Thursday, 24 November 2011

NEC Bike Show November 2011

Well, waking up at 7.00am to see clear skies and a hint of sun coming round the corner of the bedroom window set my mind racing. Should I, shouldn’t I, should I? Just as I finished washing Lilie Rose’s hair I made the decision, NEC Bike Show here I come.

9.00am I pulled off the drive into bright sunshine, in mid November, what is happening to the UK weather? Damned if I know but if it means I can get a dry ride to Birmingham 115 miles away that’s me a happy man. A quick fill up in Rochdale in ASDA at £1.28 a litre it was off down the M62, through the Manchester on the M60 rush hour traffic, back onto the M62 towards Liverpool. Hanging a left onto the M6 South in front of a truck the driver decided to flash me for pulling in about 10 car lengths in front of him! Some folks just don’t like bikes I guess.

Other than a Skoda driver trying to take me out by pulling into the middle lane when I was level with his driver’s door, nothing exciting really happened all the way down to Birmingham. Mind, I’ve never been so pleased to see an empty outside lane as I was when Mr. Skoda forced me into it with his total disregard for me and Mr. T.

A steady ride around the outside of the NEC to find the indoor car park and it was into a queue of about 25 bikes, the first I’d seen all morning. Cloakroom ticket gripped firmly between my teeth and in I rode, the place was chocker! Kit off, lid in top box, one layer off and packed away, loo, picture and then the “three day camel ride” to get to the entrance. I asked for a kid’s ticket only to receive a wry grin from the lady behind the counter. I know she had to look twice at my “boyishly young features” (In my mind!)-bloody flirt! (J) give or take the bald head, before saying “That’s £19.00 please” “Worth a try” I offered back as lame sort of excuse.

Look's like it's going to be a good one.

Still, another 200 yards before spotting them, the entrance doors to every middle aged, boy racing, two wheel loving, petrol heads “Aladdin’s Cave”! First stop, the map of the stalls, Yamaha, check, Kawasaki, check, Traveldri-Plus, check, Touratech, check lastly Star-Com, check! And with that mentally noted I dully got hopelessly lost and found myself grinning from ear to ear at the sight of some of the most amazing bikes I had ever seen. There was everything there, Triumph, Norton, Honda, Victory, KTM, BMW, Diesel Bikes, custom, classic, sport, adventure; they even have a massive Harley Davidson stand. How I wish Ben had been stood at my side, he would have loved it.

First bike I saw as I walked in the door, a sign of things to come

I could prattle on forever and a day about the bikes, the stands, the leathers, helmets, boot’s, bags, helmet cameras, intercom’s, books, seats, now repeat that 5 times and you are just about getting the picture. It was massive with everything a budding biker could possibly dream of owning and everything a seasoned biker could ever want to own if only they had a spare £10 - £15,000 that their other halves wouldn’t miss......... “In your dreams”!

They do not come any more sublime than this!

My first bike, a Suzuki 125 Stinger cost me £200, nowadays you can stick at least a big fat Zero onto that plus a wodge more for something half decent. Still let’s not spoil the show we’re here to wallow in what can only be described as “Biker Bliss”.

Very, very nice.... Two Brothers Special.

I just hope "Trinity" is in the same league.

I fell in love with the “Bell & Ross” Bike on the Carol Nash display. It look’s amazing and the quality of the finish on the bike is something I can only aspire to with “Trinity”. Some of the other choppers, custom builds and one off’s looked fantastic. Maybe “Trinity” will not be a show bike after all, I will really have to pull something out of the bag to come close to these guy’s. Still I just loved taking in the atmosphere.

This was my personal favourite of the show

Just look at the detail............. amazing!

This is workmanship at it's very best

I found Star-Com really quickly and bought a boom mic head set and an extra cable that cost £40 up on last year. So much for a recession it has obviously not affected the bike industry. Next, I came across Nick Sanders selling his books and Yamaha Promotional DVD’s at £20 for three items. So chose a couple of books and I had a DVD thrown in to make up the pack. Nick was kind enough to sign the two books to me and pose for a picture together though Jeannie thinks I look like LBK on the picture and Nick look’s............. well make your own mind up.

Nick Sanders, Globe Trotter

And his last bike the famous R1

I had a good look at the Victory stall and especially at their flag ship cruiser Cross Country Tour, which I think looks just amazing. Mind I think I would need another garage to be able to store it safely.

