The 2 Muppets Ride (Run) Again!

Posted on June 13th, 2007 by siteadmin.
Categories: Getting Prepared.

Well it’s been a long time between updates, so I thought I should write something up to keep our legions of fans satisfied!

So what have we been up to? Well, the 2Muppets (or should I say Muppeteers?) had our first outing in over 18 months, joining forces to take on the Edinburgh Marathon on May 27th!

I’d been training for months with regular long runs, and was feeling as fit as a fiddle, well, apart from the tummy upset, sore back and lack of sleep – Nervous maybe? A touch! Jody on the other hand had taken a somewhat more casual approach, choosing to only do the bare minimum training. For him this race was in itself only really a training run for the famous Comrades ultra marathon in South Africa in June (that he’s hoping to run back to back after completing it last year).

Unfortunately though, the snipers got word of this lack of preparation, and with the cracking pace set early on, there were several (expected) man down incidents towards the end of the race, with Jody pulling up lame and hobbling to the side of the road!! Still he managed to walk each cramp off, and finished with a very respectable time of 3:49, not his fastest time by any means, but not bad for a training run.

Jody Hurtin!  dsc01490.JPG

Here’s Jody chewing bees at the end of the run, and us proud as punch with our medals!

After running as ‘Team 2Muppets’ for 25/26ths of the race I felt a bit frisky toward the end, (and OK, maybe let my competitive side get the best of me!) and piled on a bit more pace for the last mile, to finish a minute ahead of Jody on 3:48. I was absolutely wrapped, and a little emotional to go with it, crossing the line at a full sprint, 12 minutes ahead of my goal time! Queue the blubbering idiot!

So now to my favourite topic, the bike mods! Where to start? Since I last wrote I’ve made the following upgrades to the bike:

(Sorry if there’s too much detail for some, I’m kinda writing this stuff up in case some other mug decides to do the same trip and they somehow learn of the site)

– I replaced the standard plastic handguards with snazzy Acerbis alloy reinforced guards.

Old Handguard  Alloy Handguard
– I fitted the motocross type high mudguard, though I haven’t been able to take the low one off just yet.
– I fitted the lovely Stenhouse Racing Scotts stabiliser mount. This allows mounting of a steering damper (coming soon) and also raises the bars by around 15 mm. And it looks cool!

Damper Mount 1  Damper Mount 2
– I mounted an SW Motech sidestand – this lovely (but heavy!) stand can be mounted alongside the OEM centre stand.

High Guard and Sidestand
– I mounted integrated locks into the clamps on my pannier boxes.
– I swapped the regular (light but soft) alloy rear sprocket with the blinging, (heavy but strong) Stealth steel and alloy sprocket. And it looks sweeeeeeet too!

Stealth Sprocket

The bike had its first service, and a few upgrades were added into the bargain! he he!!
– The standard stainless steel muffler was replaced with an alloy “SXC Competition” muffler. It weighs less than 60% of the OEM heavy stainless can, it’s better breathing, looks better and sounds better too! And it makes Jody jealous!

– To ‘help her breathe’ a little better, the airbox was opened up with a racing airbox cover, and the carb was rejetted from a 152.5 to a 162.5 main jet.

Yesterday, I pulled the whole front end apart to put the fork gaiters on. While I was there I went a bit further and pulled the fork triple clamps off the bike as well, to enable access to the notoriously ill greased steering head bearings. I packed in a bit more grease, then put the whole thing back together, only to discover on the second to last bolt that I’d routed some cables the wrong way! DOH!!! Now I have to dismantle half of it again tonight to fix it!

Beakless Bert  Jaapie Beer  No Low Guard

I couldn’t resist adding these photos: One of Bert “beakless”; one of me “in training”, drinking South African beer while I worked; and one of Bert just looking sexy (without the damn low guard, man I hate that thing!)!!!

You may well wonder why all my ‘bike stories’ involve working on the bike, while Jody’s one story was about riding his! Well that’s because it’s miserable riding this thing in London. Too much traffic, and no dirt!

Over Easter I met another South African chap down in Wales, who has the same bike, and is planning the same trip as us, at much the same time. We’ve been in touch since, and now plan to do some trails in Wales early in July. This guy used to race enduro motocross, and dropped his bike in the drink crossing a river last time he was there, so look out for what I hope will be some good riding stories in my next update!



