Monday, 28 January 2013

January Déjà vu

It’s really been a cracking January with a couple of trips to Derbyshire the second being rather painful in the Zero Degrees but what a month.

Checking last year’s Blog entry “What a great way to start 2012” I suddenly realised I was almost reliving last January! The month starting rather quite after the new year’s celebrations, then it was new tyres for Mr T at 7,500 miles as I’d had a very quiet 6 months. That was followed by my annual ride to Derbyshire to visit my Mum. Next came the IBA UK RTE (Ride to Eat) at John & Sonia’s and finally the Manc Riders RTE the following day at the Moorcock Inn.

This year has followed the exact same pattern, “déjà vu”, sort of.  I've managed to cram in a couple of extra rides, including “A ride through the mists of Derbyshire” and a  trip to the Lakes. As well as a rather painful trip to visit my Mum’s grave in “Zero Degrees”. However after having such a painful experience during that ride I chose to really gear up for this extreme weather  we are experiencing. Mr T underwent a thorough “Sub-Zero Setup” the details of which I've published on

Mr T in his Sub-Zero Setup
The Continental TKC80's really look the business!

Thursday 17th saw LBK, Lefty, Shafter & myself sat in the audience at the Thwaites Empire Theatre in Blackburn watching Foggy & Whit “Giving it Gas Tour”. It was an absolutely brilliant night out and if you ever get the chance to see these to motorcycling legends my advice is “get yourself  there at by any means”. The two guys just bounce off each other so effortlessly, it’s just like being in the pub with a pair mates taking the rip out of each other. It was a great night out and one I’m so pleased I got to share with the guys.

Foggy & Whit in Full Flow

The Lad's Chilling during the interval!
Lefty, LBK , Shafter & Yours Truly

Saturday 19th we eventually got the VW back weeks after being taken in for repairs. Wednesday we collected the new Peugeot 308cc from Sheffield much to Jeannie’s delight (and mine if the truth be known).

Wednesday 23rd I spent the afternoon fitting Tucano Urbano Handlebar Muffs, initially upside down which took best part of an hour and a set of leg guards that I’d bought online Sunday evening from NippyNormans. Putting the Muffs back on the right way up too all of 10 minutes. Top tip Raymondo “read the instructions first not when Ben find’s them in the bag 3 hours later!”

Thursday 24th saw me back at Keith Dixon Motorcycles in Blackburn with Mr T having a set of Continental TKC80 50/50 tyres fitted with 27,500 miles on the clock. As it was such a great day I checked the time when the guys had finished fitting the tyres, it was 11.20am. “Loads of time” I told myself and dually rode due North over the tops to the Lake District. It was a cracking 200 mile round trip. I even had time to visit the Lakeland MotorMuseum in order to take the obligatory photo outside as part of The Grim RidersMCC Motorcycle History Trail 2013 which I am taking part in this year. The bacon and egg butty with a coffee were excellent by the way, I can thoroughly recommend calling into the café.

Friday 25th it snowed and snowed and snowed.

The car is under that lot, somewhere! 

Saturday 26th  morning we woke to 10 inches of snow which made me smile, “now let’s see what these TKC 80’s can really do” went through my head as I took a photo out of the bedroom window.

Snow! Bring it On!

It was the 3rd Annual IBA UK’s RTE at John & Sonia’s near Cannock and I couldn’t even get the gates to open. I rode Mr T straight out of the garage and turned around in front of the house without missing a beat. The Continental TKC80’s are simply unbelievable in the snow and I just could not wait to get out on them. Ben came with me and we had a really great ride. The temperature sat at a nice 6 degrees C. Arriving to find a few familiar faces and a few new ones we were soon tucking into chilli & chicken curry with rice in Ben’s case and jacket potato with mine and very  tasty it was too Sonia, thank you very much. It was really great to be introduced to Nikki who I’ve been ‘Tweeting’ with for some time now about the Britt Butt Rally. Nikki recognised Mr T before she had a clue who I was so thank you for the introduction Chris.

