In recognition of what we at RallyMoto consider a historical moment for our club, we decided to contact Hampshire based member Ian, the first rider to complete all three of his chosen routes of the Ice Breaker Challenge.

 

Now as we do commend Ian’s efforts, we also acknowledge that at this point in time not all participants have been able to complete the three routes yet due to the fact that a couple of the roadbooks were delayed in being posted out (lockdown also affected our ability to ride reccies and therefore finalise some routes).  But seeing as this a first for RallyMoto running a ‘Rally in a Box’ style of event, we were intrigued to touch base with Ian and hear about his experience on the Ice Breaker Challenge.

weapon of choice

Ian rides a 2012 KTM 690 Enduro, on which he’s racked up a whopping 93000 miles, which in itself is an impressive feat, and a credit to one of the most capable dual sport singles on the market.  He originally bought it as a more economical, safer option for his commute to work after some sketchy moments on his ZZR1400.  Having very recently joined the 690 club myself I was excited to hear more about his impressions of the bike, a bit about how he’s set it up for rallying and how it’s treated him throughout their relationship.
“I used it to commute to the office and then found that on the way home I could piece together a lot of green lanes to make the trip far more enjoyable out of the traffic, albeit adding a lot of time to the journey. 
“The bike is a KTM690 but with 450 rally tanks and a Nav tower from Kit690, it’s far more capable than I am – but I’ve also put 93000 miles on it, so it’s a little long in the tooth, especially the front suspension which I would like to do some work on. Tyres I have tried lots but this rear is the Motoz Tractionator Desert H/T and I think suits the bike well, for the front I’ve been using Maxxis Maxcross IT as I don’t get on well with the matching front Motoz on anything but hard pack – and almost every tyre I’ve had is OK on hard pack. The Maxxis seems to inspire a bit more confidence on the front with these “well used” forks…
 

I only really noticed the mileage after I’d fitted the Kit690 tanks and nav tower and wanted to fit smaller clocks to make room for the roadbook holder. I copied the original clock mileage to the new one at 89495 miles. 

The rear rack is really useful for helping pick the bike up (as you know there’s not much to get hold of at the back of the standard bike)…
I really enjoy the fact I can ride it slowly green laning, or anywhere, and it never feels slow. I am consistently the limiting factor! After 9 years ownership I could rant about how underrated the 690 is in the real world but I also have to acknowledge it can be a rollercoaster of maintenance vs riding.”

ROADBOOK SETUP

“The roadbook holder is an F2R electric, with an ICO Rallye Max GPS based trip. They’re both nice to use, and reliable, but I still find myself struggling with which button to push and when sometimes, and with the really close junctions on the roadbook the GPS ICO does have a tendancy to add 1/10ths km for you when you least want it to! …  I run a garmin montana 600 alongside the ico, to keep an eye on the bearing which has been really helpful on some of the roadbooks to quickly identify where I’ve gone completely wrong!

Ian said his RallyMoto experience would have been “vastly diminished and potentially scuppered” without the assistance and support of Jon Florea at kit690.com and Scott at Talon-eng.co.uk.

the ice breaker challenge

G:  Is this your first time riding a roadbook rally?  If not, what is your prior experience?

I:  Not my first one but I’m by no means an expert! First for me was the Coast to Coast (August), Tour of Wales (September) , Salisbury & Thetford cannonballs (November) then the Icebreaker. I still have a lot I need to practice though and struggle most with the really short distance changes especially if there’s more than one – I get mentally stuck on the first one almost every time and then can’t read the next 1 or 2!

 

G:   What routes did you choose for the Icebreaker Challenge and why?
 
I:  I chose the Cotswolds, Salisbury Plain and South Downs, primarily due to distance from home and time available. I’ve not ridden much in the Cotswolds and was interested to see the chosen routes there and in the South Downs (very local being just up the hill). The choices worked out OK due to the lack of overnight stays during the restrictions so the commute distance to and from each one almost made the choice for me.  
G:  Did you ride alone or with friends?
 
I:  I rode alone for these.
G:  How were the conditions when you rode the routes?
 
I:  For the time of year the conditions were surprisingly good, Cotswolds was very wet but mild at around 8 degrees C,  Salisbury and South Downs were almost heat wave conditions on consecutive days at ~18 and 15 degrees C bright and sunny! 
G:  Which was your favourite route?  Why?
 
