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Author Topic: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO about halfway.  (Read 50113 times)

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Offline MaxThePanda

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Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO about halfway.
« on: March 08, 2014, 06:19:26 pm »
I hiked down the Witels river last weekend with some friends, which involved a lot of swimming cold water canyons, sleeping out in sandy campsites, and marvelling at one of the most beautiful places youíll ever see in a lifetime. Camping mattresses are not the most comfortable things in the world, and Iím always a bit of a light sleeper in the wilderness. Collapsing, dog tired, with a full belly, shortly after dark, I would often awake in the middle of the night for a couple hours, look at the stars and take stock of life.

As much as I despise the label, Iíve come to accept Iím a bit of a petrolhead. As a boy I had a set of cards of the worldís famous cards, and I knew every detail of every one of them. I grew up surrounded by old cars, and still own a í67 Spider of my own. Thereís just something about beautiful machines and a winding road. In a fantasy life, Iíd probably be a F1 racing driver in the 70ís.

My father was a doctor, so as kids we were banned from motorcycles of any shape or form. Instead of turning me into a champion kart racer at age 8, he took me sailing, and got me into racing yachts. Then life intervened.

When my brother returned from living abroad for many years, I taught him how to kitesurf, a long-time passion of mine. So, when he bought a shiny new KTM 640, he returned the favour by dragging me off to the Cederberg on his old Tenere. I was first terrified, and then hooked. And so it began.

Iíve always loved motorsports, but all of a sudden I was following the bikes. Especially the Dakar. The glamour and the glory, the dust and remote mountains, plains and deserts, the crazy peopleÖ the sheer insanity of it all. Like many of you, Iíve spent much more time than is healthy following, but never for a moment thought Iíd actually do something like that myself. But then along came the Amageza. I saw it begin, got more interested the next year, and obsessed about it the next time round. Real people I knew were doing it. It was in the realm of the possible. Wait a minute, what was I thinking?

Which brings me back to that river bed in the Witels. A very wise man once talked to me about the importance of goals, and working towards big things. For some unknown reason the number 4 and the colour red have always held special importance to me. We are strange creatures! This year I turn 44, and Iíve long felt it will be an auspicious year for me.

Well, the bases are loaded. In November I proposed to my gorgeous girlfriend, and I will marry in July. Looking up at the stars on that inky night I thought a lot about how my life will change, and the challenging but magnificent journey that awaits.

And the Amageza? I am a bit of an impulsive person. And I knew that 2014 might be the sweet spot. Long enough to be a real challenge, open enough to get in without real rally credentials, and just, just vaguely within the realm of money possibility. So I rushed in where fools fear to tread, and signed up without really thinking about the consequences. What better way to do it?

I lay in the dark and thought about my impulsive decision to sign up for the Amageza. I realised that I was fulfilling a dream of my youth. I was going motor-racingÖ too old, too lacking in talent, and too reluctant to injure myself to do it in any particularly competitive way, but racing nevertheless. And itís the spirit that counts.

The more Iíve looked at it, the more Iíve realised that the Amageza this year might be quite a serious undertaking. Almost twice as long as last year, more remote and probably more difficult. Perhaps not that far off Dakar standard after all. Iíve unwittingly found myself a big goal for the yearÖ a very personal goal, something for me, that a lot of people around me donít really understand or connect with, but something that I know will mean a lot to me.
I read Ned Suesseís ĎLessons from Dakarí http://neduro.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/guest-column.pdf and the last paragraph really stood out:

Quote
ďThe last lesson of Dakar was maybe the hardest. When it was overóafter finishing a dream that had been building for years and totally consuming for monthsóI felt adrift, like I had run my train off the end of the tracks. I was expecting an ecstatic feeling of satisfaction. Instead, I felt let down.
The lesson wasnít clear for a while, but now I understand that itís one Iíve learned over and over again: The goal is the journey, not the destination. The point of the race isnít the finish line, but itís all the fun (and the lessons learned) along the way.Ē

Perhaps thatís the important thing about any goal. Life is short, and as I dig in my heels and get dragged reluctantly towards 50, it just seems all the shorter. The things we achieve, the things we look forward to, the things we make sacrifices and strive so hard for, are often over in an instant, and we are left with only the memories, and sometimes the scars.

So, godammit, in this, my 44th year, I am going to enjoy the process! This is a really big year for me. And so, may it begin!

