Once the finer details of the relay team had been ironed out it was all systems go and everyone busied themselves with preparation. By the end of 2004 everything seemed sorted, the bikes had all been through Dave Lambeth’s fingers so we were all feeling confident that they would stand up to the challenge. We’d been doing a great deal of riding on and off road; we were frequent visitors to Derbyshire and were getting quite used to picking our bikes up after numerous falls.
I was in the final stages of rebuilding my bike ‘XRT’ and decided it would be a good idea to mount a sidecar onto my spare bike, the Tenere 3AJ I’d been using while XRT was off the road. I modified a trial bike sidecar to fit and my first ride out was terrifying, I ended up on the wrong side of the road more than once, I persevered and with a few tweaks and a five gallon drum of water strapped over the wheel I mastered it, or so I thought. One Saturday at the beginning of January I transported Ad’s ammunition boxes to a fabricator to have some brackets made and on the way back the wheel bearing on the sidecar seized up, it snapped the stub axle clean off and Bang I was off, the bike was thrown sideways, I was launched earthward and then the bike and sidecar which were now upside down landed on top of me, it was like a guillotine coming down across my back. Fortunately Adam was following me and called for help, unfortunately the two Ambulance men would not veer from their sat nav directions and although they could be seen and were being directed over a mobile phone by a Samaritan who’d stopped to help me, they still insisted on continuing to follow the electronic idiot. A full 15 minutes after the first sighting and following some choice words from the guy on the phone to them they turned up. Once in hospital it was discovered that I’d punctured my lung and broken five ribs. I spent 2 weeks in hospital and a further 4 weeks recovering at home.
By March I felt fully recovered and completed the work on XRT, it was ready to be run in and on a cool March night I set off for work in London, 80 miles from my home in Ipswich. I gave myself plenty of time and keeping my speed below 50mph with plenty of gear changes I was enjoying the leisurely ride. After about 40 miles I felt the engine begin to labour, I snatched the clutch in and the engine nipped up solid…I didn’t make it to work and following a couple of hours in the cold got recovered. I took the bike back to Dave Lambeth and left it with him, it turned out I hadn’t put the sponge into the air cleaner and Dave put the seize down to the engine running to lean. I took I on the chin, paid up another £450 for his troubles and a new piston and collected the bike. Time to run it in again, by now I only had a month before we were scheduled to leave.
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