The arrival. Warm as toast, thanks to Tucano Urbano!
(All photographic rights go to John & Sonia
 with whose kind permission this photo appeaser)

The ride back was as uneventful as the ride down, all I can say about is that we didn't need to stop once not even to warm through. The Tucano Urbano Muffs and Leg Guards worked absolutely superbly even protecting Ben from the worst of the spray thrown up by other road users. They may not look the prettiest things in the world but as they say in the army “Any fool can rough it” so go figure!

IBA UK 3rd Annual RTE 2013
With IBA Magazine as someone forgot the flag!
(All photographic rights go to John & Sonia
 with whose kind permission this photo appeaser)

Arriving back in Wardle I just pulled into the garage as the heavens opened and it threw it down. It must have rained almost all night as we got up to no snow what so ever. The contrast was astounding, from one day to the next. It was blowing a gale with a few hailstone showers first thing but by the time we were ready to divide and conquer the sun was out.

Sunday 27th came around all too quickly and the Walton’s were off out again en mass. It was going to be a Lad’s n Dad’s and Mum’s n Girls day out with Jeannie and Lilie Rose heading off towards  Manchester to attend Thomas’s Christening. Whilst Ben and I rode up to the Moorcock Inn on Blackstone Edge,  Littleborough to attend the 3rd Annual Manc Riders RTE, spot the similarity.

Ben & I had a steady ride as the pub is only 4 miles away if that from our house. We arrived at the car park to find a few of the guys there already. Half in cars and half on their bikes. There was only one mishap en-route  when one rider rode past the Moorcock Inn thinking we were at the White House on top of the hill. Whilst doing a U turn he was caught by the wind and ended up laying his bike down. Luckily neither bike nor rider sustained any serious damage but it just goes to show what can happen. That’s the third off in almost as many days amongst the riders.  One being pelted by bricks wrapped in snow by a bunch of youths, causing him to lose the front end in snow whilst attempting to get away from the barrage. The other having the back end spin all the way round due to a shallow coating of snow on the road covering a patch of black ice. In both cases the ride and their bike were fine if not a little shaken up at the time. Please folk’s be careful out there it’s not easy to keep riding in this horrendous winter weather.

Manc Rider 3rd Annual RTE 2013

The Manc Riders
Big smile next time Martin, please!

So that’s January almost done and dusted I’m pleased to say bike wise anyway. As for the next few weeks well as ever things have started to crop up in the biking Walton Family Diary


Friday to Sunday 1st – 3rd Jeannie, Ben and I will be in York whilst Lilie Rose has a nice break with the girls at home.

Saturday 9th  is the Derbyshire Tour Raymondo Style.  This will be a steady ride around Derbyshire taking the lads out and about using predominantly back and side roads with a few “unpaved roads” thrown in for those that fancy some fun.

Saturday and Sunday 23rd – 24th is the first of the 2013 IBA UK European RTE’s which is taking place in the Netherlands at the Cornelis Lely Monument.

March is still clear at the moment with only the second of the IBA UK European RTE’s being held in France at Avignon the weekend of 26th – 28th April.

Other than that I’ll be taking it easy whilst this weather sorts itself out and I can return to my beloved Continental Trail Attack 2’s. Enjoy the good days as they are coming around all to infrequently  and just take it nice and steady on your daily commutes.

My best mate "Dash" Love you to bits BB
You made this weekend "Perfick!"

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Zero Degrees

Zero Degrees

Hearing Jeannie’s metallic yet muffled (due to earplugs and helmet being on) shout


Milliseconds before the garage door hit me on the head eliciting an instantaneous

“F….ing Hell” outburst, was not the way I envisaged my annual ride to visit my Mum’s grave, starting!

“Sorry, I pressed the wrong button again” came the apology.

“See you later” I replied in disbelief that I’d just been clocked on the head by the electric garage door!

Still it gave me an interesting if somewhat unorthodox introduction into what was to become a ride of sheer determination, with a splash of pain thrown in for good measure.

