Monday, 19 September 2011

33 miles to Moffat

“Dad you’ve got ‘Tuesday’ socks on!”

“Doesn’t matter does it?”

“No but I don’t like Mondays?”

“Tell you what then, from now on we’ll call it Ben’s Tuesday, how’s that?”

“Ye Ok, Ben’s Tuesday I like that”

“So Ben’s Tuesday it is then!”

And with that Ben got into the shower. So “start-eth” another Monday morning in the Walton household, a million miles from what turned out to be one of the most fantastic touring weekends I’ve had in a long, long time.

It all started with a business card that’s all, a simple business card that had been given to me by Clint as we parted company after travelling back to Heysham from Douglas. We had both completed the Isle of Man TT 1000 as members of the Iron Butt Association. I had been chatting to Clint during the crossing and he’d told me all about his hotel in Moffat called The Buccleuch Arms Hotel and how he welcomed bikers and had fitted it out accordingly. Little did I realise at the time what he really meant was it was a bikers dream location with what can only be described as a “Shit-Hot!” set up but more of that later.

Jeannie and I had “Respite” coming up and just for a change I suggested we go to Scotland with Ben for a change. I dug out Clint’s business card and had a look on the website. Then it dawned on me, why not take the bike up and have a bit of a mooch around the Scottish Borders. Now I know we never tend to “ship” Ben out but the more I thought about it the more the idea seemed to take a hold. Then the brainwave struck light- an epiphany!

“Why don’t we invite the Manc Riders to join us?”

“That’s a brilliant idea”

“I’ll check the prices, dates and stick up a post”

“The dates are already in the diary as Jo and Karen are working 16, 17 and 18th of September, remember!”

“Right that makes it easier, one less decision to be made, sorted I’ll get it posted”

And so on 14th July at 10.21am precisely I posted 

“Who’s up for a weekend in Scotland?”

16th to 18th September

It read..............

Right Folks here's an idea that I hope you will all be interested in.

A Weekend Bike Trip to Scotland 16th to 18th of September.

I've been sat here thinking Spain is such a long way away so why not get my finger out and sort a weekend up in Scotland that is not too far and can be enjoyed by all.

As ever "I know a man, Clint" a fellow IBA Rider who has a very nice Family Hotel in Moffat.

The Buccleuch Arms Hotel, High Street, Moffat

The Hotel is HERE! The great news is it is a 2 hour ride from Rivington Services (Formerly Bolton West Services) on the M61 which I would suggest as a "Meeting Point"

Now for the Best Bit................................ If you’re on a bike you get 15% Discount on the B&B room rate....... How great is that?

They have available as of NOW 0930 hours Thursday 14th July!

Six Twins - £84 per room per night but as we are on bikes it works out at £72 per night B&B

One Double - same as above

Family Room (which I have booked) the room has a double and a Bunk Bed) - £30 per person per night including discount!

I am happy to get the rooms booked but there is a £20 per room deposit to pay on booking.

So for the cost of some fuel and £72 each for two nights B&B I think this may just be the break we all could enjoy.

If you can let me know soonest I will get the rooms booked or just ring and book a room.

I hope your all happy with the idea...........................

Let the posting begin

The posting’s flooded in but as it was a weekend quite a few of the “Usual Suspects” were working. The weekend came ever closer with 4 folks having put their names down & booked their twin rooms directly. Spot on I thought only to have one withdraw just a week before but hey that’s life, shit happens. So as of Thursday night our small group consisted of Shafter, LBK, Trooper, J & I. (I’ll use the Manc Riders pseudonyms as there quicker to type, plus “They know who they are!”).

The plan was to meet at Mc D’s near Accrington at 10.00am Friday morning, giving J & I time to get Lilie Rose & Ben sorted for school. As it happened fate played a blinder for us. Ben’s School Weekend trip to Kingswood Activity Centre in Derbyshire fell on the exact same weekend as the trip so J & I having booked a family room, were free to ride up to Moffat with the rest of the team. Down side being LBK didn’t hear Shafter & I discussing the Friday morning start and so was unable to book the Friday off! Nothing a voltmeter and some solder wouldn’t be able to rectify though!

Thursday night’s posts on the web site started to come in thick and fast ranging from good luck wishes to the usual “total crap” that we are all renowned for posting. One thing I love about the Manc Rider’s is the way “EVERY” single post no matter how interesting or important to someone always ends up in a total chaos and bull shit. I have just one word for you lads, “Bell”....... but we love it.

“We’re more a collection of piss taking, world correcting, bigoted, self opinionated, macho bullshit filled Manc’s who ride bikes” as one of the conversations on Friday night in the bar after one too many sherbets’ went. True mind!

Aftershave, check! All set for the off
after waking up at 5.45am

It was 9.00am on the dot when J& I rode off the drive, J having taken Ben up to school with his weekend bag, Lilie Rose was at school and the girls would do the rest for the weekend. Just riding down Wardle Road a smile crossed my face, the thought in my mind being “How bloody fantastic is this, a weekend away with J on the bike for the first time in years”. I just knew no matter what the weather had in store; looking at the forecast it was going to be interesting to say the least, we were going to have a ball. It’s been a tough old year what with love, life and operations tipping The Walton Household on its head at times but this weekend was going to turn out to be the “Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow”.

