Thursday, 24 May 2012

Time for a little R&R before the IBA UK Brit Butt Rally

Well the sun is shining once again, that’s three days in a row now, you know I could get used to this.

It’s been a little hectic in the Walton Household since successfully completing the IBA Ireland SS1000. I can say that now with confidence as Chris confirmed the verification by email a couple of days ago. This means I now have 2 of the four SS1000’s required to qualify for the British Isles SS 1000 Insanity Certificate.

Jeannie & I celebrated our 16th Wedding anniversary up in Grasmere the Friday night after the Ireland ride, with Ben joining us for a walk on Saturday morning. What we didn’t bank on was Ben staying the night in our bed as he just fell in love with the swimming pool and treadmill. Best laid plans and all that but we had a great weekend all the same in a beautiful part of England.

Here's one just for Sue & Clint

Tomorrow I head over to the start location of the IBA UK Brit Butt Rally, a 36 hour point to point event which I have never competed in before. If it were not for Ron I probably would not be entering this year’s if the truth be known, however since I have committed to taking part, I’ve thrown myself into the preparation 100%.

It started two weeks ago with a good ride down through the centre of Wales to visit the Touratech Head Office in Ystradgynlais just the other side of the Brecon Beacon National Park  in South Wales.

The ride was very enjoyable as it is predominantly on 50 mph A roads. Of course that is once I’d got the M62 and a couple of junctions of the M6 out of the way. Pulling over at The Raven Cafe to input the post code for Touratech I found it’s not listed on my Garmin 660. As ever another great start I thought but remembered that it was in my ”custom routes” so minor catastrophe averted I set on the final 126 miles of the 212 mile ride down.

It was Wednesday, the roads void of any kind of traffic whatsoever give or take the odd car or two and obviously a couple of rear tyre hugging vans.

The A483 is a fantastic road as long as you don’t mind riding at 50 mph and staying within  what must be the longest set of double white lines in the whole world. They just go on and on and on. Part of me got a little sick of the damn lines and speed limit but having been blasted past by a couple of impatient, not to mention, illegal van drivers, I soon settled into what turned out to be a leisurely stroll all the way to Ystradgynlais.

What more could a biker ask for?
The Fantastic A483
Stopping off at a roadside cafe and toilets in a lay-by just on the A4067 road into the Brecon Beacon’s I was completely ignored by four aged “born again bikers”. You can spot them a mile off, fantastic 1000cc Sports Bikes, “Chicken Strips” the width of Colonel Sanders Fillets and Fifty Pence’ing to turn the bike around, that and the immaculate new leathers, which always give the game away. Don’t get me wrong I am not prejudice in any way shape or form and welcome everyone to the wonderful world of “Two Wheeled Bliss” but passing your test in the late 60’s and 70’s and then going out and buying a GSXR1000 30 odd years later just makes me shudder with fear. Not just for the rider but for any poor soul who has the misfortune to have to ride anywhere within a 100 yards of them. They’re just a liability! (rant over).

Arriving at the back of the industrial estate upon which the Touratech Unit 14 is based, I was somewhat dismayed to discover them “Closed” 1.35pm on a Wednesday, 212 miles ridden to find the shutters down. There was signs of life inside but there was no way in. (Having just pulled an invoice out from November to check the address it clearly states
***Showroom Open 10AM to 5PM Monday to Saturday ***
along the bottom, maybe I should bill them for my fuel?). Anyway, laugh I could have bust gut. I sent Jeannie a quick update text to pass on the good news. It saved me a small fortunes so it wasn’t all bad news.

Come out, come out where ever you are.
I know your in there ......... Touratech Closed!

Small bottle of water drunk, Snickers bar devoured and my next destination, Stratford upon Avon plumbed into the Garmin 660, I set off on the next 148 mile leg of my trip.

The reason for riding over to Stratford was to visit the Adventure Bike Riders Meeting taking place there which I had read  about on the ABR Forum. The ride became just a little boring from here on in. The single lane, double white lined roads from North Wales turned into a set of very straight dual carriageways which meant I could travel at 70mph also meant there was little to see in the way of views. Mind I had seen so many castles on my travels already I’m planning my return trip already, time permitting that is. Anyway before I knew it I was heading south down the M6 two junctions then off East to Stratford. Traffic was building up horrendously and filtering was not really a viable option as the lanes in the town centre are so tight. 5.25 pm I pulled up outside the restaurant to see three bikes parked right at the side of the building.

The Riverbank Restaurant in Stratford upon Avon

Just as I was tucking into another bottle of water another 2012 plated bike arrived, I watched only 15 foot away as the rider dismounted, helmet & gloves off, steering lock on, and walked straight into the building without even a nod. “Am I bloody invisible today?” I thought aloud. An old guy who was watching and had shouted across to the new arrival “You’ve dropped your glove” looked at me and grinned knowingly. Heading into the building it looked like a very nice bar/cafe but without a single sign of anything bike what so ever anywhere. I even had a nosey upstairs but to no avail, I couldn’t find anyone to do with the meeting at all. I know I was early but surely there must be someone around due to the bikes outside.

Not to be put off I took a couple of pictures of the 5 brand new 2012 plated selection of “Adventure Bikes”, the looked really well all sat in a row. There was a Suzuki DL650 V-Strom, BMW GS1200, Kawasaki Versys 1000, Yamaha XT1200Z, Yamaha XT660Z. I finished my drink and chocolate bar, walked over to the bins to dispose of my rubbish, then in and walked the 30 foot back to my bike. As I started sorting my top box out two more bikes arrived the new Honda Varadero XL1000 and Triumph Tiger Explorer 4 or 5 chaps suddenly came out of the building to greet the new arrivals. “I am invisible!”.

