29 August 2006

Bike Luggage (2)

Thanks to the folks on http://www.ukgser.com/forums/ I have a few ideas for luggage. I like the idea of retaining the BMW System rails and getting the aluminium style boxes to go with it.

I don't really need them to be too Q/D as I am only aiming to use them for long trips and holidays, more for the convenience of getting them on and off.

Taking the "Street" (part no 01-052-0310-0) option of Touratech Zega panniers looks like a good option as hopefully on times when I am away for a short time I can (hopefully) still use the OEM System panniers... A guy called "Des" on the site has a set that look very nice and fit for my purpose.

Also, if I trade the GS I can (hopefully) bang the bike out with the System panniers. Although at the moment I have no intentions of flogging it off! My bank and I have an agreement that I keep it for another few years!

I've emailed Touratech GB and DE to see what the options are... I've seen them on the TT website and just need to check what other messing about there is to do as well as fitting the shorter rear indicators.

28 August 2006

Arrassing About - 9/10th September 2006 (5)

Nigel's idea is to do this... Looks good to me. Now all I have to do is find the emails that confirm the hotel and the Shuttle!

Getting to Arras at a reasonable time so how about once we get out of Coquelles head down the D roads to St Omer for coffee and waffles, or whatever. Then straight to Arras, so that we have time to look round the town before meeting up for a beer and some nosh. (75 miles roughly)

Fill up with fuel on Saturday when we arrive so that Sunday morning we can head off to the Canadian memorial near Vimy, then on to Lille for lunch. After lunch a steady ride back across country stopping at Cassels for a breather and more coffee, before getting to the shuttle around 17:00 (100 miles ish)

27 August 2006

Dover Castle - August 25th 2006

As we were still on holiday we had a drive out to Dover, one stop for a look around the Castle, and another to have lunch and sit above the Eastern Approaches to read in the sun in the White Cliffs Park.
If you are members of English Heritage or The National Trust, both would be free, if not, the Castle is £9.50 each and to park on the top of the White Cliffs is £1.50 per vehicle.
Although I have lived near Dover for many years, it's not a place I frequent very often, mainly to leave from the ferry terminal! So this was my first visit to the Castle.
The roots go back to the Saxons for a fort and the church, and to the Romans for the "Pharos" (pic 3).

Most of the work was done in the 13th centrury by Maurice, the engineer that Henry II entrusted to build the castle on the site of earlier fortifications.
There was a tidy up in time for Henry VIII's in 1539, when the castle was seen to be old and rather out of fashion. It was of course 300 years old by then.
It was given another face lift a couple of centuries later when Charles II's fiancee came to stay after her arrival from abroad.

This is the Roman "pharos" built not as supposed to warn navigators at sea of the land, but as a guide, Paired with one on the western approach it showed where the harbour was for the galleys crossing from France.
Only 4 storeys remain an dit is in excess of 40 feet tall. In Roman time sit would have ben 8 storeys tall with a beacon on the roof.
Pic 4 shows the approach to the Castle inside the outer wall but approaching the inner fortifide wall. The flag is flying form the top of the Keep.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

After we got back from Austria we had a few days off and on one we went to Dover Castle, on another to Sissinghurst.

Here are a few of the pics I took with my Nikon Coolpix 8700, mostly on fully auto, but some, like the bee, using the pre-set close-up "mode".

Bike Luggage

I've always liked the look of the BMW oem luggage, seems to fit the bike, but after three and a half years of going away and I am finally coming round to the position that I need a change.

There is simply not enough room for two people's stuff for two weeks. This year even with the Lakeland compression bags, we were short of stuff and without washing facilities (or the weather to dry stuff!) we had loads of smelly togs, plus, the compression bags don't stop what you have got from getting creased to b*ggery.

So before the next longer trip, to the Isle of Man next June we need a re-think? I don't want uneven fittings, so Givi/Kappa panniers are out of the equation. So Touratech Zega? Kiwi Bob's? As they won't get used everyday they need to come off easily and not look like a scaffold stockpile when off... Suggestions?

26 August 2006


Okay, so it might not seem all that cool to grow a 'Tache. Heck I am even crap at actually getting any decent facial hair to grow to look anything like nancy boy George Clooney manages, but it's all in a good cause.

Go to www.tacheback.com and see how you can help raise money. If you don't want to grow one yourself, or already have one, then sponsor me. Do this by going to https://www.bmycharity.com/V2/invictamoto and clicking on the buttons...

