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Author Topic: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO about halfway.  (Read 51208 times)

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Offline bmad

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #140 on: May 21, 2014, 02:17:04 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!

I only came across this thread now ::)
Love the intro... now to read the rest of the thread

I too am looking forward to the Amegeza, not as a rider, but as a support crew  :thumleft:
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Offline bmad

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #141 on: May 21, 2014, 02:40:10 pm »
Great read Max  :thumleft:

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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #142 on: May 22, 2014, 05:58:17 am »
I too am looking forward to the Amegeza, not as a rider, but as a support crew  :thumleft:

Thats great man!

You know they have an easier DS version of the event as well now with viewing on the way etc. right? :deal:
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #143 on: May 24, 2014, 08:22:13 pm »
Ok, deal done on a new (to me) bike but I'm going to stay tight lipped till the thing is in my sticky little paws.

Was a miserable experience passing over my 690 - I really did love that bike. And my last couple days riding it around town were a joy. It's such a great combo of headrush power, light, flickable handling and all round fun. I console myself I can always buy another one if I've made a terrible mistake.

The new owner is offshore but beside himself with excitement so at least it's going to a good home!

Time will tell, but I think the new thing will be even better in the rough stuff, and that's my goal anyway....

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #144 on: May 24, 2014, 11:57:36 pm »
Ian, I am sure you will prove yourself right with the new machine, but you will miss the top end of the 690 for sure.

Congratulations! :thumleft:
Looking forward to the pics.

Offshore you lucky dog!!! :hello2: Well done boet, that is a great bike.
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #145 on: June 22, 2014, 08:57:33 pm »
What an irritating weekend!

I've been hectically busy lately, so have barely ridden, but been doing a fair bit of fitness work, so not all going to pot. Put in a last minute entry for the Robertson WPATV off road race, and rushed my forks in to Martin Paetzold for some work. The little KDX is super soft on the front end, so we decided to bump up the spring rate a bit and give it some new oil and seals. That last part was probably a waste because my bike has hardly done any mileage from new - but it's seven years old now, and I'm pretty sure it's still untouched in there, so perhaps a good idea.

Anyway, got the forks back Friday afternoon, and rushed to my garage to get them back in. I'd stripped the back end of the bike when I took them out, intending to get the shock re-gassed and put some new oil in, but Martin was too busy so we had to leave that for another day. Of course, since I was half way there I decided to finish the stripping job and pulled off the swing arm for bearing greasing and re-greased the shock linkages since they were off the bike anyway.

My garage is rented from a friend in another block (typical Cape Town ridiculous inner city arrangement) and the real problem with it in winter is that there are no lights or power in the garage. So the last hour of assembly was done with the car idling and the lights shining into the open garage door. Ridiculous!

That's when the real trouble started. I had also pulled the brake pads and replaced those while the wheels were off, and it was an overdue job. But a quick test around the block in the dark confirmed what I'd remembered from my last ride: the front brake was a long way from working properly. The lever is hitting the stop with only a gentle retarding of the bike... not what you want for descending steep, rutted mountain-sides.

Either through standing, or an over-zealous mechanic, the little screws holding the reservoir lid on were overtightened, and the head of one stripped while I was trying to get it out. Bugger. A quick trip to a friend for a dremmel proved a waste because it didn't have small enough cutting wheels. To cut a long story short... by 10pm I had to face the disappointment that I would not be leaving at 5am to go do the race. Gutted! Even put my race numbers on for this one! My disorganised approach to racing seems to be getting worse - and I was so planning to be there early this time!

Note to self: DO NOT leave Amageza prep for the last week, let alone the last night!!

So no racing for me this weekend. What a waste of time, money and energy! Got these shots from the last race to remind me what I missed. Really gutted...





600 mandela on a set of Easy-Out on Saturday morning, and I had the screw out in about 5 minutes... but two hours or farking around with the brake bleeding and I'm still no closer to a firm lever. At this stage I've no idea what I'm doing wrong... any ideas??

