Sunday 23 December 2012

It's Show Time Again

The other week saw a trip up to the Motorcycle Live bike show at the NEC, it's taken me a while to sort out the photo's and get this posted but here we are...

A bit disapointing in some ways as there was not a huge amount of stuff of interest to me but the biggest problem being that as I am at risk of being out of work after April I was in no position to spend any money.

In fact the only reason I went is I was lucky enough to get a free ticket and car parking pass and my friend John was driving up anyway so gave me a lift.

A possible bike for a campaign in the twins class of the Big Bike Rally Challenge? The very pretty Metisse Desert Racer, a replica of the bike raced by Steve McQueen.

On the BMW stand they had the new watercooled R1200GS, can't say that it did much for me.

Next door was the (BMW owned) Husqvarna stand, which had something of interest to me, Simon Pavey's Dakar Bike (well actually his practice bike as the race bike is already on board a ship for South America).

We wandered over to the Honda stand but were disapointed not to find one of the CRF450X Dakar Racers. But we were pointed in the direction of another stand were we found one...

Very nicely put together and it will be interesting too see how they go, come the Dakar on 5th January. Honda say they are going with the intention of winning but given KTM's stranglehold on the race in recent years, that remains to be seen.

A wander over to the KTM stand was next and they had the bikes of all six world champions riding KTMs in 2012 from Motocross to Moto3 and of course Cyril Despres' Dakar winning 450RR.

In the end I did buy something... a book!

I met the author Graham Field at the Adventure Bike Shop the other month when he was also at Chris Scott's book launch. Graham's book was recommended to me then but I had already bought Chris' so didn't bother.

Graham was at the NEC on the Traveldri-plus stand so after a chat I decided to buy a copy, which he kindly signed for me. It tells the tale of his trip to Mongolia on an £800 bike bought off eBay and very much on a budget.

It indeed turned out to be an excellent read and I finished only three days later.

Friday 21 December 2012

Marc Coma out of the Dakar

More bad news prior to this year's Dakar Rally, three times winner Marc Coma is forced to retire after the shoulder injury he sustained in the Rallye du Maroc has failed to heal

It's the end of the world as we know it.... or maybe not!

Oh well looks like the Mayans were wrong and we are all still here!

Not quite the end of the world but I went down with shingles yesterday, not really my idea of a Christmas present and bugger does it hurt!!!

It's been rather busy lately with 4x4 Response matters, we had the national AGM last weekend and it was my turn to resign as a trustee of the Charity, only to get re-elected again... no chance of a bit of a rest then!

Now i'm sorting out the AGM for Hertfordshire 4x4 Response, which will be held in January.

On the Rally bike front nothing happening at all as unless I can get myself a job after March, I can't commit to the season, so the bike is just sitting in the garage, at least I did get round to giving it a good clean after the last rally and covering it in WD40 so it shouldn't be rusting away just yet! But it could do with a service and the rear wheel bearings still need replacing.

Christmas looks like it could be a bit of a non event, i'll just have to keep taking the pills and hope i'm feeling a bit better by Tuesday!

Friday 7 December 2012

Bad news for Honda

In the run up to the Dakar Rally, Honda who are entering for the first time in 30 years and are determined to try and break KTM's stranglehold on the race have suffered a major set back.

Honda Factory riders Sam Sunderland and Filipe Zanol both suffered bad accidents in training for the rally in California.

The following is from Trail Bike Magazine:

Early reports from HRC’s Dakar test in the Mojavi desert suggest that both promising Brit Sam Sunderland and Brazilian regular Felipe Zanol could both miss the 2013 Dakar due to crashes sustained during the test.

With just 29 days left until the start in Lima, Peru it is being reported that Sam has crashed his CRF450 on the first day of testing and has sadly broken his wrist and his left arm.

Felipe Zanol took an even heavier hit and was airlifted out of the desert after his fall. He is said to be undergoing tests after initially being placed in an artificial coma due to a head injury.

HRC were planning a huge attack on the Dakar in 2013 with a strong line-up and a new bike, but their challenge for the top positions and the title may have just taken a heavy hit.

