Taffy Dakar 2018

Taffy Dakar 2018 1000 667 Michael

Again Martin persuades me for a short trip to which I would never have considered. The goal this time is the Taffy Dakar in Wales. The Taffy is an event similar to the German Wuppenduro and Hönnetrail that allow drivers of big enduros to make their motorcycles dirty. Biggest difference is the race which is not a race. Have fun reading.

Journey to England

The week before departure was hectic and exhausting, there can be no question of good preparation. Apart from the addresses of the destination points, there is no route planning at all. On the Friday before the departure I mounted a new rear tire including chain to the bike. In the evening at 11 the bike is at least packed and ready to go. On Saturday 28.4. at 7:00 the marathon to Dunkerque begins, with detours etc. 990km in one go. It’s pretty obvious that, I’ve been asking too much from myself for the last few days. The moment of horror that was given me by microsleep, I need not again. But with a few more breaks everything works. Well rested, I expect Frank at breakfast. Last time we had seen each other was during my tour along the Baltic Sea, the joy is accordingly great. In the hotel there were also some nice ladies waiting for the same boat. My inability to use the coffee machine brings us into conversation and I hear for the first time of the fossils of the Jurassic Coast in southern England. On the ferry we meet Ronja and Tom, who are on an intruder. Enough conversation partners for the 2h on the ferry.

Stopover in London

The bad weather island made its name again at the beginning of the trip. Drizzle, Fog, nothing to enjoy. That’s why we make quick way to Martin’s place in London. Hardly 2h driving experience in left-hand traffic and we are in the middle of the big city traffic chaos. Luckily, the British are drive very civilized. Most important rule: Do nothing in hustle, as soon as you act instinctively, you act wrong. I had seen Martin the last time before the Siberia journey his life has since changed a lot. That the crazy guy I met 2014 on Iceland’s Askija for the first time, and who persuaded me to take part in the Primus Rally, now bought a house was a big surprise. All the better to finally see it live and I can only agree it is wonderful. Exactly what he needs and wanted, I am very happy for him and his girlfriend Martha. Not only with Martin in London everywhere, have the British seemed to be very worried about theft. Never before have I seen so many motorcycles secured with locks.  Consequently, we face the challenge to park four motorcycles in the 5×2.5m large garage, which still has some shelves. You can hardly achieve a higher KTM 990 Adventure density in a garage. The next day, the bad weather island beats mercilessly again. Quote BBC “unusual cold and wet” perfect conditions to stay in the house, thank goodness we can do that Martha and Martin are great hosts.

Daytripping in Wales

On Tuesday 1.5 continued to Wales. At the start in Martin’s yard one could still think we are somewhere in southern Europe, nice weather, palm trees. The day also stays mostly dry. When we go shopping in the afternoon, Robert involved us in a short motorcycle small talk and offers us a place to camp on his land. The old beeches form a beautiful natural setting and it’s easy to understand why Roberts’s daughter has chosen this place for her wedding. Unfortunately it would have been rather uncomfortable without a fire, it is cold and it rains almost all night. It takes a lot of effort to get out of the sleeping bag in the morning and pack up the wet gear. The pictures we sent Martin had already made the rounds and are loaded on the web and Facebook pages of the Taffy Dakar. We did not expect so much enthusiasm that two Germans take part. Consequently, we continued to the campsite of the Taffy. Our way leads us over small beautiful roads through the mountains of Wales. Luckily, I brought Frank with me, I’m just not in the mood for traveling and would otherwise have completely overlooked the canals, that were used to transport coal and ore. Today you can rent the boats as a houseboat. As we take a little break at a mini waterfall I’m finally back for photos. The tele and the ND filters have to be used again. Sheep, lambs, a waterfall and an Aston Martin, only top motifs here. Meanwhile, tinkerer Frank successfully repairs his 20-year-old Coleman gas stove. In the evening we are warmly welcomed by the organizer Christian. We are not allowed to pay beer or our own food. We are not used to so much hospitality from Germany. For the first time, we both hear about the already over 40 years old TRF Trail Riders Fellowship. www.trf.org.uk This organization allows its members to drive on the so-called “Green Lanes” which primarily means field and forest paths. This includes the prevention of prohibitions, as well as the maintenance. In a monthly magazine for the members the legally accessible Green Lanes are published. However, a comparable organization in Germany will probably remain utopia. Late in the evening we crawl into the still wet tents. The meadow is extremely humid and feels like a sponge. The water pushes through my tent floor almost unhindered. 3000mm water column probably not enough for Wales. Luckily the next day is more friendly. A mountain road of today’s tour prepares the Northern Lights Frank so much joy that he drives it twice. The South German is unimpressed and prefers to take pictures. Especially nice is the visit to the old coal mine Cefn Coed. Not so much because mining is so exciting, more because the staff shows and explains many highlights with enthusiasm even without a guided tour. However, that does not change the terrible working conditions of such a mine.

