WEMOTO PYRENEES ADVENTURE
THRILLING AND SUCCESSFUL PART TWO!
Well folks, you'll remember that on the first of the two day Twinshock Trailfinder event the Wemoto team did not cover itself in glory, and laurels were nowhere to be seen. In fact we were closer to a wooden spoon.
We had only got to five checkpoints, others had reached 25!
So something had to be done, and by George we done it!
It began with borrowing others brains and experience to work out a good route between points, it didn't take long. I bought some lunch and drinks to have on the go as it were, and we actually set off on time, and got back to base with five minutes spare, giving us a nice long day to do the riding.
This time we were prepared, and rode out in boiling sunshine up to a tiny mountain village, where we asked a bar owner which was the trail to the top of the mountain - luckily my flawless Spanish enabled me to translate for my colleagues:
“Hombre” he said,”Take care - last year an English biker was killed here - he was tired and rode on the left - everyone should drive on the same side!”
We agreed, and without actually saying everyone should agree to drive on the left, we left.
The terrain was different this day, lower altitude with more woods and streams and less rocky, which enabled us to get a good lick on.
Checkpoint after checkpoint was found, and we efficiently bombed along through these trails, encountering a few tourists at a remote church, and a couple of mountain cyclists who we slowed right down for.
I learnt to stop in the shade of a pine tree, as when I took my helmet off I could feel the sun burning my bald head! I chopped off the wrist of my gloves, and wished I had a cooler jacket, oh well.
On the faster stretches I discovered that my IT had terrific power, once I wound it up into the powerband - everything smoothed out and it felt proper. Pity it's so narrow, and the noise from the (leaky) cylinder/pipe joint was getting on my wick something chronic.
At one point we got a bit lost - perhaps I should say we had an unplanned ongoing location certainty issue.
But, magically, when we worked out where we had gone wrong, we discovered we were 100 yards from an additional checkpoint not on our route, so we bagged that as well, and it proved the single point that beat the other Wemoto team! Haha! What a fluke!
At one point we caught up with a pair of South Africans, on XT500s, and seemed to be doing the same route, but soon lost them, nice fellers and we ended up on almost the same points.
By the end of the day we had travelled roughly 180 miles off road, and about 30 on. That's a lot of standing on pegs absorbing shocks, and my front thigh muscles were well knackered and sore. All those hours of training I had failed to do really kicked in.
Dips and dirt
The afternoon brought some lovely packed dirt trails, with dips for water run off about every 500 yards, and we sped up till the XT500 and the IT175 were doing little jumps - the BMW 1100 was like an elephant, unable to leave the ground. It's the only animal that can't jump, apparently.
One of the checkpoints was an abandoned house in the middle of a forest - amazing, like almost every view we had seen so far.
Want a river crossing? Oh yeah! In the absence of any advice, I just gassed it through, holding the bars tight as they slithered around on the rocks - it worked, and we all emerged with wet boots, which were something of a nice relief, given how roasting hot we all were.
The BMW riding Ben was admired by everyone for managing to shepherd his beast along the route without once dumping it on the floor
Halfway through the day we were not entirely exactly certain of our whereabouts, shall I say, and I was despatched to a nearby house to ask directions - we got them, after I had surprised the guy's wife catching the sun in her garden.. oops. Happily, I'm fluent at Spanish apologies.
On our way again, armed with certainty and growing confidence, we hared about the mountains collecting more and more points - it was going very well indeed.
We had an hour to get back to base, and descended from a (closed) ski resort along the most brilliant tarmac twisty downhill i've ever ridden - it was a joy to ride. This is when the BMW rear brake overheated, blued the disc, and jammed on.
It cooled off and mended itself, luckily.
It was around this time, at the bottom of the hill, entering a village, that the XT ran out of fuel. I had been coasting down the longer downhill sections with the engine off, so I was alright, but poor old Colin had a 10 minute push to the petrol station. It was still 34 in the shade and he'd been riding all day. He didn't even moan - what a trooper.
We did notice afterwards that everyone else on an XT had fitted a bigger tank...
Anyway, we got back in the nick of time, and compared points with the other Wemoto team, whom we had beaten by a single point – after our frankly feeble start, this was some achievement.
An hour later all the riders gathered in the Hotel for a meal and prizes/roasting.
There were a few youngsters, but I reckon it was mainly 40-50 year olds on average, and nobody gave up or crashed badly, and from what I heard, all would do it again.
Our team ended up about 6th of 10ish teams, the winning team getting double our points - amazing, and they must have prepared so much that I take my hat off to them - that's a long ride without getting lost!
Austin Vince gave a warm and funny speech and we all made new pals over the three days, which is mostly what it's about after all. There was much discussion about the best bike to do it on, most thinking 4 stroke with electric start, and for Twinshocks, that mainly means a Harley MT350, of which there were apparently loads last year.
Hmm, I'm already thinking about building a special... got a year... let's have a quick look on ebay...
If you want to go next year check out Austin Vince's website: Twinshock Trailfinder
Email us and tell us about it if you have been on one of Austin's events: firstname.lastname@example.org
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