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Old 04-09-2012, 12:45 AM   #241
Evil Invader
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Nah, sorry mate. That bike won´t improve navigation. Better give it to me!


Sweet bike!!
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Old 04-09-2012, 03:30 AM   #242
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Wooooof !! she sure has a pretty mouth....
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Old 04-09-2012, 01:28 PM   #243
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Well, finally we are off then! Day one has now serisously begun, way down the road from the rest of the field, but still, we are making progress! The first 40 odd kilometers are tarmac only and a good way for me to break in my rebuilt engine which I only got to run for about a kilometer or two before the Tuareg (poor planning of my engine builder and some more poor planning on my side..). Nador seems to consist of two things, the port and suburbs.. Sprawling suburbs that seemed to go on and on but we finally can see the hills in the distance dooming up.

We are approaching the final gas station(next one 150km further up the road), were we would normally need to fill up but as we pass by the last petrol stop I smile to myself and am happy to have gotten juiced up in Spain. Quite a few bikes lined up to get fuel while we get to motor on. I guess we will not be the last guys at the ‘goat trail’ after all.

Ten more K’s and we finally get to head offroad, we quickly come up to some other riders and follow them for the first while. I’m making up the rear while I spot a small error in the roadbook, or so it seems to me. The group takes a 90 degree right, 200meter short of the distance my ico says.. I follow anyway, down a 2track path with a dry, rocky creek on our left... It is not long before I spot some bikes on the other side of the creek and start to realize that I followed the amateur part of the roadbook. My bad!

The roadbook has sections that are shared between cars and bikes, as well as amateur and profi parts for cars and bikes too. In this case I need to scroll up a little to the profi sections while the amateur version of the roadbook took a little detour around the hill. ‘J’ has just come to the same conclusion and we quickly make our way down and into the dry river bed, out the other side and up the hill. We now come up behind some more riders and the waypoint marked in the roadbook shows up in my GPS, only 500 meter orso on our left, up on the hill. We turn the corner and spot a few riders coming down a dusty track in the middle of steep field off olive trees. Others are lining up beside eachtother, pointing their bikes towards the top of the little climb.

Obviously a ‘secret’CP is hidden somewhere between the trees and bikes, just beyond my viewpoint. I shut of my engine and try to plot a little route of my own but there isn’t a lot of room with the bikes coming down, people walking up and other readying themselves for a proper go. It’s only a little climb, cant be more then 30meters but the soil consist of nothing but dirt and loose rock in between the trees and offers no grip. A few guys try and only make it 10 meters up, ‘J’ barely makes it to the 15 meter mark and I see Brent turing his bike from about the same point. Que for me to take of my helmet and walk the 30 orso meters and get my time card marked. Brent and I say quickly say ‘Hi’ as he turn his bike and makes his way down while I stumble up the hill. Target 1 made.

A single track takes us along the side hill, dropping down into another little creek which we cross an follow into the hills. This is were the queuing begins, luckily only for a little while as the roadbook as quite clear, we need to take a ‘right-left’within the first hundred meters, clearly marked with ‘do not miss this point’ in the roadbook but most people have overlooked the little path on our right. We head up the little trail, which makes the right-left turn and runs parallel to the main track down below. We connect up again with the main track and everything seems to match perfectly with the directions given. In hindsight, I don’t see the need for this little ‘side track’ of the main route as it didn’t add anything to the rallye, the final two days in Morocco had a few of these ‘funny’ twists as well which adds nothing but perhaps a few kilometers. Up a little climb we go to find people stuck again, weird, I have no idea why people got stuck here, except perhaps that it is still early on day way.

The top of the hill brings us to a little path, which goes down between two hill sides, where we follow a little dry river going down the hill. The first part is nice and flat but the latter part seems to get more and more off camber, sloping towards the dry river which in some parts is a meter orso below the level we are riding at. ‘J’ had hit the front and ‘trials’down the little off camber track where I slowly follow. It must be around lunch time orso when we ride here as it seems to get warmer and warmer. Two Italians have found the track as well and come down behind us too, nearly as hesitant as both of us, but still, we are doing well. Some parts off the track are pretty sweet, while others are slippy and off camber, not my favourite..

