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Old 09-04-2010, 09:47 AM   #46
Bluebull2007 OP
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Around kilometer 100, we come into a radar zone, a small town. The speed limit is strictly 30km/hr and we cruise down the main street. People are out watching the spectacle everywhere, at shops, at on their verandahs and the kids are really excited. Vincente is just ahead of me but I canít catch him, we are both riding exactly 30km/hr. I hear my fans come on, itís quite hot and the bike is getting hot too.

After fifteen minutes we are out the other side and the radar zone ends. We blast away and I immediately start to gain ground on No. 106. Then the worst thing happens.

My bike starts to bog again, It fires up and then bogs, like the mixture is too rich. What theÖ? I watch Vincente disappear. The worst is this section is a wide-open dirt highway. I should be pinning it and zooming along. Instead I cannot wring more than 80km/hr. Dammit! I slack off on the revs and it appears to run a bit better, but as soon as I gas it, it chokes ďBlabaraÖ.blarblara-BANGÖ.blabla.Ē Oh man what do I do? I have like 40 km to go, and Iím going to be out because of the stupid jets! When Iím down to 60km/hr I realize Iím going to have to stop. Ignoring this will not work.

I pull over and shut off. The fans are going like hell, so I shut them off too. I stand back and look at it, as if that is going to somehow change something. Everything looks okay. Well, I canít change the fuel. I canít change the jets out here either. The fuel has octane booster in it. It was fine till now. Maybe the needle or jet is blocked. I watch another bike come screaming past. And another. Iím losing mega time here. Seeing my diagnostic exercise was a total success Ė NOT Ė I mouth a prayer and climb back on the bike.

It wonít start on the electric start, but I manage to kick it to life after building up a decent sweat for five minutes. Bloody electrical system. Damn fuel. Stupid carburetor. Saying these things to myself helps, somehow. I pull away. Itís like nothing is wrong. WOW! I pick up some speed and before long Iím pushing the envelope. Five hundred meters later I start bogging again. F***!!! No this is ridiculous. I modulate my speed and the bike performs better in the lower throttle range. This is frustrating, but at least I'm still going. I have a sinking feeling it won't last.

I carry on like this for a good five kilometers, but I notice that I have to gradually go slower and slower to stop the bike bogging and farting. In frustration I turn off my navigation system. The bike immediately starts to perform better. Iím suspicious, so I leave it like that for a while, turning the road book by hand now that the normal little thumb switch on the left bar is no longer activates the little road book scrolling motor. Of course I miss another turn, but the bike is behaving. Maybe it is power after all! I turn on the navigation switch, the bike seems fine for a little while and then starts bogging again. Turning off the switch again, brings the engine back to life. Amazing. The electical system on this bike is completely poked.

I realize I have to finish the special by manually scrolling, no GPS (not that we needed it anyway) and no power to the ICO. Thank God the ICO has a little battery as a backup. Itís really dangerous riding and scrolling by hand, and it slows me down even more. I get really angry, because I had the same problem back in April with this bike and it wasn't addressed.





I try to enjoy the scenery, itís pretty, but Iím not happy with the bike at all. I just want to get to the finish. Iím passed by the three lead quads and this slows me even more. I hate quads. Bastards.





They produce almost as much dust as a car, and I nearly wipe out in a bad section of deep erosions even though I was slowing down.

Did I tell you I hate quads?






Even though Iím limping along, I gas it on the open stretches to try and make up lost time. I notice Iím gaining on someone.





I follow him down this very rough and steep downhill switch back (the photo hardly does it justice).

He gets away from me in the dust and technical bits that follow; Iím battling with the freaking road book and more dust from another fast bike. It must be the front of the Brazilian championship.





Eventually, I catch my man on a series of horrendous mataburros, itís my old friend, No. 6. Iím flying over the mataburros, and he is being far more cautious. Iím frustrated and pissed-off and I ride fast to stay in front, following only the road, which is obvious because the tracks are clear on this section.





Great. Flying into a shallow valley and over a rickety old bridge (sorry about the poor picture quality), realize far too late, that I may have just been though a radar zone of 30 at a spead of around 120km/hr!! Iím devastated and furious with myself for abandoning the road book to get some distance in front of Vincente. Itís the unforgivable sin of rally. I slow down, and fiddle my road book, while trying to remember what the penalty is, is it 5 minutes per kilometer over the limit?



I hit a series of erosions, and because Iím not focused on them and looking at the road book, I get a nice up-close up view of the road for my lack of focus.