All I have to do it grow a tache in September. One measly month in my life to grow something as simple as a tache! Easy? I did it in 2004 and it was pretty rubbish, but I raised just over £110. I'd like to think that all of you out there, friends and colleagues will visit my sponsor page and pledge some of your money...

25 August 2006


Originally uploaded by pauldevall.

Took these little devils on the Grossglockner.

The range was about 60 metres and so on my Nikon Coolpix 8700 I was way into digital zoom to get them. Luckily the little darlings were quite still as the slightest movement (or camera shake) renders maximum range on digital zoom useless i.e. completely blurred.

I always use the full 8mb and the "fine" setting for pics to hopefully get a decent resolution.

23 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 12 - Home

Today started off badly. I dropped the bike exiting the petrol station in St Goar! Not anybody else's fault but mine. No real damage to us or the bike. Pride suffered the most with the bike getting scuffs to the plastic cylinder guard and to the right pannier.

I simply lost balance making a U-turn out of the place onto the road. It was slightly downhill and an acute angle to turn onto the road.. foot down, nothing there and bingo; nought mph keel over.

What is the secret to BMW mirrors? The right one is prone to loosening and spins about and as if by magic it fixes itself. But not today, over 200 miles before I managed to get it tight. This time I tugged up on it and turn it at the same time and it locked in place.

How the heck do you get them off? Mine simply turn round and bloody round. Aaaagh.

After 308 miles we arrived at Dunkerque for the 1600 ferry back to Dover. Holidays for 2006 nearly over.

Once I have got all the pix sorted on the camera I'll add to the blogs for each day. I tried to send some pix as attachments, but the were too big it said. All the entries are done as email from my O2 phone. Hence no paragraphs etc...

22 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 11 - Das Boot

A whole day on a cruise boat might sound a nightmare but in fact it was very relaxing to sit on deck before going to one of the saloons for a coffee and a cake. A chance to unwind and read a book.

Rüdesheim was a bit touristy and the greatest gathering of our fellow countrymen we had seen since we got off the ferry over a week ago. There are also more Christmas shops than seems really necessary, one lured Claire into buying a small snow storm dome thingy complete with snowman!

Back at the hostel we had a read and a second cake! Dinner to look forward to, then back to the hostel and start packing the panniers.
Doris reckons it's about 285 miles to Dunkerque and the ferry is at 1600, so we need to be away pretty smartly after breakfast. Should be home in time for Corrie!

One of the big successes has been the Lakeland vacuum bags. 

Apart from one losing the little slider that helps seal the zip end they have been tremendous - I wouldn't hesitate in recommending them to anyone.

Austria & The Alps Day 11 - No bike day

I had to get up in the night to check on the bike as it was parked on dirt... As it rained heavily for a few hours. In the end it was pitch dark and I had two disc locks to get off, then I could see f.a. and took it down outside the main entrance.

When I came to shift it later in daylight, I found I was only about 2ft from nice firm tarmac! Bugger!
Today is boat trip day, 1020 from St Goar. Let's see how it turns out.

21 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 10 - North by Northwest?

Well. As is now the norm we set off in waterproofs. Waterproof over trousers and Hood Kevlar lined jeans do not make for happy motoring pleasure. Betty Swollocks within minutes. At least on the positive side Doris has got over last week's problem of losing the sats every ten minutes. And so she led up from Switzerland into Germany. Swiss petrol was reputed to be cheap, but the fill up I did just before the border was 118 cents a litre. So about 55p a litre. No wonder there are so many American cars about with Swiss plates.

Once in Germany we hit the motorways. Getting to St Goar was more important than scenic touring! One small detour was forced on us when I chose the wrong Rüdesheim from the two options that Doris had in her city finder. I had a 50-50 chance and chose wrong. In mitigation I have to say that both were about the same miles from where I created the via point AND are the only two in the entire Atlantic base maps and 16 miles apart! As a result we added 20 miles to the days mileage and had come up the wrong side of the river so I aborted Rüdesheim and came straight to St Goar. we had lunch and then booked in the YH.

Once unpacked and showered we walked back to town for a look-see and an ice cream. We watched the ferry going back and forth to St Goarhausen and decided to have a boat trip and for €2.60 each return it was a good trip! Today's mileage was 260, and we'll have the same sort of day on Wednesday so tomorrow will be a no bike day to give our arses a rest. We plan to be plain tourists and take the riverboat trip to Rüdesheim and back. It takes 3 hours to get there southbound but only 1 hour and 40 minutes to come back. 

