Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year from Carol and Jayne

Hey folks, Happy New year to you all.

I for one will be glad to see the back of 2010, which has been a painful year for the Carol and I.

It started well with a trip to Bristol for me to see Marduk and to meet Nemesis, my biking buddy.

Nemesis and Jayne

Marduk were amazing and it was such a shame they played such a short set.

Following Marduk, Halfords informed me that I was to be made redundant, which was great because I needed a whole summer of being poor and jobless! It was not such a great loss, but I did need a new job fast.

Then came the saddest news of the year, Carol's Father, Alan Franklin Beauchemin passed away in Hospital in February after a long illness.

This was one of the saddest days of our lives, Carol lost her Father and I lost a very dear friend and Father in Law. I still miss him and think of him often, missing his fast wit, sharp mind and funny stories.

The pitiful Redundancy pay out from Halfords paid for my Bike test and in April 2010, with the help of Carol, Matt a local Instructor that Carol had trained and all of our friends encouragement I passed my motorbike tests, first time too. I was a proud new rider of Sylvie the Suzuki SV650S and enjoying every second. Of course we still had Henry and we went our for rides together.

The summer was spent riding and job searching, but mainly riding when I could afford the fuel. Interviews happened and finally in July I got an interview with United Response, a charity that works with adults with disabilities. Life was starting to look up.
During the Summer we attended as many of the Weston Bike Nights as we could, putting our pound in when ever we could spare it. This was a great social event and I even managed to meet up with some of the infamous Orgers! Yes, the lovely folks from the SV forums, including Grunty Giggles, Metalhead19, Squirrel Hunter, Stretchy and many others. It was a great summer and all of these people touched me in some way (not in that way, you perverts!).

Another big loss for Carol was Alex, her son, who has ceased contact with her. I know that this is breaking her heart, but until the rift can be healed, it will continue to do so. We rode up to Gloucester in horrific rain to meet him and bring him down to Weston for a weekend, but sadly it turned sour and the visit was cut short, leaving Carol to grieve for the loss of her son.

Another trip was to meet Xander and Bof, while buying the amazing Agnes, our new bike. A nice pay out from a previous naughty employer gave us the cash to buy me a bike to commute to work on, a lovely Yamaha XJ400/4. Well I say Lovely, she was a little temperamental to begin with!

Jayne, Xander and Bof plus pets

Agnes was a real sweetie though, and riding her introduced to me a new chapter in my bike career. The Cruiser...

We also tore off Sylvies Clip On bars and gave her the Street fighter look.

There was also Bristol Pride, although Glastonbury Pride came first, before fizzling out to nothing! Yeah, we had tried to get involved in the set up of Glastonbury Pride, but it failed to happen. Bristol Pride though was a laugh and Carol's Band Oestrogenix got to play a long set in the Trans Tent.

I started work with United Response while filling an application for Teacher Training, however the job was so wonderful that I chucked the Teaching away and got settled in and then it went quiet right at the end of the year, I am still to see if more work arrives, but sadly it is starting to look like I am instead going to have to find another new job.

The year 2010 was also the year that my first Niece, Robyn, was born and also the year that Carol and I started working on the radio. Robyn was a surprise from my Brother and when I met her for the first time, she was a beautiful little baby, whom I sat on the back of Sylvie straight away for a photo by her Mum. I have seen her several times since and I truly hope that I am the sort of Aunty that she will grow to love and trust, who will lead her astray and show her some of the fun things in the world. Once she is old enough to go on the back of the bikes ofcourse!

As for the Radio, Carol present shows on Total Biker FM from One O:Clock on a Sunday. This is a labour of love and one that we are both extremely proud of, so come and tune in and even say hello in the chatroom, you know that you want too!

As Autumn changed to Winter, Snow hit us hard in November and then again in December. This did not stop us from having fun though and with the incentive of a clear work surface Steve, Andy and I set about a new challenge in Snow art, firstly the snow face.

Then the Snow Cock!

The Snow Penis Monolith...

Before the final piece the Snow girl...

You should have seen Steve making the hole!
So that was 2010, some bits were great and some bits were painful, but in all it was another year in our lives. Thank you to all of the people who have chosen to have a read of our Blog this year, may next year bring us even more adventures and lots more silliness! 

Monday, 6 December 2010

Pain and suffering, the agony of an in growing toe nail and then the chimney!

Yes, a different adventure this time, this is an adventure into pain and suffering. If you have a strong stomach then carry on reading, if not, then I suggest that you go else where for this installment!

So as you know, I am currently working for a fantastic couple of companies, the Disability Charity United Response and the fantastic Radio Station, Total Biker FM, both have their difficulties, but one is more difficult than the other. Working with a delightful young man recently filed me with utter joy, until he stood on my sore toe! Yes, the old ingrowing toe nail reared its ugly pointy head and started to bite into the corner of my left big toe, nothing unusual there, years of climbing shoes and mountain bike shoes have wreaked their havoc on my poor suffering feet, so I am used to the occasional sore toe that just needs some time for a broken nail to grow out again. Only this time, it broke more when a charming young man accidentally put his body weight on my foot.

Now this was in no way the fault of the young man, ordinarily, I would just hop back a bit and curse lightly under my breath because some one has stepped on my toe, but this time the pain was like a bolt of lightening igniting the very end of my leg in white hot flame! I left work with a slight limp, the next day, he did it to me again and this time realised what he had done and said sorry. Again though, when you are helping a physically disabled person into the back of a car, it can be a bit of a squeeze, so it was hardly his fault. The final straw though came when on Saturday morning while playing about, he accidentally stood on it with all of his weight!

This time something popped, blood oozed through my sock and the white hot pain did not disperse, if anything when I took my sock off to check it, the pain grew worse! I was a very unhappy bunny. My Darling sister chose that day to visit us and when she saw the mess that my toe was, she instantly stated that she was going to take me to get it sorted out. It was fecking hurting like you would not believe. Walking was no longer and option and so I just bandaged it up and hopped to her car. Sadly, we could find no where open or anyone who could offer us a quick fix.

Meanwhile Sian, the lead singer, song writer and all round good egg of Oestrogenix mentioned in passing that one of her closest and most dear friends was a chiropodist! The card was passed over and then this afternoon, the phone call was made and I made the painful journey to meet Helen Marie Stephens, Goddess of Ingrowing Toenails!

Now Helen is not your average Toe Nail specialist, not by a long shot. Originally she trained as a Veterinary Nurse, when dealing with Aunty Jayne this is probably handy! However, having learned all that there is to know about animal care, she decided that it was time to specialise in hurting people! Well not actually hurting them as such, but helping those who are hurting with the worst pain you can have and still be a wimp, Toe ache!

Helen introduced me to her special chair with the foot plate and she unwrapped my bandaged toe, I did not know what horrors lay inside, it could have been a maggot infested, pustulating boil of a toe for all I knew. Instead, under that perfect little bandage was a bright red and very swollen toe! It had become so over sensitive that just brushing lightly against the skin, caused a huge influx of agony. For all of you perspective torture operatives for the CIA or what ever government agency, if you want to cause pain in some one, give them an ingrowing toe nail!

