Le Dirt Ride

Welcome to the Sale Balade, or in english: dirt ride, where a bunch of french loons go enduro riding in the woods on street bikes on street tyres. Vive La France!

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'No-one could go that fast because the street tyres had no traction'

You are looking at members of 4:10, a group of mates drawn together by a mutual love of motorcycles and cocking about. The club’s name gives you a hint of their background – ten past four in the morning is apparently the optimum time to thrash your bike up and down the Champs Elysées in Paris without interruption from irritants such as commuters and police officers. John is one of the co-founders. He rides unhinged old bikes and tries to prove to everyone that you can ride city streets every day with a comprehensively customised 1970s motorcycle (we’ll ignore the fact that he has to lug round a full tool kit required to carry out repairs when the damn thing breaks down). Then there’s the other co-founder Nico – who also chooses to roll with various machines of questionable reliability, into which he pours absurd amounts of cash. He’s the kind of guy who has many ideas, most of them atrocious. 

Then there’s friends like Nicolas B (find him at skuddesign.fr), a graphic artist and custom builder who produces all the 4:10 merchandise. And finally there’s the Brothers (Les-brothers.fr). Tic & Tac or Huey & Dewey who built 4:10’s website. So how did the ride in the woods come about? ‘It was just a bunch of friends for a photoshoot,’ says co-founder John. ‘We planned to ride some tracks for pictures but there had been a lot of rain. When someone got stuck we started to have some fun and it got out of hand. ‘The bikes were destroyed. Nico was riding a BMW boxer twin and the heads were like a plough, pushing the mud. After the event we changed the oil in our bikes and found some bad stuff. I’ve no idea how it got into the engines. I rode a scrambler style Z650 with noisy pipes and street tyres. I sold it after the ride!’

Gotz, who photographed the ridiculousness, says: ‘These guys do a lot of stupid stuff. It’s all about having fun on motorcycles, right? So they decided to get dirty, riding inappropriate
bikes on a winter morning in the woods. What’s the issue? The water wasn’t that deep. No one could go that fast because their street tyres had no traction.’ And in true photographer style, Gotz was oblivious to the damage to the bikes: ‘The fairing on the BM suffered a bit but otherwise a dose of power washer sorted everything out...’