Saturday, 23 September 2017

Failed!



So I realised a couple of days ago that this coming Sunday was the Distinguished Gentleman's ride, when, worldwide, bikers wheel out their classic bikes, put on their best period clothing and ride through the streets in aid of prostate cancer. Keen to take part I registered for the London ride, only to find out that my Tiger wasn't deemed a suitable steed. No problem, I could solve that by hiring a suitable bike for the weekend; in no time I'd found and collected a Triumph Bonneville from my local friendly hire shop (Superbike rental Brentwood-highly recommended), although the first bump in the road came when Mark the friendly owner asked what I was going to wear for the ride. Well, I do have an open-face helmet with multi-colour Union flag painted on that I've never worn so that's headgear sorted; as for the rest, well I threw away all my old clothes so would have to buy something suitable immediately.

The second bump in the road came when I rode the bike home - Bonnevilles are quite small bikes and I'm quite a big chap, I felt like an Elephant riding a moped! Got home with aching knees, hips and back and started to realise I wasn't going to enjoy spending all day on that bike. Then popped down the Triumph dealer to see what suitable clothing they might have; found a great Barbour jacket, but hang on it's £350! Some soul searching later and I came up with plan B - don't buy a jacket I'll never wear again, don't ride a bike that will cause me pain for days afterwards, just donate the money to charity and spend the day riding the Tiger instead.

So yet again a failure, although when I took the bonneville back they were quite understanding, and I did ride home the long way so had a nice couple of hours on the Tiger. Got home and made the donation; at least I've got the photo I took with the bike to remind me never to think about getting a classsic bike!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Berlin

I was due to go to Hanover for my 3 month's check-up; when I went to book the flight British Airways had doubled the cost! I had a look around, and discovered I could fly to Berlin and take a train to Hanover for less than the cost of flying direct, plus I could do a bit of sightseeing in Berlin on the way. Of course I then had the additional cost of a hotel in Berlin, but I've never pretended to be logical ;)

Anyway, the Wednesday lunchtime flight went fine, I found a nice hotel near the centre, dropped my bags and went out to eat. Luckily, Happy Cow showed a vegan vietnamese restaurant one block from my hotel, where I had a delicious bowl of noodle curry soup then retired to the hotel - oh and it was a pleasant 26degC much better than the cold and rain I'd left behind in London.

Next morning was bright and sunny so I got up early and went out for a walk to explore the town. First monument was the Jewish memorial, thousands of blocks in a random pattern.



Next stop the famous Brandenberger gate. I then crossed the road and walked through a park that had some more monuments - all of them on a very large scale.





 After walking around the park for a few hours I was getting peckish, so out came the Happy Cow app to find, yes, another vegan Vietnamese restaurant not far from the Jewish monument, so it was another delicious bowl of noodle curry soup.  On the way back to the hotel I stumbled upon a massive shopping mall so wandered in and was entertained by a group of locals trying to dance the tango in the central square. I spent an hour or so amusing myself watching them, then strolled back to the hotel where I had a nice early night.

Next morning I decided to try and find Checkpoint Charlie and some history of the wall; the weather wasn't so great but a pleasant walk downtown and I found the place, complete with a couple of embarrassed German 'performance artists' pretending to be US soldiers for the tourist cameras.



Adjacent to the checkpoint was an interesting little museum that had various videos and photos  that explained the history of the division of Berlin and subsequent events - most interesting and I spent a few hours there.
Section of wall

After leaving the checkpoint area I walked up towards the river, intending to visit some museums, but admit that on the way I came across a massive Volkswagen showroom - I hadn't realised that VW own Bugatti, Ducati, Bentley, Lamborghini amongst others, so spent a good hour kicking tyres and getting in and out of high-end vehicles I could never afford. Oh and I found a perfect replacement for the ailing engine in my Jeep ;)





By now it had started to rain, as I strolled back towards the hotel I came to Alexanderplatz, a square surrounded by shopping mall but with some kind of festival going on, so I spent the evening wandering around the food stalls sampling vegan snacks and listening to music. A pleasant evening then back late to the hotel and bed.



Saturday was my last full day in Berlin so I decided to visit the island on the river that has 5 museums; unfortunately being Saturday every other tourist in Berlin had the same idea! As I'm not good with crowds I just visited the beautiful cathedral, walked up to the viewing platform for stupendous views then down and away from the area.



