Archive for September, 2009

Big nige, welsh bogs and the lost keys fiasco!!
September 16, 2009

I dont have a picture for this one as i forgot to take my camera!

I should’ve known it was going to be a testing week as as i left home to drive to Wales to work for BM i reversed into a neighbours car.  After dropping the dog off, who’d just had an emerency operation as he swallowed a large flint stone, i headed to Wales to get to work an hour late.  What a start!!

I love working for Si Pavey at the BM school and we had a lovely 2 days of glorous weather.  My group was doing really well and in the last hour of the last day i decided to take them on a technical route down a single track in the woods.  Now, im riding a BMW adventurer with semi – off road tyres and it is a tough route to do.  Half way down is a deep puddle which we aviod, however one of my group tried to ride though it, fell off and broke the clutch resouvoir, the guy behind him dived head first into it and the one behind fell in the hedge.  It was carnage for a while as i sorted one out after another.  I rode the broken bike out of the trail and ran back to get the other on their way.  We were running late for the meeting point so in my haste i fell off the adventure and the hand guard pinned my finger to the ground.  embarrasingly i had to calmy ask one of the clients to rescue me.

I had the next day off and had arranged to go trail riding with a pal Big Nige from Caerphilly.  A couple of years ago i moved to the Welsh Valleys to set up a motor project for young people, it didnt quite work out in the end but whilst i lived there i would go trailriding every weekend with Nige and the Caerphilly clan.  We once did a 32 hour trailride from Caerphilly to Barmouth and back, doing the Strata Florida trail at 2 in the morning in a crazy storm.  I hadnt been trailriding with them for years and i was really looking forward to it.

I turned up to Nige’s late, bike was falling apart so we spent an hr fixing it and then we were on our way.  I was over the bars in the first hour but after that we had a fantastic day riding on top of the mountains in weather which was like a heat wave.  I absolutely love it up there.  We did find a few deep Welsh bogs and it was one of the rare occasions Nige got stuck and it was me helping him out.  We took it easy and got to mid Wales before turning round to come home.  I’d told Nige i had to be back before dark as i had no lights.  I should have known better – when i went trailriding with them before we never got back before dark and at 8pm we were still on the mountain me with no lights trying to get up this ridiculous climb. After getting to the top we decided to stick my head torch to the bike and ride back on the road.  We did do one more trail and off Nige went, i was trying to follow a small red tail light but the trail was really rocky and i really struggled but made it to the top.

As we turned into Nigels village some blue lights started wuring behind us – bollox!!!  No lights, they really did give me a bollocking but luckly just a warning.  It was good to get back and i needed to get back to Glyn Neath to work the next day.  Went to pick up my keys from Nige’s garage but no bloody keys!!! Must have been in my jacket and must have fallen out of my pocket on the mountain.  Ahhh!!! 

Kindly Nige gave me a lift back to Glyn Neath as i had to work the next two days.  Again had a great 2 days but managed to drop the adventurer as i was giving a demonstration on the hill recovery, it was not going well for me.  I was also trying to sort out getting my key problem sorted – i found out that it wasnt an easy job and id need to get a key with a chip in so it was gonna costs loads of money.

Luckily my boyfriend found my spare key at home and Si lent me the Advenurer to go and pick it up – A 4 hour journey each way. So after working at BM jumped on the Adventurer back to London, back to Wales then back to London – a 12 hour journey.  Im looking at it as a karate kid kinda exercise where its all good training for the Dakar.  Thanks to Si and Nigel for helping me out to get home. X


Pic of D2d
September 7, 2009



24hr Dawn to Dusk
September 7, 2009

What a race!!!  I love riding in the dark so when Nick Plumb said he was putting on a 24hr race I was in.  24hrs of riding would also be a good test of how fit I was for Dakar.  I went up to Wales a couple of days early as I had to get the lights sorted and tyres changed etc.  The day before the race I realised I had a coolant leak so popped down to Paul Green Tyres to see if he had some rad hose so I could sort it out.  Managed to get it fixed then realised I had another prob – no back brake, then it was one thing after another and bless Paul he was really patient and a quick pop in to sort out one problem turned into whole day sorting one thing out after another.  The morning of the race arrived and got the bike out the van, went to adjust the back brake lever and the bloody thing snapped – For Gods sake!!!! So off I trotted to Paul Greens again for a new lever – what else could go wrong???

Managed to get abit of a kip in the afternoon before the race start at 7pm.  There had been alot of talk before the race about tactics and I decided that my tactics would be: ride for 2 hours then have a 10 minute break and keep going like that for 24hrs.  I’d just watched James Cracknell and crew do a endurance race, pulling sledges over ice for day after day and that was there tactic and although they nearly died, they made it to the end.

