Archive for November, 2009

November 26, 2009

After we,d picked up my wallet which i’d left at the fuel station the night before we headed off on our 60 mile trip to Shrewsbury.  It was a lovely sunny day and we took mostly country roads – V.Nice.  Nothing really to report apart it felt like a really long day and got very cold towards the end where Kate had put in the wrong post code so we ended up a few miles from Cunnys house (a friend who we were staying with).  Kindly he came to pick us up.  He’s an old downhill mountain bike pal and the last time i saw him was at the first World Cup in Fort William at the party which got really out of hand afterwards and lots of heyhem went on.  It was one of my biggest achievements to qualify to race the World Cup and even though i came 22nd it was a great experience.  We’re off to stay at our friend Megan and Mikeys in Monmouth tommorow, they are a fantastic couple and helped me out when i split with my ex boyfriend.  Mikey is the editor of Dirt Mountain Bike mag and im gonna try and get some old photos off him.

Going to have some tea now – Salmon pasta i thing mmmmm


Kiwis Magical Mystery Tour
November 26, 2009


Now this is my favourite story so far – Just because it is so ridiculous and I still can’t quite believe what happened.

I met Kiwi and his wife George at a GBXC round in Monmouth, i think he’d had abit of a nightmare race and was doing really well until he had some sort of mechanical problem, anyways i helped him put his bike back in the van. I’d also worked with Kiwi and Craig Bounds at the BMW off road skills school and they are both bad influences and im easily lead especially where alcohol is involved. Anyways that’s by the by here’s what happened:

We’d decided to take the rally bike to Dunkirk to test in on beach – the track is open all year round and is a fantastic place to ride sand. TBM wanted to do an article and our friend llelwyln was doing a story for MotoX so it seemed a good idea that we all go over to Dunkirk together, spend a day doing a photoshoot and a day setting up the suspension.

Myself and Kiwi had arranged to meet everyone at Folkestone at 6am in the morning so we could all travel over together and get a full day in. The day before i had dropped my boyfriend Chris (Salty) at Gatwick as he was heading out to do the Roof of Africa race I then came back to Hertford to pick up the bike graphics and then headed to Patsys down in Sussex as that’s where the bike was, Kiwi was going to come down there and we were going to head out early the next day.

However, Kiwi had a call from Llewlyn and his friend Simon (Kevin and Perry) saying they were heading to Folkestone and were going to sleep in the car, i had a call from Kiwi saying he was going to head straight to Folkestone so they could all sleep in his van as he had enough room for 3 people and could i get myself to Folkestone, being vanless this wasnt possible so we decided that Kiwi would pick up Llel and Simon and bring them to Patsys. Me and Patsy were still working on the bike at about 1am when they all arrived. Instead of all getting our heads down there for a couple of hours and heading out early, we decided to drive back to Folkestone where we could all sleep in the van untill the early train.

About an hour down the road there was a road block and we had to turn round, the only way round was to come back to Patsys, Kiwis sat nav then sent us on a ridiculous route around the houses so we arrived in Folkestone at 4.30am where we decided to catch the train straight away and meet the others on the other side.

So no sleep we arrived in France and managed to crash into the back of Llel and push him up a kerb which ripped his front bumper off. After about an hours sleep James fron TBM and one of my sponsors Alex arrived and we headed off to what we hoped would be a fantatic days riding on the beach. Got to the track FERME! What? It’s never closed!! We tried to negotiate with the guys there and one nearly relented but then this bolchy woman got involved and it was all over. We managed to find a few nice dunes up the road and James got the pictures he wanted before we were turfed off by security.

We still had the next day to ride and after alot of debate and texting Kiwi had a text off his Dutch mate saying there were 2 tracks, one in Lille and one in Komen. Right we’ll drive to Lille tonight and find the track tommorow. We got to Lille about 9pm, James had got his photos and gone back to the UK, along with Alex who was pretty disappointed the track was closed and in hindsight we should have checked it was open. So 6 became 4 Me and Kiwi and Kevin and Perry (Llel and Si). After driving around Lille for a couple of hours we decided to stop in a Buffallo Grill – Great Food and Wine!!!

We were up early and determined to find the track by 10, Ok we didn’t find it by 10, 12 then, Ok then 2. In the end we found out that the track had been closed down a couple of years ago so we headed to Komen. Eventually we found it, Ferme. What a waste of a day, hundreds of K’s of driving and petrol money. But he we ended up in a Buffalo Grill back at Dunkirk.

