Monday, 28 June 2010

Ride to Hazels Hen night

Sunday, 27 June 2010

WBN 24-6-10

Exmoore and back in one day for a Hen Party

My sister is getting married next month to her lovely chap and I know that it will be a wonderful day for them both. I have never seen her as happy as she is at the moment and I am actually quite looking forwards to the event. However before a wedding there is always a Hen Party.

Carol and I were invited to Hazel's farm on Exmoor for the Garden Party and decided to take the bike to aid getting through busy summer traffic and because we just love riding Sylvie together. She has wonderful manners and great road eating abilities, but by heck does she need a new set of seat pads. I think both of us had a sore back side by the time we got home last night.

The journey started out smoothly enough with a quick sprint to the motorway, however, our first stop was at Taunton Dean because I was seriously hurting due to a previous injury and Carol nearly lost her cigarette tin out of her pocket on the motorway. A quick stamp around the car park was enough to ease my sore bits and once again we jumped back on Sylvie and headed back out onto the M5 for another blast down the three lane. When Carol is in the Pilot's seat, Sylvie has her other ECU in place and is kicking out her full 70 BHP, so cruising down the motorway at 105 is easily possible, if somewhat uncomfortable. In not much time at all, we were signalling our desire to exit the three lane and head onto the Tiverton road and take a blast into the country side. Blast being the operative word here, side winds, cross winds, head winds and tail winds seemed to buffet us about gently, but then that is a fast road and Carol knows how to make progress safely and effectively, even if sometimes I wonder just how she can make the bike do what it does.

Riding pillion with some one who has that degree of control is a beautiful experience, the road stops being long straight and boring and instead becomes a playground of swooping corners quick bursts of power as she over takes another slow moving van or truck. I can't tell you how long it lasted, but with both us hungry we had to find a place to stop. The Log Cabin was the place and the food was first rate. For less money that you would spend in a Motorway services for a mass produced corporate burger and fries, we had a lovely lunch and lovely cuppa.

While stopped at the Log Cabin, we met Kelvin, a local biker who was out on his two week old Triumph street triple. We shared the typical biker nod as we pulled in and then as we were about to settle down to eat, he got ready to go. However being bikers and this is the real difference between bikers and drivers here, he did not just drive off, stopped to say hello and share the passion of our obsession. A quick chat about bikes and riding and we even managed to get a photo of him and his bike next to Sylvie. Where ever you go Kelvin, keep it shiny side up and enjoy the eternal road. Always nice to meet another biker on the way. Once sat down again with our food and drink we enjoyed the burning hot sunshine and just relaxing as the day progressed. This place was beautiful and stopping here is highly recommended and not just for the food.

Back on the road and with only twenty miles to go, Carol was in energizer mode, the bike was handling beautifully and the miles were rolling by. Next stop Barnstaple for check of the map. Finally and with the days heat now becoming fearsome, we got with in a mile of Hazel's house and here is where things got the better of us. Carol likes technology, but does not always trust it. I like Technology and tend to think it knows best. Carol's phone has Sat Nav built in and in its clipped tones and direct directions it directed us close to Hazel's house, but then it got lost and sent us in a circle twice before Carol worked out the way. However, I thought the machine was close and went back a little to where it thought we should be, only to enter the most horribly narrow and gravel covered lane on the whole of Exmoor. Once again, I learned that Carol knows best.

We pulled up at the Farm and rode into Hazel's garden. Both Carol and I were exhausted and jumped off the bike as soon as we rolled to a stop before stripping off the baking hot riding gear. From here on it was an afternoon in the hot sunshine and can you guess who forgot the sun cream? Yes, it was sat on my book case at home, unused and sorely missed.

In the garden were chairs, a Bar-b-Que and a butt naked Butler. Brave boy that he was...

We also had a Swingball and as the afternoon turned to evening a fun competition started up. The fiercest competition of the day was between my Stepsister Sarah and Hazel's PE Teacher friend Jo. Wimbledon had nothing on these two and great fun was had by players and spectators.

Pretty soon though we found a kindred spirit in Rae, another biker and love of two wheeled mayhem. Bikers just have a way of finding each other and once again the talk turned to the joy of two wheels and riding in huge groups. Rae and Dionne had recently ridden the Plymouth Mega Ride, an event I last took part in as far back as 1995. Carol had one of her old badges from Kent Custom Bike show, dated 1987, not that she was showing her age.

