Living the Dos Sertoes Dream - Racing 4,500 km accross Brazil

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Bluebull2007, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. Flood

    Flood F5lood.

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2005
    Oddometer:
    10,248
    Location:
    Austria
    Helmet cam! :clap
    I was wondering how you would illustrate this when the specials started. That's great footage.

    Now get on with it! :lurk
    #41
  2. Deadly99

    Deadly99 Fast and Far

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2008
    Oddometer:
    12,514
    Location:
    Merrickville, Canada
    Each installement is better than the one before it! The helmet cam photo's and the photo's from those pro's (which are outstanding btw) are outstanding. Keep em coming. :)

    I'm also looking forward to the last line where you write "and now I'm off to race in the........" ;). I mean really, you've completed the secong biggest rallyraid.....only one direction left to go ?

    :lurk
    #42
  3. Hayduke

    Hayduke ///SAFETY THIRD/// Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Oddometer:
    47,797
    Location:
    Salida, coloRADo
    Epic report, Neil. Enjoying every word. :thumb
    #43
  4. FINNDIAN

    FINNDIAN Mine goes to 11

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,888
    Location:
    Wawa, ont, Canada
    :lurk
    #44
  5. Bluebull2007

    Bluebull2007 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5,835
    Location:
    Southern Africa
    Its a must have as far as Im concerned, just like the leatt brace. The spinal protection is the best our there, and the elbow and should pads are the most robust Ive seen. It has a built in kidney belt which means one less piece of gear to worry about.

    Ive had a number of off this year in my training and on the rally and have had no injuries to my torso thanks to this.

    It is hard to get it off, the netting on the arms makes it a struggle, but its additional protectionas far as Im concerned. Some people bitch about the shoulder straps getting in the way of the leatt brace, so they take them off. I don't because it does not bother me as much, although it does cause the leatt to ride about an inch higher which restricts my head movement a little more. But to be honest this has not been a problem - I am used to it and can still look around ok. Anyway youre supposed to be looking where youre going! :lol3 I think there is one advantage: The higher-riding leatt I think make it more difficult to break your collarbone when you land on your head. Thats only a partially tested theory though!!

    I cannot zip the front of the koerta all the way to the neck, because the leatt brace goes under it, but this also is no problem. I have no problems with restriction of movement with the koerta, though its a little bit harder when I have my camelback and DS jacket stretched over everything.

    I endorse this product BIG time. Have a chat to Jason at http://www.MX1West.com, he'll give you a good price.
    #45
  6. Bluebull2007

    Bluebull2007 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5,835
    Location:
    Southern Africa
    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 can’t catch him, we are both riding exactly 30km/hr. I hear my fans come on, it’s 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 the…? 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 “Blabara….blarblara-BANG….blabla.” Oh man what do I do? I have like 40 km to go, and I’m going to be out because of the stupid jets! When I’m down to 60km/hr I realize I’m 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 can’t change the fuel. I can’t 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. I’m losing mega time here. Seeing my diagnostic exercise was a total success – NOT – I mouth a prayer and climb back on the bike.

    It won’t 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. It’s like nothing is wrong. WOW! I pick up some speed and before long I’m 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. I’m 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. It’s 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.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    I try to enjoy the scenery, it’s pretty, but I’m not happy with the bike at all. I just want to get to the finish. I’m passed by the three lead quads and this slows me even more. I hate quads. Bastards.

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    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?




    [​IMG]

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



    [​IMG]

    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; I’m battling with the freaking road book and more dust from another fast bike. It must be the front of the Brazilian championship.




    [​IMG]
    Eventually, I catch my man on a series of horrendous mataburros, it’s my old friend, No. 6. I’m flying over the mataburros, and he is being far more cautious. I’m 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.



    [​IMG]

    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!! I’m devastated and furious with myself for abandoning the road book to get some distance in front of Vincente. It’s 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?


    [​IMG]
    I hit a series of erosions, and because I’m 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.



    [​IMG]
    Just 2km from the finish of the special, Springbok takes a hammering. It’s ok though, only some of the paint bubbling off the tank has been helped off a bit. I’m suffering a sore knee and a very sore little finger, but apart from that everything is okay.





    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Vincente, I’m sure bemused, passes me followed by another rider, I give them both a thumbs up, indicating I’m fine so they don’t 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 won’t start. Eventually I run it down a slope and bump start it, concluding it must be the electrical system doing its thing. At least I’m near the finish. More lost time. Boy, although it’s 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 I’m 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. I’m very pleased to be there, though. The first stage is down. Only nine more to go. It’s nice and early, I can relax. The mechanics will have a look at my bike once they arrive. Everything is good in the world.


