Saturday, 20 June 2015

The VINCE - Austin Vince's Navigation Event in the Pyrenees - Planning

The Turtle and the Chicken get to go ride dirt bikes in the Pyrenees with some friends... Whoop, Whoop!!!

So our little blue pack arrived about 2-3 weeks ago, Lucy & I eagerly opened it to skim through the contents and have a brief look see what we'd got for our £250 each... Basically, two maps, loads of points to go to and an information booklet. It doesn't look much when you lay it all out, but I can only guess how many hours of trail riding have gone into that planning process! I guess this is what you pay for with your entry fee really.

For those of you that don't know, Austin Vince is a bit of a legend in the biking world, so is his lass, Lois Price. Both have ridden around the world on little trail bikes like the Suzuki DR350, Honda XR400 and a Yamaha Serow. They have been an inspiration to loads of folks to get off and play on their bikes...

Two things these guys do is to arrange various biking events in the Pyrenees, one is the VINCE.

Lucy & I heard about this awhile back, intrigued we thought we'd try one out and see what it's like, we threw out an invite to various friends and we now have Geoff, Lee, Lucy & I heading to Spain in July!

The header on the explanation page on AV's website has the following warning: .. Inspiring eh!

For me, I'm a bit of a geek about planning trips, it's what I do for a job these days, so to plan something with a few friends is great. I was up until 1.30am last night putting all of my points onto the big map, Irish whiskey in one hand and a red pen in the other... Fab!

The process I've used is as advised by AV on his website: This is how to prepare for the VINCE. I like the KISS principle, 'Keep It Simple Stupid' and this embodies that concept really...

Pretty simple, it just takes time and patience...

At the Haggs Bank & Adventure Spec weekend awhile ago now, I got chatting to Dave who is one of the main guys at AS, he was one of the team who rode the trails used in the VINCE this year, apparently there is a small group of people who go out each year with Austin & Lois and just go ride the trails, then it all gets turned into an event for the rest of us to experience... happy days...

Lee managed to scan and copy all of the maps and notes at work for all of us, we divided the trails into groups of 20 points, roughly, North West, North East, South West and South East on the map, allocated them out and now each of us has a section to lead and navigate.

We're operating as a 4 man team, each with a section to set up and navigate around, then the others will do the detail work at each checkpoint. We'll collect the necessary information as we ride then compile it to a master copy back at camp...

Once I've got the mapping and route sorted I'll look to building a road book, that should be a big bugger though as my eyesight is getting worse!! Can you buy plates of plastic magnifying sheet??? Hee Hee...

Have fun...

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Northumbria TRF Camping Weekend 13/14 June 2015

An annual event for all the TRF members is the camping weekend in Northumbria, Lucy & I were lucky enough to be around for the weekend and went along as run leaders to help out.

We arrived late of Friday night to find the field near Hexham almost full with caravans, vans and bikes. BBQ's were on the go and the more organised guys had their own little bike garages set up, gossiping away with old & new friends beers in hand!!

We had decided to trial a couple of bits of kit for the weekend, so I'd sorted out my tarp and some tables and chairs, got the cooker sorted for the van and just generally set the back of the van up as a rough camper.

Once the bikes were unloaded and the tarp in place we wandered around saying hi to lots of folks we'd never met before.

Once we caught up Nic, one of the Northumbria TRF organisers, we knew we were taking out 7 guys form around the country, 3 of whom knew each other and rode together fairly regularly. Bob, the oldest guy there, from Great Yarmouth on his Suzuki DR250 was a character, with loads of stories about various rides and his beloved Toyota truck. Dino & Alison were old hands at the TRF thing and both lovely people riding a Honda CRF and a Yamaha Serow. Steve was a retired farmer riding a Honda NX 400 Falcon, great little bike and very well ridden too, Rob had his WR250 and was pretty handy too, leaving Paul with his new KTM 350 EXC-f.