17th January 1943, my dearly beloved Mum’s date of birth, who sadly passed away on the 27th July 2001 from breast cancer aged just 58, eight years older than I am right now, which is a sobering thought!

Looking at the laptop at 8.30am having run through the usual Walton Household routine of, up at 7.00am, Jeannie takes Lilie Rose down for breakfast, Ben get himself up and goes down too, I shower, dress then collect Lilie Rose at 7.30am and get her ready for the school bus which arrives at 8.20am. Jeannie in the meantime takes Ben to school for 8.00am sports classes. Job done!

The temperature on screen was reading -3 degrees centigrade but a quick look out of the walk-way tells me otherwise. It’s clear, no fresh snow and the paths are clear. No problem then heading out on Mr T for the 200 mile round trip to Temple Normanton.

Laying my bike kit out- I’m pleased I bought the Gerbings heated jacket & gloves last year otherwise I would be in serious trouble.

Keep it simple, keep it safe!

After a swift dink on the head from the garage door after asking Jeannie to open the gate and close the garage door behind me (not “On Me” Jeannie) I was away for 9.15am.

The temperature gauge on Mr T reacted swiftly 10*, 9*,8*,7*,6*,5* C and that was in the first half a mile, I pulled over and plugged the Gerbing dual digital controller in and set the jacket to “gas mark 2” and the gloves to 4. Mmmmmm instant heat in the jacket but the gloves where not as responsive. Pulling in at the siding where I normally make my final adjustments before getting on the M62 East bound, I turned the gloves up to full number 5. I could feel the heat in my right hand rising on the back of my hand and fingers.

The roads were all well gritted, dry and clear with the usual white frosting of salt residue. Pulling onto the M62 the traffic was quite heavy to say the 9.00am work bound traffic should have cleared by now as it was 9.30am.

My body was toasty warm, my legs fine, they very rarely give me any problems but my left hand was already letting me know it was zero degrees. My toes were feeling it too, even though I had two pairs of socks plus a pair of ex-army gortex socks on as well. This was going to be a long hour and a half’s ride.

Heading up hill passing over Rakewood Viaduct the temperature dropped to -2 degrees C. Which in the real world equates to -4 degrees as Mr T’s temperature sensor is mounted in the fairing at the side of the water radiator of all places increasing the temperature by 2 degrees. Proven in East Germany riding back from Colditz with two BMW GSA Riders both running 2 degrees less than myself.

By the time I reached the crest of the hill the temperature gauge read zero degrees so I was happy. The jacket was doing a great job the right glove was stinging the back of my right hand but the left glove was not playing at all. Now how do I describe the feeling? It felt like the ends of my fingers were totally void of feeling and swelling to such a degree that my gloves were the only thing stopping them from going “Pop”. I know lots of riders have been here thousands of times but no one ever explains to non “winter riders” how there body is coping. As ever I had lost all feeling in the ends of my feet which is nothing new.

It was just the pain in my left hand and predominantly the full length of all my fingers. My thumb was so numb I could not unhook it from under the handlebar without consciously thinking about it. You know what I mean, you breathe without thinking until you go for a run and then because your out of breath you actually think about breathing! This was exactly the same, I had to really make myself switch the indicator switch rather than it just happening.

Heading over the M62 cutting over Saddleworth Moor the temperature resolutely sat at zero degrees centigrade. Riding in the middle lane at a constant 70mph I came level with the back of a VW Flat-Bed waggon who slowly but purposefully started to drift into the middle lane at the side of me. A quick look in the mirror confirmed my worst fear.  A low flying set of headlights just about to pass me at speeds will in excess of the 70mph limit. “I can do without this shit” I said out loud as I wound Mr T’s throttle back and in an attempt to clear the drifting VW Flat-Bed. The driver must have heard the exhaust and as I levelled with the cab he stopped drifting.

Looking over at the driver I knew exactly why he’s been drifting, the driver had a map unfolded on the steering wheel, unbelievable! I was ripping.