Just 2km from the finish of the special, Springbok takes a hammering. Itís ok though, only some of the paint bubbling off the tank has been helped off a bit. Iím suffering a sore knee and a very sore little finger, but apart from that everything is okay.








Vincente, Iím sure bemused, passes me followed by another rider, I give them both a thumbs up, indicating Iím fine so they donít stop. You can see in the second picture the erosion that took me out, not too deep, but enough to throw me off because I was not watching the road.

I take minute to collect my thoughts, condemn my own stupidity, and calm down. I check the bike again. It seems fine. But it wonít start. Eventually I run it down a slope and bump start it, concluding it must be the electrical system doing its thing. At least Iím near the finish. More lost time. Boy, although itís been relatively simple, this has been a shakedown ride for me all right.

I get to the finish without further ado, and move straight onto the final liaison section, a short 30km through Caldas Novas, a town not unlike Bela-Bela (Warmbad) in South Africa, complete with hot springs, and some kind of Adventura resort. The finish is at the town square, they have lots of people there watching us come in. My time card is taken in, I get handed the road book for the next day, and I follow the road book poorly out of town. 10km later I realize Iím on the wrong road and backtrack to the right one with another lost pilot.

We roll into the bivouac and are surprised hardly anything has been set up, the support crew have also only just arrived. Iím very pleased to be there, though. The first stage is down. Only nine more to go. Itís nice and early, I can relax. The mechanics will have a look at my bike once they arrive. Everything is good in the world.



I get started on marking my road book for the next day.



The next day would bring more challenges and a lot more drama. But first the results and some more on the bivoac. (I'll try all of this out later today)
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Old 09-04-2010, 10:03 AM   #47
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Thank you very much for the koerta review!
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:08 PM   #48
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wow.
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:09 PM   #49
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Rallye Report

Fantastic report so far, keep it coming
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:21 PM   #50
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real good, looking forward to more
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Old 09-04-2010, 05:11 PM   #51
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Excellent excellent writing... been following the noob thread then came over here... wonderful stuff. The emotion is there! Thanks for taking the time to write this.
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Old 09-05-2010, 05:51 AM   #52
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Awesome RR, on behalf of the readers and wannabes I'll say this: Do. Not. Stop.
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Old 09-05-2010, 07:15 PM   #53
Bluebull2007 OP
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I learnt a lot today, mostly that I need to get my emotions on this trip under control. I am my own worst enemy if I canít. I am reminded how foolish it is not to keep following the road book. But, again, Iím so happy to have made it to the end of the first stage. At least I never fell into that one deep creek like the one poor bastard I passed trying to pick his bike up out of the water. I drenched the poor bloke when I went past.

Earlier, the support guys had their own fun and games.



First, all the tyres had to be lashed to the home-made roof-rack on the Doblo along with the rear seat of the Kombi.



Then the Kombi was packed and they were off, Des and Randall in the Kombi and DD driving the Doblo. The Team URO Mechanics drove in a Sprinter full of stuff for Mauro and Laurent. Of course both our cars were way under-powered and they had lots of fun getting run-ups on the down hills to pass the trucks before the up hills came.


The road was good apparently.


The scenery was very much like home.






As were the refreshments.



A beautiful sight-The Doblo having arrived in the bivouac.




The Kombi only overheated once, and this was only a 220km stage today. We were onto a good start.





Our Sergeant Major barking out instructions.




Dave looking decidedly happy to be at the finish of the 1st stage. Phil also came in without incident.




Here we are doing our road books, a car support truck in the background.





Complete with huge oil tanks, spare engines, gearboxes, and of course a fridge for beer!




Marking road books becomes part of our daily routine.




Normally we use 2-3 colours, the blues and greens for highlighting navigation and red for highlighting dangers. I use green to mark the faster open bits, if I see green then I know I can pin it and not worry about turns or turn-offís. There are three types of dangers marked with !, !!, or !!! exclamations. The single exclamations are normally for cars and can easily be negotiated by bikes, so we ignore them. But the double and triple exclamations are serious risks that can kill a rider. So we have to take notice of them.

I am still fairly new to this so I take a lot longer to do mine. You'll notice that Im incorrectly marking the single exclamations in red, this is normally unnecessary. Iím also still trying out different systems of marking the road book. The better you mark them, the less you have to look at them to understand what is important and what is not. Most of the info provided is very important, but the ability to rapidly read and understand each tulip (or picture) and the codes associated with it are critical to a successful race.