Any guesses?

20 August 2006

On the train... Rhätische Bahn

On the train... Rhätische Bahn, originally uploaded by pauldevall.

It was whilst on the leg of the journey homewards from the Stelvio, across the top of Switzerland, to Stein am Rhein on the western end of Lake Konstanz, we let the train take the strain.

It began raining hard from the moment we crossed into Switzerland, just after the Umbrail Pass, so I decided to avoid the ascent of the Flüelapass (2383m) and the 39kms of road over the pass via Davos. But how?

The map showed a rail tunnel from Susch to Klösters through the Vereina Tunnel. Decision made and we set off for it. Luckily it was clearly signposted and we foundit despite major misting of my glasses and visor! The GPS also managed to find the eastern end of the tunnel before conking out with brain overload! The tunnel is slightly over 19kms long.

So for 18 Swiss Francs we went on the roller coaster ride that is also known as the Rhätische Bahn. In an open carriage amongst the cars we set off hell for leather into the bowels of the earth. I sat on the bike and Claire stood alongside. Such is the speed we spent most of the time visors down and holding on for dear life!!

Claire managed to squeeze this shot off on her phone before we entered the tunnel as my gloves we so wet I didn't want to risk taking them off to get at my camera in my tank bag. It's a bit dark!


A video Claire took on her camera phone!

Austria & The Alps Day 9 - Stelvio? Yes.

The entire trip has been like the search for shangri-la; the sunshine is just the other side of the mountain, when you get there it's.... Well you know!

Today it was sunny straight off. On the road from Merano it was dire. Traffic and lots of it. Being a weekend it turned out to be the last weekend of the school holidays for Swiss and German kids, and they were making their way home.

Once on the road up to the Stelvio through Prato it was better.

There were a few twats about who seemed to enjoy cutting up other bikes as well as the cars. Sadly the two that cut across me as I was halfway around a tight turn were on 1200 GS's. So they were faster than me, but at the end of the day they were arseholes no matter what they rode.

After a wurst and a beer and a bit of sheltering from a shower, we set off taking in the Umbrail and into Switzerland. I was enjoying the almost deserted 8 miles to Santa Maria until after 2 miles of smooth tarmac it was unpaved packed mud and gravel time for the next 4. Not a worry one-up, but not as much deep joy two-up and loaded.

Luckily we were prepared at the sight of the blackening sky and were already togged up. We'd just got ot the top of the Ofenpass (2149m) when bikes coming the other way all had their wet kit on, so we did the same. 

As we headed for Davos it started to pee down. We then decided to let the train take the strain for 11 euros we rode on the train through the Vereina Tunnel under the mountain to Klosters. 

On the train... Vereina Tunnel
On the Vereina Tunnel train
This is an experience; loaded into a rail car that resembles the truck carrying carriages on the Shuttle. With the bike in gear and sitting on it with Claire standing holding my arm we hurtled through the dark for about 10 or 11 miles! Well worth the money! Better than a theme park ride for sheer fright!

Stein, Switzerland

The last 80 or so miles to the YH at Stein on the Rhine was uneventful. Nice medieval old town. Sitting having a bratwurst for dinner was the first night for over a week we haven't been surrounded by mountains as we ate.

Tomorrow we set off north to the Rhine in Germany. Two nights in St Goar with a day off the bike?

19 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 8 - Stelvio? No!

Between breakfast and of setting foot outside to load the panniers onto the bike it had rained. Sheepskins soaked through so it was waterproofs on (and off all day).

Passo Falzarego
Once on the main 100 road from Lienz to Italy it was hard going with trucks, motorhomes and bloody caravans and the last two along with tourist coaches set the tone for the day.

We did manage some passes I hadn't done before like the Valparola and Costalunga before we cut our day short at 1630, and according to Doris there were still two hours (at least!) to go to the Stelvio and our eventual overnight in Switzerland.

From the Pordoi pass it poured down making the 20 plus hairpins down to Canazei slippery and hard work given the tailgating and pillocks pulling out giving you hardly any chance or many options.

Claire at the Pordoi
After 134.4 miles we called it a day and stopped in Nova Levante at the Engel "Wellness Hotel". 