Rochdale was rather quite for a Friday morning, we had just managed to miss the morning rush hour traffic. Other than switching Mr. T’s mode control from “sport” to “touring” as he tries his best to through J off the back every time I changed gear. It was a nice smooth run to Mc D’s just of the roundabout at Accrington. We arrived at 9.35am and settled into a couple of coffee’s and a bacon and egg roll for myself. Shafter and Trooper arrived 10 minutes later, filled up and came round to join us with a brew.
“So what’s the plan of attack?” Shafter asked
“We’re easy mate, I’m more than happy to rely on “Shafter-Nav” to get us up to Moffat” I replied
“Ok, sounds good to me, what do you think Trooper”
“Whatever, sounds good to me too” Trooper replied.
That sorted we sat and chatted a while J catching up with Shafter and Trooper having met them both previously but with more folks around, so it was nice just to make idle conversation and get to know them a little better.
10.00am saw us mount up, Shafter taking the lead heading for a little cafe in Hawes, North Yorkshire, Trooper in the middle and yours truly taking up the “Tail-end Charlie” position. Now the night before as ever, I’d been on Mapsource and plotted a straight forward A Road’s route up past Burnley, Nelson, Settle, Kirby Lonsdale and on to the Tan Hill pub for lunch then cutting across to the M6 and up to Moffat. A simple route taking us about 3 to 4 hours riding with a good lunch break place that I’d visited before.
Shafter-Nav was having none of that! Now I’ll just post a picture of the route as to try and explain it in full would take me until next weekend but here is a brief resume of what I can remember.

This is a great route if you have all day to play.

Rochdale over to Settle  took us through some beautiful little villages, past Padiham, Sabden, Four Lane Ends, Waddington, Newton, Slaidburn, Long Preston, Horton in Ribblesdale, Chapel le Dale on to our first stop in Hawes. What an absolutely amazing ride, not a single motorway or dual carriageway in sight, in fact most of the way had been what I would call single track minor roads. Most would have struggled to justify for “B Road” status! It was great and so far so good the rain was staying away.

The cafe in Hawes was very cosy with about 15 bikes dotted around outside, most of their owners were in this small cafe, lid’s everywhere. As it was just after 12.00 we decided to make this a lunch stop and ordered our meals, which arrived,  and vanished just as quick. Very efficient I thought to myself, the chef in me coming out! Try as I might I cannot for the life of me remember what everyone ate I was still in awe of “Shafter-Nav”.  Amazing, Shafter just has a look at his pocket size road map, looks where we are heading, smiles that all knowing smile and puts it back in his tale pack on the Moto Guzzi V11 beast he has chosen to ride this weekend. Years of being a motorbike courier have set him up well for the task in hand. His title of Shafter-Nav is well deserved and I know both J and Trooper were as impressed as myself at his in built ability to find the most amazing roads. What made it even better was the fact we had seen only a hand full of cars all morning.

Hawes - a very picturesque village.
Well worth a visit.

A quick photo and we were back on our bikes and ready for leg two to Kielder Forest Park. The route took us past Apperset, Nateby, Brough, photo stop on the B6276 on to Alston, skirting Stanhope heading ever closer to the Scottish Boarders. Now one thing I omitted to mention about our departure from Hawes was Troopers comment, “At least it’s not raining” which we all berated him for because as soon as the words had left his lips it started spitting. Nothing major at first just enough to make sure you knew the roads surface was wet.  However, that was all about to change over the coming two hours the rain just got heavier and heavier.  Before long it was absolutely tipping it down and it did not matter what waterproof clobber you were wearing you just knew that at this rate sooner or later you were going to get wet! And wet we got! Piss wet through in some cases.

Now as Trooper had brought this awful weather upon us it’s only fair I mention a little about his attire which had kept J chuckling pretty much all morning. At well over 6 foot tall this quietly spoken, gentlemanly figure was well kitted out. Good helmet, jacket, gloves, rucksack, boots and gloves. The only weak link in his armour was his waterproof trousers which he wore over jeans. Now how did we know he had jeans on, simple really, because whenever he sat on his Suzuki Bandit 600 we could see at least a foot of them hanging out the bottom of his far, far too short waterproof trousers? I’m sorry Trooper but listening to J chuckle and debate if you would get wet through “Rising Damp” had us in bits all the way up to the forest but what a gentleman. It was a pleasure to have you with us.

Kielder Forest Park Visitor Centre is beautiful but when your dripping wet through it loses a little of its allure. So much so we returned the following day in order to enjoy its beauty and tranquillity to its full potential. This is somewhere The Walton’s will definitely be revisiting as a family. It is just an amazingly beautiful part of the world and what’s even better it is not a million miles away from the Lake District. The lake is huge with so much wild life, birds and views plus a well stocked visitors shop next to the cafe. The staffs were fantastic not batting an eye lid when we removed our soaking wet jackets, scarves, gloves and helmets, leaving them on one table whilst we sat and had a cake and coffee at another. Or in J’s cafe a piece of Carrot Cake and Bovril! There’s some logic there somewhere but none of us could quite get our heads around the combination.

