The Iceni Rally 2016 – the first rally two-up was a success!

Back at home. Yesterday, I did the eight our Iceni Rally in East Anglia with Johannes as my pillion. We had quite a good plan worked out and started at 9 a.m. from Cambridge. The morning was basically a long ride on farm roads until we reached Norwich in the early afternoon. Here we were enough ahead of the plan to add another big point at the coast. Last year, on the XBR500, this seemed so much easier, but riding with a ~630 kg bike on some back roads is a physical challenge.

Team Pan, East Anglia North Coast.

Team Pan, East Anglia North Coast.

I was often not very well focused and missed quite some turns. As a consequence, I could not add two smaller extra locations close to the finish, the was only time for one. And then I had a cunning idea: instead visiting the closer and more obvious one for 150 points, I decided to skip it and get to the other location worth 285 points. Only a small difference, but from my personal experience I knew that rallies are decided in the very end and a few points can make all the difference. The problem was that this route would result in getting four minutes late and thereby getting 200 penalty points. So, if I could catch up two minutes, I would still have a benefit. 30 minutes to go, give it a try! It worked, Johannes was a quick pillion at the bonus point as before and in the end we even arrived before the normal finish time. I counted 12.623 points, that sounded quite a lot; I had been optimizing the route during the last days. In the end there was no extra trophy for the best team (I was hoping for that one), only for the best newcomer. Third place went to Steve Eversfield, and then there were only John Young and us left. The difference between first and second place was a mere 99 points!!! Finally, the risky stunt with the last bonus point location had paid off and we came first! John was very disappointed coming second like this, but he shouldn’t be, because he rode a great rally and missed the first place by only 0.8 %! That’s basically a draw.

After the ceremony, we headed with both bikes to the Tunnel and arrived at 2 a.m. at my place. And interesting experience riding with pillion in a rally, but riding in East Anglia is better done on the small XBR! 🙂

Winning route Iceni Rally 2016

Winning route Iceni Rally 2016


Let’s increase the handicap – the Iceni Rally 2016

After a very successful rallying year, it is time to have some fun. Last year, I had won the new Iceni Rally in East Anglia on my little Honda XBR 500, despite a „veteran“ handicap. The rally is the shortest LD rally with only eight hours but is supposed to hook new people to LD rallying. It is a nice day out with the opportunity to practice new things, especially at bonus point locations, because there are many compared to the total rally time.

This year I want to try something special. I have never ridden in a team or with a pillion before – why not trying this? So my mate Johannes will join me as a pillion and we will ride the rally together on the Honda Pan European. I removed the auxiliary tank and installed the original seat again. The idea to ride with the XBR would have been more work and I was simply too lazy. But that is still another option for the future. We rode only two-up once: when after the legendary XBR Alpentour 2003 his XR600 broke down in Liguria, we went back on my XBR with double luggage, crossing the Alps, having big fun chasing much bigger bikes.

The rally book was provided in advance and I have to say that finding the optimum route was a tough nut to crack – a good chance to test your planning approaches and tools. Rally master Mark Fowler has put together an interesting rally for newcomers and veterans.

The bonus point locations of the Iceni Rally 2016

The bonus point locations of the Iceni Rally 2016

If you want to follow our track in real-time from Saturday morning onwards:


First place in the European Tour 2016 rally

That’s it. I knew it could be a very good result when I realized that nobody had went to Ireland as well. Apart from the problems at the Eurotunnel and the „breakdown“ just before the finish, the ride went very smooth. I think it was an excellent training for the „big dance“ next year, the mother of all LD rallies, the Ironbutt Rally in the US. I think I found the right balance between riding and resting, I never was really tired and always felt I was under control (after from the panicking moments mentioned above).

So the ceremony came….

3rd place Dave Winter

2nd place Daniel Duvskog

1st place Robert Koeber

The podium finishers of the ET2016.

The podium finishers of the ET2016.

A very nice result and congratulations to Daniel and Dave!

Arrived well at the finish of the European Tour 2016

I am back in the hotel room and I am waiting for my scoring. I arrived well at the finish in time. That is the most important thing, a clear improvement over the ET2014.

These were some intense 6 days. I’ve ridden 7860 km (4885 miles) in 5.5 days and have seen 14 countries. The name „European Tour“ is well deserved. I have taken two ferry boats and two Eurotunnel trains. I have visited 66 of the 400 bonus point locations. I was soaked and I was sweating. I pushed my bike uphill on an Autobahn. I had moments of frustration, panic, and content but above all I was in a very good mood most of the time.

