Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Still busted, a breezy walk on the beach and light at the end of a long,dark and very noisy tunnel.....

Well, the old Triumph is still sitting sickly idle in the garage and it makes me more peed off by the day. Apart from a long walk by the sea on Filey beach last Saturday, having no working bike has meant no escape from the wretched monster that is my tinnitus (the sound of the sea, like the sound of the bike cuts through it wonderfully).

 Filey Beach
Although it doesn't look it, it was 
surprisingly mild, but pretty breezy.
The way out...

No this is not some random stranger I met on the beach, this is 
my good lady wife. It's not the breeze that takes my breath away!

...the way back.

Still, there may be light at the end of this horrible nearly four year long tunnel as my solicitor has sent off our offer to the defendants. I guess there's still going to be some negotiation but the whole thing could be over in weeks rather than months (or am I being a tad optimistic?). Even so, I'll be surprised if I make that successful trip to HD Leeds (or wherever is going to give me the best deal on a Breakout!) before Christmas. Hmmm.....'Dear Santa.......'

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Of dead Renault, broken Volvo suspension, Landrover and a f***ing blown head gasket...

There has been another spacious gap since I last posted. This is because there has been little in the way of biking to be reported. Up-shot of all the repairs and diagnostics on the old Triumph was the discovery that the head gasket  has blown. Hence overheating and coolant back pressure. I have managed one ride of eight miles before it overheated again.

Why have I not had it fixed you may wonder? Well it's a seven hundred plus quid repair and under normal citcumstances I would have just told them to get on with it. But sometimes life just gathers shit in a great big conspiracy to thwart the best laid plans. My wife's ancient Renault failed its last MOT and the fix would have not been worth it. So off it went to that great car park in the sky. Using my trusty Volvo to get my wife to her riding sessions involved pretty rotten country roads and a mile or so of really bad farm track. Suspension broke; new shock needed and replacement shock mounting. Quite clearly we needed a replacement car for my wife which would cope with the bumps. Good old ebay turned up a cracker of a Landrover Freelander. That my friends is where the money I would have used to repair the Triumph went.

So the Volvo drives without a single clunk or knock and the Landrover gets us to the riding school without our teeth rattling. Alas, the old Triumph sits forlornly idle in my garage and that is making me more than a tad miserable, especially as we've had some unseasonably good weather of late.

Even more frustrating is the fact that all the legal shit re my head is tantalizingly close to conclusion. If only that gasket could have lasted a few more weeks!   

Monday, 25 August 2014

Troublesome repair, Speed Triple and a Bonnie...

Well, the old Triumph went into the workshop last week and I had the use of this for the day...

Triumph Street Triple

It really is a fun bike but not my cup of tea. Unfortunately at the end of the day I received a call from the workshop telling me that they hadn't managed to get all the required parts for my bike and they need the Triple back. However I was to get a replacement bike. What I ended up with was this nice little number...

Triumph Bonneville
This actually is quite a sweet bike to ride and the twin pot engine at a little under 900cc gives a nice grunt and pulls really well. But, despite the reasonable sized engine, it is quite a small bike and I don't feel completely comfortable on it in the way that I do on my bike. The Speedmaster I had use of a while ago is not actually much bigger, if at all, but the riding position made it a much nicer bike to ride. 

I got my bike back having had the clutch slave cylinder replaced, the radiator flushed and a new radiator cap fitted. I really need to sort out my garage and reclaim my workshop from all the junk as these are jobs I could be doing myself.

The next day I rode it across to Hull. The needle on the temperature guage was just below the red most of the way which made me feel uneasy. Returning to York it crept up into the red and as I hit traffic it went up out of the red. The engine was still running ok so I just rode it straight back to the workshop. Probably more to do with the guage or a switch problem than the actual cooling system. Back on the Bonnie and I still am as there is a further wait for another part and of course it's the bank holiday weekend. I'm told I probably won't get my bike back until Friday.