Having had a good look, it was time for a probe and with no anesthetic, Helen popped a probe under my toe nail. Once she had collected the detritus of kicked away apparatus and un-picked my finger nails from the ceiling, she probed again, causing mild swearing and the clenching of my teeth. Then came the surgery, now bare in mind that on this occasion I could not use anesthetic, so this was done to me while I was stone cold sober, fully conscious and able to feel every tiny movement as if she was pulling logs out of my toe! Carefully and with great humour she teased and poked the broken nail with the tools of her trade and as tiny fragments began to break off, the pain slowly increased. Then she saw it, the culprit, the cause of all of my agonies! The fragment of broken nail that was growing into a pocket of flesh on my left big toe and slowly cutting it's nasty little way through to the front of my toe. It was digging into soft damaged flesh, causing agonies beyond which something of it's size should be capable.

With a skill I have only ever seen on the most accomplished of professors of Surgery, Helen gently, firmly began to work on the poisonous little flake. Each time she thought she had it, it laughed at her and retreated back further into my soft delicate flesh. Finally with one last agonising push forwards into enemy teritory, she grasped the vile piece by the very scruff of it's neck and whoosh!

A sense of peace, calm and serenity came upon my foot, as if the greatest of Gods had kissed it better. Helen pulled out the offending flake and showed it to me, I was expecting a tiny fragment the size of a grain of sand, what she showed me would provide enough material to keep the average Witch Doctor in Toe nails clippings for a year! Eight millimeters long and three millimeters wide, the painful little bastard. As soon as it was out, the pain in my foot vanished, leaving the dull ache of a wound that needed to heal. Helen dressed my toe and for the first time in a week, I pulled on my boot with reckless abandon!

So folks, that is how I am now able to walk, pull on my socks and even tonight I managed to pull on my winter walking boots, with their extra thick thermal liner. Helen, you are an angel, the patron saint of toes. Your touch is both agonising and soothing and I cannot thank you enough for sorting out my toe nail.

If any one else wants to try Helen's magical touch, then have a look at her website here.

Weston Foot Care

I cannot recommend her highly enough, also she has a beautiful little doggie called Billy who will sit on your lap while Helen soothes your aching feet.

So Once Back Home, another story unfolds, while basking in the joy of a pain free foot and friviously wearing what ever shoes I could find, Carol came home from work and informed me that she had found a chimney sweep outside! I am not fully sure how she does these things, but sure enough a young urchin with a set of brushes and a vacuum cleaner from hades knocks on the door. Now to me a Chimney Sweep is a Dick van Dyke type character, with a mockney accent and a sooty face, the hunky mountain biker stood before me did not look like a chimney sweep to me, also he was older than eight and did not intend to climb the chimney sweeping as he went! I was disappointed.

However as the brushes went into the chimney, the filth of Who knows how long began to drop to the floor, the delicate sound of large lumps thumping down into the fire grate gave us all something to ponder. In the time that Carol has lived in the flat, she has not had the chimney swept and she has been here for some time. You know how it is, we meant to get it done, but somehow with all of the other important things in life, chimney sweeping just got forgotten.

The fire grate continued to fill and then it burst forth, a spill of jet black filth, scraped from our chimney. Finally as the brush burst forth from the pot, ejaculating a puff of sooty filth onto the roof, our young urchin declared that he had never seen a chimney so filthy. Finally he unveiled the pile of sweepings to us, well I say pile, heap is probably more appropriate. A pile so large that it would require two large bags to dispose of it carefully.

Suitably chasisted about the danger of a chimney fire, we paid our dues and gave the young scamp a cuppa.

"Gee Wizz Mary Poppins!" He exclaimed as he tap danced out of the front door and off into the night...

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Let it snow, let it snow...

Hello my dear friends, Aunty Jayne here to tell you about another little adventure in our curious lives. This one happened only yesterday and I am still cold, but what can you expect from winter in Northern Europe, which let's face it Britain is in.

So yesterday morning, I popped down to the garage and got the always fantastic Sylvie out for the blast over to Nailsea, there was the first frost of the new winter on the ground and the morning sunshine was glorious. I was wearing a thermal base layer, a thermal t-shirt, a fleece, cycling shorts, cycling tights, two pairs of socks, motorcycle trousers and over trousers. Walking was hard work, but I was toasty warm. My liner gloves and my outer gloves have given me huge hands, but inside the layers my hands can barely close around the grips anymore. However with Sylvie's precious little engine rumbling happily away, I popped her into first and rode away.

Now, I needed to fuel up and decided to stop at Sainsbury's on the way, which was a great idea because when I got there, my hands were too cold to work the fuel cap and I ended up with both hands wrapped around the exhaust system as they slowly defrosted. Once I was fueled up, came the laborious process of pulling on the outer shells again and getting ready for the motorway wind blast which must have been below zero.

Sylvie was flawless in her running, she galloped up the motorway with her usual finesse, barely working hard as we worked our way through the traffic. Even when it was that cold, she is a pleasure to ride and before long I was pulling off the motorway and onto the nice windy roads that lead to Nailsea. The final approach though was a nightmare of freezing air and a road so bumpy, it was like riding off road in the arctic! A stop for coffee and a chat and then I was off again.

From Nailsea, I took the winding road to Failand and then over to Portishead before meeting a new lad and making myself known as a fixer of computers and supplier of hard, dirty Metal. With a few plugs for the Sunday School, I began looking out of the window and then saw to my horror, snow flakes, whirling in the street lighting outside.

From Portishead to Weston is usually a short blast down the motorway, holding between fifty five and seventy, depending on which bike I am riding. With Agnes, a fifty five mile per hour cruise is just joyous, on Sylvie, a seventy MPH blast is much more fitting. However with snow howling in my face and freezing on my helmet, just getting to the motorway was a challenge. Wiping snow off of my visor was getting harder as the snow got heavier, but with the visor up, I could barely see a thing or keep my eyes open. So it was a long journey of wiping the snow drift off of my visor.

Gordano Roundabout was full of traffic, the motorway was moving very slowly and on every surface not being driven on, snow was settling, covering every blemish with a crisp clean blanket of white. The world looks so clean with a fresh coating of snow hiding the litter, dirty streets and churned up mud. I dropped down the sliproad and joined the flow of the motorway, tucking in behind a large truck. The snow was so heavy that I was wiping my visor every twenty or thirty seconds when it became too clogged to see through, my air vent filled with ice and froze up, which stopped air blowing on the inside of my visor and de-misting the double laminate. As we made progress along the road, traffic was moving at a steady forty five miles per hour and so I just sat serenely behind the truck, watching the road carefully.