 A great selection of Adventure Bikes
Looking very impressive.

I took a couple more pictures of the assorted bikes in a line, put my camera away and started pulling my helmet on as no one seemed to even notice I was there. Typical, as soon as my lid was on one of the guys came over and asked if I was there for the meeting.

“I was but I’m not now, thanks for asking” was my polite reply.

Plumbing “home” into my trusty Garmin 660, up popped 138 miles to destination, sorted. Riding back out of the car park Stratford was now at a standstill, it was 5.45pm and my ETA went from 7.00pm to 7.25pm in the blink of an eye! “Not good”  I said, as Wednesday night is “Respite Night”. So once I was back at the M6 I didn’t hang around until I caught the tail end of the Manchester Rush hour. Walking in the house at 7.15pm, I was showered and walking back out again by 7.35, not bad going that, if I do say so myself. So with just shy of 500 miles clocked up in a little over 10 hours I put that down to a very enjoyable training ride.

On a positive note the ride confirmed the petrol gauge on the bike does not move at all for 180 miles, it registers Empty/Reserve at 320 miles and will return a combined overall mileage range of 370 miles. I am delighted with the new tank as it has transformed the XT1200Z into a true “IBA Mile Eater”.

On the negative side it re-emphasised the fact that the seat is terrible, giving me a sore backside after 300 miles of constant riding. Plus the MRA Vario Screen just does not suit me on this bike, on the FJR1300 it was amazing, on the XT1200Z the hole at the bottom just lets the wind blow straight through and it’s just too noisy. I have to wear my thick ear plugs all of the time which  is no good at all.

With that in mind I spent a couple of nights trawling the web to find reviews on the Givi Airflow Screen. The reviews all raved about the new designed screen and so it was on to eBay, Amazon and my local dealers to price up the screen. It ranged from £135 to £157, don’t you just love the Internet.

Keith called me to say Yamaha had sent me a box of “Yamaha Goodies” for the RBLR1000 and could I collect them any time, we agreed on this Monday.

With the weather being so great I’ve had a couple of short rides out, one to collect the “Yamaha Goodies” from Keith Dixon Motorcycles where it just so happened that Keith had the Givi Airflow Screen on his demo. One quick look and I was sold, what a push over (mind with 10% discount who can blame me). I fitted it there and then on the pavement in front of the shop, Wow! What a massive difference, I can ride with my visor fully open and still hear my music and not deafen Jeannie with the wind blast as before. Minimal buffeting and so much adjustment I’ve not even had chance to try out all the different height settings available.

So I went from this MRA Vario Screen ....

To this Givi AirFlow Screen
In ten minutes flat.

Tuesday I rode over to the Adventure Bike Warehouse in Sale and bought a pair of Klim Dakar Summer Gloves and a T Bar Wrench with 5 sockets. The gloves are brilliant and for the first time this year I am now taking my gloves off without the linings pulling out with the sweat. I can’t recommend them highly enough and Adventure Bike Warehouse is not bad either, but seriously, If you’re looking for anything Klim, or bike suits, boots, helmets, gloves, bags give them a call or better still drop in as you get a free brew guaranteed. There a pair of top blokes and well worth visiting, plus they run a great servicing department.

Wednesday saw Jeannie and I head off over to Derbyshire to visit my Dad and Ang who we’ve not seen for a couple of months, “where does the time go?” The ride over was all A and B roads out through Ashton, straight through Glossop over the “Snake Pass” stopping for a cracking “brew and  a bacon and egg buttie” at a road side cafe where we got chatting to Frank. A really nice guy from Rotherham on a Triumph, having passed his test only a year ago he’d already clocked up 4000 miles. I was well chuffed for him especially when he said he was trading in the Street Triple for a 675 Daytona. Top Man Frank, I hope you enjoy your 675 as much as I did mine and make sure you go for it and get off over to Europe as soon as you can, “You know you want to”.

All "de-kitted" ready for a brew

With a fantastic view of the
Lady Bower Reservoir

Lunch with Dad and Ang was really nice, we sat outside, like I am now, in 34 degree sunshine. (110 in the conservatory- or Library as Ben calls it). We all had a great catch up with Ang showing us pictures of my brother Steven renewing his wedding vows in full military uniform, to his wife of 21 years Tracey. They even hired the car used in the TV series “ Poirot” so it all looked very impressive indeed. Shame I wasn’t invited but hey that’s families for you, plus the little fact we’ve not spoken more than 10 words to each other in 18 years. All the best to you both.

So that brings me squarely bang up to date. I have lowered the new screen and the Touratech Adjustable Screen Mount so it is now mounted to the bike in the lower mount holes. I’ve tided up my “Box of Tricks” removing the full mini socket set and replacing it with the T Bar Wrench and a few useful sockets. The food is bought; cool bag is in the fridge because if the weather is this hot over the weekend “cold water” is going to be the biggest requirement of all. Pies, Pasties, Sweets, Chocolate bars and finally boil in the bag food all set and ready to pack away into top box and if need be a waterproof roll on the back seat. No panniers as they take up too much space when filtering.

Kit I will be wearing is full Hein Gerick Airflow Jacket, Gortex trousers, HG -Summer boots, Gerbings Heated jacket and High Visibility waterproof over jacket are in the top box along with 2 pairs of waterproof gloves for the colder evening time.

All I need to do now is, clear the Garmin 660 of all my old waypoints and routes to make way for the Rally Book Points. Charge my iPod and give Ron a call.

Mr. T all set for the
IBA UK Brit Butt Rally

Roll on Saturday mornings fun and games...................

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