Day of Champions 2012 – Riders 4 Health

Every year hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts flock to Silverstone to experience the “Day of Champions”, a most stupendous event organised to help raise money for Riders 4 Health… and this year Riders invited us along! Wheeeeeee super exciting!!

Up and out early as birds we had a bit of a fighting journey battling gusty winds on the motorway.  I have to admit that as a newbie to riding being beaten about by the elements is quite a new experience to me, particularly on clear motorways at high speeds!  During my tiff taff with Mother Nature, I decided in my helmet that this new sensation can only be described best as having a load of bath towels hurled at you constantly, wrapping and sporadically tugging at you in various directions.  Even the accompanying noise seems to suit well!  Next time you’re out riding just give it a thought and see what you think!   I digress… up and out, we tootle along to Silverstone and arrive all too excited to see the Riders Helmet and Leather deposit bus! (Sam’s just read this and says a “deposit bus” sounds a bit dodgy and says he thinks I mean a Helmet and Leather Coat Check Kinda thing… even he doesn’t know what to call it but you know what we mean!)  We honk, toot and wave manically (someone needs to teach me how to wave proper, I go from one extreme to another when waving and either look like the Queen or alternatively resemble a special person who’s been let out/escaped for the day) pull up and greet the Riders bus volunteers who, despite having no idea who on Earth these two wavey cheery people are, end up being superbly friendly!  After a brief chinwag we are advised where to find our Riders contact, park up the bikes, plonk our helmets away and ponder off into the great circuit that is Silverstone!

Although I have been up to Silverstone on various occasions before, I always seem to forget the sheer size of the place.  It’s GIGANTIC.  As Sam and I made our way through the bustling and growing happy crowds our attention was drawn by the lovely lady that is Riders fundraiser Liz (note, she has a muchos better hand-arm-coordination movement of waving than I)!  Bounding up she greeted us full of energy despite the vast and manic amount of organisation she was currently involved in for this amazing day!  Chuffed to finally put names to faces, Liz asked if we were ready to pop up on stage for a quick chin wag about our Chasing Horizons Charity Challenge and with a nod we weaved off through the crowds.  Now… at this point I must say that Sam and I had agreed to do a chat on stage the day prior and in our minds this “stage” would probably be quite wee.  How wrong could we have been.  You know the kind of festival stages you see at Glastonbury?  Big bowl shaped ones with TV screens and drum kits and all sorts?  Yeh?  Well that’s exactly what it was.  We both double took the stage, looked at each other bemused and commented on not knowing how we manage to get ourselves in to such situations!

We were on that stage and big screen! Ooerr! :D

After running around to the back entrance, we had no time to consider the scariness ahead, dumped our bags and within seconds were on stage overlooking all of Silverstone with its crowds of eager motorcyclists and families staring up at us.  Five minutes ago we had just pulled up in the Silverstone car park… and now we were on an enormous festival like stage!  Madness!  Complete madness!  Liz was introduced and despite her brief pre-nerves she proved to be absolutely mega on the mic.  We were then asked a variety of questions and with nervous smiles we pit patter our way through them!  It’s quite odd speaking from such a large stage… especially when from the corner of your eye you can see a HUGE screen of yourself!  All good fun though, a complete laugh in fact and in the end we waved and said a big thank you before disappearing back stage!

Liz had to dash (if she’d been in spandex she would have been mistaken for Anneka Rice that day!  Awesome super lovely crazy busy lady Liz!) so we took a moment to grab a cuppa and cake for a quick 5minutes chillax.  Having really only really watched rally racing in the past we both reflected on the fact we knew very little about the MotoGP and didn’t really know what to expect!  So when we went for an explore we were super happy to discover that the whole place was alive and utterly awesome! The stage was entertaining with quizzes, audience participation and interviews with some stupendously talented people and tremendous fundraisers!  People in the crowds were lovely and there were some fantastic stalls about with all sorts from second hand clothing (right bargains to be had!) to photography, Riders challenges, bikes, om nom food etc etc.  We chatted to so many people and were surprised to bump in to some who had travelled all the way from California for the weekend!  How wicked is that!?  It really shows how much of a draw and how superb the Day of Champions and MotoGP is!

No idea who this fella is but he was signing all sorts and a very happy chappy! What's up with his finger though!?

After a while we hopped on the bus and headed to the paddocks for a sneak peek at what the MotoGP teams were getting up to!  The night before all of this, I decided it would be wise to swot up on Google on some of the top MotoGP racers in case we bumped in to any thus saving Sam and I the embarrassment of me making a muppet of myself.  This swot up though… did not help me at all!  At the paddocks we made our way through huddles of enthusiasts all eager to meet and greet their idols which were these rather crazily young look lads handing out autographs left right and centre whilst having photos taken and all sorts.  Each face I was presented with did not make match with my google-look-ups so I had no idea who these obviously highly respected fellas were and like Sam, I was completely bamboozled and in awe that they were world class riders at their age and size!  They were WEE!  WEE I tell you!!  I figured I would try and get a few videos of a couple of them and in my puzzlement during filming I think I mention my theory of why they’re so young and wee… it’s obviously because at that age and size you’re more likely to bounce!  During filming I tried my best to ask some top class journalistic style questions… I’m not sure how successful they were though!  If anyone can enlighten us as to who these two confused riders are in the video below that would be mega!!

