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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #380 on: February 23, 2015, 09:38:51 pm »
There's a good reason I haven't finished (or even started proper) this ride report. You see I was called up to fight an intergalactic battle and save the universe. Yoda was there, Chewy, some bizarre looking creatures I haven't seen before and frankly were so ugly they made me want to puke, and then I came across Lord Kamanya. "Blow me down, what are you doing out here?" I asked him. "I thought you'd be at home race preparing that secret new Amageza weapon you don't want to tell anyone about??"

That fellow has no sense of humour. He coughed grumpily, refused to make small talk, and threatened to decapitate me with my light sabre if I didn't immediately go home and write up my ride report. Not for no good reason I'm scared of the big fellow, so did exactly what I'm told. If you happen to see him.... no, never mind.








Right, so where were we?

Quick recap. We're in Upington, scrutineered, checked in, race prepared, and have our starting order thanks to our time trial from the day before. I'd ridden pretty conservatively and was scheduled to start 50 odd.



My team mates were there, or there about. I think Yoda was a few places behind and Chewy was stone last courtesy of his dramatic spillage on the course. He's a generous fellow, giving up his race time to keep the spectating minions satisfied, but such is the nature of the beast (believe me, that's not an inappropriate term to describe him).

It was Sunday evening, and everyone was a little less humorous than they'd been the last few days, which I suppose isn't that surprising, all things considered. The night before battle does that to a man. I felt quite good, actually, but lying in bed waiting to fall asleep I reflected that was probably because I was medically high. A double dose of myprodol and a handful of prescription anti-inflamatories make for a soft feather bed of well being that floats up around your ears and buries you in marshmallows while little guppy fish kiss miscellaneous parts of your bodies and fairies whisper sweet nothings in your ear and tell you everything is going to be juuuuuuuuuust fine. What would tomorrow bring???

Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #381 on: February 23, 2015, 10:03:56 pm »
It's funny how something you've looked forward to for so long suddenly arrives. I'd spent a year of near obsessive fervour talking about, thinking, dreaming and planning for just this moment, in a splendid indulgence in bike porn and gear lust. And now here we were.

Main task of the night before was this:



There are lots of things to do on a rally, but none more important than marking up the roadbook!

The morning was a little damp, but there was no dampening of spirits. We lined up on our dust launch pad and awaited starter's orders.



Frankly, it looked like we might get thoroughly drenched!



It's a bit of an anti-climax setting off. A few fingers from Vader's official and then you're off, breaking the speed limit after about 50 metres and then hunkering down for a couple hundred kays of liaison. It's a bit weird. You want to jump up and down, scream and shout, pull wild victory salutes at your fellow competitors, stand on your seat and flash your bottom at the Empire Overlords... but instead you have to behave like a municipal bean counter when someone arrives to pay a double electricity bill in 5c pieces.

Careful, slow, methodical, disciplined obedience to the roadbook. It's not by chance that my spell checker wants to turn 'roadbook' into 'roadblock'. That's about right. Not since the invention of happy clappy fundamentalism have any bunch of believers paid so much slavish literal attention to the written word as rally riders. There's no space for reinterpretation. It's not "Ah, I can see Vader suggests we go 80... but he wasn't thinking of this powerful beast I have between my thighs and how much fun it is to twist the throttle. I think I'll sit at 140 for a little while."

I once went to see a therapist in the hope they could do some hypnosis on me and help me overcome a songwriting block. "Do you think I can be hypnotised?" I asked.

"Tell me," he replied. "How good are you at concentrating when you go to a talk or speech?"

"Honestly, I have never in my life managed to get through a talk or meeting without drifting off a dozen times."

"Exactly. We're not going to have a problem here."

See, I don't concentrate on one thing very well, for very long. And I wouldn't say obedience is my greatest quality. So this was going to be a challenge. I got passed by about 20 people on that first liaison, probably because I was being ultra conservative in the speed department - for above said reason. We got rained on a bit, but nothing too serious, and honestly it was so exciting to just be here, now, at last, that I wouldn't have minded a drenching.

In a flash we were lined up waiting our first start of a rally special stage:



I think that bike in front of me was a little 250, which later had to withdraw when something burnt out or broke. I think the 450 is something of a sweet spot for this kind of riding. Enough power, light, and absolutely minimalist. Would it carry me to the finish? We'd soon be finding out.

