Monday, 17 October 2011

Cambrian Rally Race Report

Here's my first impressions of my first two day rally

Headed off to Wales on Friday afternoon and traffic was horrendous, six and half hours to do 200 miles with only one quick fuel stop.

Pitched the tent and wandered into town to meet up with some of the others of the BBRC crew.

Friday night was COLD!

Saturday dawned bright and sunny so got an early start to get a good parking spot

Just before racing was due to start, we were told there would be a 30 minute delay because St John Ambulance hadn't turned up yet!

We eventually got started two and a half hours late!!!

As a result we only did one lap, this was untimed and it was decided it would be the sighting lap for Sunday when all three laps would be timed.

Went off with Michael and we rode together on a long and slightly boring ride for twenty minutes on fire roads until we reached the Strata Florida track.

Lots of rocks, big puddles and river crossings followed.

Then back on fire roads, these were more interesting as they were a lot more slippery.

Then a short bit of road work up to the special stage at the top of the Devil's Staircase.

First special was a bit rutted and snotty in places and I had a bit of a lie down in the middle of it.

Bruised and battered I carried on and on reaching the road, we turned right for 50 yards to the second special.

This was mostly fire road but with a range of different surfaces from flat out to slippery as heck.

The final section was five minutes on tarmac back to the start

Quickly packed up, I put the bike on the trailer only to realise I had bent my subframe.

The rear mudguard was now about two inches further to the left than it should have been

The exhaust was being hit by the wheel (AGAIN)! cured with a bit more modification of the mounting strap (read: hit exhaust with a big rubber mallet)

Back to the campsite for a hot shower and got changed

Met up with some of the others at the Kings Head, not much chance of getting a meal as it was heaving so end up in the chippie's restaurant, actually very good!

Saturday night was a lot warmer

Got up early packed the tent by the simple method of stuffing it in a black sack!

Got to the start, all on time today.

Lap one, riding well, Strata was fun despite having to avoid parties of 4x4s and mountain bikers coming the other way but then I seemed to loose it and my riding was getting ragged.

Bike kept cutting out and had to stop twice to empty water out of the carb

Got the first special, nearly came off again in the ruts and got passed by Michael who was 20 seconds behind me.

Second special wasn't much better, as I ran out of fuel and lost precious seconds switching to reserve.

Got back to the start for a quick refuel and a bar of chocolate and the luxury of changing to a pair of dry gloves.

Second lap did not start well and I was really struggling but Strata went OK and I started to feel better.

By the time we arrived at the special tests, I was fired up and managed to ride both better.

Michael went first this time and I managed to get him in sight on the second test but couldn't catch him.

Topped up with fuel, food and drink changed to another pair of nice dry gloves and went out again for the last lap.

Riding much better and really kept up a good pace on the fire roads.

However then Michael dropped his KTM 690 into the river on the Strata!

The bike wouldn't start and looked like it was full of water.

Luckily some marshals arrived soon after and we were able to:

Tip it vertical on its back wheel and get about a gallon of water out the exhaust.

Then we checked the air box to find about two inches of water. We laid the bike on its side and then tipped it upside down to pour loads of water from the air box.

Then the plug was removed and the starter was now happy to spin the motor over, ejecting a lot more water from the cylinder head!

After a thorough dousing with WD40, the plug went back in, the air filter was refitted and it fired up again... RESULT!

And then on the next river crossing, I fell in!!!

Luckily I managed to keep the bike from going under and I was rescued by one of the marshals, the bike fired up again and I was off to catch Michael who had carried on oblivious.

Despite the long delay, we were still within our schedule and a spirited ride got us to the specials on time.

Michael went first but I never saw him despite what felt like a pretty quick ride, mostly because I managed to go "off piste" at one point after missing a corner and then dropped the bike in the ruts.

I was only riding at walking pace (to try not to fall off) so no great drama but it wouldn't have done anything for my time.

I arrived at the second test and this time I went first, I had a real flier and felt the quickest I had all day, conditions had improved considerably with the slippery bits actually improved by the passage of hundreds of bikes.

Apart from the final descent which was truly horrible, snotty and rutted, you had virtually no choice on your route and just had to slither and slide your way down the track.

It took Michael slightly more than 20 seconds to arrive, so I think I might have finally beaten him but only just!

Back to the finish, load the bike, get changed and hit the road.

This was a better run at only five hours including stops for fuel and dinner.

I now have a big pile of filthy gear, a wet tent and a very mucky bike to sort out!

Oh! and as you may have noticed, I forgot my camera


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