All that’s required is a steady throttle and I’d easily flick the front end round the turn. It might take a bit more skill to accelerate up the climb as, at almost 45º, it’s quite steep coming just after an almost 180º turn, but confidence has never been lacking – ability maybe but not confidence – and the B40 is quite low geared. So low geared in fact that using second gear for most sections in an event like the pre 65 Scottish is feasible, though for the obstacle I’m studying it’s more probable bottom gear is the way forward. So, where am I? Some off-road paradise, with a variety of sections where my rusty skills can be brought up to scratch and honed to if not perfection, then a reasonable standard? Actually I’m in the Metro Centre near Gateshead, it’s early morning and a couple of days before Christmas; there are a few shoppers wandering about, early birds like me, hoping to beat the crowds.
A shopping centre isn’t exactly the natural habitat of an off-road rider, though I doubt I’m the only one who can appreciate the opportunities afforded by such places to practise on a trials bike. The tight turn and climb I’m looking at is a double staircase with a landing midway up that is just about wide enough to turn a trials bike in. However, the chances of actually attempting some of these tasty obstacles are likely to go from extremely slim to non-existent, but it doesn’t stop me eyeing up exactly where I’d place my wheels.
One of the things about a shopping centre is the incredible variety of shops in the places, which is the whole idea I suppose. A casual glance at my fellow shoppers shows they range from determined couples searching for kids’ stuff to organised ladies with an agenda and bloke-looking-for-other-half’s-pressie.
This last group contains me and we all display similar traits: we look worried, we look lost, we are uncertain… we have a list. The lists are helpfully provided by equally worried other halfs still reeling from the shock of opening last year’s pressie in front of the kids, her parents or friends.
Clutching our lists we head for the correct shops – also helpfully annotated on the list – and attempt to negotiate with the young girls behind the counter. I generally find this bit reasonably easy, not because I’m a smooth talker able to charm girls a third of my age but because I long ago accepted a simple fact – the sales assistant knows I’ve got a list, knows it was provided by the present’s recipient and is just attempting to protect a simple shred of my dignity by asking if I wanted perfume or something called eau de toilette?
Anyway, the helpful young lady in the perfume shop came out with: “Eeh, hey, a man who knows what he wants,” when I went for the perfume… like I’d know the difference, and anyway the aroma of Castrol R has always been good enough for me. She knew it was clearly stated on the list but, in case she’s reading this, a heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes out to her for maledom in general.
This shopping lark is a funny thing isn’t it? Generally speaking there are other shops in such centres that are more to our taste and ones where we off-roaders are more likely to be comfortable being in and, of course, more knowledgeable when discussing such technical terms that are used in them. “Yes, I’ve got that size but it’s only in 3⁄8th drive, we’ve had a run on them in 1⁄2in,” holds few fears for us as we can bounce back with “that’ll be fine, I’ve an adapter”.
But imagine a whole shopping centre devoted to off-road? It would be bliss, at least for us involved in the sport. Imagine, new bikes lined up, the latest in spares, the latest in accessories, the latest in tools and the latest in riding gear. We’d have no problems browsing and could talk the talk and walk the walk. Okay, if you’re anything like me then a list would still be part of the experience as we wouldn’t want to forget anything now would we? Nearest thing to such a shopping centre for us would be a show like the International Dirt Bike Show – acres of stands with trials, scrambles, MX and enduro stuff everywhere.
Once you’ve shopped then you’re going to need events to ride in and, rather like a shopping centre, the off-road calendar for 2013 is packed full of such diversity that all off-road tastes will be catered for. Trust me on this, there is something on in every discipline on every weekend and there are all of 2012’s postponed events to squeeze in too, best ride nights as well. Here’s to a drier sporting 2013 from all of us at Classic Dirtbike and we’ll see you out there on a track, in a section, belting along a fire trail, but above all having a whale of a time.
Catch up on all that’s good in the off-road world...
Tim Britton, Editor
In the four years since Tim Britton gripped the editorial handlebars of Classic Dirt Bike, the premier publication for classic off-roaders, the off-road scene has grown exponentially to encompass bikes from Brit classics to Japanese Evos and all sorts in between.
The Geordie lad has been gripping off-road handlebars for real in trials, scrambles and enduros for nearly 40 years and has often been labelled 'enthusiast', occasionally labelled 'mad' and with a philosophy based around 'I don¹t have to be good, I just have to be there' has entered events all over the UK and had a whale of a time with a multi-tasking 650 Triumph, a Bultaco Sherpa and a BSA B40.
He is a living example that you should 'try the dirty side of motorcycling... it's fun'.
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