13 November 2006

A sunny day...

Trussed up like a chicken, or rather a pork(er) joint, I waddled across to the garage to get the GS out for a short run up to London for the Arsenal home game with the Scousers, aka Liverpool FC.

The weather forecast was for cold and blustery. So it was in bright sunshine that I set off complete with thermal undershirt, rugby shirt and thick jumper. I also decided to give my Nitro N700 helmet a day out. When I don’t need the GPS headset, it is quieter than the Caberg J1S, and more restful. I bought it a few years ago and it had an outing and promptly fell of the seat on a trip to Ypres and the paint got damaged on the chin, apart from that it shows no other damage, but there’s always a suspicion, isn’t there?

Time seemed to be slipping away as I was stuck at 25mph on the lanes getting to the A20. A succession of pensioners wrapped up in their coats and hats despite, no doubt, having the heating on at full pelt in their 51-reg Protons or Daihatsus!

I took the A20, as once again I needed petrol. Last week’s miserable day out to the fords had left the tank depleted and the vagaries of the GS fuel gauge were highlighted as I was only able to squeeze 13.8 litres in the tank after the 158 miles since the last refill.

As usual Tesco, was a riot of colour and movement. Why everyone has to use the two set of pumps nearest the road is anyone’s guess and woe betide the driver or in my case, rider, that tries to get across to the back aisle. Bumper to bumper and moaning if someone dares the think outside the box. Once on the M20 for the run up I managed to get into the “groove”.

Everything was perfect, the bike sailed along and with the needle on 80 I cruised sedately up passing almost everything. You always get some one in a 4WD that can go faster but if they can afford to buy the thing they can afford to cough up for petrol. What does get right on my tits is that they pass you and then pull over and you immediately close the gap. A glance down shows that you haven’t speeded up at all, just that they have slowed down. It’s more infuriating when you have to overtake them again! Only for tit-head to pass you again. Why?

The rest of the trip went like clockwork, all the way around to join the M25 and then the A2…. Smooth. Even the Blackwall Tunnel wasn’t its usual joke considering there are roadworks on the approach. Although we had the usual “I’ve never driven in a tunnel before so I try to drive in the middle” pillocks, and the braking and swerving as the other road users avoid them!

After that spectacle even Hackney was quiet and peaceful, managed to get through without being mugged or any cretin walking in front of me. On arrival at my usual off road parking I found it chock a block. I’d set off late, lost time at Tesco and was behind schedule. In the end I wove through the ranks of parked cars to almost my usual place. “Park behind the Priest’s car” the parking guy said, “He’s not going anywhere…”, which was true as his exit to the road was blocked by plenty of cars. I could park on one of the (few) bike spaces on the road but feel that off road in the front of the church allows a bit of “out of sightness” that might mean I can get back and find it there and the box not jemmied open as has happened on the mean streets of Islington before. Plus, you never know who will be looking down on it from above…

The walk down from St Joan of Arc was pleasant. The Emirates Stadium looms up ahead of you as you make your way down hill. Hard to believe that until recently there was the council tip and vehicle depot there, called Albany Place not Ashburton Grove, and light industrial units.

The game was a little dull at first and then erupted once the Arse had scored the first goal and then we never looked back as the Scousers were eventually well-beaten 3-0. The day made even better that Tottenham Hotspur had gone down 3-1 at Reading.

The ride back was quite uneventful. It was by now 6.30pm when I set off through the traffic and a few short cuts I have picked up whilst working locally for Islington Education. Inching out of the church car-park and then off towards Hackney, double here, double there to get onto Ballspond Road and off. Once on the little motorway towards the Blackwall, the speed limit has been reduced to 40 now. A bit of a joke as everyone ploughs along and brakes for the cameras. Roadworks in the south tunnel forced me on the magical mystery tour that is the A13. Everyone seemed well behaved until a twat in a Porsche decided to undertake everyone and force across in front of the bike in front and me, forcing us to brake. A few choice words and the courier offering some level of violence and we were off past the Ford factories and into Essex, the Porsche lost forever.

It was by now getting a little cold so I was forced to flick the switch to turn the heated grips on, setting 2 and then backing off to 1 as my hands began to toast. There was also the sneaking suspicion that I was getting a little bit of a draught in around my back where the jeans and top meet. Something I didn’t get last week when wearing the Chilli jacket instead of the jumper. Mmm. Re-think?

I arrived home just after 8pm, not bad for 76 miles and some of it through London Sunday evening and post-match traffic. As I put the bike in the garage and locked her up I felt I had had a great day out. The winners always feel they’ve had a great time!

Now when’s the next day on the bike?

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Digital cameras.  I seem to have quite a few!!!