Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

What better way to start Christmas day than a spin in the snow? Happy Christmas everyone.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Dakar fever

The Dakar 2014 is nearly here! All the drama of arguably the biggest off-road race in the world is almost upon us, and as usual, I can't wait.

We've got some talented British riders in the entry again this year they'll do us proud. Good luck to Sam Sunderland, Paul Jay, Jamie Smith and any other Brits.

I suppose the question most people are asking is how competitive is Cyril Despres going to be on his new Yamaha? He'll be on form, you can be sure of that, but KTM and Honda HRC have been busy recruiting too and they have some big names in their line-ups.

KTM: Marc Coma, Jordi Viladoms, Chaleco Lopez, Ruben Faria, David Casteu
Yamaha: Cyril Despres, Olivier Pain, Frans Verhoeven
Honda HRC: Joan Barreda Bort, Helder Rodrigues, Paulo Goncalves, Javier Pizzolito, Sam Sunderland

No doubt Coma and Despres will spend most of their time in each other's pockets out at the front, but they'll need to be on their toes. Faria, Lopez, Sunderland and Casteu are all very consistent (not that the others aren't of course) and Barreda Bort is a speed merchant!

My prediction (and hope) is that Sam Sunderland makes the podium, he won the Merzouga Rally in Morocco this year and has been looking right at home on his new Honda.

It's all very exciting, not to mention all the other classes - Quads, Cars and Trucks. Will Mr Dakar - St├ęphane Peterhansel add yet another win to his (bike and car) haul in the car category, will the Patronelli brothers continue their dominance of the Quad category, and will de Rooy be able to return to the top step in the Truck category?

Who knows, but bring on the 5th of January!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Wales Air Ambulance photo shoot - part 1

On Wednesday morning I went to the Welshpool airbase to meet Anna Evans from Wales Air Ambulance, Derrick Pugh from PVP Systems Television and the crew of the Helimed 59 Mid Wales helicopter.

We were planning to take some photos and Derrick was filming and conducting interviews. During our visit, the helicopter was called out, so we will be re-arranging as soon as possible.

It's a reminder of just how frequently the service is used and how vital it is, which makes me want to do even more to ensure they can continue.

Many thanks to everyone involved, we look forward to re-arranging our visit.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Before and after

What did it look like before?! Well it was pretty much a standard EXC, but to highlight the changes, here's a direct comparison:

    Before                                               After

I had a feeling it wouldn't go together without a few issues, but I was still pretty confident that I'd be done in a few hours. Here's what caught me out though:
  • The hollow nut/bolt combination that secures the rear plastics and the seat to the subframe was ruined (thread disappeared). I ended up having to grind off the rear mudguard around the bolt so that I could get a socket on it!
  • The new plastics kit I had didn't come with any fittings, so I swapped the graphics over on the airbox/sidepanel section (luckily the old one is white anyway).
  • I had to drop the forks out to fit the fork guards.
Other than that it went pretty well and I was all done in about 6 hours (including a trip to good old ET James for a new nut/bolt)!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The big reveal - customisation is finished!

After a few months of sorting everything out, my little project is complete and I can reveal it! So, here is my KTM, which I've turned into a fundraising bike for Wales Air Ambulance. I think you'll agree it looks fantastic:

It's been a fairly expensive process (around £400), but I think it's well justified and I hope to raise a lot of awareness for Wales Air Ambulance as well as encourage donations.

I'd like to thank all the staff at Wales Air Ambulance who helped me along the way and I'd also like to say a big thank you to Fusion MX for the brilliant job they did designing, printing and fitting my custom graphics.

For a full range of photos, please see the Fundraising page.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Setting up the new bike

Since I took ownership of my EXC, here's what I've changed to my liking:
  • Set suspension sag
  • Adjusted handlebar position
  • Fitted Domino throttle grips
  • Fitted RFX donuts
  • Fitted Barkbusters VPS handguards
  • Adjusted rear brake lever height
  • Fitted a new fuel cap breather hose
  • Fitted new Acerbis plastics kit
  • Fitted a new front headlight shroud
  • Fitted new radiator guards
  • Full customised graphics from Fusion MX*
  • Fitted a KTM bash plate
  • Fitted a Pro Carbon exhaust guard
* All will be revealed soon...

No doubt there will be more fettling until I'm comfortable with it, but it's a good start. What I need now is time on the bike!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Winter fitness training

It's dark and cold after work at this time of year, so I have to force myself go and do some fitness training! Running is out of the question because it's just too high impact, so I'm out on the mountain bike a lot. During the week it's all road riding (albeit up the steepest hills I can find), but I managed 100 miles last week and I'm aiming to ride at least 50 miles a week until the Spring.

On the weekends when I can fit a decent ride in during the day, I ride about 20 miles and do as much of it off-road as possible.

There's no substitute for bike time, but getting out on the mountain bike is about as close as it gets.

I'll go and ride at some trail centres soon, as long as it's not icy...

Sunday, 24 November 2013

New Io Racing logo!

Thank you very much Emlyn Whittick for designing the logo for me, it looks great and I can't wait to see it on the bike!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

A new year and a new challenge in 2014

This year has gone well for me, up until the start of the year I'd only done a handful of events, with those being a mixture of local rallies and enduros.

So I wanted to jump in at the deep end and go for a full season of racing. It's been fantastic fun and I've improved a lot, but it's not great for the bank balance!

I rode a Gas Gas EC 200 in the enduros and a Yamaha WR 400 in the rallies and I rode 6 of each type of event this year.

I decided after the season finished that I needed to cut costs a little, so my solution is to go down to one bike which will let me ride both events. It's a bit of a compromise on both accounts, but the best bike for the job had to be a KTM EXC 300.

So that's what I'll be competing on next year!