two days, and has the battlescars to prove it. From there it was on to how to break on loose ground, what not to do when you’re riding down steep slopes, and using momentum to tackle sharp rises in the terrain (getting airborne was not part of the deal, but we managed it in the process anyway!). Next came ‘how to recover a bike when you’ve stalled it on a steep rise’, a task Cathy managed to turn into ‘watch me roll down the hill like a Gloucester cheese’!