Friday, August 21, 2015
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Wednesday, July 08, 2015
Last week it was time for new tyres, so I contacted my local tyre specialist, Bikerz. I was in a bit of a flap as I needed new tyres for an Advanced Coaching Course at the end of the week and Jim, who owns Bikerz managed to get me a set of the new Michelin Road pilot 4 Trail.
A quick visit to Bikerz at Unit 2, Oldham Street, Joiners Square, Hanley, Stoke on Trent, ST1 3EY New tyres fitted BUT...... He found that my front pads had hardly any friction material left on them, yet according to the last service I had done in March had only done 4,000 miles....
We also had a quick check of the front discs and decided that they needed replacing. So arrangements made with Jim , to have some new ones fitted and also as my next service was due at 56,000 miles, I ideal time to have that done as well.
The saga of the disc pads replaced free of charge, having had to travel up to to Manchester to get it done. (Will not be going back !!!!!!)
Just got back from BIKERZ - BMW R1200GS now Serviced Great job Jim, smoother bike now - Thanks
ALSO THANKS TO Richard Barrett - Motul for the Motul 300V oil.......
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Advanced biker and me
I took an early retirement option and on a whim decided to return to motorcycling after a 12 year lay off. My last bike had been one of those seriously fast Japanese sports bikes and the unspoken reason I gave it up was because i knew if I kept going I would die !
Any how I bought a sensible BMW GS1200 and also made the sensible decision to find an “Advanced trainer” as I wanted to
A) Continue with a long and happy life enjoying motorcycling
B) Go on fanciful long distance tours with my girlfriend as pillion and as I cherish her greatly wanted to be safe as well as fast and as well prepared as possible.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that this decision was very much out of character for me as I usually err on the side of recklessness ( you need to bear in mind I bought the GS without a test ride having never ridden for 12 years)
I also have a bit of a personal hatred of pedantry which sort of ruled out the usual IAM type training and besides I have no patience and wanted to be better immediately.
I hit the Internet searching for a suitable trainer, there are many out there but I liked the sound of this chap called Bowers so I gave him a call and explained my position/predicament. He immediately got it and talked sense to me on the phone, E mailed me a questionnaire and we arranged a date and a place to meet and have a day's training.
That phone call and the subsequent training were the most fortuitous things that have happened to me in my motorcycling history.
In one day in the peak district my riding was transformed from point and squirt shenanigans to comprehensively understanding the principles of better motorcycle riding. Don’t get me wrong here, I did not become the riding God I am now ( that is a joke) straight away but it was an epiphany and gave me a fantastic foundation to continue with and practice and constantly improve things.
Nigel's style of delivery is simple and easy to understand with key phrases that stick in your head and just make sense, no technical claptrap ( He can do that if you want) When i say they stick in your head I mean it and you find yourself reciting them as you ride along.
That day was the first day in my life on a bike that i didn't break a speed limit and it is also one where I had never ridden so fast or a safely. I believe the video is still available of my day with him. those three years ago.
Somehow, and I feel quite privileged about this, Nigel and I have become friends and have since ridden many miles together as such but my desire to raise my standards to somewhere near his has continued and I remain a customer as well as a friend and have attended his training week in France and having recently been noticing that I was not as smooth as i should be since getting a new bike booked a day with him to sort me out ! (Yes we are friends but he has a business and I accept that) It took him just moments to diagnose my problem, Something that I could never really have done, the phrase forest for the trees springs to mind, and having done so spent the day drilling me into the cure which has done the trick. I doubt I will ever be a smooth or as good but I haven't spent a lifetime riding professionally.
For people sitting considering it I say book it and do it ! It may seem allot of money but in reality it will be the best biking money you will spend.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Scotland, Cold wet and utterly brilliant
I don't think i have ever hidden my love of motorcycling in Scotland and try to go as often as possible.This year i thought it would be a good idea to share my favourite roads and scenery and cake shops with some friends and acquaintances so Andy (Roadcraft rider) and myself opened up our plannned jaunt to others to join in.
The plan being 10 blokes with 10 bikes on a jolly caper to the Highlands.
Rooms were booked well in advance working on the pack em in and keep it cheap principle.
Sure enough we had plenty of takers and that's when it started to get complicated .....; One bloke decided that he was going to bring his Mrs along as pillion. Another bloke who had never done a tour before wanted a single room ...... then of course we have to take into account Andys snoring which believe me can make Thor put his fingers in his ears, mine and Kevins farting Oh dear........
I was a little concerned at this point as the roads i use and the distances on those roads are fairly tough and for a pillion could be pretty tiresome but hey ho on with the plan ..........
The Suspects their credentials and bikes are:
Andy ( Roadcraft rider) a RoSPA Tutor, GSA 90th aniv.
