Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Somewhere near Brits.

If you want to know where this place is click here and navigate to coordinates S25 37 06.87 E027 56 48.23

Monday, 23 November 2009

Suzuki DRZ400 in Randburg

I believe that this is a great bike. Good luck with it Ross. See you in Jo'burg next year hopefully!

We went to Essex

Son Eddie (pictured) & I did a mini-tour of Essex recently - to have a look. We discovered that Essex is beautiful. We will definitely be going back again sometime.

We are riding a BMW1150GSADV and a HONDA CBF500.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Ride Out to Lincolnshire

We had a good day out to Lincolnshire. Most of us are more or less retired - except for the 'youngster' in the middle. This picture was taken at Ludford Cafe. (Click to enlarge).

L to R:
John M, Peter M, Graeme W, Rob H, John K & Mike F.

You can click here for Aerofile.

Friday, 28 August 2009

On the Ferry Home

Unfortunately we had to head for home. Here we are on the 'car' deck.

Tea Break at Veune

On the way back to the ferry port at Zeebrugge we stopped for a cuppa and an icecream at Veune in Belgium.

En Route to Chateau Renault from Saumur

Some of the 'boys' are just too good to be true!

This town is called Chateau-la-Valliere (with a thingy on the 1st 'e').

Enjoying the sunshine in Saumur

Saumur has some great pavement cafes.

The River Loire at Saumur

Saumur is a pretty, sunny town situated on the Loire River.

Dinner in Saumur

The Hotel Alcyon in Saumur was just the job. It was very geriatric biker friendly. We booked half-board and the hotel used a very novel way of providing the evening meal. We were dispatched to a different restaurant each evening for an excellent three course dinner. You can tell that we are not happy!

At a sunny Aire de France

Riding in France is very good. The roads are excellent, the traffic is relatively light, the weather is generally fine and the food is wonderful.

Just south of Rouen we found a great little bar/restaurant.

After Le Mans we stopped at a beautiful Aire for a quick break from the saddle.

Just arrived at Zeebrugge

Here we are just off the ship at the port of Zeebrugge.

The route from here is via Abbeville, Rouen and Le Mans to Saumur.

What could be better than setting off for a motorcycle adventure?

The Biker OAPs (and a few honorary youngsters) go to France

Recently we went to France (again!). As we are mostly from the Midlands and the heathen North, we decided to sail from Hull to Zeebrugge. Not riding to Dover saves a lot of hassle and frustration. Instead of the M1 south, M25 and M2 we opted for going against the flow for an easy ride on the A38, M1 north, M18 and M62. The ship, the accommodation, the food and the service on this P & O route are all excellent. Here we are at Hull Docks.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Putting up the tents....

Having put up the tents Mike rewarded both of us with a beer.

Later we walked into the town (Peebles) and had a very nice dinner at an hotel.

It rained most of the night, but we were dry.

Next day we set off for Oban....

We went camping in Scotland in APRIL!

Actually it was good fun! Great roads. Few cars. Lovely scenery. We travelled light.

Camping in Scotland!

O.K. - Let's GO!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

I Learnt About Motorcycling From THAT!

I was walking the dog in some fields nearby the house. I heard a very loud ‘bang’ which sounded like a collision some distance away.

It took me a good ten minutes to reach the source of the noise which was at the staggered junction of the B5023 and a minor road.

A motorcyclist, approaching the junction from the northwest, travelling at approximately the 40 mph speed limit (according to witnesses) was in the process of overtaking a Peugeot 106 car, travelling southwest, which had just pulled onto the B5023 in front of the motorcyclist.

Unfortunately the Peugeot driver then turned immediately right at the staggered junction in order to continue on the minor (southwest) road. The motorcyclist crashed into the driver’s door. Whether the car driver had indicated or not is not known! (Have you noticed how many drivers/riders just do not indicate these days?)