Offline Kamanya

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #382 on: February 24, 2015, 07:41:55 am »
I swear, you stop now, and I am going to come over....
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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #383 on: February 24, 2015, 08:42:30 am »
Finally... it has begun  :blob10: :blob3: :blob5: :blob6: :blob7:
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Offline SteveD

Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #384 on: February 24, 2015, 05:29:04 pm »
This is gonna be good  :sip:
 

Offline Scooterbike

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #385 on: February 24, 2015, 08:55:10 pm »
OMG
started again, the writing has...
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Offline Beserker

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #386 on: February 24, 2015, 09:17:42 pm »
OMG
started again, the writing has...

...grinded to a halt..  :imaposer:

Sure the race went better  :thumleft:
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Offline JustBendIt

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #387 on: February 25, 2015, 05:26:04 am »
Keep it coming Ian ...

or Darthvader, Kamanya and I are coming over to do burnouts on your flesh with our brace of secret rally machines that may or may not exist, even though you will never be able to see them because they may or may not be made from a composite alloy of invisibilium, unobtanium and fuckofftium.

I can neither confirm nor deny this.
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #388 on: February 25, 2015, 08:10:48 am »
I won't lie - it's an intimidating feeling sitting at the holding area at the special start, waiting for your start time, and listening to the high pitched whine of racing four strokes setting off every minute or two on the other side of the hill. I guess I was feeling the same as everyone: What's it going to be like? Will I be too slow? Will I fall off? Will I get lost? Will the bike break?

Eventually my time arrived and I cruised over the hill to the line. There was John/Crossed-Up with his yellow vest and his clipboard, counting down his fingers and sending pairs of bikes off at minute intervals. As I mentioned, I'd ridden slowly on the liaison and only had enough time at the stop to stuff my face with some food, take a leak and get my kit back on. There's a lot going on in your first rally stage, and it's tough keeping track of it. So there I was at the start of the special and I realised that my two ICOs were out of sync, and I wasn't sure which one was right. I fiddled a bit, but the time evaporated and before I knew it I was a go.

Go! GO! GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  



We shot off up the track. Vader had chosen a challenging little piste for our first day. Sandy tweespoor, becoming more sandy tweespoor, becoming extremely sandy tweespoor. If you haven't done this before, let me give you an idea. I was doing about 110-120kph, with the back end of the bike extremely loose. I'm running a damper on the bike, but hadn't cranked it up to the max, which would probably have been the right thing to do. So the bike is bouncing around all over the place, and you're staying hard on the gas to keep it under control. Now I'd done quite a bit of roadbook training... but not in these kinds of conditions. It's one thing reading a roadbook while riding. It's another thing altogether reading a roadbook while it's bouncing left and right at the frequency of one of those little punch balls in a boxing gym. All your shit goes extremely blurry, and you can’t look at it for more than a split second because you’ve got to keep your mind on what’s going on at your front wheel.

I wish I'd known that the track was going to be more or less straight for many kilometres, but I didn't. So I was stressing. My blurry roadbook wasn't making a lot of sense because I didn't know which ICO to believe and so I never knew quite where I was. I was tentative and I started doubting myself.

I passed a few people, but I think a few more passed me. At least during the first half of the day. Yoda caught me while I was stopped taking a piss, and sped off into the blue yonder. He was a man on a mission, the little fella. Robes trailing in the breeze, ears tucked into his helmet, long toes wrapped around the pegs. His blue monster was on fire, and it was clear I wasn't staying with him for long.

I mentioned my propensity to drift off in a haze of lovely day dreaming... well, not such a good thing in rallye raid. There was a speed control section about half way through the stage, and I entered the 40 zone at about 110, cursing like a storm trooper and locking up everything in a mini dust storm when I realised what I'd done. Apparently I wasn't the only one. Then we turned off the main road/track and headed in a more off-pisterly direction. This was more what I came here for.



