A Ride Less Ordinary x2

Here are 2 stroies written by Simon (Barbarella)......... 'Twas 2 consecutive weekends that Simon and I went for a blast.

Mate, after reading both stories again, me thinks ...........practice makes perfect!!!     Love it !

 

Story 1 - A Ride Less Ordinary

Here is the overdue summary of last weekends antics.

Youcef, Grmpster and myself set off from Youcef’s cunningly concealed abode at the ungodly hour of 4:20, some 20 minutes past schedule – due wholly to Youcef’s inability to count past two speed bumps. The resulting mis-directions he provided us with have Grumpy and I both exploring the wrong part of Azaiba looking for Youcef’s alleged residence – and our ready trailored bikes.

Once that minor point resolved, and with only minor moaning and piss-taking, off we set in Youcef’s very swish Toureg for Mintrib.

An uneventful two hours later the bikes were coming off, the kit going on as the morning mist slowly burnt off the inviting looking dunes.

Soon we are off on the Grumpy selected zigzag course towards Kamil and thence WFUELW. The opening stages are great. Tracks over rolling dunes and the going fast. Gassing it out of a lovely looking, falling, adverse camber bend, whilst idly thinking that at least I would have no grip problems with my luverly new MT18, I notice that the backwheel is overtaking me and I’m off. This has to be my fastest dismount to date, but it largely painless. Once restarted and the others caught up (well they waited!), I had to admit that I’d fallen off, but only a bit.

We later encounter what I think was my downfall area in the triple challenge and following Grumpy’s tracks, it’s by and large a breeze.

The rest of the zig is most enjoyable, and not unlike the AS dunes. At my turn to lead I’m having a ball thinking I’m going well, when Ian comes past and asks to stop. His left hand is blistered and needs taping up. Curiously the right hand is more calloused and untouched.

First aid done with insulation tape, off we go again, and after another 10 mins or so of my leading, Youcef, clearly bored with the whole proceedings, flies past at a great rate of knots, stunting off each and every jump. Grumpy follows in hot pursuit and I find there is no way to keep up.

Eating up the klicks at a great rate, we soon use up all the nice sand and hit the shit. About 35km out from the fuel station, the dunes give way to N-S corrugations that shake your fillings out. There is no way to do this comfortably, so it’s a question of closing your mind to it and pressing on. The speed is slow and this section drags interminably. About the point where you’ve really, really had enough, a track appears, and within 5km, is reasonable and things ease. Then we were out and at the fuel stations and negotiating the curry.

It was here that the first major disaster hits – no chicken curry, only beef. Well it was beef bone, fat and gristle mostly, but it filled a hole. Despite my acute fatigue, the others seemed chirpy and ready for more.

Thus the decision is made (largely without me) to head off to HUGDUN, scene of Grumpster’s famous leap on his trusty XR4 many years back. It was at this point that I really missed dear ol’ Tredders, my cohort from the Lap Of Oman trip who was my hugely reliable ally in outvoting the manic Greasby when in his more cavalier moods. He would have voted something for something far less strenuous I know. But the area is hugely spectacular, so ultimately I am up for that.

Anyway, off we set for another 25km of horrible corrugations. “What’s after this section Ian” I enquire at one brief stop. “Err, it gets interesting” replies Greasy vaguely. Off we go, the corrugations recede, it looks nice. Time to speed up a bit – shit. How did I fall off there?

By the time I am up and restarted I feel more than tired. Still, on on. Then, about 18k from the big dunes, we are in the real soft stuff. At one point I see Youcef stopped. My intent to go joyously pass a stuck Youcef, who rarely had put a wheel wrong all day, is horribly spoilt as only I go past, aping superman, the bike firmly planted up to both axles a few meters behind me.

Extracting self and bike from this mess took most of my remaining reserves and left me a helpless wreck. From this point on I fell at least 15 more times, and now totally incapable of extracting self or bike, I was totally reliant on Greaser and Youcef doing all this for me – and starting it, and pointing it in the right direction on firm-ish sand. At my worst point I fell every 10 m. Just follow me says Ian (kindly missing out the last bit about being easy). I did. He sets off into the distance, I go 10m and bury both axles and I’m off again.