I'll be so glad when I evenually go with cash in hand an buy my brand new Harley. That might not be too far off now as there are signs that the legal crap is nearing its conclusion. Still not holding my breath though! 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Of diesel spills, new boots and trews, jam delivery, a bike to steal my heart and a rotten leak...

Well, this last couple of weeks has been fairly eventful despite having taken the week before last off to catch up with some academic writing. Even when I know I shouldn't allow myself to be distracted getting on the bike and taking off is a great way to sort the head out when the academic stuff is threatening to pickle yer brains. I used the excuse of doing a bit of DIY across at my dad's, one trip on one day to take the gear and another a couple of days later to go do the work.

I nearly didn't make it to the second trip though; on my way back from trip one I came up to the final roundabout before home, fortunately there was a lot of traffic and I was travelling pretty slowly because as I entered the roundabout the back end went! Diesel, a biker's worst nightmare. Fortunately I didn't suffer an untimely dismount, somehow I managed to pull a snaking rear end back in line. It was stomach churning, buttock clenching stuff. Why do so many truck drivers insist on overfilling their fuel tanks? If the traffic had been lighter and I had been going any faster I dread to think what might have happened. Grrrrr!!!

You may remember from a recent post that one of my old boots had begun to lose its sole. Well it was a good excuse to get some new boots. Not one to do things by half I decided to buy two pairs...

These are a cracking pair of Richa Gortex
lined boots. Didn't need any breaking in.

These RST boots are really cool and are great
for walking about in when the bike's parked up.

I have recently lost a fair amount of weight, about a stone and a half, so most of my jeans are falling off me, including my armoured jeans. So, staying with the cool theme, I bought these...
Armoured inserts at knees & hips,
Kevlar lined. Really comfortable
and the leg pockets are a real bonus.

Had another trip out to my favourite teashop recently...
Teahee in Easingwold.

I actually went to fulfill a two year old promise and deliver some of the world's tastiest jam to the owner, Sophie...
Yes I make this with plums from 
my own plum trees and a good 
single malt and it is lush!

Weather has been rotten the last few days so the bike's been tucked up in my garage. Still grey today but no rain so I decided a run out was in order. Only got a short way up the road, stopped to post a letter and spotted a horribly oily leak from the left side of the bike. Straight back home to discover it is clutch fluid from the slave cylinder. Bike's in to the workshop on Monday anyway to investigate a coolant leak so I've told them about this as well. Hope it's not expensive especially as I'm just about to buy my wife a replacement car. Losing clutch fluid probably explains the clunky gear changes and couple of false neutrals I've had lately. 
This is where the leak is. I hope it's just a seal.

I'm often seeing new bikes in the various bike mags and on websites that I think are really good (and a lot I think are pretty crap too!) and every now and then one comes along that really does it for me. In an earlier post I disclosed how brilliant I think the BMW RnineT is. However, nothing has made me waver from having Harleys at the top of my love/want list, until now that is.

I've never been particularly interested in fully dressed tourers or baggers. Don't get me wrong Harley Davidson machines of that type are tuly awesome machines, but they're just not my style. I like a much more stripped back style hence my love of the Softail Breakout.

Over the last year or so I have been following the develoment of the Indian brand with interest, but of course they were the dressed cruisers and baggers I speak of and Indian wasn't rocking my boat... until now that is!...
This, as you may already know, is the all new
Indian Scout. It's absolutely stunning!

Just take a look at the detailing...

...and the quality of finish.

As American iron goes this is not a big bike, at 1100 odd cc it is almost 600cc short of the Breakout, and is probably designed to take on the Harley Sportster range. But it is a truly stunning bike, and at around £6,000 less than the Breakout I may waver a little. Or am I just being a bike slut? I tell you what though, if Indian eventually bring out a big brother of the Scout... well let's just say the sales guys at HD Leeds may have their work cut out. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Of loose gravel resurfacing, losing waterproofs, laughing boots, shiny Triumph and a monumental stage in recovery...

