I bought a top box for the bike off e-bay, a proper BMW Vario branded one that I thought might improve the slightly agricultural appearance of the bike while giving me somewhere to store the helmet. As always with my purchases, things didn't go quite as planned. While attempting to fit the bracket that attaches to the rear of the bike I realised it wouldn't fit as there was a pannier bracket occupying the same space. Said bracket duly removed it then became obvious this new bracket wouldn't fit my bike. After a bit of head-scratching I came up with the solution...get Derek to fit it!
So with a bit of inventive bungee attaching, me the bike and the top box set off round to Derek's garage only to be met with a scene of utter carnage. His latest toy, the e-bay bargain track-day bike was in pieces all over the floor; as I arrived he was stripping down the gearbox, covered in oil and cackling with glee (Derek not the gearbox). As you can imagine, my seemingly insurmountable problem with the bracket was totally ignored as he ripped more and more bits off the bike.
I slunk away home, phoned the BMW dealer the next day who explained the subltelties of pannier brackets and extended bolts and bushes. So the top box is still sitting in the garage and I'm using a backpack to carry my clothes to work. One step forward.........
Oh and just to add - his running bike cost just over twice the price of my box. Hmmmmm.
I went to my pal's funeral on Friday - very mixed emotions. We gave him a suitable send off with plenty of drinking and telling of stories, but somehow I couldn't shake off the gloom of loosing a best friend.
So I went home, threw some clothes in the panniers and rode off north. I made it to Inverness by nightfall (can't ride at night due to the dodgy eyes) and stayed at a hotel there. Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny and warm, which for this part of the world is most unusual. I set off down the side of Loch Ness, turned west to Kyle of Lochalsh and enjoyed a fantastic ride - empty roads, sunshine and some of the best scenery in the world. I got to the Skye road bridge around lunchtime after numerous stops to take photos; took a piss in the best kept public toilet ever and carried on over to Skye.
What a place! Biking heaven. I spent the rest of the day, and all day Sunday just riding on their fantastic roads, stopping to look at scenery and generally empty my head. I didn't fancy returning to Aberdeen, so stayed on the mainland at the picture-postcard perfect village of Plockton. Monday was still sunny, so I rode for miles on empty single-track roads up to Applecross, had lunch then carried on round to Torreidon before heading home. What a fabulous few days riding.
I decided to complete the circular route by heading back through Grantown-on Spey, up and over the rampian mountains at the Lecht ski slopes (still snow and fog-bound), back down to Ballater and along the Deeside to home. A marathon journey. The bike ran without a problem, although the noise from the windscreen drove me mad.
My best friend Del died on Wednesday night. He was 54 years old. In this area of Scotland, motorcyclists make up 2% of road traffic, but 26% of road fatalaties. It certainly makes you aware of how frail our human bodies are.