I:  I think Salisbury was my favourite just for more miles off tarmac. The 690’s ok on roads – but much more interesting to ride off road, so once I figured out the roadbook, knowing what I struggle with most, and marking them up appropriately, then I enjoyed the offroad sections on Salisbury Plain. The South Downs has a lot of nice routes that I ride already – but on that roadbook I did start to enjoy the view more! The weather in the Cotswolds and having to be recovered first attempt (more below) didn’t help with it’s ranking – being wet for hours to get there and back as well as wet the whole route took the shine off it! 
G:  Which was the most challenging route and why?
 
I:  The Cotswolds was the most challenging for the wet conditions, longest commute, and then getting tired a couple of the short navigations with closed roads made it a challenge. Salisbury could have been tricky but for some reason – having done the cannon ball there in November I felt comfortable there and seemed to get on OK with it except for the ride home – more on that below. 

 The additions I’ve spent on – forks internals / rear shock 300mm, tanks and nav tower, Nova gearset, 732 cc, clutch  add up to significant costs but as I already have the bike it’s cheaper than buying a new one. A new bike would no doubt be more capable (as are most other riders!), but I’ll stick with this one and besides I have to see it through 100k now!  

G:  Anything you didn’t like about the routes?  Any improvements you could suggest?
 
I:  I’d love to have more challenging off tarmac sections in the route, but I appreciate these are adventure bike routes that cater to all. If there were “extreme” versions I’d probably sign up for them, just to try and improve my own (lack of) ability!

 “I keep thinking I should do training but some also argue the best training is time on the bike so – to date – I have just tried to get as much time on the bike off road as possible and tried to take on board hints / advice from those more capable than me! “

G:  What did you most enjoy about the “Rally in a Box” format?  Would you do it again?
 
I:  I really liked the flexibility to ride them when we wanted, the advance time to mark up the roadbook, and then plan when to ride, especially with the Covid restrictions – I ended up taking 2 days off to ride Salisbury and South Downs on consecutive days, it was a relief just being allowed out! I would do it again – especially if there were some more challenging off tarmac sections included.
G.  Do you plan to ride more RallyMoto events this year?
 
I:  I’d like to but I think that depends more on when they’re planned for and fitting them in around family /holidays.
G:  And finally, do you have any stories or synchronicities from your adventures that you’d like to share?  
 
I:  Well the 1st attempt to ride the Costwolds didn’t go well as I got to the start as planned then after about 5 km the rear wheel sprocket carrier collapsed took out the lugs for the wheel, tore out the bearings & spacers allowing the wheel to turn sideways in the swinging arm popping off the fixed spindle wheel adjuster. So after writing off the wheel, sprockets, chain and swinging arm, the AA recovered the bike and I.  
I had a couple of days to find spares from breakers and rebuild before re-attempting the Cotswolds and completing it – not the best start for the bike! The only other “mishap” was after I finished the Salisbury roadbook I’d planned to try and take a green lane route part way home but after only ~3 km I found myself looking at a puddle thinking “it won’t be that deep”, started crossing to then find I’d lost all ability to think, balance or react correctly. As the front wheel went sideways I was dumped into the deepest section at ~1 mph. I did the obligatory jump up and look around to make sure I hadn’t been watched but I think even the bike looked disappointed in my new post-lockdown lack of coordination after I’d picked it up! The ride home after that was chilly, even in the warm weather despite draining my helmet, boots, trousers, jacket of the really pleasant chalky mud. After that I decided to “just do the roadbook” the next day on South Downs, no going off doing my own thing, and it went really well! 
By the way I have to say the rear wheel collapse was really well managed by the manufacturer – the wheel I had was, unbeknown to me, already 3rd hand at install, Dakar rallies and 10+ years old, but they still honoured an agreed replacement with a new designed wheel that I’m now running. 

Running a remote rally means we as organisers aren’t amongst the action and we rely on our members to share their experiences, pictures and stories.  If you’re on social media then there is a specific Ice Breaker Challenge group you can join which is a great source for updates and feedback.  You can also join our facebook group, check out our page, follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our Youtube channel to connect with the RallyMoto community.  It’s a friendly and supportive bunch of likeminded folk who enjoy sharing information.  If you have more questions for Ian then leave a comment below as he has a ton of information regarding servicing and maintanence of his 690.