Mmmmmm Very Sexy indeed

There were famous faces everywhere

However, truth be known I was here for one reason and one reason only. To say hello to the one and only Mr. Sam Manicom and when I found him and shook his hand I received a great big welcoming smile, this was reinforced once I introduced myself by name. Sam gave he another massive hand shake and we just started to chat as if we had know each other for years. This guy is a seriously, seriously nice bloke. We chatted for a good 15 minutes which when you realise how many possible customers came past was really good of Sam to spend so much time with me. I bought two books both highly recommended by Sam, India:-The Shimmering Dream by Max Reisch and The Hunt for Puerto Del Faglioli by Paddy Tyson (which Sam signed, “To Ray F Walton as recommended by Sam). I hope I returned the favour of the recommendations as whilst we were chatting a chap asked Sam about his books, Sam said “Ray, can you tell this gentlemen about my books” I didn’t need a second invitation I was away waxing lyrically about the start of Into Africa, quoting facts and figures, I amazed myself at how much information I had retained. Walking away a few minute later leaving Sam to earn a living I noticed the gentleman had picked up both Into Africa and Under Asian Skies so I was pleased to have helped in my own little way.

I look like the cat that got the cream,
200,000 miles in 8 Years and folk's think I'm mad!
Top Bloke.

Two book's down two to go

Anyway another hour of walkingdaze taking pictures and sitting on bikes of every size and shape you can imagine and I was ready for a drink and a bit to eat. With so many stalls to choose from there is no reason on earth to go hungry. I plumped for sausage and chips with onions and brown sauce, a can of leaded cola and that was me stuffed.

You just have to finish with a star
Wayne Rainey.. No. 1

Back to the bike, a quick call to J to say I was heading back and would see her in a couple of hours and that was my day at the NEC Bike Show over for another year. I’m really pleased I took the time to visit this year, I’ve come away feeling like it was a day well spent. Secretly though I’m just chuffed to bits to have had a chat with Mr. Sam Manicom, if you’re reading this Sam (which I know he will do sooner or later) you’re a star and a gentleman.

What a fantastic Day.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Walton’s “Wardle Wash” does Pudsey Proud

Where do I start, at the end I suppose? We raised a massive £404.82 thanks to all the fantastic support of friends, neighbours and family bringing all manner of vehicles to be washed.

·         38 Cars

·         2 Push Bikes

·         1 Motorbike

·         1 School Bus

·         1 Motor Home

·         & a Police Van

All in a three day period.

The plan started 3 weeks ago when I suggested the idea to Jeannie who was behind it straight from the start. I wanted to do something that I hopped would get a lot of support (which it did) and I could do from home as I’m a little fed-up of riding around the UK on my own now.

So first thing I did was get onto the BBC Children in Need Appeal web site and order a fund raising pack. Next I designed and printed out 50 flyers. Lilie Rose helped me mail-shot every house on Wardle Road one Sunday morning. I then dropped off a flyer at Bob the Butcher, Colin at the Post Office, I took some into St James’s C of E School for the staff, and finally put one on the village notice board. I then bought 2 Fund Raising Packs from the BBC Pudsey eBay shop so I could decorate the house. Lastly I decorated up a Yellow plastic container as a collection bucket complete with sellotaped on lid. Job’s a good’n’.

Now Alan next door was an absolute star as when I told him about my idea and the fact I would need to close his gate and put an arrow on it, he was 100% up for it. He even had a sign made for me to put by the road side with all the details on. What an absolute star.

Well from the Monday before the opening I started putting the sign out to inform people where we were. Tuesday the Fund Raining packs arrived and it was time to decorate the front of the house with the balloons and bunting. It looked great and you could see the car wash from both ends of the road, result!

If you could not see this you should not be driving! 

So Tuesday afternoon was final prep time and a quick nip to Halfords in Rochdale to top up on kit. 5 litres of car wash fluid, 3 litres of alloy wheel cleaner, 3 buckets, 3 sponges, 2 cloths, 1 towel, 2 wheel cleaning brushes, a power washer, hose, 2 chairs and gazebo, sorted!


At 8.30 I set up the wash in front of the garage leaving the gazebo down as the weather was fantastic, bright sun shine all be it the start of November. Opening the gates at 9.00am on the dot, how sad is that, to no one! After half an hour and still no one coming a little panic started to creep in, “What if no one comes?” I thought. It is most people’s pride and joy I’m looking at washing. They don’t know I’ve been cleaning bikes and cars for over 35 years........

Jeannie emailed Steve Penk on 96.2 The Revolution who read out the whole email and gave me a great big round of applause.

