Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Oviedo, Espaņa
Some more background:
I started motorbiking only in 2004 thanks to D, my wife, it was always one of her dreams to go dirt biking. We both got 1985 Honda XR250īs and charged around on dirt all over Potgietersrust/Mokopane (Northern South Africa). I had a couple of mates who showed me the ropes. I quickly maxed out on the 250 chasing Theunīs WR 450 and came off badly on the railway line road to Polokwane one day. I was in his dust and simply never saw the turn at all. It was a miracle I never hit a rail stuck in the ground. I think I wouldnt be here today had I taken it out. I nevertheless had a month long (mild) concussion, some broken ribs, holes in my legs, it wasnt pretty. But I became less windgat after that. Not for long though. I jumped the bike through a barbed wire fence at 90km/hr in a township on the way to the mine one morning and survived somehow. I enjoyed that bike, but it was too small for me. We did a couple of holidays with them on a trailer, hitting dirt roads all over Limpopo, Mpumalanga & Swaziland. Those were good days, with some riding off piste too. I thought I got quite good at riding after a while.
When we went to Ghana I found an old 650 Dakar and rode some awesome jungle roads with it. So when we came to Peru, we decided to gift ourselves with a new 800GS and for D a 650GS, just like Puddles bike. It took about a year before we finally bought the bikes in South Africa (I got one of the 1st 800īs), and so after no riding for more than a year we arranged to fly in pick up the bikes do them up and then go and do the Country Trax course. We ran them in for 600km on tar, serviced them, blinged them with freaking expensive stuff from a guy called Ray (what a fool I was!), and setoff for the Country trax course. It was excellent, but we had forgotten how to ride and we were unused to the new bikes. Anyway after a good but tough course on the new bikes we setout on a tour of Swaziland by dirt which turned out to be a bit of an epic.
Later on our holiday we returned to Serala in the Limpopo Drakensburg on our bikes, one of our old 250 routes. Happy the bikes were running fine, we then we shipped the bikes to Peru, and scince then we have done only about 20,000km on them, 6,000km on tar the rest on dirt. I service the bikes myself as there is no BMW dealer in Peru. The roads here are tight and windy, its mostly steep mountains here so we donīt have too much pen dirt highways like you get in SA. However in the desert you can get off-piste easily and really rocket along if you want. You just have to be careful because there are hidden holes and crests and things which can take you out big time.
Last year in July (I think?) we got a new Katoom 450EXC for D to practice on, and the idea was I would get one too, but in the meantime I would just use my 800. So Im very confident on my 800, and I have no problem taking it into technical riding. Im not brave enough to do dunes on it yet, I think I might if D came with, but she hates sand after two bad falls in the sand at the Country Trax course. The KTM really helped with Dīs confidence though. I started doing solo trips out on the KTM in October, and it reminded me of the XR250 days back in SA.
I love it and have written a report can be found HERE describing the type of riding I had been doing with it. That was actually my first serious attempt at riding the dunes of the northern Atacama. Since then Ive come a long way, and ride dunes with much more confidence. I still have a lot to learn, but more Time In The Saddle (TITS) will hopefully address it.
I really like fast tracks and off piste riding. For me its about covering distance, and I have done some pretty hard 12-14 hour dirt only trips on my BMW. Ive only done up to 150km trips on the Katoom.
So thats about the sum of my experience. Not much at all really, perhaps in total 25-30,000km in dirt, no more. Hopefully with some hard training over the next couple of months I will be able to tackle a rally and prove that anyone can do it if they put their minds to it.
The Short term Plan:
Im lined up to go to Rally PanAmīs rally school next month. I canīt wait, but suspect Im going to see my ass among the 15 or so super-experienced guys going as well. Hopefully Iīll learn a lot from them and come back in one piece.
Dreaming of Dakar
Everyone has a max speed, 90% of that max speed is much safer and easier, and if that 90% speed isn't fast enough at Dakar, you enter the snowball. - neduro