It was the 15th June 2004, a day I'll still remember
in a hundred years.
The plan was to drive down to Switzerland for the 3rd Swiss-KTM-Adventure-Meeting directly after I had finished work at 4:30pm.
I had booked the Tunnel-Shuttle for 6:30pm and a bed in the Formula1 Hotel in Charleroi, Belgium.
On Friday, the 16th, I planned to meet some of the other guys near Strasbourg at 2:00pm to ride the last 100Km together.
But everything went wrong on this bloody day.
The first thing in the morning before I even started was, my bike fell over while I was in the house to grab my helmet. I lost my Topeak Tripmaster in this strike and cracked the newly repaired front fairing again. Shit!
But Anyway, I am on my way and nothing can stop me today, ....... So I thought.
At 4:30pm I left my workplace and drove down the A127, changed on the M25 and after Dartford Crossing I changed on the M20 direction Folkstone. I had lost a good half an hour in the traffic in front of the toll booth so I opened the throttle and yiphieeeee.!
While I was riding along at 97mph I overtook a lorry. At this moment my front tyre went flat. It was like hitting deep sand without warning.
The handlebar was rocking like mad. My steering dumper safed my ass!
Eventually I managed to reach the hard shoulder and stopped the bike without falling off.
The first thing I did was lying down in the grass and having a fag.
After I calmed down I took a look
and made the decision to cancel Shuttle and Hotel, call Mac (good boy!) to pick me up and fix the damned Tire.
That’s what we did and afterwards we got pissed, oh yeah.
On the 16th at 9:00am I started again. Everything went
smoothly until Calais. The bike won't start. I kicked 20times before it eventually
started. And off we go. 50Km later I hear a loud "Pang" and the
engine stopped. Carb was slipped out of the rubber tube.
I had experienced this before, so 3 minutes later I was ready to go, but the side stand wouldn't stay in driving position. The Bloody spring was gone. OK let's use one of the rubber rings I made from the torn front tube. And off we go!
500Km further I hear another Pang, bloody carb again, 3 minutes and off we go, again.
It went dark.
I am near Metz, my front light is getting superb right and than dark, one of the bulbs is gone.
No Problemo, I have two front lights, and off we go, again.
Near Strasbourg my indicators decide to quit their job, the engine was already not working properly. I couldn't have full throttle and with out revving the engine while it stands it stalled.
That’s it, tired driver, no indicators, 50% light and an engine that’s getting funny I stop here. Luckily enough I found a Hotel close to the motorway. After 10sec on the bed I slept like a stone.
The next morning.
After 10 kicks the Rally woke up and we went of to the meeting.
I arrived at the meeting an hour later.
I just could get rid of the luggage and off we went to get new tires from the KTM dealer around the corner. I had ordered these tires a couple of weeks before. Knowing that the tour after the meeting will demand new tires.
With the new tires fitted the Rally refused to start again, even with three people taking it in rounds trying to start her she refused it for the next half an hour. Then she eventually started.
I raced back to the meeting and started to take the bike to bits to find the problem.
Thank god I had ordered a new needle jet and jet stock before I started. But while I was putting the carb back in I accidentally pressed the Hot start Knob. So I kicked again 10 times and when she eventually started the engine reved up to over 5000revs. Damned it took me 3 minutes to discover that it was this bloody knob.
Than a couple of other checks, Water, tire pressure, Oil??? I had to refill 1 Liter. Wow!
Resetting the clutch clearance.
After that surgery the bike started first time all times. Ok third sometimes but it had idle and everything was fine.
As usual on meetings we sampled the best in our finest glasses
red wine, 500Km travelled in plastic cups.
oh yes, don't forget the good old Edradour to my right ;-)
On Sunday, Matthias, Torsten, Marcus, Chris, GG and me headed off south to go to Italy and spend a few days on the Assietta Ridge Road and other old gravel tracks in the border area between Italy and France.
In the morning the usual preparations, a quick riders training
and the usual rubber maintenance
Switzerland is quite boring to ride thru. We tried to cross it as soon as possible.
Had a quick McD's, don't wanna lose the good figure
We stopped over in Montreux on the shores of the Lake Geneva,
the local wildlife loved me bike ...
Next morning we went further south and finally reached the Alps and had our first few mountain passes.
We also had a few minor detours due to the ability of our GPS using Marcus ;-)
On the way down the little St. Bernadino into the Aosta Valley, the fear of the blasting front tire catched up with me and somehow I couldn't let go of the rear brake.
With the result of boiling the brake fluid and overheating the brake.
We stopped at a little hidden gem of a camp ground and Mama made us the best home made pizza and pasta we ever had.
The next morning we got new brake fluid and changed the fluid on my bike. That was quickly done and off we went.
We stopped in the next village to get provisions.
When we tried to start again my bike was having none of it.
It started to rain so we pushed our bikes under a nearby bridge and got to work to take the bike appart and check what was wrong.
We checked everything, no luck.
We made the decission that the rest of the group will take off and I will limp home or call the AA.
When the bike finally fired up again we split up and I went back thru the Mountblanc Tunnel to France and back in direction Calais
On a French Campground I investigated further and actually found that one of the cables from the alternator to the ignition coil had a short. A bit of insulation tape sorted that.
I spend a further four days in the Jura Mountains and the Ardennes and finally went back to Calais.
I stopped on the last laybay before the Eurotunnel to have a quick wee.
Wenn I turned around to search for my dick I heard a bad crashing noise and turned around to find my bike lying on the ground.
The new installed sub frame, a Heavy Duty modificatiopn for the Dakar Rally to be able to carry the extra fuel in the rear tanks had snapped. No I had no fuel in the rear tanks.
And the flimsy metal plate alone couldn't hold the bike.
Ok so I turned around again had a liberating piss, picked up the bike, went to the Tunnel, boarded the train and had to explain to the stupid blonde French Train Assitant that I couldn't put the bike on its stand and that it would have to lay on the floor.
The little rest of the trip from Folkstone to Essex was quickly done.
And I was really really happy to be back home again.
Btw, since the tape repair the engine started always first kick and never stalled again.
I changed the ingnition in 2006 for a more modern one, since then the engine has a really strong and smooth idle.
SEM Ignitions suck!
The sub frame that snapped was new and installed just a week before the trip.
The new one I installed later has now done a good 15000Km and is still strong.
It must have been the Karma of the whole trip .....
KTM swapped the sub frame for free.