Finally, thanks to the skills, stamina, patience and dedication of my two buddies, we get on a bit of a roll, and another. And, finally, hamdulilah, we are out of the worst. Thank God. Now I can relax, recoup and BANG. Oh shit, that hurts. I was off again and this time ironically landed on the only bit of hard sand there, and my ribs hurt like mad. I curl up in a foetal position, eyes closed, quite happy to die there. It actually felt rather nice. “You alright mate?” came the Aussie twanged enquiry. I back away from the light and back to business.

We make HUGDUN and the drama is all over. Grumpy has a half hearted play. I rest. Youcef watches. Now it’s an easy out to the coast.

Once on the graded road, my bruised ribs feel every bump in the road. We get to the petrol station, and for once we are not swamped by the locals boys. Grumpy considers going off road, but its 5pm and even he is not serious. There is no choice, the ball breaking tarmac all the way back to Mintrib. And so we did.

Such relief on arrival at the car. I am in such a state that I can barely move. I faff around rolling up tie downs whilst the guys get the bikes strapped on.

A stop for curry at Ibra which really hits the mark. Then gratefully, oblivion in the back of the car.

“All the same to you to get your bike tomorrow Sime?” asks Youcef who quiet understandably needs some sleep. “Na mate, never wanna see the ****ing thing again”.

 

Story 2 - A Ride Somewhat More For the Norm

Apparently my last missive was so well received I got the job to write this one as well. So I make no apologies for this effort which is designed to ensure I don’t get volunteered again for quite a while. You’ll soon get fed up with this….

The plan was simple, 6 riders, 6 bikes, 3 cars, 3 trailers. Grumpy, Rolo, Sid and meself were to head down to Mintrib Thursday night, and be joined by Chaos and Moneypenny early the next day. Tredders also came as a welcome addition into this arrangement at the last minute.

The ride – straight down the middle to VHUGDUN, out to the coast, refuel and back through Woodlands. It was so straight forward it would be almost be boring. Err, didn’t turn out that way.

I always get a bit of apprehensive before heading into the wilderness with Grumps, and this time was no exception, so I ignored the nagging sensation of impending doom, dismissing it as the usual pre-desert nerves.

The first part of the plan fell apart when my bike leapt of the trailer Rolo was dragging (very reasonably I might add) at around 90km/hr. “I can’t see your bike any more!” said Rolo excitedly as he struggled to keep the car under control. A quick inspection confirmed all my worst fears (you must have thought about that too) – my beloved 650 had fallen off, but remained sufficiently attached to be dragged along the side of the trailer for the time it took to stop. Petrol was pissing everywhere due to a deep chamfer on the corner of the tank which took most of the impact. The handlebar, front brake lever, throttle tube and cables also were in the firing line and the bike looked a complete mess – but I had imagined worse.

We cut off the last obstinate tie downs (3 had snapped), removed the bike from the trailer and waited for the petrol to get below the level of the ruptured tank. Once done, we elected to head off for the camp site and curry. Grumpy and Sid had returned in the meantime, and unbelievably pronounced the damage repairable given a new set of bars and some selotape. “Yeah, right-o” I thought, fully expecting the following day to entail taking said wreck home on a trailer then coming back to collect the boys in the afternoon.

Indeed Grumpy was proved right. Once a new set of bars were fitted and what was left of the rather ragged throttle tube and grip tested and found OK. There now seemed nothing to stop me riding that day – assuming we accept the loss of petrol capacity and I didn’t mind the fire risk presented by the still pissing petrol. I did mind, but this seemed better than the alternative.

Everyone else pitched up as planned and so off we set.

Grumpy led us in, and I can’t say I recognized the track but it was rather good. Only Sid felt at liberty to fall off on such a nice track. Incidentally what’s the biggest drawback in the desert? Well, it’s Sid’s new Garmin Foreskin 201. Apparently all the rage in Dubai, this unit appears to be totally standard Garmin fare (GPSs II, II &V excepted) in that it stops working as soon as you put your leg over a motorbike.

