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Trail Topics


    Thursday, June 28, 2012

Author: Steve Pretzel

He was in third, maybe fourth gear. Still accelerating hard, the front wheel of the KTM 525 clawed at the sky.

What happened next is a matter for conjecture. According to nearly-dead-Dave, he saw the corner, hit the brakes and the front brake failed completely. Maybe it happened that way or maybe he didn’t see the corner until it was too late.

Either way, the big Kato barrelled on straight ahead into the bushes, hit a mound and knocked down a fair sized banksia from about 6 feet off the ground.  When nearly-dead-Dave regained consciousness he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move and was in a world of pain.

What’s worse, he was alone on a remote bush track, several kilometres from the nearest road, about 10 kilometres from the nearest town. It was around 6am on a Saturday morning. And he wasn’t even on the track - he was buried in the dense scrub about ten metres from the track.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, nearly-dead-Dave knew roughly how bad things were. As a registered nurse he fairly quickly diagnosed the shattered pelvis, broken ribs and shoulder, punctured lung and damaged spleen. He figured his chances of survival were remote.

The previous night some mates had dropped off the second hand bike at nearly-dead-Dave’s house. They didn’t leave his riding gear, though, because they were concerned that Dave had been on the turps and they didn’t want him getting any ideas about riding on his own in the morning.

Didn’t work.

Just after sunup Dave decided to go for a quick blast. No helmet, no boots. And now he was about to pay the ultimate price for that one bad judgement call.

Somehow he managed to drag himself close to 100 metres to where the track crossed a property firebreak. And there, miraculously, he was found by a neighbour taking an early morning stroll with his dog.
The neighbour didn’t recognise Dave - his entire body had blown up like a balloon from the internal damage. But Dave was soon in an ambulance and then flown to Perth where he spend several months recovering.

By chance I met Dave at that very same corner a year or so later. This time he was the one walking his dog and I was riding with some mates. We chatted about what happened that day. Nearly-dead-Dave was an average sort of guy, he just let impulse override his better judgement.

I used to ride alone, too. My wake-up call was a lot less traumatic - a dislocated shoulder within about twenty metres of a sealed road, and I was able to pop it back in and ride home.

If I’m ever tempted to just hop on the bike and go for a solo blast I remember that incident, and I remember nearly-dead-Dave. And if I can’t rustle up a couple of mates to join me I reschedule. 

You just never know what might happen out there.

   Finding the Time

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

Author: Brett Grandin 

How do you find the time to go riding with the pressures of family and work encroaching on the pleasure time period.
Guys , I now know what it is like to find time to ride being a fly/ in fly out  operative, with the pressure of family commitments and catching up with the tasks that need to be completed prior to going back to work.
The lawn seems to grow even more when you are away, the wife /girlfriend or significant other wants to spend time with you as they have missed you (they do not understand that you in fact miss your  bike more than them), the kids are like leaches and will not let you out of their sight.
Being at home during the normal working week and hours ( R&R) doesn’t allow for access to the normal riding crew or access to the various riding groups that get together on the weekends.
I dare not ride my bike in the bush without the security of a riding partner and the thought of doing a ride on the road just doesn’t excite me.
What are my options ?
1. Do I convince my mates to have a sickie to go riding and hoping that we do not end up on the news?
2. Hope that my normal ride crew want to ride on the one day that I have available on a weekend? (Dilemma with the maintenance needing to be completed  after the ride before storage for several weeks)
3. Do I advertise for someone to ride with and hope they are not going to kill you with there “Skills on the bike”?
4. Just go to the shed and reassure my trusted ride that I have not forgotten it and promise to work something out in the way of exercise for the both of us in the dirt,
I am yet to find the ideal solution on obtaining balance of life with the” Need to get Dirt”.
I ponder the solution... 

   A Casey In Point

    Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Author: Tadhg MacCarthy

I woke at 6am on the 18th of May to the news that Casey Stoner at the tender age of 26 was going to retire at the end of the MotoGP season. The reasons cited were that he had lost the passion for motorcycle racing - a sport he had dedicated his life to. The passion killers were technical changes to the sport favouring weaker riders; but more telling was the lack of empathy for riders from the MotoGP moguls.

At 6:30am my missus announced her retirement from trailriding - as she had also lost the passion for the sport. I had to do a double take as ‘trailriding’ sounded like ‘marriage’ in my still half asleep consciousness. That certainly could have put a different spin on a mundane Wednesday.

Her reason for loss of passion for trailriding (not marriage) was the risk versus reward equation.
Put simply it was no longer worth it.

At 7:15am my son made it a trifecta when he also announced his trailriding retirement at age 12 to concentrate on skateboarding or something.

I glanced over at my daughter with a "Quinella?" look.

