on the Horseshoe Pass - North Wales
A friend & I went to North Wales at the weekend,
and did some off-road riding - it was EXCELLENT.
Many of the guys in our Saturday group were
on big 4 stroke KTMs and Husqvarnas, as well
as several Suzi DRZ400s and Yamaha WR 426s.
I didn't take a camera though, so cannot show
you. I met a guy who's put together a little
website though - it's www.crm250.com named after
the trail bike he (and I) ride. He'll be linking
to my site shortly, and we are hoping to set
up another trip to the French Alps again next
year. In his photo gallery, look at the photos
of Horseshoe Pass, as that is where we rode
on Sunday. I've nicked a couple of pictures
from his site, and inserted them in the right
places here, to show you the terrain, even if
the people are not us, on this occasion. I'll
cc this to Vince DiVetta, as I took him there
this Summer, on road bikes, after the non-TT,
and he also rides a dirt bike.
There a few pics of some real nutters there
doing massive jumps. We met two similar characters
there, on full-blown motocross bikes. One was
on a Honda CR250 and the other on a Suzuki RM250.
Both new models. As we didn't know the area
very well, I asked them where we could go to
ride. I should have known better! They were
just kitting up in the car park, and I hadn't
seen how they rode. I should have suspected
however - they were on race bikes, with no number
plates, lights or any spurious stuff that didn't
contribute to a bike's function. They donned
helmets and said, "follow us" before shooting
off in a plume of spraying gravel. They headed
straight for a slate ridge, some 2 or 3 metres
high and almost vertical. Up they went and over
the top into a quarry.
I looked at John, and he looked at me with
a worried look on both our faces. He said, "You
first". Shit. Oh well, go for it. As there wasn't
any obvious alternative, off I went, and actually
cleared the barrier quite easily. These ridges
have been built purposely to try and stop riders
getting into the quarry area - but they just
act as a challenge!
We chased them at quite some speed through
different parts of the quarry, noticing a fearsome
looking ramp constructed off to our left. (That
ramp appears on the CRM website - see photo
We hit a couple of jumps where our local heroes
got 2 or 3 metres of air, and me and my mate
wimped out and did little hops instead!
Then they speeded up and headed for another
slate ridge, near the perimeter fence. I saw
them complete the most enormous jumps so far.
The ridge looked so intimidating, I made up
my mind that I wasn't going to attempt it at
all - not even slowly. As I rode around it,
I saw a barbed wire fence; then it struck me
what they had just done. They had successfully
leapt clean over the perimeter fence - just
like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape. Bollocks
to that I thought - but deep down, I was so
impressed and envious!
There was actually a gate nearby, which they
pointed out to us, so we didn't have to go for
the suicide leap - thank God!
They then lead us across muddy farmland, which
was soft and boggy in parts. You just have to
keep a bit of speed up and hope for the best.
(John slid off 2 or 3 times trying to keep
pace), and then our chaps shot up the biggest,
loose rocky climb I've ever seen - to the top
of a small mountain. It was loose, steep, slightly
rutted and sooooh long! About 1000 feet (?)
to the top! Hit it fast, stand up, gas it hard
all the way in 3rd then 2nd and hold on loosely
but firmly if you know what I mean, as the bike
bucks its way to the top. I made it, but must
admit, it's not something I would have attempted,
if I hadn't been led on by the motocross boys.
They'd disappeared over the top - I couldn't
just chicken out and go back could I?
When I reached the top, heart pounding, I could
see them waiting in the distance, silhouetted
at the summit of the next huge climb. I waited
a while to get my breath back, but also to hang
on for John, who hadn't made it yet. It turns
out he didn't make the climb, fell off, and
had to drop down and try it again. We've always
said these CRM250s have more than enough power
for off-road use, but in fact, they only just
made it up these hills - they were really struggling
as we got to the top and only just made it.
Having to drop to 1st would only have induced
massive wheel spin and certain failure. Or maybe
I'm just a fat bastard :)
My concern for John wasn't really the reason
for me dawdling awhile on this summit. It was
the humungous drop on the other side! It was
worse than the one I'd just come up. A wave
of fear came upon me as I stared down the near
vertical drop, covered with loose slate & shale.
If this was level, you wouldn't worry too much
about blatting along at 40 to 50mph over it,
but because it drops so cruelly and irreversibly
downhill, it doesn't look feasible without the
use of a parachute. Ah well, in for a penny,
in for a pound, keep the feet on the pegs, and
drop over the edge. Let the two-stroke engine
provide some minimal rear wheel engine braking,
while gently applying the front brake in the
few areas where possible, and cruise on down
- actually very controlled and smooth. That
was easy! It's just a confidence thing.
One of the fast lads went back to give John
some assistance, and when they arrived back,
we let them go before they got us into any more
We caught them up again later, practicing at
an unofficial moto-cross track on the open moorland.
We had a final chat, before we took the road
route back to Horseshoe Pass. We took the road
back, partly because we didn't really want to
face the return climb up that hill - which the
fast lads admitted was harder than the way we'd
come down. They said it was impossible to make
it on the loose stuff, but you had to gun it
flat out up the grass alongside - very steep,
and a recipe for disaster if you lose momentum.
The other reason was, riding on these moors
is totally illegal, and Police and Council staff
in Land Rovers do try and enforce this. It's
a £2000 fine if you get caught - but many people
do it, every weekend, and no one's been caught
because it's so easy to outrun the law. Unless
of course you fall off and break your leg!
The two fast boys were in their 20s - young,
fit and fearless (and reckless?). One had only
been riding a year - but, they go up to practice
on these hills every weekend, whereas I go every
blue moon. They did admit however, that it did
take them quite a few months to build up enough
nerve to do that perimeter fence jump!
PS - I did this route again last weekend (1st
December) and actually found it quite straightforward
this time - it's only scary the first time.
This story was kindly provided by Bike Tours
UK website, www.biketours-uk.com
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