Then I had the great idea, wash Jeannie’s car............ then Lilie Roses VW......... donations in the bucket. Then finally at 11.00am my first customer Helen the mum of one of Ben’s football playing friends appeared. “Can I get my car washed?” “Certainly, drive straight on”,   I was off!

Jo (no.1) car ......... coming up great

That was the start of three days of good old fashioned car washing, at one point there were 5 cars up and over the drive. As it was taking me 25- 35 minutes a car I know for a fact one lady had brought a book, but not once did anyone complain. In fact the opposite was true and some asked if I fancied doing the wash monthly they were that chuffed with the finished results.

You know you must be doing something right
when you have V-Dub's as far as the eye can see

My system is simple but works, jet wash the car, bike, bus, van or whatever, spray wheels with alloy wheel cleaner (something that Jeannie ended up buying 2 more litres of! Note to self buy a 5 litre tub next time)then go round and scrub wheels, jet wash off wheels, wash car with sponge, jet wash off, dry off windows with squidgy, remove excess water with cloth one, buff up and dry with cloth two......... next please.

By the close of Wednesday I had washed 12 cars and Ben’s Push bike for which he made a donation, good lad, charity begins at home as they say.


The gates were opened at 8.30 with the first car arriving shortly afterwards. The day ran really smoothly with a steady stream of cars. Then out of the blue, Bob arrived from Doncaster on his BMW GS 1200 bike. My one and only motorbike bike to be washed in the three days. It was great to see a member of the IBA arrive to take advantage of the car wash, mind I did have a couple of pledges and a donation through PayPal for a virtual Bike wash (I’m still trying to sort that for you Rick) all of which went into the bucket.

Bob having a go D.I.Y. style

Bob left around 2.30pm, just after which the Vicar Mr. Howells came up the drive. “Ben may come home from school a little delicate this afternoon” he said. “Why, what’s wrong” “Sadly, Amy one of his class mates as passed away today” I have tears in my eyes as I type this and so will just say we had a very, very sad evening in the Walton Household Thursday night.


It was with a heavy heart that I set about setting up on Friday morning but knew I had committed to three days and was really hoping for a final push. We got another mention on 96.2 The Revolution radio station whishing us well for the last day of the Wardle Wash. I opened the gates at 8.00 and ended up giving Lilie Roses School Bus a blast off once she was safely on board, the children loved it. At 8.30 I had my first car on the drive, number 20. Karen one of Lilie Roses carers popped in on the way to work followed by a never ending stream of people a lot of which I have never seen ever. It was fantastic, the support was amazing. I had my first break at 2.30pm for 10 minutes then I was off again finishing at 6.15 in the pitch black. I had intended on finishing at 4.00pm as it was dark at that time that idea went out the window with me washing numerous cars in the dark using just the outside light to find my buckets.

The little ones where having a ball...

Smiles all round

Can I just say a massive thank you to every single person that trusted me with their pride and joy’s, to the cyclist who I de-gunged on his way home, neighbours who brought numerous cars round, the motor home owner who almost saw me finished for the day, the Manc Riders & IBA lads who made donations for virtual washes, the few people that had clean cars and still stopped and made donations and to Caitlin my youngest donator. You were all brilliant and I thank you so very much.

Little............(Jo no.2)

"N" Large..........

I have two thank you’s to make who, without their support I could not have run the Wardle Wash.

Firstly, Alan who loaned me his jet wash when mine decided to play around, made the Car Wash sign for the side of the road, allowed me to block off his drive and decorate his gate with balloons and arrows and for leaving his car down the road for three days so he could get in and out. You’re a star Alan, thank you.

Finally to my dear wife Jeannie who, kept me topped up with a never ending supply of hot buckets of water, coffee, toast, Alloy wheel cleaner and moral boosting chats when things where a little quite. Thank you Sweetheart x x x

I would like to dedicate this whole event to the loving memory of Amy, rest in peace Little Lady.

Friday, 11 November 2011

11 O'Clock on the 11th Day of the 11 Month in the 11th Year. "We Will Remember Them"

Armistice Day




"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them."

"We Will Remember Them"

Camp Bastion.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

"Wardle Wash" in aid of Children in Need


WArdle Wash
Three Days Only
Wednesday 16thto Friday 18th- 9am till 4pm
All Donations to
Children in Need
So bring your Car’s & Motorbikes along TO
The Tryst – Wardle Road

Monday, 7 November 2011

Halo Day at The Walton's

All Year Bikers Halo Smart Clean Day

As with most subject bike, I was chatting to Ron on MSN Messenger as we do, when he told me about Halo Smart Clean. I had never heard of it before so clicked on the link he had sent through.

