Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 16 - June 27, Bayan Hot to Hohhot and Day 17 - June 28, Hohhot to Beijing and the Great Wall of China

Updates from David on Patricia's Rally progress.

Yesterday: 740km (of which 121km Special Section)
Today: 616km

They think it's all over ....... WELL IT IS NOW !!

Patricia phoned earlier today, from the Great Wall of China !

The Rally is over and she made it safe and sound.

Yesterday's stage was tough again, with the dunes relentless until the end. It was the final Special Stage and Patricia had a really good one. She came 23rd on the day. This resulted in her final overall position being a fantastic 19th.

After 3 countries, 17 days and 10,000km, only 38 bikes finished the Rally of the 58 that started. So Patricia was in the top third of the field. Who said girls cannot map read? Not me !

Today there was no Special Section, "just" the final 616km drive to the Great Wall, where the Rally finished. The Chinese people welcomed the whole event with enthusiasm and warmth. When Patricia phoned, she said the vehicles had been put in the collection zone (ready to be chucked on a boat for the sea journey back) and they were all unpacking boxes from the van, packing them back up, then unpacking them, then..... hang on, this is sounding familiar, was it really 19 days ago that similar scenes were going on in St Petersburg?!

Patricia has reported the smog in Beijing is indeed "very smoggy" (I guess it will blow away for the Olympics, once they shut all the factories next month) and that the part of today's journey that was on a bus, was the most dangerous section of the whole Rally.

Other news:

- Simon Pavey had a stunning final Special, coming in 7th on the day (!!), which made up for his sustained BMW problems throughout the Rally - on TV he said it was the
first "incident free day he had had" - well done Simon, who came in one step and just a few minutes ahead of Patricia overall - in 18th position.

- Colin Askey, the third member of the team, also finished the Rally, coming in 31st overall.

- The Support crew made it in one piece and so did the van - so well done to Linley, Hebert and Bernie. I expect there will be some great stories to tell from "the van".

- Overall 38 bikes out of 58 starters finished (65%), the only Quad finished, 29 cars out of 48 starters finished (60%) and 14 trucks out of 31 starters finished (45%).

- Statistically speaking therefore, cars are tougher than trucks and bikes are tougher than cars ! It would also seem that girls are tougher than most men and KTMs are
tougher than every other motorbike.

Patricia sends her best wishes and thanks to everyone who has been following these newsletters and sending their kind thoughts via me or direct over the ether!

I would also like to thank everyone who enjoyed the newsletter, especially those who provided feedback, which kept me highly amused. In particular I would like to thank the following:

Annette - who's faith in everything German is touching and extremely patriotic. I just hope your boys can live up to your hopes tomorrow ! England promise to join in next
time, so it can be a proper football competition.

Angelika - who refuses to accept that BMW's are rubbish, and maintains that the Aussie rider is to blame. Angelika, 90% of the bikes that finished were KTMs !

Patricia - for phoning through updates everyday, even when she must have been too tired to stand up.

Shreedevi - for keeping the blog up to date with all these updates stored on it.

Geology - for making such a stunning landscape through which the Rally travelled.

Finally, lets not forget the two guys that died on the Rally - one through stopping to help another driver and the second because of irresponsible truck driving.

Patricia and the rest of the team will be back home on Tuesday night, in the UK and Germany. We wish them all a safe journey and we salute them all !!!

Over and Out......that's it folks !!

PS : I just noticed that registrations are open on the website for the TransOrientale 2009. Angelika - get your BMW out, book yourself in ..... and prove me wrong !

Friday, June 27, 2008

Day 15 - June 26, Alxa Youqui to Bayan Hot

Updates from David on Patricia's Rally progress.

589km (of which 202km Special Section)

It would seem that the English translation of the Chinese word "Bayan" might be "Very".

Yesterday's stage (sorry I'm a bit behind) ended in a place called Bayan Hot. Patricia said it was "indeed very hot" (polite translation).

More importantly, the dunes were not as big as the previous few days.

They were bigger !! I saw them on TV and they were indeed like small mountains (well what we Brits, who live in East Anglia, would call a mountain anyway!). Apparently yesterday's stage did in fact go through the highest dunes in the world, so we can definitely say "it cannot get worse". Not only were they high, but also quite soft - so people were getting stuck all over the place - not aided by having 15 days of effort in their bodies. There were also lakes amongst the dunes - amazing scenery.

Patricia got to camp OK though, and I got a text when she went to bed - her tent was "between a party and a generator" - sounds perfect for someone who cannot sleep if a tap is dripping 2 floors down !! Anyway, she sounded in good spirits although exhausted.

Her position for the day was 21st, but she had moved up to 19th overall - which makes her in the top 1/3rd of the field !!