At 18h30 we pile into the Doblo to go to the briefing, which is 35km away at some or other resort. The organizers in their wisdom have thrown us a curved ball. No-one knows exactly where it is and we have a very stressful ride into the darkness looking for the damn place. We cannot miss the briefing because they often hand out changes to the road book and other important information about the next stage.

Eventually we find the Quente River lodge and are bundled onto a coach bus to be driven 300m (WTF??) to a white beach where we get the briefing. We are all bitching about the inconvenience and wasted time. Des maintains its all done specially to F*** with our minds. The briefing is nothing special, but we do get some road book changes and a brief description of the next day. We also watch a video clip of the super prime stage which was great. We are then lead to a open air restaurant, are handed flower wreaths by pretty girls in bikinis and sit down to a great meal compliments of the lodge. Nice. Especially seeing as meals are not part of the organization.

After a 40 minute drive back to the bivouac, I finish my road book, drink another 2l of water and hit the sack, to the sound of generators, angle grinders, some drunk people partying close to our tent. Cars and motorbikes being revved to the limiter or tested on the road past the camp all night. Even with earplugs, itís very difficult to sleep, but somehow I shut it out and am gone in 5 minutes.








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Old 09-05-2010, 07:16 PM   #54
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Stage 2 Caldas Novas to Unai

39km - Initial Liaison
214km Ė Special Stage
193km Ė Final Liaison

TOTAL 446km




The next morning we awake before dawn to Marcelo and Fernando ďwarming up the bikesĒ. Whaarrm!! Whaaarrp-Whaarrp-Whaaarpp!! It reminds me of the last WD "Boegoeberg" Bash I attended where some of the guys got really upset by a couple of clowns revving their bikes in the middle of the night. Over here itís the normal thing, there is no room for hissy fits or peaceful sleep. You just have to accept it or not do rally.

In case you never realized it yet, everyone attending these events are completely, totally and absolutely whacked in the head, believe me.



Fernando thinks itís hilarious. Heís also been up all night working on the bikes.










I donít normally eat breakfast, but force down a lot of milk, cereal and water. It doesnít help, because I overdo it and end up chundering all over the campsite. Dave looks at me in pity and Randall in horror; they must think Iím nervous or sick. Iím angry with myself because I know itís not. Anyway at least my sinuses get a good clearing. Itís not pretty, but thatís rally. I disappear, with Laurent to the start.




Dave & Phil fill camelbacks and prepare to leave.

We leave Caldas Novas, first bikes out at 07h00 and ride the initial liaison along a tarred road through valley filled with quite chilly air. At the turnoff to the special stage we are told they have shortened the special to 158km, and we need to ride another 20km liaison to get the new start. When we arrive there we are told its been shortened because there is a problem with the famers whose land we are crossing. We end up waiting around for about an hour for the clerk of the course to confirm the stage is open and safe to run. I suddenly realise I dont have any petrol money with me! Dimas (a famous Brazilian rider who started the Sertűes) and Sergio Klaumann (quad) kindly help me out.

Then we are off. I have a great run. My navigation is a lot better and Iím making less mistakes. Itís quite rocky as we ride up and down hillsides, with lots of sharp turns. After 60km the road becomes fast and windy, itís also wider, and takes us through corn fields that are lying fallow, waiting for the first rains. I am riding flat taps, sliding through the corners having an absolute blast. I wish I could get more out of the bike, and I hide behind the fairing to get as much as I can out of the bike. I figure itís about 130km/hr. Itís quite sandy and rocky and the bike bounces and flicks around under me a fair bit. The guys later tell me my top speed for the day according to the ICO was 149km/hr, more than I thought, but not that fast. Still not bad for a little WR 450 on these roads.

Marcello has re-wired my stator and replaced my regulator, the system is producing 14V without a problem, and everything is working well. No more bogging bike, no more power problems, but I still err on the side of caution and leave my HID light off. Around 130km into the special we reach a refueling point. You get a stamp and then you enter a 15 minute neutralization area, where you wait to refuel, have drink and eat an energy bar.
Itís really not a lot of time at all but at least itís a time to snap out of it a bit. Then itís back out into the hot sun.

Itís not long before it follows a road on the edge of a huge, flat cultivated area, twisting and turning along the edge of an impressive escarpment. I am able to cut a few corners and passing a few bikes, Iím thoroughly enjoying myself.