So 7 o’clock came and we had a Le Mon start, I decided that whatever happened I had to make myself go slow at the start and not get caught up in racing.  I’ve learnt the hard way about going to fast at the start of a long race.  I did the Turaeg rally in Morocco a couple of years ago and on the first day of the race on the first special test I was behind a whole load of quad bikes in loads of dust and thought i’d just move out and gun it past them.  Whilst I was going flat out to get past I noticed in front of me some wooden posts, then in between them some barbed wire.  I was going too fast to try and stop, the barbed wire looked rotten so I thought the best thing to do was try and snap it by riding into is as fast as i could.  When I rode through it I could feel the fence posts pinging up behind me, when I eventually did stop I was shaking like a leaf and had dragged miles of barbed wire fence behind me.  Lesson learnt – take it easy at the start!!!

So off we went.  An hour of light and then into darkness.  I had a couple of light options, a trailtech set up on the bike and a trailtech and a cyclone helmet light.   The first hour of darkness I could hardly see a thing but when I came into the pits I was told that my lights were some of the brightest out there.  After that my eyes seemed to become acustomed and it was all fine.  The course was pretty flowing with some tricky short climbs, single track and decents thrown in.  Perfect really for night riding.  It was pretty lonely riding round most of the time and I wondered whether everyone else had just gone back and had a sleep.  I had a couple of sets of batteries for each helmet light and with recharging them I just about managed to make it til the sun came up.  I kept myself going by looking forward to little things like seeing my boyfriend and his daughter, seeing my mate Andrew Neri, seeing the clock everylap just ticking away, seeing Sir Charles who had his unimog parked up half way round the track, then when everyone had disappeared and gone to bed it was looking forward to my battery running out on the helmet light so I could use the other one, looking forward to getting back to the pits to have some chocolate, then looking forward to the sun coming up. 

As the sun came up we had about a hour of riding the shorter track before the 12 hour race started and we’d have to do the longer day track.  I decided to put some extra effort in a get as many shorter laps done as I could.  Got to 6.30am and that was it I needed a break.  Got back to the pits took all the lighting gear off and nearly went to sleep.  Zippy who was in the pits gave me some proper food and made me get out for a lap before all the 12 hours riders started.  It was horrible – for one thing knackered we had to ride a longer more technical track and another thing it wasnt long before the 12 hour riders caught me up and they all seemed to give me a roost as they went past – I hated them all!!!!! 

I tried to do 2 laps, which were taking about and hour each then have a break.  I managed this for the first couple of hours but then I was coming in each lap.  Unbelievably my boyfriend told me I was leading the clubman class, 2 laps ahead of 2nd place.  That was just at the point I was going to have a longer break.  My front wheelbearings had gone and i needed a back sprokett so whilst I had a short break, the Team Desert Rose pit crew sorted the bike out and sent me on my way.  It was amazing having them as a pit crew, just ride in the pits, get off the bike, sit down, they sort it out for you and off you go.  Cool !!!!

The guy in 2nd place, Rob, was also riding with Team Desert Rose and i was told he’d left the pits 10 mins before me on a mission to catch up the 2 laps.  6 hours to go, anything could go wrong, it was still possible.  I got it into my head it was going to be alot easier for me to catch him up than him get 2 laps on me, so I put in loads of effort and saw him at the end of the lap.  By this point I was so tired I was starting to feel dizzy and faint, so I stopped for a bit and Rob carried on.  3 hours to go, still in the lead but where was Rob, had he gone to do another lap?  I got my arse in gear and off I went again.  3/4 of the way around the track I saw Rob having a rest in the trees.  I stopped for a chat and basically we decided that we were both knackered and that maybe we should call it a day and wait in the holding area.  Got back to the finish with 2 hours to go and instead of finishing we decided we’d have a hour break then ride the last lap together.

Riding that last lap was horrible, physically I was OK but I kept nearly blacking out.  We rode abit with Andrew Neri who is also doing the Dakar in 2010 and had entered the 6 hour race.

Got to the end and waited in the holding area for 10 mins.  Thank God we’d finished!!!!!  And id won the clubman marathon class – Quality!!!!!!  It definately bodes well for the Dakar.

Thanks to  the Team Desert Rose for looking after me during the race, Paul Green for sticking my bike back together, Alec from Core Racing for the helmet lights, Kiwi (Dr Shox) for sorting out my suspension, Chris for lending me his comfy seat and eveyone who cheered me on.   The event was well organised and the marshalls obvioulsy worked their butts off to get it all ready.