Honda Safety Riding Park – Experienced Dirt Riding Course
On Sunday 14th May 2017, I attended my third dirt-bike training session at Honda Safety Riding Park. Previously I did the BASIC course dirt twice, before going on to do the Experienced dirt course. (BASIC dirt course write-up HERE)
9am – 4pm
HOT SEASON. ………Hot! Hot! Hot!
Feeling both nervous and excited I headed off to the riding park to attend the next level up from the Basic Dirt course. I had no idea what I would be taught on the Experienced course and was looking forward to improving my dirt riding skills.
I arrived at the park around 8:30am finding the park full of street bikes lined up along with riders. The majority of the bikes looked to be rider owned (you are allowed to use your own bike but only if Honda brand).
It turned out that three courses were running simultaneously that day:
2 x Road Riding courses
1 x Dirt Riding course.
The street riding course was packed.
The dirt riding course had only four of us (including myself).
Which was great. I prefer this smaller number.
Anyway..on to the course itself.
Initially the course took us back through the basic training as a refresher before moving on to teach us slow controlled balancing techniques. We were asked to imagine that we were riding in a river area and that we have to keep our bikes slow and steady as we ride along the small ramp areas. Initially we could start out sitting down, then we were to stand up. Again focus was on slow and controlled, so first gear only. I was repeatedly scolded for tapping my front brake, a habit that I found hard to stop. Apparently using the front brake in this kind of situation could cause the front tire to sink into the (imaginary) river bed. We had to picture it as a real life scenario and insure we use the correct techniques.
In full hot season heat and no shade, this slow maneuvering soon got wearying. So much so that I actually had a weird topple and fell over. This fall seemed to set a precedent for the day…for it turned out that I had a LOT more falling to do later on…Zzz….
After this practice stage we hit the dirt area. One particular section of the dirt area was wet, muddy and slippery. A section right after a bend.
After riding around a few times I hit the area at bad angle, slipped and hit the deck. I was rather surprised at this happening, but was able to laugh it off.
Later on though I fell in the same section again and right in the great big dirty puddle (see photo below).
An instructor came running over to check on me, saw that I was ok and so asked me jokingly in Thai “Why do you want to go swimming?” haha. Oops!
Speaking of which, this particular course was all in Thai. I struggled a bit, but understood enough to get me through. However, some of the terminology used was beyond my comprehension. I did miss having it explained in English. A few times instructor K.Bank came over to check and translate some things, but pretty much all of the course was in Thai. That is also because they know I have some Thai language ability. I am sure if I had zero Thai language there would have been more translation help.
By around 12 we stopped for an approximate hour lunch break and I ate with gusto at one of the restaurants opposite the riding park. I felt exhausted, wet and dirty.
After lunch we hit the dirt again. This time we were taught how to climb more difficult slopes, but again all in slow controlled ways. This was really much harder than i expected. I am used to being able to use a bit more throttle. Instead this was about building momentum and hill climbing in first gear. I had a lot of stupid falls with that one.
When i posted the video (shown below) on YouTube and Facebook I had a lot of people commenting that i just need to use more throttle.
It became a little frustrating to keep explaining that the reason i kept falling is because I was told to use first gear. We were being taught about slow careful maneuvering, not how to throttle our way up a hill.
We were taught how to choose a line and follow it. Taught about how to position our bodies to ensure we keep good balance and taught how to do a slow run up to a slope building momentum.
By this point I was really feeling tired. I remember taking a break and seeing all the road riders looking fresh as daisies, whereas us dirt riders looked like drowned rats, our hair stuck to our faces and clothes clinging to our bodies due to sweating so much.
Anyway..I did finally make it up that hill but I cheated and used 2nd gear.
I have yet to do it in first :/
I took more frequent breaks than the other three students that day. I wasn’t the only one to fall, but I fell far more frequently than any of us. My energy levels were spent and nerves and over thinking was getting the better of me.
By the time we were taught the final steps of how to ride over large rocks and how to ride down angled slopes, I had decided to give up. I am not ashamed to have stopped. Instead I watched my fellow students go through their paces and offer support. We had around an hour left and I was out of energy and feeling faint from the effort and the heat.
I will redo the course again. In fact I will likely redo the Basic again and then the Experienced.
My fellow students were great and really supportive.
I have been lucky each time to have met with really nice people.
It can be intimidating to be the only woman on these kinds of courses, but I have never felt anything but positivity and support from my fellow students.
Some important things to note about the Safety Riding Park courses and facilities.
- Each course price covers EVERYTHING except your food and snacks.
This means your bike, protective gear and insurance is covered in the course price.
- They have English speaking staff and instructors
Not all staff and instructors speak English, but they do have staff and instructors available who do.
- The changing room facilities are excellent.
They have lockers and you can obtain a locker key from reception (you must leave your drivers license or ID to get a key, and then exchange back at the end of the course). They have showers (but you need to bring your own towel).
- Drinking water is provided in the gear room.
- There is a snack shop and a coffee shop on site.
(but for lunch head across the main road to one of the restaurants)
- You can ONLY ride HONDA bikes (which they provide – or use your own).
You cannot take any of the courses and ride another make of bike.
- You will receive a certificate upon completion of the course
- You MUST begin courses at a lower level first before progressing.
So, even if experienced you must still do base level course and graduate up. This is to ensure that you really do have the basics covered. I did inquire about this and was told that many experienced riders (even if riding for decades) have bad habits or do not know certain skills. So best to start from the bottom and work up.
- Honda Safety Riding Park often runs 50% promotional discount deals
Best way to keep on top of this is to “Like” their facebook page
(and mine too! ..as i will always update when I see any promos on! :D)
- There is an official Alpine Star store within the main building.
A video from the day:
Price of course:
Experienced DIRT – 3000 baht (with promo deal = 1000 baht.)
Price list of main courses (including discounted promo prices):
Map: (Google Map Link)
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