As the sun started to dip to the horizon, Carol and I went for a walk into the countryside and with the hope of seeing one of the illusive Barn Owls, a true favourite bird of Carol's.

The lanes were lovely and warm and the wind of earlier in the day had stilled completely, the barley fields were silent and still and walking hand in had was so romantic. Even if I let my West Country Roots show through...

The sunset over the barley field was beautiful and we stopped to watch for a few moments, only to turn around just in time to see a big bird of prey take flight. I think it was a Buzzard, give that it was huge and luckily Carol managed to snap a photo.

The journey home started at about midnight and the roads were blissfully empty, the air was delightfully cool and Sylvie's engine sounded like a gentle growl in the silence of the country side. A quick stop at Barnstaple for fuel and once again we were back on the fast twisty A-Roads for a blast back homeward. The engine screamed under Carol's expert hand and we shot missile like along the road, over taking the occasional car and blasting along joyously. Tiverton came upon us all too quickly, even with our sore back sides and then we were increasing speed as we took the motorway to Taunton Dean Service station. A quick stop for a hot drink and for me to put on every spare item of clothing we had to stop me shivering in the wind blast and we were back on the road heading for home. Leaving the motorway and hitting the road into Weston was a blessed relief after the blast of the motorway, but pulling up outside Sylvie's garage was a final relief. Sylvie was put to bed and carefully locked away, with promises of a check over the following day.

Another brilliant day for a Curious Adventure and an adventure greatly enjoyed. Final thoughts though, Damn, I love my wife and our Motorbike.

Dedicated to my sister Hazel, wishing you a long and happy life with Dom, with all of the things you deserve to make a happy life together. With love from Carol, Jayne and Sylvie.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Home Jayne and don't spare the horse power!

The time comes in every biker girls life when she has to pick up her Brother and take him home, on the bike and at great speed! Last Monday was my day and my brother Mez took to my pillion seat like a duck to quantum mechanics... Well it is a small pad and it is not so comfortable, so it is hardly a surprise really.

So off we headed onto the motorway and took a blast down to Exeter, taking in sixty miles with ease. Well I say ease, but Mez was my first pillion passenger and he had not been on Sylvie before. He is also taller than me, a little heavier and did not really enjoy the experience, so it was hardly easy for him.

For me on the front, I struggled with the extra weight at first, especially on slow corners in town traffic and also having to stop and hold the bike up. However, I soon got used to it, but I could feel the weight and poor Sylvie in restricted 33BHP mode did not enjoy the extra load, which caused the clutch to get a little hot and sticky. However, once on the motorway, we just cruised along and Sylvie was impeccable once again. I love my bike, me!

Our first stop was at the bottom of Holden Hill, in the Shell Garage there. A top up with fuel showed that we had burned a little more than I would have liked, but carrying Mez, panniers and holding motorway speed was bound to do it. Once filled to the brim and everything was packed away again, we started the climb up the hill and onto the A38. Sylvie sprinted up the hill as if it was barely there and once at the top settled into a gentle cruise, the miles rolling easily by under her wheels, all the way to Ivybridge for stop number two.

Why the stop in Ivybridge you may wonder? I was trying to find Julie, my old friend, so we popped in to her cafe and sadly she was off with the flu, so after a quick chat, it was back on the A38 and onwards to Plymouth. Plymouth, what a lovely city...

Visiting Plymouth is a tricky one for me, I have a lot of unhappy memories based there, but have a lot of very dear friends. The little time I had meant that I was not going to be able to see them all, but I was going to find some of the ones I had not seen for a long time, including my very best friends Pauly and Rachel. Along the way I was going to try and see as many of the others as I could, but it would still make me sad due to not being able to see every one.

The road into Plymouth is big and has a fly over, yet despite my knowing this, I could not remember the way to my Mothers! So with a few slightly late lane changes, I was finally on the right road and headed up to my Mums street. She did not know that I had Mez with me, but she did know that I was coming. I sent him down to knock on her door first.

I parked Sylvie up and locked her as safely as I could, it is rough down there you see.

