It’s Saturday morning. I’ve just ridden into ProDirt Adventure in Kamshet, Maharashtra. And while I was scouting for an ideal parking spot for the Suzuki V-Strom 250SX, a weird sinking feeling was taking shape. Was I the only fool here who thought it would be nice to bring an adventure touring motorcycle for an off-road event? As much as I didn’t want to accept it, turns out, that was the case. Because everywhere I looked, I could only see motocross or off-road-focused bikes. Everything from KLXs to RMZs to CRFs to Indian bikes, like XPulse 200s and Impulses, most of them heavily modified for the dirt. I felt like the odd man out, and the yellow V-Strom stood there like a beacon of attention. But, they say, it isn’t always the machine that accounts for everything, never does. With that faith, I offloaded my luggage into the tent allotted to me.
As I was walking back to the parking lot to complete my registration for the two-day event, several familiar faces started to appear. One of them was Yogi Chhabria, the man behind YC Design – Motorcycle Restoration, whose builds have been featured on these pages. Our chats were interrupted by Nilesh Dhumal a.k.a Nelly, one of the founding owners and chief coach at ProDirt Adventure. After a quick low-down on the events that had been planned for the day, I started to feel a lot more comfortable about having got the V-Strom. In fact, Nelly was keen to know what the yellow Suzuki was capable of in an environment like this.
There were a bunch of activities in store, a dirt track, a flat track, an ADV trail, and a couple of other obstacle courses. Since I was to participate in the Media class, I had ample time to check out the action that was ongoing at the dirt track. The sound of two-stroke MX bikes in the background was enough to lead me to the track. Making my way through the lineup of bikes and the riders waiting for their turn for the time attack, my attention deviated to the young lad who was sliding his bike into the corner with the throttle whacked open. It was nothing but fascinating to watch someone easily half my age go that ballistic on dirt. The participants who were present were boys and girls, kids and adults, some as young as five years old all kitted up, each one of them eagerly waiting for their turn. It was fascinating to watch rider after rider, trying their best to clock the fastest time around the circuit.
As the day progressed, the second course, the flat-tracking one, was in the stages of starting up. And while I was mentally preparing myself for the Time Attack, Nelly suggested I head for flat-tracking first. Hmm… not that confidence-inspiring considering I had a not-so-nice memory of flat-tracking, where I had ended up falling and injuring myself. Also, the V-Strom being equipped with dual-channel ABS was going to make it difficult to fulfil any hopes of carrying any slide through the corners. However, fortunately, I managed to find the fuse box and unplugged the fuses that controlled the ABS. Okay then, let’s do this.
After a few trial runs around the flat-tracking bowl, it was time for a flat-track race along with other riders and some fellow journalists. The race was 10 laps, wherein I managed to make the best of the V-Strom’s ability to kick the tail out while saving the near falls, and, of course, getting lapped. The race was followed by some other activities like a slow race, and balancing the bike, before calling it a day.
After having relished some delicious food with live music and star gazing at night, Day Two of the Off-Road Carnival started with the media round for the dirt track time attack. I was a lot more confident of the V-Strom and was all pumped up to pace it. Holding the revs, I dumped the clutch and off I went with the stopwatch ticking. Riding with block pattern tyres meant I didn’t have much grip around the corners. With a medium pace and using my foot as a pivot was my strategy, which worked out just fine. The course had multiple ascends and descends, which the V-Strom surprisingly cleared without much struggle. By the end of the second lap, I had bagged a decent time, which secured me a second position in the media class. The rest of the day was spent watching the riders competing at the flat track and the dirt time attack.
As the sun was setting behind the mountains, the Off-Road Carnival 2023 turned out to be an absolutely fun event in every possible way. With ample friendly competition, lots of laughs, and many awe-inspiring moments of riders going flat-out on their machines, it was a weekend spent with motorcycles and friends. Events like these not only provide a platform for young talent to hone their motorcycling skills, but also promote the biking community to grow larger. But most importantly to have a good time with motorcycles, which I wholesomely did.