I'm not sure I can stretch much more news from a 15 word text !

However, if you would like an update on items submitted to the newsroom, here we go:

1. From Mr Tomlin : unprintable, because even I am not that brave...

2. From Louise : "Patricia, I am toasting your health from No1 court at Wimbledon" ..... its alright for some !!!

3. From Werner : "I did a presentation on Feedstock Price Developments at work today. My management will not be submitting it for your list of German achievements."

4. From Annette (in Germany): "Would you mind putting our football team on your list?" ... actually I would, because its not a real competition this year is it !? Annette, you know how to hurt a man....

And finally, from Patricia's sister.... Angelika:

"Did you just write "Patricia could make immediate repairs" ? Now this is getting really scary. Especially with the result that the bike continued to work. And, your analysis of Austrian vs. German superiority has to include the rider - it is never the bike alone. Simon is an Aussie after all. How can you expect any vehicle in the world to cope with that?"

Angelika then claimed to be from the European football nation !! I'm cutting my distribution list down !

Finally, back to business...... Patricia has actually finished Day 16 as well, as I write this.... but other than telling you she is safe and tucked up in bed again, you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the next update in this story .....

Over and Out......

Reminders if you are glued to progress and want up to the minute news:

Motors TV is a good watch each night (21.00 GMT and 23.30 GMT) , repeated the next morning (10.00 GMT) , if you have access to it...

For those of you unable to tune in to Motors TV, there is a video clip of each days action on the Rally website at

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 14 - June 25, Quinguan to Alxa Youqui

Updates from David on Patricia's Rally progress.

636 km (of which 286km Special Section)

More dunes today ..... just as big, but very hot (51 degrees) ..... due to non cloudy conditions !!

The rally is now in Inner Mongolia.

Yes, there were indeed more dunes today, as promised, but also some pretty fast sections. From what I could see on Motors TV, the dunes were softer sand than previous days, which meant more "falling off" problems for the bikers. Navigation also looked like a challenge.

Despite the heat, Patricia sounded happy with her day - which she described as "uneventful and with no navigation issues". She said there was a bad sand storm at lunchtime - so I guess they had sandwiches to eat - literally.

The day started late, due to a local truck spilling its load across the motorway and holding up the rally vehicles for 2 hours, before the special began. In the end, they began at midday as the temperatures tipped 50 degrees.

Patricia had some good fortune, in that she got stuck in a dune and went to the top to survey her options. On returning to her bike she noticed the radiator was boiling over and so could make immediate repairs - rather than not noticing it (whilst riding) and causing permanent damage to the engine.

Apparently Simon's BMW was not faring so well in the heat and needed continuous "love and attention" to get it through the day. It would seem the KTMs are generally much happier in the hot weather. The fact that KTM's are Austrian and BMW's are German means we cannot yet add motorbikes to our growing list of German achievements.

24th position for the day, means Patricia is still at 21st overall.

Over and Out....

Reminders if you are glued to progress and want up to the minute news:

Motors TV is a good watch each night (21.00 GMT and 23.30 GMT) , repeated the next morning (10.00 GMT) , if you have access to it...

For those of you unable to tune in to Motors TV, there is a video clip of each days action on the Rally website at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 13 - June 24, Hami to Quinguan

Updates from David on Patricia's Rally progress.

727 km (of which 436km Special Section)

More dunes today ..... just as big, but not as hot ..... due to cloudy conditions. Patricia sounded a lot happier about this ! Today was reckoned to be the most beautiful of all stages - blue rocks and blue sand. The competitors have been informed that there are more dunes tomorrow, but as there obviously cannot be that much sand in the world, Patricia thinks it is just a wind up.

27th position for the day, means Patricia is still at 21st overall.

For those of you unable to tune in to Motors TV, there is a video clip of each days action on the Rally website at

I have extracted some photos from the website - see attached powerpoint presentation, which includes some pictures of Patricia in St Petersburg, then some stunning library shots from the Rally itself. Wow ! The file is 4Mbit, so it may not come through to everyone - in which case, you can look at the Gallery on the website itself if you wish...

Your reporter thoroughly enjoys the regular correspondence from the global readership of this newsletter. Especially if the sentiments are recommending a knighthood, a pay-rise or ...... are simple comments of re-assurance about the sense of humour employed herein. Informative comments are also welcome.

For example, Annette from Germany has asked me add to my list of German achievements, which currently includes motorways, cars, beer and sausages - the important fifth dimension ..... GIRLS. I should be the last person to make such an omission and no doubt punishment will be swift and painful on the 2nd of July when Patricia lands at Stansted from Beijing !

Thank you as well for the good wishes to Patricia you are sending through - these are all passed on to her. You can also send her emails direct ... as she seems to have access most nights.

