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A day's quad biking at Felixkirk near Thirsk, North Yorkshire

This all started on  dark October day, when I was absolutely stumped what to buy the girlfriend for her birthday. Eventually I came cross the buyagift website and decided to buy her "an experience".  After a lot of trawling, I decided on Quad Biking at Felixkirk. I had no idea where Felixkirk was, but bought two tickets anyway. The tickets turned up next day in a silver presentation tin which was an absolute masterpiece in packaging design. It had a really quirky keyring affair with it and overall it really looked the part. I was impressed.

Quad biking at Felixkirk near ThirskAnyway, months passed, and we kept trying to decide on a date, and after our two very complicated lives came together we settled on a weekend in May. Next came the thankless task of trying to find accommodation that would accept the dog as well. Unfortunately we'd clashed with Thirsk races which turned it into a bit of a nightmare but eventually we booked in at the Nag's Head at Pickhill. What a good choice that was.

So Saturday dawned fair and we set off for the short ride from Pickhill to Felixkirk, pausing only to pay the vet's bill in Thirsk as the dog had been taken ill the night before. The surgery was actually called "Skeldale Surgery", but we never saw James Herriott.

Felixkirk was easy to find, nestling at the bottom of the North York Moors escarpment, and turned out to be an absolutely picture post card village. It had everything, including the Carpenters Arms,  and a superb church with its own steam engine!

The venue was easy to find and turned out to be at the "North Yorkshire Shooting Ground", where they do clay shooting, quad biking, landrover off-roading and even digger driving. As we pulled into the car park, there were a dozen or more brand spanking new shiny Polaris quad bikes. Seemed like a shame to get them dirty.

Check-in was quick and friendly. We filled in one little form, and a few minutes later our instructor turned up and we were off. There were four in our group, though I did see another group of about eight going round the track. We had a quick safety talk, a chance to pick waterproofs and helmets and then away to  the bikes.

Another quick talk about how to work the controls and we were off. The bikes really only have one control, the throttle. You stick it in forward and leave it in forward. If you aren't pressing the throttle it just stands there, and because there's engine speed braking you hardly ever need to touch the brake. They even have full suspension too, so no bruised backside at the end of it. We set off round the corner and into the field, and I immediately came to grief. As we went round the corner I felt the back-end sliding away and immediately corrected by steering into the skid just like you would on a bike. Only in this case, the quad bike went exactly where I pointed it and I ended up stuck in the middle of a bog before we'd even reached the starting line. The instructor probably wondered just what kind of muppet he was dealing with, but he patiently rescued me and we were off again.

The first exercise was going round a field a couple of times to get the hang of the steering. I really needed that because these were like nothing I'd driven before. They needed big steering, not the little incremental steering you'd use on a car or a bike, but proper pointing, and no matter what, they just went where you pointed them. There were some little ups and downs on the course so it felt really challenging but we all made it.

Quad biking at Felixkirk near Thirsk Then we did a slalom through piles of tyres. This looked impossible, but the bikes just sailed through it. Then we did it standing up, and then standing up one handed!  Finally we went over a pivoting ramp thing where when we reached the top the ramp tipped down and down we went.

And that was it, we were ready for the main course. I'm not sure how big the course is as I was too busy concentrating, but it was pretty big. With the instructor leading we went up impossible ups and we went down impossible downs. We flew over the top of bumps and we went through water splashes. In fact there'd been so much rain two bits of the course proved impassable and even the instructor couldn't get through them.

By this time we were well muddy, and the chap who'd turned down the offer of waterproof trousers and worn his designer trainers was feeling a tad foolish. But on we all went having tremendous fun. I think we must have spent at least an hour on the main course mixing in with the land rover drivers who seemed to be having just as much fun as we were. Apparently they had confidence driving in the afternoon, where the landy driver is blindfolded and the passengers have to direct him. Presumably that's some kind of corporate team building exercise, but I'm glad I wasn't doing it.

By the end we were going faster and faster over the course and enjoying every minute, culminating with a real blast back to the clubhouse. Have to say it was a great morning nicely rounded off with a pint at the Carpenters Arms just round the corner. My only regret - I didn't take enough photos. More details of quad biking in Yorkshire here.

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