If you fancy something a bit faster and more furious than the Segway Experience, then the Quad Bike Safari is a great option. It is an off-site activity with a third party company, but you still book and pay Center Parcs and the Village deals with everything including the inevitable disclaimer forms and required travel to and from the quad bike location.
We’ve done this activity twice at Center Parcs Elveden, and have it booked for a third time this coming summer – the opportunity to ride one of these machines on the kind of terrain presented to you is a big draw for this motor-loving couple! Actually the first time we did this in 2010 was at a different place to the second time, I’m hoping it’s hasn’t moved again because the course last year was so much fun and I’d relish the chance to have another go at it.
Me on my quad bike ready to set off into the wilderness… okay, woodland (2010).
The activity starts with a meet-up in the entrance of the Lakeview Hotel, where you sign the disclaimer form and pick up the mini bus. The journey to the quad bike location is around 20-30 minutes, and the bus is quite comfortable. The centre is quite basic, but there is an area indoors for the briefing, some lockers to bung your stuff in (you can’t carry anything on the bikes), and a toilet.
After the briefing (go, stop, slow, fast, turning, safety, etc) you get taken out to a line of quad bikes, all running, one behind the other. We were given full-face motorcycle helmets to wear along with a waterproof jacket (this is in 2014, I know it looks sunny in the photos!) to put on over the top of our clothes. An instructor takes the first quad and there is a sweeper quad, too, just to make sure everyone is ok. Starting on a flat dirt track you have the chance to get used to the controls – the quads have a thumb throttle which is fairly sensitive but not too bad, it’s easy to get the hang of it even though it’s not what most people are used to. You are encouraged to use your body weight to help make turning corners easier, so I took the opportunity to practice this in the relative open space of the farm tracks; for some reason I did not find this intuitive which means I was a little slower than the others – I desperately tried to keep up but I simply was not as fast. Let’s face it when LincsGeek gets given a quad bike to ride along a muddy track he is just going to go for it and enjoy himself!
All lined up and ready to make these machines do their thing!
I had little to worry about, really, as next we were going on a much more technical section of track and by then I had definitely got the hang of things. After a short while on the farm tracks (which were wet and muddy when we went thanks to the weather the previous day) we headed into the woodland and did a few circuits of a winding track in and around the trees. Undulating would be a good word to describe it – up and down banks, through massive puddles (wear waterproof footwear and jeans you don’t mind getting dirty!), over massive tree root systems, over make-shift bridges made from palettes. I was thrown all over the place as I rode, using a lot more strength than I was expecting to keep the quad bike where I wanted it, and got rather muddy in the process – awesome!
The route through the trees, each circuit of which was linked by a quick blast along a flatter track which offered the chance to open the throttle a bit, was different each time, which kept things interesting. I really had to concentrate on the bike in front to make sure I went the right way – take a wrong turn and you end up on a much more difficult section or faced with quad bikes coming towards you (I promise that didn’t happen but I can see how it might!).
At the end of our session we got back in the mini bus full of beans – it was an absolute blast. If you are going to Center Parcs with a group of adult friends this is a great activity to go and do – wind in the face, a heavy noisy machine to ride, an exciting track with all kinds of terrain, and lots of smiles.
The Quad Bike Safari at Center Parcs Elveden is 1 hour 45 minutes including travel time – you get 45 minutes actually driving the quad bikes, so it’s the same as the Segways. The cost is quite high at £65 per person, but we are happy to pay that for an experience like this (this cost is for May 2015). There is also a junior quad bike activity for children which is onsite at the Outdoor Activity Centre.
I don’t work for or with Center Parcs, I just thought you’d like to hear about my experiences as we like to go once a year or so for a family break. When we go in May I’ve got Stand Up Paddleboard Tuition booked; I’ll let you know how much I fall in later in the year!