Stop… Hammer Time!

So the story so far on our two KTM 690 Enduro R 2012 bikes Calvin and Hobbes…

Leaving Weston…

So it was day 2 of having the bikes and I was lumbered with driving the car to Wales as one us had to take the gumph for our Touratech Adventure Travel Stand and Sam wasn’t keen on me riding alone on such a long journey as a newbie!   As Sam rode off through the traffic on the spankingly new and gorgeous Calvin towards the petrol station I was left at snails pace stuck in traffic all a wee bit pouty!

Pulling up at the pumps I hop out and ask how he was didderling and with a big beam it’s obvious he’s a happy boy!  We pay up, Sam kits back up and as he pulls out the bike stalls with an almighty *POP*.  Again, Sam attempts to start up and pull off… *POP*.  Bike stalls.  Third time… same again.

We pull over and a bit bamboozled take a glance over the bike only to spot the throttle body had detached from the engine!  We figured we could probably fix it but seeing as it’s a day old decide it’s best to pop it up to Fowlers and get them to have a goosey gander at it.  A pick up is arranged and my Parents come to the rescue and drop Sam home to grab my bike, Hobbes, so we can get on the road for the event!  Weh hey for awesome Parentals!

Throttle Body Detached from Engine! Boo hiss!

My bike goes like a dream to and from Wales and all the bits in between.  In the meantime Sam’s bike is whisked off to Fowlers and by the time we return we are told Calvin has been sorted and despite there being some cosmetic damage on the rubber seal between the throttle body and engine, all bolts are tightened and he’s ready to be picked up!  In we go, Sam hops on and back home without a problem!  Good times!

Off to Wales we Go with a Pop… and oil… and grease… and some Coolant too!

Day 2 of proper riding the bikes and we both head over to Wales on Calvin and Hobbes for Sam’s Mums Birthday and a meeting with Wales Air Ambulance and the Evening Post!  It’s the first longish ride I have been on which involved a MASSIVE wedgie within the first ten minutes of being on the bike.  2 hours later my legs are about 3 inches longer (had I been a man I would have sounded like Mickey Mouse!)  We need to be changing those seats… they’re like riding a plank attached to a pneumatic drill!

Anyway, all is good, we arrive and both bikes are behaving (although Calvin is a bit finicky when changing down gears) and we’re both grinning despite the sore arses!  Day 3 and we’re off up the Gower on some nice windy roads (where I experience my first back tyre kick out on a tight gravelly S Bend… talk about brick myself silly!  The funny thing is once I had recovered from a minor cardiac arrest, I tootled round the bend to a waiting Sam who smiled but he then pulled off a bit suddenly and popped a wheelie in error! Bitey Bikes but great fun!) After a pootle here there and everywhere, a visit to the WAA and a photoshoot with Evening Post, we make our way to our friends at SMT Motorcycle with Sam leading the way.  Due to being caught behind various cars Sam pulls up whilst I catch up and as I bob past he waves and I wave back and continue past… little did I know he was waving as Calvin had let out an almighty pop again and the throttle body had come off!

In the middle of Wales... Sam pops the seat to get better access to the throttle body!

As it’s Sam’s Mums Birthday we ideally want to stay on another night and get the bike recovered the following day… so at the side of the road we pull out the tool kit and commence trying to realign the throttle body and engine to get it fit enough to slow ride home.  As the rubber had folded under it took a good while of us both tugging and grunting (ooo err Gov) before we managed to slip them back together.  In doing so though…  we discovered a shed load of coolant pooling out everywhere… and then lots of oil too.  Uh ohhhhhhh spaghettiooos!

Brian and Sam loading Calvin and Hobbes

With not much choice we tidy it up as much as possible, tighten all caps and then slow ride Calvin back home where he was recovered kindly by Brian and brought back to Fowlers (organised by Danni at Fowlers who helped out MASSIVELY! Big thank you!).  Fowlers proceed work as soon as possible and Sam is left looking raaaaaaather sad about his courtesy bike (a Suzuki V Strom… “it’s like making love to a dead person” said the sad boy!)