I stayed with Mum for a while and headed over to see Rachel and her partner Jan. Catching up with friends as dear as these two was worth the trip on its own, but all good things must end and I had to get back to Mum's and get me some sleep. The ride back was cool, peaceful and my first night ride on Sylvie. Her lights are amazing, even on standard beam, but on high they are like day light. Back at my Mum's I rode her down the path and locked her up to the fence, fitting three locks to keep her safe over night.

The next morning, I was up early and set about making sure that the clutch was correctly adjusted for the journey home. Once all back in one piece, I got ready for the days visits and set about heading over to see Graham and Kim. Graham and Kim are lovely, slightly unusual and live in an armory! However, first of all I had to get there. This involved taking the bike up the pavement and back on to the road, a simple enough task it would seem, but that was not allowing for the locals. They took offence at my being there, at my having a bike and having parked it in my Mother's garden. They let me know most vocally too. Scrotes!

Graham and Kim were lovely, funny and full of chat. We laughed and joked and almost as soon as I had I arrived the time had flown by and I had to hit the road again, but not before snapping a quick photo.

From there I had to find a dear friend who I had lost touch with a while before. Thankfully with a map and an address it was not so hard to find and I pulled up and parked. Helen was out and I left a note, but by then, I had to head home. 

Filtering up to a set of lights, I managed to offend the driver of a large black car who saw fit to lean out of his window and scream at me that I was a biker maniac and... but the words were lost to the wind. What had I done that was so wrong? I had passed him by while making progress. He followed my from the lights, while sticking to my back wheel and scowling in my mirror. I ignored him and eventually turned off. He fumed and sped away. A man with a very small penis I suspect.

I got back into my Mother's street and the very people who had complained about me before were still there and watched me pull up. They were watching me the way a dog watches a cat, they knew they could start, but would they get hurt. They stayed away thankfully.

My Brother was nearly ready and I packed my panniers and loaded the bike. After hugs all round I climbed aboard and then Mez jumped on the back, we pulled away and I turned my back on Plymouth once again. We stopped for fuel and then at last we were back on the A38, heading for home. A road never felt so good as that road leading out of Plymouth, even with my brother on the back making the bike feel heavy. The road was a joy and we finally pulled in at Exeter Racecourse for our first break. 

The sights of the day were the usual cage driving fools who should be banned from the road. As we were leaving Plymouth two girls in separate cars both tried to pull out into the very lane I was driving in and I had to swerve to avoid them both. I do not think they eve saw I was there. The scary one though was the Guy who was weaving across the road in front of me, clearly nodding off as he drove. I gave the throttle a good twist and left him far behind, better a danger left behind than a risk in front.

The A38 turned into the M5 and before we knew it I was pulling into Taunton Dean services. My right wrist ached and my left foot throbbed. Sports bikes can be a little uncomfortable when there are a lot of miles to cover. I popped into the shop to see if I could find a support bandage and the Manager very kindly gave me two from her kit. My wrist stopped aching and my foot stopped throbbing, I was nearly home.

We pulled off the motorway and back onto the A38 before turning onto the A370. At Brentknoll I pulled over again to ease the numbness in my arse and Mez let me know that his was in a similar state, which nearly caused us to plough into a hedge. Ten minutes later, Sylvie sat ticking and cooling outside our flat and I was inside and chilled, waiting for the loving embrace of my Darling Carol. My adventure down south an aching memory in my back side.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Sylvie and Jayne's big day out

Picture the scene, I am sat astride a powerful Suzuki SV650S, a pointy to those in the know and my hip is aching, twenty seconds after climbing aboard. This does not bode well given that I am about to embark on an epic journey, my first big one on my own. I dismount and stretch out my legs and then climb back on, the engine is gently purring, I snap my helmet closed, pull in the clutch and select first gear. The bike pulls away beautifully I am away.

It was Thursday and I was on my way to see some gorgeous friends from way back, firstly I was riding over to Box, just outside of Bath to see my friend Tina and meeting me there was one of the most special people in my life, my dear friend Sarah, freshly flown over from the States.

The journey from Weston to Bath was simple and actually rather enjoyable, for a motorway trip, but was a good opportunity for a spot of MP3 action. My player is filled with a mish mash of rock, blues, folk and Black Metal, which makes for an interesting riding experience when the music switched from “With Strength I burn” by Emperor to “Three Ballons” by Stephen Lynch.

