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Old 08-31-2010, 09:43 PM   #31
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Location: durango, co
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I was reading the latest post, and my wife asked me what was wrong....I must have been squirming around....your story is stressing me out!
Great stuff
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Old 09-01-2010, 06:53 AM   #32
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Thumb Thanx !

This is an amzing event , thank you for sharing it with us .
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Old 09-01-2010, 07:30 AM   #33
Lion BR
I'd rather be riding
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Great writing style man. You bring the reader right into the action!
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Old 09-01-2010, 07:39 AM   #34
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I must say man, I knew I would enjoy reading this
but wow, I am truly impressed by the detail
and getting all that detail on a story I just followed from a far
is freaking fantastic.

Please keep going with equal enthusiasm
and thank you
my mini ride reports
"parts made of unobtanium"
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Old 09-02-2010, 09:17 AM   #35
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This is great
French vacation house for rent! 15 min from the WEC finale this fall!!!

501 FE Husaberg
1190 KTM adventure R
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Old 09-02-2010, 11:06 AM   #36
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Thanks so much for the report.
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Old 09-03-2010, 12:54 PM   #37
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I devoured your other thread and now I'm loving this one! Keep at it man this is one of my dreams too.
Yes, this is my camera. No I won't shoot your freakin' wedding.
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:12 AM   #38
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Location: Oviedo, EspaŮa
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Stage 1 Goiania Ė Caldas Novas

34km - Initial liaison
133km Ė Special
36km Ė Final Liaison

204 km Total

I am up at 05h20, unable to sleep anymore. I hit an early breakfast and feel bad immediately afterwards. Must be the nerves. I donít normally eat breakfast, but I know itís bad and I will need breakfast every day on this rally. Might as well get used to it.

I go down to the hotel basement to look at my bike. I heard Des bring my bike back from the box area about 2 am. Iím hoping they fixed that electrical problem. At least the battery seems charged. Not much else I can do but go and get ready. Again. Iīve packed and repacked so many times I forgetting where I have left stuff, like my leather man.

DD is up and wishes me all the best, what a guy: He even bought me some safety pins with little blue baby ducks on them to attach my bib to my jacket. I look at him with a jaded smile while he sticks to his story that they were the only ones he could find for me. I think itís his way of having a good laugh at my expense.

I make my way down the elevator for the last time in a week feeling as if I have left something behind. Itís a strange feeling, Iím embarking on a 4,480km journey and I have left my luggage behind. The support crew owns it now, and will be carting it all over the place after us. All I have is my helmet, earplugs, what Iím wearing and my camelback. Admittedly my jacket pockets are filled with two-way radios, Rastro devices, a bottle of octane booster, energy bars, my cell phone etc. I have left even my wallet behind; instead Iím carrying some cash with my phone and my international driverís license in a sealed plastic bag.

I get on my bike and start it first time. Wow. Thatís nice. Letís hope it stays working. I do not to run my HID light, because we now know the bikes stock stator cannot produce enough voltage to supply the rally equipment on the bike. I have to conserve power and hope the battery lasts. Marcelo and his crew will ďupgradeĒ the stator when they have more time tonight at the end of the first day. Iím not happy that they were unable to help me before, but at least the bike is working okay this morning. So far. The threat of mechanical/electrical failure makes me anxious, but thereís nothing I can do now except give it up to God and hope for the best.

I cruise out into another brilliant day. There is not a cloud to be seen and the sky has a deep, clear blue colour to it. Itís not cold at all but there is crispness to the air that makes my heart sing. I arrive at the McDonalds Ė Yes, the start of initial McLiaison is next to a McBreakfast. Well, it is supposed to be. I donít see anyone.

Okay, no need to panic Ė The first bike goes out at 07h00 and its only 06h35, but surely there would be someone out here at this time. All I see is morning traffic. I decide to ride over to the box area, about 500m away. Ah, there they are, a group of about 30 bikes standing around, and a couple of race officials. Yes this is the place. I spend the next hour standing and sitting around, looking at the nice bikes, watching more guys arrive and chatting casually to a couple of other pilots looking equally nervous.

Pic: The start turned out to be at the top of the road between the circuit and the box area (you can see all the cars lining up in this photo).

The results have been posted on the back of a bus stop/station and a small crowd of men jostle to see where they are positioned. Eventually I get in there and Iím horrified to see that I came 53rd, my only redeeming factor being that I still get to start in front around forty other pilots thanks to my world championship category. Iím hardly a contender but the status sure has its benefits. So on the start list I find Iím only 25th . Awesome. My start time is 07h35 and 09h35 at the start of the special at kilometer 33.78.

There is some kind of delay, and eventually I see the front guys leaving. I see Marc Coma and the other big shots standing around, looking relaxed. He arrived at 06h59, so heís clearly in the know who is who and where he stands. I guess his support guys have their own copy of the results. Eventually they leave and my turn to get ready draws near. Iím glad I have taken note of the two guys numbers before me, all I have to do is wait and watch for one of them. Eventually No. 117 appears and he gets his time card. I approach the officials, they check my number and hand me my time card, after writing in my time. I can leave in one minute. I return to my bike and prepare to leave. We are leaving the start of the liaison in one-minute intervals.

