Thursday, 29 November 2012

NEC Motorcycle Live Show November 2012

I just love the NEC Motorcycle Live Show 

My day started with me getting up at my usual time of 7.00am with plans to meet Lefty, one of my close Manc Rider mates, at the services on the M6. Unfortunately the morning just ran away with itself, as it does from time to time. Before I knew it I was rushing to get away for 8.00am. Come 5  past 8 I knew I was pushing my luck so started getting stressed out as I just HATE being late for anything.

The ride around Manchester on the M60 Circular was horrendously slow. Chocker with the usual workers and trucks all vying for each other’s blood, with me on Mr T getting in the way of a good bumper sniffing session on a number of occasions.

Pulling into Knutsford services at exactly 5 past 9 I knew I was late but was shocked. No Lefty! Had he set off without me? I checked my mobile, no text or missed call. Don’t tell me Lefty was late, never, he’d rather cut his own ear of, fry it with onions and eat it in a bread roll. Then the mobile rang, could I get the voice answering to work on the new Sena SMH10 BlueTooth headset. NOPE!

“Shit!” I missed the call. It rang again, so I just pressed the answer button on the hand set through the clear plastic cover of the waterproof charger. Bingo!

“Ay up Lefty!”

“How do. Are you at Knutsford Services by any chance?”

“Yep! Where are You”


“Shit, right see you in a couple of minutes”

“Have you got a cold?”

“No why?”

“Sounds like you have”

“No it’s this new head set mate”

“Oh right, sounds shit! Do you want a brew?”

“Coffee, white, one sugar Ta”

“OK see you later”

With that I started Mr T, who sounded like a bag of marbles (more about this later) for a few seconds before settling back down to his normal quite burble.

Pulling into Sandbach Services I spotted Lefty’s new mount parked on the pavement outside the café window. A gleaming blue and white Suzuki GSX750 62 reg………….. whooooooo, sexy. (the bike- not you, you Lefty).

My brew was waiting for me on the floor in the café entrance. Apologies given for being late and a quick hello and look around Lefty’s bike I started to calm down. We had a good chat about what we were both looking for at the NEC.

Coffee’s drunk, I popped to the loo, returning to see the slit in my back tyre staring me in the face. Now I knew it was there as I’d seen it at Belfast docks, what I hadn't seen was the little black piece of something stuck in it. I started to try and pull the foreign body out but couldn’t get a grip. Lefty wasn’t too keen on me pulling whatever it was out as I could quite easily end up with a flat back tyre.

“Stuff it, it’s coming out” and with that I slowly used Lefty’s penknife screwdriver to prize out a shard of glass the same size as the nail on little fingers. The tyre stayed up, result!

Not a great start to our day out!

We didn’t see a single bike until we entered the NEC labyrinth of roads and roundabouts, that was after taking just one wrong turn at the penultimate roundabout. Mind there were still only 3 or 4 bikes heading into the showground. However there were loads of cars pouring in. It’s amazing what effect 2 degrees Centigrade has on peoples view of riding, still they were there no matter what transport they chose to arrive by and that’s what really counts.

Parking was in the same hall as last year, Hall 1 with wristbands being issued at the entrance one for Mr T, one for me. A simply brilliant idea, lose one, lose your bike. No not really but you get the idea.

De-kitted, lids & jacket locked in panniers and top box we made our way to the main hall. Lefty stopped for a smoke just as Jeannie called to ask something about home giving me the opportunity to let her know we had arrived safe and sound.

Now as this was my second visit in as many years I’d come prepared with a “To-do list”.

Top of the list, buy three StarCom Curley leads, two for Bez and one for me. Get fitted for a set of custom fit ear plugs, the brand unimportant just as long as they worked and worked well. Next buy Jeannie some new waterproof trousers in black with pink trim. I know how “Girlie” she likes her bike gear to be.
Last but not least find Sam and check what he would like to eat at the IBA National Christmas Meeting and pass on paperwork from Phil the IBA UK President. (I was also planning on having a brew and a butty with Bruce of fame on the Bridgestone Tyre stand but sadly his meeting was changed at the last minute, next time Bruce, next time).

Lefty just wanted to have a good look around and see what the show was all about, so in we went……………

The Triumph stand was straight in front of us and the first bike I saw was an Army Green Scrambler with knobblies, sadly I forgot to take a photo. Next I spotted the Yamaha stand, after a good scoot around it was off to the Suzuki stand. 

Triumph Explorer All "Blingged Up" with
Neon Blue Lights

Is it a Ducati, is it an MV Agusta, nooooooooooo
It's the amazing Daytona 675R
Fantastic bike if you have £10,750

Then on to the Kawasaki stand, where upon Lefty suddenly pulled out a metal ruler and promptly started taking measurements of the front fork legs diameter much to the amazement of a passing stranger.