Nigel Bowers ( Advancedbiker.com) Ex police rider and RoSPA Examiner, no end of other quals and riding God, 1200 GS
Dave Midlands RoSPA and IAM big wig, GS1200later to be re named the Stalker.
Pete W Yorks RoSPA coordinator and tutor, Pan European
Geoff W Yorks RoSPA Tutor, VFR 1200
Kevin RoSPA Gold, GS LC
Clint and Mrs Clint, RoSPA Gold ( not Mrs Clint) GSA bought a few weeks ago for not much money and not really tested !
Guy, Ducati 1100 MS qualified in talking a good game
and Me, A degree in hooliganary and causing trouble on my GSA LC.
As you can see or guess, on paper this would be a good progress making group and so it turned out to be.
Andy and myself set off to the rendezvous at Skipton nice and early, mainly due to being as excited as schoolboys on the first day of conker season, with temperatures soaring to 11 degrees which was as hot as it got for the next 5 days! I was surprised to see Andy wearing his old Neotec rather than his flashy Tour X but as he said tried and trusted ..... More on this later
We arrived at the Little thief for a bacon sarnie and met up with Clint, Mrs Clint (who i discovered was called Lynn) and Dave who had all travelled up the night before from southern parts.
The rest of the group arrived about half way through the bacon.
So the route for day 1 was
Just under 300 miles on great roads.
Extra layers were added as it was down to about 7 degrees and looking like rain, Helmets on, comms tested and sworn at until it worked and then a little after 0900hrs we were off......
We set out over Malham tarn and onto Hawes and the creamery for the first stop of the day and to have a scone! Scones almost became the staple diet. A ride order developed with me leading and Dave at the back. Andy was supposed to be TEC but Dave insisted and proceeded to harrass Andy for the duration and became known as the stalker. The pace was brisk albeit within the legal limits you understand.
From Hawes our next stop was The cafe at Chollerford where we got to chatting bollocks and getting to know each other a bit.
We thought Clint had lost all his clutch fluid but he hadn't so no disasters so far !
Onto Jedburgh for lunch which was more scones and a high tea for some !
No Passports required yet !
So far we had encountered a couple brief showers so I considered our selves lucky although the temp was still in single figures and started to think about the heated grips thread and came to the conclusion mine are shit too, at under 8 degrees they are ineffective to sday thye least but feck it Im on a trip so cope with it i did !
From Jedbutgh on to the Edinburgh By pass via the tourist route off the M9 at knockhill to Glen Eagles, crief and our digs for the night.
We Stayed in the Royal Dunkeld hotel which wasn't my first choice but as that couldn't accommodate the room requirements here we were and in honesty it was pretty good, the Owner was helpful and welcoming. We were in the Garden rooms (portakabins) We were on the cheap remember ! The food was good as was the Guinness !!
Not my meal as i forgot how much tossers like pics of food
Day 2 to follow
Breakfast In Dunkeld was the normal full fry up and was excellent, No pics but you all know what one looks like.
Today's route would take us from Dunkeld to Strathcarron on some of the best roads in the UK IMO.
We lost Guy, the Guy with the Ducati ostensibly to urgent business.
That threw the room organiser (Andy) into a bit of a tizzy but actually made life so much easier for me at any rate as I picked up the paid for single rooms from now on
It would have been easy to hit the A9 but I like to wend around a little and take in some scenery so I always head over Ben Lawyers and this time it was no exception
It was decidedly chilly for the middle of may !
A funny thing happened, Geoff on the VFR could not make the turn back onto the road from the dam and had to turn right instead of left to be able to turn ! Well i thought it was funny any way
Down into Glen Lyon for a brew and some more scones. At this point having descended considerably the temp was warm enough to sit out and enjoy the views and lo and behold the sun shone !
After a while the sun went in so we set off and headed to Dalwhinnie for more tea and scones and of course petrol for the VFR !
The roads from here are just fantastic, fast sweeping things that beg to be ridden fast ( we resisted M'Lud) but here is a strange thing that we noticed, When we see bikes coming toward us we wave and nod like long lost pals but if they are travelling the same way they are hunted down and overtaken ! or is it just me ? Any way if that was you on the GSA on the hill from Invergarry I apologise but you should have been A) going faster and B) looking in your mirrors.
This was a theme that re occurred many times and no bike travelling in our direction was left and passed.
Weather forecast on I phone said it would be raining and chilly My visor and shrivveled gentleman's area agreed with the forecast !
Onwards and forever northward to Spean Bridge and the Commando monument that some had asked to stop at You can get a feel for the weather
Onto the most photographed castle in the world and yes i took pictures !
The weather picked up a bit for the final run over the mountain to Strathcarron which for those who have not been is yet another fantastic bit of road.
We arrived at the Strathcarron Hotel and were greeted like lost brothers by Andrew the owner.
