30 April 2007

Victim of Road Rage!

Yes me!

On the way in to work today, just in the end of the line of traffic queuing up for the Blackwall Tunnel, at the back of a line of bikes, maybe as many as four in front of me I hear a revving engine. Blip, blip...

I look in the mirror and some race-rep bike is right up my arse. Had I lifted my cheeks of the seat he could have given me a colonoscopy with his right mirror. "Out the f*cking way" he shouted. I didn't move as I really had nowhere to go.

As I got to a gap on my left, we were splitting lanes 2 and 3, he tried to squeeze past... He looked at me through his black visor "It's c**** like you in jeans that cost me more insurance". I was taken aback! So much so I let him past...

Jeans? Moi? For his information they are Hood Jeans, lined with Kevlar and probably as strong as his cheap no label Levi-cut leather jeans!

C2 is back!

Had a call from Infinity, my Schuberth is back at the shop so I'll have to go down that way home and pick it up. Should be fun negotiating the rush hour traffic around Holborn and the end of Oxford Street!

When I get it home I need to practice a little surgery on it to make sure I can get the earpiece for the GPS in it comfortably. On the BMW Club forum there have been a few suggestions on how to make the ear recess a little bigger, but I really don't want to start pulling the lining out and messing about like that.

Maybe resort to the "gentle" persuasion as I did with the Cabergs and use the end of a hammer handle to gently tease the foam back a little to relieve pressure on the ears, and that I have to do on Claire's new J1S.

New Specs

I've had the new specs for about a week now and still haven't really got truly comfortable with them.

I still can' get used to wearing them and looking where I like. In the shop they said you have to use your head a bit more - "looking where your nose is pointing". This means a major re-education of the way you look at things. If you look too low you then start to look through reading glass bit when you want to look at distance objects.

I always seem to try them in the evening when my eyes are a bit tired and then my eyes feel a bit strained. I need to try them in the day so will have to give them a go on the bike! Maybe fit the GPS and see if I can read it!

29 April 2007


What a race! Race 2.

I didn't realise they had moved the Assen round of WSB to April from September. hey can't have expected the weather to have been as good as it was, bright and sunny. Usually it pisses down with rain in September and April isn't usually any better!

Race 2 was live on Eurosport and what a final few laps it was. Once Toseland made his bid to take back the lead, Bayliss seemed to have him sussed and came back at him immediately, then on the last lap, JT shot passed and seemed to have it done and dusted and opened up the four or five length lead only to overcook the next one and go wide, letting Bayliss somehow get the hammer down to min by 9/1000ths on a second or 0.009!! Absolutely amazing.

28 April 2007


It's true an earthquake in Kent! About 0818, there I was sitting on the lav with a Robert Rankin in one hand, the radio playing Sounds of the Sixties on Radio 2, when the whole house shimmied from side to side a few times, maybe three or four times each way...

A fart too far?

22 April 2007

New specs

If this week hadn't already seen spending on Abramovich levels I picked up my new varifocal specs. No problems with the normal vision bit, but the reading bit quite difficult. It is hard to keep the bit you want to read in the 'zone'!

They are quite cool and made by Police. As well as varifocal I've gone for "reactions" auto-tinting and anti-scratch for bike work.

21 April 2007

Zega - Panniers are on too!

I wheeled the GS out into the morning sun.

Then pulled the first of the Zega panniers from the box. The air full of expectation...

Removing the lid then loosening the knurled wheels that act as the locking mechanism, then easing the pannier into place. bloody tight fit. The left one is so tight it touches the end of the foot rest bracket where the System panniers fit. It was also hard to get the front fitting off, in the end had to use a rubber mallet to get it to move to get the pannier off....

The right ones goes on much more easily to the rail, but ensuring the lumps of metal that hold it to the rails is a bit tricky as there is little clearance for fingers, or to even see where they are, and whether they have fitted into the slots in the pucks properly.

Boy are they wide.

Zega - Rails On....

Today at the 36000 mile service, Neil aka Steptoe, fitted the Touratech Zega pannier rails. By the time i got home from London via his place in Kingston (to pick up my bike) it was getting late and so I didn't get a chance to fit the panniers to the rails.. a job for tomorrow.

