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Author Topic: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS  (Read 2046 times)

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Offline BossPierreLombard

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #20 on: September 28, 2019, 12:18:29 pm »
Maximum Respect to you and Nadine!
 

Offline Merino

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #21 on: September 28, 2019, 02:11:36 pm »
Ek het nogal gewonder wanneer gaan iemand daai wille perd opsaal.  Laat loop.  Ek geniet hierdie spulletjie!!

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Offline mike gs

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #22 on: September 28, 2019, 03:11:48 pm »
Wow wow wow. Big respect for you guys!

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Offline Buff

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #23 on: September 28, 2019, 03:44:49 pm »
That was a massive undertaking on a GS, congrats on getting the job done  :thumleft: How did the bike hold up to the abuse?
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Offline Sandban(g)k

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2019, 05:17:19 pm »
Respect sir :3some:
 

Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2019, 06:03:08 pm »
That was a massive undertaking on a GS, congrats on getting the job done  :thumleft: How did the bike hold up to the abuse?

Thanks :) As far as I can see, not too bad... 

There are a few new dings in the exhaust headers from the big rocks in the riverbed.  That is not uncommon though.  All my GSes eventually have them.  The rims have some new scratches too - that is also common when riding sand that has pieces of rock in. 

On Sunday morning I had to tighten something like 12 spokes on the front wheel.  I will probably have to get it laced again to make sure that it is true.

Both rims probably have a new small smiley or two.  Nothing obvious / serious though.

Both front brake discs have small marks from rocks on them.  I tried to be careful with this, but it wasn't always possible to avoid knocking them.  I have looked at them closely and they don't seem bent to me, but I won't be completely surprised if on or both are not completely straight anymore.

Some minor scratches from areas on the tracks where one had to ride through narrow passages with overhanging branches - nothing more than from other expeditions in Namibia etc.  Apart from these there aren't any cosmetic damage to the bike.

Otherwise, the bike seems fine to me.  I checked the suspension - especially the front and the stanchions - and I don't see any problems there. 
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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #26 on: September 28, 2019, 06:53:03 pm »
That's the win of a GS, its an all rounder.

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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #27 on: September 28, 2019, 06:54:53 pm »
Day 3 – SS4

We got up at 06:00 on Sunday morning, dropped off our extra fuel for the day and got a lift with Clive to recover Nadene’s bike out of the riverbed.  Driving up the rocky riverbed with Clive in the old Hilux was also an experience :D  We made it back to HQ by 07:30, in time to eat a quick breakfast and to get both bikes to the start line.

For the rally class, the day started with a liaison stage down the R355.  I cannot recall the distance of this stage, but it felt short.  The start for the day’s first special was next to the R355, just North-West of the Africa Burn site.

The rally class started with the customary 30 second dust gaps, followed by me and Nadene.  SS4 was 45 kilometres long and consisted of a combination of tracks around Tankwa Tented Camp and the same terrain around Halfway House that we used on Friday and Saturday. 

The first few kilometres ran along a single track through a rocky field and a short section of riverbed.  I held back a little bit to protect the GS’ suspension.  The track soon joined a farm road and I could ride the GS a bit harder.  I caught up with two of the rally class riders who were temporarily uncertain of where to go.  They followed me for a few kilometres to the first clipper where we caught up with another group of the rally class riders.  The Honda guys stopped shortly after the clipper to sort out an issue with one of the roadbooks (If I remember correctly).  From here on I found myself somewhere in the middle of the field.  The track left the farm roads again onto some single tracks through the fields with sections of fesh-fesh, thorn trees, small hoops and ditches.  The pace was slow here – not only for the GS.