Offline bmad

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #146 on: June 22, 2014, 09:23:52 pm »
Sorry about your troubles Max. 

Hope you get your prep and planning discipline sorted, we wanna see some racing progress :thumleft:
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #147 on: June 22, 2014, 11:56:56 pm »
Sorry about your troubles Max. 

Hope you get your prep and planning discipline sorted, we wanna see some racing progress :thumleft:

Ain't that the truth! You're not the only one...

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #148 on: June 23, 2014, 12:11:32 am »
Well youre doing more than me. Im still settling into a new job in Europe, miles from my race bike and my practice bikes. I have found a KTM shop though :ricky:


600 mandela on a set of Easy-Out on Saturday morning, and I had the screw out in about 5 minutes... but two hours or farking around with the brake bleeding and I'm still no closer to a firm lever. At this stage I've no idea what I'm doing wrong... any ideas??

Hmmm youre using a siringe right? I reckon you still have air in your system - hence no pressure. New pads on as well or the old ones still good?
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #149 on: June 23, 2014, 12:16:19 am »
Well youre doing more than me. Im still settling into a new job in Europe, miles from my race bike and my practice bikes. I have found a KTM shop though :ricky:

You moved to.... Europe???!

Where you living?

Yeah, there's air in there for sure, but all the bleeding in the world has been achieving nothing. A syringe probably a good idea - I was looking for one today without success - only those little jobbies from Clicks. Pump it in from the lower bleed valve and suck some out the reservoir at the top, right?

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #150 on: June 23, 2014, 12:35:09 am »
Yes thats the only way to do it. Dont get the small siringe, get the bigger one, much easier.

Yes Im in northern Spain now. need to update my profile and tell people about it I suppose. Got to flog the house and all the bikes ::) Buying new ones will work out cheaper vs. import duties into Europe.

It feels so weird to be in RSA time zone again...
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Offline BiG DoM

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #151 on: June 23, 2014, 06:03:32 am »
Personally I do not think you have to reverse bleed the KDX front brake - should be a bit of piss to top up at the top reservoir, pump, open bleed nipple, hold, close, repeat etc ... extra pair of hands helps but front is doable on own. If you want large syringe to reverse bleed go to chemist - they keep all sizes. Also often if a bit spongy a cable tie holding brake lever in on handlebar over night will self bleed a little air and firm up.  :thumleft:
« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 08:15:07 am by BiG DoM »
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #152 on: June 23, 2014, 06:48:12 am »
Thats a good tip Dom. :thumleft:
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #153 on: June 23, 2014, 07:08:28 am »
Personally I do not think you have to reverse bleed the KDX front brake - should be a bit of piss to top up at the top pump, open, hold, close. repeat etc ... extra pair of hands helps but front is doable on own. If you want large syringe to reverse bleed go to chemist - they keep all sizes. Also often if a bit spongy a cable tie holding brake lever in on handlebar over night will self bleed a little air and firm up.  :thumleft:

Thanks - yeah I'd read about the overnight trick. Will try that. I'd been doing the standard bleed for quite a long time with little impact...

Offline Buff

Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #154 on: June 23, 2014, 07:45:04 am »
I wondered what happened to you, I had your spot in our pits all organized but no MtP in sight. Hobbled around the pit lane on crutches seeing if I could spot you but alas, realized something must have gone pear shaped.

I'm not going to tell you all about the diabolically awesome race you missed out on because that would just be wrong  ;) If it makes you feel any better, I was also crying in my sleeve being unable to ride  :'(

Good luck sorting those brakes out, you made the right decision not riding with them, you wouldn't have survived too long. The route was demanding and a single loop took the leaders over an hour to complete.

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Offline Crossed-up

Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #155 on: June 23, 2014, 07:54:39 am »
Sometimes, when the bars are turned this way or that,  the bleed screw on the caliper is not at the absolute top when bleeding.  Then no amount of bleeding helps.
 

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #156 on: June 23, 2014, 09:41:13 am »
I wondered what happened to you, I had your spot in our pits all organized but no MtP in sight. Hobbled around the pit lane on crutches seeing if I could spot you but alas, realized something must have gone pear shaped.