Riding in snow is probably one of the most scary things I have done on a motorbike, riding pillion with a nutter who rode at 150MPH was nothing compared to this, every corner became a fear filled step into the unknown, Sylvie took it all in her stride and just kept rumbling away happily, although her temperature was reading somewhat lower than usual. Finally with hands that felt like they were cast in ice, the Weston junction came and as I prepared to turn off of the motorway, a lunatic in a Mercedes sports car, came hurtling across the three lanes of traffic, braked really hard and turned the road in front of me into a red mist with his high intensity brake lights. I had no option but to keep going and hope that he had not stopped in my path. Luckily he had decided that the line of traffic I was a part of was too slow, so had turned across the lane and pelted off ahead, only to have to brake hard for a large truck in the outside lane of the motorway exit!

I trundled off and headed up to the lights and pulled out onto a slowly freezing road, the edges of the road where white and the snow was starting to settle on the damp tarmac. Sylvie cut through the snow and just kept going, agile and sure footed as always.  The traffic was backing up again and so with a carefully made decision I headed for the Toll Road into Weston and then back home. Only once before has the Toll Road felt so long and on that occasion I was riding my mountain bike while fighting off an illness. Half way along the dark, but sheltered road I could stand it no more and almost in tears I pulled into a small layby and dismounted, the pain in my frozen hands was too much to bare and for five minutes I just knealed in the snow, resting my poor cold, gloved hands on the thin exhaust pipe, just below the exhaust can. The heat began to seep through to my hands and the bust of pain did bring a tear to my eyes.

I waited for a few minutes, the pain in my hands had subsided somewhat, but getting back on my precious Sylvie was one of the hardest choices I have ever made. Coming out of the woods, the road was a coated with snow, the going was treacherous and the wind made my whole want to shrink away. I have not been this cold since being sat on an icy belay in the lakes while winter climbing with my old friend Will the Mountain Leader. I passed by my Mother in laws house and wondered if I could take shelter from the weather, but thought better of it. I was so nearly home, I had less than a mile to go.

Pulling up outside the garage was a moment of bliss, I had made it home despite the weather. Sylvie purred on idle as once again I had my hands resting on the exhaust system just for the warmth it provided. Finally, when my hands could move once again I phoned Carol and asked her for her help in putting Sylvie away. I could not stop shivering and the ice in front of the garage was the final step for me. Between us both, we parked Sylvie up before Carol and I locked up and headed back to the warmth of the flat, a roaring fire and a got drink.

Never before have I ridden a motorbike in the snow, never before has my decision making been so important and never before have I wanted to get off and sit on the side of the road while I sobbed. Once inside my helmet was frozen shut, my jacket was soaked and the ice on the outside was starting to melt. My hands were barely able to move and Carol had to help me out of my gear, before wrapping me in my sleeping bag and leaving me on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate. That night she cooked one of her stews, a boiling hot blend of meat and veg and never before has it tasted so good or been so warming.

In another universe somewhere, I did not make it home, another Carol was struck with the loss of me and I could almost feel the grief of that desperate soul. If every action and every possibility has it's own universe, I wonder in just how many of them I made it home?

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Our new jobs

I have a new job, or rather two new jobs and Carol has a new job too. Interested? Well, let me start a with a fade out to a few months ago, you will have to spin your own monitor because I am not good enough with these blog things to create a whirling spiral effect for a flash back!

So I am chatting to the jolly nice chap known as Mucka on Total Biker FM and happen to mention that I am a bit keen on the whole Black metal thing and with in a few minutes I had managed to talk myself into presenting a radio show. I have never had any aspirations to be famous or do anything in the media before (Blogs don't count, after all these things are just me telling stories to some friends) so presenting a Radio show is a bit of a new thing for me.

So I prepared a play list, filled it with the hardest nastiest stuff I have and hit the button to present to the world for the first time, which crashes everything! Even the iron in the kitchen stopped working, the crash was so big.

Once we got it all working again and finally got on air, we discovered that the crash had wiped out the microphone and Carol battled to make it work, but with failing technology, continuing to play was only going to have one outcome and once again the machine crashed. Show one was a disaster. Mucka was very polite and managed not to be too cross about us ruining his weekend plans.

The following Sunday I was once again ready to go, the faulty soundcard had been removed, the microphone was plugged in and everything worked. The countdown began, one minute and I started to shake with fear. Forty five seconds and I needed the toilet badly. Thirty seconds and I was about to soil myself. Twenty seconds, ten seconds and then I hit play. My music blasted forth and all across the world, yes the whole world, people could tune in and listen to Aunty Jayne and her favourite black metal. My voice clearly rang out just how nervous I was and I struggled to cope with fame! I had a chatroom to run and I was talking to people around the world who were listening to my show... My bowels felt like they were filled with water balloons and one had popped!

It took me a little while to settle in, I made a mistake or two, my songs played and people told me that my choices were amazing. I began to calm down and actually enjoy what I was doing. The amazing thing is that I I can honestly report that I love my radio show, it gives me something that my other job does not and my other job is just awesome. So that folks is how I ended up working for Total Biker FM.

Total Biker FM, great music and great fun on line

Now as you may already know, my Darling other half Carol is something of an old hand at the fame and show biz thing, being the drummer with the rock band Oestrogenix. She also likes an eclectic mix of music and while listening to me and giving me the encouragement to do a good job, she starts to think that she can put a great show together and with her idea burning in her mind she has a chat with the bosses partner in the station, Stacey. Now Stacey and Carol have a right old chinwag and Carol pitches her the idea of her show. To which Stacey gives a great big go ahead.

Carol's first show takes her a weekend of planning and even some recording of old vinyl records onto MP3 format, she also makes up some clips and before you can shout obscenities at the Pope, Carol is ready to speak to the world. Her first show goes out to great success and we get a report back that the boss is well pleased with the format.

Look Mum, I am talking to the world!

So this leaves us six hours of broadcasting from our flat on a Sunday afternoon, both of us love our new jobs with the Radio station and I also love my new job with United Response, but I wont tell you about that because frankly any job that can make you come home and e-mail your boss thanking her for a great day at work is just too nice to share!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Rain, Rain and more bloody rain...

Imagine the scene if you will, the pub dining room is nice and warm, the food was beautifully cooked and outside if is absolutely pouring with rain, not just little drops, but flooding the road with standing water.

Both the bikes, Sylvie and Agnes, sat in the car park, loaded up and ready for a road trip that was more for purpose than for an adventure, but it soon turned into an adventure, as the rain got heavier and the roads got wetter.

Our trip was a one hundred and eleven mile round trip from Weston to Gloucester and back again to collect Carol’s son, after a promise was made to collect him via motorbike for his weekend visit. So Carol and I pulled on our multiple layers of clothing that would ensure that no matter how wet we got, we would stay warm.

My layers consisted of this.

One pair of cycling shorts and a sports bra.
One pair of cycling tights and a vest top.
One pair of Crag Hoppers Mountain boot socks

Then came some armour.

One pair of Weiss armoured and water proof trousers (that have never been water proof since buying them in 2008).