Finally I am waved to go. Itís a strange feeling for me, to suddenly be riding by myself after the super prime and all the activity. I see no other riders anywhere as I reset my ICO (rally odometer) to 00.00 as I swing past the lamp post outside McDonalds. The road book guides me onto the highway south west out of the city and its pretty easy ride out. Itís such a great feeling to be out riding. We have to stick to the speed limits here, and most of the traffic is moving faster than that, making things a little bit hazardous. It's not so nice being passed by big old 18 wheelers, when I know I can hit 150km/hr on this machine. I stick to the inside lane and cruise along close to the emergency lane. After a while I notice the trucks and cars are actually slowing down to have another look at me. The hoot and wave. People are taking photos of me on their cell phones. Iím feeling a little self conscious, but I hold up my hand in a victory sign for them anyway. They love it. It feels like everyone knows what this is about.

A little further out of Goiania a KTM 990 and an 800 GS blast past, then they pull over on the verge. I wave as I cruise past at a leisurely 90km/hr, and they wave back. Soon enough I am aware of the bikes behind me again, and this time they escort me, perhaps the last 15 km to the start of the special. What an honour. It's Tuesday morning, but it feels like a Saturday outride, it's really really special. I am more relaxed and confident because the bike has been running fine so far -The jetting must have been sorted out by the mechanics after all. All I have to worry about is the power situation and that seems to be holding up fine so far. I figure so long as the bike stays cool, the radiator fans wonít turn on and the stator will only have the road book, GPS & ICO to worry about. The latter two donít draw much power at all, and I canít think the motor on the road book is that big a load on the bike.

We turn off the highway, and I am escorted by the two DS riders through a little village and onto a red dirt road. The similarity of the grasses, trees, and the blood-red colour of the dirt makes it feel like Iím riding in Africa. Itís bizarre.

After a couple of kilometers we arrive at the start of the special. Iím confused to see Dave and Philís bikes there, with neither of them to be seen. Strange, I know they are starting about half an hour after me, but they have arrived before me. I hope they did not come here directly and not pick up their time cards. It later transpires I am right. They also never found the start, and assumed they just had to go on. So they both pick up a penalty later on for not having a time card. Somewhere in front of me I can hear a motorbike pulling flat-taps from the start into the wilderness. Every minute its another one.

I have 20 minutes before my time. The waiting is the worst, Iím nervous as it is and now I have time to think about it and it feeds my apprehensions. I have ten days of racing ahead of me. Ten days like this. Ten days of pressure. I start to realize how much this whole thing is a mind game. I remind myself that my goal is to finish, only finishing, and that I would be a fool to think that I will perform well against all these professionals and serious-looking rally guys standing around me. They all seem so relaxed, greeting one another, patting each other on the back, and cracking jokes with one another. Wow, these men are so hard-core. What the hell am I doing here?? Iím so out of my depth itís a joke.

"Just relax", I tell myself repeatedly. Think of today, the goal is just to get through today. Its only 140km away after all, like my daily training trips to and from the enduro events. I can do this. I will do this. Yeah. I pray.

Itís time for me to get on the springbok and go. I hold my breath, as I hit the starter. It turns but does not want to take, so I help it with the kick starter. She fires on the second kick, easy enough, she sounds good.

The officials check that my Spot tracker is working properly and permit me to move to the final check. Its that orange thing centre bottom of my picture half out of the picture. It has two little blicking lights that tell us it tracking fine, apparently.

They take my card again and write in my start time, only 3 minutes away. Two riders are ahead of me, a minute apart. They take their turn at the start line and roar off. Draw up to the start line, advance my road book and check my ICO matches with the start.

There is an electronic beam across the road at this point. In front is a board with the time and a countdown clock. Thirty seconds.
Five, I rev up and lean forward.
Go! The back wheel spins and the bike pitches forward, in seconds Iím speeding along a narrow track. Itís tremendous, almost too good to be true - Iím riding in the Sertűes rally!

Iím surprised how many spectators there are along the track for the first twenty kilometers or so. After that itís just me and the bike. Iím not riding all that fast, because I am following the road book and donít want to make a mistake. It takes some getting used to and for me itís makes rally really challenging.

For now itís a series of lefts and rights with a couple of dangers like these thrown in to keep us on our toes. Quite scary stuff.

They call these cattle grids mataburros or donkey killers. Most of us later agree they can be rider killers too, thanks to the gigantic holes in the middle of some of them. Some of them are missing rails, or are in a really poor state of repair. Where I can I jump them at high speed.

A series of anti-erosion humps in the road are perfect for a bit of air time. The photographers are having a field day.

They get some pretty awesome pics (these are somewhere else on the 1st day). Pic:

I'm low on this one because I notice I can squeeze another 10-15km/hr out of the springbok if I wring its neck and keep the air resistance down.