Approximately halfway through the special, the terrain opened up again.  Knowing – by now – the terrain around Halfway House allowed me to up my pace significantly.  I clocked my top speed for the rally on an open stretch between two single tracks – 170 km/h on my GPS.  It was deliberate...  Stephen McGregor told me on Saturday night that David Ellis had set the top speed of the rally up to that point.  He clocked 167 km/h on his GPS.  I thought it would be inappropriate to bring a 1200 to a rally and to not at least try to set a faster top speed  :biggrin:

The special ended at Halfway House.  I refuelled my bike, refilled my hydration pack and ate a protein bar whilst waiting for the next liaison stage to start.
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #28 on: September 28, 2019, 08:51:03 pm »
Day 3 – SS5

The second liaison stage took us past Die Mond, West of the R355.  I can’t recall the exact distance, but it was probably 40 odd kilometres of liaison to the start of SS5.

Nadene was waiting for us at the start of SS5.  Clive had assisted her to get the wire off of her rear wheel and took her to the start via a shortcut. 

Up until this point Nadene and I had always started after the rally class bikes.  We were navigating by GPS after all.  At the start of SS5 the marshals told me that they wanted me to start in the middle of the rally class, based on the times we set in SS4.  I was very happy starting at the back, but also appreciated the compliment.  They set met off 5th of 6th – if I remember correctly. 

The first few kilometres consisted of farm roads and I could stay in that position.  That didn’t last incredibly long though… the track soon took us back to the single tracks that ran through the rocky fields.  As soon as we got into those fields I knew it was going to be impossible to stay ahead of the smaller bikes that started behind me.  I pulled off to the side two or three times to allow other bikes to pass, but generally tried to keep the pace up.  By this time these tracks had been used by a number of bikes in different classes and this did clear some of the bigger rocks out of the tracks.  It was not as bad as the previous day.

About halfway into the special, the terrain opened up again and the going got much easier on the GS.  With another special left for the day and not wanting to finish in the dark again, I also used this opportunity to cover some ground quickly.  I caught up with Marc Johnston and Robert Gibbon at the point where the track crossed over the R355 again (Or some other big gravel road, can’t recall exactly).  The roadbook wasn’t 100% clear about where to start on the other side of the road.  The GPS was  They followed me to the other side of the fence where the track twisted through the field.  And the sand… Both Robert and Marc easily passed me again.  We were back in the same sand tracks that we rode later afternoon during the marathon stage.  I used the same tactics… third or fourth gear where possible and manual labour in the really thick and twisty sections.  Keeping momentum was starting to be a real challenge… the rear Pirelli Scorpion Rally didn’t look the way it did on Friday.

After the sand tracks, there was a short section of (mostly) sandy riverbed.  The track mostly avoided the real rocky sections in the riverbed from the marathon stage.  Both myself and the GS appreciated that :D The sandy sections in the riverbed were harder work than the previous day.  Courtesy of the rear tire.

I was one of the first bikes to finish SS5 – perhaps the third or fourth bike.  At the finish we were told that we could start SS6 – the last stage of the rally – on our own time.  Since it would start and finish at HQ, the timing would start/stop automatically.  I decided to stop for approximately 30 minutes.  That would allow me to catch my breath, eat a quick lunch, refill my hydration pack and start the last special.  Marc told me the night before that there were lots of riverbed sections indicated in the roadbook for SS6, so I wanted to give myself enough time to finish this stage before dark.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2019, 08:51:51 pm by detour »
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Offline sgt

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #29 on: September 28, 2019, 10:06:45 pm »
Fantastic ride report.. I'll definitely read this more than once  :)
 

Offline White Rhino

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #30 on: September 28, 2019, 11:01:01 pm »
Accolades mate, huge accolades for making that bike eat that terrain in style. And a role of honor for helping all the struggling competitors, especially Nadene in the dark.   :headbang: :headbang: :headbang:
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #31 on: September 29, 2019, 10:24:43 am »
Day 3 – SS6

Having last refuelled after SS4, I checked the fuel range on my bike.  According to the computer I had 100 kilometres left on the tank. And according to my GPS the special was 70 kilometres long.  I decided to keep the bike as light as possible and to just go out with the fuel I had in the bike… it gave me almost a 50% margin.

