At Enduro Park Thailand you might just learn how to do this on a BMW motorcycle
FROM PLACES AROUND the region like Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia and yes, Singapore, riders descend on Enduro Park Thailand on the outskirts of Bangkok, to learn how to fly. Or eat sand, which is mostly what we ended up doing.
Enduro Park is a school for people who want to learn the fine art of riding off-road. The facility opened last year and features 15 off-roading stations spread out over 3.3 acres. Like other BMW enduro schools around the world, it was set up to help customers use their GS-series motorcycles to their full potential, but all riders are welcome.
We went there as complete off-roading newbies but soon gained the confidence to do things on motorcycles that we always promised our our mothers we would never try. Here are 10 reasons you should give it a go, too:
You’ll learn from the best
Our teacher for the day, Waranyu Tanjaroen, is so skilled at riding off-road that at 2014’s Baja 1000 (a motoriously tough race across the Mexican desert) he finished second. On his first attempt. The chief instructor of the school, Patima Kongpetch, is the guy who trained him.
Enduro Park Thailand has seven instructors in total, all of whom are trained according to BMW standards of instruction. Ours were full of good humour at, crucially, patience.
It’s very reasonably priced
Enduro Park offers three full-day courses — Level 1, Level 2 and Level Enduro — and prices start from THB8,000 (S$318). That includes the bike, a BMW F700 GS or BMW F800 GS. Add THB1,500 if you want the bigger, more powerful R 1200 GS or R 1200 GS Adventure.
They can tailor classes to your group
If you come as a group of five or more (they can accommodate up to 15 riders per session), the instructors can tailor a session for you. Handy if you have pals of similar riding ability to yours. Or if, like us, you ride like a girl.
Otherwise you can join a regular group, but let them know you’re coming in advance so they can make sure an English-speaking instructor is there.
They have gear to loan you
You’ll need enduro boots, knee and elbow guards, gloves and a helmet. Ideally you should have your own, but if you don’t (or if, like us, you show up with the wrong sort of gear), they can loan you some.
They accept riders even with zero enduro experience
Whether you’re a sand-kicking demon on a bike or a complete and utter enduro virgin, the school can accommodate you. We went as total newbies and were guided through the very basics, from how (and why) to stand atop a bike to how to hold the handlebars.
You can drop a bike that doesn’t belong to you
There are only two kinds of enduro rider: the kind who’s fallen down and the kind who is about to fall down.
Thankfully you’ll be a dropping a bike that doesn’t belong to you, although judging from the way we crashed repeatedly, those BMWs seem all but indestructible.
It’s a safe way to learn
It’s one thing to crash out in the wild green yonder, and quite another to do it within the confines of a riding school. Just look at this gnarly spill by our chief editor:
At Enduro Park you can crash, get back on and try again. Incidentally, the record for the most falls there by a Singaporean currently stands at 25 in one day.
You’ll learn cool new skills
At Enduro park you learn to scrabble up steep hills that would defeat a mountain goat, learn to waft a heavy bike through sand like a snake, make the tightest full-lock u-turns on a heavy bike and more. You even pick up tips on how to ride across a river.
“Ditch that bikini and trunks. Ever tried swimming with an big adventure bike instead?” writes biker babe Vaune Phan, on her time at the school. “It’s a lot more fun, especially when it’s muddy!”
You find out what to do when it all goes wrong
The art of picking up a heavy bike without putting your back out is something you’ll apply over and over and over at Enduro Park.
In a nutshell, it involves placing one hand on the handlebar and another on a sturdy part of the frame, and then using your legs to slowly walk it back upright. Watch Vaune show chief ed Derryn how it’s done:
Who needs muscle when you have technique?
You’ll be a better rider overall.
Off-road skills are useful on the road. That’s because bashing through the jungle on a slippery surface requires lots of focus, feel and anticipation, plus the ability to handle small slides. When you get back on the road you’ll be that much more confident as a rider.
And the next time you hit a patch of gravel you won’t leave a skidmark in your underpants.
BONUS REASON: You get a cool certificate
It’s nice to have something to show for all your sweat and aching muscles, after all.
Where: 50/486 ถนน บางบอน 3 Bang Bon, Bangkok 10150, Thailand