30 June 2008

The National Rally 2008 - 3

The paperwork arrived for the National Rally last week and as usual I have left the route planning to Andy Pratt. He has far more patience than I do. I'll have to make sure the batteries in the camera are okay, as I'll become the photographer again! Last time I took 2 pics!

The other member of the team is Peter Bolsover. I guess we'll all be riding BMW's this year!

Andy has planned the route for the Special Gold Award and that means 22 checkpoints including start at Kegworth and the end at Bletchley. His route for the Garmin didn't work on my Quest and so with his waypoints I have started a new route that does seem to work.

I guess we'll see how Peter's Quest and mine decide to do the journey! Whenever I've shared routes before, we have had slight differences between Garmin units!

And so to the weekend.

Ride to Work Day

As my season ticket on South-East Trains ran out on Friday and with the National Rally with Pete and Andy coming up on Friday I decided to get a few more miles under my belt and ride in all week.

Today I set off on time, and then lost 25 minutes standing and chatting at the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel after a truck broke down in it. Finally arriving over an hour late to work!

Tomorrow, I have a conference in central London so need to set off early to ensure I am there for signing in. Also to find a parking place near to Russell Square. I'll have to check parking in London website (http://www.motorcycleparking.com/frames_index.htm) to see where the parking places are. There seem to be quite a few and no doubt I'll have to try them all to get a place for a big boys bike!

25 June 2008

The Road to Keele

The road is long......

Home to Keele was estimated at 235 miles by Garmin and after a detour to get some cash in Newcastle under Lyme it worked out to be pretty accurate.

Unlike last year the weather was good on the way. Also unlike last year, petrol was almost an arm and a leg per gallon. I decided to keep the speed down to an indicated 75mph which equated to 70mph on the Garmin's speedo. As a result fuel consumption was around 54mpg for the trip. Not bad for a big boxer twin fully loaded with fat rider and stuff for three days, decent stuff for dinner in the evening and working stuff for the days at the Conference.

On the way up time was lost due to a broken down truck on the M25 by Potters Bar; the tail back to before Enfield's A10 junction. Entering the traffic to split the lanes the arrival time at Keele was 1512, as I exited past the truck and into the empty three lanes it had gone up to 1547! How long the cars at the back took to get past the obstruction God alone knows.

After a brief respite it was into the road works on the M1 where they are widening it from the M25 to Luton. Narrow lanes and everyone keeping to 50mph. Once again it was a treat to get up to legal speeds again.

I had a lunch stop at Toddington for 20 minutes sitting in the sun and then set off again. The full tank I had filled at the M20 Services at J11 was about half gone and I cruised as far a Corley before filling up. The mileage for this tank was around 185 miles and there were two bars left on the gauge. I made a note of the mileage so I could work out the mpg later.

We lost a bit of time between the M1 and Corley as there was a big accident on the other side. All I could see as we crawled past was a pretty destructed Mini with it's roof ripped off and a load of ambulances and cop cars. The M6 was tailed back past the junction before and then empty as they had closed it way back towards Coventry.

I had another stop at Stafford to have a pee and a drink of water. It was still warm. I finally arrived in the University at about 1715. All in all it had taken about 6 hours from Hythe.

After the conference I was away just after 2pm, I had reset the Garmin to record the journey. As on the way up I decided to avoid the possible solid traffic through Brum on the elevated M6 and took to the M6 Toll. A bit steep at £2.50 for a bike, but hardly a car or truck to be seen. The Garmin spends the first half of the journey along it telling you to turn round and go back to the M6 itself, but after that it tells you to carry on! It's not as though it doesn't have the Toll road on the maps! It is clearly marked! For the money I hope I saved myself some time! In my experience the M6 past Brum from Fort Dunlop to the RAC at Walsall has always been a shit for years and years.

I planned to stop at Rothersthorpe services on the way back but in the end there were still three bars on the gauge and I carried on to Newport Pagnell. My arse was killing me by then and with another 180 plus miles on the odometer I filled up as well as ate my Capita SIMS Conference packed lunch.

To be brutally honest, apart from a cooked breakfast, the packed lunch was the best meal of the entire conference!!

I arrived home a little after 1830 with 237 on the Garmin and only 27 minutes of stop time in just over 4 hours 15 mins on the road.

23 June 2008

Santana @ the O2

Last night had a ride up on the bike to see Santana at the O2. Never having been before and having read the scare stories about the overpriced parking and jams in and out we decided to go by bike!

I had already seen where to park when we have been there in the car when going to football. Rather than drive to Highbury and try to park, we park at North Greenwich and get the tube to Arsenal.

It was Claire's first trip on the bike since her foot problem and she managed to squeeze her foot in her boots!