Stunning views if only it would stop raining.

Putting the wet kit back on had us all thinking about how far we still had to go. J ended up putting my spare gloves on as hers where so wet she couldn’t even get them back on. I plumbed Moffat into the Garmin, 62 miles, we could live with that. Shafter-Nav had different idea’s, Scottish Border which came and went, Hawick, Selkirk and on to Moffat via Hell’s Hole National Park! That said it all. Arriving at Selkirk, Shafter-Nav suffered its first hiccup, but all credit due he was on exactly the right road going in the right direction, straight into the town centre right at the first round about over the second, then we missed a left, no drama left at the T junction. Slowing at the end of the road at a give way sign to put us back on the same road we should have turned left on 100 yards back.

Then there it was ......................................... the dreaded sign, soaked through, sitting in wet pants, water trickling down the inside of J’s head-over we all read it at the same time!

The united sound of our groan must have measured at least 5 on the “Richter Scale”

“33 F****g miles, you have got to be taking the piss!” I shouted!
“J, are you OK?”
“You sure”
“Just ride”
I could sense that 33 miles was 30 miles too far, for everyone. Still it was only raining lightly now and so we cracked on. The A708 mirrored the river Yarrow, much the same as many of the B Roads had done on the way up, undulating with the countryside then taking us down the full length of one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen in the UK mainland. I vowed there and then to return to take a few pictures; little did I know at that point it was going to be tomorrow. 

Arriving in Moffat I was pleasantly surprised to find the hotel slap bang in the middle of the high street. A large white building with its main features picked out in black paint. It looked warm and inviting and what was more important “DRY!” Shafter lead us past the front door, up a side road and in through a gap in the wall. There in front of us were Clint’s “Piece de la Resistance” 10 metal bike garages in a row along the side of sufficient hard standing to ensure access was both smooth and simple. Each garage which was not in use had a key in the door ready for our arrival. Clint appeared as if like magic to welcome us to The Buccleuch Arms Hotel. What an end to a fantastic 9 hour 243 mile marathon ride from Rochdale to Moffat without touching a single motorway.

Home for the weekend but
We'll be back. 

Now that is what I call sorted.
Nice one Clint you've got this spot on.

That night in the bar after a nice hot shower and a change we discovered LBK had arrived hours before us but was nowhere to be seen. Trooper who was sharing a twin room with him informed us his kit was in the room just no LBK. As it was now heading to 8.00pm we started to wonder if LBK was around town and would he have eaten. As it was we were all starving so moved from the bar area on one side of the entrance hall way/reception area to the opposite room which was being used as a restaurant area. All neatly laid out our table was in the corner with a bench seat around the corner wall seating J, Trooper and myself and a further two settings for LBK and Shafter.

By 9.00pm we decided to order as we had already alienated half the inhabitants of the restaurant with our somewhat loud  tales about the day. The conversation flicked from the Manc Riders website and postings we all made, to concern over LBK’s whereabouts. The volume increased slightly until Trooper told us about his electrical problems. I had noticed on the way out of Selkirk that Troopers indicators had been going off erratically and then not at all. To the extent that I thought he had been pointing something out to me just before we turned left out of town only then to realise he was using hand signals. Well when Trooper piped up and said.
“I think my indicators are on the blink” I just fell about in hysterics which in turn took the whole table down into fits of laughter. The poor souls at the side of us scrapped desert in a desperate attempt to vacate the table. Mid way through what was an amazing meal of pasta with seafood for me, J had Chicken, Shafter went with the Venison and Trooper I have no idea but I do know we were having a ball. Shortly after being served our main courses it a mad thought sprang into my head.
“I think I know where LBK is”
“What! Where”
“The waiters eaten him” (sorry Mr. Rotund Waiter it was the drink speaking not I, honest Guv)
Well Shafter almost choked, Trooper stared in amazement at the sincerity of the statement and J just exploded into fits of hysterics.  10 minutes after we had finished eating later, who should come wandering in but LBK.
Combat shorts and T shirt looking around to see if he could spot us. When he took out his small glasses, popped them on his nose and said “Ah there you are” it was all we could do not to slide under the table. J started to say “Where the hell you been we’ve been worried sick” but she was to slow LBK was off to the bar for a Guinness.
The rest of the night flew bye with tales of “Jibbing” navies in a small town outside Lockerby followed by a very expensive taxi ride home for the four of them. However with a wallet full of cash and a grin the size of a large banana LBK was having a whale of a time. I had a look around at 10.50 pm; we had managed to empty the entire restaurant area. I hope no one was offended with us having such a great night but it just had to be done. Sides aching, stomachs full and absolutely no idea where we were going the following day we all headed up to our respective rooms for a well earned night’s sleep. “See you at 9 in the restaurant folk’s”

Saturday morning, kit dried on the red hot radiators in our room, jeans and t-shirt on, it was off to a hearty Full Buccleuch Breakfast. Fantastic and the coffee was bang on too.
“So where we off today” I asked
“I want to get some snails from Jedburgh” came the reply from Shafter.
“Nice one, can you get me some Garlic ones when you buy them"
“There confectionary not snail snails”
Oh! Ok, Right that’s sorted then Jedburgh it is then”

After such a fantastic night I’m always sceptical that the momentum will be lost and folks will get a little fed-up but there was none of that what so ever this weekend.

