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Training for Tibet
Submitted by Tiffany on 11 March, 2011 - 11:33
GlobeBusters called me up to their HQ in Ystradgynlais to do my training - and for those who wouldn't know how to even begin pronouncing it, I had tips from a Welsh friend, its Us-Trad-Gun-Lice.
They're based in the green valleys of South Wales, a beautiful part of the world where I met my fellow teammates who I'll be working with on the trip along the Silk Road. Expedition Leader is Mark from Devon and the Van driver/mechanic is Alan from Newcastle, AKA WhyAy- which won't mean much to you if you're not familiar with the Newcastle/Geordie accent.
Piles of paperwork, maps, books and route notes were pored over as we studied our journey in detail and identified any potential hotspots, including Iran which seems to be simmering a bit at the moment. I loved every moment of it, pointing out routes I've ridden before and some of the features to bear in mind that make travel in Central Asia riskier than other places. Expedition First Aid training took up two days and inlcuded the niceties of how to recognise altitude sickness and practising with bandages on each other. I was the mug who ended up strapped to the spinal board unable to move.
After that it was time for some intensive bike rider training where I had three days of tuition on the BMW 1200GS that I'll be riding for the journey. It's a bit higher than Thelma so once more i'm on tip-toes but it's lighter and more maneouvrable. I soon found my way around with it, taking off along the welsh Valleys with the instructor close behind giving directions and instructions over the radio mike. Luckily the microphoe was a one-way affair which menat that he couldn't hear me cursing each time I made an error (usually going too fast). Evenings were spent doing questions and quizzes as we revised the theoretical knowledge over dinner in the local pub, noses buried in our books.
The test itself was nerve-racking, entailing an hour and a half being trailed by an ex-police rider judging my every move. I detest being watched and it makes me nervous, which showed when we did the theory questions, he produced a page from his folder and asked me what was on it- I innocently replied "Road signs", he just looked at me as if I was mad and demanded to know what each sign meant.