We had no idea if we would be let in. Dripping with water after torrential (at times) rain I sat at the top of the drive whilst Claire, the acceptable face of biking (!) went in. Yes of course they had room.

Whilst she waited for them to book us in, she had a free beer and sat in the dry.  Meanwhile I was outside being pissed on.

The hotel had free parking for the bike and I wish I had had a camera with me.  I had to ride on the road and then turn into the barn on a first floor level wooden bridge.  The barn had some cars in, but the whole lot creaked and I had to ensure I didn't drive down any of the cracks in the ancient planking.  At least it was out of the rain!

Tomorrow? Stelvio?

18 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 7 - Grossglockner

There was only one goal for today and that was the Grossglockner and the two side attractions, Edelweisspitze and the Glacier.

After a very slow procession across country we got to the Grossglockner. The trip took us around the Hallstatter See and on small roads clagged with trucks and motorhomes. As it was a working day we would have better off retracing our steps from the day before and going via Schladming and Radstatt.

Unfortunately it was also the last weekday of the local school holidays in Austria and Germany and many people decided to cause a massive road block. Ironically to avoid the weekend's massive roadblock! Once again we had to slip on waterproofs as it began to rain a little.

On the way up to the tolls we stopped for a spot of lunch at the side of the road and watched the bikes going up towards the tolls and those that had done it and were coming back. Bikes of every sort, some fast but most taking it steady.

For most of the way from the toll booths we followed behind a couple of custom bikes with the pillion on the one directly in front using a video camera. Claire had my Nikon and took a load of pics from the back of our bike.

First stop was to take the left turn up to the "Bikers Nest" at the Edelweissspitze. This part is very narrow and we got stuck behind a motorhome. We still followed the other bikes and the video queen.

It was bitterly cold up top and and we had a few minutes standing about looking at the orientation boards and reading about the pass and how long it has been open before we mounted up and Claire took the obligatory pic of a fat bloke on a GS by the sign. Luckily she managed to click the shutter just as a crowd of cyclists muscled in, you can see one of the observant chappies on the right of the pic.

From the Edelweiss we headed back down and off over the main part of the Grossglockner to take in Hochtor. 
I wanted to manoeuvre the bike to get a pic of the sign as I had done with the GT in 1999, but they have changed it a bit and put up a sculpture. When we arrived there were a couple of bikes and we needed a coffee, so after taking a pic of Claire by the patches of snow that nestled in the hollows alongside the Hochtor Tunnel we went for a coffee and hot chocolate in the gift shop. When we came out there were a couple of Croatian guys, one on a Triumph Rocket-3. We had a chat and he said that it had cost him €20000 but he thought it was worth it as it was a great bike. I took a pic of him and his buddy with his camera and he returned the favour, the GS now by the sign and the sculpture thingy.

From there it was a short ride to the roundabout that took us up Kaiser Franz Josef's Hohe and the sight of the grey glacier. Once again it is biker friendly up there, with separate parking and lockers to put your gear, so you don't have to traipse about with it. We opted to traipse about as we parked as near to the visitor centre as we could with a selection of GS's through the ages... It was warm in the sunshine and we had an ice-cream overlooking the Glacier.

The people that took the funicular railway down to the bottom of the valley looked like ants. It was then as I peered over the edge that we got to see a real marmot. I'd not really believed that they existed outside myth as we had been warned across the Alps from France in the West to look for them and hadn't seen hide nor hair, and then there they were, not just the furry toys the sell everywhere and that you can hear squeaking in all the gift shops as punters squeeze them, but real ones.

Marmots (and Alpine Choughs)
Marmots and a chough!

Once in Heiligenblut we played hunt the youth hostel as we had done in 1999 with Steve H. Last time we hadn't pre-booked so gave up. Although not sign posted it is about 150 metres from the main square and not where it is supposed to be on Google Maps! Thanks to the lady in the tourist office!

Tomorrow we head for Italy, the Dolomites and the Stelvio.

17 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 6 - Moosham and some passes

Today was supposed to be a run about so I could show Claire Schloß Moosham where the Waßerbüffel Club have their Austrian rally, usually at the end of May.

In the end it was a 175 mile round trip that included the Radstatter Tauern and Twenger passes before Moosham, and the Sölk afterwards.

We had lunch at Moosham, dining on exploding bratwurst. They must have been the most fat filled I have ever seen, almost lethal as the stream of hot fat sprayed about 6 inches. A defence mechanism? Like the infamous Scottish "Haggis" these beasts are known to fight back.