It isn’t long before I start to use my feet from time to time to keep my balance as the heat and slow going begins to tire me some. The little gorge is now getting quite narrow and the sides steep, a few rocks on our track make it a bit more exciting when I snatch the left peg my trousers.. I lost my balance and tried to put my right foot down, lost balance and threw out my left leg too, that got stuck for a quick second on the left peg, taking me and the bike over, heavy side now point down hill into the river.. Doh! Embarrassed I get up and glance over to the Italians, stopped behind me. They must have had a little laugh or at least a giggle or two at my misfortune but quickly come of their bike to help me out.

Turns out one of them rode a RXV 450 in last years Pharaos Rallye and quickly remarks this is not the bike to use in the Tuareg.. Some parts are indeed more enduro over rallye, although all in all I do think we cover enough miles to keep calling it a Rallye As we get my fat wallowy pig back on its feet, ‘J’ yells out! He just copied my escapade and his bike is now nearly all the way down the side of the hill, upside down with the wheels points upwards, in the (luckly dry) river. Doh! X 2!
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:35 AM   #244
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The roadbook has sections that are shared between cars and bikes, as well as amateur and profi parts for cars and bikes too. In this case I need to scroll up a little to the profi sections while the amateur version of the roadbook took a little detour around the hill.…

We cut these sections out of the roadbook to avoid this confusion.

Love the write up, keep it coming.
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Old 04-10-2012, 12:27 PM   #245
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We cut these sections out of the roadbook to avoid this confusion.

Love the write up, keep it coming.

+1
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:01 PM   #246
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+1
Thx guys!

I have promised a full write up to be posted somewhere else but will finish day 1 (and do a write up about day 0, the day of registration in Spain) here..
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:14 PM   #247
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Well, finally we are off then! Day one has now serisously begun...
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:48 AM   #248
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Love the write up, keep it coming.
Same here, really appreciate the report!
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:43 PM   #249
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Tuareg, through the eyes of a rookie.

Hi guys, work is quiet and I have a lot of time sat at my desk, so Ive started putting my memories of the Tuareg together. Apologies if anything is repeated in other people's accounts, but I have written these entries for a blog i've been building. Hope you like..

Tuareg Rallye...build up to the big race

So it’s finally happened, 18 months since I started riding with Patsy and Zippy in the forest of Leominster, Wales; I’ve got my entry for the Tuareg Rallye, my first international race.
I had intended to compete in 2011, but a change of job in March, from Johannesburg to Bournemouth, meant I was unable to spare the time..



Having heard so much about the Tuareg from all the guys that ride regularly with Desert Rose, I felt like this was going to be my kind of riding. I had by now, spent 4 seperate weeks riding and training in Morocco, sometimes on Desert Rose tours, helping to guide novice customers, other times, race training, on roadbooks and GPS routes. All the stories were saying the same thing, Tuareg is an excellent first rally. It’s fun, good navigation, fantastic terrain and full of the character of rallying...not to mention the, by now infamous, Rammstein wake up calls!


I’ve ridden/raced regularly with Toby in the UK and for 2 seperate weeks in Morocco, the second of which, was with both Toby and Jago as they prepared for the Maroc Rallye, on route to Dakar 2012. It’s been an interesting time to be in the background, watching closely, as 2 good friends embark on, what would prove to be the challenge of a lifetime.
Their adventures and experiences from entering the Maroc and Tunis rallies gave me a great chance to ask lots of questions, learn from their stories and get an idea of how my speed and navigational skills compared to an international field...I don’t mind admitting, when I first saw the start list with my name next to number 27.. 7th off the line on the first day, I did think, ‘oh shit’, what have I gone and done!?


The build up to the rallye was an interesting one, having suffered a bone-crunching knee injury at the Ryedale rally in July and then twisted the same knee, on my first day back 3 months later; it meant I had barely ridden a bike in 6 months.
Work was extremely busy and I had 3 months scheduled on oil rigs over the winter, in Kazakhstan and Liberia. Some might say it wasn’t the best preparation for a 2500km desert race!