    [​IMG]
    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)
    #46
  7. SonHomme

    SonHomme Team F5,⌘R FYCYFF

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    558
    Location:
    Lower mainlands, BC, Canadia
    Thank you very much for the koerta review!
    #47
  8. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    28,186
    Location:
    Parker, CO
    wow.
    #48
  9. imaybail

    imaybail Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    257
    Location:
    Georgia
    Fantastic report so far, keep it coming:clap
    #49
  10. Digger Deep

    Digger Deep Keep 'er Lit

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    206
    Location:
    in an ever deepening hole...........
    real good, looking forward to more
    #50
  11. doogin

    doogin Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    theunitedstatesofamerica
    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.
    #51
  12. homerj

    homerj 742 Evergreen Terrace

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,777
    Location:
    742 Evergreen Terrace
    Awesome RR, on behalf of the readers and wannabes I'll say this: Do. Not. Stop.
    #52
  13. Bluebull2007

    Bluebull2007 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5,835
    Location:
    Southern Africa
    <TABLE border=0 cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=5 width="100%"><TBODY><TR><TD height="100%" vAlign=top width="85%">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 can’t. I am reminded how foolish it is not to keep following the road book. But, again, I’m 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.


    [​IMG]
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]
    The road was good apparently.

    [​IMG]
    The scenery was very much like home.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    As were the refreshments.


    [​IMG]
    A beautiful sight-The Doblo having arrived in the bivouac.



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




    [​IMG]
    Our Sergeant Major barking out instructions.



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



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




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



    [​IMG]
    Marking road books becomes part of our daily routine.



    [​IMG]
    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-off’s. 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. I’m 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, it’s very difficult to sleep, but somehow I shut it out and am gone in 5 minutes.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    </TD></TR><TR><TD class=smalltext vAlign=bottom><TABLE border=0 width="100%"><TBODY><TR><TD class=smalltext colSpan=2 align=left></TD></TR><TR><TD id=modified_1126200 class=smalltext vAlign=bottom align=left></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    #53
  14. Bluebull2007

    Bluebull2007 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5,835
    Location:
    Southern Africa
    Stage 2 Caldas Novas to Unai

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

    TOTAL 446km


    [​IMG]

    The next morning we awake before dawn to Marcelo and Fernando “warming up the bikes”. 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 it’s 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.


    [​IMG]
    Fernando thinks it’s hilarious. He’s also been up all night working on the bikes.



    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]

    I don’t normally eat breakfast, but force down a lot of milk, cereal and water. It doesn’t 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 I’m nervous or sick. I’m angry with myself because I know it’s not. Anyway at least my sinuses get a good clearing. It’s not pretty, but that’s rally. I disappear, with Laurent to the start.



    [​IMG]
    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 Sertões) and Sergio Klaumann (quad) kindly help me out.

    Then we are off. I have a great run. My navigation is a lot better and I’m making less mistakes. It’s quite rocky as we ride up and down hillsides, with lots of sharp turns. After 60km the road becomes fast and windy, it’s 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 it’s about 130km/hr. It’s 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.
    It’s really not a lot of time at all but at least it’s a time to snap out of it a bit. Then it’s back out into the hot sun.

    It’s 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, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself.



    [​IMG]
    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: It’s 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. I’m 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 mataburro’s and dodgy bridges, this course is turning out to be pretty scary.

    I can’t believe how well I’m riding, as I continue to pass other bikes. Yet during the day I’m 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 I’m in the Belfast-Dullstroom area in South Africa. A long rocky descent leads to a river, something I have been dreading for a while.


    [​IMG]
    Here is Dave on that approach. Pic: www.Webventure.com.br




    [​IMG]
    Phil coming off the escarpment. Pic: www.Webventure.com.br



    [​IMG]
    Pic: www.Webventure.com.br


    [​IMG]
    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, I’m going to slow. And I’m 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.







    [​IMG]
    “Submariners: Dive! Dive! Dive!” Pic: www.Webventure.com.br

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



    [​IMG]
    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.

    I’m 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 don’t 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. I’ve probably bust something now. I hold my head in my hands. I can’t 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.

    [​IMG]
    #54
  15. Thinc2

    Thinc2 Paciugo

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,864
    Location:
    Seattle
    Awesome :thumb
    #55
  16. ThumperDRZ

    ThumperDRZ Bouncing off Rocks!

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,401
    Location:
    Stinkin' County, MO
    Great pictures - Great writing - Great suspense...

    :lurk
    #56
  17. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,843
    Location:
    FLint Hills
    great stories!!! Thanks for sharing I am hooked!!!
    #57
  18. dooby

    dooby aka Frgich; www.lobagola.com

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,409
    Location:
    Europe-Croatia-Zagreb-Lobagola B&B
    You can just feel the tension in your words, awesome stuff :clap:clap:clap
    #58
  19. EtienneXplore

    EtienneXplore RTW Wannabe - One Day!!

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2010
    Oddometer:
    57
    Location:
    Zambia, for now....
    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!!!!

    :clap:clap:clap:clap
    #59
  20. the darth peach

    the darth peach eats crackers in bed

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,400
    Location:
    N.California
    Very cool!
    Thanks for taking the time to share all of this.
    #60