Monday, April 27, 2015

Offroad Dirt biking experience at CS Santosh’s Bigrock: Experience and details- Part 1

I heard about Big Rock Dirt Biking adventure near Kolar and was keen to try it out. It is a facility owned by CS Santosh, bike rally champion who successfully completed death defying Dakar rally recently. 

At Big Rock Motopark, visitors (Bike enthusiasts and rally aspirants) can learn some tips and tricks of dirt biking and get some hands on experience with imported bikes and safety gear. 
With Sports Biking legend, CS Santhosh
Awards won by CS Santhosh
When I tried to reach BigRock team it wasn’t a smooth experience- the numbers listed on their facebook page either won’t work or no one receives the call. After sending some messages eventually got a reply asking me to connect with Josh.  After some conversations we blocked a time for a Saturday morning. I understand later that Big rock is not run like a full time commercial venture, like with someone to man the call centre, someone doing sales and marketing etc. They are getting business mostly by referral and interested people themselves calling up to fix a slot. They operate only on weekends and that too when there’re some confirmed participants. Staff usually come from Bengaluru, so if you casually drive in there may not be anyone. You might have to be little patient when working with them to coordinate date and time.
CS Santhosh

Big Rock motosport campus is some 13 kms from Kolar town (about 75kms from Bengaluru). Public transportation is available, but you need to be patient. I got down from Chennai-Blr train at Bangarpet station at 3.45 AM in the morning. Kolar is about 17 kms from here. I wasn’t sure if I would get a bus- didn’t want to hire auto for that long. Kept walking for couple of kms and someone told me first bus is at 5AM. I waited at a roadside bus stand for about an hour- tried hitching a ride couple of times signalling trucks and few other vehicles, but that didn’t work out. They didn’t stop. Few share autos were operating, but they won’t go to Kolar. At 4.45 AM I got a bus that goes to Kolar. Reached Kolar at about 5.20, I learnt that first bus to Shapur (where Bigrock is located) will start at 6.30 AM. I called Josh to check if he can pick me up- he said he can, if I can come till the highway and he would arrive by 7.15 AM. I had my breakfast at a hotel opposite Kolar bus stand, wandered around for a while (I saw many posters paying tribute to DK Ravi) and came back to bus stand by 6.20.

The Shapur going bus came on time and left on time and it dropped me off at about 7 AM near Holali cross. From here I followed Google maps and it was tricky. Map didn’t show any road till the campus. After sometime I realized I am not heading anywhere by road, so I switched to Google’s satellite mode, figured out the right direction and started walking towards Big Rock as shown on map. Apparently there is a road to Big Rock, but not listed clearly on Google map. I entered a Poultry farm next to Big rock campus and then reached Big Rock. (Note: The noise coming from the thousands of young chicks at the Poultry farm is audible from a mile away. A simpler way to guide yourself to Big Rock moto park campus will be to listen to this chirping sound and move towards it).

As I entered Big Rock campus, Josh was yet to arrive. I was originally told CS Santosh may not be around, but only previous day I got a hint that he might join. I saw him coming out of the farm house and greeted him. I asked him about Dakar rally and his rely was “There’s enough written about it”- implying he didn’t plan to elaborate much. Other than that with my limited knowledge of motorsports I had some basic conversation with him. He was excited about the news that Motorsport is now officially recognized as a Sporting event by the government. Asked him “Won’t you be able to offer this experience at a cheaper rate by using cheaper bikes like Hero Impulse”. Santhosh’s response was very clear- Hero Impulse can’t give the experience that is offered by what he had- Honda 230Fs. It is either best or nothing. Don’t settle for a compromised experience. There were around 6 Honda CRF 230Fs and a KTM and one more that Santosh used for Himalayan ride.

By now Josh arrived, with another 3 enthusiasts from Chennai (they came in impressive VW Toureg). We were given riding gears- jersey, big boots, knee pads, helmet, goggles, chest shield, gloves etc.  I didn’t have a proper way to mount my GoPro-head-mount won’t fit with helmet and googles and I didn’t carry proper holders for a helmet mount (They had few helmets with mounts on it, I didn’t have the clipper). So my thoughts of making good videos flopped. I did take some footage by wrapping the camera on my shoulder, but had trouble getting the alignment right. I have some footage in inclined angles, will see what I can recover from that and will try to make  a short video of our experience.

We had breakfast, put on our gear and rode to  nearby track for first session. With all the safety gear on, it feels a bit heavy. Your legs won’t feel the brake or gear level, as the boots are super thick. But on the positive side, it allows us to truly indulge in riding, without any fear of injury. All vital body parts are adequately protected against any fall, so that is very safe.
Me decked up fully for dirt biking session...
As we entered the track, Josh gave us safety briefing. He showed us how to sit, how to enter a corner, how to hold the handle-bar etc. All these are very different from how we ride a conventional bike. We sit closer to the tank- almost on top of it, we hold handlebars in a top down way, not the regular way, toes firmly on the footrest. We should decide on our speed and gear before entering a corner, enter smooth and exit fast. Some videos and literature on internet, published 9 months ago when the park opened, said that CS Santhosh himself will be training the visitors. I was expecting Santosh to come in and give us some tips or share his experience etc. But that didn’t happen. Josh did all the training and led the session. Joshua Pramod is his full name and is was equally good. He has won 14 various championships himself and Santosh trusts him fully. 
We did some warm up exercises to relax our muscles. I feel this could have been done before putting all the safety gears on. But probably they have a reason to do it with the gears on- we’ll know if we’re not able to move any of the body parts freely. 

With the exercise done, we hit the short test track, filled with few ramps and turns. I will continue this topic in a separate post as Part 2. Read Part 2 here.


magiceye said...

Sounds like fun!!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hi Deepak

Yes it was... More details in part 2

Archana Chaurasia Kapoor said...

sounds like you had loads of fun... sometimes I wish I also rode a bike... but then most of the times I am happier sitting behind my brother :p
Cheers, Archana

SelfDrive Trips said...

Very cool.....

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Archana, yes it was fun... Do try learning bike riding.. it isn't that difficult.. Many women ride bullets...

@SDT: Thanks

Saru Singhal said...

Something to set the adrenaline high. I would love to be there and experience the thrill.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@Saru: Do try during your next visit to Blr

Jessica said...

I have read your post. thank's for sharing.
This is great post.I like this post. Many many thanks for this post.Really this post is so helpful for the bike.

Morny said...

Thanks for making this blog post. It's very interesting to read about the amazing bike riding experience you guys have out there. CS Santosh is indeed an rising star of biking in India, I just read about him on an another post.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Jessica and Morny