Grumpys Gardening Gang……….Go Wahiba
Wednesday 19 November.
The gardeners congregate for 6pm. 2 Pajero’s, 1 Porsche, 5 Honda CRF450s, 2 trailers, and a 6bhp Honda CGL125 with twin chromed horns.
Mission: To complete the Wahiba Challenge 2008 on bikes……yes, including the, gardening boys bike.
The Support team
- Bob the reliably moustached “have I ever let you down” Cowe anchor man. Porsche Cayenne
- Joanne “all the Pirates snogged me” v/d Velden, driving Alans Pajero and handing out Subway sandwiches all weekend.
- Dan “I am not enjoying this at all” Quick, in the driving seat of Steves Pajero
- Kris “rapidly approaching manhood” co-driving his Dads Pajero.
- Ian “Phani Tickalar” Greasby who was known throughout the weekend as Mr Happy.
- Sean “Phiela Manob” Wilcock, bubbling with energy the whole bl’dy time.
- Steve “Ramit Hupardjahcksi” Hendry dressed in Para boots and wanting to break his Wahiba cherry
- Scott “Wunide Bhaldgrhunt” Shankland armed heavily with silly actions, numerous accents and many a amusing tale……usually involving turtles.
- Alan “Lulu no Ruwi” Wright who seemed to look dishevelled before we even began
- Tim “I’ve got a hangover” Redman, who had a hangover.
Departure was timely, and all ideas or calling each other by our gardening names went out of the window……
Off we set. We would meet Youcef “me no gardener” on his Lord of the Manor 690, cameraman steed later , somewhere in Qabil, but it turned out he was ahead of us….. which caused much confusion.
Onto Mintrib for a family curry, a fine feed. Tactics discussed and all agreed no beer would be consumed that night.
Numerous banter-esque text messages flying around trying to outwit the Pirates who had adopted a couple of Dirty Bikers, Rich and Randall….oh and Malky, which all added to an excellent drive down.
Onto Kabil, and Bob “I can probably do all this support lark without a GPS now” went the wrong way. So round we went and 20km’s later we found the allotted camping spot / meeting point for tomorrow. A lovely flat area perfect for camping.
But we were going 500 metres to join the Jocks in Jeeps for their even better spot.
20 minutes later all 3 cars and 2 trailers were stuck in soft sand,
and the Jocks in Jeeps had mysteriously been exchanged for Grumpy….no we mean REALLY GRUMPY Cloggies who thought that us revving our car engines, Youcef zooming around on his Rally KTM, and the opening of beer cans at midnight was unacceptable behaviour. The Head Clog explained to us in great detail how his Porsche had a turbo….yawn…and we left him explaining to the night air all its modifications.
Ian proclaimed that following meeting this nice gentleman, no-one was ever justified calling him Grumpy all weekend, and christened himself Mr Happy.
Camp was set, the alcohol agreement ruined, but in bed by 1.30am…..I think.
Oh, and it was cold.
Joanne, being a woman, never completed her erection……and so slept in a wobbly tent.
Thursday 20 November
5:15am alam bells did ring. Croissants were scoffed, amongst various cries of “the turtles are free” or “nuclear site” and “I need a receipt for later”.
Kitted up in full Indian dress, and hard hats, the gardeners headed off to the start.
5 revving CRF’s and a well silenced 6 bhp Honda CGL125 (124cc I’ll have you know) with twin chromed horns, and a comfortable seat.
GPS waypoints entered, hugs and kisses given to support crew, photos taken.
Indian kit stripped (for the first time) and team blue T-shirts put on.
By 8am we were off………zooming down the tarmac at a little over 55km/hr to the next start point (!) we even overtook a parked Jeep. Awesome, no stopping us now.
The camp was a mere 35.9km away…….we had 9 hours. But we were nervous.
After 6 or 7 k’s of Woodlands the first set of dunes appeared. Some teams apparently took over 2 hours to get over these super softies. 1 team failed completely.
We just hit it at full speed………….. and instantly bogged down.
Out came the pullers. Agreement was for 2 pullers only so others could rest. But 2 pullers wasn’t enough, so we ended up with 4 pulling, Tim watched.
Out came the rope……within 10 minutes we were all exhausted (except Tim) and we’d got to the top. Scott, who had never seen the CG in action before quietly contemplated his suicidal mission and noted “This aint gunna be pretty”. Wot a stoopid idea.
By the time he’d got back to his (well not actually his, but never mind) CRF the CG was gone. Suddenly his mood had changed “How had it got through those dunes….Awesome, game on”
He wasn’t the only one disheartened by this first dune, but as time passed, confidence grew.
