Monday, 7 November 2011

Countdown Blog 5

I blink and another month has gone!  It is now less than 5 months before I hit the road.  So, what have I managed to progress in my preparations since I last wrote?  Well, to be honest I’ve not done a huge amount of work on the trip over the last 4 weeks.  I managed to bury myself under a very large rock... you know, one of those work ones... worst kind...  and had to pry myself from under it just to pen these few words.  You know what it’s like - when the business end of life calls, and domestic duties echo, the time for other stuff just gets squeezed.  Can’t grumble though, my special / annual leave approvals came through, so I’m free to go.  Yey!  There is definitely an upside to working for a cool employer!

So aside from earning the bucks and getting a few more holes shot in my arm to keep away the nasties, I did manage some time a couple of weeks back to do a few more farkles on the bike.  So why not spend a little time now to talk about Idris.

I faffed!  I hate to admit it, but I did.  I spend over a year researching and testing a whole range of bikes which I thought might fit the bill; reading up on the trials and tribulations of fellow overlanders who have been and done on various machines.  There was a point when I could more than gainfully hold my own with the best salesmen about the relative merits and drawbacks of a particular model or make.  I looked at GS1200s, GS800s, GS650s, V-stroms, XTs, Transalps and Africa Twins.  I looked at different Tigers, Varaderos, Stelvios, and Multistradas.  I even looked at Harleys, touring bikes, even my trusty 800 Intruder.  And could I decide?  Could I heck!  But at the end of the day, I also looked at my bank balance!

I came to the conclusion that all of the bikes I looked at could do the trip, just some more easily than others.  But I also decided that whatever bike I chose I would keep.  I have images of my tottering out to the garage when old and grey, dragging the dust sheet off the bike, and sitting there looking at the scrapes and stickers as I probe the no longer functioning memory cells to try and relive the best moments of the journey.  So with that romantic moment in mind (and yes, it is possible to have a romantic moment with a bike... just so long as it doesn’t get physical!) I decided that I would get a machine that could do the trip and be of use to me for some light off roading / green laning on my return.  I also concluded that since I’ll likely be travelling solo, it would be a good idea if I chose a bike that was both easy to repair and pick up when I fall off (and I have no doubt that I will).

Time was running out.  I knew that it would be a good idea to give the chosen one a good run before hand, just to iron out details and check it would do what I needed.  I also knew that this test run would have to take place during this summer, as annual leave would be at a premium in the run up to the trip.  That timescale would also give me space to rebuild the bike in line with my thinking, or swop it out for something else if it proved a real dog!

So off I went to see a G650GS single – it was sold!  Then a GS650 twin – it didn’t grab me.  Then a GS650 Dakar – great bike, and with ‘Dakar’ in its name, how cool is that?  Well, it would have been, but it had sold.  So then I went to have another look at an XT660Z Tenere that I had seen before – 18 months old with only 600 miles.  It was still for sale (after 6 months sitting idle) so a deal was struck and Idris found a new home.  Nice!

The Bike page on this blog sets out all Idris’ various modifications, so I won’t repeat them.  Needless to say I managed to bag a sound machine, with enough left over in me back pocket to set Idris up for the trip.  This month I did manage to start on some homemade farkles which should aid on the road, and to give Idris’ sheepskin seat a haircut!  One does have standards don’t you know!  I now need to sort out connections for my heated gear and swap the tyres out for something chunkier, and it’ll be ready to go.     

One other little detail done this month was plotting the planned route on Google Earth.  I’ve not figured out how to link the live document to this blog yet, but my plan is to also track my actual route so you can see the trip unfold.  What I have done is taken a snapshot of the planned route as a photo on the globe – and you are welcome to visit The Route page of the blog to see the result.  I think it really brings home the enormity of the journey – almost from end to end – and may inspire some of you to donate to my adopted charity – nudge, nudge.  See the link on the top right of this blog, and please give what you can.  Thanks.

1 comment:

  1. just had a quick read thru...virtually the same trip i did this year also on a xt660z, you picked the perfect bike, i had only two problems with the bike, upper neck bearing cracked, check this before you go, yamaha are renowned for not putting enough grease where there should be loads, mine cracked in northern argentina and i couldn't get a new one for 8000 miles!!! second thing happened was a split wire in the left rear turn signal, that was a fluke.

    on a good day i got 408 miles to a tank, keep your rpm below 4000 in every gear when possible and the fuel mileage will soar

    i have two things i saw on your bike that concern me for this trip

    1. you want to add a top box - DON'T, they don't hold up to the road conditions, especially ruta 40, get a soft bag you can strap to your seat
    2. you put a mount for your gps above your dash on that cross member, either do one or the other, take it off and remount it to your bars or take the headlight area totally apart and the bar that this connects to the frame needs to be strengthened by welding on additional metal plate

    check out my blogs and if you have any questions drop me an email - -

    regards, paul