Finding the Sölk proved quite complicated as Doris refused to route that way. She did manage to lead us along a 10 mile gravel road and then lost interest. In the end Mr Michelin's map 730 sorted it out before we rejoined the roundabout route that Doris thought we should be on.

After a late siesta we togged up and rode to the Grundlsee for dinner - more schwein! Early to bed as we have to pack and leave tomorrow for the Grossglockner.

16 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 5 - The Lakes

"Up and at 'em" could have become our motto. Not!

We seemed to be last in to breakfast; a trick we have learned helps us make a few extra rolls to eat for lunch.

First stop the tourist office at Grundlsee to find out about the boat trip. At 1145 we set sail for Grossl and were tucking in to soup with liver dumplings 38 minutes later in the Gasthof Hofmann and back on the boat back at 1250!

The second lake of the day was the Hallstatter See. The run took us over a pass of a mere 690m above sea level, hardly worth mentioning! Hallstat is very touristy but still very nice and pleasant, but hardly anywhere to park a bike.

In the end we left the GS in a supermarket car park after buying a few things to eat with the rolls. We ate by the lakeside and shared our lunch with some swans.

Plans to go down a salt mine were put on hold as it was by now good 1700. Home and a beer beckoned.

What will tomorrow bring? We have another full day. At least the weather was okay today. Only a spit or ten on the way to Hallstat forcing us into waterproofs.

Austria & The Alps Day 4 - Firework Night

On our walk into Aussee earlier, we saw a poster for a grand firework party in nearby Altaussee, so after read of our books in the sun we had a ride out there.

Firstly dinner, ate too much and felt too pogged to walk, but set off anyway 'zum see'.

After a long walk we decided to get the bike for when it was all over. Parking was easy, the coppers waved us by all their posts and we parked up by the lake. Some people were buying tickets but didn't seem to worry we hadn't got one.

We joined a load of others on a pontoon on the lake. The display took ages to start but when it did it had a microlight flying in darkness trailing three trails of fireworks.

After a long lull we went and sat on a picnic table to wait for what appeared to be people to climb to the top of the surrounding mountains. By then we went back to the bike for a quick getaway. As we set off the fireworks crashed into life. Blimey, they were loud and we seemed to be at Ground 0.1! In the sky was another human firework, this time a paraglider trailing flames and sparks. As the show died down we set off back to the hostel with Doris giving excellent advice.

15 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 4 - On to Bad Aussee - 1740

After three days of almost total damp if not actual rain, it was no surprise to wake up at 0730 to the usual sound of car tyres on wet tarmac. I had toyed with saying "bugger it" to another day in the wet and heading off to Italy, perhaps even Venice.

In the end the weather was shit everywhere in Europe, or so it appeared on the net. As we had only 50 miles to go today I planned a more circuitous route via the Wolfgangsee, Mondsee (where Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer married in the Sound of Music!) 

Mondsee Church
Then to Attersee to Bad Ischl (where Doris threw a wobbler and took us through the same tunnel three times) where we saw the same group of bikes inc 2 1200 and 1 1100 GS's; not one of the miserable b*****s bothered to return our greeting wave. So much for the GS Brotherhood.

The weather looked up after Attersee so for the first time since Sunday morning we could ride without waterproofs! Big HURRAH!

We arrived at the hostel in Aussee just before 3pm and luckily were able to book in. Our double room without a view!

After unloading we changed into civvies and walked into town. The guide book (Rough or otherwise) says the hostel is 150m from town. My arse it is! More like a mile BUT 150m above the town at the top of a cliff! We found the mountain goat shortcut on the way back from a map in the tourist board window.

Apart from eating places and most petrol stations everything was shut for the Maria Himmelfahrte public holiday. At least today I could take some pics on the Nikon as I remembered to put the CF card in it!

14 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 3 - 1800

GS and fountain
Was it really only ten hours ago that we awoke to the familiar sound of pissing rain? Of course it was. What's new?

Anyone stupid enough to holiday in western Europe in August gets what they deserve; summer was in July for three weeks only.

So what was supposed to be a no-bike day became a yes-bike day! It meant for around four hours we did the tourist bit in Salzburg in full waterproofs. How glad I am that we chose Hein Gericke jackets over the vented ones we both bought this summer.

