Monday, 25 August 2014

The countdown continues.....

As I said in my quick update I've been away for a couple of weeks with limited interweb access and only an iPhone to post from (impossible I discovered) so here's a more comprehensive update on progress so far....

Only 193 days to go to the Tuareg Rallye 2015

My deposit has been paid so one step nearer and I've been getting some serious bike riding time in.

First off,
 three weeks ago I went out for a 120 mile trail ride with the Hertfordshire TRF on a Saturday, this was led by Daniel who I'd done the enduro practice day with and apart from me the only other rider was Mike. He too had been at the enduro day but didn't ride, just popping in to say hello.

As both of them were entered in the Beacons Rally the following week, their first ever rally they wanted to get a bit of "practice" in so the pace was fairly brisk and of course the distance big, as trail riding trips with the TRF can be as little as 30 miles long. Although when I met the others at Hatfield, I had already covered 30 miles and ridden three lanes.


On Hoar Lane near Hitchin on the way to Hatfield as you can
see, I've been playing with the graphics again... orange this time.

We had a great ride and I even discovered a couple of lanes I didn't even know on the Herts/Bucks border and got to ride one that has been on my "to do" list for ages. The ride was long but not without incident as Daniel managed to plant his bike in a hedge at one point.

 
This was after I had lifted the bike off him, he was so far underneath it
I couldn't even see him when I first stopped, his head was under the front wheel!
 
 
We got it out eventually!


Three days later I left work, did a quick change from commuting gear to off road kit at home and strapped on some luggage to head off for a two day "coast to coast" trip across Northern England with the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF). Now by road the Distance from Hest Bank near Morecombe on the Lancashire coast to Scarborough on the Yorkshire  coast is only 125 miles. But by seeking out byways and unsurfaced roads we covered over 300 miles in total, with some great trails, mountain scenery, river crossings and café stops

For this trip I took the 990 on knobblies, so a bit more of a challenge but much better for the 200 motorway miles to Lancashire and the 250 miles back home before and after the trip. On the Tuesday night I headed to Lancaster....



Somewhere on the M6, late at night
 
I stayed at a Travel Lodge outside Lancaster and found a nice big signpost to lock the bike to, even better they gave me the room directly above where the bike was parked!

 
Even better, it was still there in the morning!
 
 
 
 
After a short ride to Hest Bank and breakfast at the café, we were allocated to different groups and headed West.
 

 
We had a good (if slightly damp) morning and although we spent quite a lot of time on tarmac, it was on some fantastic roads through the Forest of Bowland and over Ribblehead and through Widdale. Highlight of the trails was the old road over Salter Fell, where I took my only photo of the 990.

 
If you're thinking this looks familiar, it's because this is where I had my first ride on the 450 last December... the weather was considerably better in August, the sun had come out by now!
 
 
The afternoon was cut short as on the second lane after the lunch stop in Hawes, a strange noise from the from end made me pull up and discover one of the front brake callipers had shed a couple of bolts, as well as a few other bits!!!
 
A bit of bush engineering ensued, stealing bolts from elsewhere on the bike and a slow and careful ride to Ripon ensued where there is a KTM dealer. Craig who was tail end Charlie for our group came with me to make sure I made it OK. After purchasing the appropriate bits, we retreated to the square in the centre of Ripon, fortified with ice creams from the nearby van and coffees from Café Nero we made more permanent repairs in the sunshine.

After a few more back lanes we made it to the stop off at Scotch Corner and later I had a trip by taxi with some fellow riders to an impromptu North Yorkshire and Teesside TRF meeting in Catterick. Here I had a few beers and dinner, discovering a new dish to me, the Chicken Parmo. This is apparently a Teesside speciality consisting of a flattened chicken breast in breadcrumbs and covered in cheese. Surprisingly good it was too!

According to Wikipedia.....

Parmo, or Parmesan, a breaded cutlet dish originating in Middlesbrough, is popular in the North East of England, North Yorkshire and especially in the towns of Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington and Hartlepool. Similar to a schnitzel, it typically consists of deep-fried chicken in bread crumbs topped with a white béchamel sauce and cheese.

The next day was spent heading West again along several lanes of a more rural character, i.e. muddy and rutted, until we climbed up onto the North Yorkshire Moors on Rudland Rigg, possibly England's longest unsurfaced road at ten miles long. We then headed to Pickering for lunch. Afterwards we rode into the Langdale and Dalby Forests, all familiar territory from the Ryedale Rally. Unfortunately Craig who was leading that day had a heavy fall and was unable to continue so as it was getting late, I agreed to ride with him back to York where he lives. Once there, I peeled off onto the A64 and started the long trek home. I did it in one stretch all the way to Peterborough Services where I had to stop for some much needed petrol for the bike and caffeine for me!



Returning late on the Thursday night meant it was a quick turnaround on Friday and load up the EXC on the trailer for a drive to Mid Wales for the Beacons Rally based near Llandovery.

This went well, with no particular incidents and an impressive (for me) 6th place in the Rally
Class, in fact my second 6th place in a row after the Ryedale.


On the whole the weather was good on Saturday with only one very heavy shower at the end of lap one but due to rain over the previous weeks, we did get a little damp!



Sunday started off very wet but did improve as the day went on, a pattern that was set in for the following week.

Following the Rally I headed over to my friend Rob's house, just over the border into England, along with another friend Jonny who had stayed there for the weekend (all three of us having raced the Rally). Here much jet washing of bikes and kit and washing of loads of filthy gear ensued. Jonny also cooked us all dinner, very good it was too!




Monday we headed back into Wales to a campsite at Rhayader where we met up with another couple of mates and the five of us spent the week trail riding throughout Mid Wales. The only significant problem was my trailtech sidestand breaking, so unless I could find a convenient wall or fence post, I was pretty much excused "gate duty" all week.... and believe me the Welsh trails have a lot of gates!


 
Setting up camp... the stand is clearly working here!


A stop on the hills on day one , it was shortly after this that my stand broke!!!

 
A stop for lunch in Clun, Shropshire on day two

 
I had to use the Post Office as a stand!


By the end of the week both my front and rear wheel bearings were feeling distinctly second hand not to mention my nice new tyres, fitted only three weeks previously!

So a few repairs to do as the side stand needs sorting and the repair I did to the speedo cable didn't last, so new sensor and cable has been purchased and needs to be fitted and new wheel bearings too of course. I have also ordered some new swingarm bearings as they are starting to develop a bit of play. Next planned trip is the Tarrenig Rally in September!



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