Offroad test drive day in Turku

Saturday 10th March we participated in an offroad test drive event in Turku with my friend Heidi. The event was only for women and you could try out offroad / motocross. Needless to say I was super excited (and a little bit nervous, too) about going there!

There was about 50-60 women participating in the event in total which was quite a lot. The amount of participants had surprised (in a good way of course!) the organizers too, but they still handled the whole event well! We were divided into 5 beginners groups and one group of professionals / intermediates. Every beginner group had about 8 riders. Heidi and I were in the same group.

We had brought our own riding gear (which we use on street bikes) in case there wouldn’t be appropriate sizes available for borrowing (or there would be some many people that there wouldn’t be enough for everybody). I borrowed a motocross helmet from my friend Christa; I was lucky that she borrowed it since it wouldn’t have been nice to use my street helmet because it might have gotten all dirty.. And of course I got more authentic experience with a motocross helmet. 😉 I probably should buy my own helmet (and other gear) if I want keep participating in events like this…

Briefing session

Before going to our first ride they had a briefing / teaching session for us. They told some basic stuff about the bikes’ technics such as where are the breaks and clutch and so on. That part was probably more useful to couple of the girls that had never touched a bike before.

For us it was useful to know in which position we should drive in: keep your elbows and chin up and sit in front part of the seat. Keeping your elbows up would help you to control the handlebar more securely and sitting in the front would prevent the weight going on to the rear tire. And your chin should be aligned with the handlebar. This position felt funny because I’m used to more laid-back position on my street bike. That’s why they kept reminding and yelling “Elbows up!” during riding because my elbows would go down automatically sometimes.

The track

TMK Tietokeskus-Center indoor track
A view of the track

We would ride in an indoor motocross hall called “TMK Tietokeskus-Center” which is owned by Turku Motorclub (Turun Moottorikerho). The temperature in the hall was about the same as outside so about +2 C. Between the rides we could sit down in a warm cafe or go watch others ride from a stand high above the track.

The track itself wasn’t that long but it sure seemed a little bit scary with its concrete pillars and walls and really tight turns. It had a couple of jumps, one rhythm straight and one longer straight.

1st round – Honda 150cc

Honda bikes in Offroad test drive day in Turku
Honda 150cc (in the front) and Honda 125cc (in the back). I got to test them both!

I haven’t ever ridden a dirt bike before (I have basically zero experience of motocross) and my biggest concern was will I reach the ground with my feet when I’m on the bike (I’m 163cm tall). First I tried to climb on a KTM electric bike (Freeride) but that one was way too high for me! Maybe if I had some more experience I could ride those higher bikes too just by leaning them a little when I’m standing but this was my first time so no chance.

My first bike was a Honda 150cc. It was somewhat medium sized so I could reach the ground pretty easily!

We rode about 10-15 minutes per each round. Not sure how many laps I could fit into that time; maybe 3 or 4. On the first ride I fell two times! I didn’t get hurt though, just my wrist took a little hit but it’s fine. It was merely funny and falling belongs to motocross I guess. One time managed to shut down the bike and the guys had to come help me to get it started again.

1st round I was only using the first gear even though they encouraged me to shift to second gear (that the bike wouldn’t be so jumpy) but I was happy with first gear, heh.

2nd round – Suzuki 250cc

Test driving Suzuki - photo by Marko Vihriä
Me test driving Suzuki (250cc) – photo by Marko Vihriä

For 2nd round I got a yellow Suzuki 250cc. It was maybe a bit older and its brakes would squeak every time I used them. Somehow I liked this Suzuki better than the first Honda. I even used the second gear at some points! I didn’t fall though I had grown a fear towards one particular U-turn where I had fallen before. I hated that turn and I slowed down every time in that turn.

Most of the time it probably looked like a slow motion motocross race.. a really slow motion race. We just rode there in a nice line and nobody really passed each other because nobody had the skills to do it.

There was this one kind of a “straight rhythm” (pattisuora in Finnish). I think that was the most fun part of the track! In the 2nd round I was able to get my butt up from the saddle and just let the bike do the work.

3rd round – Honda 125cc

Honda 125cc
Honda 125cc

In the 3rd (and last) round I rode a Honda CRF 125cc. It was the smallest bike they had to offer (at least by height) and my feet could touch the ground easily. I even managed to start the bike on my own!

The bike was so small that I couldn’t take it too seriously. It was really fun to ride it! Most of the time I used the second gear (though in the most difficult turns I used the first gear). I even managed to get some air to my little jumps with it! In the end it wasn’t even that hard to get it jumping if I just shifted to the second gear and gained a little bit of speed before the bump.

Summary & thoughts

I can’t really say which one of the bikes was the best, but the last round was my favorite round. Maybe it was because the bike was so small and I felt more confident and secure with it or maybe it was because it was the last round and I knew better what to do.

I would really like to buy that kind of a small dirt bike and practice more with it in the fields and forests and why not in the motocross tracks too. I just don’t think I have the money right now and even if I had money I wouldn’t have a place where to keep the bike and I wouldn’t know how to maintain it.

Group photo by Marko Vihriä
Group photo of the ladies participating in the event – photo by Marko Vihriä

The event was actually two days long, but we decided not to participate in the second day because it was a bit too far away from Heidi’s apartment (it would have taken us about two hours to get there by bus). But that didn’t really bother us, even just the one day was better than nothing!

All in all I really liked the event and got super excited about motocross! It’s amazing how they can organize events like this. There’s a real value here when people who are interested in the sport can come and try it out for free. So we owe a big thank to the organizers! We are sure to participate in this event next year too though I really hope I get to do some more motocross before that!


Special thanks to Marko Vihriä for the images (also the article’s main image is by him)!

Read more:

Heidi test driving KTM - photo by Marko Vihriä
My friend Heidi riding KTM Freeride (electric bike) – photo by Marko Vihriä

 

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