"No chance Dad. Sell their bikes and mine then I can upgrade to a Husky!" she exclaimed. That was the first piece of sense I had heard that day.

It did get me thinking - what pushes people to turn their back on their passion for motorcycling. Risk is always a factor and changes over time. What would it take for me to give it away?

Well if Scarlett Johnannson called and... oops did I type that out loud?

Certainly the quality of the trails on offer has a big impact - if that deteriorated to a level it has in large parts of the US and Europe then I would be hanging up the boots. Somebody recently told me a story of flicking through a UK Adventure Riding magazine recommending a couple of routes through their "green-lane" system. One was 3.1 miles long - the other 2.2 miles. Yep, that'd do it.

That'd never happen here ... right?

Wrong - apathy abounds. The Nanny state mentality grows daily.

What's the answer?

To paraphrase JFK "Ask not what the RTRA can do for you; but what can you do for the RTRA".

I could do more ... could you?

Otherwise see you on Trail Route 1 (of 2) with 400 of our closest friends, which will be a mammoth 6kms long - resplendent in freeway signs, traffic lights and fun police.

   Love thy Neighbour - And his Bike

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Author: Melanie Andrew

It’s 6am Sunday morning the kids are asleep and the house is quiet.  The roar of a YZ pierces the silence as the Twenty Something’s across the road tune their bikes up for what I am sure will be a day of hard riding and play.

The baby is awake and the chance of settling her is basically nil with the windows all but vibrating and the smell of petrol filling the air.  The roar continues for the next 3 hours as they tweak and tune their bikes riding up and down the street.

As I sit, coffee in hand peering through the window remembering a day that we too were so keen to ride it got me thinking. There is a reason so many do not understand trail bike riders  - and there it is.

Perhaps I am a little out of touch with the rider within, having been some 9 years since I last gripped those handlebars. Or perhaps I have learnt that it is the few that spoil it for the many.  

Let me paint the picture. We live North of Perth surrounded by sand dunes and new developments; a natural terrain of jumps and trails.  The temptation for riding enthusiasts in our area is too much and so at any given time several can be seen cutting it up.

With the family awake we decided to take a drive up to the Lagoon for the day.  I found myself holding my breath for most of the way.  

For a large stretch of the way, two young guys darted across the road in front of us wearing short sleeved shirts and boardies, at least they had helmets on I suppose.  Another youngster had been fishtailing alongside us in the gravel for a small stretch, no helmet.  

I don’t know if it’s the mother in me but for the first time in my life I got a glimpse of what the other side sees. Recklessness.  I saw a sheer disrespect for the power they have in their control and realised something:  just like its not a gun that kills, its not a bike either - its the rider.  

I love riding, the freedom it gives you, parking up under a tree for lunch, the fresh air and that time stands still until you see the sun starting to fade. I get it, I really do, but another fire burns in my belly just a bright.  With two small children sleep and silence are rare commodities in this household.  So I’ve crossed over to the dark side and become the cranky lady next door.

I actually couldn’t believe that the words “Can’t they just shut those bloody bikes up for one day” rolled out of my mouth. Where was she, the twenty something girl that would have embraced the un-welcomed alarm clock, surely she was still in there somewhere?

I’m not at the point of frustration that I would walk across the road and say something to the guys that show such a lack of consideration but I can sympathise with others who face similar issues on a regular basis and I can see how these situations get out of hand.  I hate the word ‘hoon’ because I like to believe that for the most part whilst the behaviours are annoying (sometimes even destructive) that they are not consciously malicious.  

So I’m not a hoon and I’m not really the cranky lady next door. I’m just someone who both loves a good ride and would like to get a sleep in once in a while.

People are as passionate about bikes as others are against them. A non rider will never understand the allure of kicking your bike over and taking off for the day.  They don’t understand revs and they wouldn’t have a clue what knobby’s are so let’s start try understanding their language so we can avoid turning otherwise reasonable people into the ‘cranky lady next door’.

   Jaye Radisich and the RTRA

    Monday, March 19, 2012

Author: Steve Pretzel

Someone quite special to the RTRA died on the weekend.  Jaye Radisich, the former Swan Hills MLA passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.

Few people would know this, but Jaye was the catalyst for the formation of the RTRA.

In February 2007 a friend suggested I contact Jaye about the deplorable state of Gnangara.  I did this, and instead of getting a standard 'thank you for sharing...'  response I received a phone call asking whether I would show her around the area so she could get a better idea of the problem.

I did this on a typically hot dusty day in early March.  Jaye was of course suitably horrified with the conditions at Gnangara, and when we had finished the tour she gave me some advice about getting things done through the Government.

"It's all about the numbers." she said "What you really need is to get the riders together through some form of association so you can say "we speak on behalf of x hundred riders and we need a better deal"".

