Going north 2018

Tomorrow it will be time for some real, relaxing summer vacations. I think it’ll be some 12.000 km on the BMW and some 3.000 km by boat.

Wait a minute – did you say „boat“???

Yes, it will be relaxing motorbiking and a relaxing boat cruise.

As an appetizer, I will first do the 12 hour Brit Butt Light Rally starting in Stoke-on-Trent in England. I haven’t done it in three years and the BBL2015 was the last rally I haven’t won (in Europe). Sooo, it’s a kind of „unfinished business“ although I had won the rally in 2014 on the little XBR500.

As the rally book was handed out one week before the start, I have already prepared my route and printed and laminated my own rally logbook. Sorry, my route is still confidential, but these are all the possible bonus point locations:

All bonus point locations of the Brit Butt Light Rally 2018.

After the rally, I will return home for one night and leave for Sweden the next day. Three days later, I’ll arrive in Kirkenes at the Norwegian – Russian border. I’ll meet up with MJ and on the next day, we’ll embark on the postal ship of the Hurtigruten line, carrying the BMW in the ship.

The boat trip with the motorbike

After the arrival in Bergen, we’ll start the bike trip through Western Norway – fjords and fjells. In Oslo, I will continue on my own and ride to Jönköping where this year’s European Tour will start.

The logo of the European Tour 2018

This ET will be a three-day rally all over the Nordic countries. I had won the European Tour 2016, but this one will be different. I don’t have the local knowledge that the locals have.

After that, it’s a back to the barn ride. Three weeks in total. Sounds like a plan.

You can follow my GPS track here.

 

Norway – here we come!

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This went well (1st place)

Just a quick message before I set off back home. My eighth Brit Butt Rally was tricky. I started it without enough data volume on my phone to send the pictures, but this was resolved after 2 hours, so that’s why you couldn’t see the progress in the spot track in the morning. I had planned an ambitious route through the North-West and North-East of England and the whole of Scotland. There was no room for larger problems or large delays. In the end I sticked to plan within 5 minutes for both days. The K1600 performed marvellously, what a great bike!

In the end I was rewarded with the 1st place, for the fourth consecutive year now. Now back to the Eurotunnel. More info later when I’m back home.

My Brit But Rally 2018. First two hours are missing on the spot. 1582 miles in 30 hours net. Cracking.

No Spot?

Some last words….if I can’t find a solution, I probably can’t activate the spot track today. I am short of data volume and need to save the data volume for the pictures I have to send. My provider had technical issues and I can’t extend the volume. Great, isn’t it?

The puzzle

So the technical inspection and the odo ride went well. After that I filled up the bike with 40 litres of petrol and returned to rally HQ. I hadn’t checked the tyre pressure! The built-in pressure sensor indicated only 2.6 instead 2.9 bar. The close-by petrol station didn’t have any pump, so I had to look for a different station. I first had to get some coins for the machine. But instead inflating the tyre, it was more and more deflated. Together with the shop clerk I discovered the source of the problem: the nozzle was too short for my modern valve. With only 1.2 bar in the rear tyre, I limped back to the HQ where Bob Clark borrowed me his little 12 V pump. Thanks, now I’m ok!

The rider meeting was quite interesting…A totally different format:

All bonus points locations with all the nine thematic categories of the Brit Butt Rally 2018.

81 locations, divided in 9 regions and 9 thematic categories. Apart from the points value of each point, you get extra points for more locations in the same region or the same category. A difficult nut to crack….I’ve put together a challenging route, but I don’t reveal yet where I’ll be going…just follow my SPOT track.

I’ll start at 6 a.m. in the morning.

At the start of the 2018 rally season – the Brit Butt Rally with the new K1600GT

It is quite a while since I last published something. It’s not that there was no material, oh no, quite the contrary. It is just that publishing means a lot of work. Writing a report of the Iron Butt Rally 2017, for example. But as the quote says:“when a man says he will do something, he will do it. It’s not necessary to remind him every six months“.

So I showed up yesterday here in the rally HQ in Leicester after a quiet ride up from Belgium. Had dinner and some chats. This morning I had some extended discussion with John Young about our planned trip to Japan next year. As the registration is not open yet, it still gives me some time to write before the busy afternoon begins.

This year’s Brit Butt Rally is somewhat different. First of all, I’ll be on my new bike, the BMW K1600GT.

The new rally beast.

It does the same thing as the Pan European – a comfy ride, a very balanced bike, heavy but steady, a great tool to cover large distances. With the difference that the BMW is so much more dynamic – if you want it to be. I’m looking forward to riding the British country roads this weekend.