I manage to relax a bit as I get into it, and I start to enjoy the ride. The road is fast but has some really sharp turns, T-junctions and twists past the odd farmhouse and burrow interspersed with mataburroís and every now then a small creek or bridge to negotiate as well. I am battling to keep up with the road book, you know to keep it scrolling and to read all the tulip diagrams on it; it is very detailed and the distance between them is short, which means I was moving it up very fast. As a result I miss a couple of turns and at one point, lose about 10 minutes tearing off down the wrong track realizing my error and backtracking again. I am angry with myself for this, but itís all about concentration; Iíve forgotten how much I have to concentrate.

So I slow down and start again, pushing the pace only when the distances between road book waypoints are greater than 400m. In some place waypoints are less than 100m apart and this is where it becomes more difficult because unless I modulate my speed I donít have time to look down and I miss things. Not good. Itís a game and you start to second guess yourself.

I nearly overshoot another turn and stall the bike in the process, losing more time. I hear a motorcycle hovering like a wasp behind me so I let him pass; though I donít realize it, its Vincente Benedict, a fellow ADV rider inmate, and Dakar 2010 finisher. Legend. We end up playing cat & mouse all day.

Following him, I slip into that bad habit of not paying attention to the road book and soon enough we both miss a left turn. He realizes first, but I gain some ground on him anyway. But donít pass him. Darn! A bit later, his bike kicks up a lot of dust and I pull back, preferring to lose him than crash in the blinding red stuff. I had a bad crash a couple of years back chasing a quad like that, and Iím now terrified of dust. Kuba Przygonksi, a world-class Polish pilot was chatting and reinforced the value of doing this last night when he kindly gave me a couple of pointersďWhatever happens, if youíre in dust, rather stop if necessary till it clears enough to see. Thatís what I do.Ē Great advice. I was so chuffed that knowing this was my first rally, he took the time to talk to me about some of the dangers and things to watch for.

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
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Old 09-04-2010, 12:47 AM   #39
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I'm not easy on the compliments usually but with the way you write, build tension and explain along with the pics, this all narrative, once completed, should be a book.
Who knows, it might help you finance other rides
Keep it up my friend
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Old 09-04-2010, 01:01 AM   #40
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Location: Lower mainlands, BC, Canadia
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Could you share with us a review of your Acerbis koerta full pressure suit please?
I am toying with the idea of getting one but would like to know comfort, ease of move, wear and tear, pros, cons, etc and who better to ask?
Thank you
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Old 09-04-2010, 03:25 AM   #41
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Helmet cam!
I was wondering how you would illustrate this when the specials started. That's great footage.

Now get on with it!

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Old 09-04-2010, 06:36 AM   #42
Fast and Far
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Each installement is better than the one before it! The helmet cam photo's and the photo's from those pro's (which are outstanding btw) are outstanding. Keep em coming. :)

I'm also looking forward to the last line where you write "and now I'm off to race in the........" ;). I mean really, you've completed the secong biggest rallyraid.....only one direction left to go ?

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Old 09-04-2010, 07:20 AM   #43
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Epic report, Neil. Enjoying every word.
"What these people need is some mental psychology."-Bonnie Abbzug

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Old 09-04-2010, 07:23 AM   #44
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The more side roads you stop to explore, the less likely that life will pass you by. ~Robert Brault. 2004 KTM 950 S GO!!!!(Blacked out),03 Beta Rev3, 1973 Rokon Trailbreaker 2x2, 1999 Intruder 1500, 08 Aprilia rxv450, 90 DRBIG 800,79GS850
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Old 09-04-2010, 09:42 AM   #45
Bluebull2007 OP
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Originally Posted by SonHomme
Could you share with us a review of your Acerbis koerta full pressure suit please?
I am toying with the idea of getting one but would like to know comfort, ease of move, wear and tear, pros, cons, etc and who better to ask?
Thank you
Its a must have as far as Im concerned, just like the leatt brace. The spinal protection is the best our there, and the elbow and should pads are the most robust Ive seen. It has a built in kidney belt which means one less piece of gear to worry about.

Ive had a number of off this year in my training and on the rally and have had no injuries to my torso thanks to this.

It is hard to get it off, the netting on the arms makes it a struggle, but its additional protectionas far as Im concerned. Some people bitch about the shoulder straps getting in the way of the leatt brace, so they take them off. I don't because it does not bother me as much, although it does cause the leatt to ride about an inch higher which restricts my head movement a little more. But to be honest this has not been a problem - I am used to it and can still look around ok. Anyway youre supposed to be looking where youre going! I think there is one advantage: The higher-riding leatt I think make it more difficult to break your collarbone when you land on your head. Thats only a partially tested theory though!!

I cannot zip the front of the koerta all the way to the neck, because the leatt brace goes under it, but this also is no problem. I have no problems with restriction of movement with the koerta, though its a little bit harder when I have my camelback and DS jacket stretched over everything.

I endorse this product BIG time. Have a chat to Jason at, he'll give you a good price.
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
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