The story of the rally bike

November 22, 2009 - Leave a Response

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 - Leave a Response

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.


Training in the Pyrenees and Morocco

October 17, 2009 - Leave a Response

Yam pyrenees

So here she is, the first trip out.  Clean, new and sparkling.  Not yet quite ready for the off, but large fuel tank on the front and navigation stuff so i can have a practise ready the road book in Morocco.  I had signed up for Patsys Pyrenees Party, which is basically an orienteering weekend on bikes.  I was in a team with my sponsor Sir Charles and a guy called Rob who had never ridden off road.  As i’m a BMW instructor the organisers had decided that the best person Rob could be with was me.  The event was fantastic, map reading to hidden checkpoints along some great trails,  through some gorgerous abandoned mountain villages, rocky trails and river crossings.   The views were great!!

Views of Pyrenees

After 2 fantastic days riding we flew to Morocco.  Our bikes were transported down by Team Desert Rose.  We were in Morocco for 4 days riding and our guides were Clive (Zippy) Town and Patsy Quick.  For me it was a chance to find out what speed i should be riding and whether i could navigate on a Dakar road book.  (Previously the Dakar has been through Morocco and they had some old road books).  The first day was on the GPS, however it had rained quite alot and after getting our bikes through a couple of deep rivers we were told that a village we were headed to was totally blocked off and we had to turn back.  We had ridden for a couple of hours so back we went, then road for a couple of hours before getting to an off – road section again then back just before dark.  A great first day and a great hotel!!!  That was a real treat for me  as previous experiences in Morocco had been camping or sharing with alot of other rally riders.

Day 2 was on the road book and ended in the Sand dunes of Mersouga.  Me and Zippy rode together and he made me navigate which was ok.  Some of the time i was just praying i was going the right way, the road book was pretty accurate and i just kept in my head ‘Trust you own navigation’.  Zip told me that it’s very easy to follow other people and get lost and that you’ve got to keep your head and go which way you think is right.  I once had that experience on the Turaeg rally where i followed Nick Plumb and Matt Hall instead of trusting my own instinct and we ended up really lost on the edge of a cliff.

We got into the sand dunes just as it was starting to get dark and gave my Yam the first sand dunes of many its going to experience over the next couple of months.  It did Ok and the power was fine but i was having problems with it stalling a couple of times.

The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn so we could watch the sunrise from the top of one of the big dunes.  Patsy took Sir Charles and he made it to the top.  We spent a couple of hours riding around before breakfast and i fell off and the bike wouldnt start.  Bugga!!!  Charles had some fantastic offs flying off the top of the dunes.  I dont think he could see the tops of them and it wasnt on purpose.  My fuse had blown so after a few kicks got it going and get out of the sanddunes.


I also quickly took a group of tourists on camels for a tour.

Camel Tour


We had another Dakar length day and i was getting really into the swing of it but then the desert bit me and i had a big off.  Basically i was riding pretty fast and it just spat me off as i turned.  I was really winded and couldnt breath for a while.  The bikes nav bracketts had bent but it still ran alright, all part of it i suppose.

Last day was again a long one and my bike kept blowing fuses everytime we stopped so ended up having to kick it all the time which was hard work but OK.  The end of the day was abit of a nightmare as we all got split up but we all made it back alive and kicking.  

A fantastic trip, well worth doing both training wise and seeing how the bike ran.  Thanks to Team Desert Rose for all there hard work in organising it and driving all that way!!!!!

Big nige, welsh bogs and the lost keys fiasco!!

September 16, 2009 - Leave a Response

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 - Leave a Response


24hr Dawn to Dusk

September 7, 2009 - Leave a Response

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.

Isle of Man 2 day enduro and trail riding adventure

August 11, 2009 - Leave a Response


So me and my boyfriend Chris ventured back to the Isle of Man for the 2 day enduro.  Last year i managed to hit a car on the second day.  It was a road section and hacking in down with rain, i turned a corner and a guy was coming out of his drive, we had eye contact and he stopped so i carried on and then he pulled out.  It was a narrow lane to i had no where to go so i hit the front of the car, flew about 10ft in the air and landed like a sack of potatoes.  It was horrible, luckily i wasnt injured, apart from a broken nail.  My brand new KTM 300 wasnt so lucky and ended up with a flattened exhaust and other ailments.  So back to face the demons.

