After the rather brutal time that was had at the Rydale, the bike needed a bit of TLC.
Both the front and rear brake pads were shot, so that was two sets of rear and one set of fronts in one weekend! Both front and rear sprockets were definitely second hand, the chain however seemed OK and it did validate my decision to fit an expensive chain (a DID X-Ring) at the end of last year.
Both tyres were also well past their best so the plan was to change them before the next Rally, the Welsh Trail Riders Association, Beacons Rally. Well the problem with plans is they can be broken, which explains why I headed off to Wales in August with a new front sprocket, a second hand rear sprocket (liberated from my supermoto rear wheel) and two distinctly second hand tyres and hoping that the course wouldn't be too muddy.... some hope!
The Beacons had gained a bit of a reputation last year for being hard, possibly the hardest of the Rallies, so I wasn't sure what I had let myself in for?
Arriving at Llandovery Rugby Club, the camping field seemed full of Rally Riders and the atmosphere was pretty relaxed, even the sun was shining. After setting up camp and having a chat with fellow competitors, a walk to the pub was in order. We even had a relatively early night.
Waking on Saturday we sorted ourselves out and headed off out of town, the start (in typical WTRA fashion) being nowhere near Llandovery but about ten miles out of town.
We got through sign on and scrutineering OK although they weren't impressed with my broken clutch lever, only the last few millimetres were missing but this meant no ball on the end, I was told I could construct one from gaffa tape so promptly did! The scrutineer wasn't happy about my throttle as it returns slowly (it always has) but we determined that it was partly caused by the grip rubbing on the hand guard, so a quick bit of work with a stanley knife and that was cured too. Finally he decided my rear wheel bearings were worn (they're not) but decided to pass it. I later found out he had accused everyone of having loose wheel bearings, so I'm not sure what that was all about? Actually I discovered that I hadn't done the rear wheel spindle nut up tight enough, so perhaps he was justified in thinking it was a wheel bearing after all.
Team Hangover from the Keilder (all sensibly sober this time) was back together and I started on the same minute as Chris and Mike H. This time Mike F was riding his BMW 1150GS so had marked himself down in the ability classes (on account of a 200kg+ of bike) and consequently started a bit later.
We also had a bit of fun trying to get Chris' bike to work as the chain was seized up, a result we discovered of his lack of bike preparation. Although he had fitted new tyres since the Keilder, that was it! lots of WD40 and chain lube eventually got it working.
The three of us started well with Chris leading, well it went OK for the first couple of miles. Descending a rocky track I was following Chris when without warning he went down after losing the front end on a rocky step down. I quickly parked up and went to help, only to see coolant pouring out of his bike. Apart from that he and the bike seemed OK but we couldn't determine if it was just the coolant header tank overflowing or the result of some damage to the system. Chris restarted the bike and we got underway but almost immediately the coolant light came on and the engine started to overheat.
We realised there was nothing we could do so Chris told me and Mike to carry on and he would push to the next marshal and see if he could get some help. We reached the bottom of the descent and turned left onto an Unclassified County Road that I immediately recognised from a green laning trip I did about four years ago, only that time I was in a Land Rover.
The lane runs over bedrock with only occasional muddy sections but is characterised by some major puddles that are held by the rock so rarely drain. This meant we weren't going to stay dry today.
The week before the Rally was the annual CCM Riders trip to Wales, camping at Rhayader, although I had been unable to get the time off work to go, the guys came down to see the Rally and give their support to me and friend Rob, riding in the trail bike class on his CCM 404DS. Thanks to Mark for these pictures of me on the lane :