Happy New Year!

So here we are in 2013, and it's going to be a big one.  For a few reasons, but mainly this:

The T-shirt was a Christmas present from my sister Helen and brother-in-law Andy.  This is what is on the front (it reads "I do my own stunts"):

Although my departure is only a couple of weeks closer than it was before Christmas, it feels a lot closer now it's no longer 'next year'.  My list of things I need to do seems to be getting longer rather than shorter.

I've not been entirely idle while we've been away visiting family over Christmas, ticking off a few useful bits of preparation.  I took advantage of being at my parents' to fire up the big lathe and make some mounting bushes which will form the basis of a new luggage rack setup for the Tenere.

Not the most appealing of 'workshops' to be stood in on a miserably wet December morning, but it will do.  There is actually a new workshop built and waiting to house it, which has glazed windows, a door, and even some insulation, but my dad and I decided that it wasn't really the day to be moving well over a tonne of lathe across soft ground.

Work in progress.

These four will fit into the pillion peg mounts on each side, giving me a nice solid point to weld the rack tubing too - much more robust than flattening the ends of tube and drilling through it.

While these two will do the same at the rear mounting point on the frame, replicating the mount for the Yamaha OE panniers.  The Yamaha pannier rail shown in the picture, it's partner, and the panniers they belong to will soon be leaving me to go to another member of the XT660.com forums.  I've already purchased the luggage which will be replacing them, which will be revealed in another post.

I also put a few lazy (and too-rainy-to-venture-outside) afternoons at the in-laws to good use by finishing off entering the TAT waypoints into Google Earth.

The green line isn't, in fact, a line.  It's a very large number of individual pins, corresponding to every turn instruction in the TAT rollcharts. By the time I leave, these will be transferred onto my GPS unit.

I've also arranged to acquire another bike, which will play a crucial role in making the trip happen, even though I will be taking the Tenere to the US.  More on that next weekend when I pick it up.


Happy New Year to all!

Special Delivery

When I got home from work today, there was a parcel waiting for me on the kitchen table.

A very well travelled parcel, in a US Postal Service box, all the way from a Mr Sam Carrero of Corinth, Mississippi.  Sam is an American motorcyclist who is rather enthusiastic about trail-riding.  So much so that he spent years linking together a series of trails leading (almost) the entire way across the United States, from Tennessee to the Oregon Coast.  He called this route the Trans-Am-Trail (TAT), and produced a set of maps and a roadbook/rollchart so that other people could ride it too.

The reason I've bought a set of maps from Sam is that next year, I will be spending twelve weeks in the US, accompanied by the Tenere, the first 4-6 weeks of which will be riding the entire 4,800 miles of the TAT from east to west.  The remainder will be returning to the east coast by whatever route takes my fancy.

I'm really rather excited.