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Thread: 2007 Grand Challenge - Tips

  1. #1
    Join Date
    15th November 2005 - 10:09
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    2007 Grand Challenge - Tips

    Hi All,

    I'm planning on doing the event this year for the first time. I would be interested to know the following:

    What should you take with you on the ride? (What gizmos/gear have people found useful)

    Torch + Spare Batteries
    Sleeping bag
    Owners Manual
    Snack Bars
    Tow Rope
    Map
    Cellphone
    Fuel Vouchers?
    Sun Wear
    Wet Gear
    Tie Downs
    First Aid Kit

    Is a sheet map or book map easier to use? (I plan to trace out the route)

    Scrutuneering tips? (I know they are thorough - and should be)
    Normal WOF Stuff
    Tyres and Brakes (enough wear to ride the event twice)
    Steering Head Bearings

    Food/drinks? (I have been told to stay away from red bull etc and drink lots of water)

    "No Doze" Thoughts?

    Any tips for the newbee would be appreciated. Mrs D not coming after completing Southern Cross this year. Reckons that this rally is a "new level of madness"!
    Regards

    DougieNZ
    J'Ville
    Wellington

  2. #2
    Join Date
    22nd October 2002 - 11:00
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    Do a search, there are lots of ride reports on here of the GC, plus tips on practicing, nutrition, clothing etc. Better get in quick with your entry as it will be pretty full already.

  3. #3
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    Thanks BB. Already entered. Off at 3:07.

    Cheers
    Regards

    DougieNZ
    J'Ville
    Wellington

  4. #4
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    22nd October 2002 - 11:00
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    The Grand Challenge is a bit different to the Southern Cross in terms of execution, particularly because of the high percentage of night riding and a very tight schedule.

    In terms of preparation, I tried to do a practice ride of at least 600 km about a month before the event. I’d try and set a route that I was not all that familiar with, particularly for riding in the dark. As the organisers always send you down some twisty, horrible unlit back road in the small hours, I’d do the same on the practice ride, setting off early evening so that the bulk of the ride was in the dark. The only stops I make are 10-15 minutes for fuel, a quick bite to eat and rehydration.

    In terms of nutrition for the ride, that’s totally contentious. I started of with pies, chocolate bars and coffee but didn’t feel all that well on them and the need to go to the toilet was quite often at inopportune times! I also drank too much “V” on one of the GC’s and ended up feeling wired and ill. I subsequently stuck to bottled water or dilute sports drink and had a can of V in reserve for the last checkpoint. For food, I made up my own scroggin for the last event I did, consisting of dried banana rings, cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips. The energy release is slower and more even than the “high and crash” cycle associated with high sugar foods. However, a mate who does it with me survives on pies and sugared coffee! I’ve never taken medication but I was just about hallucinating with pain in the wrists and knees towards the end of the ride when I did it on the Blackbird. If I did it again on the ‘bird, I might think about swallowing a couple of Voltaren tablets when I started to hurt.

    If you stay in Turangi the previous evening, the route is often posted then or early on the morning of the ride. I buy a fold-out large map of the north island from a bookshop and mark up the route in felt tip. I now own a GPS and may be tempted to use it as a back-up if I ever do another one, but a big map has been fine for the 4 GC’s I’ve done so far.

    On the ride itself, minimising stopping time is what gets you through, rather than blasting along for long distances and stressing yourself out. On long stops, you just stiffen up so I prefer to stop for 10-15 minutes to gas up, stretch, re-hydrate, eat something and get under way again. I do a few arm and hand stretches on the bike and stand up on the pegs occasionally to keep the circulation going in the nether regions! Some people use a sheepskin, some tape on bubblewrap for additional comfort. I used to have a dense sheepskin but since I fitted a “Rider” brand seat, I’ve never had problems on a long haul.

    The other thing I did on my first GC was to make up a small time-distance chart in Excel and laminate it. One axis had the distance out to 1650 km and the other had time up to 24 hours with an intersecting line between them for a 24 hour schedule. If you’re above the line for a given distance, you’re ahead of time, and the opposite below it. I know it sounds terribly anal (and undoubtedly is!) but when your brain isn’t functioning terribly well in the middle of the night, it’s a handy ready reckoner.