A couple of the Rally bikes had already started by the time I was ready to go, but that still left me in the front third or so of the field.  There were still some rally bikes finishing SS5 when I started.  I rode over the start/finish ramp, the timer started, and I was on the final stage of the rally.

Just after I rode through the speed control zone for a few hundred metres, the track entered a riverbed – to the East of the R355.  That section of riverbed had some bigger rocks in places but consisted mostly of course sand.  The terrain didn’t allow me to get into third gear, but for the most of it I could keep the bike in second gear with enough revs to make progress.  I followed the track for a few kilometres, making only a couple of minor navigational errors where the river split or where there were multiple paths through thorn trees.  If this was an adventure ride, one would just keep the momentum and follow the path that you are on… but in this case it wasn’t that simple.  Every time I noticed that I was 20 metres off the track, I would start wondering if there wasn’t a clipper hidden between the trees on the actual track.  On a few occasions I turned around to go back and follow the correct path.  Off course there never was a clipper :D

After a few kilometres, the riverbed and the track crossed the R355.  At least that is what it looked like on the GPS.  There were crossings over the fences on both sides of the R355 and tracks in the riverbed on the West of the R355.  The GPS track took me down the riverbed for a few hundred metres at which point it exited to the North over some rocks.  I followed the track for about 200 metres through the field until it ran straight into a fence.  With no ramp to cross over.  My first thought was that the GPS track just wasn’t that accurate.  It happens.  I proceeded to ride up and down along the fence for 100 metres to each side.  There were still no gates and no way to cross the fence.  This baffled me a bit… when I zoomed out on the GPS, I could see that the track made only a small loop – perhaps 2 kilometres – through the field on the other side of the fence before it crossed over the R355 again to the East.  Perhaps I just got out of the riverbed too early… I went back into the riverbed and followed the tracks to the West.  After a couple of kilometres, it was clear that the riverbed was gradually turning South-West, away from where I needed to go.  I didn’t want to miss a clipper, but I was also increasingly convinced that this wasn’t the track that we were supposed to ride.  I turned around and followed the riverbed all the way back to the R355 and then rode North till the point where the GPS track crossed back over the R355.  Was it an option to ride that section of track in reverse to look for a clipper?  When I got to the point where the GPS track crossed back over the R355, there also wasn’t a gate or a ramp over the fenced.  Something was clearly wrong with the GPS track.  At this point I decided to just start where the GPS track – and the actual tracks in the field – continued towards the East of the R355 and to discuss this issue with race control after the stage – in case I did miss a clipper.

As soon as the track crossed to the East of the R355, I was on some farm roads.  I upped the pace and enjoyed the GS friendly part of this stage.  It wasn’t long before I saw one of the rally bikes coming from the front around a corner.  It was Martin – the eventual winner of the rally class.  We stopped, and he asked me if I was on the GPS track.  I was… but according to him that track ran into a fence.  He was going back to restart from the previous location in the roadbook.  This made me wonder if I even had the correct GPS track for the stage… I did the only thing I could and followed the track on my GPS.  It ran into a fence, but there was a gate.  The type that is made out of wire.  That was a little bit strange, because until that point in the rally there were no closed gates that I saw in timed sections.  Only on liaison stages.  I decided to take a chance and go through the gate.  I closed it again behind me, not knowing if I was actually supposed to go through this gate and if it was perhaps kept closed for a reason.

After the gate, the tracked continued for several kilometres on farm roads.  It took me approximately 10 minutes of riding to get to a spot where the GPS track crossed over a bigger gravel road.  There was a race stop sign… and a marshal.  At that point I knew that I must be on the right track since all other classes had already completed the rally.  I continued to follow the track that still ran on farm roads.  Enjoyable on the GS.  The track later started twisting between and around thorn trees.  Slower riding, but easy.  Progress was being made.  There were sections of the farm roads that were rocky, but there was always enough space to avoid the bigger rocks and to maintain a reasonable pace. 