We decided that we’d stay another day so Llel would get some photos and we’d get the sus set up right and the next day was fab. Great weather and we got to ride nearly all day, we set the suspension up and the bike was amazingly easy to ride, this was all before the security guard caught us again and told us if we didnt sling our hook this time he’d call the police. So about 3ish we headed over to Calais to get our train. We were told that was actually a track in Calais so yet again we went on a mission to find it. This time Kevin and Perry were leading and we did end up at a track, but it was a BMX track. We spent the last couple of hours before leaving in the Buffalo Grill in Calais, Great Burgers!!!!!

Kiwis back suspension had given up on the van and it was looking pretty low at the back and when we got back to the UK we were pulled over by the cops who escorted us to the weighbridge to tell us the van was overweight. Uh?? It only had 2 bikes in it. Anyways they let us off without a fine but told us that because the back sus had gone we’d have to get it recovered and they then escorted us to the police car park which was full of other overloaded vans on there way to europe.

Several hours later the AA turned up and we were on our way home.

The moral of the story is:

Always check that the track is open
Make sure you know where all the Buffalo Grills are

And here are the photos taken by Llewelyn of my lovely rally bike:

Front on

Side on

Race number 131
November 25, 2009

The bike passed scruitineering today and is now heading to South America. I have been given lucky race no 131.

But to go back to it’s life story so far: Not sure what chapter i’m on but im going to call it:

Chaper 5? Driving me Mental:

Got back to London for a night then headed to Blythborough Motocross track with my boyfriend Chris, to check that the spare bike ran OK and ride some sand on the rally bike. It had rained up there the previous couple of days so instead of sand it was sloppy sandy muck. As we had driven a long way to get there we decided to ride anyway. We know the owner so he had let us have free run of the track so we made some technical sections up and to be honest the rally bike rode just like and enduro bike. really easy to turn, really light, it felt great.

By the time i’d dropped the van back i’d done over 1,000 miles in 6 days.

Alice and Ethel: Day 3
November 25, 2009

For those of you who don’t already know, the reason why me and Kate decided to do the bike ride from John O’Groats to Lands End was to raise money for the altzeimers society. Both of our grandma’s (Alice and Ethel) had the awful disease. As i have already mentioned I had to join the ride late due to getting the bike ready for the Dakar.

Day 3 started on the A666 and a trip to the crematorium where Kate’s nans ashes were spread, it was abit off the route but it needed to be done and it was kinda nice as we reminised about all of our grandparents. My grandad died a couple of years ago and I still really miss him. He used to run cross country for Great Britian and helped to set up the Youth Service so to me he was an inspiration.

As we left the crem the weather really dropped and out came the gimp masks. (Kate had made me buy this horrible neoprine balaclava and id told her id never wear it but it was so bloody cold i relented, at least they’ll be none of that in S. America). We were heading to Maccelsfield and been given directions to take us on a flat 60ish mile ride. Anyway an hour later we were on the hill of hell, freezing with a head wind and it went on for ever, after about 15 mins of going up there was a Welcome to the Lankeshire Hill country sign. “This ain’t bloody flat!”. On we battled, me still with 2 heavy panniers we had decided to drop off that evening. It took forever but luckily at the top of the hour hill of hell someone had dumped a bath, so after a quick laydown we got on our way.

Having a bath

The rest of the day was hard work, I’ve had a problem with my siatic nerve the last couple of weeks and it was playing up, plus my right knee was beginning to give me gyp and my saddle is so bloody hard…….say no more. We ended up riding in the dark. I had arranged to meet my dad at a pub near Kate’s aunties and couldn’t wait to see him. I was quite suprised how much a text from a friend or seeing someone I care about really lifted me as normally I can kinda just get by on my own.

Shrewsbury tommorow at an old Downhill Mountain Bike m8’s house Richard Cunningham (Cunny) Cool name aye, but he doen t know the Fonz.

