Monday 8 December 2014

It's all starting to get a bit too real!

Less than three months until I head out to Morocco!

Did a bit of pre-rally purchasing on the interweb at lunchtime last Thursday.

I bought four pairs of oil filters (the EXC runs two), the bike will get an oil/filter change before being transported to Morocco and will get at least one change during the rally. That also gives me a spare pair for the tool box and a pair for the change I plan to do next week!

I then bought six air filters. I already have two so that's eight in total and the plan (based on advice from Martin at Torque Racing Services) is to have a new filter ready oiled, sealed and rolled up in a zip lock bag ready for every day of the rally. That gives John (my grease monkey Team Manager) the easy task of just sticking a new one in each day and the old one goes straight in the bag and gets rolled up and stored away to be cleaned when we get back home (but we will take some cleaner and oil in case of unforeseen filter replacement being needed at some point).

As I will have an extra filter (the rally is seven days) that one fits neatly behind the air box in a convenient cavity that Martin pointed out to me, just in case I need it on the trail.

I purchased a brand new set of throttle cables, they will go on the bike before the rally and the old ones (that are in a perfectly good condition) will be going in the spares box. I did think of taping them alongside the working cables but as the EXC has a twin cable push/pull system, it's easy enough to bodge if one cable snaps as a get back to the bivouac measure.

I purchased two new clutch levers and two new front brake levers, one of each will go inside the airbox as spares and the other pair will go in the toolbox just in case. The bike recently got some nice shiny new Cycra hand guards so I'm hoping I wont need the spare levers but not worth taking the risk when they are so light and easy to store.

Slightly crazy that the best price I got for some RFX brand levers (exactly the same as I could get in the UK) was from Portugal, even including postage!

Then I had to start work again.

Friday saw the oil filters turn up; that should keep me going for a while....

On Saturday I popped round to see Martin and Donna at Torque Racing at their new premises. I was able to get a bit more advice on my preparations and quizzed Martin about a remote switch for my trip meter. RNS don't make a switch but it does have the same cable connector as the ICO trip meter. Martin has lent me a second hand ICO switch to try out... excellent service!

I was also able to discuss ideas for carrying emergency water on board the EXC, as I have not found anything made specifically for the model. The Mecasystem bash plate/water tank was mentioned but they don't exactly come cheap! Donna mentioned that several riders fit aluminium SIGG bottles to the front of their bash plates, which is an idea I had thought of myself, so I think I might explore that as an option.

On Monday the air filters turned up....

 I have also sourced a spare set of wheels. They will go to the rally with new tyres, mousses and bearings, making a mid rally change over nice and simple. The original wheels on the bike will also get treated to new tyres, mousses and bearings before shipping to Morocco. I'll also be taking another spare rear tyre. Rubber of choice will be Pirelli Scorpion XC Mid-Hard.

Other planned bits of rally prep that are coming soon are a partial re-wire to simplify things and removed potential chafe points. I will be replacing the lights switch as its broken and moving it from the bars to the side of the navigation tower, which is also part of the wiring simplification but also gives more room for tripmaster/road book switches.

The front brake hose will be replaced with a slightly longer one and routed across the bottom yoke and then up the right hand fork leg to get it out of the way, a fairly common mod for rally bikes.

And then it's trying to fit in some more time on the bike, despite the cold, wet British Winter with another enduro practice day planned in a couple of weeks, a day long charity trail ride across Salisbury Plain (The Baker Man Ride) just after Christmas with some other like minded rally addicts and I also today booked a weekend event at the end of January... the Rally Experience Weekend organised via the ATRC. Here Patsy Quick and Chris Barwick from Desert Rose Racing will be taking us through a dry run of what a rally entails complete with a day of trail riding on a road book.

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