Offline markdiver

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2014, 06:50:03 pm »
WELL DONE for taking that step, that is all it takes to make that dream a reality.  You are going to love it, you are going to love everything about it, from all your preparations, the camaraderie of everyone there, the beautiful ride and that sense of achievement.  Make no mistake, it is hard, but if you plan & prepare your bike, prepare physically to the best of your ability, you will be there at the end.  It is still the most spectacular event that I have ever competed in.  Enjoy it all, and see you there.  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2014, 06:50:09 pm »
Enough philosophy for now... this thread is going to be a little blog of my journey to the Amageza. The ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and personal and bike preparations. It may get a little odd in here at times.

If it's not already clear, I have never undertaken any kind of proper motorsports in my life. No enduros, no MX, no rallies, nada! I have, however, spent a lot of time in the last few years buggering around doing this, though:







... in some pretty remote places like Angola, and on the roughest tracks, 4x4 trails, mountains and deserts we can find. I'm no Coma, but I can ride a bike a bit. So of course I did what every normal petrolhead does, and spent the first few weeks after I signed up obsessing about the bike. Should I keep my 690 - or trade down to a 450? How much fuel would I need? What other gear would I need? Dear god - look at the cost of all this shit!

I started reading racing threads here and on ADVrider obsessively. And I saw a couple of threads about people doing off road races - people who sound just like me. And I saw there are races near Cape Town, so I started wondering if I couldn't do a few to prepare. So I very foolishly phoned Dave Gouws, who I'd got to know a bit while preparing for Angola last year.

Dave Gouws, otherwise known as Beserker, aka Sly Bastard Who Will Get You To Do Things You REALLY Shouldn't Be Doing, immediately informed me that I probably could hack the 690 around the off road races, but it was going to cost me an arm and a leg, and I needed a new bike. Something small and cheeky. Preferably green. Like his. And suggested one he knew of and then immediately set about looking for more on Gumtree.

Like hell I need a new bike. For %^&* sake, Dave, I just spent a lot of money signing up for a big race I hadn't planned to do, and have a lot more expenses coming preparing the existing bike I do have!!! And did I mention I'm getting married this year and have a wedding to pay for?? Go buy yourself a new bike, if that's what you want!!!

So, what I really, really want to know, is how in hell's name is this little toy sitting at the Bloemfontein Time Freight depot awaiting a pallet so it can be shipped down to me next week?????



In case I didn't mention, I've never in my life even sat on a two-stroke. (Wait - that's a lie, I did own a 1957 Vespa for a year or two.) I currently don't own any protective gear other than an adventure jacket and some MX boots, and I can't wheelie properly. There - I said it.

See you on the start line at Botrivier Saturday morning. For once in my life I REALLY don't know what to expect.

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2014, 06:51:24 pm »
WELL DONE for taking that step, that is all it takes to make that dream a reality.  You are going to love it, you are going to love everything about it, from all your preparations, the camaraderie of everyone there, the beautiful ride and that sense of achievement.  Make no mistake, it is hard, but if you plan & prepare your bike, prepare physically to the best of your ability, you will be there at the end.  It is still the most spectacular event that I have ever competed in.  Enjoy it all, and see you there.  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:

Thanks Mark! Yeah, for sure - I just KNOW that about it. Really looking forward to it... it's going to be hell of a ride!

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2014, 07:04:09 pm »
Wooohooo Ian. :hello2: :hello2: You and me bud. I think we are in the same place. Except for the getting married part. I did that some time back and I have never been happier. Congratulations!

That comment by Ned is very true. After finishing the Sertoes, I felt a little depressed. What helped a lot was writing about it, and my delight returned as I relived the rally experience. I think that's because rallies truely are a test of the mind, body and soul and coming off something that extreme the rest of our lives seem so bland. There is so much to look forward to, so much to do in prep and the race itself is so all consuming that when it is over you find yourself with a lot of time and nothing to do that seems like it has any real purpose.

Until the next rally that is. ;D Its a funny thing but you know when rally is in the blood. Its a little bit of fear of the challenge ahead, of mixed in with some excitement, the romantic appreciation of a bike in a power slide after a day in the saddle, and a healthy dose of masochism, just because. Reading some of your posts and threads I get the distinct impression its in yours.

I wish you all the best in your journey and will be cheering you on all the way. Enjoy it and keep the rubber side down! :thumleft: :ricky:
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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2014, 07:29:33 pm »
Good on you! Shit where did you find that KDX? It is like out the box - almost a pity to go race it. (I have a race ready one for you if you change your mind.)
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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2014, 07:49:37 pm »
Well done on this first big, public and emphatic step.  All the best!
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2014, 09:29:52 pm »
Good on you! Shit where did you find that KDX? It is like out the box - almost a pity to go race it. (I have a race ready one for you if you change your mind.)

