Sunday, December 26, 2010

'Twas the winter before the rally

So, its been exactly two months since my last update here. That means I've been busy with life I guess. You know, all the stuff that we need to do in order to be able to go riding in the desert. Unless you are working as a tour guide in the desert that is. :)

Even though I haven't posted anything here lately I still have been busy preparing myself for the next rally physically. Endurance and strength is important in any race and the same goes for rallies. If you don't get tired physically, you will be able to stay mentally fresh longer. And that means safer and faster riding. I usually try to train about 5 days a week. Divided 50/50 between strength and cardio/metcons. Now I'm gradually starting to switch over to more cardio/metcons to focus on endurance and when the race gets closer I will be doing mostly endurance training.

The new weapon of choice. KTM 530 Sixdays

I also picked up my new bike today. Sort of like a late christmas gift for myself. It's a KTM 530 EXC Sixdays with about 50 hours on it. I think the 530 will be a perfect bike for the Tuareg Rally. This year I rode a KTM 400 EXC and it was great because of its low weight and easy handling. The only thing it lacked was some power and top speed. It wasn't a big issue but since I'm aiming at improving my results next year every little advantage I can get is needed so the extra power from the 530 will be most welcome in the dunes.

I will be posting updates on the work I'll be doing on the bike to prepare it for the race. Some things I know I will be doing are navigation tower, larger gas tank, water tanks and checking and replacing all the bearings and wires. I guess I will be spending a lot of hours in the garage in the nearby future…

Happy New Year to all of you!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tretimmarsenduro för "sega gubbar"

This entire blog post is an article published in the Swedish newspaper Folkbladet about the 3-Hours Enduro Race that I participated in on October 2nd.


Resultat individuellt:
12 varv: Linus Karlsson. 11 varv: Jocke Karlsson, Kenneth Häll, Mattias Johansson och Lars Nyberg. 10 varv: Marcus Öhlin, Carl Hagenblad. 9 varv: Peter Turesson, Daniel Sawano. 8 varv:Johan Löfberg, David Åkerskog.

12 varv: Linus Fasth/Anders Sydborg, Andreas Carlsson/Pontus Bard. 11 varv: Per Lagerqvist/Jim Runblad, Martin Axen/Andreas Carlsson, Tomas Olsson/Magnus Öberg, Robert Forsberg/David Antonsson, Jonny Jacobsson/Jonas Ullstrand, Tomas Sjögren/Andreas Lindgren.
SMK Kolmårdens tretimmarsrace blev en succé. Både på och utanför banan.

- Tror aldrig vi har haft så mycket publik, säger Peter Turesson, banbyggare och tävlande.

Den knappt åtta kilometer långa banan gick över crossbanan, samt en sväng genom närliggande skogen.

- Ett tufft varv. På förhand visste jag inte ens om jag skulle orka köra i tre timmar, fortsätter Peter Turesson.

Men han orkade nio varv och hamnade överraskande högt upp i den individuella resultatlistan.

Välmeriterade Linus Karlsson hann med tolv varv och vann klassen "Sega gubbar". Linus, från SMK Östgöta, ska i höst köra lag-VM (Sixdays) i Mexiko. [Six Days Enduro 2010 Daniel's note]

Hela 38 lag - och 76 förare - kämpade om segern i lagtävlingen och föga förvånande blev det Linus Fasth och Anders Sydborg som gick segrande ur striden. Andreas Carlsson och Pontus Bard kom tvåa.

Här körde man alltså vartannat varv under tre timmars tid. Många förare hade redan anknytning till SMK Kolmården och de som inte hade någon sådan fick lösa medlemsskap innan start.

Pär Andersson

View the original article in Folkbladet here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The story behind Rally Raid Sweden

...or how to help yourself by helping others.

