As you know i have my little CRF230 which i love, but have seriously struggled ‘playing’ at our woods,those logs are way too big for me to get over without having a girly outburst and crying! So a couple of times recently Rich and I have gone green laning around the Salisbury area, which i really enjoyed (Despite falling of in a puddle that felt like it was as big as Lake Windermere LOL). This lead to a ‘friend of a friend of a friend’ getting in touch because his Wife had recently booked a days trail riding with EPM Experience in Basingstoke and wondered if i was interested in going along too. Without really thinking what was likely to be involved i agreed and Rich booked it for me and my best friend Rachel to go. Rachel like me has lots of years road riding experience, but hardly any offroad, in fact she has only done our woods with me a couple of times.
So, it was all arranged for 12 March, to meet Kirsty from EPM at a layby in Basingstoke at 9.45am. We arranged to hire bikes from them as Rich had already booked onto South Reading’s Enduro at Blewbury, and that meant we couldn’t use the van to get our bikes there. Also thought it would save any problems arising if either of our bikes wouldn’t start or had a problem. Rachel and I picked up Niki (the local friend of a friend) at 8.30 and we set off. We soon established that neither of us had any real dirt bike experience, Niki had done one green lane previous, so it was apparent that me with my few times at the wood and 2 lots of green laning was the most experienced.........Gulp did we know what we were letting ourselves in for? The chat on the way was mostly girly rubbish, and a lot of nerves at not really knowing what to expect. We arrived that the said layby at 9.45am, but Kirsty hadn’t arrived yet. There was another girl sat in a car waiting, Sandy, who after introductions we discovered had NO off road experience at all.......LOL this was going to be a fun day! Kirsty and her Dad (Keith) arrived and shorty after and the bikes were unloaded, AJP’s, i had specifically asked for a nice low one due to my lack of height, and they had 2, which were allocated to Sandy and Myself being the two shorter ones. Mine was a 125 and the others were 200. We had a little play up and down the layby to get us used to the bikes and to wait for Dave who was going to lead for the day.
Then we were off, out of the layby and up the A339 a short distance until we took a left turn down a short lane and then that was it.......offroad we went, and no easy start as we were straight into ‘nice’ rutty terrain, which inevitably like i always do i chose the deepest rut of the lot so struggled straight away. Rachel was quite surprised at the speed that we started off at, although i felt confortable with it. We had been told that the first rutty bit was probably the worst part of the local lanes, so that was quite encouraging. We all made it through the ruts unscathed, and all still the right side up, and our day was off and running, we went along lots of different lanes and tracks all keeping a safe distance from the bike in front and enjoying the lovely scenery (yes ok what a girly comment!). A little way into the ride Dave who was leading rode over this jump that none of us could see the other side off, Sandy who was behind Dave went next and the other side was a massive dip and puddle and she fell off, (our first fall of the day), Rachel closly behind thought to herself OMG but thought it was the way were were going and just went on over, and made it look so easy, Niki had got there and decided to stop and evaluate it, and by the time i got there Kirsty was alongside us all saying that it wasn’t actually the route and that we didn’t have to go over it if we didn’t want to.......that was enough for Niki and myself and we took the easy route. Kirsty said that we would come back this way if we wanted to have a play later.
We carried along the lanes and countryside, the weather was lovely and we were all glad we had shed a layer before leaving the layby, We had started off at Basingstoke, and had headed in a westerly direction, and soon enough we had to negotiate the A34 for a short bit........that was quite a nervy experience on our little bikes, all of us being used to bigger road bikes, and I for one felt quite vulnerable with no mirrors and no leathers, but soon enough we took a turn off back onto a nice piece of countryside, to which Dave took us round a massive puddle, and i promplty got stuck in the mud on the side of it, and everyone else just went straight through it. I eventually got myself out of the mud and the bush that i seemed to have headed into and caught up with everyone else, this another quite rutty bit and due to getting stuck i had lost a bit of confidence and seemed to go to pot a bit,but luckily there was an area with a very steep hill that Dave and Kirsty had a bit of a play on, so that gave us all time for a quick drink and for me to compose myself again.
On we went, and this time we had the worst ruttyness yet, and Niki and I chose the deepest one, and this time it was Niki’s turn to part company with her bike, which she did in style, after a short fight with the bike she managed to get it back into the rut so that we could all carry one. This lead us into a lovely grassy field, that we all had some fun blasting across. The other side of this we had a short track before coming to a bit of a dead end, and at this stage we all decided it was time for lunch, so the search was on for a pub. We really were in the middle of no where, so we had a short ride back the way we had come, and then took a turning off to what we hoped might be a bit of a village, unfortunately we rode for quite a way and came across nothing, so we all stopped and Dave went on ahead to try and find something, were we had stopped was outside a rather large house, and after being there for 5 minutes or so a lovely oldish gentleman can out drinking from his silver tankard (how the other half live!) and enquired as to whether we were ok, so we asked his advise on somewhere local to get some food. He pointed us in the direction of the The George in St Mary Bourne, and I have to say it was the nicest pub lunch i have ever had, and very reasonably priced too. Keith Dave and Kirsty all commented on how much faster and more competent we all were compared to the start of the day, and thought we were all doing brilliantly.
So with full tummies it was time to try and find our way back, which Dave managed to do effortlessly, and the terrain really didn’t seem quite so bad on the homeward trip. We had time to stop and play in a wooded area, with some hills up and down to practice on........now my turn to fall off, OK so common sense tells you if you lose the go up a hill and stop not to pull the clutch lever in.........try telling that to my hands that were pulling at every lever i could find to stop falling backwards.....haha it didn’t work and me and the bike ended up in a heap at the bottom!
We moved onto another area (the area at the start with the jump), and it had lots of bumpy woopy bits that Rach, Sandy and myself enjoyed playing on (sorry to the unimpressed horseriders that came by), Niki decided that she was a bit too tired and wanted to go home in one piece so she watched. Rach not wanting to go home being the only one to have not fallen off did it in style in a nice big puddle. We spent about 10 minutes there playing before it started to get a bit gloomy and cold, so we all headed for the layby.
We arrived back at the layby at about 4pm, and all agreed what a great day it had been, and a great experience for us all, and a big confidence boost.
Big thanks to Kirsty, Keith and Dave from EPM Experience for day.