The CG rapidly assumed its rightful position. 1st gear engaged and 10,000 revs. Not much else changed unless the dune went uphill when the revs dropped, subsequently followed by the engine. Out came 1 or 2 pullers and the bike lifted over the crest and on we went. Some falls, some slips, a beautiful over the bars by Sean, and some well appreciated tactical stops by Youcef, as he strained to keep up with the mighty CGL.
We were making new tracks, we were ahead, although not a race…..we were winning. We caught and passed a few teams, despite several stops for pulling, peeing or resting.
But soon the revs would not pick up, below 7,000 revs the bike would die. A quick strip of the air filter …..woe. It was only a 10 minute job, seat off, inlet clean, air filter cover off and…….spoon out the sand, bash off the filters and re-apply. Sand was everywhere and getting through to the carb.
Off we set again, engine “free revving” again. But after only a few k’s it was down again.
But we were half way…..! Photos taken, sandwiches eaten, riding kit stripped…quite literally. And some revealing action shots were taken.
Just before setting off from our 3rd lunch stop and filter clean, the dulcet tones of a 690 cameraman could be heard. We awaited his arrived, and just as he crested the dune revealing himself to us, we all bent over and revealed the stinging rings of turtledum in full glory. A slight stumble by the truly startled cameraman on the crest of the dune, followed by “hang on a minute” as he captured the moment……and we girded our loins and continued.
Soon after the CG developed a sudden breath of power…… the throttle was stuck wide open. Dunes were jumped, wheelies were pulled and camel grass smoked…..but this could not continue. The kill switch was pressed and yet another strip-down (this time for the carb) was required. Seat, side panels and tank were off. Alan did his magic with the carb as Ian cleared out the filter again. After a brief HSE moment of worry passed, when fresh petrol being used to flush the carb started bubbling and boiling away, we were ready again. Just stopped for 15 mins. Tim watched and took photos.
At one point in a particularly soft area, the CGL was going nowhere, circling desperately and being bounced off such obstacles as twigs, and blades of grass, a big jump was unavoidable, and the resultant thump, as the bike embedded itself in the dune, was hilarious to all, save the CG and its pilot. It didn’t end in tears, but the sweat started pouring. Thankfully these dunes were slowly conquered and the boys moved on to cultivate more gardens.
The km’s counted down slowly, the excitement grew, and yet every 2 or 3km’s the power drained as the air filter blocked. It was 10,000 revs or nothing. A distinct lack of “bottom end” was being noticed on the CG. Below 8,000revs and it just died.
Another filter clean…..another carb re-build…… but they were short stops.
With only 2km’s to go till the camp throttle jammed again.
Not wanting to stop so close to the finish the kill switch replaced the throttle. It really was full gas or engine off. With engine popping and banging as ignition was cut, fuel flowed and ignition reconnected, the smoking rear-end of the CG (matching the smoking rear end of the rider) caused concern amongst the pullers but as Mr Happy later revealed, it was the constant on/off of the ignition and unburnt fuel which was causing this, as the it was later revealed not a drop of oil was consumed.
At 12:30 we arrived. We were the first, no-one else there. Hoorah!! Hang on though, where were our support?
The boys took shelter at the only tree around and showers from the well whilst Alan and Happy changed filters and cleaned out the carb for one more time. Engine oil level tested, yep, not a drop used. Glorious.
And then the others started to arrive………and time passed…….and more arrived…….and more time passed……..but no support.
The Thuraya was used to call the support team…..but their Thuraya’s pin code had beaten them…..
Plans were made to go and find the support team, but just as a rescue party was being assembled…..the Pirates arrived and told us not to worry, Malcys car had broken a prop shaft and our support were helping them…and they’d be here soon.
Hmmmm. But the path was not easy this year, it involved 7km’s of West-East dune crossing, and Dan doesn’t like dunes.
All we could do was sit and watch the Pirates build their bar, and drink their beer, and eat their food, and laugh at their incompetence. We had a great time.
But its started getting cold.
The womens team were asked if they needed 7 smelly bikers to keep them warm that night, and Pirates were encouraged to drink more in hope hey would collapse and free up sleeping bags. All was in vain.
But then, with 10 minutes to spare before dark Sean did call “That’s a Porsche?” and true to his word Uncle Bob was arriving!! Hoorah. They were chased and Joanne was snogged by all Bikers, and once that had stopped the Pirates joined in too. They fed her vast quantities of cocktails to the point of wobbledom……and then her husband gingerly approached and mentioned pin codes…….but she ditched Dan for her hubby, so we assumes things went well !
Malcys Jeep had been pulled through in 2 wheel drive by our illustrious support team, along with the generator, music, blender and ice. All had been delivered…….
The evenings frivolities can be best summed up by “What goes on tour, stays on tour”.