I just had time to get a pic of them with my phone.

14 April 2007

New jacket - Buffalo Rocket

The search for someone that was willing and able to fix the zip on my HG Jacket was proving fruitless and so I decided to buy a new one. With the expense of the Zegas and the up and coming service weighing heavily on my wallet, I had to look to the cheaper end of the market!

I saw on the Robinson's website that they had a couple of Triumph branded jackets with Sympatex linings at half price. By the time we got over there this afternoon they were history.

But I did see some Buffalo jackets that looked good. Waterproof and one at £49.95 and another at £99.95. The latter looked more well equipped with pockets and all kids of bondage gear to keep it snug fitting, and it fitted pretty well. Although I'll take out the zipped in liner as I prefer a jumper or my Chilli electric vest.

It looks good and hopefully tomorrow I can have a go out on the bike to see how good it is. It comes with CE approved armour in the elbows and shoulders but no back armour. The pocket in the back is the right size for a Knox back plate and I bought one of those as well for £14.99. It does feel like I have a tortoise shell on my back. I'll get used to it I suppose.

36000 Mile Service

I didn't have any hesitation in contacting Neil "Steptoe" Harrison of the GSShop to do my service this time. He's a GS expert and an intrepid leader of men (and no doubt mice) to Morocco and places like that.

I'm also going to get him to fit the Zega pannier rails and move the rear indicators. It's not that I am incapable, just that he'll do it properly!

So, it's booked in for 20th April.

Update 23/4/07

The service was much cheaper than I have been quoted at a few UK dealers and the bike feels smoother than for a long while. Hopefully with a new air filter it might run a bit more economically! See other posts for Zega details!

13 April 2007

Touratech Zegas have arrived.

Don't they look lovely.... all shiny..... mmmmmmmmmm.

The TT Zegas arrived at Claire's work today after the overnight journey from her company's partner in Germany. Can't wait to get home and get them out.

Have already got a back up plan for Steptoe to fit the pannier rails to the bike when it goes for its 36000 mile service next week. Just in case!

Here they are. Shiny and new and on the floor in the lounge! They came extremely well packed in boxes, bubble wrap and big airbag packing plus loads of cardboard pieces to pack it all in tight.
Many thanks to Rudy at BTG International for handling them and putting them on a truck to Hythe to Laser International where my wife, Claire, works.

To Infinity and Beyond

After getting no reply from Schuberth in Germany, I posted a note on the BMW Club Forum and at the same time I emailed Infinity (where I bought it) and was more successful.

Replies on the Forum pointed to Infinity.

Charlotte at Infinity replied to say that I should get the helmet back to them and they would sort it out and get it fixed. So this morning I rode up and dropped it into their shop in Holborn.

10 April 2007

Annoying Things!

1) With five minutes to go before the "off" for the Wipers Trip, the zip on my Hein Gericke jacket wouldn't stay done up. Tried a few times and it popped open again with the slider at the top!

Aaaaargh. Luckily, I have an old Frank Thomas jacket int hegarage, rather musty, but wearable. Amazed that it was so big and baggy, even though I've never been that much of a porker! Still it did the job.

Today's job has been to try and find someone that can replace the zip on the HG. It's still in good nick and a shame to ditch it and buy another one. I posted a cry for help on the BMW Club forum and have a suggestion of Dobbs Leathers in Northampton. As it is after shop closing hours I've emailed them.....

2) The Schuberth was painful all day. The helmet itself is a tight fit and I expect the padding to give with wear. it feels more solid than the Caberg and so it should for 2.5 times the price!

The other problem was that the earpiece for the the GPS wouldn't stay in place and kept moving and so needs sorting. It looks as though I am going to have to enlarge the ear recess a bit to make sure it fits further back to give my ear some respite.

3) And then, on the way back, the helmet almost fell off the seat, I caught it and didn't notice that in the bump on the side of the seat it had knocked the little handle off the top vent! Luckily it was closed anyway, but now I need to see if I can get a spare. Not bad for the second time I have worn it!

See pic! I've emailed Schuberth in Germany to ask for assistance and posted on the BMW Club site for help!