Walking about the paddocks was fascinating.  The MotoGP teams could be seen working incredibly focused on the frames and engines of the bikes.  Everything gleamed.  The tools were shiny and all had their place, there was space yet everything seemed to be filled with suitably compact and well designed items and the mechanics concentration was phenomenal, especially with an on looking crowd of gawpers hoping to catch a glimpse of someone famous.  Really it was quite impressive and we mused over the fact it was the complete opposite to our erratic semi-chaos oiled filthy like shed workings at home!  Music flowed from each garage to another which helped Sam and I determine which team was from what country.  The, what we presumed was British team, had “Weeeeeeeee are the chaaaaaampions” pooling out with mechanics sat in silence undistracted… whereas next door the Italian team

had the Cornetto song flowing and some dudes in red dungarees and a red cap saying “Eyyy Luigi! Itsa me, Mariooo!”! Okay. Perhaps a slight exaggeration but the Cornetto song was a definite and there was some Italian shruggage going on!  The experience was really quite unique, although if you closed your eyes it did sound very much like being in a dentist chair with the odd high pitch drill noise, soft background music and a light metal jangle from time to time which could easily be resembled to that of a tooth being tossed in a metal tin after extraction!  Dentist fearers, no closing your eyes at the paddocks, you will break into a sweat!

Super tidy Garage!

Other things which kept us amused included spotting the groupie wannabes… this wasn’t too hard!  To my surprise there were less of them than what I expected, but the ones that were there were right gems!  Most were sporting high heels, these new rather weird hot-pant-shorts that come up as high as Simon Cowells trousers, push up neon padded bras poking out from skimpy tops, wonky black hair extensions in freshly dyed but slightly purple black straightened manes, thick painted eyebrows leaving a constant look of shock, tarantula girthed eye lashes, you’ve been tango’d skin with a thick line of oranged foundation around the neck and a whiff of sickly sweet white musk… they were quite something!  One girl was heard exclaiming “Ooohmygawd, I am like, well ‘appy to be pretteh an’ everyfink, else I dant na wot I’d doo. AHAHAHA”.  All forms of LUSH!!  The best ones were those who were dressed like that but in their late 40’s!  Amazing!  Big it up for them though, if that’s what makes them happy then go for it!

We didn't have the guts to take photos of the groupies but we did spot these friendly ladies that made us giggle!

We also spent some time dishing out great admiration for the amazing line up of trucks and luxurious lounges with fake trimmed bushes outside, tinted windows, leather suites, cocktail bars and all sorts fancy pants stuff (you know those kind of places would have toilets in with bidets, classical music playing alongside pot pourri, moisturiser and Elizabeth Arden perfume)!  With them all set up ready to accommodate the glamorous stars, riders and VIPs soon to be arriving in the next 24hours it was quite impressive!

We later hopped on the bus and headed back to the main arena.  This was great timing as upon leaping off the bus we witnessed the arrival of hundreds of riders who annually do a charity ride to the Day of Champions in support of Riders 4 Health!  A lovely sight indeed (especially seeing the KTM 990 SMT pull up alongside… mmm yummy bike)!  It was pretty awesome to see them all be granted access to the track too and enjoy the experience of a couple of guided rides around the Silverstone track!  What an experience!

The afternoon was drawing in though and we decided after an early start and knowing we had a 3 hour windy ride ahead that it was time to make a move.  We said as many goodbyes as possible (sad though that we were unable to find the mad hatter that was Liz), geared up, hopped on our KTM 690 Enduro R’s 2012 (which stuck out like sore thumbs in the car park… over the HUNDREDS of bikes there we must have been the only two of a handful that were non sport bikes!)  and made our way home!

Hundreds of Bikes - Day of Champions 2012 Riders for Health

A truly amazing day and one all bike enthusiasts should pop to if they haven’t already!  Not only is it great fun but it also helps raise monies for the wonderful charity that is Riders 4 Health who help provide mechanical support, training and transport to areas in Africa which are incredibly in need.  To find out more about Riders, visit our charity page www.chasinghorizons.co.uk/riders or their homepage www.riders.org .  At the moment all donations made are being doubled so if you have a spare penny or two and want to help out then please do donate to them (this can be done in under a minute through our just giving page here:

 

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Update: Sam’s Bikes Final Kaputt!

As a follow on from our post “Stop, Hammer Time!” the next morning we hopped on our KTM 690 Enduro R 2012 bikes and although Sam’s did stutter a little to begin with as soon as we were at the end of the road it was running smoothly as can be!

Up to Fowlers we tootled, no problems what so ever.  Upon arriving the technician Jason popped out to have another look, hooked the bike up to their computer and nada errors came up from Sam’s stalling incident the day before.

With nothing other than our word we were advised to keep riding it in the meantime but to ping an email over detailing all the problems and requesting a new bike.  No problemo.  I pick up Hobbes – he’s dandy – the oil pressure valve was just being a bit sticky!  After expressing our thanks we go to ride out of the car park annnnd the following occurs:

 


 

*POP*!  The throttle body doesn’t completely detach it’s just been shunted back but Sam’s bikes is not happy and despite being a royal pain in the arse that it’s duffed up again we’re relieved that a) it’s happened in Fowlers Car Park and one of their staff heard it happen from indoors and b) we caught it on camera!

The bike is rolled back in!  It’s a week later now and all along Fowlers have been brilliant and helpful in trying to secure us a brand new bike!  KTM are keen to know what the problem is and I think there was some time delay due to them wanting to look at it but Fowlers have been super understanding in our time pressured circumstances and to save us waiting around for… well… however long it will take to find a fault… they have sourced and sorted a new bike for us which will be arriving Wednesday next week!

A big big big BIG extended thank you to Fowlers, particularly Sara, Jason, Danni, Colin and Rod who have all been incredibly helpful and provided top notch customer service!  They haven’t had to do half of what they have so we’re incredibly appreciative!

So… we’re now just waiting for the new bike and WEHEY!  Time to start upgrading them!

And breeaaathe!

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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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