You've no doubt heard about the bloody gates. Well, the road to good intention is paved with the Gates of Hell, and Vader had been very specific about the million kinds of purgatory that would be awaiting us if we didn't close them behind us politely, responsibly and in good order. Now excuse me - the man has awesome black robes, a voice transponder that makes him sound really badass and a trick light sabre. He also rules the known universe and can kill you with a single thought. WHY, I ask you, couldn’t he instruct one of his legion of silly stormtroopers to go and stand at every single godamn gate and open them? “This one’s open, this one’s open, this one’s open, this one’s open…”

We discovered the fastest way to get this heinous job done was to team up. I was riding at this point with a new friend on an orange 690RR. Fine beast that, but a propensity to go straight on sharp slow speed sandy corners. You never really get away from anyone with all the gates, so it made sense to just settle down and get on with it together:

Blast up to gate, skid to halt, stall bike, put out kick stand, rescue bike falling over in soft sand, open gate, push bike through. Friend arrives, waves like the Queen of England and sails through. Run back to gate, close it, jump back on bike, start, stall, rev tits off bike and head off to next gate. Repeat in reverse.

To be honest, I hadn't ridden much on the 450 before the start of the rally, and didn't feel at one with the bike yet. But we were feeling each other out.



Clearly she felt the need to put her foot down, because all at once she turned from one sweet little show pony into Gorog in all his glory and thrashed me into the sand at about 60. OK, it may not literally have been a cartwheel, but it felt just as awesome, and knocked the stuffing out of me for a while. I saw on the side of the track, took note of the absence of cute-arsed pompom girls, medical staff or cheering audience and thought to myself: “Oh. Fuck. So THIS is rallying.”

So I got up and gingerly set off, on my own this time. There’s nothing quite like an eina fall to knock your confidence a bit, and sand is not the place to start losing confidence if you don’t want to have a horrible day ahead. So I gave myself a stern talking to and tried to get back in the flow of it.

I then experienced the next weird thing about rallying - even though there are a lot of you out there,  and you’re setting off at tight intervals, you can end up riding on your own for long periods, never seeing anybody. It carried on like this for a while, but then I caught up to 690RR and we started our tandem gate dance. I was happy for the company. It was Day 1, afterall.

The memory gets blurry for a while - we were riding a mixture of off-piste sections and very sandy tracks. The sand had been getting thicker for some time, but the 450 was also getting lighter as it burned fuel, and consequently more fun to ride. We came across a hut with a little pan where you were supposed to turn right. Several people missed this turn, so I caught a few people up here, and then we were into a confusing rabbit’s warren of tracks and CAP headings. I seemed to be on top of the nav, because I didn’t make many mistakes, and passed quite a few riders coming from all different directions.





Suddenly, I was stunned to see an aparition on the side of the path. As far as I knew holograms were not part of the rally lexicon and I thought it was a bit early in the rally for Vader to be throwing those kinds of tricks at us. So what the fuck was Lord Kamanya doing sitting in the shade of a thorn tree with his ox loitering quietly - no flames coming out of its bottom?

“Lord Kamanya!” I saluted, hailed, bowed, did all the appropriate stuff. “What in Zeus’s name are you doing here?” (Excused the confused celestial references).

He mumbled something to the effect of being without fuel, and suggested we pick up my bike and tip all the fuel into his bike, on account of the whole “kill you with a single thought” thing. I would have readily agreed (I value my life) but the thing was I had heatstroke and cramp (on account of being a girlygirl and not having done enough training between my bouts of german measles, mumps and arthritis) and I wasn’t thinking straight. So I missed the logic of what he was suggesting completely, but looked at my tank and saw a fair bit of the green stuff swilling around so I offered him some. The dastardly quick release doesn’t let any fuel out when you unclick it, so we stuck a camelbak pipe down the tank and tried to suck some out. It worked for a bit, but I should think I only gave him about half a litre before we gave up on that exercise, and I wished him luck mind-jediing someone else and struck out for the finish.



It was only about 20 kays away, and I was feeling good on the sand, so it passed in a flash and before long I was cresting the final dune and drinking lovely cold water with Andy, Dewald and crew.

I was reasonably pleased with my first competitive rally stage. I was safe, I'd finished without drama, I'd had an off but both my ride and I were fine. All good.