This made a lot of sense so we immediately put the wheels into motion and the Recreational Trailbike Riders' Association of WA Inc came into being just a few weeks later, on March 27.

I didn't really expect Jaye to follow up (and just that one suggestion turned out to be incredibly valuable), but Jaye did not forget about our Gnangara visit, as this extract from Hansard from April 2007 shows:


… In my last minute I raise the issue of trail bike riding in the Gnangara pine plantation.  Trail bike riders are welcome to ride in the plantation.  That is fair and reasonable because people with trail bikes do need somewhere to ride.  However, I am very concerned that this is not a safe environment.  There is no signage and no safety measures have been put in place whatsoever.  There have been deaths at that site.  We need to undertake a serious assessment of how unlicensed bikes can be ridden off-road so that riders have a proper recreational experience in a safe environment.

 Sadly, ill health forced Jaye to leave state politics.  As possibly the first politician to raise the need for action for improved riding opportunities, as the person who inspired the formation of the RTRA and as a person who cared and was prepared to stand up and take action Jaye Radisich will be sadly missed but fondly remembered. 

   Start ride 012

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Author: Brett Grandin

It was a nice weekend for a ride - lucky for us, as it had been arranged some two weeks ahead of this day.
Two of my riding companions and I had decided to venture to our favourite riding area for a ride in some country that we had not been to for about 12 months.

We suit up and head off on the transition stage to the start of the day’s dirt adventure. The black top is a necessity to get to the ideal start point and as we make our way to the start of the dirt trail we start to feel the beast beneath and realise what we’ve been missing over the festive, hot season.  

The summer months always seem to pass so slow, so we relish the chance to ride again and enjoy the company of mates in the great outdoors. It brings joy just to think that the season has started for trail riding adventure.

The fire trails were pristine and would appear not to have been used in the time that we had last passed this way. The dust is under control and the surface is a little soft and slippery.  In places the trail appears impassable , but with some creative thinking we make ramps to get over the fallen trees, and fill in the troughs on the hill climbs made by the flowing water from the past wet season. All great stuff to get back into the swing of riding. By this time two or three hours had passed so we found a place to take a break.

As we rested at a water crossing point on a main dirt road, traffic passes and along comes the local Ranger. The Ranger asked about how we were doing and passed the time of day before continuing on his rounds. Good to see that Rangers can be good guys.

Continuing our trip the three of us venture onto some more ground and some great scenery. This is what it is all about - the great outdoors with some mates, doing what we enjoy most, away from the stresses of the working world.

Six solid hours of riding before making it back to the cars, and didn’t we all know that we had been off the bikes for some time! Clearly we need to ride more to regain our ride fitness, so the conversation quickly turns to planning our next ride date.

   Sustainability - it's in our hands

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Author: Steve Pretzel

It's coming up for seven years now since I first got involved in trail bike issues and there's one question I still wrestle with.  Regularly.  What are the things that we as riders can do to help ensure the sustainability of our sport?

I'm not talking about lobbying government for more land, less restrictive regulations or funding to build trails. Those things are fairly obvious and in many cases reactive.

What I mean is: what are the things that I can do as an individual that will make a positive difference?

I have a fair idea of the things that I can do as an individual.  I can make sure my bike is no louder than it needs to be and that I ride it quietly when I'm around people (on trails or in houses).  I can stay away from areas where I know I shouldn't be such as walk trails, water catchment and dieback areas.  I can work on riding smoothly so that I can be fast without ripping up the trails.  

I know I can do all of these things, but will they make a positive difference?

What does it matter that I consciously try to do the right thing when there are lots of other riders who don't know or don't care?

We all talk about the 'irresponsible minority' that threatens to ruin things for us.  Surely what I do or don't do won't influence them, will it?

I don't ride with the 'irresponsible minority' so they can't watch and emulate me (and anyone who has seen how I ride wouldn't want to emulate that anyway!).

I don't think I even know anyone in the 'irresponsible minority' - and even if I did they probably wouldn't listen if I tried to enlighten them.

If I'm doing the right thing then very few people will even know I'm our there riding so the 'community PR' value is lost (only the 'irresponsible minority' make the news).

Now it's easy to get disheartened when you look this way at the power of the individual to make a positive difference.  

But I think it comes down to this.  There will always be an 'irresponsible minority' and they will always cause us trouble.  But the more marginal they become the less trouble they will cause.

I can't influence people who neither know nor care about the impacts of their actions on other people, on the environment and on our sport.  That's out of my hands.

What is in my hands is the influence over what I choose to do, where I choose to do it and who I choose to do it with.  I can make these decisions for no other reason than knowing that I am doing my bit for the future of riding.

If enough of us just focus on what we can do maybe ... just maybe we can make that positive difference after all.