Ernie, and the baptism of fire!

Posted on April 23rd, 2007 by siteadmin.
Categories: Getting Prepared.

As some of you may have noticed my partner in crime Dan ‘grease monkey’ Morgan has been furiously writing posts bragging about his Bert and the wonders of his mod’s.

Well, like a fat kid at a party with no cake I had had enough “hello Pro-Action, yes I would like a 640 Adventure, with Michelin T63 tyres, neoprene fork gaiters, and rim locks “ take delivery in a week, perfect see you then”


So, at the crack of dawn on Friday morning the very helpful Laetitia sorted out the paperwork and handed over the keys to my trusty new stead Ernie. First impressions are that this bike is tall, I am no limber Russian gymnast but getting my drumstick over the pannier and seat is one hell of a contortion act, god knows how I am going to manage with all the clobber of our trip packed on. With a massive grin I wave goodbye to the Goose to speed home to change and head off to work.

Now the rumour mill is always abound at the enthusiasm I show when starting a relationship, and I have to say it seems Ernie and mines has begun in a very similar fashion. You see a very good friend of mine Ryan ‘cheeseball’ Bruwer is getting married shortly and a bachelors party was being held in the Natal midlands for the man over the weekend.

So whilst on my ride home I started to put 2 and 2 together: my bike needs running in + I am due to drive the 500km that afternoon on my own = Ernie pal, we are taking a road trip !!

At lunch time I shot off home picked up the bike, riding clobber and made few calls to un-approving loved ones. 4pm arrived far too slowly, but eventually I was off atop Ernie (why could we have not given our bikes feminine names?). Having done a fair bit of road riding the last few months on the Suzuki I was feeling relatively comfortable which gave me time to soak up the new bike: it handles really well on the road and the torque of the big single cylinder engine really is a nice change from the high revving super bike.

About 100km into the trip I was in my element, setting African sun, the smell of farm lands, and on a bike I have been dying to ride for the last 5 months. The first surprise of the trip (there are many) came just after the Villiers toll – I looked behind me to check my blind spot (a good habit I am sure to forget) and noticed my back pack buffeting in the wind inside the right pannier box – hang on, sh*t where has the pannier cover gone – quick glance to the left, nope that one is still on – BOLLOCKS its come off and I have no idea where. Aha, I remember Grease Monkey mentioning something about locks he bought for his panniers – so I decide to start paying more attention to that muppet’s jabberings and press on with the trip.

At about the 300km mark I reach Harrismith, and decide to stop have a chocolate supermoo and check in with the Goose and the Old Lady. I also give Danno a ring to inform him of my progress and my lack of pannier cover – we laugh as he is also out on a ride and has had a GPS mount malfunction. Trans-Africa, in our sleep mate !!!!

Right, time to press on – Cheeseball and co will be on the cane train by now and I can smell the cream soda. Van Reenen’s pass (1100m) is an absolute blast in the dark on a bike with no other cars in site (yes mum I was doing 80km/h!?) – but then something interesting happens, the fuel light comes on – hmm I definitely remember Laetitia saying that I have 10km’s of fuel in the main tank after the light comes on – sh*t how could I have cocked this so badly, and I drove past a petrol station 30km or so ago (soooo stooopid!). I pull over at a sign indicating that its 58km to Escourt and I know the Ultra-City is 15 or so km before it. I give Danno a buzz who finds this situation hell of an amusing but re-assures me that the reserve is 7 litres and that I should get “at least 70km, so you are sweet mate”, so I reckon kiff, stick the selector to reserve and barrel off. The kilometres are peeling off but there is a serious uneasy feeling in the old gut – an SA highway is not a lekker place to be running out of fuel at night, especially Escourt (just think Deliverance). And then, just like many a SA cricket match, there is massive joy as I see the Petrol station on the next crest, and just as quickly as that joy arrives the engine splutters to death. OH MY HOLY CRAP !!!! The sign ahead says “Ultra City – 8km”. Right well at least I can see it so lets start free wheeling down the hill.


I was next to that tree when the last spark fired, the petrol station is up on the hill in the DISTANCE !

Lesson 1) A KTM is a crap bicycle, it only just keeps enough momentum to keep upright on a fairly good down.

