Navroze Contractor attends the Ducati off-road days to hone his skills off the beaten path
When I was invited to cover a DRE, Ducati Riding Experience, I readily agreed. The location was near Bangalore, on the outskirts, Bannerghatta National Park.
I was very pleasantly surprised that it was conducted by Anand Dharmaraj, an old friend and an excellent rider. I have seen and ridden with Anand since a few decades. He is one of the first Indians who finished the gruelling Baja 1000 last year on a shoestring budget! Sergi Canovas, managing director, Ducati India, Siddharth Varma marketing director, Ducati India, Amit Chouhan, marketing, Ducati India were cordial, friendly and answered all queries regarding Ducati bikes in India.
The day started with the classroom briefing about the basics of off-road riding, throttle control, body positioning, terrain familiarity and more. There were over 30 riders divided mostly by Multistrada and Scrambler models. The trail was dry and dusty, posing its own challenges. The trail had steep downhills and climbs, humps, a bit of sand but mostly loose gravel, which can be very tricky.
The training started with slow riding, standing up on the bike and covering obstacles with gentle gradients and figure of eight turns. Just like in the BMW GS Riding Experience, most of our big bike riders do NOT ride slow, and get caught in situations, which are even a bit faster. The emphasis on riding slow in dirt was stated repeatedly but most riders learnt this only after a few tip overs. Slowly, all the gleaming bikes and cleanly dressed riders were covered with dust. By lunch time all the riders looked like they were on an off-road event. None were hurt and none of the bikes bent, a positive sign of a good trainer and rider-knowledge-absorption.
Later, the riders followed Anand over all the obstacles several times over coming out better, confident riders. Speeds rise gently in off road training events, and that was the case here too. The day ended with participants getting a certificate and customary group photo.
It is a good thing Triumph, BMW, Ducati have started these, what I would call ‘orientation’ events. The better you ride, the more you enjoy and appreciate the machine. I hope this leads to harder and more serious events for those who want to push their abilities to the limit. Thank you Ducati for such a wonderful event.