Walter Colebatch (UK), Lukas Matzinger (Austria) and Barton Churchill (USA) will be setting off for the South American Andes next month aboard a trio of Husaberg FE 570s to make an attempt on bettering the current world record of 6,245m set by an Indian team in 2008.
The group has exceptional qualifications: From experienced mountaineer Churchill, who’s ridden around the world solo, to Matzinger, who’s rebuilt a dozen adventure bikes from the ground up, and with motorcycle mission veteran Colebatch at the helm, this attempt is a well-planned and organized ride by a group of seasoned and experienced riders.
Previous Guinness World Records for motorcycle altitude include the 2002 Chinese contingent, which topped 6,113m on Everest’s North Face, and the Chilean / Swiss / Austrian team Motorecord, which reached 6,220m on Ojos del Salado, Chile, in 2008 aboard unregistered trials bikes.
The Andes Moto Extreme team has been planning this trip for over a year and training for the ascent since mid-January, undertaking altitude, fitness and cold conditioning in the European Alps and the United States. The biggest challenge will be fighting the effects of high altitude, as seasoned mountaineer Barton Churchill explains, “At 6,250 meters the atmosphere has only 47 per-cent of the oxygen as at sea level. At half this altitude physiological effects of altitude can start to take a toll. It will be a challenge to walk and think much less balance and muscle around the 570s!”
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can begin at as little as 3,000m. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness and trouble sleeping. Although the team will take specialized drugs to help them adapt to the altitude, their plan is to ascend the mountain slowly – the best way to avoid AMS – and descend immediately symptoms occur, to avoid developing more serious conditions associated with AMS, like pulmonary or cerebral edema (fluid on the lungs or brain).
Besides training and medication, the Andes Moto Extreme lads have also chosen their kit carefully to deal with the effects of high-altitude riding. “Anyone who’s ridden extensively above 4,000m will know the problems you can have with carburetors at altitude. Not only is matching the jetting to the altitude a chore, but the bikes have less power than injected bikes and there’s the ever-present danger of carb icing,” explains Colebatch, adding “A number of previous record rides could have gone higher had their bikes not suffered fuelling problems.”
“Husaberg has been making high-performance, fuel-injected dirt bikes for a few years now with a faultless reliability record. The bike’s low weight (114kg) and outstanding handling with 60 bhp sets it apart from every other alternative. The FE 570 is the obvious bike to base our efforts around.” They’ll also be wearing Klim Badlands Pro Suits with full armor and waterproofing and EXO2 heated clothing, as well as fitting the FE 570s with Golden Tyre GT216 tires and mousses, and Rekluse auto clutches. Expedition luggage is being prepared by lightweight moto luggage specialists, Giant Loop. Ultra-lightweight lithium batteries from Shorai are being used as regular batteries suffer from poor performance in extreme conditions of temperature. Warn winches are supplying special motorcycle winches to haul the guys out of trouble in the glaciers.
Countless other modifications are being made to the bikes to ensure the ultimate in performance and reliability from the best component manufacturers in the adventure motorcycling and mountaineering world, including Trail Tech, Enduro Star, G2 Ergonomics, Blue Ridge Racing, Renazco Racing, Rayz, BulletProof Designs, Profill Filters, CV4 hoses, Highway Dirtbikes, Haan Wheels, Scheffelmeier Metall, BRC, Powerlet, Burns Moto, Fastway-PMB, Sicass Racing, Black Diamond and Hilleberg.
The route to the record will involve climbing steep slopes of ash deposits, snow banks, sand fields, glaciers, boulder debris, and fields of vertical ice javelins on the slopes of the world’s highest volcano, Ojos del Salado, in Chile.
Andes Moto Extreme is due to depart for South America in March this year. The team’s progress can be followed via the website www.AndesMotoExtreme.com and on facebook at www.facebook.com/HusabergAdventureTeam both of which will be regularly updated with pictures, videos and newsfeeds throughout the record attempt via satellite data daily updates!