9 April 2007

Wipers Day - Report

After a week of almost perfect biking weather it was a surprise to wake up and find that we had fog. To make sure we arrived at the Shuttle on time (if not early!) we got up early and were ready for the off. The day before I had filled to bike to make sure we had loads of petrol as the estimated mileage for today was about 160 miles.

By the time we had climbed out of Hythe on Blackhorse Hill we had also climbed out of the fog and the sky was blue and it was sunny. We met the rest of the group there over a coffee and then motored around for the 0920 train.

The train group totalled 15 and one, Ian, was on Sea France and planning to meet us at Ardres. The crossing was smooth (!) as expected and we ventured out with me at the head. We had a few GPS's with us and all should have been following the route I had sent out earlier in the week. The Tom-Tom's using a slightly different system but intrinsically should have been the same as my Garmin.

Once united with Ian we cut across country south of Ardres via Watten and arrived at Cassel for lunch. On the way we encountered a British registered caravan on a country back lane, and true to its traditions it held us up for miles and then at Cassel we came across a charity long distance walk or maybe a marathon, who knows, we hardly saw a competitor taking part, but loads looking like they may have finished.

After lunch the ride was across to Mont des Cats and the Abbey, sadly closed as the Monks had some other distractions on Easter Sunday. We had a walk to a small chapel and were in time as the monk was about to open it. Very nice windows. We passed through Mont Noir and then despite the GPS's we managed to lose Ian and James. We stopped at the next way point in Kemmel for a coffee to wait for them. When they didn't arrive I gave Ian a ring on his new Bluetooth headset and the phone was remarkably clear considering it was being relayed through his Tom-Tom from phone to ear! I said we'd see them at the Hooge Crater Museum and went back to join the others for coffee.

From Kemmel the planned route was south-east to the British Monument at "Plug Street", then up to the new Irish Peace Park and then to Hooge. As Simon and Denise were staying overnight we cut the loop and went straight into Ypres and they went to the hotel. At a set of lights I motioned for the others to stay with us and go to Hooge, but they all followed Nigel. I set the Garmin for Hooge Crater and set off to meet Ian and James.

After a chat and another coffee we paid the €2 entry fee and went in the museum and were joined by the others a bit later.
It was gone 6.30pm when we parked up in the market square by the Cloth Hall and spit into groups to get something to eat. We agreed to meet back together for the Menin Gate "Last Post", which we did.

The town was full of groups of Canadians, and they had a special presentation and wreath laying under the bridge during the "Last Post" ceremony. Then they sang "Oh Canada" without music. Quite moving. From there it was back to the bikes and off via Poperinge and Steenvoorde to the A25 and back to the Shuttle with about 40 minutes to spare.

Another very good day and I hope everyone enjoyed themselves.

Click here for the POI66 page!

5 April 2007

Signed up to POI66

Okay, so I copied Whatton from the UKGSers group and signed up to this site as a bit of fun.

It means that when you are away, people can see where you are. To update your position you simply (!) need a mobile phone and a GPS location!

The one that attracted my attention and made me think about using it to log my trips was the UKGSers SUYB Trip to Morocco this month. In fact as I type they are about half way through their trip.

My first "go" will be at the weekend for the SOC Kent trip across to Belgium for the Wipers Times trip to the Ypres Salient.

Should be a bit of fun!

4 April 2007

First ride to work day of the year - Day 2

Much the same as yesterday. Still chilly as I set off but today I made a change to my gear.

I dropped the t-shirt and shirt in favour of a polo shirt with the St George cashmere jumper over the top. If you think that leaves me a bit less clothed, I added my Chilli heated vest over the top. I didn’t bother getting the wire out and wore it as it is. Much better.

Once again the traffic was reasonable on the M20. Instead of Polish coaches today’s large vehicle of choice was the Czech truck. Sad to see them copying the Germans and using “spedition” instead of “doprava” in their names! Call me a traditionalist if you like!

The M25 was almost deserted as I joined and even the clag up by the A2 was light and apart from an Audi A6 that thought skimming the outside of me was a good idea as we took the swoop lane down to the A2. Audi? The new Jaguar? Cars driven by t*ats that think they own the road?