On the plus side, I had made the decision to knock the excessive partying on the nose in November [had to wait for my birthday celebrations in Kiev to pass first!] and being on rigs meant I had plenty of time to be in the gym, attempting to get fit again. Something seemed to work, because the weight started to fall off and I was beginning to feel the benefits, cutting back to 95kg from a peak of 110kg in 2011. For the first time in a few years I was feeling the buzz again... The oil industry is not a good place to be, if you like to party.. you’ll do it far too often and it leaves its’ mark on your belt size!


With so much time spent at work, I had been trawling the internet for advice on rallying, and decided to totally restock my kit cupboard. If i’m going to throw myself at this rallying game, I’m going to do it properly, I thought.
Every bit of kit was researched, drawing on my experiences in the desert so far, combined with reports from forums and magazine reviews, and used them to select the most suitable kit for my needs.
· New Klim F4 helmet ordered from Adventure Spec, full of vents for the hot deserts.. I had suffered so badly in the dunes before, with a poorly vented Airoh helmet.
· Goggles had always been an issue for me, first up I used my Oakleys, but they were vented, which was drying my eyes out when I rode.. every day I’d come back to the hotel with a mega case of pinkeye! I found a pair of Fox Sand MX goggles in my local shop [John Deacon Racing] and gave them a go. These were the ones, they fitted well with my choice of helmet, didn’t have vents, and they felt right.. ticked all the boxes... so a few pairs were ordered in clear and dark lens.
· After trashing my knee twice last year, even with CTi OTS braces on, I decided I had to eliminate this risk, by getting hold of the best I could get. Fortunately, eBay came to the rescue, with a brand new pair of CTi custom braces, in my size, for half rrp. Very happy with that!
· The biggest annoyance out of all my kit, had always been the Acerbis body armour I used. It was never bad, but equally, it was never fit for purpose. I had cut off the kidney belt because it annoyed me and the armour was bulky. I was very lucky to stumble across Leatt body armour, whilst I was checking out neck braces for a friend. Just around the time that Eurosport interviewed Cyril Despres wearing his.. good enough for him, good enough for this wannabe! Unfortunately, the same armour wasn’t available in my size, so I picked the next one down, which didn’t have elbow protection. No big deal, I’ll just use the ones I have already.
· A new pair of Sidi Crossfires.. my last ones were fantastic, but had been beaten to hell and back..falling to pieces after loads of abuse in the rocks of South Africa and the mud of British enduros, it was time for a new set. Im glad to say, they have only improved! Fantastic boots.
· Lastly, and the icing on the cake...my new rally jacket, that Patsy had designed for Toby and Jago at the Dakar. Cut away for neck brace, loads of pockets and vents, zip off sleeves and light to wear..this jacket completed the set up, and made it look the dogs’ danglies!



Patsy and I had been talking throughout the winter and she was getting my bike ready for Tuareg, with Zippy, pretty much everything on there was perfect for my liking, DrShox had revalved and sprung my suspension last year, the engine had a rebuild from Tony Woodhams, Patsy’s mechanic; and overall it was in good shape. I ordered a pair of Pivot Pegz, to help with the hot feet issue and asked Patsy to arrange some decals similar to the ones put onto the Dakar bikes of Toby and Jago. She came up trumps with Crispydesigns, who were sent my fairing for the shape. The postman turned up with a fresh set of fantastic looking decals, which would have to go onto my bike in the port car park, at scrutineering...along with new front and rear fender plastics, for good measure.
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:56 PM   #250
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Tuareg Rallye day 0, scrutineering and sign on.

Tuareg Rallye Day 0. Scrutineering and sign-on, Almeria, Spain.
As usual, everything is a mad rush.. work always means I’m travelling and it seems that when I do have time off, I spend it, driving all over the UK. Since getting back from a training trip with Patsy, Chris and the latest convert to rallying, Jamie, in Morocco, life had been a blur.. Everything from closing the deal on a house, finding furniture [I’ve been living out of bags for the last 6 years, so very few posessions to fill a house!] and accidentally buying a Racetruck, all within the space of a few days!