    I also fitted 100 W headlight bulbs which made a big difference to nightime riding. Halogen on my BMW and Xenon to the Blackbird.

    I think that’s most of the important bits. After the first couple of GC’s, preparation tends to be automatic but decent planning for the first one simply improves the odds of a successful completion. The notes above are simply my approach. There is no “best way” and I’m sure that other GC “survivors” will throw in their own experiences too and you can pick out what suits you the best. More than 70% of the ride and maybe a sight more than that is all about mental toughness rather than the bike you ride.

    Best of luck. When you've done a ride like that, there's nothing left to prove to yourself or anyone else come to that!

  5. #5
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    Fuel vouchers? I've never seen the point of these. Cash is better, if you're non-electronic transaction inclined. The organisers generally run the route past 24-hour stations, with each of the five checkpoints being at 24-hour gas.

    Nutrition? Whatever works best for you. Servos sell snacks and pies, so there's little point carrying other food with you, other than saving a bit of cash, or if you're a vegetarian or something.

    I generally strive to get a decent night ride in in the month prior to the event and make sure that my bike is comparatively recently serviced and well shod. The scrutineering by the Rustys is scrupulous -- on the basis that a bike should be able to pass a WOF at the END of the event. I'd recommend up-speccing your headlight bulb(s), particularly your high beam.

    Wet-weather gear should be your major focus. The event goes on, rain, hail, sleet or snow. And it's possible it could rain solidly for 24-hours. I carry four pairs of "waterproof" gloves and plenty of layers to ward off the worst possible chills. Make sure you've got a decent pair of waterproof boots, and I'd also recommend heated grips.

    There's always much debate about what's best to drink. Some people swear by the benefits of caffeinated beverages (hot and cold), an equal number of folk have an opposing view. I tend to hold off caffeine until about Checkpoint 4, and then have a decent coffee (if such a thing is available).

    I look forward to seeing you at Turangi on 13 October!
    "Standing on your mother's corpse you told me that you'd wait forever." [Bryan Adams: Summer of 69]

  6. #6
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    5th April 2006 - 23:17
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    Thanks guys. Very useful insghts and experiences.
    I'm doing my first GC this year with Puddy and am looking forward to it.

  7. #7
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    I'll be conducting practice rides for the GC leaving from Auckland around mid / late Sept. So Auckland region people are welcome to join me. I aim for around 1000km at GC pace.

    Camel pack is useful, drinking in micro amounts reduce the need to visit the toilets.

    Warm clothing is a must. Multiple layers of wind / waterproof clothing is good. Last year I wore from the inner out: silk, polyprop, Goretex, leathers, waterproof/windproof jacket & trouser. And this year I'll be adding a heated vest to the mix.

    Food wise, it'll be protein or cereal bars for me. A good mixture of protein and carbs.

    Heated grips are really nice!

    Something to wear under the helmet / and keep your neck warm would be a good idea.

    Key to head lights are making sure they have a wide beam. Because it will be the tight twisty backroad at 2am that makes you wish for wider beam. I prefer to keep my headlights at standard wattage to leave some power for heated grips and vest.

    Also, blue / white halogen bulbs might not be a good idea. As you might encounter thick fog. And blue / white halogen bulbs are next to useless in fog.

    my2c
    newbie since August 2004....
    VTR250 (retired) / SV650S (Fw:Keystone19) / GSXR750(given up) / CB400(traded for 919) / CB900 Hornet / CBR954 (traded) / CBR1100XX (sold) / TuonoR (sold) / CB900 Hornet / NC700X / MTS1200 / XR250

  8. #8
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    Being a shit worker I tried both caffine and water to see which works best. In general the water seems to be better but on the GC I find a Lift+ works as a great pick me up after a particular patch of tight twisties in the early hours. Bananas and muslie bars are good. Only brought one pie on the two that I have done.
    Warm clothes; Leathers with thermals and a good thick shirt underneath. At the second check point I climb into my winter riding suit, overtop of the leather trou and then put the jacket on top of the suit. I usually wear a PVC relectorised vest that is poly lined over all that. The polarfleese neck warmer is a must. Only in very heavy rain will I put on the wet weather gear as the screen keeps all bust the heavest rain off me. Did not wear the rain suit at all last year, felt sorry for the guys that came into the check points dripping wet.

