There’s more learning in store post lunch. We must now take on a short and tight course with everything from old tyres to metal barrels to a gravel pit, wood planks, and even rocks trying to impede our progress. Worthy nemesis, no doubt.
Speed is not the goal here; keeping the 390’s belly from scraping is. A difficult proposition when that’s exactly what the course is designed to do.The thought is - with vision, the right throttle control, and moving one’s weight correctly and timely; belly scrapes, even on this course can be avoided. Knowing when to get on the throttle to raise the suspension, and then leaning back to make the front light so that it rolls over the obstacle easily, is the goal here.
Now, I jump speed-breakers on the 390 all the time. And that requires a good balance between throttle opening and shifting the weight on the bike. This shouldn’t be too hard. And it isn’t but only for the first two obstacles.
Then I hit the barrel. I open the throttle too early, and land belly first on the barrel. There’s a loud noise that more than announces my failure. And then the same thing happens at the mud mount. But at least this one is a quiet affair; thank god for soft mud.
I do clear the rock garden, the slush, the gravel pit, and the wood planks, without hitting the 390 anywhere - lean back and open gas; works wonders here. I go around the course a few more times, stopping only when I finally manage one lap without hitting the bike anywhere. It wasn’t easy.
It’s almost evening now, and we are on our final challenge of the day - a slippery trail that leads to a formidable water crossing.
After some slipping and sliding, some stalling, and some near falls, I am staring at a crossing that’s at least 50m long with knee-deep water. Plus, I can’t see what’s under the water. Varad has a few volunteers marking the line we must take. If we veer off, we could very well watch our bikes drown.
Two brave souls take on the crossing before I do. And they make it through. They do it sitting down. I enter standing up. But within seconds, I am back in the seat because the surface under the water is so uneven, so unpredictable, I decide to choose comfort over technique. I struggle, but I eventually make it across.
I think I managed it because of two crucial things. I kept looking at where I wanted to end up on the other side, no matter what direction the bike got bumped to. And two, I kept the throttle open throughout, which helped me ride over whatever was underneath. If I had rolled off at any point, I am sure, both the bike and I would have gotten a thorough and annoying soaking.