Nothing like the race draw unfolding at the sharp end of the field, though, where Han Solo was giving Obi Wan a real run for his money:





Then it was a short ride through to fuel, camp and a cold shower. It had been a straight up day, just like I promised myself. A harmless off, but otherwise tidy, finishing in an even 30th position. Not bad. The bike was running well, and otherwise all good. So we had begun:



Happy camper:



Happy ship:


Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #389 on: February 25, 2015, 08:12:20 am »
Keep it coming Ian ...

or Darthvader, Kamanya and I are coming over to do burnouts on your flesh with our brace of secret rally machines that may or may not exist, even though you will never be able to see them because they may or may not be made from a composite alloy of invisibilium, unobtanium and fuckofftium.

I can neither confirm nor deny this.

Yeah yeah.... you could get a job in Joseph Kabila's private press corps!

Offline charliepappa

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #390 on: February 25, 2015, 08:38:57 am »
 :sip:
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #391 on: February 25, 2015, 06:09:32 pm »
Signed up today for more punishment. There goes my September!

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #392 on: February 25, 2015, 07:53:00 pm »
Signed up today for more punishment. There goes my September!

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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #393 on: February 26, 2015, 07:11:44 am »
Reply to this thread if you’ve got pictures! I’m short. I arrived in Upington with video and still cameras, gopros and high hopes of doing a great video diary of the entire experience. That idea went out at the sharp end of a Michelin Desert knob in the dirt.

Last night involved a quick air and oil change and not much else to do to the bike. My plan was air filter every night except the marathon. Oil and filter Monday and Wednesday. It’s a 15 minute operation on these KTMs and maybe this year I’ll do it every night, but the oil was coming out so clean, and the 10W60 Motorex is such good oil it seemed like just pouring away good money. I had a spare set of tyres with me, and planned to change those the night before the marathon too… but we’d see how things went.

Changing oil on the XCW is ridiculously easy. 15 minutes all in, including filter and removing and refitting bash plate:







Dark Overlord Kamanya’s pit bitch, Justin, had brought along two genius pieces of equipment (other than his lace pit umbrella, which clearly won Most Valuable Accessory, not to mention most stylish pit accessory - there’s no way Team Skywalkers is leaving pompom girls behind next time). The first was a matress compressor…

Me: “Chewy, yo! Do you gave a compressor in your truck?”

Chewy: “Ya, Befok. I have a fokken great one in my fokken truck.”

Me: “Brilliant, so I won’t bring one then.”

If I had been sleeping on a rugby ball, I would have had a wonderful night’s sleep with Chewy’s compressor. However, my Game Stores matress did not fit his pomp accessory and it seemed nobody in the entire bivouac had been dumb enough to bring a blow up matress to the thornveld. Because we’d been ensconced in luxury digs the two nights before the carnage started, I didn’t get to find out that I had no way of blowing up my bed until we were in the middle of nowhere. I can assure you the shopping in Kakamas is not what it’s cracked up to be. I was now a little grumpy, and quite concerned.



Chewy was just tired and confused. He had other things on his mind than my sleeping comfort. Like his ride (oldest in the rally, I think) that was pissing petrol all over the ground at regular intervals.



Pit Bitch to the rescue! That man had thought of everything. I’m inclined to think he should buy up a set of 525’s and start his own Amageza team. I mean, he may even tempt Lord Kamanya to become Lacky Kamanya and join him!

Where was I? Oh, yes, Ridiculously Clever Accessory no. 2: In an act of unfettered genius, Team Dark Overlord were travelling with a laptop. And not any laptop - a laptop running Garmin Basecamp! Now why is that so clever, you might ask? Well, any newbie doing rallye raid for the first time sees a bunch of GPS waypoints on the roadbook, and promptly overlooks them for Very Important Things like speed control zones. This is exactly what I’d done on day 1. However, we were only one day away from finding out that known waypoints are like a silver string of guiding happiness hanging from the Celestial Stork of the Bestowance of All Good Things when you are lost in the desert in 40 degree heat with a distinct shortage of drinking water. The general idea is that you bang them waypoints in your GPS, and then when you see one on the roadbook, you check your GPS and see if you are where you think you are.

Let’s say you’re travelling to 11 Fanie’s Plakkie lane in Southern Boksburg and you’re from Cape Town and don’t know your West Rand from your Braamfontein. You’re up shit creek without a paddle aren’t you? And what about when your friend’s cuzzie’s best girlfriend’s tchommie has given you turn-by-turn directions like: Go past the Peter Styvesant billboard, né, then up the road and turn left at the little green house - I think it’s left, but it may be right - and then go for a little way and just now you’ll come across the cul-de-sac where my mate Hennie lives and then you’ll be there.

