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Final preparations

Once I’d finally sorted out the team’s communication equipment, I popped over to see my friend Gavin and get his advice on the sockets and spanners needed, as well as doing a much better job than I did on wiring in the car adaptors and supervising me fit a set of new tyres and tubes to the bike. Then all that’s left to do is complete the Oxford lap of honour as Batman, buy the required tools and additional spares, and tidy up the house.
Also I’ve been playing with a new map feature, so hopefully we shall see that working soon to give an idea as to where we are in the world. I’m planning on handing over the running of this site to a friend, so want to make sure the management is sorted out before I leave.

The luggage problem

The CityFly was never designed for such a task as the Mongol Rally. That’s why there’s no chance of fitting a rack to the rear of it, as the exhaust sits in the way. With less than a week to go before we leave from Hyde Park, I had to find some way of carrying all the camping gear from GoOutdoors, additional fuel and water, my helmet, my spare clothes, food and medical supplies on the bike.

Remember the old Minsk? Recognise the panniers? It seems the heat from the exhaust is not enough to cause problems to the right pannier, so they just sling under the seat and dangle – better than they did on the Minsk! With some bungee cord, there’s little chance of them getting tangled up in the rear wheel even when bumped around (famous last words). How they’ll cope when I drop the bike will be down to what’s inside of them – I plan on keeping one with 10L of petrol and the other with 10L of drinking water; the former in a metal can and the latter in plastic; so the dangerous side should be protected.
This should now provide a platform for further gear to be piled on top to take all the camping gear, food, and clothes. Monday’s task is to get suitable gear and also a top-box to lock my helmet and bike gear in the dry at night, and to hold anything important during the ride…

Testing the gear

After the kind donation from GoOutdoors.co.uk it was time to figure out how it all worked. After only 5 minutes of pitching in the dark rain, the tent got me through the night, with the sleeping-bag protecting me from the condensation. A fine wake-up to a petrol-fuelled cup of boiling hot tea, thanks to the tiny but powerful MSR camping stove that runs on the same petrol as the bike. No need to waste space carrying gas canisters!

Many thanks to the patrons of Hanoi, Vietnam!

Just a quick thank-you for the very generous pledges and contributions from the folks enjoying the night down the Spotted Cow. I’m awaiting a photo for the sponsors page ;)

GoOutdoors.co.uk

The lovely folks from Oxford’s GoOutdoors.co.uk have kindly donated a tent, sleeping bag, stove, insect repellent and purification tablets to our team! More details to come shortly.

Live Interview for BBC Radio Oxford on Danny Cox’s Mid-Morning Show

Today I went in for a lovely chat on air with local radio star Danny Cox to talk about the trip and get some more exposure. I’ll post the audio link shortly.

Article published in the Oxford Mail

Article can be found on-line at: http://www.oxfordmail.net/news/

Photoshoot with Oxford Mail

Today the Oxford Mail’s photographer John came by to Gavin’s to take some pictures for the local paper:

The story so far…

Well my my, hasn’t this been a challenge and a half – and the rally hasn’t started yet!
To bring our new readers up to speed, since November 2006 I’ve been preparing a Russian bike to do this rally on. Importing it, approving it, registering it, taxing, insuring etc, a total nightmare as part of http://www.mongolbyminsk.com . That all came to a rather sorry end in June when the chain snapped on the M25, taking out the gearbox, rear everything, and any hope of the bike ever working again.

With only a month to go before the rally started, I was left back at zero. Not only would the bike be different, the whole angle of the sponsorship campaign would need to be redesigned – right during my finals at University.

City Fly

I had to do something about being bike-less. Since I’ve been given a second chance to do things, it would be foolish to not get it 100% right. The Minsk would have been fun and challenging, but now those spare parts are gone, I’m having to find something reliable.

I was thinking about getting the same bike as James (a Honda XLR125) but thought that getting something that was a bit more of a compromise for the roads in Europe would also be handy. Between the CG125 and the XLR125 is exactly that, the CLR125 CityFly:

Suited for city commutes as well as off-road play, it looks like the ideal bike to take. The only problem is, they’re really hard to find for sale! After a bit of hunting however, I found one up in Huddersfield. I drove up, hired a trailer, and brought it back down in some seriously heavy rain after paying for it:

Since then I changed the oil, but found bits of metal in the filter (tends to be a bad thing) so I took it to Gavin for a complete overhaul. Since he’s worked on bikes for years, as well as toured around Iceland on a 250cc XLR, what he says goes! Here it is now:

We’re currently waiting on Honda engine parts from Belgium before putting it back together, and when we do it will be awesome. Mongolia, here I come! (again ;) )