My plans worked very well and I could get the points I wanted to visit. In the end I chose a route from Stuttgart to Brno via the Alps, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. I was caught in a heavy thunderstorm and could not dry my gear for 1 day, riding damp to the checkpoint. From there, I chose the route to Ireland as it seemed to provide much more points and offered rest breaks on the ferries. I had not been to Western Ireland on a bike in 28 years.

But before I was trapped at the Eurotunnel where I lost more than two hours due to broken trains. Luckily I could still catch the ferry boat from Fishguard to Rosslare in the night. On Wednesday, I visited many points all over Ireland and did the rest on Thursday morning before I crossed from Northern Ireland to Scotland. I visited the Eastern coast around Newcastle and headed south via Leeds. I adapted my plan, crossed the Eurotunnel at midnight and spent the next rest break in my own bed. On the last day, I picked smaller points in Belgium, Luxembourg, France and Germany before I headed for the finish. It was 40 km to go to the finish when the bike that went so well during the tour stopped on the Autobahn and wouldn’t start again. I knew it was a petrol problem, but I tried to push the bike uphill to the nearby exit. When I needed a break, I tried to start again, it would fire and I would go very slowly to the finish. What a drama! I discovered that it is an under pressure problem in the fuel system, maybe a blocked tank vent, but nothing serious. But it was enough to start panicking, because I had done so well and now I would drop out???

Luckily I didn’t and this time I am a finisher! Unfortunately, my mates and strongest rivals John Young and Giel Kerkhof dropped out of the rally like I did in 2014. John had a broken final drive bearing and Giel bent his front wheel rolling over a kerb. I can only understand their frustration too well as this happened to me in the 2014 rally. The did excellent routes and it is a pity to miss them at the ceremony.

In one hour, I will be scored and I hope I will keep all of the many many points I have gathered, they seem to be a lot….

At 7 p.m., there will be the banquet and the trophy ceremony….

My GPS track from the European Tour 2016. Obviously the spotwalla server was down when I crossed Great Britain, because the same happen with both devices.

My GPS track from the European Tour 2016. Obviously the spotwalla server was down when I crossed Great Britain, because the same happened with both devices.


Start of Leg 1 of the European Tour

After midnight. Route of the first leg of the ET2014 is planned. It will be a flower picking ride despite the rain. Leg 2 will bring a monster route, but I will decide it at the checkpoint hotel in Brno on Monday night. Yes, Brno in the Czech Republic.

This is what we received as bonus point locations for BOTH legs. Note the accumulation of high points in Ireland and the Iberian Peninsula. Bildschirmfoto 2016-09-04 um 00.12.36

So Stuttgart to Brno is just a warm-up before it gets….spectacular!

Tomorrow start at 7 a.m. for me.

Leaving for the biggest rally this year: the European Tour 2016

Today I will start my detour to go to the starting place of the European Tour 2016, the only real multi-day rally in Europe, this time organized by IBA UK. 4619330693_879x974ET2014_1I do have unfinished business here: two years ago, at the European Tour 2014, I was in first place after the first leg and had an excellent second leg, when at the end of the fourth day, the gearbox of my BMW decided to initiate an irreversible, quick process of disintegration in the orange fields near Castelló de la Plana:

Breakdown place during the ET2014:$£%!"&?£!!!!

Breakdown place during the ET2014:$£%!“&?£!!!!

In the very second when I put the broken BMW on the main stand I had only one thought:

„That’s it! I’ve had enough!“

I never would ride a BMW again in rallies. The second time I dropped out during a rally in a virtual top position, the third time I needed a towing truck, countless problems with this bike. Finito. Aus, Epfe, Amen.

The statistics are very clear whether this decision was a good one: since that point, I rode 6 rallies with the new (old) Honda Pan European, came second once and won all other five rallies. Ah, and no technical problems whatsoever. No more questions, your honour.

I managed to be back at the rally finish in time, but not without a clear statement:So this time we meet again at the same place near Stuttgart. Rally check-in on Saturday, Start on Sunday morning. After 6 six riding days, we’ll arrive again in Stuttgart on Friday evening. Anything is possible, Ireland to Greece, Estonia to Portugal. More news on Saturday!

If you want to follow my GPS track from Sunday on, here is the SPOT link. I have set up an alternative track based on my phone which I run for experimental reasons. In both cases you’ll need a password that I’ll provide you if you drop me a short e-mail.