For my birthday Sander gave me a trial bike clinic. And since he does not like to stand there all day and watch, he gave himself also a trial bike clinic. So today is the day, we are going to Enschede for some sand, mud and small bikes. The weather predictions are not too bad, only 1 mm rain and not too warm.
We received an introduction letter with does and don’t s. One of the remarks was that there are no toilets on the terrain, so before we go to the trial terrain we stop at the public toilet mentioned in the letter. I walk to the door and see that the building is closed. We are at the university of Twente, I stroll around a bit and find the gym, after this pit stop we continue to the trial terrain.
Luckily the group is in total only about 10 persons, the other guys (all men) are a group of (somewhat older) friends. It is a relief for me that there are not too many people and no testosterone driven 18 year old’s. Two of the guys have never driven a motorbike or manually shifted moped before, they get an extra introduction before they are allowed to drive. The entire group gets an introduction with some more does and especially don’t s. We walk two routes, the beginner / easy route and an advanced route. Once we've seen the routes we are allowed to kick start our motorbikes and ride. That kick starting turns out to be my first challenge. No way I can kick start these bikes! After the instructor started my bike I can also take off.
At first it feels very weird. We are not allowed to shift gears and also the throttle is restricted. Therefore there is not a lot of power left in the machines. Also the lack of a saddle feels very weird. On the plus -side, these bikes are super light! If you don't make the turn and have to put a foot on the floor it feels no different then on my bicycle!
After the first round I stop and let Sander take over my bike (it is not allowed that we all have our own bike) his first meters look as weird as I imagine mine may have looked. Also he struggles with the weight of the bike (or better, the lack of weight), the small steps, and driving around on the clutch.
We ride some laps, take a break, and ride some more laps. We both can't recall which bike we had at first but we learn during the day that we have a preference for 1 particular bike. There are 2 or 3 that are sooo slow. One is so slow that when I ride up the hill after the rain fall I can't make it to the top and slide down in the mud. Only with my ass very very far to the back and full throttle I can climb up the hill (that is only 1 meter high).
I stick to the beginners lap and make some extra detours in it to practice small turns. Unfortunately I am not able to make small turns, also not with these light bikes, I'm still to scared to lean over the bike. Sander is of course more brave, he also tries to ride the advanced lap but also he is not able to complete it successfully. In the end it doesn't really matter if we can ride the laps or not, we do learn a lot and most important of all, we have fun!
Around four o'clock we have seen enough sand and mud, we grab a beer, the signal for end of riding time. We cool down at the snack corner with our beer and chips and watch the other guys that still are riding around. An hour later we decide it is time to go home. We are tired, the sky is looking grey and we are getting cold, so we decide to take the highway back home.
The ride home turned out to be a real nightmare. With more than 100 km to go we end up in a very big rain fall. Of course we have rain clothes.... at home.... I wear my old motorbike jacket, the inner liner that should be rain proof is completely gone and with only 1 minute riding in the rain I find out that my trousers are also not rain proof. Within 5 minutes we both have a socking wet bottom, Sander has a wet belly and I have wet arms. Besides the rain we also have heavy side winds at some points which makes driving even less fun. Completely frozen we arrive at home, we don't take the time to park the bikes in their parking place, we just put them next to the house and run upstairs to take a shower as quick as possible. It takes half an hour before we are defrosted.