Sunday, September 23, 2012

UK: Lake District: Fun Quad Biking

Breaks are always welcome. Especially if they are with the right group to the right place with the right weather and all have the right spirit – to enjoy! Meenakshi and I went for a weekend vacation with another friendly couple – Anurag & Aditi. It is our first ever with friends. Some good fun we had these folks @ Lake District National Park in the UK. We had stayed in a static caravan @ Windermere and had done a host of activities - motor boating, quad biking, trekking and also enjoying the pleasures that the scenic parks and lakes have to offer. One of these activities we did was Quad Biking. I had never heard about it before, but thanks to Anurag, got to experience this.
A Quad bike is recognised by UK law as a vehicle with four wheels and a mass of less than 550 kg.To drive a quad bike on a public road, in the UK, requires a B1 licence as well as tax, insurance and registration. However, in a controlled environment, with an instructor – you can do this activity for a limited time by strictly following the instructions and following him.

Horse Stable at Rookin House Farm
Safety has been a major issue with quad-bikes due to the high number of deaths and injuries associated with them and the negligible protection offered by the machine, hence all the instruction manuals we read before taking the plunge to drive highlighted this explicitly till the point of scaring us. But the collectiveness – all four of us injected some kind of a sensibility and bravery between me and Meenakshi as well to take this up.

We drove up to Rookin House Farm house at Troutbeck along one of the most scenic drives in the Lake District and probably UK – route A592, interlacing through mountains, deep valleys, rivers. The rain gods tried their best to dampen our spirits, but we were on fire - cruising up and down altitudes at 30 miles/hour on our rented car to Rookin House Farm in flat 45 minutes. Rookin House Farmhouse is host to a world of adventure activities – Air Rifles, Archery, Assault Course, Blind Fold Driving, Paintballing, Adult Quads, Horse Riding, Go Karts
and others.

Raring to go!
We had booked the Quads in advance over the internet – around GBP 18 pounds (approx $ 35) per person for 20 minutes.

After having done the signing forms and declared we were adults and responsible for ourselves, we were given pants, jackets, shower cap to wear on top of our cloths and helmets for protection. The girls quietly complained about the mud stains and dirt on the pants and jackets, but we guys just got the kick needed. The kick from the quick flashback reminding us all of the dirty days during school and college with muddy clothes after a bout of football, cricket or cycling.

Once we had put on our driving gear, our LANTRA qualified instructor gave us a short lesson on how to use the controls on the bike to operate the quad safely for maximum enjoyment.. Its pretty much similar to that of any motorbike one would have driven, barring minor changes – you got 4 wheels instead of two and you need to tie some string on your left hand to ensure you have control of the vehicle and bring it to stop in case of emergency. Our bikes were 360cc Kawasaki machines, very powerful. I felt at times I was sitting on a tractor closer to ground than on a bike! I was not sure if my wife would be able to drive it – as she has had no experience in driving two wheelers with engines – but I was in for a pleasant surprise.

Jet, Set, Go!!
I happened to be the first one to follow our instructor. He wanted us to follow him maintaining a safe distance. If any of us had other plans to go on our own – we would have been kicked out of the experience! So much for adventure! The trails and hurdles through which we were led weren’t too easy or too tough. It began on smooth slushy roads and then moved us through some nice gradients and obstacles, including driving through cleverly placed cartwheels. At times, the experience did make your heart skip a beat, but since the speed was slow and the wheels were four, with your hand on the wasn’t risky at all. With us, there were also two Chinese guys, who suddenly decided to do their own thing and were then cornered for sometime by the instructor. He did take them out again later though. We spent about 30 minutes rushing through obstacles, driving the bike, revving up the engine.
New age Jai-Viru??

One of the most adventurous and fun activities I have been a part of so far! It’s up there with White water River rafting, cross country ski-ing done earlier in US and Norway.

 Wouldn’t mind doing a longer stint with Quad Biking!


Vishius said...

Liked the part where you mentioned "declared we were adults". Quad bike sure are expected to bring back the kid in you.
I am surprised that its considered risky ... esp after knowing how you did drive your scooter back in Mumbai.
Nice one.

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