Then one pair of  Asolo three season leather walking boots and Brasher Gore-Tex Gaiters to keep them dry.

One final pair of water proof walking trousers by Millets (that were water proof until climbing on to the bike last week and splitting the crotch!)

MyOne pink and black Skull print scarf and then my helmet all fitting so that I was sealed in.

Then my thermal lined Weiss Sophie jacket, in pink and Black.

A Hi-Vis vest in Yellow, silver and orange. Just in case Loopy Laura or Half Blind Billy are out driving today!

In the pub, I was feeling all of those layers and was building up something of a sweat! Finally, I pulled on my water proof Duchinn Gloves, brand new and bedding in nicely to my hands as the leather moulds to my hand shape. I was ready to go, I knew that I was going to get wet, but I also knew that I was going to be warm.

The rain was now bouncing off of the road and visibility was some what reduced. There is just the slightest possibility that this was one of the more ridiculous things that we chose to undertake, with in two minutes of starting the bike and pulling out of the pub car park, my left hand was sitting in a puddle of water as the seams on my fingers soaked up rain water, twenty minutes later both hands were soaked, my bum was soaked and I was actually very warm.

Now it is quite commonly known that the Suzuki SV650 suffers with a problem called Wet front plug. This occurs when rain water or road spray penetrates the water protection over the front cylinder of the ninety degree V-Twin engine. Once water gets in there, it shorts out the spark plug and cuts out the cylinder, leaving a bit of a void in the power supply. This was my main worry with Sylvie, especially as I have not yet bought her a fender extender to protect the engine.

Agnes on the other hand has known water based faults, due to thirty year old wiring that has seen more than its fair share of bodges and fixes by previous owners. However, Carol and I gave her a service last week that included new plugs, plug caps and filters, this effectively cured the issues of starting and running in the wet that she had when she first joined our garage.

The rain made the roads treacherous, traffic was bunching up and spray from the trucks coated everything, soaking into every part of our kit. The rain remained heavy and visibility was less than fifty meters, making our speed on the motorway less than forty miles per hour, even allowing two hours for the journey was going to make it tight for our four PM deadline to collect Alex from home.

The first water based problem with the bikes soon became apparent, Carol, who was leading was unable to indicate properly while riding Agnes. The indicator lights simply stopped flashing and when ever she indicated, they lit up with an orange glow and then went out when she turned them off. The wonderful inline four engine continued to pull like a train though and Carol rode the narrow tyred cruiser like it was a world class tourer, which frankly amazes me. Her hi-vis Paramedic jacket, given to her by her late Father was fluttering slightly in the wind, but it was making her the easiest thing to see on that motorway in those conditions.

Now here is a conundrum for you, what is the best thing to do when you can’t see where you are going on the motorway? Do you open your helmet visor, allowing improved visibility, but allowing painfully sharp road grit and stinging rain to hit you in the eyes, or do you keep your visor down and struggle to see through the rain and road grime splattered protective cover? I chose to try both options. When crawling along at below twenty miles per hour, I had my helmet front lifted (The joy of front flip helmets, a fantastic invention!) enabling me to see clearly and not have to worry too much about rain hitting my face. With out much forwards speed, it did not sting too badly at all and the road grit stayed pretty much on the road. Once the speed increased to above thirty, it was visor down and watching like a prey bird for brake lights, sudden lane changes from cars and for changes in speed by vehicles ahead.

Then at long last, we made it past Bristol. It was nearly an hour since we had left and we were only just half way. The rain seemed to sense our mood and grew just that little bit more penetrating of our gear and bikes. Sylvie continued to growl along the road with her usual surefootedness, despite her starting to approach the time when her rear tyre will need to be replaced. It may be a road legal tread depth, but there is a reason why they come with such deep tread, it clears water well when the channels are deep.

Once past Bristol, the traffic grew a little lighter and our pace increased slightly, from an average of about twenty miles per hour, we were now riding along reaching almost fifty, occasionally we slowed to just below forty, but we were at last making progress before pulling into Michael Wood Services for a very quick wee stop. It was nearly half past three, the road conditions were still bad and our deadline was fast approaching, so we were back on the road almost as soon as we parked up, we did not even have time to stop the engines! The glow of adventure was keeping our spirits high and despite the hard conditions, the ride was proving to be great fun.

At long last we approached Gloucester and then finally turned off of the motorway, heading for Alex’s home. That final turn into his street and then on to his houses drive way was all the more sweet for the time it had taken. I was slightly less than ten minutes late of the four PM deadline. Dismounting, I had rain water running down my legs, down my arms and down my body. Every part of me except my feet was damp, but I was still very warm and grinning like a loon. It was as I unloaded Alex’s riding gear from the bike that the rain finally stopped and then as if from nowhere came a glimmer of sunshine, a tiny patch of blue sky opened up and in that joyous moment I knew that we were going to enjoy the ride home to Weston.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Bra Run

Grab your Bra and Run!

We got a message last night from Matt, the local Motag Instructor and good guy to ask if Carol and I were interested in taking part in the Bra Run today. Now this sounded like a lot of fun to us, (before you ask, it is charity motorbike ride out to raise money for Breast Cancer research, not a run along the beach in our underwear!), so we got the bikes ready and I strapped Declan my Cradle of Filth loving teddy bear to back of Sylvie and Carol mounted her camera and a cuddly ape to the back seat of Agnes, before retiring to bed for an early night.

Then bright and early this morning we got up and got ready for a ride out on the bikes, which basically involved putting on some lovely lingerie under our riding kit and grabbing the rucksack I had packed last night. However, when we stopped for fuel on the way to the motorway, I discovered that I had lost my purse and had a fifteen mile round trip back home to find it. It had fallen out of my back pack and was under my desk, not the best start to the day. I also badly needed a wee, so had a quick break once back home before blasting back to Carol at the garage.

Just made it back in time to start!

Once back with Carol, we made our way onto the motorway and headed to Bridgewater, which I cannot describe as a nice place to visit if I am completely honest. I once lived in Bridgewater in 1983 and hated the place so much, I vowed never to return. It is a shit hole. However, once in Bridgewater we had to find the bike shop where the Bra Run was staring from. I had not even parked up when I was off on my own to find a Cash point machine and a toilet, because strangely I was bursting for a wee again, which is most unlike me. Unfortunately, Bridgewater is in the middle of some pretty complicated road works and is currently full of diversions and redirections, which meant that I got horribly lost, but eventually found Morrisons and used both their Cash point and then their toilet! I then had to find my way back to the bike shop and after a series of random turns and blatant disregard for common sense, found myself back on the A38. I pulled up at a traffic light and feeling totally lost, asked a lovely lady driver how to find the bike shop. It turns out I was less than five hundred metres away!
When bike parks 1 and 2 filled up that only left the warehouse!