I had driven back to my Dad’s house in the West of England, to change to the bag I would be living from this week, and filled his washing machine with all my crappy bike kit. Tools, riding kit, boots, armour, flares, first aid kit etc etc, they were all strewn across his lounge floor, as I attempted to pack for my first Rallye. I kept telling myself, it’s no different to a week of training, go light, but hand carry the essentials. Flying into Africa regularly has taught me never to tempt fate, by packing your valuable kit into the hold…Eventually, everything was packed and I resigned myself to the fact that if it wasn’t there, tough shit, I had the basics.
Turns out I had packed everything, except a spare pair of trousers..so by the time we hit Spain for the final party.. they were almost dancing round the room on their own! I had managed to get across to Patsys’ house before the truck left for Spain, so at least my kit was clean and being driven down for me..one less thing to worry about.

I had chosen to fly down in the afternoon, the day before scrutineering, which got me into Almeria at about 10pm, long after everyone else had been there. Arriving to see half the team well on their way to being pretty bloody drunk, I thought to myself “this week is gonna be a blast!”. A few of the more sensible members of our team disappeared up to the hotel, to rest before sign on day. Which left a small band of dedicated drinkers, to head out in search of action! Hours and many, many, Cuba Libre’s later, I helped the stumbling few back to the hotel and got my head down for a couple of hours.
Waking up bright and early and squinting out the window of the hotel, I could see the car park of the port beginning to fill up with race cars, motorbikes, support vehicles and even a Dakar style race truck! It was a petrolheads’ wet dream and I was about to walk into the middle of it. I could not wait!

A quick breakfast in the hotel and I got straight across to see all the toys, soak up the atmosphere and help Patsy unload the mountains of kit that was packed into the support truck. We had a team of crazy Italians parked up next to us, complete with awnings, huge gas BBQs, boxes of meat and who could forget a bloody loud megaphone! The morning was spent changing the plastics on my rally bike, stripping off the old stickers and getting everything perfectly clean, before applying the new decals, from Crispy Designs. They looked the business! The bike had a good once over as I was working my way around it and then a few hours later, it all came together.

By this time, a lot of the guys had already signed on, so I thought I better join the fun…my god, I knew it was going to be slow, but what an understatement that turned out to be. Sign on took hours to get through, as there seemed to be a really daft process to follow. For once, the famed German efficiency, had left the building. Eventually, I made it through, got my sponsor stickers and number and had my GPS loaded with the tracks for the week. The finishing touches.. zip tie the Leatherman to the bar risers, first aid kit and survival blanket behind the fairing, cable ties on the forkleg and miniflares ziptied to the bar mount. Oh and how could I forget the Rally Chicken?! My mascot for the rally, that Id picked up in the Port supermarket... secured nice and safe in behind the fairing.

The bike now looks mint and in the words of KTM, I am “ready to race”!

The Tuareg Rallye is now becoming a reality! I just received my first ever International race number. Stickers applied to the bike, it was time for the first rider briefing of the event and load the trucks before boarding the ferry, for the long sail to Nador.
Last minute items were scavenged from the downtown area of Nador, guys from the Rallye were everywhere.. Every table in the hotels, bars and restaurants were awash with roadbooks, highlighter pens, sellotape and no shortage of confused looking riders, trying to work out what the hell they were doing!

Time raced by and before we knew it, we were sailing across the Mediterranean to Morocco...most people managed to get some sleep in the cabins, as I stayed up in the bar chatting to Patsy, Zippy, Martin and Chris, whilst sticking together the last of my roadbooks. My god it’s a mission doing those bloody things, looking back, I just wish I had thought about removing the amateur and car routes from the roll, life would have been so much easier!
A couple of tins of beer down, roadbooks finished and Rallye Chicken safely packed away from Zippys’ reach, I went to bed…Next time I see the team together will be for the start of the Tuareg Rallye!
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:08 PM   #251
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Originally Posted by biggles0449 View Post
Tuareg Rallye Day 0. Scrutineering and sign-on, Almeria, Spain.
As usual, everything is a mad rush.. work always means I’m travelling and it seems that when I do have time off, I spend it, driving all over the UK. Since getting back from a training trip with Patsy, Chris and the latest convert to rallying, Jamie, in Morocco, life had been a blur.. Everything from closing the deal on a house, finding furniture [I’ve been living out of bags for the last 6 years, so very few posessions to fill a house!] and accidentally buying a Racetruck, all within the space of a few days!