The biker was thrown over the car and landed on the kerb. Apparently a number of people arrived on the scene almost immediately. It appeared that the rider had a broken leg. The ambulance arrived promptly plus a doctor and at least three police cars. The biker received paramedic attention and was taken to hospital in the ambulance.

The assumption that the fellow would be fine when his broken leg was mended proved to be too optimistic. He died at the hospital. He was 41 years old.

I was just walking the dog that day, but I have had the lesson reinforced; “Do not overtake at a junction!” AND “Be very alert at a staggered junction!”

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

It's Never Too Late To Start!

My wife bought me a trial lesson at Easy Rider Derby (click here) for my 51st birthday. I think that she had just bumped up my life insurance! The trial lesson was so enjoyable that I signed up immediately for the course. It was good fun and all of my training was conducted by Rob Wilson the owner of Easy Rider. He was good, and very relaxed. We got on very well. I don't know why? I don't get on well with many people.

The training was on 100cc Chinese bikes. I think they were called something like HangTen or WongWun or Tri-ang? About three years later Rob thought that I was ready for the test. Luckily the one-off up-front payment for the course included as many lessons as one needed plus the test fee.

I turned up at the Derby test centre and some grumpy bloke met me. It must be my face that brings out the worst in people. He made me squint at a number plate and then we were off.

It was all going so well until we got to the 180-degree turn bit. He pulled over to the side and explained the manoeuvre that I must execute. No problem I thought. A piece of cake. A walk in the park. Engage first gear, indicate right, a quick look over the right shoulder, let out the clutch with slightly more than normal throttle against some foot brake. Eeeeek! Emergency stop! Where the hell did that Golf Cabriolet with that blonde come from? She must have been coming from behind me at a hell of a lick, because I had not seen her! Oh well, start again. This time looooong look over right shoulder etc. Perfect U-turn. Continue with the test ride.

Back at the test centre. "Well, Mr ******, you passed everything except observation. Failed." I thought that I had observed that Golf darn well, AND made an excellent emergency stop. You just can't please some people, especially grumpy ones.

This meant that my shiny brand new first motorcycle had to remain in my garage. I could not get another test at Derby for months. I was so frustrated. I phoned around the country and got a cancelled booking at Sutton-in-Ashfield a week or so later. Easy Rider Rob kindly took me and a bike over there in his Transit van. This time success. What a very nice man that examiner was. "Congratulations Mr Smith, you passed. Possibly you could have afforded to ride a little faster on the A38 by-pass. After all motorcycles are allowed to overtake 38-ton trucks on dual carriageways. But otherwise well done." Hooray.

So far my biking experience is: Yamaha Diversion 900 - 10,000 miles. Kawasaki Vulcan VN-1500 - 1,000 miles. BMW 1150 GS 12,000 miles. BMW 1150 GS ADV SE 17,400 miles. The total is 40,400 miles, plus a bit on the HangTen, say 600. So, 41,000 miles ater a trial lesson on my 51st birthday I am still enjoying motorbiking. Hooray for motorbikes. YOU ARE NEVER TOO OLD TO START.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Snapshots From Our 2008 Trip.

En Route from Zeebrugge to Le Moulin we stopped for lunch at Hotel Chateau Tilques (click here) near St. Omer.

Then later we dropped in at Le Touquet Paris Plage.

Finally we got to Le Moulin.

And relaxed by the river.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Trips Don't Just Happen!

Our 2009 trip is being planned right NOW by M.F (Moto Fun)!

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

A Quick Guide to Advanced Motorcycling.

