Travel Story «Quad Biking - When in doubt, Flat out!»

Australia | 0 Comments 08 October 2006 - Last Update 24 December 2006

With Lorna gone to New Zealand, Aisling Grainne and myself found ourselves another man down and began to wonder was it us? Was it something we were saying or doing, or not saying or not doing? A small cloud of depression settled above our, now very quiet, house.  We had gone from an apartment  of 9 people to 3 in under 24 hours - to describe it as shell shock is an understatement.
So when Anoop, the Citigroup-party/event-planner suggested we go Quad Biking for the weekend it seemed like a good way to shake things up and get us back out in the world socialising like normal people.  Helen, Brid and Cathy of the Athlone contingent decided they too would join us, so we hired cars and headed north out of Sydney bright and (relatively) early on Saturday morning. Or did we....

The hire cars came from a rental company in Star City (which is conveniently located beside our house meaning we didn't need to get up until 9am while the Athlonians - poor things - had to come all the way in from di da da....) and planned to travel in convoy to Glenworth Valley Quad Biking Centre as Grainne (who has her own internal GPS system) was confident of the route out of the city, which had proved the difficulty last time.  (You may or may not remember we had a small problem the last time we er...tried to leave and go to Canberra...Anyhoo....)

So there we were, exiting the Car rental place, driving towards the Sydney Harbour bridge when the phone rings. It's Brid. "We missed the turn off".  200 metres down the road and we had already been separated.... team work aye, not our forte that's for sure.  Thankfully, Aisling was on hand to re-direct them back onto the right course while Grainne navigated her way out of the city. I took on the role of the child in the back of the car and was (yet again) of no use to anyone, at all.
We arrived safe and sound at the Quad Biking Centre and despite the heavy traffic, the girls were just 5 minutes behind us. Speed Demon Helen had clearly booted it down the Freeway to catch us - an indication of driving skills to come.  

As we wandered down to the Quad Biking Reception (which would be better described as a shed), we reassured each other that overalls, goggles and helmets would all be provided. Er no, Helmet only.  But still, it was a dry day (gorgeous actually - 30oC and not a cloud in the sky) which meant we wouldn't return from the trek covered in mud.  This thought was reinforced by the returning quad bikers whose bikes we would be using - one woman who was dressed in head to foot in WHITE (has she no sense what so ever?!) had returned with next to no dirt on her - clearly we were going to be fine! 
While we waited for the previous group to return in order that we could take their quad bikes, we got steadily more nervous - most of us had never done this before and we had booked into the Intermediate Adventure Trip... what had we been thinking?! Damn speed junkie Anoop preying on us when we were feeling low and convincing us to do this.  This growing anxiety was not helped by the 14 year old 'guide' who pointed to the steepest hillside and told Grainne we would be coming DOWN that at the end of the ride. A panicked Grainne re-told this to the rest of the group minutes later and well, have you ever seen the film Chicken Run - you know the scene where all the hens run around in circles and panic? That was us :-        
-WHAT?! I'm not coming down that - we could die! 
-You go up and tell him that we are BEGINNERS! He's going to kill us all!
- He told me a 10 yr old kid from his group drove over the cliff edge yesterday!
-OH, my GOD! 
etc. You get the picture.

Most of this anxiety was soothed by the returning quad drivers who, despite the holy calamity of a noise they were making, rode back into the area at a very slow pace. 
We were given a brief How-To on the bikes and made practise in the arena for 10 minutes before we set off.  The anxiety momentarily shot back up to AGHGH-OH-MY-GOD-WE-MIGHT-DIE again when the other guide (who was the sage old age of 15 years old) informed us that using the front breaks while going down hill might cause a Quad Bike Flipping scenario....eek!
Any nerves we had were immediately put to bed once we were allowed start the engines and drive them around - God they were brill!!

Practise Run over and we were off - ladies first with one guide at the front and one at the back.  Unfortunately, it would seem they stuck the SLOWEST mother of all Sunday drivers at the front of the pack so we cruised along the 2 and a half km road down to the race track at, ooh - I don't know, 7 miles per hour! Grrrrrr... 3 days later we arrived at the track area and were let loose to drive drive DRIVE!!

This is where we separated the men from the boys; the sunday drivers from the Michael Schumachers.  Anoop is crazy. We all know that - we have seen the car that he drives (some sort of very fast sporty boy thing). So it was no surprise to me that he zoomed round the track like a Greyhound chasing an electronic stuffed rabbit. The fact that he was kicking everyone's arses (except the 14 and 15 yr old who were running the operation but sure they live on these things) has a lot to do with the fact that not only does he get practise zipping around Sydney in his sports car, but he went Quad Biking on the Sand Dunes in Porth Stephens the week previous - CHEATER!! In my mind, he was disqualified from being the champion of our group because he didn't start on a level footing.
The shock of the day were Brid and Helen (although Helen less so in light of her quick journey from Sydney to Glenworth...) who should hereafter be named Speedy and Gonzalas.  These two raced around the track like they were being chased by the Devil. I tried to follow them on one round of the track and not only was I literally eating their dirt from the dust that was flying up from the track, but I nearly launched my self into a swamp/river type thing when I lost control and hit a ROCK. DO you think Helen noticed!? NO! I could have died.
Grainne was pretty speedy too (see photos). Aisling, Cathy and I fell into the category of Sunday Drivers more so than the Michael Schumachers but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

After a while of just circling the course, races were set up. Boys against boys and girls against girls. 
The boys race turned into a bit of a testosterone charged affair while the girls seemed to loose concentration and forget how many laps we were doing (not to mention the fact that Grainne did an entirely different course to the rest of us). Brid was Queen Bee of Female Speed Demons and Anoop was crowned Mr Michael Schumacher himself. 
Next came the relay race - this involved two Quad bikes only, the idea being one from each team raced one lap against each other and came back to the starting line, jumped off and the next two got on and so on and so forth until all had had ago and a team had sent all its members round the track on the bike.  This game had many pluses - you were in a team so if you lost you weren't the only loser, also, seeing as you only did one lap no one would really be able to tell how slow you were because the gap could be widened or shortened by the many participants - you couldn't lose the whole thing for your team in one lap!
Or could you.....?

One of the key elements to this game was dismounting from the Quad as quickly as possible and having the next rider jump on ASAP.  Grainne took the 14 yr olds commands to GET OFF! JUMP OFF! THROW YOURSELF OFF - ANYTHING, JUST GET OFF! to heart and literally hurled herself from the moving Quad (think Tom Cruise, think Mission Impossible), in order that the next team member could jump on, and jump on he did WHILE THE VEHICLE WAS STILL MOVING!  The rest of us appeared a little more safety conscious and some of us (it may, or may not have been me....) may have lost the race for our team by dismounting soo slowly that reverse parking the Quad would have been quicker..... anyhoo....

After one more relay race and a few more near death experiences, we headed back up the track to return the quads.  We got a great laugh when we all took off our helmets to reveal our blackened faces - we were covered in dust and looked a sight. It took about four attempts to wash this dirt off there was so much of it and it was so ingrained. We got the fright of our lives when we went to blow our noses and out came MORE dirt. (Actually, it was still coming out the next day so I dread to think how much got in our lungs...).  And that's not to mention the state that our clothes were in (poor Gra had worn a white T-shirt...).

With the aches starting to set in (saddle sore, thigh muscles aching, hands hurting etc) we hopped back in rental cars and sped off back to Sydney, still feeling like we were in our Quad Bikes. One quick pit stop at Mickey Dee's to re-fuel our empty stomachs and then we were home. Another great day. 






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