This was the first of two TVAM exclusive trail riding weekends in mid-Wales with Steph Jeavon’s off-road school “Moto Junkies” and organised by Phil Donovan. When I saw this event on Groups.io all the places were already taken – disappointing as I was keen to try out Moto Junkies new Honda CRF300L bikes; Dave Thorpe of Dave Thorpe Honda had recommended the bike as capable of dealing with most trails along the tarmac ride to the trail head. A call to Phil put me on the reserve list and happily for me, a place came available.
The selected starting point was only a few miles from the Welsh border. Five of us set off from Moto Severn Services near the M48 bridge at 9am Friday for a full day’s ride with Phil leading and selecting the best roads from memory, with a bit of help from an actual paper map. Eventually, after a good day’s riding exploring some great Welsh roads, we found a line of parked bikes outside the hotel near Welshpool and joined the other five TVAM’ers in our group who were already drinking beer in the evening sun.
After a lovely meal and good evening, Steph and her team joined us for a drink and briefing! By 10am Saturday morning we were all splendidly kitted out in new full body armour and dirt bike clothing and were introduced to the bikes: Honda CFR300Ls and Royal Enfield Himalayans. So we set off for a morning in the training field. Our tutor explained the necessary principles and techniques of loose-surface riding which naturally we quickly mastered and were soon sure-footedly speeding around the wet grass in the hilly field. Following an early lunch we confidently headed out to conquer the trails.
Our confidence grew as we flew along in advanced style – but then the road width dwindled to a track and the tarmac turned to wet mud, progress slackened to walking pace and then to no pace at all. The cause of the stoppage was a slight left-hand bend with a muddy puddle on the exit; we had slipped up (and over) at the first turn.
After quite an extended delay and lots of help from our training team to keep the sliding bikes upright, we reached the end of the rather short off-road section. Our group expressed concern that we seemed to have been dropped in at the deep end!
Tony our instructor looked slightly perplexed; not so – this was the easiest track in the area! We agreed to head for less-challenging routes and the day unfolded into an excellent ride, partly on narrow tarmac lanes and partly on loose surfaces.
With the sun shining and now welcoming the novel challenges, this became a fresh adventure and a new skill set, from which we could all benefit and to some degree integrate into our road riding. Sunday saw our confidence and competence grow with all manner of off-camber, steep and loose surfaces conquered.
As with all TVAM trips, a good part of the fun was created by the group, meeting new faces and turning old acquaintances into friendships. Steph and the Moto Junkies team made the experience great fun, provided a good structured learning environment and tailored the weekend to suit our talents. All of us agreed we had a great time and would be back again next year for round two!
First published in Slipstream October 2021