A few months ago I was scheduled for an OBSERVER TRAINING DAY and so thought that I should read again the "Pass Your Advanced Motorcycling Test Manual" (PYAMTM). This was in preparation for the training and to try to get things gelled into my tiny brain.
On the day, there were three students and the instructor. We met at 10:00 and finished at 17:30; riding about 110 miles, taking it in turns to be an observer. It was agood day and I learnt a lot - again. It just goes to show that even when you are through the test you are always learning and re-learning!
The day's ride illustrated that I needed to keep remembering the salient points in PYAMTM. As I rode home I thought that it might help to jot them down as a Quick Guide.
The idea of advanced motorcycle riding is: quiet efficiency, tolerance and courtesy. If you follow these you can't go far wrong but there are other aspects worth mentioning here:
Reaction times: (roughly) - at 30 mph (48 kph) you need 6.6m thinking distance plus 14m braking distance = 21m total distance; at 50mph (80 kph) you need 11.1m thinking distance plus 38m braking distance = 50m total distance; at 70mph (112 kph) you need 15.5m thinking distance plus 75m braking distance = 90m total distance.
In reality all you need to remember is the 2 second rule. On DRY surfaces do not ride closer than 2 seconds to the vehicle in front and estimate how many seconds you are from any potential threat. E.g. if that car pulls out from that side road - plan an escape path. In the WET double the 2 seconds to FOUR SECONDS.
Braking: (Always in a straight line) - in the dry 75% front and 25% rear. In the wet 50% front and 50% rear. Smooth braking, close throttle, allow engine retardation, then progressively apply brakes for 66% to 75% of the available distance.
IPSGA: Information - Position - Speed - Gear - Acceleration.
Information: ('TUG' = take, use, give).
Position: Signal, look, manoeuvre.
Speed: Look, adjust.
Gear: Correct for speed/manoeuvre.
Acceleration: Straight course, accelerate.
Observation: Lifesaver (over the shoulder glance before turning left or right); shoulder check (rearward glance to check offside or nearside blindspots); mirrors (rearward oservation).
Surfaces: Potholes, gravel, wet tar, mud, oil, dust, rain, snow, ice, cat's eyes, studs, white lines, manhole covers, expansion joints, drains, diesel, horse manure.
Road signs: (Red borders) - 'O' signs for orders, triangle signs for warnings, always read from the top down.
Situation awareness: (Thinking ahead) - what can be seen, what cannot be seen, and what might reasonably be expected to happen?
Gear changing: (Right gear/right time); practise smooth gear changes; select neutral when almost at a standstill when expecting to be at rest for any appreciable time.
Positioning 1: (Keep 1 - 2m from the nearside except when turning right or overtaking) - when safe, change position for the best view of the road and traffic ahead. Move to the crown of the road when approaching a left hand intersection or junction as this provides an earlier view of vehicles approaching the adjoining road, and drivers have a better view of you.
Positioning 2: A position nearer the centre of the road is preferable when passing parked vehicles, to get a better view of hazards such as pedestrian crossings; it allows you to avoid manhole covers, etc and gives you greater control and vision through bends. Be careful to check behind you and also be sure that oncoming drivers can see you from a distance.
Oncoming traffic: Always sacrifice position for safety when facing oncoming traffic.
Confidence: At junctions with STOP signs, traffic lights, filter lights or lanes marked for taking a left turn or right turn you should take up a position in the CENTRE of the appropriate lane well in advance. This helps motorists notice you and means that they are less likely to force you out of the lane by pulling close alongside. A motorcycle which appears to be ridden confidently, well into the road, is more noticeable and seems more important. A driver is more likely to nip out ahead of a motorcycle if it is being ridden timidly and close to the kerb.
Bends: The advanced rider stands out from the novice in the ability to select the best position through bends. The ideal line for a right-hand bend is the one which an advanced rider would take if the road was empty. Keep to the left on approach for a wider view through the bend; move to the centre through the bend to 'straighten' it, and then edge back to the left for the earliest view up the straight stretch which follows. Straightening the bend in this way gives a safer, shallower arc through the turn, and leaves you in a good position if there is an opportunity to overtake. Left-hand bends should also be taken on a line that maximises the view ahead. Move towards the centre on the approach so that you can see further into the bend. Hold this course until the view opens up.
Motorways: For your own safety ride in the centre of your lane so that other motorists are not tempted to pass you in the same lane with inches to spare.
Keep reading the 'PYAMTM' and the 'Highway Code' and 'Not the Blue Book'. The above bullet points are not a substitute. ENJOY YOUR MOTORBIKE!