It is a very very bike friendly place Simple but hospitable with decent grub and plenty of beer ! I would recommend this place to any one without fear !
The end of another great day with no disaster !
Up and at them for breakfast of course and then a bit of a conflab about the weather !
The plan was to do this route
Doing the belach Na Ba first but after looking out of the door and seeing fresh snow on the tops that are lower than the pass we changed the plan and decided to head to Skye first and re assess later.
This was the view from the hotel door just before we left for Skye
The two Honda riders displaying what i can only call Homosexual traits decided they were staying indoors so the rest of us headed off and bugger me it stopped raining !
So Onto Skye we made our way and to the first stop where the weather yet again betrayed us but tea and more bly Scones cheered us up no end and it stopped raining and brightened right up although it was cold and my heated grips had not improved
The run round Skye is breathtaking in its majesty but alas i have no more photos until we get to the best cake shop in Scotland for more tea and scones and cakes.
Technically these are rock buns !
Andy liked them and was for some reason a bit Smug about it
Heading back to the Sky bridge we encountered on of the worst downpours of rain i have ever ridden in but that was nothing compared to the hail stones which were the size of grapes, well peas at any rate, they bloody hurt and all you could hear over the radio was the sound of them hitting helmets! I was laughing like a sick hyena because i was so enjoying the extremeness of the weather but the heated grips are still shit !
Back to the Hotel to take the piss out of the Honda boys and point out what a great day they had missed and we drank some tea and possibly had a scone !
Then 2 idiots decided that as the day was still young they would ride up Belach Na Ba so Andy and I set off with weather warnings and laughter ringing in our ears
Christ it was cold up there !
1 Degree, Blowing a howling gale and snowing quite heavily, The heated grips were worse than shit ! I nearly called BMW assist ......
As you can see the view was breathtaking
Bloody cyclists get everywhere
We made it back down and sought sanctuary in a few pints of the black stuff before tea and an early night !
Venison Pie and Chranechen
More to follow
My favourite day as it takes in the A816
I usuall do this and what will be day 5 in one hit but with a group it was decided that an extra night was in order so the route...
The first part is a repeat of previous days but in reverse but who cares as they are such brilliant roads.
If it rained going down Glen shiel on day 2 going up the rain was even worse and by the time we reached Invergarry Andy had had a total Helmet failure ( remember the tried and tested Neotec) It looked like you could put a Goldfish in with his head so wet it was!
Any way the trusty Multitool came out and the Pinlock was sorted by Andy and on we went.
A Hyabusa was dilly dallying along in the rain ( he wasn't very good and was soon hunted down and passed)
Stopped in Spean Bridge for tea and more scones !
and then headed down to Fort William and Oban
The weather app said it would be thunderstorms but it wasn't and so we headed onto the A816 , my favourite road in the world ever !
Nigel decided he would lead !!!!
I went at the back or almost at the back as Dave the stalker was behind me and now i know why Andy called him that ! No matter how fast I went or how hard into a corner or indeed out of it he was always there in the mirror with a big grin on his face !
I am no slouch but now know how Cal Crutchlow or the like feels when Rossi is breathing down their neck!!
Clint with Mrs Clint (Lynn) on board had to back off which is no shame at the pace we were going, his fully loaded and pillioned ADV was grounding out alarmingly and Lynn to her credit was laughing loudly about it !
The A816 is just so fabulous for 30 miles !
Now it started to rain persistently as we entered the Trossachs and over the Dukes pass. The Dukes pass is not my favourite road by a long way and it seems to be worse of late with a shocking surface ! I only put it on the route so people could tick it off the famous roads list.
Our hotel for the night was the Oak tree Inn at Balmaha. Nice enough, in fact very nice but ......
The rooms we had booked were not the rooms we were allocated and Andy Kevin and I found ourselves being moved up the villiage to a lodge which we were not initially happy about but when we saw the rooms we cheered up !
The view over Loch Lomond from my Palatial room
More beer was drunk more bollocks talked and I had Haddock Andy had a very large Burger then retired to my condo and the 50 inch plasma telly with surround sound to watch Braveheart but soon fell asleep !
A short easy hop to Moffat ( I usually add this bit on to yesterday but that does make it a long day) With some motorway and a visit to the Falkirk wheel
It was raining somewhat and my heated grips were shit !
Any way we got the Falkirk Wheel which is a marvel of engineering ! And lo there is a cafe and behold they sell tea and scones and cakes !
More cake smugness
Onwards to Moffat and the blast over the Mountain and it wasn't raining !
In fact the weather was so nice and we were so early we went out to St Marys Loch !
Back to the Beclulech for beer and bollocks (many of both) and one of their famous pies for tea ! Andy had Pie Smugness But his wife now has him on a diet due to all the food pics on Facebook !
Many thanks to Rick and Andy for organising everything