I'm really looking forward to this one! My first rally was the El Chott in Tunisia in 2002, so it will be really nice to return to that country after 11 years. My plan for the Tuareg is just to have some fun with none of the stress of a competitive Dakar effort, and to meet new friends and hang out with old ones.
Also, I'm trying to spend very little money on this. About a year ago, Sid Milton (our Dakar team's mechanic from the UK) and I decided that we'd enter the Tuareg 2013. Originally, we were thinking of riding bikes from the UK to Tunisia and using the organization to carry our spares. But, 2 little kids and a wife put the kaybash on spending that much time away. Then Dave from RMS stepped in and began to organize a team, mostly from the USA, but using Sid's UK-based vehicles. I'm helping a bit with logistics, but it is nice to have Dave taking the lead on most of the preparations. All I need to do is prep my bike and put it in a container in Oakland on December 20. If all goes well, it will be in Tunisia waiting for me when I fly there in March.
I really want the old-school primal rally experience, so I've decided to work on my own bike and stay in a tent next to it. Even though they are available, there will be no hotels or mechanics for me. It will be nice to focus solely on the bike, the roadbook and myself for the whole week.
Over the years, I've owned plenty of cool rally bikes from a KTM660RFR to our custom-built KTM 525s, to new 690RFRs with a few factory (and our own) special tricks. All of them eventually got sold to pay of the credit cards that financed them. So, I've settled on a good old 2003 Honda XR650R as my rally bike. I have 2 of them in the garage and have owned 4 over the years. I know these bikes well and feel comfortable on them. Not the fastest or most nimble bike in the rally for sure, but simple and easy for me. No big rally fairings either, just some universal rally clamps, an ico, and a F2R roadbook reader from RMS. Other than doing some maintenance that should have been done years ago, my rally-specific prep for this bike will take about an hour.
Since shipping to Europe by container takes over a month, those of us in the USA are just finishing prepping our bikes now. Here's a photo of my cramped garage with 2 XRs. I'm planning to take the one in the background. For your amusement, I'll post some more photos showing the bike as it gets closer to ready.