One success was finding a locksmith shop and finally getting a 2nd key for the top box. Not cheap at €14.50, but cheaper than a BMW lock set. :-).

We had goulash for lunch at a beer garden that had a big awning and then a miracle, it stopped raining. Yes really.

In years to come people will sing and rejoice about the almost three hours they had on August 14th when it actually stopped raining. Hallelujah! I'm sure if Mozart was still alive he would have been writing another symphony.

Looks like we'll snack in tonight like last night as it saves getting wet again. Tomorrow is a public holiday... More pissing rain? Who would be mad to vote against?

13 August 2006

Austria & The Alps Day 2 - 1650

The weather seemed to have improved, so we left the over trousers off. We got a whole 70 miles before we had to stop under a bridge and put them on. Have stopped a few times for petrol, the latest about 70 kms from Austria.

Our triumphant entrance into Salzburg was in dry weather and after a petrol stop we had a frig about for the YH. Doris has it firmly fixed in her mind what road we have to go down, but it's been blocked recently by a varrier, luckily my incredible sense of balanse, cat-like even, allowed me to ride up the kerb and go through on the pavement! Yeah. Off-Road. Gripped.

Austria & The Alps Day 1 - 2130

The Mercure hotel in Friedrichsdorf is classed 4* and it is very comfortable.

Learned that Erdinger weiss beer only comes in half litres. Ate at a Hungarian restaurant.

Another thing is the Lakeland vacuum bags are very good but a fiddle to pack.

Today's mileage about 350. With "Doris" losing the satellites every few minutes it's hard to tell if we came the right way all the time; the detour through a seedy part of Brussels certainly was "off route"!

NB. All the "Day nn" posts will be sent using the GPRS email service on my 02 phone and so I will edit them when I get home and add any pix. ta.

11 August 2006

Only 6 hours to sailing time...

I always find that the final packing and loading of the bike is the most stressful. What about you? We usually only go for a week at a time (with w/e's it equates to 9 days tops), but this year we'll be away 13 days.

In the end I try to get everything ready in good time, load the panniers and when you have the "His and Hers" OEM BMW kits, the "His" has to be well thought out.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that we had bought a set of vaccum bags from Lakeland. These have increased the amount of decent stuff I can take in the "His" pannier by a long chalk. To be wholly accurate I should have done a before and after photoset.

Claire has used the larger of the three bags in her "Hers" pannier and it swallow loads of stuff and when everything is rolled to expel the air through the valves it fits perfectly across the widest part of the pannier, leaving plenty of room.

We'll see tonight when we get to the first stop whether they have been a total success and Claire's stuff isn't too creased up!

This year I wanted to ensure the topbox is as empty as possible, or rather, not filled so we can hardly close it! So far so good, disc locks and waterproof trousers. The HG jackets won over the vented ones for warmth and waterproofness as it looks like the heat wave and drought is over all across Europe.

Blimey... only 5 hours and 36 minutes to sailing... Now what to do? Watch Kyle on ITV?

10 August 2006

Hi Viz Vest/Jacket Project

Having spoken a bit too soon I found myself challenged by Tony Young, BMF Region 6 Chairman, to assist the BMF ensure that their Touring information in printed form and on the website was up to date.

I searched the FIM website. Found email addresses for all the major European federations and emailed them to ask if they had any knowledge in their country whether riders need carry and wear a Hi-Viz jacket or vest when attending a breakdown on the highway.

Unsurprisingly, they have been very slow in responding. I extended the email scope to include other bodies in countries, for example the FFMC in France. They replied quickly.

Since then there has been an unsteady trickle... to see where we stand so far, logon to the BMF Touring forum and check out the thread and contents. It goes without saying that if you know something for definite, please add to the thread.

9 August 2006

Arrassing About - 9/10th September 2006 (4)

The telephone number for this event - 07092 263119 - now under Nigel's control!

Now only 2 days to go...

Not had chance to get excited like I used to. Bike almost ready to go, may need a quick run over with a wet rag on Friday morning when I fit the panniers.

The weather at home has turned for the worst with more showers and prolonged rain than a few weeks ago. So much so that the vented jackets are definitely now having to play off against the unvented HG jackets.

The run up the Stelvio is still in the plans despite the snow of last week and the rain of much of the last few days.