Saturday morning dawned cloudy but dry, so as a fair few were heading north, I decided to do the Alston run today and the northern run on Sunday. So at 8.30 we all met up for the first time properly outside our van and set off. I cocked up almost straight away with the nav, turning right instead of left and then heading down into Hexham, completely forgetting nobody needed fuel, so a quick U turn and we were back on track.. all the usual lanes including Limestone Brae, Isaac's tea trail and a bunch of the smaller lanes to get us to Alston.

Lunch at Hartside saw us ready to tackle the classics of Tynehead and Coleberry Moor, with a blast across Blanchland and into Slaley, where we did a loop round a couple of new sections for me, some quite rocky and rutted, but great fun.

By now, a pretty tired group were flagging so I decided two more lanes would see us finished for the day, so Juniper called with it's steep descent and a now very shallow river crossing, then the last lane of the day, nice and easy and next to the camp ground. Beer was now calling!

As we arrived the rain started and Greg Villalobos turned up with the BBQ, so of course that signalled heavier rain, which carried on for a lot of the night... still everybody got into the spirit of things with the Lincolnshire group having a good crack and a few beers, the Northumbria boys getting wet stood around the smoking barrel stove. They're all tough lads though and used to it!! ;-)

Sunday dawned very wet in the morning, our group weren't too fussed about going out, but at least 30+ folk went out for the day, with various plans of the Alston run, a Bellingham run and some I never found out about. One lad was on his KTM 990, what a monster but to him, it was a la'al wee thing he just chucked around like a 125!!!

On the whole a great first time at a TRF event for us, we met some great new people, whom we've swapped email addresses with plans to meet up/ride with again, we had good fun sorting kit out for the van and used the whole thing as a test run for the VINCE next month. We also managed to see a lot of people's work on their vans and set ups, finding some cool little bit of kit... lots of good ideas on show. There must have about 60+ people went out on the ride out on Saturday, with everyone back safely with stories to tell...

Magic, Biking is so cool!!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Haggs Bunkhouse: All Terrain Adventure Weekend

Lucy and I were invited upto Haggs for the weekend to help out with the Adventure Spec All Terrain Weekend hosted by Haggs Bank. aka Danny and Cathy.

As Lucy was working on the Friday evening I drove up with the bikes, the plan was for Lucy to turn up on Saturday morning then take some people out for a day on the Northumbria and Cumbria lanes.

Friday afternoon was gorgeous... I got involved helping with the river crossings training, mainly just watching and hoping I wasn't gonna get wet feet whilst picking up someone's bike when they got a dunking... John, the trainer is a swift water rescue guy with loads of outdoor experience and a passion for motorbikes and rallying. We got on well and ended up drinking beer most of the night talking shite, as you do!

Saturday dawned windy, the clouds scudding across the blue sky at a right rate on knots. The marquee to a battering and we had to tie it down to some vans to keep it in place before breakfast too! Later in the day the roof ripped and we had to take it down, a proper team work exercise!!

We met up with the guys that wanted to ride out and found them all on dirt bikes so planned to ride some of the more rugged lanes in two loops, a short one in Cumbria and a longer one into Northumbria taking in loads of classics.

The riding took in some ace lanes, with a start through Alston on the Wardway, before heading into the ruts and deep puddles on Rowgill Cleugh. Haresceugh Lane followed this with a bit of a tumble for the lad on the CRF 250, bruised rib anyone??

A quick sweep up Gamblesby and Hazel Rigg saw us having tea at Hartside Cafe then a romp over to Isaacs Tea Trail, Limestone Brae and down into Nenthead and Killhope before heading over Coldberry Moor for some serious wind sessions!

We finished up on Tynehead before heading back to Haggs to rescue the marquee! A very wind blown group we were too by the time we got back... great day out again though and I got a good look at a DRZ400 and a Husqvarna FE450, both really capable bikes.

The Husky was very KTM ish, whilst the two DRZ's were classics of their kind, solid, dependable bikes.

More great folk, some good laughs and a few beers, what more can you ask for on a weekend??

Thanks to Danny and Cathy for their company and the invite and thanks to Dave from Adventure Spec for putting together the planned rides for the weekend, excellent fun was had by all...