Yeah - it's a pretty looking thing, and I'm sure you're right about the racing!  >:D Bought it off the photos - last of the KDX's, registered 2007 and one owner who's only done 30hrs since new, and only on dirt roads, no off road. Says it's a bit big for him. Apparently original tyres that still look new. Let's see when it gets here...

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2014, 09:38:12 pm »
Wooohooo Ian. :hello2: :hello2: You and me bud. I think we are in the same place. Except for the getting married part.

And the - I'm just doing the Amageza, you're doing the DAKAR - part! :)


I did that some time back and I have never been happier. Congratulations!

That comment by Ned is very true. After finishing the Sertoes, I felt a little depressed. What helped a lot was writing about it, and my delight returned as I relived the rally experience. I think that's because rallies truely are a test of the mind, body and soul and coming off something that extreme the rest of our lives seem so bland. There is so much to look forward to, so much to do in prep and the race itself is so all consuming that when it is over you find yourself with a lot of time and nothing to do that seems like it has any real purpose.

Until the next rally that is. ;D Its a funny thing but you know when rally is in the blood. Its a little bit of fear of the challenge ahead, of mixed in with some excitement, the romantic appreciation of a bike in a power slide after a day in the saddle, and a healthy dose of masochism, just because. Reading some of your posts and threads I get the distinct impression its in yours.

I wish you all the best in your journey and will be cheering you on all the way. Enjoy it and keep the rubber side down! :thumleft: :ricky:

Thanks for the well wishes. And so true about the writing... there is a real value in taking time out to reflect on anything big in our lives after the moment has passed. The moment is so quick - the re-living, the laughter, the wincing should be enjoyed for a long time. Pain is soon forgotten, but the warm glow lasts. Readers often express appreciation for ride reports and so on, but I always feel I've benefitted the most in the writing.

This is a lovely community of people. I was at Helderberg Yamaha in Somerset West buying knee guards this morning and had a long chat to this really sweet guy - I think his name was Andre - about racing and crashing bikes and quads and so on. At the checkout the sales guy casually mentioned that was the top quad racer in the province. Humble and down to earth...

Offline J-dog

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2014, 08:01:38 am »
perhaps you could rope in the midget to bring you food, wash things and use as a step to get onto your 690?
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2014, 04:07:50 pm »
perhaps you could rope in the midget to bring you food, wash things and use as a step to get onto your 690?

Excellent idea! The little bastard needs to be put to some good use!!

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2014, 04:38:24 pm »
Great start!

I really look forward to meeting, if not before, then definitely there.
I wonder where that gravel road goes? And that, has usually made all the difference. (Apologies to Mr Frost)

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2014, 10:00:23 pm »
Panda I am also new to the rally seen. i have entered the Namaqua, and thereafter will see about the Amageza. Busy kitting out my WR. Let me know if you want to hook up for prep and training  :thumleft:
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2014, 10:02:42 am »
Panda I am also new to the rally seen. i have entered the Namaqua, and thereafter will see about the Amageza. Busy kitting out my WR. Let me know if you want to hook up for prep and training  :thumleft:

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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2014, 10:03:23 am »
Great start!

I really look forward to meeting, if not before, then definitely there.

Hey Andrew - definitely! Look forward to meeting you too... perhaps an Atlantis session some time. ciao >

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2014, 12:11:58 pm »
From blue, to orange, to green....I'm fascinated to see what comes next!
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2014, 12:40:02 pm »
From blue, to orange, to green....I'm fascinated to see what comes next!

Haha. It was the cheapest thing I could get hold of to avoid spending a lot of money fixing the main toy. I may be getting a bit carried away right now, but Amageza remains the main motorcycling priority this year. We still need to hook up a ride some time!!

Offline Garfield

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2014, 12:43:29 pm »
What class will you be riding in on Saturday?

That KDX looks pristine  :thumleft:
 

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2014, 01:25:45 pm »
 :thumleft:
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2014, 02:09:51 pm »
What class will you be riding in on Saturday?

That KDX looks pristine  :thumleft:

Officialy, 'Seniors'. But in reality? 'Lady-boys' until I prove - at least to myself - I can survive a minimum of two laps of an off road race. Status available for upgrade during the race. Seriously - I've no idea what to expect. I've never ridden a two stroke and all my proper riding experience is on the 690-class of bikes.

The KDX does look and sound pretty much unused. Couldn't help myself - I've got a strong attraction to shiny toys. In actual fact I should probably have bought another one I saw advertised for the same price that already had all upgrades done and a few scratches. Gonna be a shame to trash such a perfect bike, but I was drawn to the prospect of a fresh bike that would potentially need less maintenance.

On the other hand - it's only getting delivered tomorrow, so who knows, perhaps the seller was having me on and taking pictures of his mate's bike  ;)