I had driven back to my Dad’s house in the West of England, to change to the bag I would be living from this week, and filled his washing machine with all my crappy bike kit. Tools, riding kit, boots, armour, flares, first aid kit etc etc, they were all strewn across his lounge floor, as I attempted to pack for my first Rallye. I kept telling myself, it’s no different to a week of training, go light, but hand carry the essentials. Flying into Africa regularly has taught me never to tempt fate, by packing your valuable kit into the hold…Eventually, everything was packed and I resigned myself to the fact that if it wasn’t there, tough shit, I had the basics.
Turns out I had packed everything, except a spare pair of trousers..so by the time we hit Spain for the final party.. they were almost dancing round the room on their own! I had managed to get across to Patsys’ house before the truck left for Spain, so at least my kit was clean and being driven down for me..one less thing to worry about.

I had chosen to fly down in the afternoon, the day before scrutineering, which got me into Almeria at about 10pm, long after everyone else had been there. Arriving to see half the team well on their way to being pretty bloody drunk, I thought to myself “this week is gonna be a blast!”. A few of the more sensible members of our team disappeared up to the hotel, to rest before sign on day. Which left a small band of dedicated drinkers, to head out in search of action! Hours and many, many, Cuba Libre’s later, I helped the stumbling few back to the hotel and got my head down for a couple of hours.
Waking up bright and early and squinting out the window of the hotel, I could see the car park of the port beginning to fill up with race cars, motorbikes, support vehicles and even a Dakar style race truck! It was a petrolheads’ wet dream and I was about to walk into the middle of it. I could not wait!

A quick breakfast in the hotel and I got straight across to see all the toys, soak up the atmosphere and help Patsy unload the mountains of kit that was packed into the support truck. We had a team of crazy Italians parked up next to us, complete with awnings, huge gas BBQs, boxes of meat and who could forget a bloody loud megaphone! The morning was spent changing the plastics on my rally bike, stripping off the old stickers and getting everything perfectly clean, before applying the new decals, from Crispy Designs. They looked the business! The bike had a good once over as I was working my way around it and then a few hours later, it all came together.

By this time, a lot of the guys had already signed on, so I thought I better join the fun…my god, I knew it was going to be slow, but what an understatement that turned out to be. Sign on took hours to get through, as there seemed to be a really daft process to follow. For once, the famed German efficiency, had left the building. Eventually, I made it through, got my sponsor stickers and number and had my GPS loaded with the tracks for the week. The finishing touches.. zip tie the Leatherman to the bar risers, first aid kit and survival blanket behind the fairing, cable ties on the forkleg and miniflares ziptied to the bar mount. Oh and how could I forget the Rally Chicken?! My mascot for the rally, that Id picked up in the Port supermarket... secured nice and safe in behind the fairing.

The bike now looks mint and in the words of KTM, I am “ready to race”!

The Tuareg Rallye is now becoming a reality! I just received my first ever International race number. Stickers applied to the bike, it was time for the first rider briefing of the event and load the trucks before boarding the ferry, for the long sail to Nador.
Last minute items were scavenged from the downtown area of Nador, guys from the Rallye were everywhere.. Every table in the hotels, bars and restaurants were awash with roadbooks, highlighter pens, sellotape and no shortage of confused looking riders, trying to work out what the hell they were doing!

Time raced by and before we knew it, we were sailing across the Mediterranean to Morocco...most people managed to get some sleep in the cabins, as I stayed up in the bar chatting to Patsy, Zippy, Martin and Chris, whilst sticking together the last of my roadbooks. My god it’s a mission doing those bloody things, looking back, I just wish I had thought about removing the amateur and car routes from the roll, life would have been so much easier!
A couple of tins of beer down, roadbooks finished and Rallye Chicken safely packed away from Zippys’ reach, I went to bed…Next time I see the team together will be for the start of the Tuareg Rallye!
keep it coming, it's all coming back!
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:28 PM   #252
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keep it coming, it's all coming back!
Keep it coming!
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:20 PM   #253
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:47 AM   #254
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Tuareg Rallye Day 1, Nador to Missour.

