The Trail Boss Challenge
SECOND GEAR, FULL THROTTLE AND A CREEK THAT SENT WATER DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO MY BIKE'S PETROL TANK. THIS WAS THE START OF THE TRAIL BOSS CHALLENGE... My boss Andy Wigan casually says to me, "Jake, you want to go for a ride?" My ears instantly perk up at chance to throw a leg on a bike. I'd been keen for a proper ride ever since returning from a moto road trip to Dubbo a few weeks earlier. I press him for details and found out it was a two-day adventure ride with some of Australia's best trail tour operators in Coffs Harbour, on NSW's Mid North Coast. After some quick negotiating with Wigs, I'd secured our long term test bike, the 2011 Yamaha WR450F. I gave event organiser Coffs Harbour Detours' Boris Everson a call and confirmed my spot. Two weeks later I made my way up the coast for the inaugural Trail Boss Challenge. Boris had said we were in for a treat this weekend, but nothing had prepared me for the bottomless creek we encountered less than five minutes after setting off. I watched as the first rider's bike got swallowed up by the bog hole and, with only handlebars protruding out of the water, it was more sub than moto. During the morning, the rain started falling and the thick red clay that the region is renowned for turned into slick mud that demanded a rider's respect. Our group of 20-strong battled west through the Nana Creek State Forest. We regroup and Boris yelled, "We've got some of the best Singie up next, boys!" With fatigue setting in, the weight of the WR became too much through the technical and slippery conditions and I found myself spending more time flat on my arse than I did in the cockpit. By the time morning tea rolled around, I became infamous among the trail tour operators; they all knew my name on account of the amount of times I'd stalled the bike during a difficult section and stranded everyone behind me.
During the rest period I got a good look at Boris’s setup. There was enough food, fuel and drinks for the day’s escapade, as well as three Quik Shades and fold-out tables, chairs for everyone and an abundance of spares. I found out Boris had committed every trail to memory, as well as how difficult they are, so he can keep tours on schedule. It was impressive. Back at Detour headquarters there was a fully-equipped bunkhouse; complete with hot showers, a fire place, beer fridge, and decorated with old local trail signs and moto souvenirs from the Coffs Harbour region.
By the end of the weekend my body was stiff, battered and bruised and looking around I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling it. It was an epic two-day ride with a great bunch of blokes. On the way home, I couldn’t help but contemplate my next off-road adventure.