I was now almost halfway into the final special and it felt like the race organizers gave us a scenic ride through the Tankwa - as a parting gift.   That turned out to be FAR from the truth…

It was approximately halfway into the stage that the track entered into another riverbed.  This was proper enduro stuff.  Tracks between thorn trees that twists and turns and that are so narrow that you have to force the bike through the branches.  The surface varied from really soft sand to big rocks.  Navigation was difficult, even with a GPS.  Even at my maximum zoom, I would sometimes be uncertain of which little path to take.  10 metres into one path I would realize that I am supposed to be on the other path and would then be faced with turning the GS around in rocks that are much bigger than the ground clearance of the GS.  This track would make me sweat on my KTM 300.  Only I wasn’t on my KTM 300.

I started regretting the fact that I decided to leave without putting in some fuel.  The fuel consumption was sky high and it was starting to look like I would struggle to complete the remaining part of the stage with the fuel I had on board.

There were sections where the track got out of the riverbed onto the bank.  These were slightly better than the rocks in the riverbed, but still slow going.  First gear riding around thorn trees.  I used the berms as much as was possible on a GS.

The last 35 kilometres of SS6 was brutal.  That is the only way to describe it.  At one point I was trying to keep some form of momentum between the big rocks in the riverbed when I realized I should have gone down the descent on the small path to the left of me.  I was only three metres from where I was supposed to be, but there was no way to go down where I was.  Looking towards my left, I realized how much work it was going to be to get the GS from where it was to that spot three metres away.  I briefly lost my sense of humour there… for the first time during the rally.  In no uncertain terms I explained in my helmet to Clive the difference between rally and enduro!  It took a minute to recompose myself.  After all this mission was supposed to be really difficult.  Otherwise it would not be worth trying to do.

With less than 10 kilometres of the stage to go, I was faced with an obstacle that could easily have forced me to wait for other riders to assist me to get the GS through.  Until that point I had been able to conquer all obstacles without help from other riders.  There was a ditch that we had to ride through.  Probably 2.5 metres deep with a steep descent and immediate steep ascent again.  The surface was sandy, and the ascent had a small step.  I stopped and assessed the situation.  The GS would be able to get up on the other side if you carried enough momentum down the descent – there was not room at the bottom to get momentum.  However, there was a space of only about 30 centimetres wide where the GS would be able to get up the little step.  The big challenge was going to be to gain as much momentum as possible going down whilst keeping that line on the sandy surface.  The penalty for not getting it right… I would be stuck in the ditch.  There would be no way to get enough traction or momentum to get out if I didn’t make it through with the first attempt. 

I lined the bike up and gave it my best shot… but I lost the line (by about 50 centimetres) and as I had predicted, the GS didn’t have the traction to get up on the steeper side of the step.   I managed to keep the bike up whilst it slid back to the bottom of the ditch, but I was now stuck.  Properly stuck.

One option was to wait for some of the rally bikes to catch up with me and to ask them for help.  That would require multiple strong mend and the use of my tow rope, I figured.  Only Martin passed me again on the stage, so I knew there were still a number of rally bikes on their way.  I didn’t know how far they were behind, and I wanted to at least try to get the bike out by myself.  I walked up and down the ditch and found a spot about 10 metres away where the ascent was not quite as high and slightly less steep.  The best plan I could come up with, was to gain momentum by running in the ditch at the bottom and to then turn up the incline and use that momentum to get to the top.  The turn would be tricky though…. The surface was sandy, and I would need a quick and sharp turn to maintain momentum.    The first attempt didn’t get me to the top.  Not even close.  The first attempt was in the same direction that water would flow in the ditch.  I decided to change the angle of attack for the second attempt.  I would build momentum slightly uphill and that would make the turn slightly less acute.  The second attempt got me to within a meter from the top.  Close… but no cigar.  I took the bike back to the bottom of the ditch… again :D