Tuareg Rallye Day 1, Nador to Missour.
As the ferry approached Morocco, my peaceful sleep was interrupted by a P.A from the boatcrew, piped directly into every cabin..Waking a bit bleary eyed and catching a whiff of my running shoes, as I opened the door to the bathroom, the holding chamber that Sean, my roommate, had told me they must be locked into! [Yes, we had our own bathroom, unlike a lot of the poor buggers, who had to share a filthy communal one!] I knew it was time to get up to the cafe before everyone else decided they needed coffee too. Dragging my bones up the stairs to the upper deck, I found myself at the back of a pretty hefty queue already. The smell of the coffee was the only thing to keep me standing patiently, as any good Englishman is trained to do from birth!

The sight and smell of the microwave food wasn’t quite as appealing. Decision time, do I dig into my pockets and find some of the rally food we had scavenged, from the red Pierre Henry rallye boxes, yesterday.. or stay inline. The cheese and tuna Panini won. Patsy arrived and joined me in the queue..using her finest Spanglish to order a few coffees and pastries for the others and my Panini, we stood and waited and waited..gradually the team started to appear from the depths of the ferry, all in various states of dress. Some in full riding kit, others just about in jeans and a t shirt..this morning parade of scruffy, tired looking riders, was one that would repeat itself daily for the next week!

There was an air of amazement amongst the Desert Rose team, as a new face to the team, turned up in the cafe; the ever smiling Matt from Manchester. He had issues with his riding kit being sent back to Manchester from Madrid, rather than connecting to Almeria.. After numerous phone calls to the airline, he was assured his kit would be back in Almeria at 10pm. The ferry was leaving at 11pm, with doors closing 15 minutes before that and it was a 30 minute drive. Things didn’t look good. Rather than follow the advice he was given and join the rest of us on the ferry, he made a beeline for the airport in an attempt to get his kit and start the Rallye in his own clothes! Boarding the ferry, there were all manner of messages flying around, that Matt would not be allowed to board, or he was stuck at the airport..rumours grew legs and it became clear that Matt would not be joining us for the start of the Rallye. A few of us were sat in the cafe, maybe half an hour after the ferry had departed Spain, and I went to the bathroom..sitting down at the table again, Zippy says to me “you’ll never guess who just turned up”, I was convinced Zippy was just pulling my chain, so just dismissed it..and got back to my roadbooks.. Until I heard an unmistakable, “aaalriiight” coming from our chirpy Mancunian friend. I had to have a double take and Zippy just sat there pissing himself at the look of disbelief on my face. Looking back now, I think we can all agree that Matt is a law to himself, nothing seemed to get him down or phase him and he never failed to amaze us, with his antics on the rallye. Every team needs a Matt! The team was once again complete.

As we all disembarked into the ferryport car park, you could feel the excitement starting to build.. in the distance we could hear the unmistakable sound of the v8 Bowlers getting started, as the cars, support vehicles and motorbikes gradually appeared from the belly of this ship. Waiting for our gear to arrive, we took on the might of the Moroccan Customs officer, to complete all the necessary paperwork for our bikes and allow us out of the port. As you’d expect, it was all a bit of a farce, but we got there in the end. Papers in hand, Patsy and Martin arriving in the truck, everyone started to buzz. The whole team lined up to empty the truck of its’ cargo, once again and we all went into our own little worlds of admin. Roadbooks getting wound into holders, fuel checks, last minute adjustments and finally getting all our race kit on. With no idea what the time was, or even what time was “rallye time”, everyone was pushing to get themselves sorted and away to wherever the start area was. A few of us rode together to leave the Port and were met with one last Customs officer.. oh joy. As could be expected, our papers were not in order and we had to return to the little hut we had queued at for so long, earlier this morning. Apparently our papers were signed, but not stamped. 5 minutes later, we were lined up at the exit once again and could see the holding area ahead of us... so many trucks, cars and bikes had lined up, this was starting to look incredible! I hadn’t really got a sense of the scale of this circus in Spain, as we were all so spread out in the car park, hidden amongst countless service vehicles. It was only here, seeing so many bikes and race cars lined up, that it dawned on me just how big it was.

