2013 Tuareg Rally Race Report

Discussion in 'Racing' started by neduro, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Earlier this year, I got to race the Tuareg Rally in Tunisia (along with a whole big bunch of other ADV’ers). It’s been a few years since I did (OK, since I finished) a ride report. Since the big show is bringing out the F5force in, well, force, I figured now would be a good time for a rally race report that you can hopefully enjoy in place of snooker. I hope they’ll add their stories in here, too… here is mine.

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    I want to start by going all the way back to the beginning. Years and years ago, I saw Dakar on TV, and saw a helicopter shot of the lead bikes beating their way over a dune and into camel grass. The helicopter lifted up and the shot pulled back to reveal a seemingly endless future of the most desolate yet exhilarating desert a country boy from the Northeast could imagine. I was hooked. At the time, it never occurred to me that I could go there, the idea seemed unachievable.

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    Over time, I went through the painful process of realizing that the obstacles preventing me from racing Dakar were not real, except in the only place that matters- in my head. I pulled the blinders back from my dream of Dakar, and when it moved to South America, I adjusted my dream accordingly.

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    I loved the race, but at some level it didn’t scratch the Africa itch. Africa, as anyone who has been there will tell you, is different. There is no desert on earth like the Sahara, there is no desolation that compares, and no madness like the culture that surrounds it. I got a flavor for this before going to Dakar, with a ride in Morocco and then a navigation rally in Morocco and Western Sahara, but those experiences only made the itch worse.

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    So when DaveRMS called and said there was space in the container for the Tuareg Rally in Tunisia, I realized it was a chance to go and do something I had always wanted to. Those opportunities don’t come along every day, and I decided to go. My dad passed away pretty young, and that taught me there isn't always another year, we can't wait for it to be convenient, we have to settle for possible. Racing in Africa was possible. So I was going.

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    #1
  2. Wyobrew

    Wyobrew Missed it by that mu

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    I am in for some Ned-vice and stories. :clap
    #2
  3. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    :clap




    :lurk
    #3
  4. DADODIRT

    DADODIRT Long timer

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    :ear
    #4
  5. Bicycle Phil

    Bicycle Phil Been here awhile

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    :ear
    #5
  6. BoldNewGraphics

    BoldNewGraphics Adventurer

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    In for MOAR!!

    This is going to be good!

    :clap
    #6
  7. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    Of course, the decision was a last minute one, leaving me with some real obstacles to deal with. First, the opportunity came when I was away traveling, and my scheduled return was one week before the bike would have to ship from Oakland. The bike in question was a KTM 505XCF that I had bought with loose ideas to turn into a rallybike, but I hadn’t started that process yet. So, I needed to build the bike and get it to San Francisco in just a few days.

    Here it is before we started, in trailbike form…

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    Enter my savior C.Vestal, who can build a rally bike in his sleep by now. We dug into the 505 late one night, and a day later, I had one of the prettiest rides out there. I don’t know how I am so lucky to have friends like Chris, but I’m sure glad I do. We used all the spare pieces I brought to Dakar and didn’t use- I bought a tank and that’s about it.

    Coming apart:

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    Chris, smiling as ever, working his magic:

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    Complete! Don’t ask me about my expression, heck if I know…

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    Then, cRaSH and AnnieGS stepped forward and offered to drive the bike to Oakland in one shot- I think they had vacation in mind, but the weather had other ideas. They wound up in a hellish white knuckle cannonball run, and didn’t let it stop them. Thanks, Ray and Annie.

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    In order, that's my 505, Charlie's XR, Dirk's 690, Mike Krynock's 525, Jean-Luc's 690, and Wildman's 525-ish Meca bike. I'm hoping they'll chime in.

    I had the luxury of using exactly the gear I wanted for this race, and here’s what I chose:

    - Rally Moto Kit rally conversion- nothing needs to be said.
    - MX1West- 6 gallon Acerbis tank, Ariete goggles and Mousses
    - BRP Triple Clamp, threaded bar end mounts (these are awesome!) and chain guide
    - Renazco Racing- the absolute Bomb-Diggity seat. Yes, it is that awesome.
    - Trailtech- Stator and heavy flywheel- very nice for avoiding stalling and having lights.
    - Touratech- GPS mount and a slick crossbar setup
    - Wolfman- fairing bags- impossible to overstate how nice it is to have a place to stash gloves, emergency stuff, tape, etc…
    - Cycra Handguards- I’ve tried them all, I think theirs are the best.
    - FMF exhaust- crazy light and the motor runs amazing.
    - 7602 racing vent line filter. This stuff matters in the silt.
    - Scotts Performance- Steering damper- lifesaver in rally!
    - Klim Riding gear- I used their soon-to-be released Rally Jacket combined with Dakar pants, both of which are fantastic.
    - Bell Helmets- For me, the fit is perfect, and the Moto9 is both feature heavy and weight light.
    - Motonation/ Sidi Boots- I got a set of Crossfire 2s and they are everything you might hope.

