Published on December 20th, 2006 | by Boris
I FEEL SO DIRTY…
It had been a year to the day since the cruel ground of Binacrombi last supped on my trembling body. I broke both my hands the first time Ian took me “dirt-riding” there as a way of easing my non-licenced suffering. I guess he figured my time would go easier if I was wracked with pain and not thinking about having no licence.
He’s thoughtful like that, is Ian. So when he next decided it was time to get dirty, I decided I had too much riding to do on the roads during the holidays to risk being maimed in some nameless rock-strewn gully.
“I shall not fall off this time, bastard,” I informed him. “I’m through with that, and your connection with my pain centres is over. This weekend I break the Buckley jinx.”
“Or you break Buckley,” he leered at me.
That is always an option once I regain the use of my limbs,” I leered back, and went off to start packing.
We had been gifted with an appalling array of motorcycles to experience. Two gorgeous-looking Husqvarnas (the TE510 and the TE250), a brace of shining off-red Hondas (the CRF450 and the CRF230), and a pair of shimmering blue Yamahas (the WR250 and my old friend, the TT-R250).
Once we’d pulled up at the cabins, the masturbating started. As the only true not-a-dirt-bike-rider’s-shit there, the only observation I had to offer was that the Huskys looked great, the Hondas looked almost as trick and the Yamahas were a pretty blue colour. The rest of them, including our two experts (Rob, the HART riding instructor whose tutelage has saved my life several times, and Dino, an immensely skilled BEARS racer and dirt-bike rider extraordinaire), were busily rubbing themselves into an itchy rash at the wealth of motorcycle magnificence on the trailers.
Al (our technical Weblord) and Ali had also come along as our beginners, and they would occupy Rob until they could no longer continue… which for Ali was an hour after she started, while Al managed to see out Saturday, but since he’d lost the use of his arms and legs by that evening, sat out Sunday morning.
Early Saturday we set out on a scouting trip for camera locations, shooting angles and death-drops that’d look great on film, while Rob gave Al and Ali some needed theory lessons. It was overcast and cool, which from a dirt-riding point of view is most welcome. Naturally, being the least experienced of the three (Mick, Ian and Dean all had dirt skills I was several generations away from ever attaining), I chose to ride the monstrous 510 Husky. I figured that if I was gonna be crippled early in the piece, this is the one that would do it the most efficiently.
Two minutes after we left, I was riding alone. It wasn’t surprising, and I knew the blokes would wait at any deviation, so I wasn’t fussed. Besides, given their level of ability versus mine, them riding herd on me was not gonna fill their weekend with wonder and joy.
Ian’s “easy track” very soon developed into what Binacrombi is rightly famous for — rock-strewn hell-trails that fall and climb and fall again, with a myriad of bone-crushing obstacles and flesh-piercing trees. The big Husky proved not to be the maneater I imagined it to be, and chugged along quite happily in second and third. It steered beautifully and while it took me a bit to get used to how deeply recessed the brake and gear levers were, I was finding it a most welcome companion. Oh, it had grunt alright. As Rob later observed: “It doesn’t actually wheelstand as much as it just hoiks its front wheel off the ground and buggers off at an immense rate of knots…”
I was doing very little of that, and was rather occupied sawing at the handlebars like a maniac and trying to follow the settling dust cloud of my companions. Then I heard their engine notes become more urgent and watched as they broke cover and started to climb some boulder-flecked monstrosity of a hill over to my right.
I immediately set off in pursuit, and found myself mountain-goating up the trail they were on, the 510 proving yet again that even a beginner can feel warm and cuddly on its mighty back.
Suddenly Mick crashed in front of me. And I had to stop or Mick and the Husky would have got much closer than was good for either of them.
“BUUGGGGEERRRR!” I shrieked at nothing in particular, ‘cos Mick had picked himself and his bike up and continued on his merry way upward, while I was trapped sideways atop a rock on a stalled bike I could barely touch the ground on.
I then marvelled at how easily Dean spun his bike around, then leaped it from shelf to crumbling shelf until he was beside me.
“I’ll give you a hand, mate,” he grinned, as I fell off the side of the bike and crumpled to the ground. I was immediately going to offer to bear his children, but he swung off his amazing Husaberg, hopped onto the Husky, spun it in its own length and bounded off down the hill to get a run up and come back up in an explosion of noise and stones and dust. He parked it a meter away from where I was, on a level patch of ground, gave me a wink, kicked his bike into life and went rocketing back up the mountainside.
To say I was humbled and awed is an understatement. I could ride dirt from now until Armageddon and still not attain such talent.
That was actually the most challenging part of the loop we were on, and on the way back to the cabins to summon the camera crew (Steve and Goran, both of whom performed so well in such trying and difficult terrain it’s hard for me to thank them enough. The incredible footage they shot will be their testament) and head back to the places we wanted to film at.
But first we needed to film Al and Ali taking their tentative steps on the tabletop flat of the 100-acred motocross track. Al crashed first, but got up smiling, only to be followed in short order by Ali, who didn’t get up very quickly at all.
And when she did, she was clutching her arm.
“Good work, Rob,” I smiled, patting him on the back. “You’ve broken her.” But I was actually feeling a lot of sympathy for the girl. Dirt, as someone on the site observed, rhymes with “hurt” for a reason. You will fall off. Everybody does, just as everybody falls off on a racetrack.
