What better way to spend a sunny Sunday morning than messing about on dirt bikes!
It's been a good few years since I have been off road in any capacity, the last time being on our old BMW F650, riding some tracks in the valley near my home. This would be different though, a two and a half hour training session with a flat track twist.
XRTraining is based in the grounds of the Ricardo Tormo GP circuit just outside Valencia, they have a mostly hard packed gravely compound, however, there are some areas of sand to catch you out. The bikes are small Honda CRF 100's which for me were a bit cramped but were perfectly capable for the job.
Attending the course with my son gave the opportunity for a few laughs as we both got things wrong for most of the session, but it was a very easy going group we were with and the instructors, while professional. were quite laid back.
After outfitting us with appropriately fitting off-road gear and protection we then did a short exercise routine to warm up some muscles that don't get used much before a safety briefing and bike instruction. The two instructors spoke a little English but I mostly managed with my poor Spanish and an occasional translation from my son Luke.
After all of the preparation, we were off for the first exercise, which consisted of riding figure 8's around some cones, we were split up and had a set of cones each so there was no waiting around. This gave us a chance to practice body position and slow speed control. It's a bit weird at first sitting so far forwards after years of riding road bikes. It feels quite unnatural and coupled with the small size of the bikes made for an interesting session of trying to keep my arms in the right place, head pointing in the right direction and legs either folded up or pointing straight out. The instructors rode between each of us giving additional feedback which helped.
Next the first of a couple slow races, for those that don't know you all lineup and set off at the same time riding as slowly as possible towards a finish line. the last person wins and you are disqualified if you put a foot down. This helps with slow speed control and balance, I have done it before and have practised on a mountain bike as well as a road bike on occasion, I wasn't disqualified first which was a bonus.
After a short break and some water, we were off again, this time to practice braking and locking the back wheel up to take tighter turns. This was hilarious. In small groups, we manoeuvred around a series of four cones in a square and skidded around them. I think all but a couple of us fell off at least once, but everyone had great fun doing it.
After another break and some more exercises, we were let loose on the gravel circuit for a 15-minute session to round out the event. Great fun was had charging around the circuit and I was amazed at how much of the training I remembered and actually helped.
The course we took was an introductory level and both really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. There are shower facilities on site for afterwards and good quality safety equipment to use during the sessions, I would recommend you take your own helmet if you don't like wearing other peoples, just be aware that you may fall off in it.
Enjoy the video.