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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Touratech Adventure Travel Event 2012

This weekend just gone Sam and I headed to the Touratech Adventure Travel Event in Wales where we had a Charity stall to promote the Wales Air Ambulance, Riders 4 Health and the World Land Trust. It truly was a fantastic weekend… despite the hiccup start (See “Stop… Hammer Time” post for more details)!

When we arrived on the Friday we have to admit we didn’t really know what to expect!  After a brief and lovely convo with General Manager Craig at Touratech, we were directed to a an area to pitch up and Sam pulled the bike up and hopped off.  Within seconds a chap rocks up on a Husqvarna chewing on a cigar, points to Calvin (KTM 690 Enduro R 2012) and says..

Cigar Man: “Is that yours?” *unsmiling*
Us: “Yup… going to be taking it around the world!”
Cigar Man: “Right well… pop the seat off…” *swings off his bike*
Us: *bamboozled* “Okay… sure…”
Cigar Man: “Lift that up over there…”
Us: “Done…”
Cigar Man: “Right… that setting is for crap petrol, so be sure to use that when you get shitty fuel, this one’s for easy riding… you need to be getting rid of the petrol cap because it’s useless… take a look at this too…”

… he went on for about 20minutes giving us some absolutely priceless hints and tips for the bike… we were gobsmacked!  Such an awesome fella… and we didn’t catch his name (hence “cigar man”!)!  This was exactly what the weekend was like!!  The sheer amount of wonderfully inspiring people we met with so many hints, tips and general chit chat and banter was phenomenal!
touratech-stand-ta-daThe setting up of the stand was good fun… it was like being in a power kite competition with gusts of winds giving us a good fight with the skies and earth!  Our spot was pretty mega with the food and beer tent to the left and the speakers tent directly in front!  Good stuff!  On our stand we had some big display boards for Riders for Health, Wales Air Ambulance and the World Land Trust along with a massive Helicopter Cake (Guess the Weight – Results Released weekend of 26th May 2012!), Cards, Leaflets, Rukka Gear, X Lites, Contour ROAM cameras and various other bits and bobs!  It looked pretty packed but wicked if we do say so ourselves!  We had so many generous contributions to our charities from the riders, we were astounded at the positive responses we had – a big thank you to all those who donated!  If you missed the opportunity and would like to make any donations please visit our just giving sites for the charities:

Just Giving – Wales Air Ambulance 
Just Giving – World Land Trust
Just Giving – Riders 4 Health 

Over the course of the weekend we had the amazing opportunity to meet with Sam Manicom who I can honestly say is one of the most overwhelmingly
fascinating and marvellous gentleman you could ever wish to meet.  Having hopped on a bike and within 3 months gone off and travelled the world on his todd, Sam had us both captivated with his stories, enthusiasm and faith in the communities he passed through.  To say I am excited about reading his books is an understatement… definitely ones for the kindle (take a look at his books and website www.sam-manicom.com… the guy is tremendous!)

sam-and-sam-2

Sam and Sam Manicom!

We also chatted with Caroline Taylor, the resident Doc for Nick Sanders Expeditions, and she offered us a realm of information about Mexico and Africa which we are just infinitely grateful for.  Not only that we met with a chap called Nathan who nuttily rode a 50cc back from the land of Oz in flip flops, Andreas Hülsmann a journalist and photographer (thanks for the tips on the D200!!) and so many more adventure riders (Jason, Lisa, Jon, Charlie, Kim, Rod, Craig, Barbara, Louise, Alec are just a few!).  Some people are just stupendous… there was one chap who approached our stand and was instantly saying how tremendous the Wales Air Ambulance service was.  Previously , he explained he was a marine and then became a climbing instructor but unfortunately for him on one unlucky day he had an accident and had to be air lifted to hospital.  He suffered spinal injuries but after muchos training, physio and determination he ended back on his feet.  Being unable to climb he decided to take up motorbike riding to ease his need for something adventurous and new, thus being at the event!  Had it not been for the crew which air lifted him he may not have been in such a fortunate position.  Such a lovely chap, so happy and grateful with such a beautiful story… you could see how much affection he had for the WAA through his eyes.  It’s people like him that amaze, inspire and makes us realise what a fantastic cause the Wales Air Ambulance are.

We had such an awesome time and were also super privileged to be surrounded by some other suprerb fundraisers including  Neurosupport, Help 4 Heroes (Dambusters 2012) and Motorcycle Outreach!  All amazing causes with a wonderful group of workers making it happen which we can only encourage you to support and raise awareness if you can!

All in all a stupendous weekend!  A Big big BIG THANK YOU to the General Manager that is Craig at Touratech for giving us some space to use and organising such a superb event!  It was so incredibly enjoyable and such an opportunity for us to gain so much knowledge and wisdom from a gorgeous bunch of lovely people! A Big big thank you again to all those who donated and offered help to support our charities – you’re all mega!

Keep smiling and catch up soon!

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Finding something SUITable…

… A Mission Impossible?

Snowy iced mountain roads, sleeting showers, tropical climates, sinking dunes, dry heats of the desert, rocky roads, muddy mud mud, river crossings…. these are just a few of the terrains and weather systems we’re going to be facing on our charity RTW challenge.

How on Earth are we going to find motorcycle gear diverse and durable enough?!  Good question… and certainly one we found ourselves struggling to answer 6months ago!

Setting the bar…

Now, considering these suits will be our shell for over a year, with rarely a day going by without us donning them for lengthy and hard riding, it’s not only important they offer protection and adaptability but it’s incredibly vital they are stupendously comfortable.

Having had a colourful history in endurance riding and long term travelling on bikes, Sam’s experiences and knowledge proved to be both invaluable and an utter pain in the bum at the same time in our search.  With his expectations set high we tried on and reviewed countless suits but it seemed we just kept stumbling upon vital flaws or quality issues.

“The weather proofing isn’t good enough, the zip is sticky, you cannot remove the lining, the vents are all wrong”… are just a few of the phrases I would frequently hear.

Sneaky Encounter…

It was getting to a point where we considered making some major sacrifices to our standards when we had a lucky encounter with Rukka at the Birmingham Bike Show.  Having just been closed to the public, we were sneaking around stand to stand pretending to be stall workers when we happened to stumble upon the Rukka team.  An exchange of greetings and explanations of our trip ensued and Rukkas friendly representative introduced us to the Rukka Armas and Armiina Suit.

With a demonstration in full flow, Sam rambled off his extensive list of queries and expectations… all of which Rukkas Armas and Armiina suit had solutions for.  Exhausted of questions, a thorough inspection and trying-on session ensued.  It was then… Sam fell silent.  I knew we had found the suit of our travels.

Result!

Rukka Armas and Rukka Armiina AHOY:

Having spoken closely with TranAm and Rukka they have been kind enough to help us out with these fantastic suits.  Rather excitingly they arrived last week!

Clare Rukka Armiina YAY!

Sam Rukka Armas

We have managed to put together a couple of detailed previews of both the RUKKA Armas and RUKKA Armiina suit for you all to have a peak at here:

 


 

 


 

Once again a big thank you to both RUKKA and TranAm.  As a heads up there will be more photos in the gallery soon and in the gear section there will be full written previews too.  Keep watching and we will keep you posted!


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