I can't believe it's six weeks since I last posted. It has been a hectic time though.

Currently, unless I take a longer route to my Dad's, I have to use a stretch of the York outer ring road which is being resurfaced using the controversial loose gravel method. For those of you who come from countries where this utter stupidity would probably be illegal I will explain:

The roads in the UK are in a terrible state, having been neglected for reasons of austerity, and now some repair work is being done. Much of this involves repairing the surface of stretches of the roads using a method which involves putting down a thin layer of tar and then covering this with loose gravel. The road is then opened to traffic so that it is the traffic which embeds the gravel. Of course much of the gravel remains loose and piles up where it isn't being flattened by vehicle tyres. Not so bad in a car so long as you drive with care, but dreadfully dangerous for motorcycles (and for pushbikes). Not only does the road quickly become very uneven, the loose gravel is a skid risk and of course gravel is constantly being spat out from tyre treads. It's a cheap method of road repair but it's dangerous and should be banned.

Most of the time I travel that road without incident and there are one or two long straight stretches with good views for long overtakes. A few weeks ago I opened up the throttle for an overtake past a few cars and a large truck. No biggie. But I'm embarrased to say that somewhere along that overtake my set of waterproofs that were strapped to the pillion detached themselves. I only discovered the loss when I arrived at my Dad's. I therefore knew staight away that I had been responsible for a hazard. I did go back and retrieve the jacket which I found in the middle of the road. I saw the trousers further back along the road but they were tangled up on the verge and out of harm's way.

This is what you recover when your waterproof jacket has being blowing about on a busy main road for several minutes...
I'm glad the set, which have been excellent in 
the rain, cost me less that 20 quid to replace.

My very comfortable riding boots have started to laugh at me after I caught the left toe on a metal stud in the road...
Still, it was a good excuse to buy a new and 
more expensive pair with gortex lining. I'll 
probably glue these and keep them as spares.

The legal stuff still meanders along but from what my solicitor is telling me there is light at the end of the tunnel. So, I may get a Harley on the road before the year is out, but I'm not holding my breath. In the meantime the Triumph is doing nicely and is running well. Shines up lovely too... 

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will possibly have some idea of the scale of problems I have encountered since being clobbered with a ramp more than three and a half years ago. There will never be a full recovery, especially in respect of my damaged hearing and the awful awful tinnitus. However, there have been small gains along the way in respect of the psychological issues. Today was a massive gain, a truly monumental stage in the recovery process. I will not go into any greater detail because this picture of me overcoming abject terror says it all...
York Rail Station - 12.30 today.

In a much lighter vein, here's my eldest granddaughter and I getting in some static practice for when she's a bit older...

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Of moving over AND giving room...

Today was Father's day and in amongst all the busyness of going across to Manchester to visit youngest daughter yesterday and getting to do other fatherly things along with getting good lady wife to her riding lesson today I found I hadn't left much time to get a Father's Day card to my Dad. Well there was a good excuse for a ride, as if one is actually needed!.

To get to my Dad's by the most direct route I have to negotiate York's awful ringroad, generally locked up because of too many roundabouts, now even worse because of major roadworks at one of said roundabouts.

In this type of slow moving traffic many car drivers on seeing a bike in their rear view mirror, me included when I'm in the car, move over to allow room for the bike to pass. Most riders are very grateful and when safe to do so will give a wave of thanks. I am noticing more and more though, that some of these well meaning drivers are moving over but not allowing enough room between them and the vehicle in front in case the bike needs to move back in.

So, to any car drivers reading this, many thanks for your consideration when moving over to let us pass but please do give us that extra bit of room to move back in. Cheers!

Friday, 13 June 2014

And it drags on and on...

Now, we all know I think my old Triumph is great. Despite its age it looks the biz and continues to turn heads wherever I go.

The badge gets me into loads of good conversations especially with older guys who biked in their younger days on classic British bikes.