Thursday 6 December 2012

A few more pictures from the Dirty Weekend

I thought you might be interested in a few more photo's from my Dirty Weekend in Wales:

The view from the summit of the "Wayfarer" (sorry about the dirty lens)!

The memorial to "Wayfarer" the pen name of Walter MacGregor Robinson a jounalist who popularised the route in an article in Cycling magazine in 1919.

Walter MacGregor Robinson on a slightly more rudimentry vehicle than we used:

Another shot of the frosty start on Sunday morning

The return along the Wayfarer

The "hill of doom"

Mark getting it a bit sideways!

A very welcome stop for coffee

Shots of me on the sleeper section of the Wayfarer (courtesy of Nick)

And from the next lane we did...

Monday 3 December 2012

A Dirty Weekend in Wales

Had a fun weekend with a bunch of guys from the KTM Forum over the weekend

A nice hotel in Oswestry and some fantastic lanes in Wales!

After driving up on Friday afternoon a good evening was had with a few beers and a curry in Oswestry (and then a few more beers)! The weather forecast for Saturday was for rain so it was a pleasant surprise when the day dawned bright and sunny. First off we all admired Mark's new acquisition, a Factory Replica KTM 690RR:

The drama then started when Michael left his ignition on without the engine running and flattened his battery! A few minutes with some jump leads and all was sorted!

We split into two groups (with five in our group) and each tackled the same route but in opposite directions.

We had fun on the first lane (not) and eventually retreated as it was clearly impassible on an Adventure.

After another lane, Jonny decided he wasn't feeling well and headed back, now we were four.

More lanes followed with a few issues on route-finding, not helped by misleading signs on legal rights of way claiming "no access for 4x4s and motorcycles".

We eventually got onto a smashing lane with deep puddles but eventually the inevitable happened and Derek dropped his bike in the water, completely drowning it. After pulling him out with a tow rope, kindly donated by some Vauxhall Frontera drivers, we eventually drained all the water out but the battery was now flat. We started to tow him out and met up with the others coming the other way.

After attempts to start it from another bike by putting them on their stands, with the back wheels pushed together failed, the tow continued until we reached a downhill lane leading to the road. Unfortunately that was too slippery for a bump start but when we reached tarmac there was a nice steep hill to ride down and that worked just fine.

Derek decided to head back to the hotel and we were down to three, so with Rob and John, I headed over the "Wayfarer" a lovely remote lane over the Berwyn Mountains. At one point the ground is so boggy a causeway of railway sleepers has been built but sitting in the middle was a Land Rover Discovery that had slipped one wheel off and was now resting on its chassis. The two guys in it were on their own with no recovery gear, not even a jack! There was nothing we could do so we left them to their fate, either a long walk for help or a cold night out.

We finished the Wayfarer and headed back to Oswestry on a cold and dark A5, I was very pleased I had fitted heated grips the week before.

Another grand night out was had in Oswestry, at a smashing restaurant The Walls

Followed by a number of watering holes. I ducked out shortly before midnight but some of the party carried on until four in the morning!!!

Sunday dawned bright and very cold with a layer of ice over all the bikes. Due to the effects of the night's session and the weather conditions a number of the group decided not to head out so we went as a single group of eight.

Starting on the road, conditions were treacherous, especially on some of the country lanes that were covered in sheet ice.

We headed back to the wayfarer, expecting to see the Discovery abandoned at the sleepers but it had already been recovered. I had a brief "moment" through one of the larger puddles but managed to keep the engine running and help was soon at hand.

A brief stop at the monument at the top of the lane and we checked out the visitors book, kept in a metal box beside the track but were unable to sign it as it's full and in need of replacement.

Continuing onward we turned left at the fork as we had done the day before and soon reached the end then looped round and returned via the other (right hand) fork. Another quick stop at the monument and then over the top and off to the next lane, this time everyone got through the puddles OK

The next lane was slippery but fairly straightforward followed by a short bit of road work to the last lane before a coffee stop, this had a truly horrible rocky, slippery descent and a few of us (me included) had difficulties here....

A welcome stop for coffee and to thaw out (I was still very grateful for the heated grips).

 Then we finished with an easy lane and back to the hotel car park to pack up for the long trip home.