Saturday, 28 September 2013

Extreme contrast, Army trucks and a bit about bulb changing...

Yesterday I had to go to Hull. I seem to have headed in that direction a bit lately, but that's because I'm working alongside Humberside Police in my day job capacity.

It was one of those days that can be described as late summer rather than early autumn. A bit cool to start off and I was glad I had put a quilted gilet over my leather jacket. (It's a pretty cool look too.) But the cloud was thin and soon beaten back by the sun.

The A1079 from York to Hull is a bit tedious for the first few miles, made more so by the 50mph limit once you cross from North to East Yorkshire. But once past Market Weighton the road to Bishop Burton is great and, if there's not so much traffic you can't take your eyes off the road for a second, the views are lovely.

I got what needed to be done in Hull sorted very quickly mainly thanks to the efficiency of the detective I am working alongside, and I was back on the road within an hour and a half.

At one point I was grateful for being behind a clean van, as the reflection alerted me to the fact that one of my twin headlights was out.

Good progress from Hull to Weighton Hill with some good overtakes of slow moving Army trucks. The Army School of Mechanised Transport (ASMT) is not far away at Leconfield, so there are always plenty of slow moving trucks being driven by learner squaddies in the area. I did my stint of that back in the mid seventies up around Catterick and the NE of the country. I have every respect for these young learners as in a few weeks or months time they may well be driving in convoy through Helmand.

A quick stop for cuppa and bacon and egg buttie at the tea van on Weighton Hill, you know the one...

...and a check confirming my right headlight main beam bulb had failed, and I was off again.

For much of the way back to York it was fairly slow going as there was a wide load trundling along several vehicles in front. But I didn't actually mind, I wasn't in a hurry and it was comfortably warm. Just happy to go with the flow.

I decided to go straight to A1 Motorcycles the York Triumph dealer and get a replacement headlight bulb. Pleasantly surprised when it cost less than a tenner. The headlight bulbs on my Volvo cost almost double that. Then it was home to replace the bulb.

The ride out was just what I had needed. The previous day I had had to travel to our head office which is located at 1 Victoria Street, London. Those of you who have read my early posts may have some understanding of how difficult such a journey is for me. Kings Cross, the tube, Victoria Station and Victoria Street were a blur of head down hand partly over eyes terror, and again in reverse. I must have looked rather strange with my nervous twitching and walking along while facing the walls and shop windows. I am told, by someone who helps me professionally, that I should do this (getting into busy places) as often as I can in order to de-sensitise myself, and also so that I can get on with life. It doesn't get any easier though. So, once again riding proved to be a great stress buster.

Changing the bulb was a fiddly affair. I guess with naked bikes it wouldn't be a problem but having a fairing means looking through a small gap at where your hand needs to be then working blindly by touch as your hand then obscures vision. I do have an advantage though, as the space is small having part of one hand missing means I can get in fairly easily.

I was glad later on that I had noticed the failed bulb and replaced it.

Outside my day job I am very involved in Christian lay-ministry, in particular Chaplaincy at both the local hospital and with the Air Cadets. 110 Squadron (City of York) ATC, of which I am the official Chaplain (known as Padre), has a detached flight based on RAF Linton on Ouse which is about ten miles from my home. I try to visit the main squadron in York and the detached flight as often as I can. It's a terrific priviledge being amongst these eager and motivated young people. My role is mainly pastoral, occasionally ceremonial, and I am there for cadets and staff. I run a formal Padre's hour once a month and they are always interesting and great fun. It's good for me as it gets me out and about and they are places I feel safe, and I hope it's good for the cadets too.

So, last night I tootled off to RAF Linton on Ouse, riding much of the way into a glorious sunset. Needless to say it was dark when I left for the journey home. Ninety percent of that journey is along fairly narrow country roads with a lot of high hedges on both sides. There are many bends, which during daylight hours are great fun, but in the dark they can make the old bum cheeks clench a bit. One thing that does rather sit in the forefront of the mind whilst riding these dark lanes is the fact that wildlife is much more active at night. The thought of a deer crashing through the hedge and into the side of me or a fox darting into my front wheel was an unwelcome thought that I could not completely ignore. I had exeperience of these things, fortunately in a car, many years ago when I was a country bobby. The ride was rather steady. A complete contrast to the ride earlier in the day.

I'm glad I did it though, and I won't shy away from night riding in the future as it opens up a whole new set of skills which clearly need to be practiced.


  1. Good for you for getting to head office. It isn't easy to face our demons but you did it when you needed too even though it is scary and elevates the heart rate so much. I hope it does get easier for you.

    It sounds like the rest of the day was lovely though and you managed to change the headlight bulb before your night ride. Nicely done.

  2. Thank you, you are very kind. It's often the positivity of friends that helps me through difficult times.