Calvin is fixed up over the weekend, new coolant cap, new O Ring for the oil, adjustments to the gear box and the throttle body reattached.  After a long test run they call us up and we pop up to collect.

WHeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee *POP*….

So.  We arrive at Fowlers… once again they’re brilliant to us and so kind!  They explain they did a number of checks and resets and that all should be dandy!  Happy as Larry we ride off home, with me taking Sam a countryside route to enjoy.  After a good section of us “wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”ing along, we approach the t junction then suddenly I hear from behind *barrm barmmmm barrm… *POP*


Sam’s face was one of utter doom!  The poor boy was not happy!  Once again, the throttle body had come off and only 10miles from home.  This currently does not bode too well for our round the world charity trip at all!  We call up Fowlers and with closing time looming Sara works her magic and asks Malcolm the van driver to come across Bristol to pick us up (this is a nightmare for the poor man as the Olympic Torch was coming through the same day!)  With a cape and mask he arrives and saves us, scooping Calvin up and taking us back to Fowlers where people have stayed on late to take the bike.  This time round, Sam has a KTM 990 SMT which makes him muchos happier than the Suzuki but still heart broken he has to leave Calvin behind again!

3rd time lucky…. Right?

So.  Fowlers technicians look at it again.  Upon calling up KTM they find out that another chap had a similar problem with his 690 and it was all to do with the tuning so they ask Fowlers to check that out and also take a peek at the valves to make sure they’re clear.

The next day we call up and find out that all the checks have been completed and all the diagnostics are correct and it’s been out for a 60mile test run and it’s dandy.  In essence there’s nothing wrong with Calvin.  We decide to go scoop him up and have a chat with the management as we’re a bit bamboozled as to what to do (with the trip 2.5 months away we’re cutting it fine) and we’re recommended to plonk a letter together when we get back as we’re all thinking a replacement bike is the best option!

In the meantime whilst Calvin has been hiccupping, Hobbes has decided that enough thunder has been stolen and he too was going to go on the blink (literally).  Whilst riding, the Oil Pressure light kept flickering on, mainly when stopped or coming off the throttle.  With Hobbes running smoothly I figure it’s nothing major and likely to be a dodgy switch connection but whilst it’s all go go go with bikes I drop mine off at Fowlers when picking up Calvin and am boshed on a Yamaha MT03 (Sam rather likes seeing me on a sports bike apparently – good times!  But it’s not my Hobbes… boo).

So we ride on home, Calvin being fine and despite the Yamaha being comfortable me being a bit sad.  We were about two roads off ours though and in my mirror I see Sam stall.  “And he calls me a rookie!” I laugh until *POP*…  “nooooooooo waaaaaaaaaaay!!”.  And yes… no way was the right response as this time, the throttle body remains intact!  HOORAH!  But, Calvin is reluctant to start and when he does he’s struggling to hold on to 1000rpm.  Buggernauts.  With some fudging and frolicking we get him back home and yet again call Fowlers who were due to close.  We’re advised to try him again later as due to the heat (it’s been mega muggy) it may be an over heating issue (note, it’s muggy but these bikes are supposed to survive deserts! This bikes a SUPER duff!)

Aaaaaaaaaand boys and girls… that’s as far as we have come!  We did try Calvin a bit later and he seemed much recovered once he had cooled down but we’re still super nervous!  We’ll take him out for a bumble about tomorrow…

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Birthday Biking and Muddy Knees!

I have had *the* most awesome of birthdays ever!  After a cuppa tea in bed and receiving a most stupendous pair of tights in the universe we cracked on with a wee bit of work.  Sam kept doing little sing songs alllllllll morning about the house trying to get me to guess my 2nd present… of which I was told:

  1. It could go on the bike
  2. I will use it on the trip
  3. It is on my person
  4. Sam has one (kind of)
  5. I can wear / use it tonight when out on an evening ride
  6. It *may* be at my parents house

So… putting all of the above together I figured it could be a couple things… either a head torch, heated grips or glove linings or a snazzy bandana type thingy-ma-bob (all meet the above criteria!)!  Little did I know what he had in store for me!