It's all precision stuff you know

50 Mill "Bob On!"

Next came the Norton (which I forgot to take a picture of)stand followed by the KTM, Honda, and Victory stands. 

KTM 450 Factory Dakar Rally Bike

Honda's brand new entry into the 
Dakar Rally
Honda CRF450 Dakar X

We had a good look at the Readers Rides competition entrants display. This is where Trinity could / would have been if I had been lucky enough to have got picked from the thousands of bikes entered in on-line the competition run by Carol Nash Insurance. Unfortunately we were in Spain when the competition started and I don’t feel Trinity is quite ready to face the public just yet. Maybe next year, we will see!

I just wish Trinity had been in this line-up

Very nice, very nice indeed
Watch this space next year!

Walking past RaceFit stand I spotted someone I thought I knew, asking his colleague “Is that Mark by any chance” The reply confirmed it was. I waited for Mark to finish talking to the couple of guys in front of me and took the opportunity to find the picture of Trinity on my mobile.

“Do you recognise these” I said to Mark, thrusting my mobile under his nose.

His eyes lit up with delight.

“Brilliant you got it finished, how are you?”

Mark, who is better known as the face of RCD Tec,  is the guy who designed and built Trinity’s rear-sets using only the original rear-sets and his skill as one of the best rear-set builders in the UK, in my humble opinion. Check out his web site at then tell me I’m wrong.

Here's the RaceFit Suzuki GSX1000
All kitted out with RCD Tec Rear-sets

Over to one side there was a stand with Kawasaki Z900, Z650 (my third ever bike) and Z1000 all lined up. I was in second heaven and would have loved to have been able to have a sit on the Z650 just for old times’ sake. It must have been 1983 that I owned and was promptly banned for 6 months, from riding my Z650. I loved that bike, even if it did have a tendency to tank slap the hell out of me at every occasion, especially riding along Tibshelf Road at break neck speeds through 45 degree left and right handers heading into Eyam. Happy, pre 50mph Derbyshire, day’s.

The Mighty Z900 - The true "Daddy"

My third bike ever a Kawasaki Z650
(mine was in the same colour as the Z1000 behind)

Still I did get to have a sit on one particularly nice Kawasaki ZX10R no less.

Please Jeannie, can I , go you know I'll be good!
Ye right, of cause I will.....

StarCom stall found after a good look around I asked the lady for three leads, she could not find them. So with empty hands and promising to return later we headed off down the rows and rows of bike gear stalls. Lefty drifted off a few times, as did I, but we managed to keep finding each other. More luck than judgment at times I think. I even asked one stall holder if the neon lights stuck to the back of a helmet would work on Lefty’s head so I wouldn’t lose him in the crowd. Strange thing was, each time Lefty re-appeared he had another bloody plastic bag with everything from free calendars to very nice bits of Yoshimura engine protection in it.

I stumbled across a very small stall with a couple of chaps selling ear plugs with some very “Trick” filter inside. After having a good chat with the chap, I chose to buy a couple of pairs to try out namely because he was so informative and had explained it was the same technology used in these £20 ear plugs that was in their own bespoke fit £140 ear plugs. Well the info all added up and with the show price set at £14.95 I would have been mad not to have bought them. They are called “auritech” Hearing Protectors Biker, precision noise filtration. I can now tell you after the ride home with them in they are worth 10 times what I paid for them, they are fantastic. Take a look at their website for more details but if you’re at the show and thinking of custom fit ear protection, try these first you will not regret it.

This was the first time I lost Lefty but after a couple of mobile calls we found each other and as it happened Lefty had stumbled across Sam selling his books from the Travel-Dri stall
opposite the Kawasaki stand.

As ever we received a very warm welcome from Sam and had a good old catch up as I’d not seen him since the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Belper earlier in the year. We chatted about this and that and generally got in the way of Sam’s book stand. Still it was nice to catch up with him and also get his menu choice for the Christmas meeting.

After a 10 minute break for coffee and a pasty, (no smoke for Lefty as the old guy on the back door refused to let Lefty through) we traced our steps back first to the StarCom stand to collect the 3 cables, then on to the London Leather stall to buy Jeannie’s new waterproof trousers.  So within half an hour I had exhausted my entire “To-do List”.

Lefty was happy with his purchases and so we decided head home, via the Yamaha stand where I’d spotted a very nice red paddock jacket at £54.

Trying it on it fitted perfectly.

“£30 to you sir”

“Sorry, I thought they were £54”

“Not today, to you right now £30, do you need a mirror?”

“ No ta I’m beautiful enough, on the inside that is, the outside is irrelevant!” the guy who had been watching the proceedings cracked up laughing.

“I like your style mate” came the remark.

Paddock, bargain basement jacket, bought, grinning we headed back to the bikes ready for the steady ride home.