I eventually make it to the bottom of the hill, where another sign reads “Ultra City – 4km”, oh bollocks this is gonna suck. What did cheer me up was those considerate individuals in their 3 series Beemers flying past at 140km/h giving a hoot of condolences – tossers ! I start pushing, and like a good Vindaloo you start off thinking it’s oh so do-able, but then the arms start to ache, the blister from your new Gaerne boots starts to sting, and you have that sudden thought – thank god this is tarmac – hang on, we are going to be doing this for months through desert.

So I decide to phone my good friend Dan because someone should be getting amusement out of this – he nearly wets himself and see’s no need to question or bring up his 70km estimate. Just when I am about to take a wee siesta on the pavement a beaten up Toyota Tazz stops and 2 black guys get and wonder over to me. I start to think – if they steal the bike then I won’t have to push it up the rest of the hill !! Instead they explain they work for a tow truck company and drive up and down the highway looking for ‘victims’ – after which the one fella offers to help push my bike up the last 500m of hill – I want to hug the man, but I am wearing biking kit and don’t want to give the Beemer drivers even more to hoot at !!

Lesson 2) There is good in this world, even in tow truck drivers from Escourt!

By now I am getting frantic phones from Nic, and the folks, even one from on board the cane train but there is too much debauchery to hear them properly. Finally we make it to the petrol station, fill up Ernie, grab a round of cokes for all and sundry – then turn the ignition to fire him up… nothing. OH MY SATCHEL ! The battery is now dead from having my lights on – jumper cables anyone, not a sausage. Right, lets kick start the beast – oh hang on, I haven’t even read the manual yet, let alone know how to kick start a single (a few tricks to it). Again on the phone to the trusty Danno who finds this even more amusing and manages to give me directions. I am useless at it and don’t have the patience or the strength of drumstick.

Eventually after an hour of deliberating the trusty tow truck driver whips out the battery from his car, sits it alongside Ernie’s and uses the trusty old African version of jumper cables – 2 spanners across the terminals, Ernie fires to life and the assembled staff all cheer happily.

By now it is midnight, and the loved ones are a little frayed around the edges. I send them all a message that all is well and I am on the move. The rest of the journey (which by now I have started to see as rather amusing) is really beautiful – clear skies and fantastic moonlit rolling hills! Finally I reach the bachelors to cheers/jeering and one hell of a stiff John Deere.

Lesson 3) The cane train will always wait for you to catch up !


On Saturday I managed to get in some good dirt riding around the Dargle area, and a couple of boys gave the KTM a spin. Fortunately the ride back went without incident, and Ernie is safely parked up at home with 1260km’s on the clock and due his first service after only 3 days of ownership.

Lesson 4) Relationships built from adversity will last a life time !!

Further muppet-like escapades to follow, will keep you posted.


PS. No, this has not dampened my excitement for trip  :-)

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Living with Bert, The Early Days…

Posted on April 11th, 2007 by siteadmin.
Categories: Getting Prepared.

So I’d had Bert exactly one full day before I started pulling him apart to rebuild him bigger, better and stronger than he was before. Nice easy job to start with, installing the stock KTM Roadbook Holder that the GPS will mount to.

GPS Mount 1

Even this relatively simple job was enough to unnerve me – working on a brand new motorbike that is the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought is a bit different to working on my old 1965 Landrover! I eventually got the roadbook holder mounted up, and the bike all back together again, and damn fine it looks too!

GPS Mount 2

One problem – I don’t think the Austrians are as smart as the Germans, as this standard part fouls the standard plastic handguards, and I’ve lost a bit of steering lock, as well as the ability to actually lock the steering to the side when I take the key out! KTM have been making this bike for about 9 years, you’d think that they would have thought of putting a bend in the bar or something by now! I’m hoping that the alloy handguards I bought will solve this, otherwise I may have to bodge something, or alternatively, live with it.

The bike is starting to feel a bit more natural, and with the whopping 25.5ltr fuel tank I’ve only managed to run out of fuel once – right in the middle of a set of traffic lights after pushing past all the queuing cars!!! Now I know what the difference is between the fuel reserve light and the manual fuel reserve tap however. A very good thing to know… as Jody was to discover himself the hard way!


Bert Comes Home!

Posted on April 11th, 2007 by siteadmin.
Categories: Getting Prepared.

Bert was officially received by me on Friday the 30th of March. Here he is in all his brand spanking newness!

Bert Comes Home!