10.00am we were on our way again for a steady ride around the Scottish Boarder region. Shafter-Nav taking the lead, LBK followed with Trooper and yours truly in my favourite place.  We headed north to Tweedsmuir then on to Peebles. The roads were clear the weather fine and sunny with the odd shower thrown in, just to keep us on our toes but the majority of the time it was sunshine.  We continued along the A72 heading towards Galashiels but dropped back down through Selkirk then East along the A699 and finally South down the A68 to Jedburgh. Stopping at a cafe which was attached to an Edinburgh wool and clothing shop. Right next door was a Shell Petrol Station. Lunch ordered, drinks drunk, a quick “conflab” around Shafter’s map whilst he shot off into town to buy his elusive snails. Trooper filled up at this point.  On his return we all tucked into one of Shafter’s snails, Hard mint toffee in a strip that had been folded over on its self. Tasty!

And very tasty cake it was too by all accounts.

LBK!!! Were's my bed side rug?
Let me think what did I do with it........

"So where to go now" Snails in hand Shafter was a happy man.
“Why not head back down to the forest so we can get a couple of photos in the dry?”
“Good idea but you can lead”
“Because you keep vanishing to take photos, if you’re in front we all know what you’re doing”
“Ok, I can live with that” and with that I pumped Kielder Forest into the Garmin and Rochester as a way point and off we set.

One thing we had been doing all weekend was taking photos of Castles and that continued on our way with the odd old ruin popping up here and there. Just before lunch Shafter had spotted a sign for Stobo Castle which when we rode through the gates I noticed also turned out to be a Health Spa complete with authentic Japanese Gardens. Perfect location to unfurl the Manc Riders Flag and grab a photo shot. The castle look splendid set in its own land with winding tree lined drive which had jet black cows meandering around. All very plush and up market, I’m still wondering what the poor old receptionist must have thought seeing four dirty great motorbikes rumbling up the drive only to stop short of the final drive way to .................. take photos!

Looking good Manc Riders, looking good.

Stobo Castle Health Spa
in all it's splender.
All weekend I had found the roads amazing and this final leg to Kielder did not disappoint. One of the combinations of bends was so smooth and inviting I ended up scraping my left foot peg on the deck. J was none too please when I screamed “Yee Ha!” as I knew there would have been a small shower of sparks fly up. Sadly no one even saw them, gutted! “That was too far over for my liking” came the response to my “How did you find that” question.  The last run down one of the hills turned out to be interesting as two GSA’s flew past our small convoy much to the dismay of LBK who was chomping at the bit in my wing mirror. I was glad the idiot following them on the black Honda managed to pass us before we indicated as he would most certainly have taken one of us out as we turned right across his somewhat speedy path.

Amazing how a little sunshine can change a place.

Cheers Shafter.
In the sunshine the Kielder Forest Visitors Centre was even more inviting, the coffee and cake even more tasty and the views, the views were breath taking. I’m so pleased we chose to return to this beautiful spot. Heading back to Moffat I lead again following the exact route we had taken the day before but this time fresh and in the sunlight plus more importantly, dry, it was fantastic! We stopped at the border post for another Manc Riders Flag Photo shoot, and again at the foot of one of the many winding hill climbs just before Hell Hole. We even had time for Shafter to give us an impression of how he had felt the day before at the dreaded Moffat 33 miles sign.

J refused to lay down in front of the border



and away............

Say's it all, well for Friday's trip it did!

In fact on the way back we must have stopped at every sign post, valley, lake, and vista we saw but no one cared because it was all in a good cause. Ray’s Report, this! At the Dumfries and Galloway sign Shafter pointed out something just inches away from my right foot. Road Kill! So far we had seen numerous rabbits, a couple of fox, a badger and quite a few unknown entities but this poor mite really did look rough.

The evening meal was a sedate affair after Fridays night’s antics with a walk to the local Italian Restaurant only to be told there was at least an hour’s wait. Our good fortune lasted as the evening meal in the hotel was outstanding. I can thoroughly recommend the Rump Steak cooked medium rare leaning more to the rare, Perfect! By 10.00pm we had all headed north to bed, happy and content after a perfect day in the saddle.
Sunday, I had subjected we go to the Cumbria Bike Show being held at Hutton in the Forest but LBK came out with a stunning idea.

“I’d like to visit the Memorial Gardens and crash site in Lockerby on the way down”

“Lead on my dear sir”

Blinding, simply blinding. Thank you LBK, for putting us exactly where we needed to be on a sunny Sunday Morning in September. Respects were paid, thoughts of sympathy shared and the odd tear could be seen being wiped away from corners of eyes, a perfect ending to a perfect weekend with the Manc Riders.

“So would you like me to take you down to the show?” I asked
Shafter summed it up,
“Why try and fit a quart into a pint pot, let’s go home”

And home is exactly where we went.
Now normally I would leave it there but for one final drama!

J and I left the guys to peel off to the services on the M61 for a brew but as we needed to be back for Ben by 2.00pm and with the Garmin saying arrival time 1.45pm we rode straight home.
When this happened!

