Hero? Legend? Fool?

Discussion in 'Racing' started by JMo (& piglet), Oct 4, 2009.

  1. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Troy -

    It's difficult to say... undoubtably if you understand the system (or have it properly explained at the beginning) it does provide an extra dimension, and as we've acertained, allows a degree of 'handicap' system for otherwise mis-matched competitors and/or machines... likewise to does (hopefully) help reduce the instances of people riding beyond their capabilities, and over such a huge distance (8000kms in the case of this year's Heroes-Legend route), which is probably essential to minimise the number of accidents and/or retirees due to fatigue or failure.

    However, a number of the competitors (myself included on a couple of occassions) did think that some of the average speeds set were far too low - to the point of absurdity in couple of instances - doing 35kmh across open piste was more dangerous - you were falling asleep!

    Of course you are at liberty to ride/race at any speed you like, and just take the time penalties for being too fast, which is what some of the riders elected to do.

    I think the problem (if it can be called that) was that after the first day, you had to decide to stay in either the fast, medium or slow group - based on the first days stages which were pretty technical, so most people elected to drop down a group to give themselves a bit more time...

    Obviously once we got to the more open desert and savannah terrain, the set speeds were perhaps a bit low - good for pacing yourself and not destroying the bike, but it made for some long days for everyone...

    I think one solution would be to allow competitors to choose their speed group each morning, depending on what the roadbook holds, and how they are feeling... if they want to nurse themselves/their bike to the end, the can elect to go in the slow group, if they fancy blasting the stage and/or getting to the bivouac in good time, they can choose the faster group?

    That said I suppose that is not the point - after all, if you are fast in the open terrain, you ought to be fast in the technical terrain - and some competitors might use the group swapping to their advantage... mind you, whichever group you go in, you still have your target speed to maintain?

    Food for thought?

    For me personally, I though it was a good system, and once I'd sussed it out, was able to do reasonably well including two day wins, plus a couple of thirds and fourths... if it had been an outright speed event (ie. the fastest rider over each stage) then I imagine I would have finished somewhere mid-field which is what happened on the Tuareg Rally last year, but probably not done as well as I did racing within the regularity system?

    Jen xx
  2. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Gian - I'll be writing the tales for TBM magazine, but in the meantime, here are a few photos to stop this thread being so wordy!

    Motorway services, somewhere south of Lyon, France - we were drenched by then! Only a handful of bikes elected to ride the long European liaison from Paris (competitors were allowed to transport the bikes between Paris and Ales, and again to Almeria in Spain - not really in the spirit of things we thought!), and ultimately, only the Tenere made it the whole distance from Paris to Dakar under it's own power!:
    [​IMG]

    Liaison somewhere en route - may have been in Tan Tan, southern Morocco:
    [​IMG]

    Burning the midnight oil - while the mechanics did their thing, the riders would study and prepare their roadbooks for the following day:
    [​IMG]

    After a long day riding stages, I popped into downtown Tata to visit the cash-machine for some beer tokens!:
    [​IMG]

    Start of the day's stages on Plage Blanc on the Atlantic coast - after a long liaison in the dark, we had to wait for sun-up and the helicopter to arrive before we could start:
    [​IMG]

    Being the generous Brits that we are, Desert Rose Racing ended up carrying spares for a couple of other riders - Quad wheels and tyres for Alois on the KTM quad, and a whole bike for Bertus while he continued on a rented machine:
    [​IMG]

    Crossing into the tropics in Mauritania - particularly apt regarding the charity I was raising funds for!:
    [​IMG]

    A light lunch... nice:
    [​IMG]

    Camping on the beach at Laayoune - we had the best meal in Morocco that evening - barbeque lamb and chicken cooked on an open fire... most of us had tummy trouble the following day mind you!:
    [​IMG]

    At the finish line at Lac Rose - this guy had both his original and spare engine fail during the event, trailered it that last two days, pushed it over the line, then promptly jumped up and down on the bloody thing! Suffice to say he won't be using a BMW again.... (I offered to sell him my Tenere, only to quickly withdraw the offer when I thought he was going to take me up on it!):
    [​IMG]

    xxx
  3. Duke78

    Duke78 Freude am Fahren

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    Class pics! Makes me jealous!:rofl
  4. canadaler

    canadaler Been here awhile

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    Jenny, how would you compare the dune sections of the H-L to what you rode in the dune stages of the Tuareg?