Choose the wrong Peter Styvesant billboard and you are in a world of trouble, my friend. Choose the right billboard, and you’re still going to be driving around in circles for an hour and a half, cursing the cross-cultural mess that is our delightful society, and wondering what it would take to call an Uber to this godforsaken corner of this ugly city, abandon your rental on the side of the street and get the hell back to the mountain, good coffee, people who don’t go to work until after 9am, and the general peace, quiet and safety that is the Good City.

You think this, dear people, sound like an exagerated metaphor? Wrong. Let me assure you, Alexander Vader Nel, is far more capable of getting you horribly lost on your way to Hennie’s house than you might think. And this is where the GPS waypoints come in. Think you’re at the right place at intersection 127? Bingo. Check the waypoint and confirm you’re as smart as you think you are before carrying on.

Ah, you’re actually lost, aren’t you? Check the nearest waypoint and head there across country to save yourself running out of petrol riding around in circles for four hours retracing your steps and just getting more confused in the process.

Good luck to you, though, because you’re certain to find that between you and those beautiful little GPS crosshairs (X marks the spot) is a ravine, large swollen river, mountain, or fence designed to keep the inmates of Alcatraz safe. So fuck you anyway!

What’s the point of this sweet little story? Well, have you every tried entering 27 GPS waypoints using the arcane, confused and irritatingly out-of-date interface that Garmin calls an operating system? Good luck. The genius that is Pit Bitch Justin, bless his little cotton and lace socks, solved that delicate problem by whacking them in to Basecamp with that delighful modern invention we call a keyboard, and then uploading them to anyone who came bearing gifts. In my case 500ml of rather valuable petrol.

Who ever said one good turn doesn’t deserve another?

Offline Kamanya

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #394 on: February 26, 2015, 08:38:54 am »
Most valuable 500ml I've ever received too!
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Offline weskus

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #395 on: February 26, 2015, 03:23:15 pm »
Most valuable 500ml I've ever received too!
I'll sponsor a shirt to go over that body-armour of Andries, met so 'n sexy bitch aan sy sy moet hy darem beter lyk :peepwall: :pot:
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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #396 on: February 26, 2015, 07:42:55 pm »
Hey Ian

I don't remember signing a release form allowing you to use that uber cool sexy photo of me with exposed midriff, my umbrella and mirror ball

I demand one million dollars or you will be hearing from my gaggle of attorneys ....
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Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #397 on: February 26, 2015, 09:06:16 pm »
Hey Ian

I don't remember signing a release form allowing you to use that uber cool sexy photo of me with exposed midriff, my umbrella and mirror ball

I demand one million dollars or you will be hearing from my gaggle of attorneys ....

You have a point, but this is praise not slander, and as they say there's no such thing as bad publicity! I'm claiming public domain: http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=162917.msg3085966#msg3085966

But as an act of goodwill I've fixed it with one of those fancy Bolivian parka things they were handing out to all the riders at the marathon stage on this year's Dakar:


Offline MaxThePanda

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #398 on: February 27, 2015, 07:50:42 am »
Jesus, enough with the silly nonsense, Ian. Pull yourself together - you’ve got a ride report to finish! Seriously, though, one of the awesome things about Amageza already was the comaradarie. Thanks to Yoda Dirk I was the token soutpiel in a team of very cool guys, and due to the obsessive and all consuming nature of the Amageza, the training, the bike prep and the excitement, we had quickly become part of each other’s lives. Meeting Andrew, Justin, Robert and the rest of the merry band - many known previously only by reputation - had added an extra layer of value to the whole experience. Riding a bike in the desert is fun - doing it with a bunch of other really cool idiots is priceless!

I was a bit stiff on Tuesday morning, but generally in good shape and high spirits. We were sent off on a short liaison, and then we were awaiting our turn at the start once again. It’s not exactly news that the org was having trouble with the GPS track processing for results, so we were sent off in the same positions as the day before. Thanks to my conservative time trial, that meant 50th, and near the back again, instead of 30th, where I’d finished on day 1.