Take a picture then.......
You've photographed everything else!

It's Ok I only hurt my head, neck, back, bum everything!

Hay Ho! Bruised and battered, walking around like she’s got a boiled egg up her arse and not wanting to let the witch out!  J is getting on with life as per normal but with an exceedingly stiff neck and me well I’m now looking for a new helmet in Pink!
“Hello Ben, how was your day” Kiss and a hug x x  x

“Hi Dad. Good thanks’. What you been doing?”

“I’ve been writing my ride report, do you want to read it”

“Na............ I’ll read it later”

You know what, one day, I really think he will and I will smile, knowing every minute I write, every word I use to describe our adventures he will be able to read aloud to Lilie Rose one day and remember .......

“The Wandering Walton’s”

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Time to "Turn on those Lights"

Mr. T at his ALMOST finished stage. Sadly the "Porn Star" Stickers came off when I polished the panniers with the ACF50. Wasn't meant to be I guess! 

You'll need to take a real close look to see the subtle changes
............................ can you spot them yet?

A Little closer perhaps!!!

Kerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr Ching.................................    

There she blows Captain...........................  

Just need to swap the chrome horn out for a black one, bloody Nippy Norman sending the wrong one out! Oh and fit the Touratech Top Box when it eventually arrives. Mind the guys at Touratech have been great keeping me updated all the way. Due into the UK in the next 10 days or so, shipping out ASAP there after.           

A walk around Mr. T

The Wandering Walton's RBLR Weekend in Millom

Well it was the Northern Bash of the RBLR (Royal British Legion Riders Branch) weekend last weekend . Which is held in Millom over on the West coast of the Lake District each year. This would be the third time Ben & I had attended and as ever the ride up from Rochdale went without a hitch.

Mr.T looked splendid with his new panniers fitted, plus the last few parts from Touratech which arrived on the Friday of our departure. So after collecting an antique book case from the other side of Huddersfield I cracked on with fitting them.

The Touratech Top Box Rack went on a breeze, sadly the Top Box is still on back order. So before we set off I strapped my yellow waterproof sack with the dos bags and sleeping mats in to the back to give Ben that added safety.

Next the Hand Guards went on, just removing the original Yamaha Hand Guards was a bit of a pain as they are bolted at the handlebar end, attached to the mirror mount and underneath the the clutch/brake pinion bolt respectively on both side. The reason for changing them is simple, when Mr. T fell over the whole brake and mirror assembly moved round on the handle bar. I my humble opinion if that was to happen at speed the consequences could be dire!

As usual, only after fiting the new guard did I open the Wind Deflectors to discover I needed to drill the guards to fit the deflectors (note to self "read the instructions FIRST!). Once drilled and deflrctors bolted in place I then refitted the right then left side guards. I'm really chuffed with the ease of fitting, the quality of the instructions and the finished look. I went with the red deflectors as it picks out the Super Tenere decal on the front fairing.

Lastly I fitted the Touratech Fog Lights which look just "Fantastic". Sadly I ran out of time so wiring in would have to wait till Monday! Again a very siple procedure of removing three  fastenings, two rubber mounted nuts and replacing them with the supplied fasteners. That’s after fitting the light to the bracket and fitting the rubber seal on the back. More about this when I run through wiring them up later on.

Time to pack because as at 2.30pm I had not even started.

Offside pannier - Camping cooker, Jetboil,2 x small frying pans, one 1 pint pan, brew kit, diggers, chopping board, cooking knife, bacon, eggs, sausages, bratties, selection of tinned foods, pork scratchings, chocolate bars, towel at the bottom, all into the offside pannier with a pair of my trainers & my Berghause Fleece on top.

Near side Pannier, Multi-tool Kit, Bag of tricks, puncture repair kit, first aid kit, Touratech bag with selection of clothes for Ben & I all topped off with Ben's trainers and fleecy.

Three man tent strapped to near side pannier lid with two short bungees, I've now found my proper straps so last time I'll use bungees. That's us set to go.

Ben finished school at 3.30pm and after a good dinner, drink and taking what felt like forever to get into our kit we were ready for the off.

5.30pm and off we set filled up in ASDA. So with Ben fastened on to me with our Love Handel belts and carabineers, all for added security because the off side pannier had nothing on top. Straight into the Friday evening rush hour traffic which was at a standstill on the M62. Once we had filtered as far as we could down the access ramp onto the M62 it was into a steady 30mph ride all the way to junction 16 and off up the M65 which thinned out nicely till we arrived at the M6 junction just past Blackpool. Once on the M6 it was all plain sailing to junction 36 then off across to Millom hooking a right just before Ulverston. The country lanes were great and with Mr. T handling a dream with all the weight low down in the panniers, Ben nattering away in my helmet and the rain staying well clear we arrived at the Millom Rugby Club in no time at all. Well as long as no time can be having just ridden 126 miles.

Nick guided us in like a professional Airfield Operator straight up to the booking in tent. Issued with wristband, plastic bag of notes, introduction, blag rubbish bag we had a quick look round and camped 15 foot away in a nice space at the side of a couple of Honda Goldwings. Friday night went in a flash, tent up, Chilli Con Carnie for Ben, a nice hot pie for me warmed in the frying pan with brown sauce, delicious. 