Day one of the race was one of the hardest days enduro riding ive had.  The sections were tight forestry sections which were relentless and you couldnt get a flow going, the first special test was like something out of Romaniacs with steep grassy wet downhills, off camber, sharp climbs and a rock garden, the second test was quite nice and started with you riding down a stream, over logs and tyres and a motorcross track.    It was a 3 lap race with a nasty tight section which took you through a rutty heather section with loads of mud holes and another tight forest with deep ruts and big roots.  At the bottom of one hill i sat for a while watching everyone struggle over this huge log nr the top.  NASTY!!!


The heavens opened on the second day and we knew it was gonna be tough.  When we arrived in the morning we were told they had shortened it by a lap.  YES, there is a god!!!  It was still tough but i managed to finish.  16th Clubman.  My boyfriend Chris finished 6th Expert, so good on him.  50% didnt finish.

We stayed for a few days after and did some lovely trailriding with our friend Charles, we had to make a few bridges to get over some boggy sections. 


 Also,  thanks to  Mark from the Isle of Man  for showing us some awesome trails.

Confirmation Letter

August 4, 2009 - Leave a Response

So here is what the letter had to say:


After studying your demand of application and your motivations, we are delighted to confirm your registration on the Dakar Argentina – Chile 2010

We are very pleased to have you among us for this new challenge.

The European vehicles will be shipped from Le Havre, on the 25th and 26th Nov 2009

In Buenos Aires, the recovery of the vehicles will be made on the port of Delta Dock, Lima on the 28th and 29th Dec 2009 only.  It is imperative for you to be present at this date.

The administrative checks and technical scrutineerings will take place for all the competitors in Buenos Aires on the 29th, 30th and 31st of Dec 2009

We will send you the sport and technical regulations middle of September.

The whole Competitors’ Relation Department is at your disposal to help you to get ready in the best conditions for your Rally.

With our very best regards

 Etienne Lavigne, Dakar Director

Im going to frame it and look at it when i cant be bothered to go out for a run or cycle in the rain…

I’m IN!!!!

July 15, 2009 - Leave a Response

So, i emailed the ASO to find out when the entry list would be published on the website and when we would know if we got in and the reply was:

Dear Jones

We will send the confirmation for the next week.  There isn’t problems for you to go to you receive by mail next week your confirmation of participation.  The entry list will be on website about November.

Best Wishes

Now im interpreting that to mean ive got and entry, so im celebrating anyway. 

Cycled 25k on road tonight, im not used to cycling on the road at all as all my experience is cross country or downhill.  Kinda enjoyed it, not really sure it’s my thing though.  Steve Haig who completed the DAKAR twice told me that he used to get up at 4am for a 2hr road ride and do the same in the evening.  I can see his point to get used to the early mornings and it must work as he finished both times.  Fitness wise im going to contact the Motorcycle team in the army and ask the for advice on a training programme.  I’ve looked about and cant find anything specific for the Dakar. Also found a great 09 450 on ebay so hopefully will go and look at it at the weekend.  I could do with sorting the bike out before i go to do the Isle of Man 2day next week as straight after i am going to work at the BM school for 5 days and time is of the essence. X


Training going well

July 14, 2009 - Leave a Response
1st lady at Welsh 2 day enduro
1st lady at Welsh 2 day enduro

During the last month training has been going v well with lots of long enduro races, trail riding and working at the BMW school.  At the end of June i did the Welsh 2 day, first day was sunny and dry, second day dry in the morning and poured it down in the afternoon which made it v interesting for the experts and championship riders on the grassy special test.   I managed to get 1st lady and came away with a lovely cut glass vase which i am waiting to be given some flowers to put in.  Straight after me and boyfriend Chris headed down South to to the SCEC Hare and Hounds race at Shillingford Forest.  I had a good battle with Clare Taylor and just managed to finish in the lead.  Powys enduro was the next Sunday which was wet, boggy and muddy but a great full day Welsh enduro.

Trail rode up near Barbury Castle in Swindon last Weds eve with a mate Pete and then drove up to teach at the BMW off road skills school for 5 days.  feelin it now though and having a day at home sorting out computer and paperwork which sooner or later we all have to do aye!!!
Entry list should be out on the DAKAR website soon, feeling pretty relaxed about it all at the mo but as soon as i see my name down im sure it’ll be a different story.  Im cycling from John O Groats to Lands End at the end of Oct with a friend Kate in fitness preparation.  She’s been out doing 50 mile loops so i better get my arse in gear.