Through all the cameras on the A2 we had the usual ebb and flow in the traffic, speeding up and then braking hard rather than a constant speed and slight roll off that means I get there at the same time as they do.

Today I decided to come up through the City. Along East India Dock Road the bus lane is open to motorcycles and you can see the red tarmac empty as far as the eye can see. You still have to be careful, as cars coming from the left seem to think they can stick their noses out halfway across the lane. Until you reach the Commercial Road end when the bike access finishes progress is good, after that it clags up.

As for congestion charging. What a great idea. Has it actually cut the traffic going into the City and centre of London?

Anyway, it’s great to be on the bike.

3 April 2007

First ride to work day of the year - homeward bound

Blimey, if I had thought it was cold on the way in, then it was pretty nippy on the way home. I left work at just coming up to 5pm, about the same time as when I am on the train.

The first bit wasn't too bad, across Islington and down the Ballspond Road to Hackney, not too much traffic. it was getting chilly by the time I got on the A102M towards the Blackwall Tunnel and I flicked the heated grips on to full power to get some heat through them and into my fingers in the summer gloves.

My upper body of t-shirt, shirt and cashmere sweater (ooh get you!) wasn't having the desired effect at legal speeds. My Hood jeans are pretty good usually, but tonight the wind chill over my thighs was cooling me down. I was in the groove, as they say, as we came out of the Tunnel onto the south bank by North Greenwich and the Dome, so much so that I decided not to stop at Sainsbury's for petrol, but to carry on home.

By M25 I was beginning to feel very chilly and so decided to up the pace a bit, more wind chill but for less time. I do like the sweeping bend as you exit the M25 onto the M20 southbound, so easy to get it all leaned over.

At Ashford they have closed the left lane on the approach to J10. What a cock-up. The roundabout over the M20 has been called the "Magic Roundabout" for ages and now they have decided to "improve" it and removing the traffic lights has made it it chaos. Allied to the lane out, it means the M20 is down to one usable lane and the former centre lane is queued back half a mile to the exit. I wonder who thought of that? Someone with an index linked pension no doubt?

I came off there and filled up a Tesco. Now they have sorted their dodgy fuel I feel I can use them again. I always use the "pay at pump" system as I can't be arsed removing my helmet and despite it being (today) a Caberg flip front, they still ask in some places to take it off completely. Luckily, this Tesco has the pay at pump in operation more often than not. I had a leisurely last leg of the journey along the A20 and up past Lympne Animal Park to West Hythe and home. I was in at just after 18.25. Not bad going to include a stop.

When I got in I worked out that fuel consumption was 46.83mpg. A little lower than I am used to, but then I suppose the GS is due a service. In fact, over due a service that should have been done at 36000 miles.

And it was bloody cold. Hopefully, it will be better tomorrow and I may revise what I wear... heated jacket maybe?

Garmin v9?

When I bought my Garmin Quest a couple of years ago it was just before the Quest 2 came out and the prices was very advantageous. Since then they are even cheaper but you can’t be bitter!

For what I need the Quest is pretty good. It has just enough memory to plan some pretty long trips. I’ve had the maps in form UK to Austria and back and have space to spare. It is a limitation that Garmin could have looked at and perhaps offered a return-to-base upgrade with a larger chip?

Mine came with the European mapping v6 and I got the free upgrade to v7. It was all quite painless. When v8 came out I didn’t bother, as it didn’t seem to offer any benefits for the $75 upgrade fee. But v9 was announced earlier this year with extended mapping of Spain and Eastern Europe.

As I am off to Spain in October I decided to splash out the $75 (plus tax!) to get the enhanced mapping. This is when the palaver starts.

It seems Garmin have made improvements and you need to have a “My Garmin” place on the website. It was easy to register but registering my Quest wouldn’t work as I am already registered on the system through the “old” way. A simple conversion routine once it recognised my name and postcode, plus unit serial number would have been a good idea

In the end I managed, after several emails, to register and order the DVD. Then on Sunday, my buddy Nigel Jones gave me his copy and I started the install in Sunday afternoon. Through “My Garmin” it wouldn’t accept the amount to be paid, issuing error messages to be sent to Garmin Tech Support, which I did. No answer yet.

Then I had a go unlocking the maps through Mapsource itself and it worked a treat. Charging me $75 plus VAT and unlocking the maps.

