Gemma has wanted to ride a motorbike since forever, so when we had the chance to review Pure Dirt Tours in Rotorua, she was very excited! Here’s what she thought…
We arrived at Pure Dirt at around 3pm, and it is all you would expect from a motocross company and more. There is a Portakabin that doubles as the office, then what looked like a cleaning/storing shed next to it full of dirt bikes. We arrived in the afternoon and it was very quiet around, despite being close to the main road. We met the owner Merv and his employee Matt. Matt explained what the biking would entail, and he asked questions about our abilities. We are both novices, as I’ve only ever sat on stationary bikes, and Alan has only ever ridden a moped, so this is a big step forward for both of us. Alan struggles with balance on a bicycle so he was a little nervous, however I was very eager and excited to try this out.
They advised us that they have use of over 700 acres of land, with numerous tracks, ranging from a beginners course right through to professional tracks. We were advised that children as young at 4 had tried Pure Dirt Biking, so I guess you’ve got no excuse not to give it a go!
We got kitted up using their large selection of tops, bottoms, boots and gloves, then signed our lives away (for the umpteenth time this year) and then got measured up for the dirt bikes. Matt also explained the charges if anything were to break on the bike, but he also said that it takes a lot to break something on them, as they are very sturdy pieces of equipment. We would find out just how sturdy they were later on!
We were guided out of the office down to where the bikes were. First of all we sat on the bikes, and me being me I tried to get on the hardest way, the opposite side to where the bike was leaning. We sat on the bikes while being taught how to brake. I kept thinking that I was going to miss the brake (as it is near the foot pegs) but Matt gave us a useful tip, which was to kick your right foot in and slide it down the engine, ensuring you don’t miss the brake. He was full of experience, which made life easier for us!
With that fresh in our minds, I started riding around the kiddies track, which was around 200-250m. It was quite muddy and there were puddles, which I was trying to avoid on the whole journey, as I thought water might break the engine! Next up was Alan, who had a couple of times around the track until we were instructed to follow Matt on to the paddock next to the kiddies track. Here we learned how to change gears, which isn’t the easiest task in the world. We were doing laps of the paddock, trying to change gears, trying to stay on our bikes and trying to miss the pot holes all at the same time!
Every time I tried to change gears the bike would kick out, so I was glad that we had Matt on hand so I could ask lots of questions. The most important question was why the bike kept kicking out when I was changing gears. I learnt that this was due to me changing gear while still being on the accelerator, much like a manual car, which I have clearly forgotten how to drive as we’ve both been driving an automatic since arriving in New Zealand.
After getting that advice, I was on my way around the paddock again, speeding up and changing gears as I went, when suddenly the front wheel dipped and I was on the floor with the heavy bike on top of my leg! I was in absolute agony! However, I laughed it off and got back on after a brief rest. I think I must have hit one of those potholes and just lost control of the dirt bike.
A little reluctant to go fast this time, I did a couple more laps around the field until we all rode up to the main track. We later learned that this was the novice track, which is better than beginner, so we were happy!
The first part was straight and Alan over took me a few times, he was changing gears better than I was and loved to go fast. Then we hit my favourite part which was gravelly and uneven. I think we were going slower than we should have been but the views are just so amazing that you have to slow down.
There were a few hills that Alan went it to panic mode and struggled with, he did very well though after some coaxing down from Matt, who was very patient with him. At one point we had to go down a gravelly hill, around a corner, then up a slight incline followed by a sharp corner (sharp for beginners!). I went down with no issues, but then I turn around and no one is behind me.
I waited patiently as I knew Alan was probably panicking somewhere. Eventually I turn around at the perfect moment and see Alan coming around the final corner, but he doesn’t quite make it and flops to the floor. Of course I asked if he was okay but I couldn’t stop myself from laughing as it was too funny, because it seemed like it happened in slow motion and he looks as though he got half way around the corner and gave up. He never really gave up, he just lost his balance but all the same it was really funny to see.
One more hill later, and we were at the lookout, which had the most amazing views. All you can see is greenery and Lake Rotorua, absolutely beautiful. After taking in the gorgeous scenery it was time to make our way back. Again I went ahead, stopped at the first gate and waited for them to come down. Alan was panicking as he was nervous about coming off for a second time I guess. I found out later that Alan had needed a serious push (not physical!) from Matt, in order to take on the big dip. Matt was great with him and extremely patient, and we are ever so grateful!
Alan made it down the hill and we headed back to base. When we arrived back Merv was cleaning the bikes up. We got changed out of the clothes that they provided and got chatting to Merv, who told us that kids as young as 4 do this, so it is definitely suitable for all ages.
I feel this was an amazing experience and would quite happily go back tomorrow, but I’m not so sure Alan would jump at the chance. It’s not his thing, and although he may not want to rush back, he said he is glad he did it and enjoyed it thoroughly.
The staff were friendly and very patient, and theird many years of experience really shine through. They are also very quick to respond to you if you do come off, which I am very grateful for. Crashes do happen, particularly with beginners, but we are living proof that that is nothing to worry about. If you are unsure whether to go dirt biking, contact Pure Dirt Tours as they will look after you!
The cost for a one hour trip is $150 per person, which includes the bike, fuel, clothing and guide. Pure Dirt Tours also offer longer trips, up to and including a 3 night ride. They have recently diversified into 4×4 Safari’s also, please see their website for more details.
Pure Dirt Tours
451 Ngongotaha Rd