The rain did little to dampen the spirits of the +/- 20 women who showed up for the SCORRA (Simcoe County Off-Road Riders Association) Women’s off road motorbike ride day. This event was organized to give women a chance to learn/practice basic riding skills, meet other riders and have some fun! The Off Road Motorbike Ride had new rider Kaveri Wanting More. Here is her story.
Not yet comfortable on my bike, I was apprehensive about whether I was competent enough to even show up for the event. This anxiety only heightened when I arrived that morning and saw confident, smiling women milling around their huge bikes. I gulped and cursed myself (and my husband) for consenting to this.
My husband pushed me from the edge of the action into the group of women like a 5-year-old starting kindergarten, and I knew that I had to suck it up and brave out the day. I desperately hoped that my ability to stop and start the bike, clumsily change gears and go over very small bumps would be enough to go unnoticed in the crowd…but I was skeptical.
Slowly, however, more women wearing nervous grins like my own started showing up and I started to relax. Admittedly, I hoped they would call the whole thing off due to the pouring rain; I had never ridden in the rain. But these childish wishes were quickly dashed when Cecile, our lead instructor for the day, gathered us around.
“I don’t want to hear any complaints about the rain today. If you can do what we are going to do in the rain, you can definitely do it when it’s dry,” she opened up with. Jeez. I was in deep shit.
Cecile, the lead instructor and an accomplished off-road/enduro competitor, introduced the other instructors Vicki, Jaime, Tammy and Allison; while we stood under the protection of a tent from the rain. She then said that we would start with a warm-up ride around the track and called the introductory meeting to an end. A warm-up ride around the track, I had never ridden on a track. My bike wouldn’t start, Cecile ran over to me “I am a total beginner,” I explained, apologetically. “It doesn’t matter”, she replied. “It’s not about speed, just get around the track.” Well, at least I could go slowly. I shouldn’t break too many bones if I am going slowly, right?
The grassy field where I normally practice was a far cry from the muddy, slippery track I was slowly steering my bike towards. I was terrified that I was in over my head. I began puttering around the track, and as I did so, concentrated on relaxing. The track wasn’t that tough, and I was going at a speed that I was comfortable with. There were some tight single-track, hairpin turns and berms and I was elated to be able to maneuver my bike through it all! Once the smaller group exercises began, I completely relaxed. I was in Jaime’s group I was surprised to find out I wasn’t the only newbie.
We started off with maneuvering our bikes through pylons (easy); while standing up (hard). We moved on to exercises practicing braking, shifting up and down in short distances, clutch control and figure 8’s. We finished off the morning with some games like a “slow race” when lunchtime’ arrived, it felt like heaven. I was high on endorphin’s from the physical work-out of the morning and as I sat covered in mud in wet gear on the cold concrete floor eating burgers with my new friends, I realized I was having a great time!
Cecile instructed our group in the afternoon with the help of Vicki. Cecile’s expectations were high and I tried desperately to please her. When practicing the “tabletop”, she wanted us in third-gear before we hit the hill, standing up and attempting to get some air. (Uncharacteristically of me, I actually wanted to get some air at this point).
The day ended with prizes for the girls, gifts for our instructors and cold beverages. Though I wasn’t successful in “getting air”, the event did wonders for my riding confidence. I left with the desire to perfect many skills: shifting gears while standing more clutch control, weighting the pegs, lifting my head and looking as far ahead as I can!
Kaveri Gupta (pictured here) writes regularly for Ontario Bytown Motorcycle Association Newsletter and can likely be found sipping wine, contemplating the freshly cut lawn and trying to find neutral.