But, as is glaring obvious I have my heart set on a Harley, in particular a Softail Breakout. It has been one of the things I have focussed on over the last three and a half years since my life was changed by having a ramp crash into the side of my head. It has more often than not been a very grim period, with my life having changed quite drastically. One of the things that has made it worse has been the on-going legal issues. Money is never going to be the answer, it can never put things right, but it's the only way of getting some sort of redress. 

Of course the person who actually caused the problem is not affected by any of this, it is all handed over to faceless insurance officials and lawyers. (I will add here that my lawyer is not faceless and she has been very understanding.) The ongoing requirement for appointments, legal and medical, and endless correspondence keeps the whole horrid issue right at the forefront of the mind, a mind already badly dented by the actual incident. And it drags on and on. 

I actually believed it would be sorted and I would have my Harley on the road last year. When that didn't happen I really thought I would be riding the Harley this summer. But it drags on and on. Latest letter tells me that information required from the Army (to do with the hearing test that was part of my discharge process in 1986) should be received within six weeks. Six weeks! Summer will be almost over and still no where near an end to all this legal wrangling. Pissed off is an under-statement. 

I've got my tickets to the Bulldog Bash in August and I stupidly expected to ride a Harley there. I'd have been so chuffed. Ah well, it'll be an outing on the good ol' Triumph. Not quite the same as cruising down there though.  

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Cruisin' - I knew I'd love it...

As you will no doubt know (if you have read previous posts) owning a Harley is pretty much top of my list. Strangely I have never actually ridden a cruiser. Yes, I sat astride a Breakout at Leeds H-D but due to the wretched legal stuff re my damaged head stretching on and on I haven't actually seen the point in booking a test ride yet.

Yesterday though, I took my old Triumph to A1 Moto for a service and its MOT (for my foreign friends that's the annual roadworthiness test as required by law). I knew I was getting a courtesy bike (last time I had one it was a Triumph Street Triple which I did an earlier post about). You can imagine my delight when the guy told me I was getting loan of this little sweetie...

...a Triumph Speedmaster.

As you can see it is very much in the Harley style with drag bars and forward pegs. The after-market exhausts provided a lovely loud growl with plenty of crackle and pop when I eased off the throttle. I had great fun and I now absolutely know that cruiser style biking is for me (as if I ever actually doubted it!). 

The Speedmaster is built with quality and gives more than a nod to its heritage. The engine is an 865cc parallel twin, fuel injected and water cooled. However the injection system is hidden away in casings that are designed to look like carburettors and the radiator is small enough to be hardly noticeable. It was a joy to ride. A well balanced machine. Suspension was a little hard and the drag bars probably had me reaching too far forward, as with the Breakout in my earlier post, it would benefit from a handle bar swap for some that sweep back a little. But these are only minor critisisms. The bike was so much fun the smile never left my face.

Of course I'm not going to change my mind about buying a Harley but I certainly wouldn't mind having one of these in the stable too. It costs about nine grand less than the Breakout too.

To cap off a great day the old Triumph passed its MOT with no problems. Hoorah!

Monday, 26 May 2014

A bike, a bike, my kingdom for a bike!

This is where I have just spent ten days. Lovely island with beautiful scenery and friendly locals. Lady wife and I stayed a few miles west of the capitol Heraklion. We travelled around a bit visiting, among other places, Heraklion, Reythimno and Aghia Nikolaos. We travelled along the E75 which is a fairly new road running along the north coast from Sitia in the east to Hania in the west. The road has loads of sweeping bends and twisty bits as it runs through the hills and lower mountains. Alas, we travelled on four wheels, a hired Fiat Panda to be precise. Lady wife is not keen on the idea of pillioning. I know how King whoever it was felt when he was so desperate for a horse that he would have given his kingdom for one. It's on the future to do list, to go back and hire a decent bike and ride the whole road. Actually it may be an even better idea to ride the entire E75 route across Europe from Norway to Crete. I gather it's a trip of over 3,000 miles. That would be cool!