    Right as we finished the bike, it snowed for the first time. Of course, that was a fine reason to take the TTR out and do powder 8’s. Call it training if you’d like, I call it the most fun you can have on two wheels. Big crazy drifts and no real risk because there isn’t ice underneath yet:

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    My neighbor helped me make a promo photo for facebook sharing, which I still find amusing:

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    #7
  8. Assfault

    Assfault Exposed Member

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    Thanks for sharing Ned.
    MOAR!
    #8
  9. DC950

    DC950 Microadventurer

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    I knew there was a reason to come back to this part of the forum! Thanks Ned!
    #9
  10. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    The next issue was budget. The Tuareg is an inexpensive rally, which is like saying a car is an inexpensive Rolls Royce- still not exactly cheap. My first call was to a friend in Napa, who had helped me with Dakar- Layer Cake Wine.

    Many of you got to sample some, as he generously sent case after case out to my supporters to thank them for their help. When I called, he had just launched a new brand, called If you see Kay, a red blend from Italy. Kay wanted to go racing, and could help me get not only myself but the rest of the team there. Thus was team If you see Kay born.

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    As I write this, I just had an idea: take a picture of yourself with a bottle of Kay, put it in this thread, and I’ll dig up some swag to send your way. Like them on facebook, love them on your table, ask for it by name.

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    So, for the third time, the road had risen up to meet my rally racing goals and I was off.

    Next post: Getting there.
    #10
  11. Hayduke

    Hayduke ///SAFETY THIRD/// Super Moderator

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    #11
  12. DaveRMS

    DaveRMS Long timer

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    Thanks for keeping the memories and the dream alive!

    This rally was one of the more fantastic experiences I have had in the sport. Such a terrific group of riders and support crew. Great chance to experience another culture as well.

    :lurk

    Dave
    #12
  13. homerj

    homerj 742 Evergreen Terrace

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    In
    #13
  14. kamanya

    kamanya Andrew to most

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    Please, FFS, don't do an Antware on us.

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    no pressure...
    #14
  15. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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    Crap....I know better than to read a Ned RR BEFORE he finishes it.:lol3

    Lookin' forward to more.:lurk.
    #15
  16. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    Missed this when it started but I caught up to the front now ;-)
    #16
  17. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    :lol3

    I'll do an update this weekend.
    #17
  18. neduro

    neduro Addict Super Moderator

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    This weekend, next weekend, the following week, how time marches on. I had in mind to lay out the process of getting there... but given how slowly I've had time to update this, I feel like just cutting to the chase and going racing.

    Day 1 was a a mass start in the dunes, followed by a few laps of of a course that mixed sandy roads together with small, technical dunes.

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    For the first and only time ever, my 505 failed to start quickly, I got pretty much a last place start. I'm somewhere at the back of this picture:

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    Into the dunes we went, people were stuck and floundering all around, so it was very quickly chaos. It's really hard to pay attention to both riding and navigating at the best of times, when there are people all around and the air is filled with dust, it's almost impossible. But somehow I made it to the first checkpoint where we had to get off our bikes and run up to get our cards stamped.

    As the stage developed, we started to sort out and, as usual in rally, you begin to ride more or less alone, as faster folks are gone and slower folks are in back. The dunes in this area are very soft, I had a few close calls with going over the bars. Here's the best picture I could find:

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    Illustrating how far the wheels sink in. At one point, we were traversing a dune field and I caught up to a Suzuki Samurai that knew exactly where to go. After so many times getting stuck (or nearly stuck), I decided to follow him for a little while and see if I could learn something. I'm not sure about the later goal, but I definitely made it across that section without any drama, and once we got onto roads again, I was refreshed by NOT having had to pick my bike up for a few minutes. There's a lot for me to learn in the dunes, that's for sure!

    A fun aspect of the Tuareg are the other vehicles involved:

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    They are all piloted by interesting folks, and it's neat to be around some pieces of rally history.

    The stage went reasonably well. I don't remember where I finished, but I remember being surprised by how far forward it was. I am always really apprehensive before a race, and convinced that what I'm doing is a terrible idea... now I felt excited and looking forward to what was to come.
    #18
  19. Stagehand

    Stagehand Imperfectionist

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    :all ears
    #19
  20. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

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    #20