Over and Out....

Reminders if you are glued to progress and want up to the minute news:

Motors TV is a good watch each night (21.00 GMT and 23.30 GMT) , repeated the next morning (10.00 GMT) , if you have access to it...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day 12 - June 23, Turfan to Hami

Updates from David on Patricia's Rally Progress.

513 km (of which 414km Special Section)

The first of the "Big Dune" days arrived with 100m high dunes. For those watching Motors TV, the scale of the dunes was obvious. The secenery following the dunes was unique and breath-taking as the rally sped east through flat desert, peppered with huge rock buttresses.

One truck overturned as it crested a dune and tried to avoid a motorcyclist. Several cars were stuck as they failed to crest the dunes at adequate speed.

The heat was intense and the water supplies were inadequate or late arriving at check-points. On TV, the effect of the heat / lack of water was obvious on Patricia - she was visibly fed-up. However, she finished the day and reported in to our Newsroom on time and with spirits high.

24th position for the day, means Patricia is still at 21st overall.

If you are passing through Angola tomorrow, turn on the TV as the local TV station is running a half hour special on Patricia in the Rally !!

(Apology: We understand that one of our readers has complained about inaccuracies in our reporting. The specific complaint arose because of our earlier suggestion that motorways in China are better than those in Germany. This suggestion was based upon the observations of one of our Field Agents, which, following legal advice, we now accept cannot be the basis for such a sweeping generalisation. We therefore retract our comment and furthermore acknowledge that it is simply impossible for any country to build better roads than Germany. Or make better cars. Or brew better beer. Or make better sausages. We apologise for any distress that we may have caused.)

(Not the) BBC World Service

Reminders if you are glued to progress and want up to the minute news:

Motors TV is a good watch each night (21.00 GMT and 23.30 GMT) , repeated the next morning (10.00 GMT) , if you have access to it...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day 11 - June 22, Rest Day

Updates from David on Patricia's Rally progress and sleep updates.

0 km (of which 0km Special Section), Room 7456, Hotel Luxurious

zzzz zzzz zzzz zzzz ...........

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 10 - June 21, Karamay to Turfan

Updates from David on Patricia's Rally progress.

782 km (of which 431km Special Section, cut short to 100km)

Just had an update from Patricia who has finished Day 10 safely and is now firmly established in a luxury hotel for tonight and the rest day tomorrow.

Sounds like China is impressing Patricia. I know you may not believe the following story is impossible, but I can assure you it is true:

Patricia is claiming that the motorways and infrastructure in China are a lot better than Kazakstan (very believable), better than Russia (believable), better than the UK (unfortunately believable), but get this ...... they are even better than.......Germany !

No, it can't be, her judgement has finally flipped. Motorways do not come better than Germany. Apparently, final proof came in the hotel bathroom - where they have proper mixer taps ...... "unlike the UK" .....

Hmm.. sounds like communism is working wonders in this part of China - which has nothing to do with the oil fields they are driving through of course.

Other news includes the fact that Coca Cola seems to be considered a Class A drug in China - people actually take the cans away from you if they see you drinking it and give you a lecture on healthy living ! Come on Atlanta, you've let down the side of Global Brand Omnipotence - pull your finger out. Patricia will be telling us next, that she cannot see a McDonalds either !!

OK, that is the geopolitical news over, back to the Rally....

The special section was cut short from 431km to 100km today because the Chinese decided they did not want people riding through a certain part of the country (no explanation offered). There was a lot of waiting around as "The Organisation" still seems to be struggling with logistics. One US competitor has pulled out after the fatal accident, feeling the infrastructure is not in place to cope with emergencies. Patricia does not seem too fazed, but I think is relieved that the Assistance van and her Dad have now caught up with her. I will make no comment about her Dad appearing just as they check into a five star hotel. (That is english dry humour by the way, before all of Patricia's family disown me for dishonouring Herbert!).

The Kamaz (Russian) team have pulled out of the Rally. It was a Kamaz truck that killed No.42. The locals were becoming increasingly aggressive towards the team who really did not seem to appreciate why it mattered that they had squashed an innocent rider stone dead. The truck driver was still complaining bitterly that he got an informal warning for the incident .... as he revved his truck up and headed back towards Moscow. Apparently Kamaz were also last in the truck ranking, so it was also more commercially honourable to pull out, than lose !

Tomorrow is rest day, so I expect much sleeping will be on the agenda in China....

Thats it for now folks.....

BBC World Service

Reminders if you are glued to progress and want up to the minute news:

Motors TV is a good watch each night (21.00 GMT and 23.30 GMT) , repeated the next morning (10.00 GMT) , if you have access to it...