Back home to rain early hours of Sunday. Sun came out today though and so did the Triumph. What post holiday blues?  

Monday, 5 May 2014

It's what Bank Holidays are for...

Bank Holiday Monday and my wife is working. Good weather, what should I do? Hmmm..... Bit of a no brainer really. Quick ride over to my Dad's for a chat and coffee then off to Helmsley. Loads of bikes on the roads and as usual plenty ended up in Helmsley...

My old Triumph may have been one of the oldest 
bikes there, but I reckon it can still hold its own.

I've never known a day like it for picking up insects. I was glad I'd chosen to wear the full face helmet.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A view worth stopping for...

It has been quite a while since I last posted. That's not because I haven't been riding. In fact I've taken every opportunity to get on the bike. I've just been really busy. Of course, being a church minister meant that the lead up to Easter was rather busy and so was the day job. Throw in to the mix a week away as chaplain to Air Cadets on their Spring Camp at an RAF base in Lincolnshire and having to prepare some academic work meant I haven't had a lot of time to sit down and create a post.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day and after getting back from taking my wife to her horse riding session, in the car unfortunately, I had a quick cuppa and then it was out on the bike.

The journey to where my wife rides takes us through a village called Crayke which sits picturesquely on one of the few hills to be found in the Vale of York. The views from the top of the hill are spectacular. So I decided to ride back out there and get some photos. What I should have done is taken my camera as the photos which I took on my mobile don't do the view any justice at all and unfortunately a slight haze had developed. But I hope you get an idea of why it is a view worth stopping for...

I've also recently bought a Veho Muvi HD action video camera. I just need to get a suitable helmet or chest mount and I'll start posting some vids of my rides around this part of the world. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Taking joy to another level...

A few weeks ago I invested in an open face helmet ready for when the weather improved. I also recently ordered some goggles. They had to be the right type as I wear specs. Anyhow they arrived yesterday and today I gave helmet and goggles their first run.

Oh the wind on yer face! Joy stepped up a level. It was just how I remembered it from my youth. It's certainly going to be a better look on the Harley. Next thing is to get some prescription wrap-around sunglasses. Let's hope it's going to develop into a long hot summer.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Breakout in the flesh...

This morning I donned the layers and rode across to Leeds Harley Davidson. I just wanted to have a browse and whet  my appetite you understand. What I discovered was not one but a beautiful brace of Softail Breakouts in stock. One completely standard in Morroccan Gold (creamy white) and the other silver candy with slightly more swept back handlebars.

I sat on both and I have to say the replacement bars gave a slightly better riding position. Not that I've had a ride yet, just a static sit-on. The test ride will happen sometime in the next few weeks. In the meantime I've got the photo to remind me of what's to come.

A thing of true, the bike, silly! 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Grabbing an hour and a very cross wind...

Yesterday the sun came out again and I grabbed an hour's ride. As I'm not getting a lot of biking miles in at the moment I decided to mix it up a bit and rode a few twisting country miles, a few miles of busy ring road and some dual-carriageway riding on the York by-pass. It all put a smile on my face even when I encountered a strong cross-wind between the A1079 junction and the A1237 junction. For those of you who are familiar with the area you will know this is the stretch that passes very open ground to the left which leads across to the York University campus. There is often a cross-wind along that stretch, but yesterday it was pretty strong.

There's certainly a nack to maintaining good stability in a strong cross-wind, especially when it's gusting, and the first thing is to drop the speed. It's a bit of a balancing act really and the trick is not to get tensed up. With relaxed arms it's much easier to make those small adjustments that are required.

I really would have liked a couple more hours but I had to take good lady wife for her riding lesson, of the four legged variety.

Today I had to deal with some more enquiries re the legal case. It's grim really when I try so hard to put all that rotten stuff to the back of my mind and this just keeps bringing it back to the fore. Papers are now lodged at Court and in six days time it will be three years since my head got bashed. I'll be glad when it's all done and dusted.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Now we both ride, and something that's not a Harley getting me hot under the collar...

