Thursday 29 June 2017

Keeping busy

Looks like being a lean year on the rallying front; the next event is the Ryedale Rally but as I’m already committed to a cycling trip in Devon, that won’t be happening for me. The next event was due to be the Baja GB in June, the only combined car/bike event in the UK and a road book event too. Unfortunately Natural Resources Wales (aka The Forestry Commission) imposed a load of extra costs and restrictions on the car side, which of course impacted on us as they provide a lot of the infrastructure, marshals etc. It was then hoped to run a bike only event as an alternative but this too fell foul of the restrictions imposed by “The Forestry”. So at the moment no confirmed navigation rallies in the UK this year.

On the good news front, I have already booked my slot on the 2018 Tour of Portugal, although the news of the forest fires and resulting fatalities only 60km from Pampilhosa da Sera was a shock. We have heard from Rui the Portuguese organiser and all concerned with the event are safe and well, it would appear that the affected area includes part of the course from day one of the 2006 Tour so a bit close for comfort.

In the meanwhile I’ve been keeping my hand in my doing survey work for the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) specifically surveying the green roads of the Peak District. A couple of weeks ago I drove to the Peaks, parking up near Ilam in Dove Dale only for the bike to be reluctant to start so I ended up having to jump start it off the van. It then ran fine for the next five, very wet hours and I was able to ride and survey ten green roads, until it died on me completely! 

A long wait for the RAC ensued in a cold, wet and exposed lay by in the middle of nowhere. When a patrol eventually turned up he agreed it needed recovery and when he discovered I only needed to be recovered about ten miles to my van, he offered to drive me there so I could return and recover the bike myself… a far more practical solution than another long wait for a recovery vehicle. Upon arriving back home it quickly became evident that the left hand kill switch was shorting on the handlebar. I had been concerned about this as the back of the switchgear is exposed, so had specifically covered the bar with insulating tape. I expected to find the tape damaged but no, for reasons I still can’t explain it had decided to short out through the plastic tape?

 In any case a quick fix and the following Saturday I was back in the same lay-by a few miles outside Buxton as I had identified it as a good parking spot. This time the bike ran faultlessly and the sun shone! I was able to stay out for seven and a half hours and rode thirty five green roads in total and completed surveys of thirty. This was because two I had done before and they just happened to be on my route and three that fall just outside the Park Boundary but again they were conveniently on route.

Next on the agenda was a road book training event in the Cotswolds, a chance to keep the navigation skills sharp. Seven of us turned up at Seven Springs near Cheltenham and enjoyed a fantastic day out. The road book was excellent; the trails good to ride (if a little overgrown in places) and the weather was mostly kind to us! We had the odd shower during the day and the last few miles on the road to the start/finish were a bit wet but nothing too serious. Everyone had a good time and nobody got (too) lost, a big thanks to Burt and Jonny for putting on a great day.

It also inspired me to get planning on my own road book training routes and my Hertfordshire route is in the final stages of preparation having secured help from the KTM Centre in Hemel Hempstead to act as the start/finish and provide the coffee! Here's a shot of work in progress....

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