Parking was easy and we then walked across through the station and into the O2. I've seen the Dome for years but was amazed at the building inside the "tent"! The main O2 is easily as big as Wembley Arena!

The concert was excellent; playing mostly Supernatural plus a load of other stuff I have never heard before. A couple of guests including Beverley Knight and her backing singers.

This was the third time I have seen Santana. Once at the Hammersmith Odeon with Buddy Miles and once at the roman amphitheatre in Frejus in France.

The ride home was pretty uneventful.

22 June 2008

Lucky Winners!

When at Laguna's open day when I bought my new jacket, we entered a free competition raffle. By some strange stroke of luck both Claire and I won.

I chose an Alpine Stars t-shirt from the choices when the girl from the shop rang up. Later when Claire got a call to say she had won too, she was offered an Oxford Products tank bag.

We picked them up at the weekend. The t-shirt too small for me so Claire has it, and as she doesn't have a tank to magnet the bag to, I'll have that!

I'll give it a go over the National Rally in a few weeks and see how it goes for camera etc.

18 June 2008

New Jacket - Frank Thomas

After a small and unplanned body surf up the road on the Europ Touring BMW K1200S in April. I finally got around to replacing the Suzuki jacket that I bought last year only a week or so ago.

I am very disappointed with the quality of the Suzuki's jacket. A small spill at walking pace on a patch of diesel and the shoulder was all burst although not a lot of damage to the rest of the jacket where it had abraded on the road. The shoulder armour may have saved any bone damages but the bruising was across my body fron shoulder blade to elbow.

In the end I tried a whole load at Hein Gericke and the ones in my price range were not very nice or not available in XXL! On the way home from HG, we called in at Laguna's new shop in Ashford. There I fell in love with a Halvarsson jacket. Very nice material, soft and waterproof but the XL was simply a little too small and they didn't have an XXL in stock. They did say I could pay for it and they would order it and if it didn't fit, refund me.....

With a trip to Keele planned for the beginning of the following week I needed something and had a look at Frank Thomas. I've not had an FT jacket for quite a few years. This one is part of the anti-freeze range and with the lining in was a snug fit. I don't usually wear the jackets with lining and with it out, the mesh inside is perfect with a shirt and my EDZ windproof underneath. There is plenty of room for my Peter Storm fleece if it gets cold.

To help in the summer there are two waterproofed zips front and back to allow air to flow through the jacket. On the run up to Santana at the O2 the day after buying it with the front open it did make the shoulders billow a bit.

The base cost was £99.99 and as they had an open day with 20% of everything the price came down. Of course, you never really know how good it will be in an accident! I have fitted the Knox back protector that started its working life last year in a succession of Buffalo jackets and then moved to the Suzuki jacket...

11 June 2008

I've won an Ipod!

Seems June has been quite lucky. After a presentation over the web for a product called Centra-Stage with the lure of an Ipod, I won it.

I've opted for a Classic in white and maybe 80gig.

I wonder how long it will take to arrive!

2 June 2008

Online Bike Road Tax?

I was intending to have a ride out on Sunday - June 1st.

The bike was SORN'd in May. As the tax ran out at the end of April and I wasn't going to have any opportunity to ride it, so rather than pay for a month road tax, I put it on SORN. I did this over the Internet and printed the receipt.

To use the bike on Sunday June 1st I needed to tax the bike to make it legal, How? The post office seemed keen on selling me a disc that would start on May 1st, even though it was the 31st already.

I checked online, entered the number off the log book plus the reg number and again I was offered tax from the 1st May. I gave up and sent them an email to say it was ridiculous in this instance that you can't renew online for the Sunday as the starting date. Not had a reply yet.

On Sunday morning I logged on again and lo and behold the date had changed to June 1st. SO I renewed. Okay it costs a few quid for them to run the service and whilst it might seem a rip off considering you are paying the Government, it was worth.

Sadly it was drizzling and miserable and I didn't go out anyway!

A question? What is the legality of riding with an out of date tax disc BUT having the receipt to say you had paid in your pocket? Luckily I won't have to test it to find out, as the disc should arrive in the post before I will use the bike at the weekend!

From the Hungarian ashes... A gîte is born (2)

Planning Part 2!

Looking at places to go within easy reach of the gîte.

Oradour sur Glane. Since I read about it many years ago I have wanted to go. It's only about 20 miles from where we will be staying.

Chateau de Val. Medieval chateau with pepper-pot towers that used to command a valley above the Dordogne near to Bort les Orgues. Now more scenic as they flooded the valley with a dam and it now sits on a small promontory above the water line. Given its name we used to joke it was the only family castle....

Well, that's two places for me.

Claire would like to go to Limoges which even nearer and I am certain that pottery will come into it somewhere!


Oradour sur Glane - http://www.oradour.info/
Chateau de Val - http://www.chateau-de-val.com/english.htm

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