Lunch time comes and we hop on the bikes for a bimble about the country lanes to one of our favourite little spots near Blagdon and decide to take our Contour ROAM cameras for a bit of a test run as we’d just received the SD cards!  When we arrive I’m beaming as the ride had been looooovely and sunny with some gorgeous sweeping roads!  Sam is grinning but a bit concerned about some oil gauge with the bike and gets me to go grab a juice whilst he checks it over.

Upon returning we decide it’s a bit stonking hot to be sitting in the direct sunlight with our suits on so wander off into a little nearby woods, find a log and plonk down.   All the time I’m animatedly chatting about this corner and that and how the cameras were when Sam says he thinks they’re having issues, fiddles with it a bit then puts it to one side.  He then asks if I would like my 2nd prezzie and gets me to close my eyes leaving me guessing away knowing it’s only big enough to fit in the rucksack.

Sam then asks me to open my eyes and when I do I get a bit of a shock as I am presented with a rather gorgeous and beautiful ring with Sam asking if I will marry him!  Not quite the heated gloves I was expecting!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeee!!  Needless to say I said yes!!  Sam caught it all on camera too (they were  never duff he was just making excuses to turn them on) and I can honestly say I don’t half look shocked!  I’m even speechless for some time which is a rarity in itself!

So!  What a blooming marvellous birthday! I am stupendously happy and Sam is pretty twinkle toed at the moment… no matter all the struggles we may be having it doesn’t really matter as we have each other to get through!

Happy days in the Chasing Horizons Household! :D

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Our new Bikes (and my first!! :D) KTM 690 Enduro R 2012

After 8months of chasing various people about bikes and waiting for responses Sam and I finally drew a line under all the lure of a lot of carrot dangling and decided with only 3months to go… we would just go grab a couple of KTM Enduro 690 r 2012 from Fowlers in Bristol!

The night before  we both lay in bed and asked each other whether we were excited.  The answer rather strangely was “not really”.  Having  spent MONTHS negotiating rather painfully with various companies it all didn’t really seem like it was going to happen.  It wasn’t until the morning when we started getting kitted up and the folks arrived to escort us up that things started to become a bit of a reality and we both had rather ridiculous smiles on our faces!

At Fowlers itself, the grin could only grow wider (my face was starting to ache)!  I plonked down with Simon to fill in some paperwork whilst Sam nipped to the bathroom.  When I found out the time it would take to process (30-45mins) I gave me Pa a quick call so they could grab a cuppa whilst they waited to see the bikes!  The jammy dodger that my Pa is though had managed to spot the bikes coming into the showroom before us and took a sneaky photo!   Monkey!!  What was weirder though… he was actually standing next to Sam in the bathroom at the time of the call… not something I ever thought I would have to envisage was my Pa and Sam having a wee together!  Slightly disturbing!!

Some mind bleach and 45minutes later all the paper work was sorted, my bank had taken a slight beating but Sam and I were outside with our new bubbas… and they were STUPENDOUS!  We had a few photos and after being informed Fowlers car park is slightly slippy in the wet especially with new tyres we decided to wheel the bikes outside the gate and prepare to set off!  (Less of an audience too for my inexperienced wobbling!)

sam-and-clare-bikes

Considering I hadn’t been on a bike for over a month and this was my 7th time riding (that figure includes my test riding!) I was a wee bit nervous at this point!  What was odd for me too was the height of the KTM 690… I was used to much lower seats.  As you can see from the videos of me setting off (with a rather nervous Pa behind the camera!) I had a bit of a wibble to begin with!  Haha!  I soon got used to it though!