I'm not going to tell you all about the diabolically awesome race you missed out on because that would just be wrong  ;) If it makes you feel any better, I was also crying in my sleeve being unable to ride  :'(

Good luck sorting those brakes out, you made the right decision not riding with them, you wouldn't have survived too long. The route was demanding and a single loop took the leaders over an hour to complete.

See you at the Sandveld event?

Thanks mate! Yeah, was pretty disappointed - and those entry fees aren't cheap! Will be at Sandveld for shiz...

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #157 on: June 23, 2014, 09:43:07 am »
Sometimes, when the bars are turned this way or that,  the bleed screw on the caliper is not at the absolute top when bleeding.  Then no amount of bleeding helps.

Thanks John - yeah, had it on a stand and absolutely central... a bit of Google suggests that lots of people battle. I'm thinking of getting a vacuum pump, sucking all the fluid out and starting again....

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #158 on: June 23, 2014, 07:53:55 pm »
Weekend's disappointment was made up for by the arrival of the Time Freight guy this afternoon:





And here languishing next to the glowering, sulking KDX - her brake troubles probably just a hissy fit at the new arrival, all new and shiny and big-engined... and orange!



This thing has been blinged to the nines. Orange hubs, spoke nipples and levers. For crying out loud! I'm never going to hear the end of the rim tape either!! Not to mention the hubs look like they've been painted or powder coated or something - not even anodised. Sigh. In a first, I now have two bikes and not one of them road legal. Glorious! I'd worked most of the weekend, so decided to take a couple hours off and have a closer look at the new ride.

Nonsense, I changed her filter (filthy... I don't think her old owner was particularly mechanically minded) and saddled her up for a quick (illegal) blast around the neighbourhood to get the oil hot enough to change.

Lordy, lordy this thing goes! And that's coming off a 690! So little weight on the front wheel you get the feeling a little twist is all it would take to get it skywards. Jeans and a t-shirt on a road-illegal, unregistered bike meant today was not the time to test that theory. Clearly I'm getting old!

So back to the garage to change the oil by head-torch. My favourite part of the manual is: "lay the bike down on its side to half fill the filter cavity." That just sounds wrong!

The bike is less than a year old and only has 17 hours, so this is the first oil change since the post break-in service. I know the motors are supposed to churn out a bit of filth early on... but isn't this a bit over the top?





Shitty iphone flash photos, unfortunately. There wasn't anywhere near this much junk in the screen of my 690 after 5000km! Tell me it's normal?? Anyway... filled up with 10W60 and I'll probably do another change after a couple hundred km and see what's up.

Not much going to be going down in the next month because I'm away... but I'll start a build thread soon. Already have a box of rally nav bits and a tank sitting in my garage that I picked up after the Namaqua. The rationale behind this approach was small, light and super simple... less expensive and crashable! So no big fairings or frame-mounts. I'm almost certainly going the Highway Dirtbikes route. Something like this:



(See - they also have rim tape! What is wrong with these people!?)

The plan is to keep it light and robust enough for rough touring and maybe even some off road racing. I'm certainly not keeping this as a dedicated rally bike for a once-yearly flight of fancy so versatility is the name of the game. So far so good...

Offline Beserker

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Re: Racing Panda's Road to Amageza!
« Reply #159 on: June 23, 2014, 11:35:29 pm »
On the brakes:

Once you have bled them through with correct dot brake oil:

Take it easy, get some tunes going.

Take the front brake lever assembly off (ie at the clamps), and from a hook on the ceiling and a piece of string, suspend the whole thing with the brake line as straight as possible, and making sure the bottom nipple is at its highest point.

With a wooden handle (like reverse a hammer and hold it by its head, lightly tap out the bottom caliber so that all the bubbles rise, whether up the brake line or to the nipple.

Pull in your brake lever in , tap up the the brakeline with the wooden handle.
Make sure there is still enough fluid, let it rest with the lever pulled in.

If this does not work, get a new return valve, it might be perished.
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