Monday, 23 February 2015

Finished bike livery

The bike is finally finished! Many thanks to Liam and Rob at The Grafix Shack for getting the graphics sorted so quickly and doing such a nice job off them - the bike looks great!

Thanks again to ET James and Moto Rally Services for their support this year.

The countdown to Pikes Peak is getting smaller!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The 2014 ATRC awards do

I'd been looking forward to the ATRC awards ever since I ordered my tickets a few months ago, especially since I'd had a great year and managed to get myself and the 300 to the second step on the podium in the ATRC series Rally Lite 2T >249cc class.

There was a great line-up of guest speakers including Chris "Corky" Cork, who had been competing in the Dakar Rally in January, Patsy Quick, the first British woman ever to compete in and then complete the Dakar Rally who now runs Desert Rose Racing and Michael Guy, the Sports Editor at Motorcycle News (MCN).

The evening started with some videos on display, a few drinks and an introductory speech from Burt and Moly, the founders of RallyMoto club and the All Terrain Rally Challenge. Then we moved onto some dinner, awards presentation and the speeches, which included Michael Guy interviewing Corky about his Dakar experience - a really nice touch. Patsy gave us an insight into the Africa Eco Race which was great, and the RallyMoto guys told us all about Portugal Off Road too.

I got to chat to lots of familiar faces, and to the guest speakers, which was amazing! It's not often that you get to speak to people you admire and riders that have "been there and done that". They were all fantastic and I loved every minute of the awards do, roll on the 2015 event!

Thanks very much to everyone who was involved in putting it on and making it what it was, especially Burt & Moly who have put a huge amount of effort into everything this year and continue to do so for the good of our sport.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

First ever roadbook practice

My weekend of bike related antics started on Friday night, I took a beer with me and set about preparing the bike for my first ever "proper" roadbook practice session. I marked up my roadbook with all sorts of highlighting - I tried to work out a basic system beforehand, but I realised after going out riding that it needs simplifying. More on that later...

I got up at 7am on Saturday morning and looked out of the window to see a nice blanket of snow on the ground! I have to say I wasn't best pleased, every time I've been out training this year it's snowed or been icy, and in fact, it was at the Snowrun enduro too. Don't get me wrong, it's masses of fun riding on snow, but it's not what I wanted from the day's riding. Anyway, off I went at 8:30am with a huge smile on my face! I hit the first trail (which is proper enduro going) and although it felt a bit odd not seeing the front wheel, I actually found I was hitting things with confidence, a nice feeling.

I loved the roadbook setup, it worked really well and it was exactly how I wanted it. I had some issues reading it on the tight, technical trails but I need to learn to memorise the next few instructions - that'll come with experience.

The roadbook loop I'd prepared for myself (not ideal as a concept but that's all I could do) was a total of 80km. Everything was going swimmingly until at 45km the bike died on a road section. I thought I'd run out of fuel somehow, but I hadn't. I switched onto reserve just in case and tried a couple of things. Eventually she fired up and I got going again for another 7km, then it died again!

Not a bad place to break down! Sort of...

It was a pretty nice place to break down to be fair - right on top of the mountain road, with great views of the snow all around. I got off the bike and set about trying to get it started again. Then two great chaps who were out trail riding came over to check I was ok. I didn't get their names but they were really friendly and stayed with me to try to help me get going again. Thanks very much, it's always great to experience camaraderie between riders, whether it's during a race or out on the trails.

I switched spark plugs, checked all the electrical connections, checked for a spark, and checked fuel was getting through. By that point I was pretty sure it was some dirt in the fuel that had blocked one of the jets in the carburettor. I gave the carb a few firm taps to try to free any dirt and then gave it a good solid kick and it started up again! I thanked the guys and set off to complete the remaining roadbook loop, having wasted about 20 minutes. I got back fine after that and had some fun on a couple of tricky trails along the way.

As far as the roadbook/navigation setup is concerned, I just need to tighten the bar mount for the roadbook holder so that it doesn't swivel quite so easily (at the moment it's loose enough to move if my head hits it), but it did move when I wheelied over a huge puddle and brought the front down hard. So a little bit tighter to stop that happening will be just the job. Other than that, it was spot on! I will flush the carburettor before the next race, just to minimise the chances of fueling problems happening again. I'm very careful with filtering my fuel, but occasionally some dirt gets in.

I'm feeling better about Pikes Peak now, although I'm still apprehensive about roadbook riding at speed off-road. I just haven't had that experience yet, but I'm hoping I'll be able to cope well when the time comes!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

2015 bike graphics preview

My bike will soon undergo the final transformation to become the ET James/Moto Rally Services EXC. The custom graphics are being designed and printed by The Grafix Shack, who have done a really nice job - thank you Liam and Rob.

I can't wait to fit them to the bike, in the meantime, here's a sneak preview of the design.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

RallyMoto introducing GPS tracking at Pikes Peak navigation rally

This will be a UK first! An outstanding development for both riders and organisers, this will allow the riders to be tracked in real time, which will not only improve safety, but will also enable organisers (RallyMoto in this case) to enforce speed controlled zones on the route. The system will be piloted at the Pikes Peak roadbook navigation rally in March, the opening round of the 2015 RallyMoto Cup.

All I need to do now is install an additional auxiliary power supply directly from the battery up to the bars so that the tracker can be installed.

