Well since I’m leaving China soon, my friends and I have been trying to do all the little things we’ve been putting off, because of whatever shitty reasons we came up with at the time.
One of them was motocross riding in the river bed.
The river bed is just outside Beijing city, in Shunyi district, I see it many times when I ride to work, but to be fair this part of the river bed is a while away that specific location.
We were trying to do it on the weekend, but it was apparently impossible, and then Monty a friend of the Blackbridge crew, mentioned that he’d be going on Wednesday and after a bit of talking we decided we’d go for that opportunity. After Max tried asking his boss multiple times, and never getting through…he went with the decision ‘fuck it’ and we booked in. I messaged the HR at my company and said I ate something bad and my stomach was pretty ‘不舒服‘ not comfortable, which in china is a pretty common thing, even amongst Chinese people, and she said no problem. And we were off.
I’m actually a bit lost in trying to consolidate all my thoughts, what I can say for now is that it was an awesome time, but incredibly tiring day.
We set off from Sanlitun at 9.15, my friend Maxime was on the back of my bike and a guy I know, Monty borrowed a Ducati 696 monster from one of his friends because his bike had a flat tyre and his Texan friend sat on the back.
We arrived at the club house around 10am after taking the expressways. 15 kuai for effortless roads, I think it was worth it.
Got to the clubhouse, met the guys at the club. And then got changed.. the weather, so so hot. All the motocross gear allows airflow, but even so, still so hot.
The level of protection is great, you’ve got shoulder armour, elbow, back plates, chest armour, then you put your motocross t-shirt over, then you’ve got another front & back armour plating that goes over that. And then you’ve got a neck brace kind of thing to make sure if you have a crash your helmet doesn’t cause you to have whip-lash. Oh an extra protected boots and knee and shin pads. It gives you a lot of confidence.
Plus if you crash as many times as myself and my friend did… its properly needed.
I started off on the 250 which was the one I wanted to be on, but when Maxime’s 250 developed a flat I had to switch to the 450. Which is much more fun on forest trails because you can power slide it around corners and there’s so much torque, but it’s a much heavier bike, and the electric start on mine doesn’t work… plus I suck at kick starting it. It just tires me out so much.
Maxime was telling me that his bike kept sliding too much on corners, and when we noticed the flat, we understood why.
First crash was up the first sand hill. I had to stop half way up because Maxime wasn’t going to make it, and then the bike fell over and stopped. Lifting the 450 in soft sand is a bitch. When I finally got that out, (for which Monty helped me kick start it) I went to find Max, and he told me about a hill climb that had ‘a little dip on the other side’
Yeah no shit, and it wasn’t just a little dip, it was massive. And then I tried coming back up on a route further down, because I thought if we both use the same trail, then there was a chance of hitting Maxime if he was going up from the other side.
So what I didn’t realise is that there wasn’t a ‘little dip’ at the top of the hill on this route, but a huge trench. I slammed into this trench hard, and I managed to tumble off without a scratch…just dazed onto the other side. …But the bike was in the ditch and I had to drive it out. (with Monty’s help again)
I basically overheated…and couldn’t breathe for a little while.. I had to sit down for several minutes with my helmet and gloves off because I just couldn’t get enough air in.
1.5 hours in an I was already exhausted.
After Monty shouted at me for a little while, and after I told him I couldn’t breathe he came to help me properly, poured some water over my head, told me to drink the rest, and went to get Axun (the Chinese tour operator at the motocross club) to come and help get the bikes.
Anyway, I’ve got the whole crash, and most other crashes on video, with my little moto-vlogging camera. Not all of them, because there was a lot of crashes.
Maxime later told me that he did the exact same thing a little while before, but instead he just “lay down” and the bike stopped and he fell to the side, so he didn’t fall in the trench.
Monty says the 450 is just 25kg heavier than the 250…but I really doubt it… it feels so damn heavy.
Total crashes I think was around 5 not including one where I stopped at the top of the big hill because I was about to run into a tree.
