Motorcycle Explorer Issue 17 - Page 66

Feature: off-road training in scotland

HEAD UP!

It’s a call that will now live with me for as long as I dare don a pair of MX boots! I’ve just got back from a 2-day course with MotoScotland for Off Road riding skills.

I turned up with rather a few years and miles under my belt from road riding and can quote RoadCraft with the best of them. I was not prepared for how much I would learn over the 2 days and why this school earns you up to 10% discount on your insurance.

I walked into the portacabin office and said hello to my fellow students for the 2-day session, that would see rain on both days. Andy (who lost a shit load of weight just to come and do this course, good on you Andy), Jen, Julie and John’s ages ranged from 30 to 49 and various degrees of ability. The level of ability did not matter it turned out as Clive Rumbold, the head rider at MotoScotland runs a course. Now, I do mean a course and it was as well structured and delivered as any I have been on with the military or any other educational body. I’ve been on a few off-road jaunts and most give you the basics and then off you go. Not so here, you learn and you practice in full before moving into the practical application.

You spend hours (that fly by) repeating your skills and building up your knowledge and tweaking your ability with the bike. Clive starts everyone off at the base level with say a back skid... but you don’t just rev up and slam on the brake... oh no. This is a course, as I said. Clive goes through why you skid, how you skid and what to expect when you skid. When a skid is becoming dangerous and how to correct that, how to brake and what brake to apply under what conditions. The whole thing is explained to you and then demonstrated by Clive. You then have a tentative go at a rear skid and think “what was all the fuss about?” so you have another go a bit faster. By the end of the session your skidding halfway across the quarry with a devil may care grin on your face and a bike under total control. So now if the back locks up when I’m going down a wet, muddy hill I’m not going to panic, I know what to do and how to do it, in truth you kind of hope your back locks up so you can apply the training and get a “well done” nod from the Maestro.