Du­cati Mon­ster 797

The girls go to a ladies-only bike week­end

RiDE (UK) - - Contents - CARO­LINE BAR­RETT

AN IN­VITE FROM three work col­leagues to head to Camp VC - a ladies-only bik­ing week­end in Wales - was the per­fect excuse to get some more miles on the Du­cati Mon­ster 797. I was slightly scep­ti­cal about the ‘ladies-only’ as­pect of the event. I mean, why do we need an all-ladies event? And what if the shoe was on the other foot and it was an all-male event; how would we like that? But with a week­end ticket cost­ing a very rea­son­able £60 it was time to keep an open mind, get packed up and head off.

Eas­ier said than done with the Mon­ster, it turns out! Fit­ting lug­gage is a bit tricky as I dis­cov­ered with RIDE’S lug­gage chal­lenge in the Septem­ber is­sue. Uni­ver­sal-fit­ment soft pan­niers hang too low, so you run the risk of foul­ing the rear wheel when rid­ing. With the bike hav­ing a metal tank, it was easy enough to use a tank bag but I wasn’t happy with the prospect of hav­ing to carry my tent, mat, sleep­ing bag and a change of clothes on my back. Thank­fully Ali­son came to the res­cue with her Honda X-ADV and its co­pi­ous amount of space and stor­age ca­pac­ity. I did feel a bit of a wuss when Sarah turned up with ex­actly the same prob­lem as me but with her tent and week­end ne­ces­si­ties strapped to her back. Oh well, first come, first served! The route from Peter­bor­ough to the Bre­con Bea­cons where the event was tak­ing place can be done purely on A-roads and mo­tor­ways, which didn’t in­spire any of us

SPEC YAMAHA TRACER 700 £7139 + 689cc par­al­lel twin + 74bhp + 196kg + 17-litre tank + 835mm seat + Miles so far: 3327 SPEC DU­CATI MON­STER 797 £8035 + 803cc V-twin + 72bhp + 193kg + 16.5-litre tank + 805mm seat + Miles so far: 2444

in ad­vance. The Du­cati is more at home cruis­ing through lovely bends rather than mo­not­o­nous stretches of straight road so we tasked Si­mon, our RIDE route guru, with cre­at­ing a fun route for us with a cou­ple of stops for some re­fu­elling for our­selves and our bikes. This was trans­ferred to a sat nav which I helped fit to the Mon­ster with­out too much drama, although it did mean lift­ing the tank to neatly route the wiring.

To get us to the twisties quickly, we had a short blast on some fa­mil­iar dual car­riage­ways which the Mon­ster deals with very well. It’s very smooth for a V-twin and de­spite not hav­ing any screen at all, some clever head­light-and-clocks de­sign must have in­cluded wind de­flec­tion in the brief as it copes well.

We ar­rived at the Cotswolds quickly and the roads there high­lighted the Du­cati’s ca­pa­bil­ity of not just be­ing a city bike but also great fun in the coun­try too. There’s plenty of punch avail­able from the engine and, thank­fully, enough torque (49lb·ft) to get away with be­ing in the wrong gear on un­fa­mil­iar roads some­thing which is eas­ily done as there’s no gear po­si­tion in­di­ca­tor.

I made a point of shift­ing my po­si­tion reg­u­larly and stretch­ing my limbs as I

“Why do we need an all-ladies event?”

know from ex­pe­ri­ence how stiff even the most com­fort­able bike can make you feel on a long jour­ney. The Mon­ster’s seat is ad­e­quate but I have sat on bet­ter ones. The bike isn’t a tourer though, so I can’t re­ally knock it for that.

