We left Mongolia on the twenty something of September. It feels like a lifetime ago. Since then I’ve seen mostly tarmac and any confidence I once had has long since waned. 

Creating a target focuses the mind

In my last post I mentioned Howard and I foolishly signing up to an off road competition (the Lands End Trail) as an attempt to practice and retain the skills we learnt in Asia. 

I also mentioned few weeks back I found myself stood in Ryka’s Café wondering why on earth I had decided to go on an off road ride out in the Surrey Hills (I will write another post on how that went!).

Since then I’ve been riding country lanes with a pro (advanced trainer) around Southampton and this weekend we’re booked in for another ride with Ride the Wild at Box Hill.

Gertrude and Edward needed some focus too

To ride the Lands End Trail there are lots of ACU (the governing body) rules to abide by which means getting back to being a weekend mechanic (whoop!). 

We found that Gertrude had a carb / boot issue (which we initially thought was a sticking throttle) and resulted in us doing our favourite task of taking the carb apart. I don’t know who likes it more now, me or Howard (he obviously found and fixed the problem with me playing apprentice).

After the repair, she needed an MOT (passed just fine as you’d expect with Howard’s eagle eyes on her). We got new tyres all round, Gertrude got a new headlight and Edward is also finally getting a chain guard (if I remember correctly it was lost in Kazakhstan first time round).

We’ve put Midas trial tyres on both bikes now. The Heidenau weren’t legal. Howard need to take all the credit for this work, I helped with one tyre today, that was it. 

Gertrude is now ready to go. I think she’s looking hot.

Competing is different from overlanding 

Considering the competition is just a few weeks away we still have lots to do. One of the main challenges with this kind of trial is about being self sufficient and navigating a route card. We’ve not even looked at that bit yet! 

It’s also about endurance – the ability to master 15 hours of technically demanding riding with no sleep. I’ve done about 4 consecutive hours in the saddle since the trip. Howard even less.

I was thinking we are more organised and prepared than this time last year… maybe not!