Luckily I had kept in contact with a young lady I had met while hiking on the Canary Islands last year; Mara lives in Berlin so we had arranged to meet up on Saturday afternoon. She and boyfriend took me out for a vegan meal then we visited a few bars. They were nice, he was a bit intense, wanting to discuss politics so after a few orange juices I made my excuses and went back to the hotel and bed.

Sunday morning and time to catch the train to Hanover. Nice train, left on time (of course!!) and I had a pleasant 2 hour ride through the countryside to my destination. I'd had a great time in Berlin, now to settle down to a week's treatment at Dr Wolf's clinic.






Saturday, 5 August 2017

Infinitely adjustable means infinite wrong positions ;)

Well this started off as a fairly boring post ("Hahaha - They're all boring you silly old git") discussing the problems I'm having getting my handlebar adjustment correct, but then as I went out for a ride to check the latest minute incremental adjustment I'd made, I came across a small car & bike show in a field in Billericay. Hoping against hope that I might bump into Tricky Dickie and his Cortina ## I braved the wet grass of the car park and had a quick look round.

Higher, comfy seat (with black cat)

Front tyre not knobbly

Rear tyre not knobbly

Infinitely adjustable bars......
Unfortunately it seemed as if a lot of people had left due to the thunderstorm I'd just ridden through (!), but there were still a few little gems scattered around.
Plastic 3-wheelers

And his stereo goes up to 11


Monster truck rides

Not sure about this?
 Got chatting to a custom bike fabricator, really impressed with his work, all his bikes looked as if you could actually ride them.
Nice little custom Harley

Custom originally an Aprilia RSV - nice fabricated forks

Bandit 600 with a twist




After an hour or so I'd seen everything twice, and could see another storm heading my way so I once again braved the wet grass ( well I have just changed the tyres from knobblies to street ) and set off home through the country lanes. A pleasant and unexpected little ride-out.

## Ian Dury & the blockheads 'new boots & panties' album track 5

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Beaulieu hot rod show

I set off Saturday morning to ride down to the New Forest as there was a car event at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. Unfortunately I'd picked the hottest weekend of the year so far (30 degC) and Fathers day weekend, so it seemed like every motorist in England was heading south for the coast to enjoy the weather. It also soon became apparent that full riding gear and high temperatures don't mix - it was like sitting in a sauna! Be fair, it is only a day or two every few years that we get this weather so I tried to be a man and put up with it.

After filtering between miles of stationary traffic on the M25 then the M4 motorway I began to realise I wasn't going to get down to Beaulieu in a day - I spent 3 hours to travel 60 miles! So after cooling off and re-hydrating in a motorway service station I decided to head over to my son's house in Henley which wasn't too far off track. Luckily his little son was visiting for the weekend, so we called my daughter up and all went out for a Mexican meal to celebrate Fathers day.

Sunday morning I was up early to ride the rest of the way to Beaulieu before it got too hot. Much better! Made it there by 11am, by which time the temperature was back up to 30 degC again! I had a pleasant time strolling around the beautiful grounds of the motor museum looking at all things mechanical, then on to the hot rod & American car show, these being my first love going right back to when I was a teenager reading American hot rodding magazines.

By mid-afternoon it was melting hot, so I decided to set off back home. Unfortunately all those motorists I'd passed in the massive traffic jams on Saturday all had the same idea, so back to gridlock again! By this time I just could not be arsed with it, so took to the little country lanes and meandered back up to my son's house again, slept there overnight, finally getting home around lunch-time Monday. I enjoyed the cars, the riding not so much! Still, as I write this the weather is cooling down so no doubt it will be raining by the end of the week! Here's a few pictures of some of the cars that took my eye.
1934 Ford 3 window hi-boy

Mercury

1932 Ford 3 window

T bucket with Ford Pop behind

Mk 1 Ford Consul

Pop

Pop with supercharged V8

Really!




Jiving in 30 deg heat - mad!


Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sunday morning ride to Battlesbridge motorbike museum

Another bright sunny (if a little chilly) morning, so I decided to ride over to Battlesbridge bike museum, which I'd spotted online while checking for biker-friendly destinations. It was smaller than I'd expected, basically just a wooden shed crammed with old bikes, signs & paraphernalia, but the guys working there were friendly, welcoming and happy to chat about old bikes all day. A great little place. I spent an hour or so there, had a coffee & cake in the cafe next door then rode home the long way back via Horndon & Bulphan. What a pleasant way to spend Sunday morning.