 


 

Riding home was amazing!  I soon learned that slipping off sideways on the saddle was a MASSIVE help in stabilising wibbles when stopping (although a bit hard with the non-grip rukka butts!  I felt velcro’d to the seat!)  When dodging a pothole I had a bit of a surprise too… I barely twitched and the bike whizzed where I wanted it to go!  Nothing like the bikes I had been learning on which now in comparison seemed like riding a stubborn old boy of a horse which needed a ridiculous amount of coaxing to go wherever you desired!  What was mega lovely too was I could see for miles!  Way over the tops of cars giving me a great advantage in judging traffic and adjusting my riding style to suit!

Something I kept forgetting though… people can hear me outside my helmet.  There would have been a lot of Bristol and Weston people hearing wheeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeee as I rode past that day!  Haha!

When we arrived back we were both grinning head to toe!  Sam was enjoying riding an endure style bike again and although he was concentrating on being my guard dog all the way back he was over the moon!

 


 

A big thank you to my parents for driving a rather excitable Sam and I to our lovely bikes!  They’ve been so mega in helping us out, we cannot say thank them enough!  Also a big thank you to Fowlers – in specific Rod – as well!  After months of endless calls and non returned messages to various other places it was such a relief to deal with someone who calls you back and lets you know exactly where you stand within a day or two!  Great chap!

So… two KTM 690’s Enduro r 2012s up… 3months to go… and lots of off roading and practice AHOY!  Things are finally hotting up!

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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Having a moment…

And now… a wee update (or a mahoosive one!)!

Well. As said the past few weeks have been manic. I cannot explain how hard it is to juggle the amount of calls and arrangements we have been needing to make! Here’s a shortened list of all we have been doing:

  1. Sorting out medical side of things (details to come soon as jabs etc are in a couple of months)
  2. Figuring out exactly what gear we need… then revisiting this list and reducing it down again… and then doing that again (we have to travel light and budget)… and then finding where we can get them at the best price … then revisit the list again! You get the general idea ;)
  3. Sourcing bikes. We’ve been dangled a carrot for a deal with regards to a couple of bikes but this has been going on now for over 6months and we finally had to make a decision and go elsewhere. If anyone does this kind of thing, make sure you have an earlier deadline and aren’t such suckers for marketing spiel… 3months before is pushing it a bit!! Especially for me seeing as I’ve only been on a bike 7 times!
  4. With regards to bikes, sorting out what adaptions we need to make. Once again, making a list, revisiting, finding where we can source them at what price, finding costs for anything that needs to be fitted by mechanics, revisit lists etc.
  5. Liaising with our Charities! Yeh we’ve been greedy in having three but they’re all so superb and cover all expanses of our challenge so we’re mega happy to be supporting all of them! But sorting out things for events so leaflets, posters, shaky tins, handouts etc as well as press opportunities is quite a handful!
  6. Sorting out event bits and bobs. Where on EARTH do you find two mannequins for example!! Haha! Luckily TranAm have leant us a couple which are standing in our dining room (scared the Be’jesus out of me when I came downstairs the following morning! Hahaha!) Display boards, transport, storage of things, gazebos, tables, chairs, bikes, maps etc etc.
  7. Arranging all the PR. So much going on here and it’s all about to kick off! So constant phone calls and emails to various media connections.
  8. Sorting out website bits, conducting *previews* arranging for kit and gear delivery, taking photos, blogging etc. Hours of fun here!
  9. Insurance… with Sam having a “new” license again this has been a right pain in the bum but eventually Bike Sure have come back and helped us out massively with insurance! As we only need it for a few months before we hit Canada and then back in Europe we were struggling to find anyone who would help us out (it was all year insurance deals etc). Can’t sing Bike Sures praises enough here and super quick/friendly :)
  10. Building garages to home our bikes-to-be! We built one a few months back but had COUNTLESS problems with the roof (never EVER buy from Gardens Building Direct! Utter tripe customer service and poor quality stuff!) so today have spent the day outside replacing it! Lush!
  11. Finishing off the house and preparing it for renting out. Only odds and sods left but they all take up hours at a time (gravelling the front garden, fixing a couple of doors, painting the outside wall, emptying the house of junk etc)
  12. Sounds daft… but seeing friends and family. We have only 3months and a bit left. With such a lot going on all the time we’re trying to fit everyone we know and love in before we head off. We will have a launch party but it’s just nice to catch up before hand!
  13. Working! We have to do our own work too so whilst all the above is happening we’re working through the evenings and nights to get projects done and dusted!
  14. Finding time for us! Not happening much! But we’re trying to switch off and do non-bike-challenge-related-things too from time to time!