    Someone who will be prepared to come and pick up a broken down bike. If a mechanical DNF eventuates, If one rides to the conditions you will finish unless the bike breaks down.

    Strategy:
    Think of the ride as check point to check point, not the whole distance.
    Quick fuel stops, rehydrate and refuel the body.
    Early hours ride in a group, find a group and use their lights to see ahead.
    Ride at a comfortable pace or slower through the night when really tired or until one gets their second wind, usually around dawn.

    This has worked for me and both times, I have finished in around 20hrs. So now I know that I have roughly 4 hours up my sleave if I need them for next time. I am unable to do the ride this year
    Spent too much getting the bike back on the road after a gearbox problem and redoing the swingarm. Looking at doing number 3 next year.
    "I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage.
    They've experienced pain and brought jewelry." - Rita Rudner
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zapf View Post
    I'll be conducting practice rides for the GC leaving from Auckland around mid / late Sept. So Auckland region people are welcome to join me. I aim for around 1000km at GC pace.
    I'll be in.
    Id be keen to make at least one of them a night run as well.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarBender View Post
    I'll be in.
    Id be keen to make at least one of them a night run as well.
    yea didn't mention. It'll involve over night run. Something like leaving in the Avo, head north, circle back past Auckland to get a feed and then head south and pretty much don't come home till dawn. The whole point is to get some riding fitness. I usually do smaller runs a few weeks out and then a big one like described above the weekend before GC. It'll be my 2nd run, I did something similar by myself last year and it was good. Gives you a chance to find out what to expect.
    newbie since August 2004....
    VTR250 (retired) / SV650S (Fw:Keystone19) / GSXR750(given up) / CB400(traded for 919) / CB900 Hornet / CBR954 (traded) / CBR1100XX (sold) / TuonoR (sold) / CB900 Hornet / NC700X / MTS1200 / XR250

  11. #11
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    Make sure you attach your wet weather gear properly.
    Especially if you are on a new bike you have never attached the bag to before in that manner and are being filmed...

    It gets quite disconcerting when your pants arrive back before you.
    Motorbike only search
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  12. #12
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    Stop the wind noise.....

    ..... as we did last year, Plugz 4 Lugz will be at the GC this year to make custom made earplugs for those riders who have been wanting to catch up with us. Word is spreading, and the feedback has been great....... Cheers Sue

  13. #13
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    Hitcher's night practice rides will probably start in a couple of Friday's time. Departing about 6:30pm from Rimutex and returning home about 800-900km later. A bit of company would be welcomed!
    "Standing on your mother's corpse you told me that you'd wait forever." [Bryan Adams: Summer of 69]

  14. #14
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    3rd May 2007 - 21:43
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarBender View Post
    I'll be in.
    Id be keen to make at least one of them a night run as well.
    Me too

    Puddy has been kind enough to help me out with some advice. Met up today on a ride and had a chat about the pain involved lol.

    Sort of looking forward to it ... I think...

    Need a long run to see what hurts most eh

    Stu
    Next event...

    Aussie - Melbourne - Perth - Darwin - Alice - Melbourne... April-May 2011

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hitcher View Post
    Hitcher's night practice rides will probably start in a couple of Friday's time. Departing about 6:30pm from Rimutex and returning home about 800-900km later. A bit of company would be welcomed!
    Would have been keen if you're werent in Welly.
    Quote Originally Posted by xgnr View Post
    Me too
    Puddy has been kind enough to help me out with some advice. Met up today on a ride and had a chat about the pain involved lol.
    Sort of looking forward to it ... I think...
    Need a long run to see what hurts most eh
    Stu
    Yeah should be good.
    Me too - Not sure what to expect..so aim aiming low and easy and getting a good weeks sleep beforehand.
    I 'm hoping to hook up with you guys on the day...if not before hand for a few rehearsal runs. We should hook up with Zapf

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