So with that bit of excitement out the way the task of pootling through the 10 mile long 50mph average speed limit area began. I was determined not to stop and so rode straight past the services in defiance, one hot hand one mildly numb. All of a sudden the traffic in all three lanes ground to a standstill. Being as the lanes have been narrowed there was no were to filter and so stopped and put my feet down. At the point of impact I thought I’d just stuck my frozen toes in the electric socket. A shearing pain shot up the back of both calf muscles. “I just love riding in winter!” I told myself quietly.

After just a few minutes we started moving at about 10mph. The reason for the holdup, a white van had mounted the banking and now lay on its side in on the hard shoulder on the other side of the barrier some 300 meters from where I’d come to a halt. The windscreen was shattered,  the driver still in his seat slumped over the wheel, emergency services just arriving and running to the drivers aid. I felt a little uneasy at the sight but rode on my thoughts still on the drivers welfare.  

By the time I reached the M1 roundabout I was in my usual mental state, overriding the discomfort and focusing on my Mum. How she had suffered unbearable pain with Lymphoedema causing her right arm are to swell to three times its natural size. So what the hell was I moaning about, “Get a grip Raymondo”. However by the time I was passing the Meadow Hall Shopping Centre to the right of the M1 I was suffering some serious discomfort. My toes were non-existent, even after jogging on the foot pegs, my left hand fingers felt as though someone had pumped them up with liquid ice.

“Chesterfield 8 miles” I said out loud in order to convince myself the discomfort would all be over shortly. 

Turning off the M1 at junction 29 I headed towards the roundabout at speed.

“Work you bastard’s, work!” I screamed at my left hand fingers.

Pulling up on the line just as a truck drove past with the driver staring at me.

“That was far too close for comfort Raymondo, now just take it steady lad!”

Pulling around the huge roundabout I took the 5th turning onto the Chesterfield By-Pass (why it’s called the Chesterfield By-Pass. I have no idea as it runs straight into Chesterfield by-passing Temple Normanton and Hasland on its way, both of which I was heading to.

Taking the only exit off the by-pass turning first left then sharp downhill right I headed into Hasland to buy some flowers at the same shop I’d used for the past 10 years. Pulling into the car parking area just at the side of the road I realised it was full except for a triangle at the far end. I rolled Mr T into the triangle backwards only to look up and see an elderly gent, resplendent with body warmer and flat cap, sat in his car gesturing for me to move. I looked at him, put the side stand down and pointed at Mr T, he gestured again for me to move.

“I’m staying here” I shouted through my helmet loud enough for a chap stood outside the café smoking, to turnaround to see what was going on.

The driver gestured more fervently this time shouting something that I could not hear!

I quickly lifted the front of my helmet, smiled and told him to “F**K Off!”

Which he did!

“Good on yer lad”

“Bloody car drivers, where did he think he was going to park it wouldn’t have fitted there anyway!” The smoker shouted over.

“Sorry about that, just a bit stressed out” I replied

“Don’t the worry lad!”

With that I unplugged and went over to the flower shop.

Sadly the selection was very limited this year but managed to find a nice bunch of lilies and roses. (No prizes for guessing why I always buy the same flowers).

As I waited to pay the searing agony hit me, like plunging my left hand into a furnace. My eyes started to water up and it took all my time not to scream.

“Hot Aches”

“You all right love” the flower lady asked as I shook my left hand relentlessly.

“Hot Aches, sorry I’ll be with you in a minute”

“It’s OK love, do you want a card with these?”

“No thank you” I just about managed to say.

Back outside the guy outside the café was telling another chap about what had just happened. They both looked round and put a hand up to me.

I took a couple of minutes to get a grip, my left hand was lovely and warm now, my toes were buzzing so loud I could have sworn I could hear them. My Mums flower wedged where I always put them in the front screen.

Happy Birthday Mum x x x

Gloves back on, zipped up, I headed back the way I came towards Temple Normanton up Grassmoor Hill I was so pleased there was not another car in site and the road was dry as I was riding at 20mph. 8 minutes later after going around the annoying one way street to Temple Normanton Cemetery. I pulled onto the only non-snow and ice covered part of the car park I could find right in the corner.