After having a good root around the site and watching the video on my favourite site YouTube, I posted up on the Manc Riders site if anyone would be interested in a Halo Day at mine. After just a couple of days I had 4 takers so I fired off an email using the sites Contact Us page requesting more information. I got an automated response within almost straight away which read:-
Hi Ray F

Thank you for your enquiry.

This has now been forwarded for processing. We aim to respond within 48 hours, please be aware though that we are sometimes away on venues and during this time the office is unmanned. In these cases we will respond to you as soon as we return.


I was well chuffed when I received a call from Steve the Warrington based rep introducing himself and organising a date for Steve to come over. Sadly the Saturday all the lads had hoped for was full but Steve suggested the Sunday. After a couple of days on the site it was apparent that there would be just LBK and myself as the other guys were working. I gave Steve a call and he was all good to go with just two so we set the date Sunday 6th November. I picked Ben up from school on Friday on the bike and one of the IAM lads was chatting to me which planted a seed. I emailed Phil to see if he knew anyone interested, Phil was so we were up to three.

Job sorted I left it at that till Sunday morning when I remembered one of my neighbours Andy had a couple of bikes so just dropped him a text. After the usual last minute re-arranging of who would be up first the order ran, Phil with his Triumph Rocket, LBK Triumph 1050 Tiger and yours truly with Mr. T.

Steve was set to arrive at 1000am so I asked Phil to get here at 9.30 so the bike was cool enough to start washing. Low and behold Phil arrived at 9.15 and Steve at 9.30 thanks to no one in Rochdale being out on the roads.  We were off!

Lilie Rose took a close interest in everything.
The weather was just amazing for a November Sunday. 

The system is quite straight forward and uses some really nifty kit. Jet wash, compressor and an Air Force Blaster, Cleaning Sprayers all all shapes and sizes, Cleaning brushes, Polish, ACF50 plus enough polishing cloths and dusters to keep me going for a year. After erecting the gazebo Steve got stuck straight in with the Rocket and I made the first of many brews.

All present and correct, plus a visitor!
1030am only 4 bikes, no pressure then Steve.

Yes you did read right as Andy dropped his Triumph 955i Speed Triple off as Steve was cleaning Phil’s Rocket.

The Process

First it’s a jet wash, remove all the loose muck, then a spray with a hand pressurised spray coating the bike in a mild de-greaser this is then given a good brushing over using a long handled brush taking care to get in all those hard to reach places. The chain if you have one is given a slightly stronger dose of cleaner and then all this is rinsed off, then comes the “magic foam” which is then left to run off taking the remaining dirt with it. The bike is then blow dried for want of another description. Once thoroughly dried, the wheels are covered in cloth, the whole bike is then loosely covered and ACF50 is applied under pressure braking down the molecules and gets into every single nuck and cranny. The covers are removed and the polishing starts. Finally the paint work received a good coating of polish which is then buffed up to a high sheen. Now that is how I personally would describe the process after watching four bikes get cleaned.

All foamed up.... looking better already LBK!



Apply ACF50.................

Then polish everywhere........

For some fantastic reslults....over

and over...............

again............... Fantastic!

The day went really well and Steve did a great job off all the bikes, spending two hours on each, not missing an inch. The feedback from the guys was really impressive and it turns out it was £60 well spent!

Then it was time for home.........
Steady as you go

Here is the official video which appears on the Halo Site.

I’m really pleased everyone had a great day, I know Lilie Rose loved all the attention and being involved from the very start. The bacon butties went down well too. I did feel a little guilty as Steve was at it from 9.30am to almost 5.00pm and survived on numerous cups of tea and not a bit to eat all day, sorry mate I should have offered you a butty or something mid day I just never thought.

All in all a great day with fantastic weather, supper friends, some amazing bikes and a really great hard grafting Halo Rep who did his company proud. Well done and thank you for all your effort Steve.


Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Mr. T's 6000 Mile Service...................... DONE!

Well I took Mr. T back to Keith Dixon Motorcycles in Accrington yesterday for the 6000 mile service with 6069 miles on the clock, not too bad in 6 months.

I dropped him of at 9.15am and after a quick chat with the mechanic and with a coffee in hand I explaining Mr. T had cut out a couple of times whilst warm. He knew of the problem, some sensor or something, "nothing major, I'll sort it" and with that he rode Mr. T round to the workshop.

Keith wheeled out my "Pocket Rocket" a brand spanking new R6 which I had asked for when I'd booked Mr. T in the week before. "Oh my G*d!!! What have I done" as I stood over the pocket sized missile.