The problem is as usual how much to take and what variety of clothes etc. With the BMW OEM luggage space is quite limited so we are going to see if the "vacuum bag" solution from Lakeland works. For £14.50 there are three, two smaller ones and a larger one. They are supposed to be "outdoor" and waterproof so we'll see how they go in packing down a load of t-shirts and undies. If you want to see them, try

I was thinking of packing a load of crap t-shirts for the riding days and binning them rather than washing them and bringing them home... Might still do that?

Bike Parking in Hythe?

If you came to Hythe and wanted to park a bike, where would you look?

Waitrose car-park? You could, but more often than not the marked motorcycle bay is full of trolleys and the potential for paint damage, at least, is very high? Or you could try the bicycle parking at the road side of the park. Not bad and surrounded on three sides by scaffold pipe railings.

Aldi car-park? Until recently there was a decent sized bay just to the left of the entrance but the recent re-development has seen it reduced to barely enough to get one "real bike" in. To appease they have given us two smaller bays by the entrance. One is so bad that the upside down U-shaped railing/barrier that would allow a bike to be locked up properly is all battered by the cars that are unable to fit into their spaces (check the bumper shaped dent in the guard rail - pic left). and the other is plainly open to a ram from any half-wit at the wheel.

Where else? Apart from these two car-parks where you may have to resort to parking in a car bay there is the street. Much of Hythe Street is closed to traffic between 11am and 3pm, but there is ample parking available, but of course, as with Aldi, you will have to take your chances with the idiots unable to use the clutch on their cars properly.

Where else? I have no idea!

The situation is even worse in Folkestone. I had a wander about and found a couple of spaces at the far side of the car-park from Lidl. Both were in poor condition, on a slope and one had seen more than its fair share of broken bottles.

I have emailed Shepway District Council to see what they can tell me, and to ask them what the local council is doing to meet the requirements of the Government's Motorcycle Strategy 2005

If you know of any other parking in Shepway, then please let me know!

Arrassing About - 9/10th September 2006 (3)


Parking at the hotel is in a public car-park nearby, and these are generally underground and manned 24 hours. There is a heroically large price to park that is for cars. On the day we can check if it is possible to "manage" entry and exit to maximise each €8 space.

7 August 2006

Arrassing About - 9/10th September 2006 (2)


It seems that the Mercure hotel is full for the weekend, but as of today, the IBIS still has space and is nearby. There are other hotels in the city centre that could be checked.

Only 5 days to go...

Back to work on the train today and for the rest of the week. The bike's in the garage with the best part of a full tank, the tank bag harness fitted and the tank bag in place. The oil at the top of the window, so it just needs a clean to get most of the dead flies off!

I re-fitted the Alaska sheepskin "buttpads" to both seats. Claire reckons hers had helped with bum numbness and I have to admit the jury is out on mine. They have another chance to prove themselves!

I'm feeling a bit restless, Steve and Bobbie came home yesterday and stayed with us en-route home and we had alook at their photos on the digital cameras. They've been to the Dolimites and went over the Grossglockner and the Stelvio ove the week. I have both on the plan for the next fortnight. At least today, the webcam for the Stelvio shows the snow of last week to have gone, but it's still very misty and cold looking.

As usual Steve took me over all the mods he has done to his FJR1300. As well as heated grips, he has fitted heating elements into the seat both front and rear (bought off EBAY and from a NOS source for a Ford Taunus), and fittings for heated clothing to power the Gerbing jackets and socks etc.

That means we have a decision to make, Joe Rocket and RST mesh jackets... or back to the good old (and trusty) Hein Gerickes?

5 August 2006

Touratech Tankbag

Whilst trying to see what was wrong with the Nippy Norman lights, fuse seems okay and the relay looks to have all its terminals still attached, so have no idea, anyway fitted the Touratech Tankbag harness.

How do they rate?

The Touratech Bag? Excellent value for money and well made.

The Nippy Norman Lights? Good mounts, black aluminium that after a year still look good. The lights themselves? Apart from the fact that they hardly ever work, the black surrounds are pitted on top and the paint is flaking. So pretty shite really.

4 August 2006

St Nicks Rally - December 1-3rd 2006

Each year we have a day trip across to Ostend for the St Nicks Rally. I've been across every year since 1985 and have only missed two years. Once when I was in the Czech Republic working and once when the TDM went phut in 1999 on the way home from work in appalling conditions. Until that year we always stayed for the weekend and then the "traditional" hotel closed and we went over to day trips.

This year the rally will take place over the weekend December 1st to 3rd, and so the day trip will be the 2nd.