T xx

Road to hell: John O’Groats to Lands End
November 24, 2009

As part of fitness training for the Dakar me and a friend had decided to cycle from John O’Groats to Lands End.   We’d planned to do it at the beginning of Nov but as the rally bike took so long to prepare it got pushed back and back until it was at the end of the month.  I managed to meet up with one of my best friends, Kate in Carlisle and we had a great cycle through the lake district (in the rain) and ended up in Kendal.  I have been doing a little bit of training in Essex but it’s all flat so i wasnt used to the mountains, however it all seemed to go quite well apart from an annoying squeek that my bike was making that once my ipod batteries ran out was bound to drive me mental!!!  Luckily we missed the horrendous storms in Cumbria and must have just got the tail end of them.

Left Kendal at about 7.30 this morning after Kate falling down the stairs in the B&B (she’s more accident prone than me) It was very amusing and there we alot of people having an early breakfast.  We had 2 hrs of riding in the wind and rain, i had panniers on the bike and most of the time it felt as though someone had hold of them and was trying to drag me backwards so im binning them tommorow.  Also had enough of the music on my ipod already so bought a little radio which was fab.  We cycled about 70 miles today and are now at Kates Aunties in Blackburn stuffed after eating a fantastic shepards pie and trifel.  Maybe i’ll stay here tommorow as well. 

Kate riding up some long long hill somewhere

We are off to Macclesfield tommorow and are planning to be in Lands End on the 1st Dec. 

Oh yeah Kate’s Auntie lives on road A666.  Road to hell!!!

The story of the rally bike
November 22, 2009

Chapter one: Ebay and the Nose Job

So i’d paid the first entry for the Dakar and was helping my boyfriend to sell his daughters KTM on ebay.  Whilst checking on how many bids it had had I had a quick look at Yamaha 450’s and there it was a hardly used 450 for sale for a bargain price.  I put a bid on it and thought i’d see how it went and I got it.  Of course I was abit unsure of whether it was the right thing or not but my mind was put at rest when i went to pick it up from Leeds and the guys house was prestigne with lots of shiny cars in the drive way.  He had only trail ridden it twice and each time he’d been out a friend had fallen off their bike and broken their collar bone.  I think it had scared him off abit and that coupled with his wife wanting an expensive nose job he decided to sell it.  After chatting to him about the Dakar not only did i get a bargain but he also decided to sponsor me.  Nice !!!!!

Chapter Two: Petrol tanks, exhausts the Pyrenees and Morocco

So i had a nice nearly new ali framed Yam and what I wanted was a large front tank and a side tank.  ( I have ridden with this set up on my steel framed bikes in a couple of rallies and on the trip to Timbuktu).  But, no one sells a large plastic front tank for the ali frame (were talking 26 litres) DAMN!!  I really didnt want to go down the low slung exhaust route as to me it makes the bike look and feel massive so after some investigating I got in contact with Alec from Core Racing who told me that the Safari Tanks had blown out a 15litre front tank to a 18.5 litre and had tested in on the Australian Safari with a 10 litre back tank.  Ok i’d have to have a low slung exhaust but it seemed to be the only option.  Kindly Alec offered to lend me the tanks and some Cyclone lights for the Dakar ( i used the cyclone headlight lamps for the 24hr Dawn to Dusk and they are really good and easier to use that the trailtech set up). 

We used the front tank for the Pyrenees and Moroccan trip which you can read about in my earlier blogs.

When we got back to low slung exhaust had arrived from Meccasystems. EWWW I really didnt like it.  I had an email from Alec with some pictures of the Australian rally bike and they had made a middle section of the exhaust and some bracketts for the silencer which meant it wasnt low slung.  My ex boyfriend makes racing car exhausts, he’s still a good friend of mine and agreed to make the same set up for me.  He’s just set up a company called co-built that are making custom made bikes, check out their website it’s cool!!!!! 

Co Built exhaust

Chapter Three: Spare bike, broken down Van and the Sheffield indoor enduro

I’ve bought onto Desert Rose Racing support package for the Dakar, they have loads of KTM spares and it would have made sense to go  on a KTM.  After toying with the idea and testing out a few with Patsy, I decided to stick with what I know and go with the Yam, even though that meant having to buy a spare bike to take as spares.  Geriant and Dylan from the Yamaha Off Road experience helped me out abit with the spare bike.  If you haven’t experienced their off road school up in Wales, you should!  I did it about 6 years ago and it was fantastic. 