 As soon as I went to pull away and had to tuck my knees under my chin I knew this was going to be fun. Winding on the power the front end went light and with sad realisation I knew I was getting old, very old. By the time I had weaved my way through Accrington town centre traffic, everything started to jell. I'd sussed out how to get my touring boots onto the peg without clipping the gear or rear brake leavers. My wrists had stopped feeling aggrieved at being set at 80 degrees, I'd realised that if I popped my visor up one notch I could see out without the pin lock getting in the way. Plus I needed all the air I could muster. My new Dianese Touring suit was doing its best to strangle me, only after opening the press studs could I actually move my head freely. As for the mirrors, what mirrors? Elbow enlarging viewers, would be a better description. I could not see a single thing behind me.

I was so chuffed to get onto the dual carriageway and wind on a little more power. As the tyres were un-used I took it steady up to 70 mph where the wind just lifted me enough to take the pressure off of my wrists. Moving out to overtake always drew admiring glances. The duel carriageway sweeps into a nice slow left then a huge sweeping right down hill. Bliss if there is nothing else on the road but at 9.45am “White van men” have total control. Dropping from there 90mph cruising speed down to 50 with the front end of their steeds almost dive bombing into the tarmac I just eased off and watched as the first three almost became one. Why is there never any “Boy’s in Blue” around when you need them.

Ow’d Bet’s was a real eye opener, the new 50mph limit was the only thorn in the side but even at that the bends just vanished. The steering is so predictable and precise, drop down two, wind her on and whoosh, next please. I was having a ball but all too soon the first set of lights popped into sight and 30mph was the order of the day. You can tell you’ve gone over the hill as you no longer take speed limit signs as a target to double! (Did I just say that, no never officer?)

Back at home I left the “Pocket Rocket” on the drive ready for a couple of pictures. J spotted it and asked if that was my new “Porn Star”. Truth is I used to ride an R6 as my works bike for a good few months, a black one with red “Porn Star” stickers above the heal guards. The lads working on the house loved the bike and named it accordingly, it stuck!

A nice little "Pocket Rocket" to play with!

Very, very nice, just too small for me!
The call came at just after 2.00pm Mr. T was ready to be collected so I jumped back on and way I went. This time after a quick bob in to the petrol station for a fiver’s worth of fuel I slipped straight through Rochdale’s traffic. Ow’d Bet’s was brilliant. The bends just slipped by again but this time I felt at ease, dropping a couple of clicks just on the lead in, winding it on just before the apex and straight back up two in rapid fire. As ever you get the good old “Corsa King” giving it rice in second and third, shame he nearly ended up in the ditch at the bottom of the dip. Why do they always see a bike as “The target” Got to tail gate, got to try and over take, pull in so close to the front wheel you can see the car mag’s on the parcel shelf with the two great holes ready for his 1000 watt speakers ruing from his 25 watt head unit. What a plank! Still don’t you just love traffic lights, filtering to the front and giving him a wave as he sat waiting for the next change of lights.

Back at the shop it was straight up stairs to pay.

“That will be £220 please”

“How much?”

“I was told it would be about £140 when I booked it in”

“Sorry about that but you were miss informed”.

“I’ll say”

Shock over I went down to see Mr. T being rolled round the front of the shop. A quick farewell to Keith and his assistant (the one who got it so wrong I could not say anything to him”) and I was back onto my trusty friend.

What a massive relief after being folded up like an origami swan for the morning to be sat on as comfortable and commanding as ever. Starting him up was music to my ears. Almost silent at tick-over, I pulled away from the shop and blow me if the front end didn’t go light on me. I really do need to chill out a little. The ride home was inspired, the bends , what bends? Straight through the traffic (what a massive difference having no panniers on makes) and within what felt like minutes I was back in my own garage re-fitting the AltRider Bash Plate, which I’d taken off the previous evening to save me half an hours labour.

The bill reads

Shaft Oil................................. £11.50

Engine Oil...............................£44.58

Oil Filter .................................£11.70

Sump Washers ........................£2.26

Air Filter .................................£30.70

Labour  - 2 & Half Hours .......£120.00

Grand Total ............................£220.74

Just a quick addition, J came over to my Dad & Ange's in Alton today just to sort out the trip on the 11th. So after the fall how did she do? ............................... answer - Brilliantly, I didn't even know she was on the back at all. No issues getting on or more importantly off and our lunch at the Church Inn just outside Buxton was outstanding. Arriving home at 27 minutes past 3 was not so good but Dash appreciatted being picked up on Mr. T 3 minutes later. How close was that?