I made it back just in time for the briefing for the ride out, where the leader promised to keep everyone together and told us the basic idea of the route with involved “going where we went last year!” Oh dear, this was our first time at the event… But with a smile and a spring in our step, we headed to the bikes and geared back up ready for the ride out. This was my first time riding in a pack and I quickly discovered that much to my surprise, I was not the least able rider in the group. I was forced to over take a couple on a sports bike who were travelling much slower than the rest of the group and eventually pulled up behind a blonde lass who was riding a green Kawasaki. Just behind me and grinning in my mirrors was my beautiful Carol riding Agnes, we were on the way and gladly leaving Bridgewater behind. Only I needed a wee again.

The road we took was following the A38, back towards Weston and Cheddar and pretty soon we were blasting along and filling the road way with Bikes. Sylvie felt nimble and light, smooth power flowing her into and out from every corner, she was a delight to ride. In my mirrors was Carol, smiling as she rode along on Agnes, cool purposeful and holding her own with the much bigger sports bikes in the group. She may only be a thirty year old, 400cc cruiser, but Carol is able to ride her like she is a modern sports bike and she flowed along the road like a train on rails. I was starting to really need that wee.

We passed through Churchhil and then on through Burrington Combe, the surroundings were beautiful and wild looking, the road was twisty and filled with bikes as far forward and as far back as I could see. The miles slowly ticked by and we got closer to Cheddar, I was nearly bursting and then at last we entered Cheddar Gorge and began the winding ascent to the pass before the drop down through the gorge. This place is the road that every UK rider should do at least once, it is beautiful and winding and the scenery is spectacular. Climbers worked problems on the crags as we passed by and walkers stood on the road side in awe as hundreds of bikes flowed past. I was teeth clenched and desperate for the toilet stop!

The hill down into Cheddar village is actually quite steep and has the occasionally sharp corner that must be taken carefully, today though, the streets were also filled with people cheering and clapping as hundreds of bikes rode past waving or hooting their horns, it was a wonderful feeling to be a part of it, but thankfully at the bottom of the hill is a public toilet and I was able to make a much needed stop! However once back on the bike, it quickly became apparent that despite the speed we had taken over our brief stop, the pack had left us behind and we had to play catch up to find the way home again. Sadly we were not alone and a small group of us led by Carol made our way back to Bridgewater. It soon became apparent though that the pack had taken a different route to us and we lost them altogether and just blasted along the roads, Carol leading us with her amazing sense of direction. Then just before Bridgewater, we caught the back markers of the group and followed in to the town centre and the bike shop once more.

My trip for the day read one hundred and three miles and my back side said a lot more. The strangest sensation though was in my right wrist, since changing the bars over, the front brake lever has been quite firm in its pull and after seventy miles, I found it to be quite hard work to apply the front brake. In the end, I was forced to rely upon the rear brake and careful use of the road until I could ask Carol to have a look at it for me. It turns out that the lever was set all the way out, for some one with much larger hands than me, I had not adjusted it correctly when setting it up, but today was a great day to iron out small issues. I also badly needed a wee again.

The ride back home was wonderful, Carol had adjusted the brake lever for me and it fell perfectly into my hand, it did not hurt to pull the lever and my wrist had also stopped hurting. The same could not be said of my bottom though, but even Carol could not fix that! We pulled up outside the garage and parked the bikes. Today had been a mixed day of silly mistakes, brilliant riding, a numb bum and finding out where every toilet in the local area is. All I have to do now is sow my new patch on to my bike jacket.

Thanks to Matt for bringing the event to our attention, the event raised over £700 for Breast Cancer research and was worth while just for that alone, however as an experience, it was one I am glad that I had. I must say though, thank you to Carol for looking after me, for fixing my bike and being an all round lovely lass, she looked great in her Lingerie, under her leathers! 

Saturday, 11 September 2010

How hard can it be? It is just another cut and paste job!

Part One… Swearing and its context in Modern Motorcycle engineering.

This episode brings together a few things that have been going on for some time and closes plans that were started last year. This has been a long term project and it is not finished yet, not by a long shot.

Let’s go right back to the beginning of this little adventure and we arrive in 2007, this was before I met Carol and when I first purchased Sylvie, my precious Suzuki SV650S. When I walked into that bike shop and handed over my card to pay for my bike and the gear, I believed that I could just jump on the bike and ride off into Europe on her, with little or no modifications. I was young naive and inexperienced, but that has changed and so has Sylvie.

Three years later and Sylvie is a different monster, she has clocked up a few thousand miles under Carol and I, often with out complaining and always with grace and finesse, riding her was always a pleasure, but some days it was a painful pleasure. So after my little accident at Halfords in 2009, I set about making sure that Sylvie would be the bike I wanted to ride. The conversion from mid range sports bike to fun hooligan bike had began.

Freshly polished Top Yoke, heel plates, Brake and gear levers.
Then we arrive in August 2010 and I am suddenly in a position where I can afford the final bits I needed to fit the bar conversion to her, the clip on bars being extremely uncomfortable had to go in favour of a nice set of risers and motocross bars. Just as we started the work, Agnes arrived on the scene and was in need of a new exhaust and so with the power of E-Bay, a shiny new Motad arrived at a third of the retail price. The next few days were about to become hand destroying as we dived into the world of motorcycle customisation.

Fitting a new exhaust to Agnes should have been simple, but I will admit that I struggled at first, the pipe work was very new and very shiny, the new washers were a little too fat and the new hanger was just the wrong shape to hang the can. It would require patience and persuasion, neither of which I am renowned for having. However, if you hit it hard enough with a hammer, it will snap into place soon enough. After two agonising hours of work, the exhaust was finally in place and ready for a test fire. Sadly, the battery was flat, not enough power to turn the crank and fire the plugs meant that no test start for the new system.

Swapping then on to Sylvie and we had to remove the top yoke, clip ons and raise the tank. It should have been easy and it all flowed, everything was going to fit and everything was going to work. The new highly polished top yoke, that had taken a week of work to get to a mirror finish, slid into place, the risers bolted firmly into position. The top nut went back on and everything was tightened down. The bars sat in position and looked great. Time to add the switch gear.

Removal of the top yoke and clip on bars
The new top yoke and risers
New Purple Bars in place
There is a time in every amateur mechanics experience when the utterance of a good curse word is all that is needed to explain the situation. For example, when tapping home a nail with a hammer and one hits one’s thumb, the exclamation of “Oh golly, I have just hit my thumb and it is truly most terribly painful” can be replaced by one quick harsh use of the words “Fuck” or “bollocks”. This conveys all of this simply and concisely and every one around knows that said injury has just occurred. Sometimes though, injury does not happen, but a plan goes awry. Stating that “Oh darn, this rather lovely piece of hand crafted equipment is slightly out of tolerance with what I am trying to connect it to” just does not give required expulsion of frustration and fury that a harshly spat “Bastard thing!” can and does.

On this day, Sylvie’s Switch gear and Agnes’ battery both became “bastard things!