A well practiced manoeuvre setting up camp!

After tea we headed to the bar where I sat with Steve for a while chatting, before we knew it was pitch black and time for Ben to get some shut eye. Once settled I popped back to the bar to listen to the band. A couple of pints later and three visits to the tent which was only 20 foot away and it was time to join Ben in zed’s land.

Saturday was a strange sort of day, up at 8.30 I cooked us both our favourite “Full English” after which Ben went walk about. Finding a couple of lads his own age they played football, I watched the start of the England rugby match but having no interest what so ever went back to the tent and had a sleep.

The Only way to start the day!

I woke up to the sound of folks talking about Mr. T so I got out to see what the fuss was about. One guy was very interested and even had his picture taken sat on him to text to his other half. Another just went round totting up the cost of all the "Goodies". Strange really as he was one of the Honda Gldwins which retail at a staggering £23,5000. Other just asked about the panniers, lights, Touratech, Metal Mule, why I had changed so many things. All the stuff I tend to get at Squires, which is nice in it own sort of way.

Looking very "At Home" there Mr. T

Ben went with his new found friends to the park and nearby beach; I had a play in the sand dunes on Mr. T until some guy walking his dog kindly informed me I should not be there. So that ended that bit and only bit of fun to be had. I must say though he handled a treat even up to burying the back wheel in a sand filled groove with both panniers resting on to. Great Fun, such a shame hit had to end.

There were a few folk there broken down into,
RBLR, A49'ers & Leyland Eagles

By 3.00pm it was pouring it down and Ben came back soaked through to the bone. A change of clothes and off he went again but by 4.30 we were both bored out of our minds so I suggested heading home. “Yes please Dad” came the very enthusiastic reply from Ben.

By 6.00pm we were packed and on Mr. T after saying farewell to a non to interested bunch of folk sat in the reception tent who had watched our every move as we packed. Just went to show how bored everyone else was. Home at 8.00pm to a lovely warm bath, cold beer, a movie and all of Sunday to play with at home..... Gardening as it turned out but that’s another day.

Moto of this trip, it strickes me that neith Ben nor myself I are “Rally Goers” and so we won’t be bothering again in the very near future. Still there is always another day, another road & of course Scotland next week end........................... Can't wait!

But first there's a matter of wiring up some Sexy Fog Lamps.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Mr. T's new Metal Mule Panniers

Well it's just stopped raining for the first time in what feels like forever so I took a couple of Pictures of Mr. T wearing his new Metal Mule Black Panniers................. Very nice indeed they are too!

Now we're getting some where.....

After loking at this picture 
I have just gone in the garage
& taken those stuppid fog lights off!
They look crap!

38lt & 45 lt = Spot On!
I love em.
Can anyone spot my "Black / Silver Reflective Tape?
Works a treat in the dark!!!

Can't wait to get the last installment from

So folks that's where I am up to with Mr. T less those fog lights that is!!! Role on Friday...........

Look out Cambridge here we come...............

Well I had a great ride down to Cambridge and back the other day to collect a pair of Metal Mule Panniers, black ones at that and very nice indeed they are too.

For some strange reason I woke up at 6.00am and lay there thinking about what I needed to sort out kit wise before I could set off. With a plan in my head it was up, washed and into my trusty Aldi Long John’s, Horizon’s unlimited T shirt and as it was throwing it down outside I decided to put on my Aldi Bikers long sleeve wind blocker top, all proven gear and well worn in.

In the garage I had to re-attach the top section back onto my Heine Gerick Master V Gortex Pro Suit trousers & put the linings back in. Just shows how long it has been since I had a decent ride out on Mr T. Next I re attached the rain collar to my matching jacket & I was ready to get togged up. - oooooo suits you sir(!). I decided as it was really raining very heavily to add a pair of waterproof trousers under my bike trousers at they have sadly started to leak at the crotch. -ooooo suits you sir(!) Mind I have had the suit 4 years and it’s had a hard life.  I discovered this extra layer was a big mistake, as I sweated like a pig all the way down to Cambridge. However, I never got wet and was warm as toast and they were easily removed on arrival. I think I will have to invest in a pair of Gortex walking trousers in the future. Last two bits of bike wear are Biker Gortex gloves and a fleece Buff which I wear every time I ride no matter what the season.

I checked my mobile to find a text from Sean the guy I was buying the panniers from which read,

“Very bad weather here this morning. OK to change time or day if you wish. Sean Cam.” 

A quick thanks’ for the heads up & see you later message was sent followed by a coffee and I was ready for the off.

Plumbing in the post code down in Cambridge brought up 177 miles – 2 hours 46 minutes which I already knew as I had previously checked the location on MapSourse. I had plotted a nice round trip which ran, Cambridge then over  to the Touratech show room in Ystradgynlais in South Wales some 241 miles cross country, then heading  back up north to Rochdale a further 240 miles. So all in all I was in for a great day out on Mr T. or so I thought!

The trip to Wales depended totally on a response email I was hoping to receive from Neil down at Touratech, as to whether my Top-box had arrived from Germany or not.