The final bit of road up to Tina's Farm was quiet and when I pulled off on the track that leads to her gate, I felt like I was a thousand miles from the nearest person. The Farm was deserted, apart from two loud and happy dogs. Rosie, the boarder collie was pleased to see me and came bounding over to say hello and have a cuddle. The Bike cooled as she sat parked next to the chicken house and I sat on the steps of Tina's truck waiting for her to come back from her deliveries.

Sarah arrived first with Jan and the smile on my face was matched by hers. It is no exaggeration to say that Sarah looks amazing, every time I have seen her recently, she looks happier and healthier. A happy life in America obviously agrees with her and she gave me such a hug. I did not realise that I had missed my friend so much, but knowing that she is happy and well eases the loss.

Tina arrived next and again, she looked amazing. Tina lives in a dream world of her own creating and she worked damn hard to make it real, the farm is beautiful, animals are every where and the feeling of peace, calm and tranquillity is everywhere, as if the farm is made of the very substance.

A tour of the farm with Tina and Sarah allowed us to meet a foal, less than a full day old and being cared for by his beautiful mother. It was a real feeling of joy to see such a beautiful animal standing and walking, despite being so young and tiny. Next was the goats and to see baby goats wandering around and bleating is a joy I shall never forget. The only sad part of it is that very soon a couple of the goats are probably going to die due to bracken poisoning they picked up before Tina bought them. As for the rest, if anyone wants fresh organic goat in a few months, Tina is your woman.

We all retired to the barn and helped Sarah pack and store her kit, taping up the boxes to ensure that the Mice would not find it easy to get in an eat the contents. Once packed and stored we got ready to hit the road once again. The plan was for me to follow Sarah and Jan back to Frome and stop over for a proper chat and a catch up. A simple journey you would think, but you are forgetting that the roads from Box to Bradford Upon Avon are lanes that are barely a car width wide and covered in loose gravel, moss and slime. After a couple of scary moments we finally pulled out onto a real road and I was able to keep up easily, just hanging back enough for the sake of safety.

Total distance so far was close to sixty miles, my wrists were starting to ache, my back was starting to ache and my arse was slowly going numb. Thankfully, we pulled up outside of Jan's house and I parked the bike up, set the alarm and took off my riding gear. The day was warming up nicely and the road was sticky, pretty much like the inside of my bike jacket.

The time with Sarah was pretty cool, chatting and catching up on news, talking about our respective partners and just enjoying being with a good friend again. Then like a moonbeam on a cloudy night Alex walked in and greeted me with a smile that could dazzle a blind man. A few compliments about Sylvie my fabulous steed and I offered her the key. It is funny, I have not seen a lot of Alex since 2000, but the years have been kind to her. She declined the offer of taking Sylvie for a spin and as quickly as she came in, she headed off to work again.

The time passed far too quickly and I realised that I needed to head off to ensure that I got home before dark. A quick look at Google Maps and I knew the way home. Yeah, sure. I would not get lost now would I? Two minutes after leaving my dear friend Sarah, I was lost in the middle of Frome, but found myself outside of my dear friend Emma's wobbly house. Sadly despite my banging on her door like a mad woman, Emma was not in. So it was back on Sylvie and back on the road home.

The road home was joyous, Frome to Shepton Mallet to Wells to Cheddar to Banwell and finally Weston and home. Frome was much easier to ride through once I had worked out where I was going and the sign post led the way on to a nice big wide road. On this journey home something happened to my riding, I felt like I bonded with Sylvie, she responded to my input in a way that I had not felt before. It is probably more likely that she has trained me to ride her properly. Sylvie has presence on the road and she flows from corner to corner in a way that touches my soul. I held the speed in the corners as the music played in my helmet, it was a feeling like no other I have experienced, as the bike snarls down though the gear box and the corners lay down before Sylvie and I. I became a better rider that evening.

Finally the road cut through Cheddar and I rolled down into Banwell, past the castle and through the light traffic. Weston came next and finally home. The tacho read one hundred and three miles, my arse said one hundred and three painful miles and my body was exhausted. I put Sylvie away and walked back up to the flat, a wiser, more experienced rider than I had been that very morning. One hundred and three miles later, I still loved my bike.