At this point I had probably two attempts left to get up the slightly friendlier ascent.  After that I would have messed up the surface enough that I wouldn’t be able to turn and have enough traction to stand a chance.  Using the same angle of attack from the previous attempt, I lined the bike up at the bottom of the ditch.  I had about 3 metres to gain momentum before I had to turn up the ascent.  This time I used my boot to create a shallow rut that turned up the incline.  The plan was to build momentum, stick my front wheel in the rut to help me make the turn whilst keeping momentum and to then keep it pinned and hope for the best.  It WORKED!  I got to the top.  Only just, but I was out of the ditch and could continue riding.  A lot of my energy stayed behind in that ditch though.

The last 7 kilometres of the special was a known quantity.  We had ridden those riverbeds on more than one occasion during the race.  By now the sand in the riverbed was as thick and messed up as can be and my rear tire was gone.  It was energy sapping stuff, but at this point I knew I was going to make it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the last bit of the stage and rode over the finish line to a loud cheer from my friends – old ones and new ones.  There was 13 kilometres range left on my bike and my hands were shaking from the hard work in the riverbeds, but the mission was complete!
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #32 on: September 29, 2019, 10:31:55 am »
Some photos from day 3...
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #33 on: September 29, 2019, 10:33:08 am »
Pirelli Scorpion Rally after 1200km or Tankwa...
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Offline sgt

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #34 on: September 29, 2019, 11:11:32 am »

With less than 10 kilometres of the stage to go, I was faced with an obstacle that could easily have forced me to wait for other riders to assist me to get the GS through.  Until that point I had been able to conquer all obstacles without help from other riders.  There was a ditch that we had to ride through.  Probably 2.5 metres deep with a steep descent and immediate steep ascent again.  The surface was sandy, and the ascent had a small step.  I stopped and assessed the situation.  The GS would be able to get up on the other side if you carried enough momentum down the descent – there was not room at the bottom to get momentum.  However, there was a space of only about 30 centimetres wide where the GS would be able to get up the little step.  The big challenge was going to be to gain as much momentum as possible going down whilst keeping that line on the sandy surface.  The penalty for not getting it right… I would be stuck in the ditch.  There would be no way to get enough traction or momentum to get out if I didn’t make it through with the first attempt. 

I lined the bike up and gave it my best shot… but I lost the line (by about 50 centimetres) and as I had predicted, the GS didn’t have the traction to get up on the steeper side of the step.   I managed to keep the bike up whilst it slid back to the bottom of the ditch, but I was now stuck.  Properly stuck.

One option was to wait for some of the rally bikes to catch up with me and to ask them for help.  That would require multiple strong mend and the use of my tow rope, I figured.  Only Martin passed me again on the stage, so I knew there were still a number of rally bikes on their way.  I didn’t know how far they were behind, and I wanted to at least try to get the bike out by myself.  I walked up and down the ditch and found a spot about 10 metres away where the ascent was not quite as high and slightly less steep.  The best plan I could come up with, was to gain momentum by running in the ditch at the bottom and to then turn up the incline and use that momentum to get to the top.  The turn would be tricky though…. The surface was sandy, and I would need a quick and sharp turn to maintain momentum.    The first attempt didn’t get me to the top.  Not even close.  The first attempt was in the same direction that water would flow in the ditch.  I decided to change the angle of attack for the second attempt.  I would build momentum slightly uphill and that would make the turn slightly less acute.  The second attempt got me to within a meter from the top.  Close… but no cigar.  I took the bike back to the bottom of the ditch… again :D

At this point I had probably two attempts left to get up the slightly friendlier ascent.  After that I would have messed up the surface enough that I wouldn’t be able to turn and have enough traction to stand a chance.  Using the same angle of attack from the previous attempt, I lined the bike up at the bottom of the ditch.  I had about 3 metres to gain momentum before I had to turn up the ascent.  This time I used my boot to create a shallow rut that turned up the incline.  The plan was to build momentum, stick my front wheel in the rut to help me make the turn whilst keeping momentum and to then keep it pinned and hope for the best.  It WORKED!