I spent a little time with my Mum and my thoughts. It’s strange but this never gets any easier, 11 years and still there is a massive void in not just my life but that of our entire family.

Temple Normanton Cemetery 

Riding the 50 metres back past the cemetery as I just could not be bothered to go all the way around the one way road to get back to where I wanted to go. I headed down through Grassmoor towards CMC Motorcycles in Clay Cross. Filling up at Tesco’s and getting a few strange looks as I walked in from everyone waiting to pay.

Parking up it hit me, this was the first time ever that my bike was the only bike outside the shop! Inside I took my helmet, gloves and two jacket’s including the Gerbings jacket, off.

Ordered coffee and a bacon n egg butty and sat down with my brew. A quick call to my Dad confirmed it was far too treacherous to head up the hill to his, and so he came down to the shop for a chat and a walk around.

A cracking Cafe, which is well worth a visit

Seeing my Dad walking through the shop brought it home to me how old he now looks, a real gentleman with so much pride. A big hug followed by a really nice chat about bikes. It was great just to have some time alone and talk man stuff without interruption nor explanation. Walking around the showroom I pointed out the Suzuki T125 Stinger in the far corner.

Suzuki T125 Stinger
"Not for Sale"

As sharp as a knife my Dad said

“Do you remember me having to carry you into the house at Mablethorpe”

“I do indeed”

“Bloody hell you were in a state, no sole on your boot, 6 stitches in your fingers and your hands frozen to the handlebars” “You couldn’t even get off the bike”

“I couldn’t walk Dad, my left foot was frozen like a block of ice”

It was January 1981 I’d been asked by the owner of the Shoulder of Mutton, Mrs Simpson where I worked as a Commis Chef,  to make her a Turkey sandwich. I had  just handed in a months’ notice as I’d got a new job as Chef De Partie at Higham Farm Hotel complete with its own Well in reception and indoor swimming pool, at the side of the restaurant and bar.

In the larder I had cut the roll in two, buttered it put it on a plate and went over to the cooling racks. Pulled out the 3foot by 2foot tray with the turkey on it. Stood on one leg with the other at right angles to me and rested the tray on the rack and my knee. As I started to carve the turkey breast with a 12 inch serrated edge carving knife. The trays slipped and instinctively I went to grab it, sliding my right hand up the full 12 inch serrated edged length of the blade!

I ended up with 8 stiches, 4 in my second finger severing the tendons, two in each of the others, my little finger being the only one to escape injury. My second finger still curls involuntarily to this day when I’m cold. I was put on 4 weeks sick leave so did no more I packed all my belongings in a box, stored it in my mates room, got on my bike and rode 95 miles to Mablethorpe from Hardstoft on my Suzuki T125 stinger in the January snow and rain.

Arriving at my Mum and Dads B&B I just sat there with my numb thumb on the horn until they both came running out. I was wet through to the bone and my £35 Belstaff Wax jacket & trousers had given up the ghost. My right boot had fell apart and my left had no sole on it because I’d ridden the last 15 miles with my feet on the floor in a foot of snow. My leather gloves were wringing wet through. It took almost two hours to get back to some  resemblance of fitness and I suffered the worst “Hot Aches” I have ever suffered for about an hour and yes I cried, screamed and totally lost it but I was home. Well at least for a month, then I was off again, with new boots!

After a long goodbye outside the shop, where numerous folks come over to have a look at Mr T, much to my Dads surprise and delight, I set off back the way I had come.

Happily the cold edge did not seem to be as piercing and I made good progress up the M1 the temperature still sat at zero degrees centigrade though. I passed one single bike on the M1but had an awful lot of car drivers just look at me and shake their heads in what must have been disbelief.

As I pulled onto the M62 I felt the cold starting to bite more and so decided to turn my jacket and glove up a little, to my utter shock the bloody things were not even on! I’d accidently pulled the power lead out when I gave my dad one final hug and plugged it back in, not thinking to switch the Gerbings back on. Once I’d switched them on I was delighted as both gloves sprung to into action along with the jacket. Obviously my twiddling the connectors whilst I waited for my Dad to arrive had done the trick. “Brilliant, central heating for Raymondo!”