Whether you get up a again is another matter all together, but going dirt-bike riding and telling yourself you’ll be unmarked is just nonsense. To Ali’s eternal credit, she did manage to ride the bike back to the cabins, whereupon she gave herself over to pain and pain-killers. The rest of us (apart from Al and Rob, who still had things they needed to go over before Rob deemed Al suitably instructed to attempt an actual track) pissed off to do some filming.
How I didn’t crash is beyond me. I should have. On some stretches where I had to sandwich myself between Mick’s bellowing great mass, Dean’s insane skill-level and Ian’s rearing front wheel bobbing centimetres from the back of my head, I was totally out of control.
I was terrified and exhilarated at the same time. My body would punish me for it in a day or two, but for the moment, I was an all-action figure being bounced and rocketed from boulder to boulder like a floppy-limbed corpse.
We shot the shit out of some stuff, and repaired back to the cabin to drink several beers, before setting out once again to film some hard motocross action on the 100-acre field. What? You didn’t know there existed a place where you could kill a few beers and then go for a ride? Go dirt-riding and all will be revealed.
So there we were, happily leaping off small jumps (I landed three properly out of 40 ‘other’ landings where my testicles, kidneys and bits of spleen went for a swim in the back of my throat), when Steve felt it would look good on camera if the three of us went into a turn and off the berm all abreast, like we were trying hard or something.
It worked well enough, despite my shrieks of terror, until Mick came off and whacked himself in the knee. There is a lot of Mick and a corresponding amount of knee, so it couldn’t have been pleasant for him. But being stoically English, he merely grimaced and gritted his teeth when Ian started to poke him with a stick to see if it really hurt or not.
That evening, we gathered around a roaring campfire (building fires is something I can do very well) to drink as only big sweaty men can. We had feasted on steak and stories and were now laughing hard enough for it to hurt, as beer after beer after bourbon after beer made its healing way through our systems.
Some time that night, well into the cheery darkness that only industrial amounts of booze and suffering can bring to men, a man came to our campsite holding a glass of cheap white wine. He observed in a drunken slur that Mick was very large and looked like he could handle himself. He was not the first nor will he be the last to observe this self-evident fact. But he was probably the first in a long time to make an attempt to tackle Mick.
I can only imagine this was done in drunken jest. But Mick, while possessed of a wonderful sense of humour with his friends and people he knows, promotes a zero tolerance policy with drunks clutching glasses of cheap piss. He side-stepped the tackle and the drunk went reeling off a few metres. The rest of us were just watching, since there was no need to bring overwhelming force to bear, when an overwhelming force was already there.
Having failed in his first attempt, the drunk came wallowing back for round two. This time, his tackle was a good deal harder and more aggressive. Mick’s response was proportional and the drunk hit the ground, then slid, rolled three times and had some difficulty getting to his feet for the comforting hug he now felt was his right.
“You’re so big!” he squawked, trying to embrace Mick, who was not actually at his most huggable right then, and walked off before an overwhelming urge to remove the drunk’s arms and legs became too strong to resist.
The rest of us laughed like drains. And the cameras whirred silently, capturing all things for posterity.
The next morning, hangovers were suitably dealt with by still further injections of dirty goodness, even as I pounded myself stupid trying to attain still greater and sicker air. I stopped after the handlebars of the Yamaha struck my helmet chin-piece with ferocious power and made me see some bright lights.
Ali had left earlier and Al was limping and swaying about the place like a punch-drunk ibis. Mick had also decided to sit out the morning session ‘cos his knee was starting to look like a watermelon, and he busied himself taking the photos you see here. The rest of us, Ian, Dean, Rob, Steve, Goran and I just wallowed like hogs among the glorious dirt-eaters we had at our disposal.
Dean actually wore the tops off his unnaturally dark nipples jumping the bikes over everything higher than a metre, and even Steve showed some of his early motocross class on some sections. Goran, who is far too young and fit to be hanging out with us, had had a tumble on Saturday and wasn’t inclined to back up, but Ian impressed everyone (himself the most) by actually thumping out a few meaningful wheelies.
For my part, I was just pleased I could actually help load the bikes onto the trailers this time. The Buckley jinx was broken and I wasn’t. Hah!
Our Guest Testers:
A wild and crazy BEARS racer, with dirt skills far beyond those of regular weekend punters. From whence this genius springs is anyone’s guess. But watching this bloke ride dirt is like watching mountain goats with helmets scale cliffs. Dino was able to wheelstand everything on request and happily launched himself over jumps so high mortals would need oxygen and climbing gear merely to ascend. He brought immense amounts of good humour and advice for mongs like Borrie with him, and refuses to comment on whether he was offered oral sex in exchange for helping Borrie off the cliff-face he was stranded on.
A HART riding instructor and the man who gave Borrie his grounding in the dirt, Rob is the gentlest most patient teacher ever to bung on a pair of bike boots. He possess just the right sense of humour and wit to impart vital information, like: “Don’t look down! The speedo will return to zero all by itself!” He spent many hours coaching Al and Ali while the rest of us were sweating and measuring our manhoods against the rock-blasted slopes of Binacrombi. And only when he’d broken both the beginners did he indulge his own dirty needs.