I didn’t know it yet, but there was to be a bit of a down side to that story. The first five kays or so were through flat thornbush territory, the track winding between trees - with plenty of marks from where earlier riders had ‘gone straight’ through bushes. The pace was clearly hot this morning. Then we came around the corner and in front of us was one of the biggest godamn dunes I’ve ever seen outside of multiple viewings of the English Patient.

It looked about 17 stories high, and thanks to my lowly starting position I was looking at a scene of carnage. At least ten bikes were stranded or crashed in various places from half way up the dune.


(someone else's random photo, but it gives you the idea)

And more...







I took a run at it at speed, but although the track looked fairly smooth from a distance, it was narrow and bumpy, and thoroughly churned up by all the bikes that had gone up before me. About two thirds of the way up the route was totally blocked by two crashed bikes, so I pulled off into the camel grass next to the track, ran out of speed and power and promptly beached myself on a hillock. Bugger.

Turn around and back down. “I will not be repeating myself here!” I told myself. Gunned the bike, got it into fourth and ground the throttle against the stops. I pulled off the track much sooner this time, changing down early and beating my engine with a sharp stick, I kangaroo hopped my way off piste to the top of the mountain.

It was immediately clear Alex had found something special for us. The route led away through a river of very soft red sand, over some dunes in front of me. It was hot already, there was no traction, the track was churned up to oblivion, and I started to wonder if I had a very long day ahead of me.

Take a look at these views of the carnage that lay ahead over the next few dunes...









As it turned out, I had a day in two parts, puncuated by a dramatic break. I wasn’t loving the first bit. The bike was top heavy and full of fuel, and I hadn’t yet found my sand legs. Also, with so many riders battling, the route was congested, and at the top of each dune there would invariably by someone fallen and blocking the path. It wasn’t my intention to run anyone over just yet, so I was being more cautious than was good for the terrain. Sand is generally my favourite surface - I’ve ridden a lot of it it, and feel very comfortable - but maybe the texture today was different, maybe it was the barbed wire border fence next to the track that was messing with my mind - either way I was feeling tentative.





At some point Guillame Martens - one of the visiting Dutch riders who was training for the Dakar - came past me, and I decided to up my pace and follow him to get myself into some kind of groove. That lasted for about three dunes, and then I had a magnificent wipeout. Sand wipeouts are generally pretty innocuous - you can’t hurt yourself on the surface, the bike stops quickly and doesn’t come over and hit you, and you’re not even going to get any abrasion injuries.

My collarbone, however, had other plans, and decided to have a meaningful encouter with my handlebars. In reaction to a nasty fall I’d had in Angola the year before, I’d covered myself in the best and most expensive protective gear I could lay my hands on. I looked a bit like a cross between an armadillo and a stuffed panda (haha), and if you threw me on the ground I more or less bounced. However, the one area my fancy chest protector didn’t cover was my clavicle. And it’s not the strongest bone in the human body. I’ve never broken it before, but this must have been damn close. I hit those bars hard enough to twist the forks in the tripple clamps, and let me tell you I hurt more than they did! A searing pain - for a moment I thought that was my race run. Turns out my mates were not far behind me. Yoda and Chewy were quickly on the scene, and helped me get my shit together again.

Pieter also caught up on his little 250. Credit must go to this man - surely on the smallest budget of the rally, he ended up putting a lot of bigger, fancier and faster machinery to shame in the overall standings!





I think little bike would make a great foundation for anyone trying to finish the Amageza first time out without any aspirations for a top-20 placing. It was solid, reliable and totally did the job.

A bit of mechanical intervention and I was on the road again, just 20 minutes behind, and quite chastened.

Ironically, it was the turning point of my day, for some reason. I rode gingerly for a while, but then I guess I thought “What’s the worse that can happen?” (dumb thought) and turned up the wick a bit.  I started to find my sand legs - perhaps the balance of the bike was just getting better with a bit of fuel burned - and some speed.



I met up with Jonathan Blackburn, the pommie on the union-jack emblazoned 690 who had ridden down through Africa, and we formed a gate team. For periods there were other people with us - Mark Campbell joined us for a while - and we were catching a passing a lot of other riders. The quicker we went, the better my bike started to feel, and the more comfortable I did too. I guess the fall was about 20% into the stage by distance, and between that moment and the end, this became my favourite stage of the entire Amageza.

