COMPANY NEWS

TEAM WEMOTO AT THE AUSTIN VINCE TWINSHOCK TRAILFINDER EVENT

ENDUROTASTIC MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE!


Here is a tale of Derring Do from Team Wemoto in the Pyrenees...

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The short version is: mid-table obscurity and nobody got mangled.

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Proper version:

Dear readers, you have followed my rebuild story on the Yamaha IT175D (1977) on Wemoto News, and it is my duty to report that the bike was great and perfect for the event.
This undoubtedly reflects the qualities of the builder, me.
Actually, on reflection, it wasn't perfect, but more of that later...

After an extensive period of preparation and organising, during which nothing was done (at all), the Wemoto team looked like this-

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Jerry on a Yamaha IT175D

Colin on a 1977 Yamaha XT500 (rare brown model!)

Ben on a BMW oil tanker (R1100GS or something) - this was due to the bike he was going to ride (1973 Honda XL250) not quite being ready. Or working in any way.

“I reckon it was that turn off back there”

We all work at Wemoto and spent literally minutes preparing our bikes and loading chain lube and tow ropes into the lorry that took our bikes to the lovely Pyrenees.

It turned out that the winning team from the Isle of Wight had spent many months rebuilding their XT500 Yamahas and preparing their routes and equipment etc. We may, on reflection, to a degree, perhaps have been guilty of a slightly devil may care attitude...

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Many of the other teams rode their bikes to the base in Sort, near Andorra in the south end of the mountains, some travelled by hot air balloon. Maybe.

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“No, it's a bit further - that one goes up”

I will gloss over the episode of cooked brakes on the lorry, only to point out that a loaded horse box on mountain hairpins needs to be nursed along gently - it's all a learning curve is it not? Lucky they have those gravel run off lanes on the downhills, that's all I'm saying...

Anyway, we got to the Hotel/Campsite/Base 10 minutes before the briefing (this was the evening before the morning start), and we all realised that we should have done more map and route preparation.
It would have been easy to do more, as we hadn't done any...

Day 1

The morning dawned clear and bright, promising a scorcher – I was told this by others, as we were all fast asleep, and after a breakfast of peanuts and crisps, set off at least an hour after the keener teams.

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The map we had was of the Pallars Sobira region, 1:50,000, and had 60 checkpoints marked on the trails. The idea is to visit as many checkpoints as possible, thus collecting a winning amount of points.

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The associate Wemoto team on DT175, DR125, and home brewed RM/XL125 special.

“Yeah but the map shows we're on the edge of a bowl, look”

Or, on the other hand, to choose the most awesome scenery and enjoy a nice long trail ride across amazingly beautiful natural landscapes. Some teams took the whole thing seriously, some didn't, there's room for all sorts here.

An executive decision was reached, after a lengthy meeting ( a minute or so) to head west into the highest mountain top trails (I had a secret agenda to spot specialist mountain birds - I had already seen Crag Martins at the campsite- Kaching!)

Surprisingly, all the bikes started ok, and there was a buzz of excitement as we watched the groups of brave off roaders clatter away on assorted oldy trail bikes, all loaded up with sustaining croissants and bottles of apricot juice.

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“Mmm.”

Sat navs, GPS and all that stuff were banned, it was old school map reading and a compass, and you had to be back at base by 8pm.

First we filled with petrol, and set off on an already madly hot morning. In line with the rest of our preparation, I was in full face road helmet and thick leather jacket, and was already a bit boiling.

All the trails turned out to be rocky, dusty, and covered in loose stones, and as we climbed upwards towards the mountain tops (we got to over 2000m or 6,500ft) the air pressure was thin enough that some of the bikes (not ours though) ran worse and felt a bit gutless.

We also saw a Griffon Vulture, taking off from the track in front of us and gliding away, it was huge! (also Rock Buntings and Wheatears but they're not really worth mentioning as I'm sure you know). At slightly lower altitudes the verges were alive with butterflies and flowers, at one stop the ground was thick with Marbled Whites. Unspoilt, that's what it was.

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In places there were flocks of sheep

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Horses in excellent condition

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...and we also had a mountainside standoff with a bunch of cows

“Shall we carry on for a bit”

We encountered no other riders or indeed any other people at all, for hours on end.
I had been a tad concerned when, as we set off, Austin had looked at my (road/trail) tyres and said

“You do know this is an off road event?”

Luckily for us, it was hot and dry all the time and the tyres worked out fine, although to be honest if I did it again I would bung on some enduro knobblies just in case. The tyres are lovely on the road though, which can't be said of knobblies, particularly in the wet...

Anyway, during the day, there was plenty of talk like this:

“I reckon it was that turn off back there”
“No, it's a bit further - that one goes up”
“Yeah but the map shows we're on the edge of a bowl, look”
“Mmm.”
“Shall we carry on for a bit”
“Let's use the compass and see if that thing over there is that bit”
Etc. Etc.

My IT175 always started third kick, the XT started first kick when warm, the BMW had an electric start, lucky blighter.

We returned to base an hour early, with 5 points done - we quickly discovered after a beer, that some teams had clocked over 20 checkpoints! Oh dear... must try harder tomorrow!

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“Let's use the compass and see if that thing over there is that bit”

We only missed a couple of turnings, and had to abandon one climb as it would have proved impossible for the big BMW, but otherwise we were all uninjured and the bikes were doing a sterling job.

The altitude didn't seem to affect our bikes much, although others reported problems of sluggishness at the peaks, due to low air pressure. We checked at one point and it was about 25% less than “normal” for us.

Altogether the first day was a good shake down, and we planned to do much more on day 2, which resulted in running out of petrol, leaks, soakings in streams, doing jumps and seized brakes! - but more of that in the next episode!

Sounds like a good time was had by all - anyone been on one of these jolly Austin events? Drop us a line if so at news@wemoto.com
Posted by Jerry Rulf
for Wemoto News on 28 July 2014 in Company News

Edited By: Daisy Cordell

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