Thursday, 8 April 2010

Dastardly and Muttley

People pay hundreds of pounds for an off-road course like this one.

The journey from Aishalton to Lethem is 100 miles. They call it a road, but for most of the journey it is a collection of winding tracks, out of which you choose by guesswork. The first 40 miles to Dadanawa are mainly deep in sand, with a few short rubbly stretches and a few even shorter hard-packed. The next sixty miles vary more: rocky stretches, stream and river crossings, deep deep sand, narrow tracks through scrub. The fastest I have ever done it in a jeep is 4 hours, the slowest 6 hours by truck. A tractor takes more than 12. Motorbikes vary more than any other form: a confident (rash?) biker can do it quicker than the fastest jeep. We take seven and a half hours. B has Dastardly’s helmet and Muttley’s evil chuckle. I have the adrenalin slime of half-naked fear.
I guess being the rider is like an egg and spoon race, with the added complication that the egg is behind you. You must balance speed and stability with safety. Wife, camera and laptop all depend on your equilibrium. The responsibility messes with your head whilst the wife’s not insubstantial girth messes with your steering.
Riding it pillion is like the catatonia in “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”. You can watch it coming but you are utterly helpless. You hold your mouth open after the first few tooth-clashes and tongue-bites. That's a dusty thirsty old business. For stability you stay centre, so hours are spent gazing at the fetching soft back of the husband’s neck. All you can see over the shoulder is a vortex 6 inches square of treacherous sand or rocks; much the same view you get in the airborne seconds it takes you to hit the ground falling from a mountain bike.

Intense, concentrated tension every moment for seven hours. You cannot afford to get the balance wrong as there are long, long stretches between villages. No guarantee that anyone will pass. No AA or RAC. No phones or mobile reception. It’s all very committing.

Dastardly and Muttley save the day. In contrast, I am Scooby Doo at his most cowardly, his most saggy-jowly, his most slobbery slobby doggy.


  1. whew! white hot fear sis, look on the bright side, you probably lost pounds of weight as your heartbeat went ballistic, and your metabolism followed suit! Nxx (not insubstantial girth, my arse!!!)

  2. I so agree! What a white knuckle ride your entire life is at the moment. N I G to you too! xo