Last week it was my wife's birthday. I won't disclose which one but it was one of those significant round figured ones. As a present I bought her riding lessons. But, as you can see from the photo it's not the kind of riding I usually blog about:

This was yesterday, her first lesson. Despite it being very cold it was one of the best days, weather-wise, that we've had for a while. So, getting back home at about 3.00pm left me enough time to get kitted up and get out for an hour's ride on the old Triumph. Hoorah!

Now, you all know that I am bursting to get myself a Harley Davidson, and that I think they are the most beautiful motorbikes on the planet, but there is an interloper that is getting me all hot under the collar. Take a look at this beaut...

This is the new BMW R-nineT 

I really, really want one!
Of course, it'll have to share garage space with the Harley.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Of searching for the best line and back to a favourite spot...

This morning I had to go to Hull once again. Boringly I was in my car. Having said that, it was an early, dark start and the traffic for the first 15 miles was rotten. So, it wouldn't have been much fun on the bike.

Anyhow, I got finished in Hull quickly and was back home in time to don cold weather gear and head out for a ride. I decided to head out to Easingwold and took the back roads. There seemed to be a lot of wet mud on the roads and I found myself constantlty searching for the best line especially around bends, dicatated by the dryest part of the road, which was not necessarily the most natural line.

The roads were very quiet and despite the caution I made good time and was in Easingwold for lunch. Of course I was back at a favourite spot, TeaHee.
Still the best teashop in the world.
The staff are delightful and the 
food is absolutely lovely.

Despite my rather unsocial seating arrangement...
...I did get into an interesting conversation with an older gentleman 
about Triumphs, Honda Goldwings and Harley Davidsons. 
It doesn't matter where you are, if you're on a bike someone 
will want to talk about bikes and their experiences with them.

Then it was a return to York via the A19 which also was very quiet. Opened the bike up and blew out a few cobwebs. Back in York I popped round to see Dave Cuddy, proprietor of Ride-4-Life who I did my training with earlier last year. He has just bought himself a brand spanking new 2014 Harley Davidson Fat Bob with Stage One, Sceamin' Eagle exhausts the lot. What a beaut, and it sounded just as it should. Of course I'm not a bit jealous! 

Friday, 10 January 2014

First ride of the year...

Well, the rain did indeed stay away, and as I had promised myself the bike came out of the garage. Took a few minutes of battery charging to get it started but ran smoothly when it did.

Tyre pressures checked and corrected, chain lubed and lights all checked. Then it was off for a glorious thirty odd miles on practically deserted roads.

This point where I stopped nearly at the end 
of the  ride is only about a mile from my home.
As you can see from the puddles the roads
were pretty damp and the ride was quite
twitchy at times. There are a few stables around
the area too, so you have to watch out for
the piles of wet manure in the road. 

These back roads just to the north of York
are a joy to ride, especially when they're so 
empty, which at this time of year they almost 
always are. A bit different around sowing and
harvest time when the tractors are about.

The narrowness of the roads and high hedges mean 
you sometimes need a bit of courage to 
keep the speed up. Good for the adrenal gland!

And a lovely winter sunset to boot!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Of cold wet winter days and still dreaming...

January the 9th and I haven't been out on the bike yet this year. In fact I haven't been out on it since my last post. Of course the weather has been a major factor but combination of work, academic catch-up and some Church & Chaplaincy duties through Christmas have played their part in keeping the bike in the garage.

Well, the weather, although still cold, is set to be mainly dry over the next two or three days here in the York area (although we know how quickly that can change). So, tomorrow, all being equal, the cover will come off the bike and out it will come.

The legal stuff re head etc still slowly rolls on. Frankly I'm sick and tired of it and just wish it was over and done with. In the mean time I'm still holding on to my dream...
Just stunning!