Solutions were quickly found and Agnes purred into life after the battery was charged up, her new exhaust smoked and rumbled, the grease I used to fit the parts together burned off with the heat from the gasses rushing through. For Sylvie it was a little more complicated, a new Clutch cable from the Suzuki V-Strom was required and eventually slotted into place. The throttle cables though had to be hand crafted and for this we turned to local mechanic Steve at Bridge Motor Services in Weston Super Mare. A top bloke and all round good guy, along with his other half, Sue, they provide a great service at very reasonable cost and I do highly recommend them.

Brake lines finally fitted in place and bled
To add further insult, the standard brake lines were at least four inches too short, so new lines were needed. Thankfully Carol knows a great little place in Burnham on Sea called Dog Motorcycles and they provided us with required hoses and fitting kit to produce our own lovely braided steel brake lines. Brake lines that should have taken twenty minutes to make up and a further twenty minutes to fit, leaving a few precious minutes of light to bleed. It should have been so easy. It was not. Brake lines quickly joined other elements in this work load to be renamed as “Bastards”, even the usually well spoken Carol was heard to mutter a few choice curses. Having had to replace two olive fittings to lines that should have been perfectly sealed was a major pain and spilled brake fluid on Carol’s tender hands. As the evening drew to a close and early hours of morning started to approach, the lines were finally in place and flushed with DOT4. It was worth Carol’s hard work though, the brakes are now sharper and more precise than they have ever been.

Fitting new throttle cables was a job that should I have to do again, I will do in the dark or low light of late afternoon. Having light inside the bike makes the whole painful “Bastard” experience much less of a “bastard” than it would otherwise be. To do this job though, the mechanic needs small womanly hands that can squeeze into tiny spaces in engine compartments. Working on a beautiful and narrow V-twin engine is now one of those jobs I shall in future undertake while sat on a comfortable cushion and in the warm and dry of a nice cool garage. This will ensure that the frustrated swearing is kept to a minimum and the urge to hit ones head against hard metal surfaces is lessened. Thankfully, the throttle cables finally clipped into place and were eventually correctly threaded into the twist grip assembly and finally the engine once again roared into life. I should imagine though, that if one were to have counted up the number of “fucks”, “bastards” and other equally awful words, they would have numbered really rather highly.

The following day Agnes was presented to Steve and Sue at Bridge Motor Services for her MOT and in a matter of moments, she was declared legal to ride on the public road. Steve assured me that both Carol and I had done a good job of making sure that she was road worthy, with both her and Sylvie ready to hit the road, it was time for an adventure.

Part Two… Hit the road and follow it until sunset.

Sylvie and Agnes on the Sea Front.
With Agnes freshly MOT tested and Sylvie ready for a test ride, it was time to hit the roads and go for a ride, this would be the first time that Carol and I were able to ride together on fairly equally powered machines. It was just a case of deciding who was to ride which bike. As much as I like Agnes, Sylvie is my girl and always will be. So for our first Bike Night together on the bigger bikes, Carol rode Agnes and I took Sylvie and we both cruised down the hill and over to the sea front to pay our pound into the fund that goes to the Royal British Legion and then from there to the Pub.

The next day was warm and dry, the sky was slightly cloudy and Carol looked great in her riding gear. We got the bikes ready and made plans to head over to Bristol for some shopping, I greatly needed some new riding gloves for when I start my new job and Carol had her Birthday money to spend on lingerie. It was going to be a good day out.

Now Agnes is a Japanese Import Bike, she was not designed to be use in the UK market and as such has a couple of odd features. Feature one is that her speedo is in KPH and not the more usual MPH. Feature two is the little red light that comes on when the rider goes above the Japanese speed limit, however these are minor things and do not really present any difficulty unless you do not know this. I had spent a little bit of time working out speed conversions and carefully painting it onto the speedo glass, however I had forgot to mention to Carol that the red warning light still worked.

Half was to Congressbury Carol pulled over looking worried and quickly turned off the engine. That forgotten red light had made an appearance and Carol was concerned that the oil warning light had come on. After a quick explanation that had Carol in fits of laughter, we were back on the road and riding together on the big bikes. Watching Carol ride the cruiser was lovely to see and she took off at speed heading for the delights of Bristol. The traffic was not too bad and we enjoyed the power of our bikes as we over took busses, trucks and slow moving cars. It does puzzle me though why people insist on driving on fast empty roads at the same speeds they should use when driving in busy pedestrian filled streets? Is it really safer to be travelling along at fifteen miles per hour below the speed limit causing traffic to bunch up behind them as they weave their merry way?

Getting into Bristol is always fun, the traffic increases and Carol’s greater skills soon become apparent and she has to wait for me to catch up, despite my riding the technically bigger and more powerful bike. However once back in formation we head over to Fowlers and time for some much needed retail therapy.

Having finished in Fowlers and even managing to catch up with Stuart, Carol’s lovely brother, we headed over to see Wayne and his Dad. This time the traffic was heavier and combined with the hunger from having missed lunch, things got a bit hectic at times, so a quick lunch stop was required, time to recoup and recovers ones grace. We also got to chat to a long distance cycle tourist who was cycling to Taunton. Food was lovely and with my energy levels back up to normal, the roads seemed less threatening. It did not stop some toe rag throwing a cigarette butt out of their window though and said cigarette butt entered my open fronted helmet and bounced out of my left eye. Luckily it had been stubbed out otherwise I could have had a nasty injury, but given the amount of traffic on the road I had other things to concentrate on, rather than finding said owner of the butt and bashing them to a bloody pulp!

Wayne was busy working on the Fazer when we arrived and looked as cool as always, if there is one person who knows almost everything there is to know about bikes, it is probably Wayne, so his appraisal of Agnes and Sylvie was valued. However it was soon time to hit the road again and with warm hugs we left Wayne to his work and jumped on our bikes and began the journey home. For this trip we headed towards Portishead and took the motorway back home. The winding road leading to the motorway was beautifully empty and we pretty much had the road to ourselves for a lot of it. Keeping up with Carol while watching the road around me is always fun and I was soon enjoying the motion and flowing of the bike over the tarmac, the slip way to the motorway came upon us and our speed gently increased and then we pulled out and were riding the three lane together. Carol just ahead and looking so cool.

The wind had picked up and was working against us though, with every gust the bikes both felt unstable and as we climbed up to get level with Portishead Quarry, the wind was quite strong. Buffeted and blasted we headed back towards home, the road was busy and traffic often kept our speed down into the fifties, but we were able to pass a lot of it and make progress, Sylvie feels like a new machine, motorway riding is more blustery than before, but the increase in vision, comfort and control was worth the sacrifice of losing the clip on bars, she handles beautifully and will wheelie with a little too much abandon if one is not careful with the throttle control.

It was a great ride out and with both bikes ticking as they cooled in the evening darkness of home, I felt a warmth in my heart. Riding bikes with your partner is just brilliant, riding big bikes that can eat the miles is even better. Maybe one day, our adventures can take us further from home to other countries and other cities, but for now I am happy to ride along with Carol, just enjoying the moments as they come.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Catching up with bestest friends

Another adventure for you lovely folks to read through, but feel free to slap my wrists because I have been some what slack in getting this one up on the board.