Even though its about 5 months left until the Tuareg Rally 2011, everybody in Team Rally Raid Sweden are well into their planning and preparations. We started Rally Raid Sweden in 2009 for the Tuareg rally 2010. Rally Raid Sweden can shortly be described as a concept for promoting rally raid events on motorcycles. It's non-profit and its main purpose is to help anyone interested in racing in rally raid events through collaboration and knowledge sharing.

Team Rally Raid Sweden 2010
A lot of motorcycle riders have a dream to be able to at least once in their life time take part of a desert race. Be it in Africa, Latin America, Australia or somewhere else. But unfortunately, because of the relatively large amount of work that has to be done before one even gets to the starting line, for many, the dream will just remain a dream. And for a first-time-wannabe-desert-racer, taking the step and actually submitting your entry form to your very first rally can be a daunting task. I had my dream for many years and it finally grew so strong that I took that leap of faith and entered my first ever desert race in 2008. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

So a year later, in 2009, my friend Carl Hagenblad and I thought that wouldn't it be really fun to do this whole rally thing again. We had done it once before so this time it would be a whole lot easier but how would we cut costs? If you live in Sweden you need to haul your bikes, gears, service trucks and what nots a whole lot of miles before you reach Africa. And hauling costs time and money. And if there was a way we could save some money we wanted to figure it out. The first rally, we drove our own service trucks down through Europe and did our own service during the rally. It worked, but driving 3000 km non-stop, and then racing 3000 km on a bike, and then driving 3000 km back home wears you out. So we figured that since the cost of transportation and bringing your own service truck is pretty much fixed. Get as many as you can to split that cost and each person will need to pay less. Basic economies of scale. And we'll also be able to bring some mechanics and split the cost for those too since you don't need one mechanic per bike anyway.

So how would we find all those people to come race with us. We knew there were tons of people with dreams but how do you make them take that first leap to realize their dreams? The solution was simple: offer them a complete package. Tell them you have a prepared plan to take everybody down to Africa and back at no extra cost. Make them part of a team and all the work that has to be done for the team, such as finding service trucks, hotel bookings, and all the other stuff, is evenly distributed among the members. So we all pitch in for the team and the benefits for the individual are lower costs, less work compared to doing it all by yourself, the advice and knowledge from those more experienced than yourself, and of course the pure fun of being part of a team rather than going solo. And having peers to help you out and support you along the way will make that leap of yours less daunting.

Team Rally Raid Sweden 2010
Said and done. Rally Raid Sweden was born and the team for 2010 became the biggest Swedish Rally Raid team in history with its 14 riders. Very cool. 13 riders made it to the finish line, the fourteenth had to quit the last day due to engine failure, three finished in the top 8 positions, and all four mechanics survived and made it back to Sweden. :) Pretty good track record in my opinion. Check out the final standings.

Retrospectively, the concept was so successful and so fun that we're doing it all over again for 2011. How big the team will be remains to be seen but there are so many great people involved that I'm sure it can't turn out to be anything but a success.

Monday, October 4, 2010

3-Hours Enduro Race

This weekend I packed my gear, loaded the bike and took an hour and a half drive down to Norrköping south of Stockholm to participate in the 3-hour Enduro race. The race is a yearly event held by the local club SMK Kolmården. The race is simple enough: you race for 3-hours straight and the rider with most laps and shortest time wins. Last year was my first time at this event and I teamed up with Carl Hagenblad and our two-man team finished 13 out of 39 teams. This year they've added a one-man team class. Of course I couldn't let that training opportunity let me pass by so this year we decided to race by ourselves. Each man on his own. That means three hours of constant riding except for stopping for fuel or eating.

Ronnie Bodinger, whom together with me and Carl Hagenblad raced in the Tuareg Rally 2010, showed up with his brand new Husaberg. Ronnie is preparing for the Dakar Rally 2011 so he is trying to get some mileage on his two Husabergs. One of them will be his racing bike and the other one is brought for spares. I wish him the best of luck in his preparations and I'm sure we'll hear more of him as we get closer to the rally.