On the M62 West bound,  a mini pulled alongside me and everyone had a good look, I only found out when I arrived home that it was one of the Manc Riders Glen and his crew. As he Tweeted me to ask “Was that you I’ve just passed on the M62?”

I’m happy the ride went as well as could be expected in such conditions and that the snow stayed away. Now it’s time to go and see Foggy & Whit’s “Giving it Gas” at the Thwaites Empire Theatre in Blackburn with Kev, Kev and Lefty my Manc Rider mates.


You must not miss this. Carl Fogarty and James Whitham end their tour in Carl's home town. Described as an unmissable event for all sports fans, Carl and James will provide insight into today's world of racing, recall former glories and disasters, and discuss the burning issues of the day — on and off-track.
“We’re really looking forward to the tour,” said Carl, who can lay claim to the title of most successful World Superbike racer ever, based on the number of World titles and race wins he clocked up in his career.

Time for a wash me think's!

So until the next time, ride safe and be happy.

Friday, 11 January 2013

A ride through the mists of Derbyshire.

My beloved Derbyshire

Well after what feels like years of not riding Mr T, which in fact is just 3 weeks, I eventually managed to get out yesterday. I had a perfectly viable reason too, I needed to drop off some documents near Sheffield just off junction 33 of the M1. From there it was to be just a short jaunt South down the M1 to visit my Dad & Ang in Alton 8 miles from junction 29.

Now  I’ve just spent a few minutes surfing the net (how modern does that sound?) to find a few interesting facts about my beloved  home county of  Derbyshire. I say home county as that is where I was born and lived until joining the army at the age of 21 back in 1984, as  I now live in Lancashire but that’s a story for another day.

To be honest there are not that many noteworthy facts but here’s a few I thought worth sharing with you:-

1)      The Peak District was the first national park in the country and the Arboretum park was the first public park in Britain.

2)      It contains over 50 reservoirs and several villages had to be submerged to make way for them, including Derwent and Ashopton

3)      Buxton is the highest town in England at 1000 feet above sea level. That elevation means the average annual temperature is below 8 degrees Celsius, which is a full 20 degrees below the temperature of the geothermal springwater which flows from St Ann’s Well in the town.

4)      Barnes Wallis, The creator of the famous bouncing bombs during World War II, was born in Ripley in 1887. Bouncing bomb crews carried out practice runs over Ladybower reservoir.

5)      Legend has it the world famous Bakewell Tart was created accidentally by a cook in the town’s Rutland Arms Hotel in 1820? It is said the almonds, sugar and eggs which ended up as a custard layer above the jam were intended by the landlady to enrich the pastry of a jam tart.

All interesting stuff don’t you think, but absolutely nothing to do with me riding around Derbyshire.

Pulling off the drive at 9.00am the temperature showed 11 degrees Centigrade, inflated by the fact Mr T is kept in a garage attached to the house. Within half a mile the temperature dropped to 6 degrees, so I pulled into the lay-by near to where I was about to join the M62 and plugged in the trusty Gerbings heated jacket. Within 5 minutes I was really pleased I had. Visibility dropped to 100 meters, the temperature sat at just 2 degrees as I climbed the hill that takes the M62 to its highest point of 1,221 feet or 372 meters making it the highest motorway in the United Kingdom. Riding over the 140 foot high Rakewood Viaduct I always have to smile to myself.

remember my Mum coming back from the campsite shower block with the news “They are going to put a toll booth on Rakewood Viaduct!”  As far as I can remember some campsite regular had got chatting to my Mum and convinced her 100% categorically that the council planned to charge people for travelling over the viaduct, which ran behind the campsite. She would not have it that it was the M62 and there was no way on earth after 40 years the council would build a “Toll Booth”. She took that belief with her when she went, God Bless you Mum, you still make me smile as much today as you did back then. (Love n Miss You, so bloody much.)