The Last Bank Holiday of August 2010 was a special day for us because I had arranged to meet my lovely and dear fiend Rachel in Exeter and due to me being a bit behind the schedule, I had forgotten it was Bank Holiday, so I got to bring Carol along too, the first time we have been a long way on Sylvie together in ages. Now due to a late night on Sunday on Monday morning we had to get up a little later than we would have liked, but when you have a bike, you don't have to worry about traffic so much. So an extra hour of sleep was not a problem really.

The journey down was smooth and we held a good pace considering the volume of traffic on the road, but it was a full speed screaming speed thrill type affair. This was due to a small amount of clutch slip that Sylvie had, now I had adjusted the clutch a couple of weeks before, but on 33BHP, I did not notice it slipping at all. With both of us on board and back up to full power again, The clutch was breaking out a little, so once in Exeter, it was out with the tools and a quick two minute adjustment before the journey home.

Fixing the clutch in Exeter St Davids Car park
Now safely parked up in Exeter we just had to wait for the arrival of my dear friend Rachel, being slightly early, we had time to chill and watch the world passing by. Some of the rail passengers were complaining that the trains were heavily delayed again, the joy of being a biker now is that I never have to rely on trains ever again!

Then right on time, Rachel came out of the station, looking frankly beautiful. I have not see her for a while and I missed my friend. There is nothing like the feeling of hugging a special friend and we hugged for ages. Carol was next and then it was time to find a cafe in the city centre. Walking up the hill in glorious sunshine chatting like we had seen each other only yesterday and with me reminded why I love my friends so much. Our stop turned out to be a Pasty shop and while we had lunch we shared news and gossip, none of which I can share here!

After lunch a constitutional walk was needed, despite carrying heavy motorcycle kit and as usual, me not knowing quite where we were going. It was wonderful though and as Rachel and I laughed, talked or just enjoyed the scenery, Carol enjoyed taking the photos as she always does. In case anyone is interested, Carol is a great photographer, with a real talent with her camera. If you want great quality photos, give her a call.

After a lovely walk along the river and over the railway lines, we stopped for a cuppa in the hotel bar by the station. Now to be kind, we would call the bar manager eccentric, but he was nice enough, if a little strange, however, being descended upon by us was probably enough to freak him out a bit. Again, more chat and more gossip was shared and again, none of it will be repeated here.

Alas, after a couple of hours, Rachel had to head back to Plymouth and we had to head home too. So we walked back to the station and shared hugs. I made a promise not to leave it so long next time and gave Rachel an open invitation to come and see us when ever she wants and then she was gone and I must admit that I felt a little sad that she was gone. I miss my bestest friend and love her greatly.

The journey home was somewhat slower than the journey down, traffic was bad and even we got slowed by congestion. However, the rude bitch in the blue car who pulled over into our path as we filtered through got a telling off and a mean stare from Carol. She did stop though to tell the guy with the boat on a trailer that part of his load had come loose and was rubbing on the road and then at last we hit the A370 and home, both of us had sore bottoms and aching backs from the ride, but we had both enjoyed it greatly.

To Carol, thank you for riding us so smoothly and safely, although 30MPH on the motorway feels wrong ona sports bike. To Rachel, it was so lovely to see you, my beautiful friend. I was sorry to see you looking a little sad, but with a heart as gentle and loving yours, that sadness will pass soon enough.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Agnes, an addition to our stable.

Part One:- Road Chaos and desperation.

Have you ever sat on E-Bay, watching intently the item you really want, the seconds are counting down and you have made your final bid, the one that pips every one else and then some bugger beats you by twenty quid?  Yeah, happened to us too last week. Yet this turned out to be a good thing.

You see, we sold Henry the Honda 125cc training bike to a nice lady who is going to use him for what I used him, learning to ride and passing her tests. Henry was faithful and loyal friend who gave us several hundred fun filled miles. He also gave us moments of worry when we though he was going to cost us a lot of money, but he always came through for us and he always just kept going, even when his tank was on reserve.  Henry had charm and with in minutes of his leaving, I missed having his happy little headlight in the garage. I also badly needed a bike I could use to commute to work on, because although Sylvie is a fabulous bike, commuting on her on a daily basis, will ruin her.

Sylvie and Henry out playing in Cheddar.

So Carol and I scoured E-bay and with the money we got from selling Henry, plus some more from a settlement against a school I used to work at, we found a few nice little 250cc bikes I could use. Now, I passed my test in April this year and am on a restricted bike for two years, which suits me fine. I must admit that I find that a restricted Sylvie is still an awful lot of bike for me and I do find her a little scary some times. So any bike I ride has to be thirty three BHP or less. Now I was thinking that a 250 or 300 cc bike would be about right, but Carol was less than convinced.

So while looking at 250cc bikes, we found a really interesting Z250 Hardtail chop and it looked with in our budget. So we sat there watching, the last few seconds came up and I placed my bid, only to be beaten by some other lucky bidder. Feeling a little despondent I looked through the other things that we had on our watch list, nothing really sang out as nice or reliable. Until Carol had an idea, a little research and she finds a lovely 400cc Yamaha XJ. Thinking that it was unlikely to be my power rating, I almost dismissed it, until Carol found on line power ratings. This could be our bike. We began watching with a couple of days to go.

I want this one please

The bike was described as a little tatty, but otherwise reliable and one of the photo’s clearly showed a bright young woman with the bike at a wedding. We checked out the photos and examined the bike as well as we could and hoped that we would not be pipped at the post. However, the bids were going up slowly and it was soon looking like we were going to lose out. Finally the day came and we sat down with our dinner and watched the minutes tick down. With a few seconds to go, we entered our bid, confirmed it and hoped for the best.

A few minutes later, we were scanning Google Earth, looking for a place called Leighton Buzzard, the home of our newly won motorcycle. Now this place just happens to be very near the home of a couple of dear friends of ours, Xander and Boff, two of the nicest and most gentle people you could ever ask to meet and also conveniently married to each other, so seeing them both is nice and simple. The plan was to leave our place nice and early with the car and trailer, drive to see Xander and Boff and then go and pick up the bike. Nice and simple you would think, would you not?

The truth though is much darker, this journey was plagued by accidents and problems, starting before we even got on the road. Carol had to rewire the trailer board because the lights stopped working. She made them work and then they just stopped working again. They continued to be unreliable for the whole of the journey and Carol went through a pack of spare bulbs, just to stay legal. Finally on the road, we were heading out of town when a girl was hurt in a traffic accident. The road was blocked and we sat delayed in traffic whiling away the time looking at the places around us, as we slowly crept passed them. We were running approximately ninety minutes late by now.