Taffy Dakar Rally

On the morning of Friday 4.5 Martin arrives with his Land Cruiser and the 640 piggyback. His tepee is pitched fast and gradually his friends are also arriving. The campground fills up quickly. We also spontaneously hire Iain to reinforce the Primus Donkeys for our team. Apart from the fact that he is a nice guy he gained all my sympathy points with his Husqvarna 701 and Mitas C19 / C02 tires at once. After signing up, there are three laminated A3 bows doublesided with maps and a list of 33 waypoints. The bases are the Ordnance Survey maps, which contain an incredible amount of details and I can recommend them to anyone, if he wants to travel the kingdom on foot, by bike or enduro. The waypoints must be marked on the map and optionally also transferred to the GPS device. At the entrance there is also an overview map which shows which paths cannot be used. In general, all waypoints are on trails. After the preparation, we dedicate ourselves to the social part. My attitude “no beer before a hard day on the Enduro” is unfortunately not shared by anyone. Will the day not be so hard? The impression of the place does not bode well. All are on rough knobby tires a TKC80 would be declared as fine in comparison. I count a maximum of 5 other motorcycles with only 50/50% tires like Heidenau K60 Scout or my Mitas E07 and E07 + on the way. Frank put on his 990 Mitas E09, while I only lower the air pressure to 1.5 bar (=22 PSI) and I hope that the heavily washed-out front tire does not slip away all the time. At 8:00 we start, we have time until 18:00 to get as many waypoints and solve the tasks as possible. This can be questions about surroundings or simply number plates to look for. Martin leads the team Primus Donkeys unerringly from waypoint to waypoint and Frank’s Customs officer eyes never miss a beat. Iain with the most suitable motorcycle checks the tricky ways. Once he is too careless, slips away and bends the gear lever. It needs some time to bend it back to the point where his bike is ready to drive again. Unfortunately not the only breakdown. After a tumble Franks 990 acknowledge service  a few miles further. There is no quick fix in this case, we have to leave him behind and he and his bike will be picked up by the Marshalls. The last trail then costs Martin the gear lever. His fate is a step in the slope that is not made easier by a creek and algae growth. I am a little relieved that I no longer have to undergo this test. There are concerns that we can even make it back in time. But even with the remaining lever Martin manages to keep up the pace and we are back in time at 17:50. Unfortunately, our performance was not too good with sixth place. But with so many issues still a reasonable result.