It’s along way from mine to their place nr the West coast of Wales, i was heading up to the Indoor Enduro in Sheffield after as my boyfriend Chris (Salty) was competing so i was on abit of a tight schedule.  Picked the bike up fine and was one the next leg of the journey when the clutch went on my van in mid Wales on a single carriageway on a corner in the dark.  Bollox!!!!!!!    Luckily right behind me was the AA and even though i wasnt a member he towed me to a safe parking spot where i spent a couple of hours trying to work out the cheapest way to join a recovery company and get up to Sheffield.  Finally Chris had to add me to his cover and i then had to pay £2 a mile after the first 50.  Not what I need a big recovery bill, plus a broken down van.  I only had 2 weeks left before the bike had to be shipped from Le Harve and I had arranged to go up to Wales testing the bike with Si Pavey and to get some fairings and bracketts made by my friend Phil from Caerphilly Class Customs.  Anyways made it up to Sheffield and it was a fantastic race to watch. My van only had 2 weeks MOT left and I was going to scrap it anyway so I gave it to Chris’ sisters boyfriend to do with what he wanted, bunged the spare yam in Chris’ van to get back to London.  Oh yeah forgot to mention that i also had my KTM in it which wouldnt fit in the van so had to leave it in Derby to pick up the next day.

Whilst at the enduro i was chatting to my friend John who is making rally kits and he said he had a front fairing off a 690 KTM made for the Safari tanks which may fit my Yam.  That would save alot of time if it worked.

Chapter four:  Driving, Test ride and the Caerphilly clan

Hired a van the next day bunged the rally bike in it and headed back up to Derby to pick up the KTM,  Met John on the M1 who gave me the 690 fairing,back to Oxford to pick up the exhaust then onto Wales to Phil in Caerphilly as he was going to make some bracketts for the fairing etc. Phil runs a company in Caerphilly called Class Customs and i turned up with my bike and a 690 KTM fairing.  I asked would it fit and his answer was “I’ll make it fit”.  He did a fantastic job and also made  a couple more brackets to add strength to the exhaust and the bash plate. 

Phil making the fairing bracket

The bike was getting there.  Took it on a test ride with Si Pavey, in the cold and wet – Not at all S. American weather (i hope).  It was obvious the suspension was way too soft but that was Ok because Kiwi (Dr SHox) is a mate and said he’d sort that out for me.

Yam with 690 fairing


To come…..  Kiwi’s magical mystery tour in France,  being held by the police in Dover, Phil’s epic drive and Kate and Tams cycle from Carslile to Lands End.  ( I am just about to leave to cycle to Euston station to catch a train to meet my friend Kate in Carslile who is on the John O’groats to Lands End cycle ride, we are planning to be in Lands End on the 1st Dec.  Bloody Mental)

Fitness training
November 3, 2009

For those of you interested in the fitness side of it, i have had to go with a personal trainer as i tried the gym and it didnt really work as at the mo i am all over the place and can’t commit.  I also find the gym increadibly boring and much prefer doing stuff outside, even in the pouring rain.  So i hooked up with a personal trainer through one of my sponsors Alex from Healthy Progress.   Cameron is into triathlons and has trained all over the world.    So here’s what he’s got me doing at the moment:

Day 1

Cardio – 2hrs, Strength -1hr, Core 15mins, 20 to 30 mins stretch

Day 2

Cardio – 3hrs, Strength 0, Core 20mins, Stretch 20 mins

Day 3

Cardio 2 hours, Strength 1 hour, Core 15mins, Stretch 10 to 15mins

Day 4

Cardio – 4hrs, Strength 30mins, Core -0, Stretch – 20mins

Day 5

Cardio – 1hr, Strength 1 to 1 1/2 hours, Core 30 mins, stretch 10 to 15mins

Day 6

Cardio 4 to 5 hours, strength- 0, Core 15 to 20mins, stretch 20mins

Day 7

Cardio 0, Strength 30mins, Core 20 to 30 mins, stretch – 10 to 15mins

Im trying to keep to this as much as i can and can choose what cardio i wanna do.  He’s also written a strength and core programme for me and made me buy some weights, stoopid glide plates, which i hate, and a balance ball.  I take these round with me and make sure i get up early and get it over with.  If you want a copy of the strength and core programme just send me an email  Anyways i am feeling abit fitter but it is a chore fitting it all in and im sure when im out in the wilds of South America knackered i’ll be glad of it.