The motorway was nice clear and we had a good run, although the chance of making up time is not really there when the car is restricted to 60 miles per hour because we chose to have a trailer. Things were moving along well though until we hit the M6. I hate the M6 now, it is a horrible motorway. A large lorry carrying several tonnes of gravel had crashed into another large lorry and the resulting mess closed two lanes of the motorway, leaving every one, trying very hard to get passed in a single lane. We waited for another ninety minutes, while the car slowly moved in a speed measured using snails as relative markers! Finally, we got to the accident site, just in time to see them sweeping up several tonnes of gravel with one of those road cleaning trucks, no wonder the place was blocked, there was gravel every where!

So once more we began to travel at a speed more appropriate for a motor car and with in two minutes had left the motorway, heading for Xander and Boff. By now our plan was seriously delayed and even if we stayed for only a minute, we would be late to get the bike. Just before we got to the village where our lovely friends lived though, a car towing a large caravan left the road and spun into a bank! The Police were on their way and we managed to avoid being caught up in any more traffic jams.

What can I tell you about Xander and Boff? Well, they are both lovely, Boff is quiet, gentle and as sharp as a tack. She has been married to Xander for awhile now and they seem really happy. What ever you do though, never use her real name, she will kill you! Xander is one of those friends who feels more like a little brother, although not because he is an inch shorter than me! He is another quiet gentle type and he and Boff are a lovely couple. Best of all though, they are also bikers and have a bike each, although I prefer Boff’s bike even if it is huge and terrifying.

Your author with Cat, Xander and Boff.

These two also have a small menagerie of pets, so we were able to see the two beautiful kittens that we gave them last year. Our boy cat Maccie brought home a little queen and they produced two litters of kittens, the two here are from the first litter and look almost identical to their father. I managed a quick cuddle with each one before they turned into wriggling ginger monsters and shot away into the hedge.

Last time I held this one, he sat in the palm of my hand.

Sadly almost as soon as we got there, we were back on the road and this time with company. Boff took the Sat Nav off of her bike and with Xander driving; they lead the way to where the bike was, a journey that took us another hour and  then we knew that we had the right place as soon as we pulled up, sat outside a nice new house was a black lowrider factory custom bike with a tool roll mounted on the forks. It looked good and finally after being on the road for eight and a half hours, we had finally made it to our new bike. Blessed relief at long last.

The sellers of the bike were a lovely couple called Karen and Amanda and the wedding photo in the E-Bay advert had been theirs. I think that they were glad that we arrived at last because they were due to head out that very night and waiting for us had kept them at home. I had most of the money for the bike, but the winning price had been £490.30. Yes, you read that right. Four hundred and ninety pounds and thirty pence. In my purse was £490 only. Carol had the thirty pence, an evil glint entered my eye…

Turning to the lovely woman selling us the bike I carefully informed her that we had a small problem with the money. She looked crest fallen, I informed her that she needed to talk to Carol to get the thirty pence and that I had the rest! Xander laughed and then told me off for being a nasty evil witch! Karen bless her laughed and breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that very soon these odd people would be out of her house.

We then began the difficult process of loading the bike into the trailer and finally after much swearing, cursing and stamping of feet in the cold, we were loaded up and ready to head homewards. Although a quick stop for food and a chat with our friends was also very much needed. Laughing with Xander and Boff as we stood outside the Milton Keynes KFC by the football ground is one the nicest things I have done for ages. However, I was a little insulted that the smokers of our group (every one except me) walked away from me because I happened to have farted rather loudly and petulantly!

Then with a sad feeling I hugged my dear friends good bye and we went our separate ways, vowing to return on the bikes when we could. The rest of the journey home was gentle and quiet. The chaos of he day on the roads was no more, only truck drivers and the occasional boy racer were on the motorway now and we cruised homeward and into the early hours of the morning. Once home we unpacked and put the bike away to bed with Sylvie and retired ourselves. It was four in the morning and I was knackered.

Part 2:- Agnes

Sunday morning should be spent in bed, reading the papers, maybe even a light mid morning breakfast before spending the day wrapped in PVC tape and having electric shocks applied to ones nipples!

However, our Sunday was spent up to our elbows in oil, grease and motorcycles, namely our new bike. First job of the day was to make the engine start, for which we needed a power supply from Sylvie and her battery. Attaching jump leads between the two bikes gave us the magic fire that makes the engine run. The engine coughed and spluttered before firing into life and roaring thanks to a hole in the exhaust, but nothing we couldn’t fix. The bike warmed up, slowly the battery charged up and pretty soon we disconnected the two bikes from each other, while waiting to see if the new bike could run on its own. She purred, or rather growled as the engine gently ran on its own. A quick test ride was now needed and Carol being the brave soul that she is, volunteered to go for the first ride.

Peter Fonda has nothing on this lass.

I can happily report dear readers that the trip was fine and Carol is both safe and well, her trip around the block proved that the little bike has a good engine and will pull well from a standing start. The brakes though are another story; the rear is hugely powerful while the front feels like it could stop a battle tank!

Having ensured that the mechanicals were fine and anything not fine was fixed, it became apparent that both bikes could really do with a wash. Sylvie was still covered in the road grime from Pride in Bristol and the new bike was just dirty from being left in storage for ages. So with a bucket of soapy water and a selection of fine cleaning products, I donned my marigolds and set to work. Washing, polishing and waxing the paint work and chrome of both bikes.

Wash me!
 My first ride on the new bike was something to laugh at, not knowing how to use a manual choke, not knowing how to take it off of the centre stand and not knowing how to start a bike with stale fuel was enough to cause the strongest of instructors to shake their heads in despair and retire. Luckily for me Carol is very patient and before you can say “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch” I was on the road to success.

Now this is the first time I have ridden an IL4, or In Line Four for those of you not down with the kids. You see, Sylvie is a lovely V- Twin and Henry was a single. Of course I am referring to the number of cylinders in the engine, Sylvie has a ninety degree v-twin which gives her lots of power and torque for a small engine size. She is a fantastic bike to ride, but her power comes in big meaty lumps and boy does she know how to gallop. Even when restricted to thirty three BHP, she can still give me a good ride out. Do not be fooled, 33BHP is not a wimps choice and DAS is not always the best way to go.

So I jumped on the new bike and tried to make sense of the controls, the lights have to be switched on, the choke is manual and the handle bars are just weird in that they are in front of you and do not require acrobatic agility to use. This bike is already winning me over. The engine though is a little sweetheart, it purrs and then screams and although it is not doing very much, it feels like it is very busy while it does it. There is a lot going on in an In Line Four, four pistons leaping up and down, four carburettors breathing vital life into the engine and four exhaust pipes all screaming their burnt gasses down into one single end can. It feels busy, it feels like it needs to go for a long hard thrash so it can tell me everything it can do, but until we can sort out the MOT, Tax and Insurance, once around a private carpark will have to do.

I worked out this much though, it may be a thirty year old bike, but it is pretty nippy. So friends, welcome a new chum to the stable. Internet folks I present Agnes, she may not be Sleeping beauty, but she most certainly will not be missing out on the ball.

Even Carol's Mum had a go
 By the way, it was Carol who named our new bike Agnes. I think it fits.