I picked up a few extra bits and pieces along with the bike as Bracken do 20% off KTM parts bought with the bike, and I wanted to take as much advantage of this as I could.

These pieces included:

  • Steel rear sprocket
  • Front sprockets one size bigger and one size smaller than the standard (so I could alter the gearing)
  • A “cockpit” bar that the GPS mounts to
  • Alloy reinforced handguards (to protect hands and levers in a crash)
  • Inner bags for the panniers (not sure I’ll use em, but seemed like a good idea at the time!)
  • Pieces for a high mudguard conversion (I’m going to replace that ugly and dangerous front guard with a high motocross type mudguard)
  • Neoprene gaiters for the forks (to keep dust etc out of the fork sliders)

Typically, it was raining when I took it home on Friday night, but Saturday was blissfully bright and clear, so I took him out for his first ride, a blat down the A2 to Canterbury!

Now this was not as romantic as it might seem, as when running a bike in the last thing that you want to do is stick to constant revs for any period of time… Instead you need to be constantly changing revs, and up and down through the gears. What this meant for me was sitting in the slow lane, letting my speed drop to about 40mph, popping into 3rd, then accelerating hard up through the gears to about 80mph. The other road users loved it!

My mate Hayden was kind enough to point out that Bert’s a bit like a big orange two wheel tractor – very agricultural, and very loud. Hayd was looking for the handle to wind down the plough! Oh well, he’ll be very good in the desert I’m sure, even if he’s not so great in London.

Anyway, I put around 200 miles on the bike, but he’s still feeling a bit tight, and is definitely being restricted by the standard exhaust and airbox – I see more mods on the horizon! BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER!!!



My prep so far…

Posted on March 8th, 2007 by siteadmin.
Categories: Getting Prepared.

Well we’re 4 months in and already a heap of money has been spent, and a heap of time consumed. Here’s a taster of what has been purchased (just by me) so far:

  • Lightweight Tent
  • 3 Season Sleeping Bag
  • Thermarest Rollmat
  • Multi-fuel Stove
  • Foot pump (for tyres)
  • Chris Scott’s Adventure Motorcycling Handbook
  • Chris Scott’s Sahara Overland
  • Good Compass (damn they’re expensive!)
  • Motorcycle Compulsory Basic Training (passed first time!)
  • Motorcycle Theory Test (passed first time!)
  • Motorcycle Direct Access Scheme (so I can ride any size bike)
  • Motorcycle Practical Test (passed first time!)
  • Garmin Zumo GPS
  • Moto Pants
  • Moto Boots
  • 1 x Deposit on my KTM!!! Woooo Hooooo!

The bike should be arriving in at Bracken Motorcycles in London any day now. I seriously can’t wait! I haven’t even seen one since checking out the shop back in October last year, and I’ve never even seen the Adventure in KTM Orange! Still, I’ve spent plenty of time reading up on the necessary (and unnecessary!) mods on and I’m confident that we’ve chosen the best bikes for the job.


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The decision to do it…

Posted on March 8th, 2007 by siteadmin.
Categories: Getting Prepared.

Around or about the 24th of October 2006 Jody and I were having a chat over Windows Messenger. Jody had just committed to a big ole debt (and a heap of fun) by buying a just released 2007 Suzuki GSX-R 750 a week before.

Jody and his Suzi

The discussion was along the lines of me telling Jody that bikes were dangerous, and that the photos of his bike alone made me nervous!

Jody countered back with something like “Yessus bru, bikes are kiff!!! I can like to ride a fast bike. Wanna do a bike safari through Africa like these okes: It’ll be lekker boet!”

So that was it, thanks in no small part to the confidence that it could be done gained from Jack and Mark’s site, we both eagerly told our girfriends that night.

The good news – Catherine and I had a long discussion about the trip, and even though it’ll be hard for her to be left behind, she can see that it’s something that I really have to do, and is excited about it with me.

The bad news – Jody didn’t have it so easy, and about a week later was a single man again! First casualty of the trip already!!!



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Our choice of bike…

Posted on February 23rd, 2007 by siteadmin.
Categories: Getting Prepared.

After much deliberation Dan and I have settled on the beastly KTM Adventure 640 to do the job…

The beast…

Dan is due to purchase his in March from KTM London, and I will pick mine up in June from KTM JoBurg, then ship it up to London around October ’07.

Now all that remains is to hand over the cash, decide on the mod’s, and hit the trails!


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