Basically there was a massive hill that had been eroded due to the recent rains, and we were assured we could make it. Monty demonstrated for us to show us it could be done. However whoa….this hill was big, and loose sand and gravel. If you were standing at the top, you couldn’t see where the slope flattened out. The 1st time up I made it perfectly, I’ve got it on video footage, just change into 2nd and twist the accelerator full on and don’t let go. Then try coming straight back down… but to be honest that was the more scary part.
Then Maxime had a go on the 250, he got close, but not quite there. He did a perfect roll away from the bike, and had another go a bit later.
On his 2nd time, just after my 2nd time where I got in the wrong rut because i eased off the accelerator for a brief moment and the front wheel jumped in…and started leading me towards the tree, he pretty much made it. I don’t quite know what happened, but he was about a meter from the top of the hill and he just stopped accelerating. Anyway… I think that counts as if he made it.
Oh yeah and one…crash, it wasn’t really a crash, I just fell off the bike because I was practicing to do those 180degree power U-turns that Monty does. You basically just lean the bike to the side, power on the gas and the bike will spin you around provided you keep the bike leaned over.
The problem is of course, that when you power it on, because of the gyroscopical forces of the engine…from the spinning, the bike straightens up, so you’re in a strange fight over trying to lean it down and power it because you’re trying to lean, and the bike is trying to stand up, and also if you just power with the bike upright you’ll probably drive into a tree or something. So I found a soft sandy area to try… and I made some good donuts in the end, but I’m not sure I ever truly got it.
Oh and coming back I managed to get on film the part where Axun accidentally crashed into Monty. Where he came down that big hill and accidentally crashed into Monty
They basically took the wrong path going back… and I stopped because it looked like i couldn’t get up the hill without crashing into them… so I waited for them to tell me where to go
I nearly ate the dirt twice… like my heart jumped, one in the forest trails, and 2 in the soft sand in 3rd gear… just not enough power and the front wheel turned in a direction i didn’t want it to go. I find it very difficult to turn on a dirt bike, especially on the 250. On the 450 you just give it power and it power turns, but on the 250 it feels more difficult. In soft sand especially, you have to lean back because you get the majority of your steering through how much power you give the back wheel, if you power it on, it will lean whichever way your putting your weight, so going down hill on soft sand, or even going up, your bum is kind of pushing outwards towards the back, and turning it’s the same. Its just accelerator, accelerator, accelerator, and that way the front wheel goes where the back wheel is telling it to go. If not it kind of just pops in what rut you don’t want it to be in, and that’s where you’re likely to crash. So it really just is , power power power.
Once you get how it works, you just go with it and it feels a lot more natural.
I think for the 250 in soft sand it was just 2nd gear and just rev the shit out of it.
Anyway, I’ve got to get my arse into gear for sorting out all the videos. Because that’s how I can really share the whole experience with you all.
By the way, I’ve got to say the Texan guy that joined us had ridden electric scooters before, but not motorbikes, he had the balance but hadn’t the experience in driving motorbikes, but I’ve got to say he did incredibly well, he kept up with us most of the time, and the lack of confidence on some hill was completely understandable but in all honestly we were all very impressed with what he managed to achieve. It just goes to show that anyone can do this, provided they have the courage to go out and give it a try.
Oh and the pain the hurt afterwards?
We went to the motoX track before with the same Chinese company, and you can read about it here. [link] But the pain after that was 1.5 weeks of having to use my arms to help me sit down on the toilet, or even my office chair. This?? This I’ve got some itching in the muscles around my neck and shoulder blades but that’s about it.
I think we did a lot better because… maybe we’re a bit fitter…maybe last time helped with that, exposing our bodies to the kind of pain that we could be in for, and maybe our bodies did something about that, but then also standing up more and using better technique in riding the Moto-X bikes.
I think we also did much better at staying hydrated throughout the day so our bodies and our muscles were so ruined as they were when we did the Moto track. For example we must have drank around 3.5 litres of water and
Anyway, absolutely fantastic time and a brilliant way to spend a Wednesday. It sure beats work.