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Old 10-27-2014, 05:30 AM   #1
iggs OP
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Taking up the Challenge - My 2015 ADDC plan

OK, thought I'd contribute the story I'm currently involved in. I've got a bit of time at the moment due to a broken ankle.

My 2014 New Years resolution was to 'Live my Dreams'. To be someone who didnt just say 'I'd love to do that' but actually got on and did it. This led me very directly to deciding to participate in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

I've been writing a series of articles about it for Outdoor UAE. For those of you who dont have access to the magazine I'll cut and paste the articles into here. I welcome your feed back

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Old 10-27-2014, 05:46 AM   #2
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Taking up the challenge Ė pt1

(please bear in mind this was written for a general outdoor magazine so includes some stuff you guys will find very basic)

This is proving a surprisingly difficult article to write as it’s more about emotion and the feeling of why than the cold hard facts of where or how that I normally write. Bear with me as I set the scene on the ‘why’ and in other articles I’ll move onto the easier subjects of ‘how’.

First of all the ‘what’ though!

While interviewing Patrick prior to his participation in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge I felt my switch click from ‘aspiration’ to ‘action’. When I covered the 2013 event I knew straight away I wanted to participate ‘at some point’. When I was talking to Patrick I felt the distinct change flick over to ‘I’m going to do the next one’. My New Year’s resolution had been about actioning my dreams so I had no choice!

So that’s what this series of articles will be about. How does a person who has never competed in an event like the ADDC get from such an incredibly low base point to actually starting (and hopefully finishing) an internationally recognised event that attracts the worlds best teams and riders.

So for those of you who don’t know the event the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge is a Dakar style Raid Rally in which cars, buggys, quads and bikes compete over 6 long days (special stages are over 2 hundred kilometres long) mainly in the Liwa region of Abu Dhabi in the most spectacular and brutal sand dunes on the planet. It’s part of the FIA and FIM World Raid Rally series and has a reputation for very tough terrain amongst its international following.

The event has a strong local following as well as international. In this region we are very lucky in that we have the kind of open space freedom and terrain to drive/ride in recreationally that has drivers/riders from other parts of the world sobbing into their coffee. This home advantage certainly helps but I know from talking to them that the terrain doesn’t cut the locals any slack. Incidents this year proved it and guys I spoke to were visibly cooked at the end of stages by the psychological pressures with bodies / vehicles battered and beaten into the ground by the huge dunes.

And yet when speaking to these folks you can see a bright light in their eyes. They love it. They accept the significant risks and financial commitments of the independent racer again and again. I wonder what I’m letting myself in for, am I opening a Pandoras Box and bringing upon myself a whole world of trouble?!? To be honest I know I probably am and the reality is I’m excited for it.

Car, buggy, quad or bike? For me there has only ever been one option, its bike all the way. I used to ride motorbikes on the road back in the UK and I love the way it feels. The rider is part of their bike and every movement affects the bike in significant ways. I also love the complete efficiency of a bike, its everything stripped back to the bare essentials.

The bike choice brings with it some advantages and disadvantages. Firstly it’s probably the cheapest option. There is just less of a bike than any of the other vehicles, in simple terms there is just 2 wheels and the engines only have 1 cylinder. This leads to simpler mechanical maintenance and ease of transport.

The major disadvantages are to do with risk. Fact of the matter is riders hit the ground more than drivers and hitting the floor can hurt, a lot. However risk and acceptance of it is part of motorsport. The trick is to manage it and try and keep it within acceptable levels though the reality is that this is easier said than done.

A major problem I have is that at the point I made the decision to ride in the 2015 ADDC I hadn’t actually ridden a motor bike on sand. My offroad biking experience was limited to a few days on dirt roads in coastal Kenya. Based on this fact it could be argued that I’m being a bit over ambitious. Perhaps I am.

I needed to find out how hard it is to ride a motorbike on the sand and evaluate whether my ambition was realistic. After an internet search I booked a 2 hr lesson with Gas Gas Tours. This was extremely lucky and has turned into a hugely positive thing. The company is run by James West, a talented and fast rider of huge experience including competing in many ADDC’s (note the use of ‘competing’ not ‘participating’!) and a Dakar rider. The guy who took me out was Sam Smith who again is hugely talented, experienced and fast as hell; he is also Sam Sunderland’s training partner. Both are planning to be competing in the 2015 ADDC. I’m very conscious that connecting into this skills/experience base has dramatically increased my chances of achieving my goals.

The first ride in the sand with Smithy was awesome!!!!! Anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that I’m now officially obsessed. This is a good thing because to get to the start line I need to ride-ride-ride. Building my riding skills is crucial and there is nothing better for that right now than time on the bike.