Pic: www.Webventure.com.br

I glance down and see a triple danger in my road book coming up; its covered in red marker, must be a bad one. I get to this log bridge over an old canal of sorts with cameramen scattered about in strategic positions. This means danger for me and spectacular photos for them. I look at the bridge: Itís about 6m long and consists of curved, 20cm-thick tree-trunks as separated by hand-sized spaces between them. Oh boy. This is no place for hesitation. Either I get off and walk it or I risk everything and blast through. Holding my breath, I choose a line and wring the neck of the Yamaha launching myself at the challenge. The bike hops off solid ground and onto a log. I look at the flat ground on the other side, trying to keep my line. I feel the back wheel slide off the edge of a log, but keep the throttle pinned. Iím way over the front of the bike, somehow the rear grabs hold of something and it flicks up at the same time as my front hits the ridge at end of the bridge. The bike bucks through the air, living up to its name and somehow I land safely on the road beyond. Its a steep downhill section off the escarpment that I manage just fine. What a rush! With all the mataburroís and dodgy bridges, this course is turning out to be pretty scary.

I canít believe how well Iím riding, as I continue to pass other bikes. Yet during the day Iím still passed by a couple of riders, the front runners of the Brazilian Championship who start not far behind me. Im pleased with this, it means my time is quite good because its over 120km into the special before they start coming by.

The scenery changes again, and it feels like Iím in the Belfast-Dullstroom area in South Africa. A long rocky descent leads to a river, something I have been dreading for a while.



Here is Dave on that approach. Pic: www.Webventure.com.br





Phil coming off the escarpment. Pic: www.Webventure.com.br




Pic: www.Webventure.com.br



Pic: www.Webventure.com.br


No problem, I tell myself, just take it easy, you will be fine. The road down into the river is very steep. The water looks shallow enough so I go for it. The water is cold, and a lot deeper than it looks, and I slow a little, remembering my skills learnt on the BMW academy in Amersfoort. Big mistake, Iím going to slow. And Iím looking down, mesmerized by the beautiful green rocks under the shimmering surface. My bike comes up against a big, submerged rock and stalls. I put my foot out to keep it up, but instead my foot disappears into a hole. Oh shit.








ďSubmariners: Dive! Dive! Dive!Ē Pic: www.Webventure.com.br

I go for a swim, bike and all. Somehow I keep it from being completely submerged, but itís pretty close to it anyway. At least itís lovely and cool.




Pic: www.Webventure.com.br
A couple of photographers wade up to help me, and slowly we push the bike out. What a drama class, with cameras rolling. I feel like a real dunce out of breath and staggering about, my boots filled with water.

Iím devastated. How the hell am I going to get this bike working again? I know how difficult it is to get to the carburetor. We stand the bike up on its rear wheel to drain the water from the exhaust. It comes sloshing out for ages. I take off the seat and wring out the air filter. I can see water in the air box. Crap. I take off a front tank and look at the carburetor. I donít have the right Allen key to open the drain plug at the bottom. Fortunately, my Leatherman does the trick instead and a mixture of fuel and water pours out onto the ground. The freaking cameraman is still doing close-ups of my face, and he is pissing me off big time. Enough already. I think of Robbie Gordon stuck in deep sand, shoving the cameras away on Dakar and somehow refrain myself from doing the same. Instead look pathetically into the lens and shake my head. What a hopeless situation I have gotten myself into.

Bikes are passing me, all are hitting the water faster than I did and making it through. Only one bike stops, the rider gets off and walks it through, engine screaming and controlling things with the clutch. It's Marieta Moraes one of the ladies competing. I look on longingly, as she brings it across and out the other side. She looks over at me briefly before climbing on and disappearing into the dust up the hill. Dave also passes, looking over briefly, but does not stop.

I put it all together and start the bike. Apart from a couple of loud clanks, nothing. Then I realize I have forgotten to take out the spark plugs and kick the water out. Oh crap. Iíve probably bust something now. I hold my head in my hands. I canít believe I am out on Day 2 being so stupid. I'm wearing out the starter motor and battery. Even crashing out would be better than this. Please God, not now. Not so early.

The cameraman has stopped filming, the look of pity on his face says it all.

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Old 09-06-2010, 04:24 AM   #55
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Awesome
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Old 09-06-2010, 05:23 AM   #56
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Great pictures - Great writing - Great suspense...

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Old 09-06-2010, 11:20 AM   #57
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great stories!!! Thanks for sharing I am hooked!!!
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:33 PM   #58
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You can just feel the tension in your words, awesome stuff
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:56 PM   #59
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Awesome stuff Neil, I am hooked to this thread, the suspense is killing me, even if I know the final outcome, I cannot wait for the next instalment. We are living the race with you.

You make us so very proud!!!!

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Old 09-06-2010, 12:59 PM   #60
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Very cool!
Thanks for taking the time to share all of this.
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