Following the demise of Herman’s Tenere engine I decided to carry out a complete strip down and rebuild of my bike. Adam was also having doubts about the reliability of his bike and shipped it off lock stock and barrel to Dave Lambeth Rally & Overland (http://www.davidlambeth.co.uk) for a major overhaul.
I had completely stripped my bike and dismantled the engine ready for rebuilding but it was all taking too much time and so I decided to cut my loses and get Dave Lambeth to rebuild my engine, this was pricey but with a reputation for being able to turn a standard XT600 engine into a 100,000 mile lump I thought it was worth it for the peace of mind.
For all of us this really was going to be the motorcycle trip of a life time and for it to end prematurely because of engine failure or major breakdown would have been unthinkable.
While Dave Lambeth busied himself with my engine, I rebuilt the rolling chassis from the ground up. This was a slow process and in August 2003 I bought another Tenere to enable me to familiarise myself with the bike, on and off road. The bike I bought was well traveled, starting life in Switzerland it had been far and near, including South Africa and back. It was also very well stocked with extras, a centre stand, aluminum luggage and racks, custom seat for short arses like me and a white power rear shock, all of which would find its way onto my trip bike.
Armed with my new bike I began planning weekends away with the boys, hacking 200 miles up to Derbyshire on a Friday night to congregate at a bunkhouse or The Yew Tree Inn just over the border in Staffordshire. The pub is owned and run by Alan East and his partner, who happens to be my Mum. This was very handy for cheap accommodation but usually had us reeling with hangovers the following morning although Mum’s hearty breakfast would see us on our way. The bunkhouse we stayed in was not so homely, no electricity, heating or lights and very cold but it did mean we learnt to cook, map read and plan by torchlight.
Once up and mobile we would set off for the hills following routes obtained through an internet site supplying information for four-wheel drive enthusiasts. Initially we though this would have us leisurely following farm tracks and green lanes. We were soon to discover that these 4x4 drivers like a challenge and our ride would be far from leisurely. The Tenere’s took a fair battering on these trips and more often than not one would return home on the back of a breakdown truck. We were all getting very familiar with the bikes, their idiosyncrasies and how to maintain them.
Apart from the bikes we were getting to grips with all the other aspects of the trip. We had chosen to bivvy instead of tents, this was another Mondo Enduro inspired decision and besides it meant less luggage to carry and more adventure. We’d been trialing cookers, recipes, waterproof clothing, thermal underwear, you name it we’d covered it, even designing logos for the fuel tanks.
August 2003 was also the month that Jen and I announced to the world that she was pregnant and would be expecting our baby in March 2004. I wasn't sure what affect this would have on the trip but carried on with the preparation much to the suprise of all but Jen.
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