So with a big hug and a smile I said goodbye to Jeannie, Lilie Rose and B Ben and it was off to the M62 heading due west straight into the Leeds rush hour traffic which was at a standstill even before I reached Halifax. With no panniers on I filtered straight through with very few problems what so ever, give or take the odd late lane changer, moving out without indication as commuters tend to do when moving slowly on motorways.

Now, is it just me or does every bike rider gets wound up at the stupid things drivers get up to as they drive down the middle lane of a motorway? especially when there is no one at all using the inside lane! The blond woman touching up her hair in the rear view mirror, that just happens to be pointing straight at her face and not at the road behind her, stupid ***. She never even saw me approaching at all until I overtook her in the outside lane, startling her. She swerves and gets a good “hooting “at from the white van driver who was just about to pass her in the inside lane. Unreal some folks, it gets even better.

Why, oh why do Range Rover drivers pull over towards the truck in the middle lane as soon as they see a bike filtering down the centre?  I know you have paid enough to own that piece of tarmac through your over inflated road tax and petrol tax but remember it was your choice to buy a Range Rover. I have just one word for you…………….. SHIFT!

And how many drivers these days wear iPod ear plugs in the car whilst there driving? Do they not fit radios & CD systems in cars anymore? iPod head sets, mobile head sets, Bluetooth head sets, what is with sticking something in your ear to drive. Reminds me of the bloody Starship Enterprise crew!!!

Anyway I digress, sorry.

Once passed the Leeds turning on the M62 life gets a lot easier as the traffic begins to thin out, only to snarl up again at the M1 intersection. No drama’s there and it straight over to the A1(M) new junction and a very nice smooth 50mph sweeping bend puts me straight onto the A1(M). Perfect, well done that engineer, shame they have to spoil it with a 50mph speed limit but hey more of that to come soon!

The sandwich bar flags in the lay-by’s are doing all they can to hang on for grim death to the thin poles they are fastened too. Trucks start to drift towards me in the outside lane, whoooo too close Big Man, whey too close. My speed drops from the steady 70mph I had been sat at down to 55mph.

My thoughts are punched back into line, literally by the sudden gusts of brute force wind from my right. It just feels like someone is punching me in the head first from the left as I start to pass yet another truck load of something, heading somewhere and then another full on right-hander to the head and chest.

“This is going to be a right bag of laughs if this is what I’ve got to come all day” I thought to myself.

So with 140 miles left to ride I get used to the buffeting and the bashing from side to side and my speed begins to creep back up to 65mph, no faster though, not today I’m afraid to say.

Then I start to take in yet another amazing game every trucker on the A1 (M) plays every single time I ride up or down it “Truck Jockeying”.  It starts with that all important first hazardous lunges into the fast lane gap, normally where not even a car driver would want to pull out into. Now the more cars the TJ (Truck Jokey) inconveniences’ and forces to brake from their usual 70mph+ cursing speed the higher the points!

Now it is the turn of the slower inside lane TJ’er to speed up to his maximum 55mph limited speed, this is where I start to laugh my socks off because all of a sudden the inside lane in front of me empties, en mass! All pulling into the outside lane behind the Kamikaze TJ who is now kicking out such a pother  I’m glad not to be behind him. For the next half a mile they are neck and neck, I think probably having a chat about how many cars TJ one has amassed behind him.

What cracks me up even more is the slight incline I see up ahead. The TJ’s approach it and you’ve guessed it, the TJ in the inside lane starts to pull away over the next half a mile leaving old Kamikaze TJ disgraced and having to pull back into his original slot having achieved sweet FA!

Anyway the miles soon slip bye and my stomach starts to tell my head I’ve had no breakfast as I was not hungry at 7.00am when I set off. The other thing was I left with three quarters of a tank so was good for 150 miles and true to form Mr. T goes onto count up. Meaning unlike any other brand of bike I am aware of, Yamaha start reserve from zero and count up how many miles you have clocked up not what you should have left. That threw me at first on the FJR but to be honest it works a treat as a test of nerves. So far I’ve only taken Mr. T to 22 miles on reserve, now I need to find out how far I can really do but not on the way down. 

For the next 80 miles all I see are a vast array of multi colored flags ranging from Union Jacks, St George’s Cross,  Welsh Dragons to Neon Green with Acid House Smiley faces on. What is even more amazing is the variation in the price of a “Full English” ranging from £3.00 to an eye watering £6.25 the further south I ride. Strangely enough though the price of fuel is even more astounding £1.31 in Rochdale, £1.45 M62 Services near Leeds and even as high as £1.48 at one Jet Station on the A1(M) near Grantham (that cannot be right!).

As ever just as I start to really need to fill up with 14 miles of my 25 miles used up two things happen. The price of fuel gradually rises and all the petrol stations are on the other side of the barrier, typical. Ha, Peterborough Services 3 miles, spot on. Pulling off the A1 (M), around the roundabout and left into the services I am over the moon to find petrol £1.31 per litre, well chuffed so much so I paid an extra £2.25 for a regular coffee and a Danish Pastry. Almond Strudel will do very nicely thank you. It’s now 10.00am and I’m feeling great after a trip to the loo that is.(too much information Ray!).