    Did you use the Tenere there as well? (I couldn't tell from the 2008 results.)
  5. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Canadaler - I was on my XR650R on the Tuareg last year, riding in the profi class so was sent to the top of some pretty serious dunes around Erg Chebbi!

    On the HL this year we did bivouac at Erg Chebbi again, and there was a stage that crossed the dune fields - although this was on the fateful '2nd day' in Morocco when the Brits had a series of disasters (listen to the Rally Raidio reports for full info) and as such I missed the 4th and final stage that was in the sand there. That said, by all accounts I don't think the HL route included the really big dunes around Erg Chebbi, it was more of a navigation route through and over a much longer distance.

    Regarding the sand in Mauritania - it is true it is very different and much softer than you get in Morocco... the dune fields we crossed there were not as high/steep, but they were relentless and very soft in places - I don't think anyone got away without the front wheel digging in at some point and sending you over the bars...

    For info, the original 'Le Dakar' route tended to cross into Mauritania further north at a special boarder, which is now closed. As such we had alternative stages in Western Sahara (Sahara Occidental) and crossed into Mauritania at the only open boarder at Nouadhibou on the coast. The Heroes' route then took us inland across dune fields back towards Atar, where we picked up the Dakar stages via Akjoujt and down to Nouakchott, before more stages to Rosso where we crossed into Senegal. As such we did miss out those huge dune fields in northern Mauritainia... but as it was 40°C+ during the day, no one was complaining...

    I remember Si Pavey told me that by the second week, no-one minds if the organisation decide to cancel a stage - it is a welcome relief!

    xxx
  6. canadaler

    canadaler Been here awhile

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    :D Been there...done that...:cry...even in Erg Chebbi.

    Thanks for the info.
  7. Gian

    Gian dreamer

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    Thanks for the photos and the words, Jenny! And let us know when the TBM will be on sale, won't be easy to find it here in Italy but I'll try!
    A couple of questions, as in the summer I played a bit with the idea of participating to HL and, mind, with an Africa Twin 650, and still thinking about it for the next year! Were really 8000 km instead of the "promised" 6000/6500?! It's a big difference:eek1 The HL website also wrote about the chance to choose a different / softier route for the non experts, was this really available in the end? Also you had to run many kilometers in the dark, and only on asphalt or offroard too? (I have problems with night vision... so I'd need supplementary lights!)
    many thanks!
    Gian
  8. drc42

    drc42 Rally Dreamer

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    I think this one might be ADV rider front page material! How do we nominate a pic for the front page?
  9. rosscoact

    rosscoact need constant supervision

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    done
  10. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hi Gian - The USA series should start running in the new year, and the Heroes' story around that time also...

    As for the event this year - the main reason the mileage (sorry, kilometers) was longer than first advertised is that we ended up sailing to Morocco from Almeria in Spain, rather than Sete in France (as per the original route illustration). This meant we had a further 1200 kms liaison in Europe to ride after the prologue stage near Ales.

    As such, the organisation allowed the bike competitors to transport their machines to Almeria if their support crews had the faciliites, although a good number elected to ride down through Spain having said goodbye to their transport after scrutineering at the circuit du Monteils-Ales.

    Had you elected to transport all the way to Almeria, then the actual competitive stages (and liaison) in Africa equated to around 6000kms, as we'd already covered 2000 kms between Paris and Almeria, going via Ales for the prologue.

    Either way, doing on an Africa Twin is certainly feasible - there was a guy this year on one who finished, albeit hurting himself quite badly on a couple of days and electing to miss a couple of stages to ensure he reached the end. And the bike looked a lot more shabby at the end I can tell you!

    Regarding the route - basically you all had to follow the same road book each day, however, initially you were able to nominate which group you wanted to ride in (ie fast, medium or slow) to take some of the pressure off. Likewise, if you'd had a problem the previous day or were simply knackered, you could forfeit the stage/s of that day and ride the bivouac-bivouac route (basically the assistance vehicle route) which was primarily tarmac. Also, if you'd had a mechanical problem (or like Clive on one day, in so much pain he couldn't actually get on his bike!) then if they have the facility, your assistance crew can transport your bike to the next bivouac and you can rejoin the rally the following day/s and just accept the penalty points for missing a particular day.