Version 9 does have a vastly better job of Spain the v7. Swapping between maps shows that there are far more towns marked in v9. Plus some places or interest (attractions) I had entered as waypoints with co-ords from Google Earth are now in the system itself.

The only bugbear I found was that although my existing routes show there to be maps, none shows up as pink on the main map. I have a base map I use that has all the southern half of UK plus departments 59 & 62 in France and most of Belgium already saved as “UK.gdb”. I use this as a basis of a trip and then “save as” to the event name. May be long winded but it means my maps are consistent. To get the maps to show I added a few and it duplicated them. In the end I deleted all the maps and re-added them. Now they show us a pink and I expect are the v9 maps.

Reports on UKGSer forum look as though v9 is not as good as previous versions for Eastern Europe. It doesn’t affect me in 2007 as I am unlikely to go there, but in 2008 we are off to Hungary. There seems to be less routing on v9 than on the unit’s basemaps. I assume this covers all Garmin GPS units?

First ride to work day of the year

My train season ticket ran out yesterday and with the Easter Bank Holiday coming up I decided not to buy a new one but to ride the bike in. It needs a run out as since I became a fair weather biker, it has spent far too long gathering dust in the garage.
Yesterday was bright and sunny, with a high of 18°C and ideal biking weather for the start of April. Today, as I left home the sun was just coming up over the sea but there was a chill in the air. By the time I got to the M20 it was looking rather grey over Ashford. I settled into a steady 70mph (cough!) and sped past the lines of Polish coaches and trucks bringing more migrants to the UK and all the food they’ll need to eat when they are here! A couple of kids waved from one and I waved back, trying no to be too uncool.
By London the traffic was piled way back from the Blackwall Tunnel and as we split lanes two and three in a long line we caught up with a pr*ck in a red van that hogged the left of the third lane to block us. You could see him checking his mirror to make sure he maintained a gap just too small for us to get through. When this happens there is always some impatient bloke, usually on some GSXRBusaR1 thing that roars between lanes one and two panicking the cars in two into pulling to their right nearly wedging you.
Today was no exception, but it was a nouveau on a 56 regd. 1200GS. Nice backpack mate. In the end a car moving lanes baulked him and we got away. Shame. I was in a good mood anyway. It’s nice to be on the bike and I will be all this week and again on Saturday to ride up to see the blank firing Arsenal versus desperate West Ham. On Sunday it is the Wipers Day trip to Ieper/Ypres with the usual suspects from the Kent Centre SOC. I widened the invitation but no one has taken it up. Once in the office I was cold, colder than when actually on the bike. May have to revise the riding gear tomorrow. And of course, there is tonight’s ride home to do yet!

2 April 2007

The tale of the C2 and the headset

When I came to fit the headset into my new C2 I was a little worried that I was going to have to unpick the lining and perhaps even cut parts of the helmet away to get it all to fit.

In the end it was all very stress free. The headset I have is a single speaker in and a rather long cable that leads to a plug that usually hangs about 8 inches from the helmet.

In the Caberg J1S the ear recesses were deep enough and the padding was removable with pop studs fasteners to slip the speaker in behind. The speaker comes complete with a backing disk that fixes to the front part with Velcro. Luckily, the speaker is stitched to that bit. The outer part that is in contact with your ear is brushed nylon.

In the C2 the ear recesses are quite shallow in comparison but if you delve about the can find a further recess, hidden by the lining that is about 1.25ins in diameter. Exactly the right size for the speaker.

Fitting was simply a matter of separating the two halves of the speaker’s outer cover and pressing it into the recess and then using the Velcro already in place to secure it. The C2’s lining isn’t all that plush so the Velcro may need some assistance in staying in place, a stitch or two perhaps.

As the wiring is quite long and I prefer the speaker by my left ear, I had to feed the wiring through the right side of the helmet and around under the neck-roll, pushing it as far as I could to keep it trapped. Once again, the thicker cable to goes to the plug may need a stitch or two just to tack it in place.

I tested it by connecting it all up and then standing by the bike as the Garmin fired up. The sound is much better than it was in the Caberg. I’ll test it on the road later this week.

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