Not many high-end Swiss watchmakers will allow you to play in the dirt during a press event, but when you’ve got CS Santosh as your ambassador, things are obviously different.
A couple of weeks ago, CS Santosh got a new sponsor in the Swiss watch brand, Favre-Leuba. Now while the announcement came some months ago, Favre-Leuba decided to organise a party of sorts to celebrate their collaboration. But instead of choosing a high-end hotel bar, they decided to do it at Santosh’s Big Rock Dirt Park. And to get us people high, Santosh and Favre-Leuba arranged things a little differently than usual as well – a day of training with Santosh in his backyard, riding purpose-built dirt bikes. Now that’s the kind of party I don’t like to miss.
The day started with a training session with Santosh, wherein he told us about the basics of off-roading, like how to sit on the bike, maneuvering in tight spots, throttle and clutch control, and braking. When you hear about all these things, it looks easy-peasy. But try to put them into practice, and you end up looking clumsier than a toddler. And that will happen initially because off-roading is intense and a totally different ballgame from track or road riding. However, as they say, more practice makes you better, and over time your brain re-calibrates your inputs when you’re on a loose surface. And the whole exercise becomes fun!
Now, I’ve had the pleasure to ride all kinds of bikes off-road as a motoring journalist. In fact, not too long ago, I was jumping around the Big Rock Dirt Park on a brand-new Hero XPulse 200 during the press ride of this entry-level off-roader. Over time, I’ve realised that if you keep your fears aside, off-roading or dirt riding can excite you in a different way. The sense of breaking traction, getting into a slide or going airborne – even if it’s for 60 milliseconds – is something that’s pure joy, but only if you get it right. Of course, since you’re frequently on the edge, the fear of falling and breaking bones is intense and you tend to be more conservative in taking risks as compared to say riding on the track. But, when you get everything right, the rewards are also sweeter. And, on this occasion, that was exactly the case, as I was riding a purpose-built Honda CRF230F. And, wow, what a machine it is! The throttle response, agility, brakes, tyres, and the finely-tuned suspension make it an absolute weapon, even in the hands of a novice. Sure, off-road or adventure production bikes are very capable, but then a specialised tool like the CRF is just so much better. I absolutely love it.
All in all, I had tremendous fun doing silly things under the ‘watch’ of CS Santosh and team. Now, I just can’t wait to be back at the Big Rock Dirt park and try to go airborne for at least a full second the next time around.