I Learnt About Motorcycling From THAT!

I Learnt About Motorcycling From THAT!

When you are getting on in years like I am, do some squats, knee bends and leg stretches before getting on your motorbike. Warm your muscles up a little bit and then, hopefully, you will not need to stretch your legs soon after setting off on the bike. This exact problem happened to me yesterday. I was setting off for Yorkshire, it was very cold and I had not done any exercises. Having started off on the ride I had to take my stiff legs off the pegs and stretch out. Not a good idea to: a) look like a rock spider and b) not be in complete control of your motorbike!

I Learnt About Motorcycling From THAT!

I Learnt About Motorcycling From THAT!

Can't think of anything safety related, but......

We were riding in a group across Dartmoor. It was very windy. My girlfriend (now wife) was riding ever more slowly, to the annoyance of everyone else in the group. We were just pressing on & "making progress". She was getting more & more frustrated at holding everyone up, & the fact that her boyfriend had buggered off into the distance & left her to her own devices.

We stopped to re-group. One rider asked her why she was riding so slowly. She said, " because the $%**&^ wind keeps blowing me all over the road!" I decided a bit of Senior Observer experience and advice would be helpful. "Why don't you try counter-steering?" I proffered. "Why don't you $%** OFF?" she replied....


Tuesday, 3 February 2009

My Motorcycles - To Date!

At 51 my motorcycling career started late. It was great fun doing the course with Easy Rider (click here). Rob Wilson, who runs Easy Rider, was my mentor, and he did a very good job. I promised him that I would not to buy a Gold Wing but had great fun trawling the bike showrooms for just the right bike for me. After much research I decided on a brand new Yamaha Diversion 900.

Yamaha Diversion 900
I wanted a shaft drive and long-distance tourer. The Yamaha Diversion was just the job. It gave me 10,000 miles of reliable riding and then a courier rider from London made me an offer I couldn't refuse. My next motorcycle was a Kawasaki Vulcan VN-1500.
Kawasaki Vulcan VN-1500
This was one heck of a bike. It was not brand new, but it was in very good nick. It was a beautiful chromed thumper. The paintwork was cream and green. The engine only fired every other lamp post, and of course had bags of torque. The bike made a statement wherever it went. It had only 4 gears, but one could sit on it in comfort all day long. I passed my Institute of Advanced Motorcycling (IAM) test on this bike. After the test the policeman examiner asked me whether I was interested in selling the bike. I said, "I might be." His brother-in-law came round an bought it straight away. Why did I sell it? Because I wanted to buy a brand new BMW R1150 GS which I had test ridden a day or two previously.
BMW R1150 GS
This was a great bike. The colour was Mandarin yellow. I bought the luggage and ran the bike in on my first 'overseas' adventure. This was a trip to Belgium with a bunch of other guys from my local IAM club.
It rained incessantly on that trip and we arrived totally drenched at our hotel in Ghent. But it was a great trip and we never stopped laughing and smiling.
I was travelling very light on that trip and had even forgotten to take shoes. My motorcycle boots were on the radiator in the hotel room. Nobody seemed to mind that I was barefoot in the restaurant.
This fantastic bike and I had some wonderful French, Scottish and Wales trips. Complete reliability. It was at the BMW dealer for a service and tyre change at about 12,000 miles when I was seduced by a brand new BMW R1150 GS ADV Special Edition sitting in the showroom. BMW gave me a very fair trade-in. So this is my current (and possibly final) bike. It is perfect for me, and we have been to Wales, the Isle of Man, Luxembourg and France together. The next planned trip is Belgium and France via the ferry Hull to Zeebrugge.


Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Scotland: Touring with Mike F. (continued)

After Ullapool we headed via the west and north coast to Wick then back through the borders via a B & B at Traquair.
Here is a beautiful isolated uninhabited beach near Durness.

The harbour at Wick.

A beautiful B&B at Traquair on the Tweed.