Off we speed and all going is well without an event until Greaser inexplicably starts riding in circles, followed inanely by the baying pack. Pack is precisely the right word as Greaser has flushed out a very sorry looking excuse for a desert fox and saw fit to frighten the thing further out of its wits by chasing it with 7 motorcycles. Tally ho chaps!

The nature loving theme continues as only a short time later, a see a movement in front of me, and for the first time ever I seen an enormous lizard run in front of me. It clearly had learned to look right and left but not right again and for this error, was rewarded with the full weight of XR650 and ride on his back! Nothing I could do to avoid it.

Shortly after this time there was a scene from Bugs Life replayed before our very eyes as we rode through a cloud of locusts. These things are big and heavy and hurt if you hit them at 90km/hr. As we stop and recount the glorious fox hunt and the lizard story, I lift a half dead locust off my bike and show it to a much impressed Greaser who remarks on their, err, remarkable, size. It kicks a leg and I feign a yelp and lob the thing in the general direction of Grumpy’s nose (what isn’t in the general direction of said nose?). The resulting cry of fear, panic and revulsion from our otherwise resolute hero is one of the great satisfactions of the day and worth another go I judge, and with equally similar results. Priceless. But there is more to come. Oh yes!

A few minutes after the restart, my bike coughs, splutters and dies as the others all disappear into the distance. All sorts of scenes of doom pass through my mind – why the fcuk did I do this? How stupid can you get taking a battered and bruised bike into the desert. Then the answer is obvious – knackered tank = shortened capacity, you’ve gone on to reserve! Hurrah! All is well, no panic, select reserve, wait 30 secs, prime, kick and --- fcuk all. Again, again, again. Nothing. C’mon. Nothing. C’mon please. Nothing, C’mon you fcuking bitch start you mother. Nothing. Right, helmet off, drink, rest, think. Felt like petrol. Could be electrics – black box. No, don’t even go there. Must be petrol. One last concerted effort. Nothing. Bollox. One more, BINGO. Kit up and off we go again. This is brilliant! I love dirt biking.

Precisely 34km later reserve runs out and its time to redistribute the relative oil wealth of Rolo and Chaos, all watched disinterestedly by Mohammed (probably) and Abdullah (probably) both sporting Manchester United strips. Manchester United I say – blank looks. I point to the emblem – more blank looks. Ah fcuk it, can’t be arsed any more than that.  

All topped off we set off with renewed vigour for the big dunes and make it there without further incident.

Once there, I calculate my chances of getting to the petrol station and they ain’t good. Moneypenny and Grumps show absolutely zero regard for their petrol reserves as they head off to play. Andy zooms up the escarpment, bottles it at the top and plants his bike about 2m short. He he. He then sees fit to turn his bike upside down. Grumps flies off to the rescue – and does very much the same thing. “Oh, I was laughing so much I forgot to get to the top” he later recounts, sounding remarkably like David Brent. Yeah, right oh Greaser, we all believe that one. Anyway, they manage between them to get the priorities right and largely empty Andy petrol tank before getting the bike upright and away.

Completely undeterred, the Grumpster eyes up the gentle rise on the near side, and it has to be said, pulled the most majestic 3rd gear wheelie up the dune till he can no longer see where he’s going. Not content with the perfect wheelie, and of course given the otherwise bored captive audience who elected to save their dwindling fuel stocks, he has another go and another. Until finally, as a real crowd pleaser, fcuks one up and falls off the back in the process. The crowd goes wild and Greaser takes a rather embarrassed bow. Nice one!

In the meantime, Andy’s float bowl has become a sink bowl and pissed out whatever was left in his tank. There then followed more reallocation of petrol, and Grumpy tries to drum up support for a companion to go with him along the heroes route back to the petrol station. Its only 2 litres blah blah blah. No fuel worries blah blah blah. So the group splits, and to my horror I find I am following the wrong one! A quick turn around and I feel instantly better following Andy out on the puffs route.

