A Special Weekend for a Very Special Customer

Friday,03 Nov 2017

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Lings Motor Group always endeavours a to go the extra mile to make our customer feel like they've had only the best in customer service and satisfaction - but from time to time we go  even further in rewarding long-term loyalty by showing our own appreciation in turn for very special customers.

So it was for Dave White, Head Organiser of the Norfolk Honda Owners Club (NHOC) , who was presented with a weekend away at the Dave Thorpe Honda Adventure Centre as token of recognition for being a superb ambassador for the Honda brand and motorcycling in East Anglia, and a token of appreciation for many years of business with Lings Motor Group.

Dave was kind enough to extensively document his weekend away with dozens of photographs and a fantastically entertaining write up. Thanks, Dave - and we look forward to welcoming you once again at Lings! David has kindly given us permission to reproduce his report here - please enjoy and if you're inspired don't hesitate to get in touch with us for details on the Honda Adventure range!

Earlier in the year I was blown away when mark at Harleston Lings gave me a wonderful 'Thank You' present of a day at the Honda Adventure centre in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.

I was able to upgrade this to the 2-day full off-road package and so the date in October was booked, along with the Nant Ddu hotel just outside Merthyr.  We turned up on the Wednesday evening to the hotel and had a lovely meal there once we had unpacked and freshened up.  The food and service at the Nant Ddu is exceptional!

We sat in the restaurant looking to see if anyone else looked like a biker about to spend 2 days off-roading but with no luck.  At breakfast on Thursday 19th we thought we had spotted a couple who might be bikers.....and indeed they turned pit to be a newly-married couple from Holland who were over doing the 2 days for part of their honeymoon!

I got to the Honda Adventure Centre early - I HATE being late - and was welcomed by the staff there and given some off-roading boots to put on.  The Centre was clean and welcoming and had free coffees which was great.  Daphne and her husband plus some other faces I recognised form breakfast arrived and we sat for our briefing - all feeling a bit nervous but as excited as a party of school children in a sweet shop. 12 of us had booked for the 2 days.  Next stop was being choosing the manual or DCT Africa twin for the 2 days and then being given the keys to our bikes.  

We put lids on and fired the bikes up and had a lovely 40-minute ride to the Off-Roading venue which was originally an old coal slagheap, which made for plently of trails, mud and trees...the weather was rainy and wet which made the ground turn to slippy treacle but that just added to the fun!

Once at the venue we were shown how to stand on the pegs and steer by moving our body-weight which was a great skill to pick up.  Then we were shown about the traction control.  At the bottom of a slope 2 cones were put and we were told to get to the cones in 2nd gear and then pin the throttle - we did this with full traction control then down to 2 bars, 1 bar and then no traction at all.  The results were amazing and we learned really quickly to vary the traction control for the 2 days.  Feeling the back wheel sliding was such fun...and so useful. 

Then we were split in to 2 groups and off we went - being taught and shown how to stand up and ride through the mud and dips and puddles with the back wheels sliding while steering by transferring weight.  We learned about traction control up steep rocky slopes and then up VERY steep rocky slopes and how to ride trails looking 100% ahead and not down.  Our 2 groups crossed paths frequently during the day and we had several stops too.  Lunch was a quick blatt to a local pub where there was a nice spread put out and tea/coffee.  

Our instructors did encourage us to see that falling off was an option and showed you were really trying hard - but more about that on Day 2... We were taken through deep muddy and wet pools and slid our way between trees and up and down slopes.  If anyone came off - which they did quite often (although on Day 1 I stayed on all day) the nearest bike stopped and helped them get upright and going again.  By the end of Day 1 we were all 1000% totally impressed by just what the Africa Twin can do and the usable, smooth power and traction delivery.....We finally met up and returned to the Adventure centre in pouring rain but what the heck, none of us really noticed that or were worried by it. 

I am not so sure about how the local people viewed 15 mud-covered riders and bikes tearing through their countryside and towns en route to Merthyr though!!  By the end of day 1 we were all saying how tired we were but how happy too with what we had done and learned.  In the evening we all met up with our instructors at the Nant Ddu for a wonderful evening meal together.  Sue and another rider's wife joined us and the whole evening was full of exciting chatter about what we had been doing and were looking forward to for day 2.  A GREAT way to end day 1.

Day 2 saw us all get back to the Adventure Centre early where we found cold and damp clothing form yesterday but quickly put it all back on.  The weather was decidedly colder - a mere 8C this morning.  We had a lovely ride to a different part of the Brecon Beacons for today's adventures - much more shale and rock and steep slopes.  

On Day 2 we did more as a whole group but also split back in to 2 again - a great mix.  We learned how to select appropriate traction control to ride up REALLY steep rock-strewn slopes and also the important Slope recovery technique for if you came off on a slope.  

I was bombing up a REALLY steep slope with the wrong traction control setting which caused the back wheel so slip and the bike to lose speed, so I decided to stomp down to 1st gear - what a mistake to make! I hit neutral and BANG was off...however I was then able to do a successful Slope recovery and went down and then back up the hill successfully with a MASSIVE beaming grin as I had shown this technique worked well.  It was only later that night I noticed the large bruise on my knee where I went down - didn't feel a thing all day on the bike though!

We learned how to run the bike up 12 foot high slopes, down rock-covered ravines and enjoyed standing on the pegs and blatting along at 55-65mph through some shale trails plus running through several feet of water in streams, over jumps and much much more.  The weather improved and we had a warm mid-day and afternoon which was lovely - seeing the Beacons at their best.

 Everyone was grinning like Cheshire Cats and we had really formed as a great fun group.  All to soon it was back to the Adventure centre and then we took all our mud-covered gear off and had a warming coffee.  The instructors presented us with certificates and goody-bags and we were all sad that an AWESOME 2 days were over.  I THOROUGHLY recommend taking up this opportunity of you can - you learn just SO much about what a fantastic off-road bike the Africa Twin is.  Riding on flat tarmac is now SOOOOOO boring!

MANY thanks to Mark Powell and the team at Lings for giving me this unbelievable and brilliant opportunity.

Thank you so much for the fantastic write-up, Dave - and we look forward to welcoming you back to Lings very soon.

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