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All class with Karen Ramsay

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This entry is part 13 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #22

I’ve achieved a couple of firsts since last issue: a women’s-only ride and mild heatstroke.I got my first taste of heatstroke riding in ridiculous temperatures. Despite constant drinking I went from being hot to overheated in a very short space of time. While Dave went off to check out a river crossing, apparently I left my helmet laying on the ground while I wandered off somewhere away from the track. An hour sitting in the water helped immensely. Just this mild dose was scary enough to make me realise how quickly things can turn. It also emphasises the importance of riding with people who’ll take you seriously when you say you need a break.

The ‘thumbs up/I’m okay’ signal seemed clear enough.

Crazy girls

Fortunately our womens’ weekend ride wasn’t hot – quite the opposite in fact.

We crossed paths with some trailriders and heard later we were classed as a bunch of ‘crazy girls’. I’m not sure why we got that label. It can’t have been because we were out riding in the rain through mud and goodness knows what else, because they were out there too. Perhaps it was that we were laden with gear for a weekend camping/riding trip while they weren’t. Maybe it was our bike choice? Kylie was on her suitable WR250R, Lianni was on her Transalp and I was on my Terra. Hopefully it wasn’t that we three women riding without a man.

An hour sitting in the water helped cope with heatstroke.

Flagging signal

Ascending a gentle rocky rise (at the time I thought it was a barely surmountable vertical cliff covered in boulders and mud) I obviously misjudged how close I was to a protruding branch. It speared into my side bag and left me lying face down in the mud and rocks under the bike. Until then I’d never understood how anyone could possibly become stuck under a bike. While making supportive noises and concerned expressions I’d be thinking ‘Why didn’t you just try harder?’ ‘Why didn’t you just wriggle out?’ ‘How hard can it be, mate?’

Having been on the other side of the bike now, so to speak, it all becomes crystal clear. My foot was well and truly wedged, so much so I couldn’t even flex or relax it.I did have the advantage of having two riders behind me who could get it off me (if they chose to), but in the meantime I tried pretty jolly hard to get out, or at least move my foot, with absolutely no success. Who knows, perhaps if they weren’t there I may have got out because I would’ve been forced to try harder, but in the short time I was stuck there was no way I was going anywhere – which was a very sobering thought.

It also made me realise I need to work on my sign language. I’m fairly certain they understood my ‘thumbs up/I’m okay’ signal, but my ‘now you know I’m breathing you can take a quick photo before you lift the bike off my trapped and aching ankle’ signal needs refinement.

KAREN RAMSAY

Horsing around

Our girls-only adventure-ride weekend was a great success, with Lianni, Meg, Kylie and I riding together at different times through Spokes Trail, Barrington Tops and Barry Station Road in NSW.

There was some challenging riding (maybe not for Kylie) and lots of fun.

It’s always good to go riding with people like Kylie and Lianni who are really considerate and more than happy to impart some of the knowledge and skills they’ve accumulated over the years.

Don’t despair, I’ve also continued to have my share of embarrassing moments.

Top of these was on the last evening camping when it was just Kylie and I.

With little idea of where to camp we decided our prerequisite would be somewhere near water we could sit in.

Kylie said we’d know it when we saw it. And we did. It was a freshly mown common beside a creek with plenty of room for both tents and out of view of most of the locals. Paradise. However, sometime through the night I heard all sorts of awful noises right beside my tent. I like to think I’m pretty level-headed most of the time, but this was scaring the daylights out of me and my first instinct was to scream as loud as I could for Kylie – except nothing more than a squeak left my lips.

I was snugly wrapped in my sleeping bag and unable to get out in a hurry, which made me the perfect sausage-roll sacrifice for Hannibal and his mates outside. Just as useful was the multi-tool I’d taken to bed that night in case of a scenario like this – only it too was snugly wrapped up in its pouch. I’d have had to call out, “Hold on a minute will you please, sir, while I get out of my sleeping bag and get my knife ready to defend myself”.

And that would only be if the power of speech returned. Whoever, or whatever, was on the other side of that flimsy material must’ve decided I wasn’t worth the bother.

I tried to rationalise that it sounded a lot like a horse, which is the reason I didn’t go check to see if Kylie was safe, not that I’m a chicken. She in turn slept through the whole thing and thought it was hilarious the next morning.

The local who wandered down in the morning reckoned there were no horses around and it could have possibly been a pig. There was no sign of anything rooting around, so I’m still no closer to finding out.

Lianni and Kylie take stock on the trail near Kookaburra.

Lockdown

All packed and ready to go after my night of terror I jumped on my bike to warm it up…only to find the keys weren’t in the ignition. My heart skipped a few beats until it dawned on me they were in the tent, along with my purse and multi-tool, rolled up, packed away and tied on the bike.

I really hope the girls will let me go riding with them again!

What I’ve learned

• Ride with people who’ll believe you if you say you’re too hot, even if they don’t believe you’re hearing noises in the night
• I conquer technical riding situations and easy stuff with equal lack of finesse
• Stopping for lunch takes a back seat to making it out of the bush unscathed
• Double check the tent before you pack the bike

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