Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Winter bike maintenance

Well the bike's back from ET James once again (thanks very much guys, great job as usual)! This time with some brand new standard radiators and braces. Hopefully that means I don't have to worry too much about that any more.

Nevertheless I've got a few more things to do before the bike's ready to race again, and I'll be looking to get a few of these done over the Christmas holidays:
  • Lower PDS shock bearing
  • Gearbox oil change
  • New spark plug
  • New air filter
  • New chain link
  • Re-grease the steering head bearings
  • New rear wheel bearings
  • Adjust & re-fit the sump guard so that it doesn't foul the exhaust
  • New tyres and a front mousse
  • Start fitting the roadbook navigation gear
Oh...and it needs its first ever MOT as well! Best get the spanners out.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Winter project: Rally navigation setup

I have finally got my hands on some navigation gear! I'll spend the winter fitting and fettling the roadbook setup which includes a Touratech electric roadbook holder. Then I'll practice as much as possible using the Rally Navigator online roadbook designer (which is absolutely brilliant by the way). I can't wait to get started!

This also means that I can confirm my entry into the 2015 RallyMoto Cup in the Rally Lites category, where I will aim to compete in all 3 rounds.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

New for 2015: The RallyMoto Cup

RallyMoto club have been hard at work yet again and have come up with a new series to run in parallel with the All Terrain Rally Challenge in 2015.

The new series "The RallyMoto Cup" will be in 3-parts and will be navigation only events. That means roadbook navigation! I'm very excited at this prospect, the regulations last year meant I coulnd't enter, but they have really opened up the entry requirements to make it accessible to all, including classes for beginners and bar mounted nav gear.

The classes for the RallyMoto Cup will be as follows:
  • Rally over 450cc – frame mounted fairing, 13+ litres fuel
  • Rally up to 450cc – frame mounted fairing, 13+ litres fuel
  • Rally Lite – any cc, no fuel restrictions, bar mounted nav gear & non frame mounted fairings
  • Adventure & Beginner Raid – easier course and non-competitive to allow riders to try roadbook navigation
The events are yet to be confirmed but are likely to be as follows:
  • 7th March 2015 – Pikes Peak Navigation Rally – one day, 140km roadbook rally with some challenging aspects – there will be a penalty for any bike that needs refueling on course so the bikes with 13 litre tanks will have an advantage in the overall results.
  • 29th, 30th, 31st August 2015 – RallyMotoGB – 3 days, starting with a prologue and a specific rally and adventure roadbook course. Will also be a round of the ATRC.
  • November 2015 – Moonraker Rally – one day that will start late and run into the night.
How exciting is that?!!! I for one can't wait, especially for the Moonraker and navigating at night, it'll be an amazing experience.

So far I am planning to enter the Rally Lite class on my KTM EXC 300, so I'll be looking into fettling all the nav gear over the winter, then I can't wait to get out there and test my skills on some roadbook navigation!

All the available information on the RallyMoto Cup has been and will continue to be published on the RallyMoto/ATRC website.

Register your interest using the form to let the club know that you're keen to take part - the more riders, the better the experience will be and the faster the scene will grow.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Race report: Colstey Hare & Hounds

It was a beautiful day to go racing yesterday, with absolutely stunning weather greeting all the riders at Colstey wood.

I arrived at around 10:30am and began by walking up the paddock to sign on. It was a fair old walk from the back! I'd turned up by myself this time, so I had to make several trips up and down - 5 in total! I wouldn't normally mention this but carrying the fuel up was a real slog, I need to get myself some wheels for that.

Anyway, after I'd signed on and got the bike scrutineered, I returned to the car to get kitted up. There was a chap opposite me doing some last minute maintenance, so I went to help out and lent some tools and an extra pair of hands.

The start time of 12:00pm soon came around and we were all sat on our bikes with hands on heads, ready for the organised chaos that is the mass start! I rode in the clubman class, so we were second away behind the experts.

I set off at a steady pace, trying not to get roped into the fast pace that the other riders set off at - I wanted to get a feel for the track on the first lap. About half way around the lap was a very steep downhill section through the trees, when I got there I could see spectators everywhere - that's when you know there's something tricky coming up! Finding the balance between letting the bike run and locking up the rear brake, I made it down there each time without any problems.

I told myself before the start that I'd put in 3 laps before I came into the pits, so that I could properly warm up and get into a rhythm. Those 3 laps went well and I felt OK when I came in, pretty tired, but I knew I was getting into my rhythm so I was fairly happy. The course was great, with a lot of technical riding through the trees and lots of tree roots etc. I fell foul of said tree roots once or twice, but they became more predictable once you knew where they were!

I was riding fairly well, and was on course to complete 9 or 10 laps, when on lap 5 I got tired and made a really simple mistake which ultimately ended up costing me a finish. I was in a deep rut and I caught an edge with the front wheel. I jumped off to the left and let the bike fall. Unfortunately, the rut was the perfect height so that the bike landed square on the left hand radiator. At the time I didn't notice anything and carried on, but a few hundred yards later I noticed the bike was steaming (it does sometimes but I know when to expect it), so I stopped to check it out. Then I noticed that the radiator shroud was bent in about 2 inches and I knew my race was over. I got off the bike and had a look around the radiator - it was leaking onto the exhaust.

So that was that! I waited for some marshals to come along and they escorted me back to the pits. It was a disappointing end to the race for me, but that's racing and sometimes these things happen.

These Hare & Hounds events aren't normally something I'd do, I was always planning to do them to keep my fitness up over winter, but it's incredible just how intense they are. Hopefully it will pay off next season!

That's the last race of 2014 for me, now it's time for some training, bike maintenance and modifications. The first of which is going to be replacing those oversized radiators with standard ones and fitting some braces!!!

Many thanks to Garry Barnes & co who were out there taking photos and videos.