July 01, 2009 GMT
First Mud

The Horizons Unlimited meeting at Ripley the other weekend was a brilliant affair, a chance to do a minor dummy-run on all the equipment and systems.

Firstly the luggage. I wanted to take all that I would be likely to carry on the Africa trip, so I loaded it all up.
I left out a few items, that I hadn’t yet had time to acquire, or sort out the best way to carry. But that didn’t amount to much.
When loading was complete, I had:
- all camping and cooking gear,
- most tools,
- a lot of spares,
- clothes (too many for three and a half days),
- ten litres of water (well, what if there was a drought in Derbyshire??),
- music system (MP3, mini speakers, 12v adapters),
- and quite a bit of unused space.
Then a phone call, from Caroline.
“Could I take my spare tent as well. Caroline and Beau might find it handy if their tent proved to be too small to house all their boots and jackets and helmets and stuff?”
And, “Could I take my old (and large) sleeping bag as well. ‘Cos Beau hasn’t had time to buy his own yet?”
I loaded those onto the bike. But I still had unused space. Maybe I have a Tardis here.
Well, I had run out of time to look around yet again to see what I had forgotten – I must have forgotten something – so I filled the rest of the space with four pint bottles of best Kentish beer and a bottle of English red wine from Brighton, and set off for The North.
And my conclusion is that the TTR’s luggage-carrying set-up is about right. It certainly seemed to be over the Ripley weekend.

And Caroline’s Serow

Secondly, the off-road capabilities of me and the bike. I was looking forward to the off-road ride-outs, a feature of previous HU meetings, but it seemed on the Thursday evening that no local ride-leaders would be attending. And I didn’t know the area nor had any maps, so couldn’t really go out on my own.
But on Friday morning a local hero turned up to lead a ride, and off we went.
It (and he) was the star turn of the weekend. We bounced and jolted and jumped and slithered and slid around the lanes of Matlock and Bakewell. It was the first time I had ever been off-road on the TTR, and the first time on any bike for maybe five years. I left all the luggage-carrying stuff on the bike (box, rear panniers, tank panniers and tank bag), and a few things inside like tools, spares and cooking gear.
And it all went wonderfully well. I surprised myself at some of the terrain we tackled successfully. And even more when, having dropped the lot on some tricky deep ruts, I could pick the whole thing up on my own. So quickly in fact, that I overdid it and the bike sailed right over and fell down into the mud on the other side. So in one little fall I got practice in picking it up from both the left and the right. Not bad.

Little Yammy amongst the Big Bruisers…..
Ah! THERE it is!

So I returned from The North with quite a bit more confidence that this bike and rider may well succeed on the trip south.

Packing up for home

Posted by Ken Thomas at July 01, 2009 05:17 PM GMT

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