Lunch is grabbed at the BMW trailer, with rolls, water, tea and coffee. It's a good chance to bond with the rest of the group, which comprises some keen off-road racers, some less experienced, and some novices who are using the school as a chance to prepare for their own long distance adventuring. Some were even riding their own GS models for practise.
The afternoon was left for actual trail riding, and somehow I ended up with a slightly more advanced group. Yet everyone helped each other by waiting at turnings for the slower riders (me), and giving everyone encouragement at every stop. Despite the challenging terrain, and exhaustion creeping in, I made it back with the group, and in one-piece. Already I'd pushed myself further than I would have done going for a ride on my own, and learnt some tips to make any mishaps easier to deal with. And included in the course is a group three course meal in the Abercrave Inn in Abercrave (01639 731 002) with Si Pavey and Nick Plumb. It's a great chance to ease aching muscles with a few pints, and find out what it is really like to ride 14,000 miles across the desert in two weeks.
It's 8.30am. I'm kitted up and helping to wheel out 30-odd BMW's ready for a new day. No aches, no pains, and a whole stack on enthusiasm. Still I'm sensible enough to join the novice group when we have briefed for the day. On the way out to practise hill riding, we indulge in 'bike gymnastics' riding with one hand off, then one foot, then the other hand etc. I'd love to have seen a train of 12 bikes all trying to sick their legs out at the same point We practise ascending and descending using momentum, rather than wheelspinning out of control to the summit.
And then progress to a huge great incline, on which I proceed to wheelspin so out of control to the summit that I manage to go up the left-hand, more difficult side, when I should have aimed for the right. Still it's not as impressive as my fellow pupil powering over the crest, clearing the trail at the top, and landing half way up the next slope. Or the trio that went to have another go, found themselves on the From Dawn Till Dusk race course, and up to their waists in water before they got stuck. It's a great recommendation that they made it that far before getting held up.
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