Annnd… I think that’s about it! Each item is simple enough to deal with one or two at a time but we are constantly juggling phone calls, emails, running to and from locations, tools, more phone calls, emails, collections, events, geeking out on blogs and internet, reviews, photos, crunching figures, researching, visiting people, docs, working, trying to sleep, phone calls etc!

Admittedly last Monday I had a major down day. After 6 months of speaking with people who would constantly promise returned calls and emails… no one was answering their phones and if they were they were being rude:

“I’m sorry they’re not available”
“They’re away from their desk”
“They’re in a meeting… and I don’t know how long the meeting will be, want me to put you through to voicemail?”
“Oh they’re away now for two weeks, can it wait?”
“I’ll just put you through *beep beep…… beep beep…. beep beep* *line cuts out*”
“If you leave a message they’ll get back to you”
“I don’t have an answer yet. I’ll let you know next week.”

The thing is… with regards to some of the calls I have been making I don’t mind if people just are honest and say “we can’t help you” or “we’re not interested” etc… that’s great for Sam and I as it means we then can focus on different avenues. But to have people say to us “Amazing great, that’s superb, we love the idea, we’d love to help, leave it with us and we’ll get back to you this week…” and then that rolls on to two weeks… then a month… then they’re away… then they don’t take calls… then they’re interested and will finalise details… then no response… then no answers…. it’s a complete mind mash.

So last Monday I just burst into tears! The above, combined with being shattered and also still suffering from a knee injury so unable to exercise and feeling like a fatty… I just broke! I officially had given up! I felt horrendous as I could see no way of doing the challenge, monetary wise or physically and what’s more I had been rejected by all contacts all day. Worse of all though.. I felt that if I couldn’t pull myself together I would be letting so many people down, namely our charities.

Sam was such a sweetie though. After cuddles and tea I was sent to wake up with a shower for my frazzled bed hair (getting changed in the morning has not been happening lately due to so much being on!! It’s a case of fall out of bed, make porridge, drink tea whilst checking emails, get out note book of godliness and calendar, start organising, emailing, calling and working!) He then took me outside to DIY… probably one of my favourite past times!! Granted… it started raining and thundering (cue us holding up our rakes and shovels cheering… probably not the wisest of ideas ;))… but it was lovely and he picked me back up!

Tuesday Sam took on various phone calls and we made some executive decisions and by Thursday the bikes had been sorted for pick up in a weeks time, various kit arranged, insurance done, event organising all organised, mannequins collected, parcels received and picked up and work completed.

Awesome Pete from TranAm helping us sort out mannequins and a rather shattered but much cheerier Clare!

 

Enjoying our day trip out to TranAm and RUKKA :)

Not only that but we have had some LOVELY phone calls and support from friends, charities and sponsors this week which has really helped to pick me up.

So!

Next week… we get the bikes!! I cannot wait, I am so relieved it’s all coming together now and feel we can really get moving! We *can* do this challenge! So far, so good! Last week, yeh I had a blip but I’m back and with a vengeance! We’re a little short for time but by heck, if I have anything to do with it we will make the date and we will do all we can to raise as much monies and awareness for all our charities!

Wheeeee!

Right.. time for a glass of wine me thinks ;)

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