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.

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