Our plan is quite simple, a reasonably early Shuttle, usually 0828 or so, then a motorway ride to Veurne where we always stop for a break and some of the group have a breakfast.

Then the coast ride to Ostend. It's been a few years since we went on the ride around with Santa. We tend to arrive in Ostend and park up where he arrives and then disperse into the town to look about, shop, have lunch and buy chocolates. On more than one occasion we have been at lunch when he arrives and then clears off!

It's usually a good day out.

If you fancy a weekend of it, then the organising club can arrange hotels for you, but it you want to join a small group, then Mark Seager (mark.seager@ukonline.co.uk) of the Suzuki Owners Club will be all too pleased (I expect!) to hear from you...

3 August 2006

8 days to go

And the bloody Nippy Norman spotlights have packed up again. So far since fitting them they have spent longer knackered than working. Let's hope it's the fuse and not the relay again. The cheapo one that came with the kit failed before and now there's a better quality one fitted.... fingers crossed.

On top of that the Stelvio, where I have planned to get to (at long last) on our holiday is snowed under, in August!

Rain, rain, rain

As it looked like rain I fitted the waterproof inner lining to the Joe Rocket jacket.

And it works, the outer mesh jacket got wet but I was dry inside. The pockets on the outside were soaking wet. However, the inside left pocket, where I keep my wallet was dry and the huge faceshield pocket was just a little damp. Not bad for 70 miles of rain and spray.

The ride to work wasn't much fun, between the rain and spray on the M20 it was a nightmare.

So many w*nkers driving with no lights or damned sidelights! I caught a wave of spray and it turned out to be a Polish bus, Orbis, overtaking a Dutch registered truck, no lights, impossible to see anything. Good job I wasn't riding like a maniac.

Even so, in the middle lane to over take slow trucks (are there any British trucks left?) the outside lane was full of cars doing at least 80. Mad or what?

2 August 2006

Arrassing About - 9/10th September 2006

Another trip we are organising, the same bunch as the "Edward III and Henry V" trip.

Two day trip (with one overnight) to historic Arras and the surrounding Vimy region will provide opportunities for relaxing with a coffee at a pavement cafe, touring some of the local sites of interest and some socialising on the Saturday evening.

At least one new member will be along for the ride and possibly a couple of other new faces.

We plan to stay at the Mercure Atria Hotel in Arras centre, which has a special deal on at present of £46.00 per night, room only. The hotel also claims ‘public indoor parking’ whatever that means, but at least it is indoors where the bikes should be reasonably safe, not that Arras is a hotbed of bike theft, as far as I know. Booking through http://www.hotelclub.com/ gets a slightly cheaper rate inc. breakfast.

Departure would be on the 08:28 shuttle on Saturday, 9 September with a return to suit individuals but, probably around 19:00 on the Sunday.

Updates will be posted on the Blog with a similar heading.
If you are interested in coming and need more information, check the Blog for updates or call Nigel or myself on 07092 263119.
I'll post a report and pictures when it is all over.

1 August 2006

Kent Charity Pet-Food Run - 22nd October 2006

All riders are invited to come along on the pet food run on Sunday 22nd October.

The destination will be the RSPCA at New Pound Farm House, The Street, Newington CT18 8AU to arrive at around 1245pm.

There will be two runs to meet and go together to the centre:

  1. Meet layby opposite the Oakdene Cafe in time to leave at 1115am for scenic ride to...

  2. Meet at Blue and White Cafe, Smeeth, on A20 just south of M20 J10 to leave at 1200 on scenic ride across the country to the Farm.
Please bring dog food to donate to the centre and/or cash. Tea/Coffee and light refreshments will be provided at destination.

How to recognise the Run Leaders? I expect the Run leaders from the Oakdene will be wearing "BMF" yellow bibs!

I will be leading from the Blue & White Cafe and I will be wearing my BMF bib. It is also expected that on this run that everyone attending will comply with the road traffic act and follow the almost standard "drop off" system whilst actually on the road.

A bit of background. I have been organising a "local" pet food run for a number of years starting in the early 90's when I took over a BMF run to the Blue Cross at Kimpton near Harpenden. Apart from the year I taught in the Czech Republic, this ran throughout the 1990's until 2000. After I moved to Kent and I wanted to give up the 120 mile ride to the starting point of the run. For the last three years I have organised a local run, two years to Pluck's Gutter and this year to this new venue.

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