But special mention does have to go to Rich, co-founder of the 3 wise men.
Oh, and this…….
Friday 21 November
6am. Oh my lord, its cold. The sand was freezing, the wind a Baltic ice forming westerly, and not a hot cup of coffee in sight…not until Joanne turned up anyway. Hot tea, soggy leftover Subways and……nope, I think that was it for breaky. Croissants had been scoffed the day before!
As everyone dusted off their hangovers, the sun slowly rose, as did the steam from the burial spots of released nuclear waste, some 700 metres to the East. The CGL performed admirably as a “rapid response vehicle” for those urgent calls we all have 15 minutes post waking.
Somehow the bags were packed, bikes dried off from the dew and on went the smelly blue T-shirts from yesterday. Steven re-attached 27 ½ litre bottles of Masafi at various strategic points on his bike.
2 pirates (Rich and Randall) were held hostage and drove the beaten up Pajero support vehicle out. Back over the 7 k’s of nasty dunes which surprised them yesterday. Their Jeep suffering terminal injuries would accompany the intrepid support team back to Mintrib along the “not so easy access route”.
The Gardeners set off at 8am, after a quick lap of camp to wave goodbye to a surprisingly large number of “even slower moving recoverees”. The Pirates all waved 2 fingers as we roosted their bar, and Malky continued to spit and splutter under his mobile toilet as he completed his 3 hour re-attachment of a drive shaft !
40km of due West riding followed by 70 odd km North….as the crow flies.
Today was more rapid. A slight detour around some early big dunes brought us in line with the early departed Daihatsu team (06:30 departure, how do they do that?) And fresh tracks were made.
As the dunes got firmer a healthy CLUNK was heard as the CG was finally put into 2nd gear! A triumph. (No, that would have leaked oil). On occasions it even hit 3rd, but soon lost power and down changes rapidly followed.
Only a few tugs were needed, and Sean was his dutiful self, and willingly gave Mr Happy a quick yank whenever he requested a hand!
And once, somehow Tim found himself in the lead of the CRF’s and thus first on the scene when the CG was stuck up a dune. No such pleasantries from Tim were received, but a firmly yet simply stated “I’ve got a hangover, find an easier route”. As he glided past and refused to help out.
The CG was blocking its filter but as stated by a slighter rough looking Alan “if it aint totally broke, don’t even half fix it” meant we had to carry on regardless. Strangely we never saw any housemartins in the desert, but we did stumble across a desert fox poking its nose out if its den. He easily outran the CG, but was hunted down by 2 CRF’s, until they too decided any excess riding was uncalled for in this state.
A short Biltong break at half way, a quick wave to Youcef, who decided he had enough footage of the CGL for anyone’s liking, and could smell beer and curry in Mintrib. Off he set, and dutifully let us know he was back in town drinking beer by Thuriya, just as we were arriving at the END Wahiba Challenge Waypoint by 10:30am. Yes, 10:30 am, and we were first!
Rumours of other teams following our tracks from the previous day were combated by us cunningly fanning out in all directions with only 2k’s to go. This resulted in nearly losing Alan and Steve, and as pointed out, probably didn’t confuse any car teams, who’d made it that far, but it amused us.
All that was now required was a 65km ride out to Qabil. This involved 35km more of dune riding before 35 km’s of open flat desert floor.
So a quick filter clean-out, some more biltong, water and several silly photos culminated in the “easy ride-out”.
Herewith endured the greatest crash over the crest of a medium sized dune taken far too fast, with over exuberance. Result was over the handle bars, a cartwheeling Grump and CGL landing at the bottom half covered in sand, facing upwards. Offers of assistance were scarce amongst the sniggers, and what were offered were refused until 2 or 3 photos were taken.
A bent rear subframe and a slightly dusty Grumpy were ignored blissfully and the ride out continued. Some acrobatics by Steve at speeds slightly above “comfortable” were performed, followed up by 2 cheeky riders bare facedly and rather rashly entertaining the gang on the way out. By 12:30 we were back in Qabil and calling the support team for BitterBallen and curry…..which of course went down without touching the sides.
Home by 5ish, after a few zzzz’s were shared by most riders, and the final service started on the :-
Honda CGL125 – 6bhp, twin chromed horn, 460km on the clock, one very careful lady owner (yep, its registered in Aukje’s name!). Honda will give it a free “first” service at 1,000km. There comes with this bike a spare clutch, chain, various air filters, a new rear fender and a box of bits containing unused indicators, brake switches, number plate holder, 9 months insurance, an original rear tyre, and a set of ear plugs in case you accidentally press the twin chromed horn. The fuel filler cap still has its blue translucent plastic covering for that “I’ve got a new vehicle” look.
Offers over 200 Rials.