 :o
 ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
 

Offline Amsterdam

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #35 on: September 29, 2019, 11:18:31 am »
Great write up and well done.  To even contemplate doing this on a big bike is more than most of us ever get to.
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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #36 on: September 29, 2019, 11:45:43 am »
Conclusion

My primary goal was to successfully complete all stages of the Rally class route with myself and my bike intact.  Ideally, without having to cut out any parts of the intended route – so without penalties. 

Only 9 out of the 17 bikes that started the Rally class route completed all 7 timed stages, so this turned out to be a bigger challenge than I had anticipated.  I did however manage to complete all 7 timed stages - without any penalties.

The bike has some minor damage – a new ding or two in the exhaust headers, some scratches on the rims and perhaps a small new smiley or two.  Nothing serious and nothing that you won’t find on dirt-bikes that completed the rally.  Therefore, I am happy that my primary goal was achieved. 

My secondary goal was to see if I could beat the total time of at least one rally bike on the same route.  Admittedly this isn’t the most sensible goal.  It was only Nadene and I that navigated that route by GPS.  Everyone else navigated by roadbook.  So, I am not comparing apples with apples here.  The intention with this silly comparison is not to take anything away from the guys that completed the rally by roadbook.  They deserve A LOT of credit for that! 

Never the less, this was a race and I felt like I should race someone... My combined time for all 7 timed stages were 21 hours and 37 minutes.  Had I done that time with a roadbook, it would have placed me fourth in the rally class.  Silly goal achieved :D

Well done to everyone who participated in the Tankwa cross country Rally!

This event is made special by Tankwa’s beauty, the tremendous effort and dedication of Clive and his team and by the camaraderie shown by the competitors.  A big thank you to everyone who helped to create such an awesome experience!

To conclude…

Can the Tankwa cross country Rally be finished on a large adventure bike?  The answer is YES.  Is it something that YOU should try to do? Only YOU can decide that.  If you are going to attempt it… don’t underestimate it…  Make sure that you are (very) fit, that you are prepared to ride and concentrate for 12 hours non-stop and that you are confident riding sand and rocks on your bike.  Do some enduro riding as preparation.  THIS challenge is unique and absolutely worthy!
« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 11:46:16 am by detour »
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Offline Kamanya

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Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #37 on: September 29, 2019, 12:23:21 pm »
Epic!

Pity you didn't have a helmet cam... especially for your little chat with Clive in that riverbed.

Well done!
I wonder where that road goes? And that, has usually made all the difference. Appologies to Mr Frost

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Offline detour

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #38 on: September 29, 2019, 12:57:14 pm »
Epic!

Pity you didn't have a helmet cam... especially for your little chat with Clive in that riverbed.

Well done!

Not having taken a helmet cam is the thing I regretted the most after this rally.
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Offline Xpat

Re: Tankwa Cross Country Rally on a 1200 GS
« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2019, 09:14:55 pm »
Great job dragging the hippo through the desert  :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:

Though some might consider it an animal abuse, taking hippo to such an arid environment.  :pot:

That said, if somebody held gun to my head (or offered tons of money) to drag fatty through the rally, I would also rather attempt that on GS, than LC8 I have due to smaller turning radius and much more sturdy clutch (at least 1150GSA had great durable clutch), which I would be hanging on more or less permanently.

Didn't you have HP2? If you would have to chose between your current GS and HP2, which one would you go for? I'm sure HP2 would be better in open sections with bigger wheel and real suspension and stuff, but I suspect normal GS (or whatever it is you were riding - I'm out of touch) might have been easier in those narrow winding riverbeds. Correct or wrong?
« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 09:23:37 pm by Xpat »