On the morning of the ride on December 29th, I was up at 06.00 and not feeling great as I'd had a head cold all over Christmas and woke that morning with a sore throat and a nasty cough. Before I left for Andover I had to scrape ice off the Land Rover and then headed off hoping it was going to warm up.
After the seventy mile drive, I rolled up at the pub where we can leave vans and trailers but after unloading the bike, the effects of being parked out in the cold all night and the rapidly failing battery meant the electric start was a no go and it wouldn't kick start either! My mate Mike solved the problem with a quick tow around the field. I left the bike warming up while I struggled into far more layers than is normally considered necessary for a trail ride and then headed off to the Bakery for the start, believing this was at 10.00.
Unbeknown to me, the start time had changed to 09.30 which after fuelling up was about the time I turned up outside the bakery. Only to find that Mike, whose group I was joining, was preparing to leave!
A quick dash inside to pay my entry and grab a bacon roll (most of which i had to shove in my pocket for later) and I was on my way.
We had a good day and covered 160km (I'm learning to think in kilometres ready for the Rally)! I was encouraged that by the end of the day I was still feeling quite fresh after seven hours on the bike with minimal stops (including a very quick lunch stop). Whilst many of my companions had descended into "sit down and waggle your legs around" mode through the technical stuff by the end of the day, I was able to remain stood up on the foot pegs for the duration and maintained much better control and felt less fatigued as a result.
A quick breather at Stonehenge
One of my aims was to check the fuel range of the bike too and as mentioned I managed 160km with a fair bit of petrol left in the tank. A subsequent ride saw me get to 200km before I had to switch to reserve, so total range is likely to be around 220km and that's without using the rear tank (an extra 4.5 litres). Although I only need a fuel range of 180km for the Tuareg, I think I'll leave the rear tank in place as a safety measure for the longer stages in Morocco and decide each day on whether I need to use it or not.
Following my day out, I went down with a nasty chest infection so all things bike and Tuareg related were put on hold for a week.
Since then further updates to the bike have included a new battery, new rear wheel bearings and I refitted a mousse in the back tyre. This was made easier by the purchase of a Rabaconda tyre changer, some descent curved tyre levers and a can of "Bib-up"; an aerosol tyre changing lube (sure beats some soapy water and a paint brush). All from Enduro Tyres who gave a great service (thanks Alan)!
As you can see, they advertise the Rabaconda as the "three minute mousse changer", well I'm not that quick yet but it was remarkably easy although I did still manage to take a chunk out of my knuckle!!!
This weekend sees me off to Wales for a "Rally Experience Weekend" with Rallymoto, where we will go through the motions of a rally stage from Saturday afternoon preparing our roodbooks and going through the briefing. Also Patsy Quick and Chris Barwick from Desert Rose Racing will be taking us through the ins and outs of a navigational rally. On Sunday we complete a 140km road book stage.
The big worry at the moment is what the weather is going to do... looks like we might get some snow on Sunday!