The end of a great day at the NEC
Motorcycle Live Show

All in all I had an absolutely brilliant day and I hope, in fact I know, Lefty did too. The only sad thought that crossed my mind was that the show marks the official end to the 2012 “Riding Season”. From now on in its all about grabbing each fine day and going for it before the temperatures plunge below 0 degrees and make riding both very uncomfortable and at times downright dangerous. 

My favorite photo of the day

Simply Breathtaking..............
Until next year, Bye for now!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Day 19 The Wandering Walton’s quest for Olympic Gold Post Boxes is Complete!

Sunday 25th November - Day 19                                               Daily Mileage 30 - Total 6739

110 Gold Post Boxes

Having spent 19 days in the saddle riding 6739 Miles over a period of 4 months and I can now say with pride that I have visited every single “Official” Gold Post Box within the UK!

Saturday was made especially memorable when I saw myself on the front cover of our local paper,the Rochdale Observer and an almost full page spread appearing on page 3 no less! It had been written by Katie Storey the reporter who I’d spoken to earlier in the week.

This is what Katie had to say:- 

A proud Brit has completed his own Olympic challenge by visiting every medal winner's golden postbox.

Ray Walton, 50, from Wardle travelled 6,709 miles  on his motorbike visiting all but one of the 110 postboxes, from rower Heather Stanning's in Lossiemouth, in north east Scotland to team dressage medal champion Carl Hester's in Sark, Guernsey.

He set himself 22 days to complete the challenge - the same time it took the Olympians and Paralypians to win the medals - but when he chalks off the final box, cyclist Philip Hines in Manchester, he will have finished the set in just 19 days.

The former motorbike salesman said: "I watched one or two events - the cycling in particular.

"I wasn't a mad Olympian, but I am patriotic and proud of what Team GB achieved - this is my way of showing my respect."

Royal Mail announced they were to paint a post box gold in the home-town of every Olympic champion after the games this summer.

Ray covered the distance in between caring for his daughter Lilie Rose, 12, who has Cerebral Palsy, and visited some of the post boxes with his wife Jeannie and son Ben, 11.

He has arranged to ride to the final postbox with a group of fellow bikers to Piccadilly Gardens Manchester.

He added: "My most productive day was 'Golden Sunday' when I visited London and collected 26 gold postbox photos in 18 hours on the way there and around London with my best friend Roland Fenwick.

"I have blogged ever single ride documenting the route, mileage ridden and phots of each and every gold postbox."

Ray also held a charity car wash on his drive in Wardle Road and raised £200 for Children in Need.

Ray added:" I will be visiting Manchester with Jeannie and a group of my biker friends who will ride in together from Sandbrook Park to celebrate my gold postbox challenge ride." 
For more information on the gold postbox route visit Ray's blog at: 

I went a little mad on Twitter for a while and got some fantastic Re-Tweets by Manchester Evening News, Rochdale Observer, Katie Storey and Sarah Storey Paralympic 4 times Gold Medallist no less.

Of course my good friend Bruce Smart of fame also gave me a fair few Re-Tweets which I really appreciate but I also want to mention Mark Ridler, Motorbike TV, , Gold Post Box Family, PaulaJubilee, Keep Britain Biking and last but not least my Manc Rider mate Glen Locket. It is simply wonderful that so many of you have shared my Gold Post Box Journey with me via Twitter and The Wandering Walton’s Blog and of course riding with me. Thank you all so very much.

Sunday I woke at 8.15am, no alarm, no prompting just “ping” I was awake. You know the sort of awake I mean, wide awake, as if you’ve never been to sleep at all. I was buzzing with anticipation. Looking out through the bedroom window the trees were swaying violently from side to side but there was very little rain.

My first thought was, “brilliant, no snow!” After getting almost daily weather alerts from Oggy by text I was starting to think about the weather far more now than I ever had done over the previous 18 outings. One thing I never do is look at weather reports. Why? The simple answer is, I don’t care! I have all the gear I need to get the job done and as long as there’s no snow or ice on the ground that’s me happy. I hate snow and ice when I’m out riding it’s just saps all the fun out of riding.

So with the weather blowing a gale, the rain trying its hardest to break through and me grinning from ear to ear I got myself “Triple S’ed” (Sh…., showered & shaved). By the time I was sorted Jeannie was up, Ben was watching kids TV and Lilie Rose had woken up ready for her breakfast.

The morning flew by like it always does. By the time Leah arrived to look after Lilie Rose & Ben whilst Jeannie & I went on our final Gold Post Box adventure together with the Manc Riders I’d calmed down, well almost.
9.40am on the dot we pulled off the drive heading to ASDA to fill up Mr T. You see I like everything to run in sequence, up, sorted, out, fuel, ride. It just seems to make everything feel sort of comfortable.