Having raced mountain bikes to a reasonably high level when I was a teenager, i was familiar with start lines, but, it never made things any easier! I have a habit of becoming quite insular when it’s time for action. Preferring to draw into myself a little, focussing on what is in front of me and quietly shitting myself! Looking around, the majority of people appeared to be quite calm and looked like they knew what they were up to. As I walked around the car park, towards the ATM’s, I remember thinking to myself, “am I really up to this? Im one of the first away, how fast do I need to be, will everyone be breathing down my neck, will I make a tit of myself?” I got enough cash from the machines, to last a week and went to find the others, relaxing in front of a cafe. OK, we have time to enjoy the moment.. turns out we had hours! Filling up my camelback with fresh water and grabbing a light feed from the cafe, I waited patiently for the driver briefing and subsequent scrum for timecards to be given out.. then we were off! Timecard in my right trouser pocket, i found my bike and disappeared off, up the high street. The Tuareg had begun and I was grinning from ear to ear!

It was quite a long drag through the city, following the coastline and up some huge parades, police were on every roundabout, holding traffic for us to pass and then we were gone.. out into the countryside, heading for the first special test. This is where the problems began! Being very comfortable navigating, I was only using my roadbook and ICO to follow the tracks..as instructed, we pulled left onto a trail and headed for the first of many waypoints. Profi’s turned off the trail and into a small, rocky oued, which we needed to cross, with a steep scramble on the other side, this caught a few riders out. I pulled up to help a guy escape from underneath his 660 rallye bike that had flipped backwards onto him and twisted his knee. I felt really bad for him, getting injured on the very first challenge, but he wasn’t in need of further help, so I rode on, to head for the ‘Virgin Forest’. This is where it all went to shit. Riders in every direction, everyone looking lost, bugger. I couldn’t get my roadbook and the trail to tally, so i drifted over to the group..if only I had known about bearings to waypoints and the bloody secret checkpoints that could be found at random waypoints! It looked to me, that everyone was trying to get up and over a really nasty, rocky scramble and no one was getting up it. I couldn’t work out why they were hellbent on getting up there, so chose to ride with a group, who went up the valley a little and round the back of the hill. It was a nasty little goat trail, with a decent drop down to the left, for anyone who lost their balance.. winding along the valley we eventually popped out into an open plain, with fields in front of us.. it was just like being back in Johannesburg, crazy rocky scrambles, heat, spikey trees and then, vast, open spaces.

I found my pace and got back onto the roadbook. It was beautiful riding throughout the day and I was cracking on nicely. I found some guys that were riding at a reasonable pace and we stayed together for a while. A few more rocky climbs, with some incredibly selfish people not helping a rider in front of them, trapped under a bike.. eventually the trail cleared and I rode the bike through the section and away onto the rest of the days’ riding. I stayed on the roadbook for most of the day, hitting all the CP’s and WP’s, made good time and was the first member of our team to find the hotel in Missour.

Patsy and Martin had already arrived, set up camp in the car park and were patiently waiting for us all to arrive. I was so pleased to be one of the first riders to make it in. First day on the Tuareg and it seemed I was on the pace! I found the girls in the timing tent and gave them my timecard, a friendly hello from them and then it happened..my card got marked with a 4 hour penalty. My face dropped, I was gutted, what had I done wrong? Turns out there was a secret CP in the trees of the ‘Virgin Forest’, exactly at the point that everyone was scrambling up the rocky climb. Bugger. I was furious with myself. I took my bike away for fuel, to try and calm down, came back, found a tent and had a shower, before waiting outside to meet the rest of the team as they came in. Everyone looked like they had a great day, some had missed the secret CP, but most found it.. inside I was stewing. Dinner came and I thought it best to sit at the end of the table, keeping myself to myself, rather than bring the mood of the group down. Eventually I gave in and snuck away to go to bed and watch a movie to take my mind off things. 4 hours of penalties, the rallye is over now, how am I ever going to make that up. This is all I could think of, before drifting away to sleep. I woke in the middle of the night and got up to check the results.. I had come in with 73rd position in Profi, not a bad result, but certainly not as good as I thought I should have had. Still stewing, I went back to bed and vowed to myself not to miss another CP again. Looking back to this moment, I think it was a valuable lesson and one that will stick with me. It taught me to understand the rules and more importantly, the valuable relationship between roadbook and GPS. I was pissed off, but I wasn’t out of the Rallye, so I had the next 7 days to work some magic!
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Old 04-13-2012, 03:52 AM   #255
biggles0449
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A picture from the top of one of the climbs on day one
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