So that’ where I’m up to right now. The decision is made to participate in the 2015 Adu Dhabi Desert Challenge on a motorbike and for the summer my plan is to ride as much as possible including weekends as well as before and after work.

From September onwards I will start to look at modifying my bike, doing longer rides, learning to read roadbooks along with preparing myself physically and mentally.

In this series of articles I hope to share what it is to be a first time Raid Rally rider and what is required to prepare man and machine with a view to telling the story and also helping those who may have similar aspirations.

Footnotes:

- a copy of the article I wrote from the interview with Patrick on the Dune Raider Blog here http://duneraider.wordpress.com/2014...the-challenge/

- a copy of my article covering the 2013 ADDC and where the seed was planted can be found on the Dune Raider Blog here - http://duneraider.wordpress.com/2014...icle-may-2013/
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Old 10-27-2014, 06:09 AM   #3
iggs OP
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Taking up the Challenge pt2 Ė the plan

This text appeared as an article in the 2014 October issue of Outdoor UAE

Back in June, through an article in the magazine, I publicly declared my intention to bite off more than I could chew and plan to participate in 2014ís Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Since then Iíve learnt a lot, ridden a lot and talked to a lot of people about it. When I first decided to take up the challenge I know it was going to be tough. Now I know more of the detail of how tough its going to be. Iím both excited and gripped about it, mainly gripped!!


Firstly Iíd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who Iíve talked to. The positive support and constructive advice has been fantastic and massively helpful. Itís an interesting point, if you are going to take on a big challenge talk to people about it, most will be really excited and positive for you and many will offer invaluable advice along with the kind of real assistance that significantly increases the chance of success.


Now to the plan of how to get from where I am now to the start line of the Challenge with a realistic chance of finishing. There are a number of different areas to look at but in this article Iím going to look at the rider, me.



When I decided I wanted to take up this challenge I knew the big problem I had was that I had never ridden a motor bike on the sand. I was under no illusions just how big a problem this was and that the only way to solve it was to ride a hell of a lot in the dunes. Only hours and hours in the saddle would solve the problem. So I brought a bike and committed myself to a summer of riding as much as I could. Itís been brutal, Iíve boiled my brains quite a few times now, I dread to think how many litres of water Iíve sweated out or how many times Iíve fallen off. Most of the crashes have been relatively low speed and the landings have been soft. There have been a couple of very memorable Ďoffsí though and Iíve been lucky to come through it without an injury that has stopped me riding but a cracked rib, twanging my lower back and lots of significant bruising certainly didnít help.
After todayís ride I checked my bikes Ďactual run timeí and worked out that Iíve done just over 150hrs in under 5 months. Thatís an average of 30hrs a month or 7.5 hrs a week.


I can certainly feel the difference that all these hours in the dunes have made but thatís pretty obvious as I was at such a low starting point that I could only get better. Main thing is that now I do feel like I can ride, Iím finding flow and Iím now able to keep up with other riders. Phase 1 Ė MISSION ACCOMPLISHED


Iím now making a plan for the next phase.


Letís take a look at what I think my strengths and weaknesses are:


My key weaknesses mainly revolve around my lack of desert riding experience i.e. skills, ground reading and bike fitness.


My key strengths come from my long history of playing different games in the outdoors. My acquisition of new skills is good, my base fitness is ok, I know how to look after myself, my understanding of environments is good and I have a lot of skills that have good crossover e.g. mountain bike handling and navigation.


One of key weaknesses I have is my tendency to get distracted by another game.


Iíve calculated that during the challenge Iíll be riding 5 to 6 hours a day for 6 days. At 30 to 36 hours thatís more than a current monthís worth in straight days through some incredibly challenging terrain with no rest.


There are 2 areas to work on. Skills and fitness. The more skilful a rider I am the more efficient I will be and the fitter I am the better I will end each day and recover ready for the next.


At the moment a typical ride Iím doing at the weekend is about 120km and takes 2.5 to 3 hours. As soon as the weather cools a bit my plan is to extend this in a series of steps so that by Christmas Iím doubling it at least once a week.


Next is getting used to riding at pace under race conditions. For this the 2014 Emirates Desert Championship is perfect preparation. With 6 races in the series these 2 hour baja style events will get me used to both the mental and physical challenges of racing. It will be important to make sure I ride my race and not get carried away chasing hares as this could lead to at best tiring too early and at worse a big fast crash. Iím not taking a death or glory attitude to any of this, I just want to finish.


As well as planning to ride a lot Iím also planning to ride in a lot of different places. This is for 2 important reasons. I suffer for activity distraction so keeping myself interested and focused for the next 6 months is not going to be easy. The best way to keep myself on track is to make the process as fun and enjoyable as possible. I know the best way to do this is to keep the riding and the venues as varied as possible. As well as keeping me motivated it has the additional benefit of developing my ground reading and onsite riding skills.