Free Riding

The next day we start lazily. Frank did not manage to repair his bike. Generously, Christian lends his Honda XR600 to him so he can at least drive. We don’t take the opportunity to be led by one of the Marshalls. Our group is now much bigger. In addition to the Primus Donkeys (Frank, Iain, Martin, Michael) Martin’s friends Andy, Ben, Chubby, Craig, Ed, Ferdy, Gavin and Markus join. Andy, Markus Martin and I discuss the possible routes. My enthusiasm then to take over the navigation is limited. I’ve never drove in such a large group before and I did not know the Ordonance Survey Maps where I hardly knew how to interpret the symbolism. Who dares wins and after I hardly had problems with the terrain on the day before, I was in good spirits. First stop the old Roman road. In the short photosession Chubby starts a flight test with his 690s. Unfortunately, the lift is missing but the accidentally shot photo is spectacular. That neither man nor motorcycle caused any damage, we can hardly believe but are all the more happy about it. After a few swimming attempts on the bikes, the group loses unfortunately in the woods. We couldn’t regroup again before lunch. We tackle one last trail and drive back. Frank has already returned after the lunch break because the XR was not free of errors, too. On our arrival, he also proudly announced that his 990s is running again. During the fall, the quick connector of the tank had come off and interrupted the fuel supply. This success we doused first before the next day all travel home.

Return and Normandy

The third day in a row with dream weather, the 20 ° C mark is cracked easily. Too bad that I have to leave, I would have loved to hang around longer on the “Green Lanes”. My worries were completely unfounded. The tires were great and the 990 is hardly more difficult to handle without luggage than my beloved 640 with. Nevertheless, next time I would put on knobby tires choose a lighter Enduro. At least the big bike makes the arrival and departure more relaxed. It is 250km to the Snaith family and the anticipation of this reunion consoles a bit about the farewell of Frank and Martin and the many new friends. Seeing Gilly Steve, Alisha and Lucy was another reason to make the long journey to Taffy Dakar. The four were my bright spot at the end of the series of mishaps along the Silk Road. To hear how they settle after four years on world tour again was very exciting. You can find out more about her trip here: www.overlandingfamily.com All the more, my bad planning annoyed me. It was not until the evening when I realized that I had to leave at 7:00 in the next morning to catch the ferry to Cherbourg. Nevertheless, the visit was very nice, and I enjoyed the short time very much. On the ferry, I met a group of cyclists, who support a day care center in Mexico with their journey from Bristol to Heidelberg. In the hectic rush, I had 15 pounds left which I was able to donate on that occasion well. If you want to know more: www.solkids.btck.co.uk The background for the ferry to Cherbourg was, that I wanted to see the D-Day locations. By chance I had the perfect accommodation for it. Caroline and Dick Cooper run a B & B on the Delauny farm. In the gable of the building was a sniper hole, which is still clearly visible and only a few weeks ago Dick has discovered a cartridge in the wall. Many of Dick’s guests are veterans, so it’s not surprising that he can retell many of their stories and try to preserve them. The Story I liked the most was of a soldier who borrowed  10 Dollars from a comrade who was killed the next day. The soldier never spent the 10 Dollars to remember his deceased comrade. The D-Day locations itself were a bit disappointing. The countless museums and souvenir shops did not give the impression of a worthy remembrance. Even a feeling for the situation of the soldiers could not be built, since apart from the Pointe de Hoc only a few of the original venues are preserved. Even the American military cemetery is not spared by the bustle. The dimension is gigantic here are about 10,000 soldiers buried 2% of the total American losses in World War II. The bustle distracts. From the trenches of the Linge I know a very oppressive feeling, which I would have expected here as well. This came only after I took the time to walk around the smaller German cemetery Orglandes by foot. Here, too, about 10,000 soldiers are buried 0.2% of all killed German soldiers. I cannot even imagine the dimension of a cemetery that holds all of them. This is one of many reasons why the Germans are more war-weary than other nations. But I am sure that all fallen soldiers, regardless of their nation, would only advise us never to start war again and not ignore political aberrations that are currently taking place in many countries. During the 1160km long journey these thoughts still remained in my head. After all, this time I was wide awake and the French motorway was very relaxed.

Thank you again at this point to:

  • The Marshalls for their effort at the event and the hospitality to us.
  • Gilly, Steve, Martha and Martin, I hope I can welcome you soon in southern Germany.
  • Ben, Ferdy, Chubby and especially Frank for the extra videos and images without them the report would be boring.

Although it will take through American Loop until 2021, I’m looking forward to the next Taffy.


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