Shawn Thomas at the Dakar Rally
There are few places where a rider wants to be stuck on the side of the road. Imagine being broken down in the worst possible locations on the planet, then look around and you’ll find MY initials carved into a rock or a tree. As an Adventure Motorcycle Tour Guide for RawHyde Adventures, I’ve found that riders in my flock tend to have mechanical issues in the worst places, at the worst times: i.e. in a mud crossing at sunset, under storm clouds, with an army of hungry zombies coming over the ridge.
Years of on-the-trail breakdown experiences have taught me to carry the best tools I can get my hands on. A number of epic failures using poor quality tools has affirmed my appreciation of using the BEST you can get. Forget about the price because it’s not important when your life depends on those tools. I’ve learned to work fast, to work efficiently, and to get everyone moving again to our daily destination.
In January 2014 I managed to add a New #1 to my ‘Worst Breakdown Location List’. We were in South America, shadowing the famed ‘Dakar’ Race. Eight riders were with me, braving the extreme weather, fighting oxygen deprivation at high altitudes, and riding through challenging and diverse landscape to witness what is perhaps the greatest off-road sporting event in modern times…Dakar. This was an epic experience in an amazing country – Argentina.
So when our Toyota support truck got a flat tire we had to move fast, and not just to stay on schedule. We were atop one of the highest motor-able peaks in the world, in the heart of the Andes Mountains. At a breath-taking 16,500 feet we had to get everyone out of there – fast. To linger a few hours was not an option, to remain overnight was not unthinkable. Help was nowhere to be found. AAA won’t respond. We were on our own. Figure it out yourself, fix it yourself, or suffer the consequences.
At that altitude, everything becomes harsh. Freezing winds and clouds are plentiful, and the air is painfully thin… we required medication in the form chewing dried coca leaves, lest we succumb to the rigors of altitude sickness. And even with our considerable precautions and team preparation, we were very aware that every minute spent on the mountain brought us closer to nausea, disorientation, hallucinations, and eventual high altitude sickness which can be fatal. Not to mention a very late arrival for dinner and fine wine. Time was of the essence, to say the least.
The truck’s spare tire unavailable (it was padlocked under the bed, and we couldn’t find the key!), so the only option was to repair the existing tire. Enter BestRest’s Universal Tire Repair Kit and the CyclePump. In a few moments I was able to find the puncture, install a self-vulcanizing string, and re-inflate the tire to proper pressure. Remember – we were doing this at 16,500 feet! I was truly impressed at how quickly that little silver inflator did it’s job. We didn’t even take the tire off the truck – instead we filled the tire in place. Not only was the CyclePump filling up the tire, it was also lifting the weight of the truck in the process. Pretty impressive.
I held the CyclePump and Tire Repair Kit in the air and chanted triumphantly “BestRest CyclePump! BestRest CyclePump!”… OK so perhaps that last part is a bit over the top. We were oxygen deprived so the entire celebration event is a bit fuzzy.
I took this photo as I filled the tire. I should’ve taken more pix, but we weren’t thinking about photo-ops, we were thinking about survival.
Truth be told, when the work was done the CyclePump and Tire Repair Kit were unceremoniously stuffed in a gear bag and we got the heck out of Dodge. And really, that’s one of the things I love most about my BestRest gear. It handles my abuse and keeps coming through for when I need it – no excuses. I’m glad to have it with me on my adventures, and I will continue to carry it and use it on the roads and trails ahead.
Do I recommend BestRest’s CyclePump and Universal Tire Repair Kit to other riders?
Two words come to mind: Absolutely, YES.
-Shawn Thomas, Adventure Rider
Shawn’s location was somewhere on RN 51 which passes through San Antonio De Los Cobres. S24.33406 W66.05152 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Antonio_de_los_Cobres
Here’s a couple photos showing Shawn using the CyclePump and TireIron BeadBrakR in more civilized surroundings.