This is a huge leap forward for motorcycle rallying in the UK and indeed other race formats, so we're all really excited as competitors and hoping it goes well!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Finished navigation gear setup

I've finally got round to finishing installing my navigation gear! I spent 9 hours on it in total, which sounds like a lot, but I've been meticulous in planning everything and making sure the whole system is as reliable as possible.

I've wired everything up myself and made a loom for the power supply. I've also used copious amounts of insulation tape, cable ties, heat shrink wrap, solder and waterproof connectors - hopefully they will withstand what's thrown at them in the heat of the race.

I now have an auxiliary power loom running from the battery along the frame and under the tank up to the bars. There's an inline blade fuse which is in a waterproof housing but easy to change, with an indicator LED to let me know if it's blown. There's an isolator switch to turn all the systems off, a GZ multiswitch to control the F2R RB750 electronic roadbook reader and an ICO to provide my trip readings.

Everything is mounted to the Moto Rally Services roadbook plate and bar mount kit, and the bike can be completely swapped from enduro to rally spec in less than an hour.

I still need to calibrate my ICO and do some very small improvements to help protect important components, but the bike is effectively ready to race now, I'm so excited for Pikes Peak!

For more information on the kit I'm using, visit the Moto Rally Services website and check out the navigation bundle.

Monday, 9 February 2015

ioTube video: Snowrun enduro special test

On board my EXC 300 for the special test on the first timed lap:

Results: Snowrun enduro

The results are out for the 2015 WTRA Snowrun enduro 40th edition. They're available on the WTRA website.

I'm pleased with my result, I finished 22/48 in the Clubman class, which puts me in the top half. I stayed clean on time and brought the bike and myself home in one piece. Before the race, that was exactly the result I wanted, so I'm happy with that for my first ever Clubman enduro - especially since it's a tough one and I haven't had much bike time recently.

Roll on the next event in the ET James Welsh solo enduro championship!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Race report: 40th WTRA Snowrun enduro

The time arrived this weekend for the 40th WTRA Snowrun enduro. The weather was fantastic (but cold), so when I got up at 5:30am to go to the race on Sunday morning, it was -4C. Needless to say I wasn't thrilled about that, but hey, it's called the Snowrun for a reason!

It was incredibly icy, there's no two ways about it. I set off at 10:16, straight onto a long stretch of compacted ice..."what am I in for here" I wondered! The first lap is always an unknown, and having never done this event and heard so much about it, I was apprehensive. My main goal was to finish and stay clean on time in what was my first ever clubman enduro.

I started off well, until we dropped off a road section onto some fire road and down to a hairpin, where the Ralïo+ S4C crew were filming for their TV program. You know what's coming...yeah it was my turn to be "that guy" who came off directly in front of the camera! It was so slippery there, and it was still in the shade, but no obvious signs of ice. I got half way around the corner, then the back end broke loose, I tried to catch it but then it turned into a high-sde and I got thrown clear of the bike. Not the best way to start the day! I had a few interviews with Emyr & Lowri throughout the day, so maybe my face will make the edit, more on that soon.

Anyway, I got back on and continued, being a bit more cautious on the fire road sections. I wasn't the only one to fall foul of the ice on the day, that's for sure. I saw a number of tell-tale plastic bodywork littering the track throughout the race.

After I completed the first lap, I felt a lot better about things. I was settled into a rhythm and felt good fitness-wise. It was really hard to see at times, with the bright sunshine either reflecting off the ice into my face, or just directly into my eyes! Very tricky on the special test, that's for sure.

My special tests all went fairly well, with the exception of the last one, where I got held up a little, then someone caught me (and hit me - not thanking you for that one, whoever you were!), but it didn't make much difference to my time.

I was still feeling good at the end of the 3rd lap with one left to go, but on that last lap I started to feel tired. Still, I managed to arrive at the checks with roughly the same amount of time to spare on each lap, so I was happy with the way I rode, having at least 5 minutes to spare at every check.

It was great to see a few familiar faces there - some I was expecting, some a pleasant surprise to bump into! All in all, a successful day's racing and I'll be back next year. Thanks to all involved who made it a very enjoyable race.

Photos of the event are available from Gary Jones, Bob Mullins at Enduro News and WTRA's Muddy Rider. There are also some videos on Muddy Rider's YouTube channel.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

ANNOUNCEMENT: Io Racing 2015 support!

I'm very happy indeed to share with everyone that I'm lucky enough to receive support from both ET James & Sons Motorcycles and Moto Rally Services for the 2015 All Terrain Rally Challenge and RallyMoto Cup.

I can't wait to start the season at the Pikes Peak Roadbook Rally in March in what will be my first ever navigational event.

As usual, I will be uploading coverage of my races to my YouTube channel "IoTube" throughout 2015, as well as posting regular updates on the Io Racing blog and Twitter.

For more information about the All Terrain Rally Challenge, RallyMoto Cup and general rally chit-chat, visit the RallyMoto Forum at

I look forward to seeing you all at the events, come and say hi!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Glowing review for the RallyMoto AJP PR5 RR from MCN

MCN's sports editor Michael Guy recently took to the trails at the Sweet Lamb Rally complex in Mid Wales to put the RallyMoto AJP PR5 RR through its paces.

Read the full review on the Motorcycle News website.

Photo courtesy of MCN.