Anyway, after negotiating the 50mph average speed limit (if only) M62 car park I eventually hung a right and headed South down the M1. Dropping the paperwork off near Sheffield, I was back on Mr T and heading further South without delay.

Now this is where my ride truly takes on its very own persona. As you may or may not have gathered by now I simply adore riding around Derbyshire. The reason is simple, the roads I was about to ride around are the very roads where I learned to ride my Suzuki T125 Stinger way back in 1979.

Pulling off at junction 29 of the M1, Sutton Hall was clearly visible through the morning mist on my right with Hardwick Hall a little further along on my left, both of which were favourite destinations as a lad on my pushbike. A quick left and left again and it was time to take the first photo of the day and Mr T’s first photo of 2013.

Tyre deep in frost & loving it

Pulling back onto the road, the wheels were coated in the thick frost, it was 1 degree. My right hand middle finger which I use to pull the front brake on with was going numb, heated grips or no heated grips. Still, the sun was blazing into my face so down came the internal visor on the Shoei Neotec, thanks to Jeannie for yet another great birthday present, it’s a lot more snug around the cheek area and around the ears but so much lighter feel than the Mulititec.

Sadly it was just at this point that the Garmin 660 “Low Battery” alert flashed on the Garmin 660! Strange as its hard wired in, that prompted me to check my mobile, 68% damn! That meant that my Fuzeblock was dead. Hay ho and on we go. Heading parallel to the M1 Mill Lane took me towards my next destination, Hardwick Hall. Stopping at regular intervals to take photo’s I found the single track road to be fine where the car tracks were so stayed “in the groove” so to speak.

Hardwick Hall 
A view that will vanish in the summer

just love Hardwick Hall, having spent many happy hours riding around, up and down, and through the estate both on motorbike and pushbike. Now the road is a one way affair so you can no longer have a quick ride straight up the hill to the halls and then blatt straight back down like I had done 30 years ago. Passing Hardwick Inn my memories came flooding back, Ozzy Osborne on his Yamaha 125, me on the Stinger, two of the other lads from Holmewood on the Kawasaki 175 Trials bikes all parked up having a pint then off around the estate. Riding like lads possessed, how we ever survived beggars belief, the lads on the 175 Trials bikes flying off the main tracks and just blasting straight down through the sheep! Game keepers always finding us in the pub and giving us a right old lecture about the wild life. Not appreciating our  “We are the bloody Wild-Life” comments, to which we would all just fall about laughing.

Hardwick Inn
I've spent many a happy hour on those benches 
over the past 35 years

Cutting up towards Hardstoft I felt the back slip out, a touch too much for comfort. A quick check of the display confirmed it -2 degrees in the shade. Heading back over the M1 bridge I was really starting to suffer with the pain in my right hand. Just then I noticed in my mirror a  brilliant photo opportunity of Hardwick Hall sat amongst the trees. I pulled on the front brake, suffering much discomfort in the process and the front end just slid. Luckily straight forward, putting my feet down I realised why. Sheet ice!

A guy following behind pulled up on my right hand side,

“You all right lad?”

“Yes fine thanks, I was going to take a picture but it’s a bit icy underfoot”

“Aye, tha can say that again lad. Been following you an’ expecting to be pickin thee up any minute, me traction controls been having a ball in here”

“No problem, I’ll sack the picture, thanks anyway”

“As long as tha’s awl rayt, just be watch thissen” It’s great listening to the broad Derbyshire accent, it just reminds me of Grandma & Granddad Walton.

I pulled off steadily keeping my feet just off the deck, something I never do and instinctively put my feet back on the pegs within seconds. The friendly local followed me all the way to Hardstoft and gave me a wave as I pulled up outside the Shoulder of Mutton, where he turned left and drove on. Don’t you just love it when total strangers actually care for your welfare instead of just ploughing on past.

The reason I pulled over was to take a picture of the Shoulder of Mutton but seeing the rear now converted to flats, exactly where I used to work in the old function suit kitchens saddened me, and so I left the photo for another day.