    Regarding riding at in the dark - this was typically only during the very early morning liaisons, or at the very end of the day - none of the competitive (off-road) stages were run at night, as it's too dangerous. That said, some late comers to camp may well have finished the last few kms in the dark.

    xxx
  11. troy safari carpente

    troy safari carpente Team f5oolery

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    Thanks Jenny;

    As usual, a very thoughtful and thorough explanation. :clap

    To a large degree I share your take on the regularity trial aspect of the HLR... I do believe that the "average speed" formula and target times; with penalty for either early ("too fast") or late ("too slow") arrival on the competitive stages - does introduce a unique aspect to the event... Different to the "outright" racing speeds of a conventional desert type rally (ie: FIM Cross Country Rally).

    I think that the "regularity" style of event also, may well appeal to a broader spectrum of the (amatuer) ADVRider community, as it tends to foster a little more the cameraderie of the "good ol' days" of the original "Rallye Raid" genre... as opposed to the "race mentality" that is present (at least in the front 40% of the field) in todays FIM desert rally events. This as I understand it, was one of the key principles in the idea behind the Heroes Legend Rallye? After all, there are plenty of other events where you can race against the clock, where outright speed (reliability, fitness, skill) are the sole determining factor, if that's what you want to do...

    I can understand from what you say, that a key part to getting the "balance" right for setting the averages for the regularity competition stages, puts quite a deal of responsibility on to the course setter/organiser to "get it right". Requiring a good understanding of the terrain and what riding/driving tempo is feasable for each stage by the person setting the stages/times... Even then it can be "hit and miss" to a degree... as conditions can (and do) change significantly on occassion between a course recce and the actual event itself.

    As you pointed out, riding well under ones "comfort zone" can be almost every bit as fatiguing (especially mentally) as riding over ones threshold... Anyone who has ridden a longer period in offroad/desert terrain will be familiar with the term of being "in the zone"... and to set an average time for a reliability stage, that reflects this "zone" tempo for a cross section of the "average" of the participants in the event, is obviously no easy task.

    All in all it seems you were pleased with the event, the regularity system... and obviously your result.

    Thanks again.

    Troy C.
  12. Gian

    Gian dreamer

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    Thanks fo rthe answers Jenny. I also think that choosing the level day by day coukd be an interesting option for the next years event
  13. Bigger Al

    Bigger Al Still a stupid tire guy Supporter

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    Congrats on the incredible finish, Jenn!!:clap You've got a few guys here in California turning green with envy.
  14. cguch

    cguch Adventurer

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  15. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    Hey Chris! - Excellent footage!

    Can't wait to see the full-length DVD!

    Congratulations to you both again - for those who don't know, Helly and Chris finished 2nd and 3rd overall, and were the no.1 Team entry this year! (obviously I let them win x)

    You guys rock! - now, pass the Contiger!

    Jen xx
  16. PackMule

    PackMule love what you do

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  17. doyle

    doyle RallyRaidReview-ing

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  18. Wildman

    Wildman Long timer

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    Respect to you, Jen. :thumb
  19. Redbull Addict

    Redbull Addict I need another one...

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    Great stuff!

    Quick question on this photo. I don't recognize the bike. Which BMW was it?
  20. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

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    It was a G450X, with a load of rally mods - custom (presumably, looking at the welding x) alloy tanks and fairing kit - by all accounts it looked a great bike, but he had two engines fail with the same problem - I didn't ask him in depth, but basically it couldn't handle running for very long periods (ie. all day, every day) in the high heat we were experiencing in Mauritania, where it was always in the high 30's and often over 40°C during the day... one engine failed a few days before the end, then the replacement did with exactly the same problem...

    I guess like a lot of current 450cc enduro engines, they are highly tuned to offer maximum performance but over relatively short periods (3 hour races), and over a season where maintenance (and rests) is frequent between races?

    If you consider the total distance we covered, and continuously day after day, it is far more than a typical enduro bike would ever see in a lifetime?

    xxx