The majority of the event takes place in the deserts around the Liwa so I intend to spend plenty of time down there. The scale of the place is immense so the more at home I can feel riding there the less energy Iíll use up worrying about it or being intimidated by it. I do have a significant head start on this front. Because Iíve crossed the area a couple of times in vehicles and also by bicycle I have a good understanding of the terrain.
While riding lots will improve my skills Iím conscious it could cause some problems too as bad habits could become more embedded. Practice doesnít make perfect it just makes permanent. Only perfect practice make perfect.


On this front Iím really lucky to have James West and Sam Smith of Moto1 on side. Just following riders as good as these 2 is a fantastic way to learn. Their experience, coaching and advice has proven invaluable already in getting me to this point. Their input will get more important as the learning curve becomes slower and more difficult to maintain.


As well as just riding lots I also need to do plenty of drills to focus on developing my base riding skills. I have a couple of bad habits I need to work on. Worst is my tendency not to use the rear brake. Sam has started to cut into the sand a short 3km track just outside the yard plus there are a series of turn tracks scattered around town that I need to get into the habit of using. These are great places to focus in on technique.


Whilst riding a lot will increase my bike fitness I will also need to supplement it with some other exercise too. Yoga is fantastic for flexibility and core strength and cycling is great for endurance cardio. Mountain biking is particularly good because out at Showka you get a full body work out plus its great fun too. Iím going to take a little and often approach to these supplementary activities fitting them in when and where ever I can, morning gym sessions, night riding at Showka, swimming in the community pool and cycling to work whenever I can.


I had planned to participate in the next Trans Hajar MTB Race. Participating in a 4 day stage race would have been great training but itís looking like this year new organisers have priced it outside of what I can sensibly afford.


Just reading through this article myself I can feel Iím intimidated by just how much there is to do and how focused I need to keep myself between now and the event itself. Iím also conscious of how important it will be to remain injury free.

2014-2015 is going to be an epic winter!!
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Old 10-27-2014, 06:33 AM   #4
iggs OP
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A self fullfilling prophecy :-/

Quote:
Iím also conscious of how important it will be to remain injury free.
DOH :-/

Landed to flat on the first lap of the race. Feel stupid as hell
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Old 10-27-2014, 07:29 AM   #5
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So now I'm 14 screws and 2 plates richer

But things seem to be healing well. I'm getting movement back in the ankle and I'm now (3 weeks after the break and 2 weeks after the final internal fix op) more or less pain free. Its only rehab exercises that hurt but thats just breaking down the soft tissue scaring thats binding things up a bit.

If my recovery goes 'normally' then I'm on track for being back on the bike for Christmas.

Its a bit gutting to be sofa bound right now because the weather has just become fantastic

The plus side is my bike can undergo some of the preparation needed. I've been chatting to James today and I'm feeling really excited about the whole prospect.

While I've been in hospital the guys in the workshop have taken the chance to take the head off and check things over. All looking really good apparently despite the 370 odd hours on the clock. New piston etc in now.

Plan is to go for a rallye lite build

Nav tower should arrive in the next week or so. It will be frame mounted via a bolted (rather than welded) bracket.

Fuel tanks will need fabricating. Plan is to put 2 x 5 litre pods on the rear and look at possible options on the front. For the ADDC the stages and liasons arent that long nowadays. Once the nav tower arrives the bike will go to a friend of James' to get this work done.

James also has a box full of roadbook holders, meters and switches so that stuff is pretty sorted.

My lack of roadbook navigation experience is one of my biggest concerns. I plan to do as much as I can once I'm back on the bike. I'll use this down time to get to grips with it all off the bike. I'm luck enough to have in my posession a couple of years worth of ADDC Auto roadbooks and waypoints so I can familiarise myself with these and then ride them as soon as I can too.

There are a few international competitors planning to use MOTO1 for desert rallye training over the winter and I'm fully expecting riding with them will be invaluable. 2 days out with Ben Young as he was enroute to Morocco was great fun and invaluable.

MOTO1 will be providing my support down in the QAS bivouac along with a team of other riders. From todays conversation with James its looking like we are on track to have the full planned compliment of 5.

I have to say I feel like I have fallen massively on my feet with the team of people I have on my side. As well as MOTO1 there is Malcolm Anderson of Dune Raider. With several auto ADDC's under his belt his friendship, support and advice is very very appreciated.