Interesting fact here, did you know 1 mile down the road towards Tibshelf is where the first oil-field proper in Britain was extracted? It was discovered by the Mexican Eagle Company in 1919 & was the first commercial oil-field in this country. The pump is still available to visit although now within the grounds of the local Garden Centre, if you ask any of the staff they will escort you to the site. I never knew this until I visited the site whilst competing in the 2011 Britt Butt Rally, now how mad is that?

nice meander through Pilsley and then up into Eyam to the second hotel I worked at Eyam Farm Hotel, now called something else which I cannot recall. At the bottom of the car park is a viewing platform which was built after I’d left to join the army in 1984 but affords excellent panoramic views out towards the edge of the Derbyshire Dales.

This was my view for 2 years
before leaving to join the ACC

Taking a couple of photos proved to be very interesting as I actually had to use the little finger on my right hand as all three fingers were a deathly shade of creamy white and numb! Time for a brew at CMC Motorcycles in Clay Cross.

Bacon & egg butty (small) with a coffee= £3.95, bargain of the day!

As many times as I’ve visited this bike shop I have never ever found a better bike shop yet. The selection of bikes is just brilliant, they even have a Suzuki T125 Stinger in the back right corner of the show room with a selection of “Not for Sale” classics. The loo’s are  good too with a hand blower that works a treat bring life back into numb fingers.

Coffee, butty and a chat with a chap in the café who was amazed a) how creamy white my right hand fingers were & b) that I’d ridden down from Rochdale in freezing conditions. Still I was happy as Larry and after a look around the new discount outlet that open in December, I was ready to head over to see my Dad & Ang.

Dad & Ang were fine, Uncle Neil was there too and when the double glazing chap turned up I knew it was time to mount up and carry on my ride.

Brownhills Lane leading to
The Fabrick

Heading up and over towards the Fabrick then across all the back lanes towards the tail end of Matlock, missing the village and traffic in the process. I re-emerged at the side of the Grouse and Claret on the main Bakewell  road and followed the well-trodden tourist route up to Monsal Head.

Can you spot Bottomhill Lane?

Instead of following the road Ashford Lane that turns into Castlegate Lane I headed down into the valley and rode the full length of Monsal Dale arriving in the picturesque village of Litton.

I simply adore
Dry Stone Walling

All that was left to do now was to ride over toward Chapel en Le Frith, Glossop, Ashton-under-Lyne and into Manchester to “bag” my first Motorcycle History Trail 2013 photo as I’ve signed up to the Grim Rider’s annual fund raising ride in aid of Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.

Finding the DOT Motorcycle factory less than a mile away from where I used to work in Manchester again made me smile. I’ve driven and ridden past it literally 100’s of times in the last 9 years and never even knew of its existence. Who says these photographic trails are not worth doing? If you’re still looking for “something to do” this year take a look at The Grim Riders MCC site and I’m sure you will find some interesting rides to tickle you taste buds.  

Number 1 DOT Motorcycles Manchester
Motorcycle History Trail 2013

Once I’d got the photo with the all-important Motorcycle Placard clearly displayed it was time to head home. I had a cracking day out and loved every minute of it.

As a foot note – I’ve been asked what I think to the Akrapovic Slip-on Silencer. Here are my thoughts:-

            Weight saving is phenomenal as it weighs next to nothing

            Fitting takes 30 minutes start to finish, literally!

            No re-mapping required as the silencer was developed directly for and with the cooperation of Yamaha Motorcycles.

           The sound is a deep throaty growl which vanishes altogether over 30 mph

            Performance is instantly improved, the easiest way to explain is T (touring)  now feels like S (sport) and S is just in a world of its own.

      The bike pulls smoothly through all of the rev range and redlines easily.

            Roll-on acceleration is instant, therefore reducing if not eradicating the need to change down.

All in all, I am very happy with my investment and I’m looking forward to many happy miles together. If you’re toying with the idea of buying an after-market silencer I personally recommend the Akrapovic  Slip-on Silencer whole heartedly.

My favorite photo of the day
Hardwick Hall in the Mist