Thetford Forset Off Road 70+ Mile Loop

13051585_10153568489722475_2284716333563600294_n
Learning to jump the beast!

Today was one of the best motorcycling days I’ve ever had, EVER!

I’ve been riding since I was 16, but never have I had a day like today!

Pretty much 99% of my riding over the last 24 years had been on road, and the short tracks I’ve taken off road when camping or messing about have been just that, short and messing about……………Well today was different. It was long and there was no messing about!

I joined up with a Facebook group called Adventure Bike Trail Riding a few months ago with an interest to find out more about riding off road. [I know, yes I can do the BMW off road 3 day course at various levels, but that’s £500 each level, and today was no more than cost a tank of Petrol, a Mars bar and a bottle of water, & it was most likely, more fun in a day than you would ever get on a course.] They organise group ride outs along certain green lanes up and down the country and are associated with Trail Rider Fellowship (TRF) who are a fantastic organisation dedicated to using, and maintaining the UKs rich, and historic lanes. you can join the TRF here.

I met up with another rider from the group in London this morning, and we rode up together to the meeting place……the Red lodge Transport Cafe, in the Thetford, Suffolk!

IMG_4812
Red Lodge Transport Cafe

On arrival we were greeted by the other guys that had already arrived, grabbed a cup of coffee, a bite to eat, introduced ourselves, talked about our bikes, off road riding experiences, general chatter and fun patter.

When all the riders had arrived Chris & Mark gathered everyone around and briefed us all about the days riding ahead, the rough route, what kind of terrains to expect, protocol if we met horses, dog walkers and other cars, Then we were given the choice of joining the FAST or FASTER GROUP! That choice, for me was simple, the FAST one, as I did not want to injure myself trying to keep up with the elite riders as for me, this was my first real DAY of Green lanes and off road tracks…..EVER!

After that, people divided up and joined up with the group of their own preferred riding speed. Each group was given a brief training session about how the ride worked, about the lead rider and his instructions he would give to the group, that there would be a sweeper: someone who has done the ride before has off road/green lane experience and who rides last and makes sure everyone gets through OK!

With that in mind the FASTER group left first, 5 minutes later it was us!

We turned right out of the Cafe, left into a side road and into the first green lane of the day! Mud and slippy grass, narrow and bush lined.

IMG_4821.JPG
quick talk to the group about the ‘dual carriageway’ ahead!

Soon it was into another, wider, more muddy track, with ruts and bumps & puddles the size of small swimming pools to ride through!

IMG_4836
Time for a snack!

We covered Mud, sand, Grass, Gravel, Tree stumps, low hanging branches, single track and wide lanes, occasionally onto the tarmac again for a mile or two before we turned left or right into even more lanes! Chris, our ride leader, stopped before each section of terrain and informed us what we could expect to find up ahead.

I rode the best I could for the inexperience I had. Sure I’ve watched off road tutorial videos about techniques and balance, but nothing quite prepares you for the real thing than riding the trails themselves. I rode hard and fast, I came off the bike many times and eventually didn’t worry about it, I had slips and slides on many sides, but I kept pushing on as did the others!

IMG_4835.JPG
My bike was hungry for mud!

I rode through puddles and ruts and deep long trenches of mud and water, sand and gravel and loved every minute of it!

IMG_4848
Another quick snack!

The jump section in the middle of the ride was fantastic. Having only ever jumped my BMX at the skate park as a kid, the GSA is a different beast altogether, but after Chris explained how it worked, we all gave it a shot, some we jumped and landed well, some not so well, but we kept trying, and after a while it felt natural and confidence was gained and we were jumping in and out and skidding around in the mud having FUN!

IMG_4847
JUMPING!

Soon we pushed on through more lanes and fields, passing cattle, gypsy’s and riding through low tunnels & low hanging trees. Some of the group left after 2 thirds of the loop in order to get back home and rest before another full day of off road riding, another because the of the wrong tyre choice [even with the tyre he did really well and earned my respect for the distance and terrain he covered on those tyres]

IMG_4850
Me laying down my GSA to help out the GSA ahead of me from the bush!

Out of nowhere one of our group came off his bike for no real reason on a mud road, and sadly his whole headlight section came cracking off, but it didn’t put him off, he swallowed it up, took it like a man and strapped it to his back seat and carried on

IMG_4859
Headlight assembly missing

.

Whilst dealing with this, the FASTER group came up form behind us and stopped to say hello, and rode off again.

IMG_4861
Lovely KTM!
IMG_4860
Muddy F800GS

We followed on a few minutes later reaching a big green field where we rode around and tried skids, with some success and another bike injury….this time a clutch Lever snapped, but luckily one of the group carried spares which was able t fit the Triumph, so a few minutes of surgery and the bike was ready to go!

IMG_4864
Faster group Catches up with Fast group!

I must say the team spirit was amazing, from a bunch of strangers turning up at a cafe to ride off road, we turned into a team, helping each other out of trouble, lifting bikes up out of the mud over and over again, and looking out for each other like friends!

IMG_4873.JPG
Probably the only BMW Evo6 helmet taken off road!

I’m looking forward to the next time, hopefully on a sunny day and with less mud & water on the ground, but the mud added another dimension and a wide variety of riding conditions that you would not get in the dry. SO much fun! My body hurts from using muscles I never knew I needed to ride a motorcycle, my bike is/was dirty, but it all added to the great day we had!

Here she is having a well earned bath! this time in clean water!

Thanks for reading!

IMG_4880.JPG
Back in London getting cleaned at the American Car Wash open 24\7

One thought on “Thetford Forset Off Road 70+ Mile Loop

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s