Pulling into the Sandbrook  Park car park at exactly 10.00am the “Breakfast Crew” were already there waiting for us. Within 2 minutes the rest of the guys arrived. 

How appropriate that we should meet in front of
Rochdale Co-operative Offices.

I was totally bowled over when Dave and Bez both presented me with my very own Gold Post Boxes. Dave’s being a money box which now has pride of place in the living room and the other from Bez being an antique Brass Post Box. They’re both fabulous and I really do appreciate all your kind efforts.

I asked Panman to take point as he likes to keep busy and I really just wanted to enjoy riding into Manchester. Initially there were 8 bikes and 10 of us but we stopped on Oldham Broadway where Chris and his son Kieran joined us on their bikes.

It was fantastic, riding into Manchester down Oldham Road all 10 bikes making their way to the final Gold Post Box on the edge of Piccadilly Gardens painted in honour of all the Olympic and Paralympic Cyclist who had won Gold Medals. I must admit, the fact that the post box was painted Gold well into my journey had started and after I had visited Manchester just told me “Fate” was looking after me once more. Why else would it have to be in Manchester if not so the Manc Riders could visit it with me and notch up their own very first Gold Post Box?

Arriving at the Gold Post Box I pulled up alongside the Gold Post Box leaving Panman to deal with what turned out to be a very unhappy “Salford Geezer” who had walked straight in front of both of us across green traffic lights. Still it made for good entertainment whilst everyone else parked up around the show, sorry Gold Post Box.

Gold Post Box number 110

Glen, Dave, Martin, Chris, Sam, Keith, Jeannie, Phil, Andy, Lefty, Chris, Kieran
Me kneeling down & Kev behind the camera. 

Photos were taken, pedestrians explained to as to what we were all doing there and all in all I think we all bar none had a brilliant Gold Post Box experience.

The Manc Riders

After the photo shoot we all said our goodbyes and went our separate ways with a few of the guy’s including Sam & Jeannie, heading back to ours for coffee and cake just to round off what was an outstanding finally to a simply amazing day.

Piccadilly Gardens Manchester
Gold Post Box in celebration of all the Cycling Gold Medals

Day Nineteen - 1 Gold Post Box
The Best
Gold Post Box number 110

The Wandering Walton’s Quest for Olympic Gold….. Post Boxes Obviously!  Is Complete!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Gold Post Box Challenge Ride Guide

6709 Miles Ridden in 18 Days

109 Gold Post Boxes Photographed

Day 1 & 2

Day One 3 Gold Post Boxes

Wednesday 8th    August 2012           Daily Mileage 119 Miles - Total 119

Day Two - 5 Gold Post Boxes

Friday 10th         August 2012            Daily Mileage   95 Miles - Total  214

Day 3 & 4

Day Three - 2 Gold Post Boxes

Thursday 30th   August                     Daily Mileage 96 Miles -  Total 310

Day Four - 4 Gold Post Boxes

 Wednesday 5th September                Daily Mileage 307 Miles - Total 617

Day 5

Day Five - 7 Gold Post Boxes

        Thursday 6th September                    Daily Mileage 316 Miles – Total 933

Day 6

Day Six - 6 Gold Post Boxes

       Tuesday 11th September                    Daily Mileage 184 Miles – Total 1117

Day 7 & 8

Day Seven - 7 Gold Post Boxes

Thursday 13th September                  Daily Mileage 316 – Total 1433

Day Eight - 2 Gold Post Boxes

Friday 14th September                      Daily Mileage 353 – Total 1786

Day 9

Day Nine - 10 Gold Post Boxes

  Thursday 27th September                  Daily Mileage 500 – Total 2286

Day 10

Day 10 - 26 Gold Post Boxes

Sunday 30th September                   Daily Mileage 539 – Total 2825

Day 11

Day Eleven - 4 Gold Post Boxes

      Monday 1st October                       Daily Mileage 275 – Total 3100

Day 12

Day Twelve - 3 Gold Post Boxes

Thursday 11th October                   Daily Mileage 485 – Total  3585

Day 13

Day Thirteen - 7 Gold Post Boxes

Thursday 18th October                    Daily Mileage 860 – Total  4445

Day 14

Day Fourteen - 12 Gold Post Boxes

Thursday 1st November                  Daily Mileage 889 – Total  5334

Day 15 & 16

Day Fifteen/Sixteen - 3 Gold Post Boxes

Thursday 7th / 8th November           Daily Mileage 668– Total  6002

Day 17

Day Seventeen - 8 Gold Post Boxes

Sunday 11th November                      Daily Mileage 503 – Total  6505

Day 18

Day Eighteen - 1 Gold Post Box

Tuesday 13th November                             Daily Mileage 204 – Total  6709

Happy Day's!

Piccadilly Square in Manchester is

Number 110

Role on Sunday the 25th of  November 2012