   Dreaming of Winter

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Author: Tadhg MacCarthy

I sit here in my Y-fronts and string vest in the midst of a Perth heatwave with the deadline for my next blog post looming. How can you even think about riding in this heat? 

Which gets me thinking? How does one wile away the time when waiting for better riding conditions to arrive?

Here's some of my tips...

On the motto is Ride The World - see amazing dirt oriented motorcycle journeys around the world from real people. None more amazing, than AdvRider inmate neduro as he took on this year's Dakar rally - with daily blogs, phone-ins and amazing photos...

A local has also been on an interesting international sojourn - check out Pounce from local riding
group who spent Christmas and New Year travelling around Laos and

If racing is more your bag; the Aussie summer is AMA Supercross time. See Chad Reed and his
compatriots take it to the septics in this 17 round series featuring the best in the world. Mad skills,
crazy racing. If you don't have pay TV - you can find torrents of the shows a couple of days after the
races. If you don't know what a torrent is - check with your nearest 15 year old.

And of course there's YouTube - check out Dream Ride - this Aussie made production takes dirt bike
videos to the next level. Shot on a camera capable of 25,000 frames per second! The slow-mo is

Of course if you're not a wuss like me - you could still be out riding in this weather with the other
Mad Dogs and English men. 

If you do - beware of the curse of summer: dust - you can't see through it - you can't breathe in it.  But top tip - if you wait 60 seconds it disappears! Think about that next time your sucking your riding buddy's dust when you're riding three metres behind them.

Roll on some rain...

   Looking forward to 2012!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

Author: George Lowry

Merry Xmas to all RTRA members!

Another year comes to a close and a big thank you to all RTRA members for your support in 2011!

They say it's the squeaky wheel which get the oil. Well after 5 years of squeaking (loudly) it looks like 2012 is shaping up to be the year we get some much needed lubricant. The state government is promising long overdue funds towards recreational trails. Certain members of the industry (who shall remain nameless for now) are finally dislodging their heads from the sand and throwing their support behind our activity (which as the main beneficiaries they should be). Even some areas of local government are recognising the leading role RTRA is taking and showing some interest in various projects.

All in all 2012 promises to be a landmark year in trail bike riding, and perhaps this time next year WA may lead the country in its approach and management of the activity. 

So stay tuned, stay safe and have a great Xmas/New Year!

   You Get What You Pay For

    Thursday, December 08, 2011

Author: Simon Mykolajenko

Well here we are only a few weeks away from another Christmas. I’m sure on Christmas morning there will be squeals of delight all over Western Australia as kids unwrap Pee Wee 50s, JR80s, CRF100s, KLX110s, and the like. I can only imagine the excitement of getting a new “mini bike” for Christmas as a kid. Wow!

Unfortunately for many kids the enjoyment will be short lived. Because of a lack of knowledge and some unscrupulous sellers out there a lot of parents will be sold cheap copies of the quality kid’s bikes that the Japanese manufacturers make. I’ll state right now that in the past I have worked in the motorcycle industry and sold all of the brands mentioned above at one time or another. Time to be blunt – There is a lot of crap out there that “looks” like a good little bike. Don’t be fooled, I don’t believe there is anyone who manufactures kid’s bikes to the same standard as the Japanese. I’m not talking competition bikes here like the awesome little KTMs etc, but little kids fun bikes. Take a look at them and then consider you can buy a new bike for around $3,000 that will give you trouble free riding fun until your kids outgrow it. You can then sell it and recoup most of your money. It’s a VERY cheap investment in your kids riding fun. The only problem you’ll have is that five of your mates will want to buy it for their kids and you’ll upset four of your mates when they miss out.

The other alternative is to buy a cheap copy, probably spoil your kid’s Christmas, and burn $1,500 in the process. I don’t think sitting back with a beer on Christmas day with little Johnny crying because his bike won’t go will make you feel good about saving $1,500. Think about the time you bought a cheap screwdriver, socket, drill, etc, etc, and it failed as soon as you tried to use it on anything substantial. It’s the same thing.

Years ago I sold my daughter’s used LT80 to someone who bought a cheap “Copy Bike” for his daughter. He told me it only lasted three hours before it died. I suggested that he meant three days, but no, three hours was all she got out of a brand new kid’s ATV before it was dead, and he couldn’t buy parts for it.

Don’t even start me on the safety aspects of poor brakes, failing suspension units, breaking chains, plastic wheel bearings, breaking frames, no spark arrestors, and so on.

So, please do everyone a favour. Buy quality and buy once. You’ll be happy that you did. And don’t forget some good, protective riding gear, a helmet and boots as a minimum.

Santa, if you’re reading this, all I want is a trails system from Perth to Albany that can be enjoyed by all, just like the hikers and mountain bike riders already have, or another couple of thousand RTRA members so we can pull some more weight with the pollies.

Have a great Christmas and ride safe people.