It was extraordinary scenery, and I wish there’d been time to stop, drink it all in and take photographs. This beautiful undulating river of fine red sand, huge deserted salt pans covered in a thin veneer of hard, crackled mud, loads of birds and other wildlife. I’d have given my back teeth to be touring in this terrain, and Alex had definitely pulled out all the stops getting us to race here.



After some time I was on my own. The others had got stuck on dunes somewhere, and unless someone falls badly or looks in mechanical trouble, it’s each man for himself. But by now I was fully in the flow, and just having the time of my life. Today was the day I finally bonded with the 450, and it’s a sensational machine on song. I had purposely built the lightest, most minimalist race bike I could. I wanted it to ride well, and not break if I crashed it, and those decisions were paying dividends.



Just at the end of the dunes proper, I caught up with Lord Kamanya himself, and when we turned inland and bashed our way through a silt riverbed for a few kilometers, I got to witness first hand the extraordinary sight of him muscling that magnificent tank through this kind of terrain. God bless the man - it’s quite an achievement - but one has to wonder what mincemeat he would make of the race on a suitable ride. Just look at him storming through the soft stuff!!





The terrain had changed now, and after a couple hundred kilometers of charging straight down the border fence, there was a bit of navigation involved. After running off-piste through the silt bed we were on rocky terrain over some small hills. I was on my own again, and coming down one of the hills I saw the somwhat perturbing sight of a group of eight or so rally bikes heading back in the opposite direction.

“No man - this is the wrong way,” one of them said. “There’s loads of tracks - everyone has turned around down there. It's a dead end.”

Now this is the point at which rally riding becomes very tricky indeed. Do you follow the herd, or do you trust your own navigation. Instincts be damned - I haven’t been doing this long enough to have any. I was reasonably sure I was right - everything had been adding up so far. But I hesitated, not entirely ready to head off into the wilderness on my own. After a few minutes, Andrew came down the hill behind me, and he clearly thought this was the right track too, so off I went. It was only a few km to the end of the stage, and if I’d had the presence of mind to check my waypoints I would have known that. But I knew it was close, and gassed it through the winding valley floor.

Three or four more turns and that was that. A fence, a gate and a road - we’d reached the end of the stage. Except we hadn’t: no marshalls, no trucks, no cold water and no damn dancing girls. What was wrong? I was now thoroughly confused, and decided to back track, wondering if I’d missed the marshall point in the trees. Five or so minutes back, and I bump into the others coming towards me. They hadn’t seen the marshalls either, so clearly they weren’t here for some reason.



We started the liaison, and after 20 or so km, there was Andy and the marshall point. Apparently a bit of a bugger up with GPS points or something, but I was relieved either way. Chewy’s brother Charl was there with the bakkie, some food and drink, and spare fuel. Stage 2 done!!





I thought I'd ridden much quicker than the day before, but clearly the 20 minutes fannying around after my fall had cost me. Still, I was in the top 30 - and doing a lot better than I expected to at this stage of proceedings, so I was delighted:


Offline Kamanya

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Re: Racing Panda's AWESOME AMAGEZA 2014: START TO FINISH!
« Reply #399 on: February 27, 2015, 08:24:51 am »
Three or four more turns and that was that. A fence, a gate and a road - we’d reached the end of the stage. Except we hadn’t: no marshalls, no trucks, no cold water and no damn dancing girls. What was wrong? I was now thoroughly confused, and decided to back track, wondering if I’d missed the marshall point in the trees. Five or so minutes back, and I bump into the others coming towards me. They hadn’t seen the marshalls either, so clearly they weren’t here for some reason.

We started the liaison, and after 20 or so km, there was Andy and the marshall point. Apparently a bit of a bugger up with GPS points or something, but I was relieved either way.


In the wide expanse, huge distances and with few marshals, there are a few times when the finish line will not be manned, but itself is just a waypoint.

They can be tricky, because like you experienced, you immediately think you've made a mistake and you start second guessing and back tracking. Also because it's the end of the racing stage, everything has a speed limit again. The previous year some similar happened in the Richtersveld - the finish line was right at a farm house with a 40kph limit. I picked up a lot of time penalties there.
Somedays, life's like a middlemannetjie.