We’re in South Wales at Dave Thorpe’s Off-Road Centre. There’s a scarily steep slag heap situated at the top of the mountain, just off the Brecons, and it looks like we’re riding the highest part of the surrounding valleys. To give you some idea of the altitude, we can look down and see the tips of gargantuan wind turbines beneath and our guide – ex-GP rider, Stephen Sword – tell us that a helicopter recently crashed into this heap of slags.
It’s no normal day in the Valleys, boyo. John McGuinness and a few of his über talented mates joined myself and a few other journos for a session in dicking about on Honda CRF250s. Chippy Wood – enduro supremo and world-class photographer – gets stuck halfway up the slag heap and consequently rolls back down awkwardly. That was enough for me to sit this little section out, admire the landscape and look busy holding a camera. Look, an eagle.
McPint isn’t exactly renowned for posting gym selfies on twitter or busting the miles on a pushrod. His training consists of as much motocross, trails and enduro, speedway or any other petroleum-based action in between a hectic PR schedule. You can’t argue with his exercise protocol – it seems being bike-fit is more than enough to ensure a Senior TT victory and smashing lap records.
Off-roading is all about pushing yourself but above all else, having fun. During the first 30 minutes of our trail ride, I was way out of my comfort zone, lacking confidence to attack scary-looking climbs or drops and, in general, felt like a complete nobber surrounded by riding royalty. I don’t ride enough to become instantly competent but soon loosened up and enjoyed the most fun I’ve had on two-wheels in ages.
My chicken korma/mustard attire returned to its spiritual surroundings in the afternoon, when we were let loose on the hillside motocross track in Ynyswbwl. Constantly graded and treated, there are no nasty doubles, triples or colossal jumps to scare novices, although it’ll please pro-level riders with its natural challenges. McGuinness was first out in the morning and last to leave the MX track…
Video coming soon…
Thanks to: Bennetts for organising the job, Chippy Wood for the snaps, Dave Thorpe and Stephen Sword for hosting – http://www.davethorpehondaoffroad.com/ . And McPint for the #bants