We ar­rived at Camp VC be­fore sun­set and in the dry, which we were grate­ful for as there was some mild off-road­ing to do be­fore our pitch­ing spot was found. It was only over some gravel, through a barn and across a grass field, and re­mind­ing my­self to keep away from the sharp­bit­ing front brake en­sured no mishaps. It might have been a very dif­fer­ent story had it rained though! Our spot lo­cated, we pitched tents and went to ex­plore some Camp VC en­ter­tain­ment. That night in the barn, there were talks be­ing given by in­flu­en­tial women from the bik­ing world and we had the plea­sure of lis­ten­ing to El­speth Beard telling her fas­ci­nat­ing story about cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing the world on a BMW R60/6 in 1974 - the first Bri­tish wo­man to do so. Tam­sin Jones, who owns the farm we were camp­ing on, spoke about her life rid­ing en­duro bikes (she fin­ished the Dakar at her first at­tempt in 2010). You could join off-road be­gin­ners cour­ses with her in small groups around the farm land, with bike and kit pro­vided.

There was a large barn on-site which was set up with Blondies Bar, the Vans skate ramp, a dis­play of var­i­ous small ca­pac­ity Honda and a stage sur­rounded by hay bales for perch­ing on. It took us a while to work out what was go­ing on when we en­tered the barn. It looked like an elab­o­rate game of mu­si­cal bumps but it turned out to

“We had aching bones from camp­ing”

be Disco Bingo! Who doesn’t like a boo­gie to a bit of disco?

If we’d got up early enough on the Satur­day morn­ing (we didn’t, thanks to Sailor Jerry rum), we could have joined the yoga ses­sion, fol­lowed by break­fast which was pro­vided from a retro Citroën van - and the smells em­a­nat­ing from it thank­fully weren’t the usual greasy, pun­gent, fried-break­fast va­ri­ety.

Daily ac­tiv­i­ties in­cluded three choices of ride­out around the Welsh hills and val­leys. Un­for­tu­nately we’d left it too late to sign up so headed out on our own ride to Barry Is­land. Ar­riv­ing there we had to search hard for a space to park as it was very crowded with lots of traf­fic and peo­ple wan­der­ing around - all of them too in­ter­ested in ice cream to watch out for fil­ter­ing bikes. The very keen front brake on the Mon­ster (two Brembo monoblock calipers al­ways feels like overkill to me, so the brake lever needs a very del­i­cate touch), com­bined with a very wide turn­ing cir­cle, did mean that there were a few mo­ments of trep­i­da­tion but we sur­vived and parked up ready for our own ice creams.

For those not want­ing to ven­ture too far from camp on the Satur­day there was still plenty to get in­volved in and, for non-rid­ers, there was the chance to ac­tu­ally get on and have a go with mini taster lessons. The more ad­ven­tur­ous could have a go at off-road rid­ing or flat-track and by the looks of the worn-out faces when we got back in the evening, plenty had given it a go!

Rid­ing back to camp that evening saw us caught in our first Welsh down­pour. Thank­fully, smooth and pre­dictable throt­tle re­sponse al­ways sees the Mon­ster be­have well in wet con­di­tions.

Af­ter­wards was an­other en­joy­able evening, be­ing en­ter­tained with talks from in­spi­ra­tional women in­clud­ing Leah Tokelove (a pro flat-tracker), So­phie Allen (skate­boarder), Tam­sin and El­speth. Later there was an all-girl band.

Sun­day saw us ven­tur­ing back to Lin­colnshire with good mem­o­ries and sto­ries to tell. We had aching bones from camp­ing but thank­fully, they were not made any worse by the ride home. On a longer jour­ney I would like to try the optional Com­fort Seat, as the stan­dard is on the firmer side, though it’s never been a prob­lem un­til this long (ish) trip.

Camp VC proved that my reser­va­tions re­gard­ing a ladies-only event were un­founded, as the week­end ben­e­fited from its ex­clu­siv­ity, en­cour­ag­ing new and ex­ist­ing rid­ers to feel com­fort­able and re­laxed. Long may it con­tinue.

All Sarah’s gear went in a back­pack Caz’ kit went in a mate’s lug­gage in­stead - win­ner

Free pre-ride out bike checks there

There was a huge va­ri­ety of bikes at­tend­ing the event from all over the coun­try

A short stretch of off-road­ing was nec­es­sary to reach the pitch­ing spot

The week­end had a great so­cial vibe go­ing on

Sarah and Caz rode-out to Barry Is­land Both the Mon­ster and the Tracer proved ex­cel­lent cross-coun­try rides

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em

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