Tuesday 23 December 2014

Christmas is a coming....

And so preparation for the Tuareg is taking a back seat.

Well sort of!

I have continued to amass the various bits and pieces I require. I mentioned I had been loaned an ICO switch to try with my RNS TripMaster and it works perfectly, so on a trip back to Torque Racing, Martin asked if wanted to buy the second hand one for £30 or order a new one for £55, silly question really. So the 2nd hand one has now been fitted to the bike.

Whilst at Martin's I tried an Acerbis MX Helmet for size as I am looking for a more comfortable helmet for the Tuareg. My current Lazer MX6 is OK on a day long rally but does tend to press down on top of my ears (my fault for having big ears I suppose)! To be honest the Acerbis has a similar fit but it looks to be easily sorted by removing a small piece of foam from the lining but the biggest advantage is the weight at only 1050g. The Lazer is not heavy at 1250g bit those extra 200g make a huge difference. The Acerbis is also shaped to work with a neck brace but the jury is still out on them, especially as it might entail having to replace my body armour (possibly an expense too far?). And of course the biggest advantage is that the Acerbis is white whereas my Lazer is black, so bound to be cooler in the Desert.... well maybe?

My box of spares is filling up, having now received oil filters, air filters, spare levers, throttle cables as well as sundry items like a foil emergency blanket, first aid kit and zip-loc plastic bags (for air filters).

To assist in the planning, I have created a list of things to do to the bike now, other stuff to do before I leave for Morocco, stuff to buy and anything else I need to do before March. So far it runs to five pages!!!

Another task has been finding travel insurance that actually allows me to go motorbike racing and luckily a link on the Adventure Bike Rider forum turned up a policy for a very reasonable £52 that includes search and rescue costs (hopefully that will NOT be required).

Then there is the issue of actually getting to Morocco! The race starts and finishes right next door to Ouarzazate Airport; very convenient I thought! Well no, as you are limited to only one flight a day via Royal Air Maroc. This doesn't get in until 23:35 at night after a four hour lay-over in Casablanca and leaves Ouarzazate at 06:10 in the morning. It's also not particularly cheap at nearly £300. I also means flying in on Friday for registration and scrutineering that take place on the Saturday.

So I looked at alternatives, Donna at Torque Racing mentioned that some riders they are supporting will be flying into Marrakech and hiring cars. Now Marrakech is 200km away from Ouarzazate on the "wrong" side of the Atlas Mountains but once I had done some research, it doesn't look so bad. I did investigate flying in on Saturday but the timescale is just a bit too tight for comfort. What makes things convenient is we are taking a hire car from one airport to another so a fairly straightforward procedure.

Also flights are around £170 return and go direct from Gatwick via EasyJet. Now Gatwick is not my favourite Airport but both John and I are on the Thameslink rail line so we can get a train directly there. A small hatchback from Avis costs about £85 each way and of course that's split between two of us so even ends up being slightly cheaper. The hire car gives us more flexibility than getting a taxi and that costs about the same. The other advantage is that the car hire price is for 24 hours, so as the plane lands in Marrakech mid afternoon, there's plenty of time to drive to Ouarzazate and no need to drop the car off at Ouarzazate Airport (which is of course just "next door") until Saturday morning and conversely on leaving we can collect the car from the Airport on the Saturday afternoon reading for our drive back for our midday flight home.... sorted!

I did have to laugh when a colleague at work asked if it was "safe to drive in Morocco", I did have to point out that as I was racing my bike there for seven days and it would not all be off road, driving a car was most probably one of the safer bits of the trip!

As mentioned the bike has had the remote trip switch fitted and I've taken the opportunity to move the (replacement) light switch to the navigation tower from the left hand bar and simplify some of the wiring. This change also means there are less wires that have to move with the bars so hopefully removing some potential points of failure. I have also removed the wiring to the trip meter as I have fitted it with batteries and these will apparently last months. I will most probably stick the connecting wires in the tool box just in case as well as having some spare batteries!

I will be fitting a USB socket to power up the old iPhone I will be using with the Rally Blitz app to provide me with a back up CAP reading (compass heading) and trip meter. I have made the decision to place this on a flat panel on the rear of the navigation tower, along with the electrics master switch so this is more accessible.

Other changes are a slight modification to the headlight wiring, at present the two LED lights illuminate separately, i.e. one for dip beam and one for main beam. With a simple modification I will convert it so that the lower light comes on for dip as now but that on main beam both LEDs will illuminate. I don't expect to get stuck out after dark in Morocco but it's nice to know I've got plenty of light if I need it.

Other fixes soon to be done are a new front brake hose that will be re-routed under the nav tower and up the right hand fork leg as at present it just gets in the way! Also I have bought a couple of bags of fuel hose clips to sort out the pipework to the rear tank as at the moment it's a bit cobbled together with what I could find and uses four different types of clip, at least it will look a lot neater when they are all the same!

Next planned bit of preparation is the Bakery Off Road trip on Salisbury Plain on Sunday 29th December, lots of nice big wide open spaces for a full day of trail riding, the perfect way to blow away the Christmas cobwebs!

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