 When I was filling up I took it to the very top whilst Mr. T was on his side stand, I then remembered my best mate Ron (Southern Jessie!)always stands over his GSA to fill up so I thought I would give it a try. I ended up putting an EXTRA  1.75 litres in the tank ONE POINT SEVEN FIVE litres I’m still shocked.

A quick text to let Sean know my ETA will be 10.35, how wrong was I, the Danish was so good I just took my time eating and enjoying a text conversation with Jeannie.(have I said what a wonderful woman this babe is?!) Before I knew it was 10.25. Not to worry, with only 36 miles to go it was not long before I was at the Crescent where Sean lives. A new build enclave in the middle of Cambridge with very nicely designed futures which include a drive in garage above which the houses are built. The crescent reminded me of Buxton Crescent where I worked whilst at Harper Hill College Oh so many years ago!

As I pull up I spot Sean on his crutches in my rear view mirror, typical I’d passed his but luckily only by a two garage doors. A warm welcoming hand shake, Helmet off, ear plugs out and off we go to do the deal. The panniers are there in the kitchen sat on top of each other with the delivery bags wrapped around them. Everything was immaculate including the panniers. I’m over the moon and I’ve not even had a proper look. I accept offer of a coffee and Sean sits down and proceeds to tell me about his accident (……what no Danish?!)

Now I have never really taken much interest in The Paris to Dakar Rally but when your sat in the kitchen of a real live Paris – Dakar Bike Riding Competitor who rode in the 2009 rally completed the race and was hit by another competitor in the race in a car, your ears prick up, Big Time.

Sean was hit whilst he was on his bike having un known to him at that time passed the finish line, sustaining, wait for it, two multiple broken arms, a smashed leg (hence the crutches which he has only been using a few months having been in a wheel chair for the most of 2010) and multiple broken ribs. What amazed me even more was the fact the metal object on the car pierced his helmet and the lining but never touched his head, HOW LUCKY was that? I was amazed and thoroughly in awe of this guy who if it had not been for ebay, I would never have know existed.

We sat, well Sean sat I stood just to give my back side a rest, (the seat on Mr. T really does need sorting out as it is far too hard and unforgiving for my backside) and chatted about his ride, how it has taken him over a year to get back on two feet and how his plan is to ……… well let’s just say, Sean has a plan. What a genuinely interesting and friendly guy. It was a pleasure to be in Sean’s company and I hope that we can keep in touch in the future.

After a good while chatting I thought I’d best conclude the deal and get the panniers fitted to the Metal Mule Rack’s. All I can say is they went on a dream and having the 38 litre and the 45 litre panniers in black on Mr. T looks like it was meant to be. Perfectly balanced, both in looks, style and colour, brilliant and well worth the trip down to Cambridge to collect them. I said my farewell and promised I would be picking Sean’s brain again in the future about riding in Morocco.  

I’d discussed the route back with Sean and he had advised me to head across to Bedford. Where some pleasant old lady in a Ford Focus decided to try and knock me off as I crossed a roundabout in the middle lane heading straight over, her taking the outside lane all the way round to turn right! Good effort my dear, I did a loop of the roundabout and headed on towards Bedford where I was going to carry on towards Milton Keynes then up the M1 just for a change.

Strange thing was though as soon as I pumped Rochdale into the Garmin it just wanted me to go back to the Great North Road as the A1 (M) is called. NO! I’m carrying on right, mute button pressed.

Heading due East I still ended up picking up the A1(M) north then cutting east off towards the M1 on the A14 towards Kettering then joined the M1 at long last. I think I must have gone wrong somewhere down the line as I still had 164 miles to do. The wind was really getting on my nerves by this point as it just never let up. (Have a Rennie-does wonders for my wind)

Once on the M1 the banking and traffic protected me all the way up past Leicester but by the time I had past Derby turn off I was ready for a break from those stupid gantry mounted speed cameras every 5 miles or so. My GOD! How much is it costing Derbyshire County Council to police the M1?

As soon as I saw the Matlock/Mansfield turning the decision was made, 87 miles on the Garmin recalculated to 62 miles and added another 35 minutes. I could live with that just to be out of the damn wind. The route took me straight through Matlock, past my Dad’s place and on through Bakewell, a quick right at Ashford in the Water and out past Monsal Dale which looked stunning.

I rode along the B6465 and joined the A623 towards Buxton and then Chapel-en-le-Frith, then Glossop, Ashton-Under-Lyne and back into Rochdale.

The only drama or more be it the annoyance, was having a stupid driver tailgate me at 65mph all the way down the duel carriageway from the M62 turning, heading towards Rochdale only to see the Git was on his mobile phone gassing. Cheeky it never even stopped as he drive past the Rochdale police station, 2 and half miles of busy traffic, six sets of lights and three major turns and the git never once moved the damn mobile from his head. Tosser!

So at 3.45pm I arrived home with panniers intact. Happy and all set for receiving my Touratech Rear Rack and Top Box. Sadly that’s going to be a while as the email I was waiting for arrived when I got home to say all my kit was there all except the Top Box. I am so happy that I had not ridden down to Wales after all.
All in all I had a great day out, meeting a real life star and making it back in one piece, now that’s what I call a result!

Writers Disclaimer - All Italic inserts added by proof reader and editor J!