The start went fairly smooth and most of the riders were keeping a quite moderate pace except for the top riders, of whom most are competing in nationals so they are at a whole other level than the rest of us enduro wannabes, so I guess I was not the only one trying to find a pace that I would be able to sustain for three hours. After a couple of minutes I pass Ronnie whos bike had stopped. Later it turns out he spent an hour trying to get it running again so it wasn't much of a race for him.

Turn left for shifts and the pit. Right if you're a loner.
Half way through the first lap I passed another friend of mine, David Åkerskog. David beat me by one place in the 4-days Enduro event this summer and he's been letting me hear it every time we've met ever since so I sure wasn't going to let him beat me this time. This is, by the way, another great thing that I really like about this sport. Most of the people I've gotten to know through riding are all very relaxed and friendly people. Sure, when the race is on we all get competitive and race as hard as we can, and of course we'll psych and rant each other before and after the race. But it's all done in a friendly tone and at the end of the day we'll all have a good laugh and a brew. And thats the beauty of it. True sportsmanship.

My initial plan was to only make one pit stop to refuel so I wouldn't waste to much time standing still but an hour into the race I started to feel the fact that my cardio isn't at its peak right now. (Which is according to plan since I'm planning on peaking in March when the Tuareg Rally will take place) So I decided that I would make two stops so I could fuel my body as well as the bike. At this point I was holding a pace that allowed me to do three laps in an hour.

The second hour went on pretty well but I started to get really tired at the end of my sixth lap when I went in for my second refuel. At least I was still keeping the pace of three laps an hour. I refueled, washed down a piece of a FlapJack with some water, told myself I could rest some other day, and rolled out for my third hour. By now my grip was suffering and it felt like I was riding at a painfully slow pace. Barely able to stay on the track sometimes.

I managed to get 9 laps in three hours and finished at ninth place out of 18 riders in the solo class and looking at the lap times it seems I was able to hold a steady pace throughout the race. Despite how slow it felt that I was riding and the end of the race. The day after I felt at least 10 years older when I woke up with pretty much every muscle in my body being sore. Luckily it wore off pretty quickly.

Lap times:

Lap 1: 0:19:27 (9)
Lap 2: 0:20:20 (8)
Lap 3: 0:21:20 (9)
Lap 4: 0:23:54 (9)
Lap 5: 0:22:42 (8)
Lap 6: 0:23:19 (8)
Lap 7: 0:27:25 (9)
Lap 8: 0:23:00 (9)
Lap 9: 0:23:10 (9)
Total:  3:24:37 (9)

All in all it was a good race and very well organized, and a perfect opportunity to get a lot of riding time and a good workout. Getting a lot of riding time is probably one of the best thing you can do in preparation for a rally. Feeling comfortable in the saddle and being able to drive fast and intuitively while still being relaxed will save you a lot of energy. When you're racing for one or two weeks you have to household with your strength and riding safe, smart, and effortless will get you a long way in a rally raid event.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Welcome to the very first post of this very special blog

Ok, you might think that starting off a blog by exaggerating is not the very best thing to do but really, I'm not. This is the first post for this blog and this blog really is special. At least to me.

I guess the idea of this blog started somewhere around the time when I decided to go for my third desert rally. I figured that since I have made this journey two times before, I have accumulated a lot of experiences and thoughts about the whole rally raid thing and I might as well share them with anyone who might be interested (I guess that includes you). Another benefit of blogging about it is that the stories I tell to people I meet and all the memories I share with you whom I have been to the desert with tend to change over time and they are not quite the same every time they are retold. Though putting them in print here might not make them last forever, they will at least last for as long as this blog exists.

Anyhow, this blog will be about my thoughts about, and the stuff I do in preparation of, my next desert rally. Which right now happen to be the Tuareg Rally 2011. But more about that later. Of course, I will probably throw in one or two "war stories" about my previous rallies and other random stuff as well when I'm at it.