So despite being pretty broken at the moment I'm excited things are moving forwards in such a positive way. All the blocks seem to be dropping into place piece by piece.
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Old 10-27-2014, 08:04 AM   #6
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thanks for the write up. Will be glad to join up for a ride one your ankle heals. Let me know if you head Liwa side.....

cheers and good luck
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Old 10-27-2014, 07:07 PM   #7
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If my 450rr doesn't sell this year I might do the ADDC rallye. Its one of my "dream races".
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Old 10-27-2014, 07:34 PM   #8
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Cheers Iggs, cool read. I like your approach. Its a shame about your injury but these things happen.

If I could share my experience with a similar injury to the one you have and give you a tiny heads up. whatever you do don't push your recovery with an injury like that, I did and spent over a year on crutches.

Basically the Dr told me to "let pain be your guide" when he told me I could weight bear at 4 weeks of the forecast 16 week recovery. I did initially but then wanted more independence / work was calling (contractor, lots of walking) and I have a tendency to think of myself as something special when it comes to healing / not getting sick etc And it wasn't that painful.
At 5/6 weeks I'd broken a couple of screws, Dr said "some times a bit of micro movement helps the healing" cool.. So I rested a bit then carried on. My leg would swell during the day and shrink in the evening.
I won't carry on but to cut to 8 months of discomfort and I went and took an xray. My leg and the plate / all the screws etc all broken, it was hard to tell during the day because of the swelling but when that went down my leg, you could see was bent.

This is what I saw, I could have cried







Anyway the operation performed days later was bigger and the recovery twice as long. Different Dr for the second attempt and he had me in a full cast for 7 months, he obviously knew if he gave me an inch I'd take a mile.

That was nearly seven years ago now and my leg is good. I can't run as the plate / screws is a bit of a focal point for stress and I feel every step but I cycle and use a cross trainer which is fine.

I also ride with a guy who had a similar experience. He jumped back on the bike at 6 weeks of a Tib/Fib like mine and yours and that fell apart on him too.
Sometimes everyone thinks they are good to go but best to be on the safe side in my experience.

Focus on your bike and fitness / strength and healing and try to be patient with your leg mate just in case.

Keep up the great posts for me to read whilst I'm getting back into my fitness after my post Safari eating binge

Cheers Neil.
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Old 10-27-2014, 07:57 PM   #9
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Awesome post Neil and a great heads up / wake up call for me

Quote:
I have a tendency to think of myself as something special when it comes to healing
This is funny. I wonder how many people on here think exactly the same. Doctors must roll their eyes and shake their heads when listening to us.

Your pics are terrifying. I actually closed the post and put the phone down once. Had to summon up a bit of courage to read it all. All my worst nightmares at this time

I'm really glad you are now back on track matey.

Enjoy your well earned post Safari binge, you earned it

Ian
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Old 10-27-2014, 11:34 PM   #10
iggs OP
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Originally Posted by ktmJOE View Post
If my 450rr doesn't sell this year I might do the ADDC rallye. Its one of my "dream races".
Is it wrong that I'm hoping your bike doesnt sell then?!?

More the merrier

Live your dreams, dont put it off
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:19 AM   #11
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Good interesting read Ian.

Hoping you heal and get back on the bike by Christmas.

I'm definitely coming over in Feb to do some Liwa training with you!
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Old 10-29-2014, 04:41 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by ROKIT_71 View Post
I'm definitely coming over in Feb to do some Liwa training with you!

looking forward to it Ben!

How long you planning to be here for riding. Could well take a few days off while you are here
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Old 10-29-2014, 06:05 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by iggs View Post

This is funny. I wonder how many people on here think exactly the same. Doctors must roll their eyes and shake their heads when listening to us.
All of us most likely, if we didn't think we were "special" we'd take it easier maybe ? maybe
I went to get an opinion on my wrist which is a bit messed up and the "Professor" wanted to fuse it, then said he'd do an arthroscopic investigation first....Recovery time 5 weeks.
"5 weeks " I said "pfft your'e kidding me, for that ?"
"oh well, motorcyclists tend to heal faster because they've fallen on their heads too many times" He said.
I didn't go back.

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Originally Posted by iggs View Post
Your pics are terrifying. I actually closed the post and put the phone down once.

Ian
I left the graphic ones out

You'll be fine.
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Old 10-29-2014, 06:20 AM   #14
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All of us most likely, if we didn't think we were "special" we'd take it easier maybe ? maybe
I think it's a mixture of optimistic and invincible

Optimistic in that none of us think we will crash and hurt ourselves. It would be impossible to play the games if we expected to get hurt.

Invincible in that we fully expect to take a beating but to be able to shake ourselves off and go again

Lol

Ps - keep the graphic ones to yourself. I'm quite happy living in my world where what I don't know can't hurt me ;-)
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Old 11-04-2014, 08:44 AM   #15
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Taking up the Challenge - My ADDC 2015

Dates are out

27th March to 2nd April

https://facebook.com/profile.php?id=794188027309198
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