The neat auxiliary tank

Then there is a new rally format. Instead taking pictures with a digital camera at the bonus point locations and presenting them at the scoring, pictures have to be taken with a smart phone and be sent immediately by e-mail. This change did not go down well with some riders and I wonder if this a reason why there are a relatively low number of participants. Let’s see how this goes. I do prefer the old, traditional style, though.

The weather forecast is quite good and as every year I hope to be able to go up North to enjoy riding in Scotland – great scenic roads and no traffic. By midnight I should know more. Now, I’ll have to register, present the documents, do the technical inspection, do the odometer calibration ride and return to the room. After that, there will be the dinner with the subsequent riders meeting where instructions will be given, the rally books will be handed out and the files with the bonus point locations will be sent. After that, we will be sitting in our rooms, trying to develop that cunning route that gives the maximum points….

After having won the rally three times in a row, I am in a very relaxed mood. I just want to have fun and enjoy this brilliant bike. There is the usual auxiliary tank and the additional LED lights that make night rides fun, but the only thing that is missing is the comfy Russell Day-Long seat that makes 36 hours of riding absolutely painless. As it is still in production, I will have to suffer a little, but this is nothing I could not handle.

This year, I have decided to provide a public track again, you can follow my GPS track from tomorrow morning onwards (6 a.m. British Summer Time)…

So, let’s see if this registration has already opened….more news later!

Iron Butt Rally 2017 – the results

The ceremony is over…as predicted, it was a very special event with many stories and stunning performances at the bottom, middle and top of the standings.

As already mentioned, I had a lot of issues and did not ride the rally in a competitive, but rather in a „holiday“ mood. I had tons of long rest breaks in nice hotels. I finished one day early and had too chose my route based on the temperature forecast. Considering all this, the 32nd place out of 87 finishers and 106 starters is a very good result. Had I not have to stop rallying so early, a finish around place 20 would have been possible. And this without pushing anything. I can be very happy about this result, it even gives me an unexpected, official „silver medal finish“.

The finisher plaque – I will get the name tag later 🙂

The link to the standings is here: http://ibr.wvi.com/ibr/_2017/finalstandings.pdf

I’m back!

Hi everybody, I’m back at the „barn“, i.e. the rally finish. I was there 20 hours too early as the bike gave me some additional problems. I arrived basically with a dying Honda; I had to coast the last 30 miles on three cylinders and had almost no power left when I entered the parking of the hotel. After a rather „short“ route of only 9000 miles in about 10 days.

As I was still technically in the rally, the social media curfew still applied to me so I still had to remain quiet. This morning, I went to the scoring and got all my points except some 500 penalty points for a lost emergency contact tag that came off the latch of the hanger I was wearing for 11 days.

I got more that 55000 points for Leg 3 – this was the minimum points value to be a finisher of the WHOLE rally. Adding my points from Leg 1 and 2, I have about 85000 points. Considering the fact that I had a very relaxed rally in a non-competitive mood with lots of long rest breaks, a bike I had to nurse, numerous petrol stops, technical problems and a very close shave to get to the finish – this is a very good result, it should give me a mid-field result and finally the desired three-digit membership number that only IBR finishers can obtain. In about one hour from now, the banquet will start, followed by the ceremony.

Thanks for your support and your comments – I was reading them daily and they were a good read. Yesterday, I added quite some drama to the game…I left at 2 a.m. for the last 1100 km….I filled up every 90 – 100 km, but soon I realised that the stuttering was not due to the fuel pump. As it got worse and worse, it became more clear that the bike was losing one carburetor ( at least that’s how it felt). It got worse and worse and I went the last 30 miles on three cylinders only. The bike was slowly dying and had no power left. Finally, with the last power the bike had, I entered the parking of the finish and had done it! I couldn’t have done another 10 miles….this was a close shave! Maybe the E10 petrol (10% Ethanol) was killing my old carburetors? It’s a possibility…The bike was picked up already and is on the way back to Europe.

Apart from the scoring today, I basically was chatting with other riders, veterans, staff etc…there are so many stories and dramas to exchange…you’ll hear about some in the following official bulletins.

I also want to say a big THANK YOU to (quote) „this fat, balding, middle-aged, accountant from the UK“ that did a great job in entertaining you during the last days: John Young. He also helped me to stay focused on the main objective of this rally: to become a finisher. This worked almost all the time except on Wednesday when I nearly ruined the project by changing the plan and turning north into Michigan.

THANKS FOR ALL, MATE!!!

And now off to the banquet where new tales of heroism, boldness, despair and drama will be told….