Sunday, 26 April 2009

Charity run

The local bike club organised a charity run for breast cancer today. I took a selection of photos at the start this morning. My particular favourites are the lady biker with pink angel wings, the gold custom paint on one of the cruisers, and the guy with the biggest balls in the world who turned up on his restored 1961 Vespa scooter!

Hopefully I've managed to download the photos and they'll be beside this post as a slideshow. If!

Stop Press...yeah as you can see I couldn't do that slideshow thing. I'm bored now, I've spent all afternoon on Flickr uploading photos - curse this old age, I need a 10 year old to show me how to do this! Anyway, if anyone knows how to access Flickr, the photos are in eldientephoto under Sunday Charity Bike Ride.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Swop it or modify it?

I mentioned in a previous post that I was a bit disappointed with the wear properties of the OE Dunlop rear tyre on the bandit - completely shagged after 1400 miles! After reading a couple of intrnet forums I decided to try a dual compound tyre. Dunlop produce the Sportsmax Roadsmart which gets pretty good reviews, so I got the local bike-friendly tyre fitter to put one on for me. What a difference! Obviously I don't know how it's going to wear, but the bike feels much better to ride - no more squirming around in bends, and seemingly (this may be my imagination) much better general roadholding, although that may just be due to the roads finally drying out and not being covered in mud and crap.

I also had a test ride on a Triumph Tiger - after last weekends'longer ride left me with sore wrists and a numb bum I started thinking at my age it's time to get something more suitable to tour around on, but then a chance late-night trawl through some motorbike web pages turned up a set of handlebar risers guarenteed to take away the pain of touring.

I fitted them yesterday and then went for a run out; they seem to help with the general posture as today my wrists don't ache and neither does my back, and of course they're a much cheaper fix than buying that new bike. I'll give them a longer try-out today after I've finished work; hopefully the thick fog that spoiled my ride in this morning will burn off by lunchtime.

Derek's neighbour Alan was showing me his old AJS 350 single last night (its in beautiful condition) and we were comparing it to his BMW 1200 Adventure - it's about half the size and looks so simple to ride. But then we started to talk about biking in 'the old days', when the bikes needed constant fettling to keep them going, and how everyone fitted different bits to them to personalise them and make them more suitable for their own intended use; thats when I realised how ridiculous we've become - how could I think about changing my bike just 'cos my wrists ached; much better to make modifications to make it more suitable. Right , where's that accessory catalogue?

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Hurray for biking!

Well that was the best fun I've had with my clothes on! Well apart from that massage in Wat Po but I won't go into that.

The weather over here on the east coast of Scotland has been rubbish all week, but every time I look at the weather forecast it looks like it's sunny over the west coast. So,I bought a new Givi screen for the bike, fitted a tail pack, printed out a map of the west coast of Scotland and set off to explore.

Saturday I drove along beside the river Dee as far as Ballater then turned north and rode over the Caingorms - bloody hell what fabulous scenery! The high point was riding for mile after mile along a single track roads with not one other vehicle in sight, just enjoying the scenery and the sunshine. Low point - looking in my mirrors to see a line of about 12 bikers coming up behind me at about twice my speed, each one weaving past as if I was a mobile chicane, waving, then disappearing off into the distance! I felt like a right knob.

The basic plan was to ride as far as possible, stop for the night and then ride again all day Sunday, but I did hit a couple of snags. Firstly is the abysmal mileage I get from the bike (caused I admit by inability to be gentle with the throttle)which means I have to stop every 100 miles for petrol. Secondly, and I'm open to suggestions how to get around this; I found it very difficult to ride fast AND enjoy the scenery, so much so that I was bimbling along at 50 mph for ages. And third (I know thats more than a couple) various parts of my anatomy began hurting after a couple of hours riding - wrists, arms and bum.

The upshot being that by 5pm I'd only made it to Inverness, although I had taken loads of photos and drank about a gallon of coffee in various roadside establishments. So I called it a day and stopped in a very pleasant hotel on the shores of Loch Ness. Crashed out early night.

But, and here's the bit I referred to at the beginning, that meant I could get up early this morning and start riding before the Sunday drivers appeared. The A82 south along the north side of Loch Ness was heaven! Bright sunshine, a completely empty road and enough gentle curves to alow me to ride at a reasonable speed while still enjoying the scenery.

A quick stop in Fort Augustus (more petrol and a coffee) and I took the B862 north along the south side of the Loch. This road goes through the Monadhliath mountains, is a single track, and looks like Colorado USA! Grand imposing mountains and forests, another empty road and I was in heaven. After that I gave up planning and just rode down every single-track road I came to, just generally winding my way south and east.

I stopped for lunch at some magical place near Cock bridge; there's this tremendous widing road all hairpins and steeply downhill, at the bottom is a tea shop. The road then hairpins its way back up and over the next mountain, so if you're sitting outside eating your lunch you hear the bikes coming down the hill all popping and banging, a quick blast past the teashop then screaming their way uphill - better than a racetrack. And all the time a huge clear blue sky and sun beating down.

Ride a bit, stop a bit, ride a bit more, stop for a coffee - what a way to pass a weekend! This is the life!

I finally got home about tea-time, washed the dead flies off me new screen and staggered upstairs to soak my aching body parts in a hot bath. Heaven! Hope you all had an equally good weekend - hurray for bikes!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

roll on the light evenings, at least I'll be able to see

Went to a talk given by a local Bike Instructor last night, the topic being better cornering. No suprises, really,in the cornering techniques; just a reminder that we're actually supposed to be thinking about what we're doing as we ride, as opposed to my approach of just bumbling along in top gear with an occasional full throttle blast whenever I get bored. Of course there was one character there keeping up a hilarious running commentary/heckle - the finale was when we were told that police bike riders don't get trained at night-riding...yes, Gus is now going to do all his riding at night!

Had a fairly terrifying ride back along the country lines from the pub, evidently Suzuki fit candles inside the headlamp of my bike; I could actually see better ahead when Sean on the fireblade was behind me than I could with my own lights. The lads tell me I have to fit HID bulbs but I'm not sure if its something I can do myself, electricity being white man's magic as far as I'm concerned.

Of even more concern is the amount of tread left on my back tyre, so far I've done 1500 miles, and the wear bar in the centre of the tread is almost exposed. Now Derek managed 4000 miles on his ninja before he replaced them and he rides like a lunatic - either these OE Dunlops are really crap, or I'll have to moderate those full throttle blasts. Or learn how to ride banked over all the time.