Mike leads us parallel to the graded road. “Why not take the road?” I am thinking – we need to conserve fuel here. And the answer is that Mike likes pot holing, for the first opportunity to fall into a hole he seizes firmly with both wheels and crashed in a ditch. This brought back memories of a certain Greasby gallop GPS race over Bowsher when I and about 5 others performed a similar trick. But I digress….  

Once Mike extracted himself from the ditch, we take the road and we get close to the petrol station, but not close enough, and I run out of juice. Whilst Chaos has loads, Grumpy has the transfer bottles. Shite. Sid also runs out and Tredder’s amazing whiskey bottle purloined locally for this occasion has disappeared. By laying my bike down I manage to get another half litre and make another 6km or so. Repeating the process gets me to the fuel station, where, against my expectation, it is open, has fuel and an attendant. Things are looking up. Fuel sorted we pop across the way to stock up on water and – the shop is closed. There is no shade to speak of, but a half open shop shutter so heads in the shade, boots out in the sun we rest as best we can and snack on what we have.

The phone call comes – Grumpy has run out of fuel, and Rolo has buggered off into the distance leaving him to it. Much merriment. Even more when Rolo calls in also dry. Andy seizes the chance to use his buddy rope for the first time in 3 years of ownership, and sets off to the rescue. He managed, so I understand, to pull Rolo right off his bike!

By the time we have regrouped and refueled, had lunch and pondered the lack of water, the owner returns and opens up. Hamdu lillah.

Totally dokey we set off for Woodlands, Grumpy leading - not wishing to repeat the near fatal expedition of folly I led us into last time which left Andy and Alex stranded in the middle of nowhere. Andy was curiously most reluctant to revisit the scene of his potential overnighter in the desert despite being given the opportunity.

Grumpy’s much vaunted “motorway sized track so bloody obvious even his daughters could find it” that I missed that fateful day is in fact nothing of the sort, is totally devoid of any wheel tracks and only distinguishable from the one I took in that it is a bit to the right on the GPS. But it is great fun and we are having a ball. At a stop, Tredder’s bike is squeaking like a mouse (I saw one incidentally running across my very path just before stopping believe it or not, just to complete the wildlife themed weekend) but the reason is the axle was done up by a 2 year old – or Tim didn’t tighten it. Only master mechanic Chaos could have diagnosed that one – which he did despite Grumpy’s disbelief. I missed all that as I had to see a man about a dog urgently at that particular point in time – and not for the first time that day either. That sorted, we set off once again.

About 45km out from Mintrib, my bike overheats consistently as we are plagued by a following wind resulting in zero air flow across the rad. This completed the set of lost fluids for the weekend – a blown final drive seal cost half a dipsticks worth of oil and the leaking petrol of course.

As we get closer to Mintrib, the realization that once again I will make it out of the desert turns to euphoria and set out to really enjoy the last blast in. The last dunes are taken in my stride and as we make the final approach it almost turns into a race. Grumpy’s pace had picked up, I feel in the mood to keep up so was a little taken back when Rolo comes flying past with the bit firmly between his teeth. I tuck in behind him, working the 650 motor hard to keep up and we have a great ride in over the last low dunes. I squirt past Rolo before the road and mentally claim a victory. Overtaking on the road Rolo is not allowed incidentally.  

I gather Sid had a bit of a fight with some camel grass on this stretch. Observers say that despite seeing his life flashing before him judging by the severity of his pogo-ing bike, he still kept the throttle nailed like a pro all the way through and was rewarded with staying on. Good effort mate.

It struck me as we dismounted that I too had not taken a tumble all day – something that was inconceivable to me after the previous week’s debacle.

Very soon all bikes are back, strapped on (yes even mine) and all that remains is to go for a curry and reminisce on the days events. We all do except Tredders who disappears into the distance, claiming cramps and other gay excuses not to join us. I sympathise with the cramps – I’ve been there too mate. If you find a cure, let me know. To date the best one I have is don’t go into the desert with Grumpy. But that is too high a price to pay.

So, all in all, super weekend, despite the rearranged bike. Cheers boys it was a ball – I suspect we will cherish the memories of this time in years to come.


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