Smillie and Brian went on the first off road course ran by MotoScotland. Here's Smillie's write up.
Two of the Massif had the chance to go on the very 1st off-road course by Motoscotland this year. The one day Introduction to Off Roading.
Myself and young Brian Fraser travelled up by car to Inveraray to the MotoScotland base on the Duke of Argyll's estate?
We were met by Clive and had a brew while we waited for the 3rd man to arrive, Colin Gallacher.
Whilst waiting Clive told us about the history of MotoScotland. Clive, a long time biker and off-road biker had always been puzzled that Scotland had no Off-Road training school. He had the idea several years ago that he could set up such a school. This idea was followed by months and months of research leading to a commitment for him and his wife to move to Scotland. Then the really hard work started.
Clive realised that the reason that there was no Off-Road school in Scotland was that Landowners didn't want anything to do with it. After 2 years and just as they were about to give up they caught a break... The Estate manager for the Duke of Argyll's estate is a mad keen biker... He talked to the Duke and the deal was done.
MotoScotland was born and has access to 55,000 Acres of land near Inveraray with multiple trails. Half a dozen G650GS bikes later and they were ready to go.
That led to us 3 being the 1st customers for MotoScotland.
So... The 3 novices were ready to go, except that young Fraser had already been on 2 courses with BMW in Wales so wasn't quite the novice we were.
So we got on with the induction and Briefing and got the gear on.
It was a roasting hot Sunny day _perfect for mucking about on bike.
A quick study if the Map of estate with routes on marked and we were off.
Well off to the car park to get a run down of the G650GS bikes which were were very capable tools for the job and inspired confidence. Some basics on getting to know the bike - balance, getting on and off, positioning when riding and benefits for road riding.
Some Basic riding on the Tarmac in the estate - practicing basic techniques in a familiar environment and we were off.
We headed through Inveraray, and up the valley at Dubh Loch and onto the estate, practicing on Tarmac all the way. On the estate we made our way up to Lochan Shira where the Tarmac finished and it was stony trails. We cut passed the reservoir and up a steep climb to a disused quarry with fantastic views.
Quarry was ideal as it was flat but had mix of all the terrain you would come across - rocks, gravel, grass, mud, water.
Clive gave us 90 minutes of Technique instruction and practice in quarry - riding, turning, handling, controls, rear wheel sliding, front wheel sliding, engine braking - all to get you used to the feel of offroad riding and build confidence.
Only when Clive was satisfied you were comfortable and had seen you demonstrate the techniques did he let us loose on the estate.
The quarry was the place to drop and pick up the bike and Colin had several opportunities to practice. I had a clatter on a rock and fully tested the bash plate, but it and I stayed on the bike. Ten minutes later I was on my arse when I fell during a turn and ended up with my foot stuck under the bike. Seeing my predicament Brian rode over to laugh at me for several minutes before getting off to help me up. Bastard!
Smug git that he is, Brian never fell off all day.
Then it was a wee run up past the quarry and back and then back to Inveraray for lunch.
Lunch and a quick change of clothes required for me. A hot day, off road biking and a fat, unfit forty something combines into sweaty breeks and t-shirt.
Again, Smug wee git Fraser, thin, young and fit found it all nae probs.
After lunch we went for rides on trails to practice putting all these together.
First down the valley to the best view at the end of the trail.
Rest stops, water and energy bars were required all day.
By about 4 pm I was totally ended. There were some muscles that hadn't been worked for 15 years that were complaining big time and I was physically wrecked from lugging my weight around all day standing on a bike. It bloody physical work.
We headed back to Inveraray and stopped down the last valley in the estate for Clive to point out Rob Roy McGregor's cottage. A most underwhelming experience as it's a square of stone walls about 3 stones high and about 500 yards down the hill.
Tempting though it sounded we didn't have time to walk down for a look - shame!
Thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Even though I was physically knackered at the end.
Clive was very focused on the trainees needs and enjoyment and made sure we did what we wanted. He made me feel comfortable and confident from the start and I did pretty well, but not as well as Smug Fraser.
Day ended with the inevitable photo with certificate then a long drive home.
Words and photos by Smillie.