Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Alby on the iMac

2011, a review

So here we sit at the end of 2011, wondering where the hell it went, the time flew by, the months were too short and the endless skies sadly proved to have an end after all. We saw some months that moved us to tears and some months that saw us laughing like drains, we rode bikes and met people and we started new businesses. 2011, what a ride.

We started the year with a spot of Urbexing up in Barrow hospital, nothing like a bit of poking around in abandoned mental hospitals, it was kind of creepy but sadly it was not something that we repeated. We did have our eyes on an old hotel, but sadly it burned down before we could get inside. Cause of the fire was rumoured to be the people breaking in and vandalising the place. All that is left is a broken shell and maybe a vague hope that there is still something worth seeing.

February saw us arsing about in the garage, making Rosie run and putting a new engine into Agnes after blowing the old lump on the ride to work. Yet with a new 550 lump sat in place, she still refused to run right and it took a new set of carbs, a new loom and more work to complete to get that bike working right. I was also taking my first pillion for a ride since passing my test, a ride that inspired her to go further and further.

 Then Jack fluttered into our lives, a darling little Starling, fresh from the nest and clamped in the jaws of a local cat. After a swift chase, the little baby bird was rescued and taken home to the Shrubbery, to be put in a box and left in the dark. Putting baby birds in the dark reduces the stress they are under, but cat bites are serious, cats are filthy animals and bites to wild birds will lead to septicemia in the little bird. If Jack could make it through the night, he stood a good chance!

Two days later, Jack died of septicaemia and both Carol and I were deeply upset. Jack had been sitting on our fingers and taking food, we truly thought that he was going to make it. Buried in the garden, Jack was gone from our lives, but not our hearts. That night Carol made a discovery. Alby was in our hands and hearts with in twenty four hours.

2011 was also the year that Carol lost her Nan Noreen. Always a gentle woman, she passed away in hospital, taking with her a past that we will always wonder about. In memory of her came Noreen the ZRX1100, Carol’s new bike and a lovely trip from Brighton to bring her home.

We spent the summer supporting Weston Super Mare Bike Night, an event that raised over £12000 for the Royal British Legion. How did we support this event? Well by using our new company, Biker Rock Radio, a subsidiary of the STF group. We provided the PA and music for each event that we could and had a great time every night, even when it poured with rain. If you ever want some where good to go on a Thursday night, then Bike Night it is!

A trip to London for the wedding was a lovely trip and riding both bikes was a dream come true, the wedding of Rachel to Jan was lovely, but leaving the bikes locked out side while the first night of the London riots took place was an experience. The ride home was equally fun, but as with any ride, the return home is always bitter sweet.

Our big adventure in 2011 was the Bulldog Bash, a first for Jayne, but another badge for Carol to put with the rest in her collection. The ride over to the venue was a fully loaded festival of riding. I started off with the phones in and music blasting, riding along listening to Slayer is always a treat. For me the best part of the Bulldog was the Drag strip, watching those bikes blast down that strip filled me with an excitement and a desire to do the same one day.

Once back home Sylvie had a small accident, when a work colleague of Jayne’s reversed her car into her. The damage was not excessive, but it was enough to render Sylvie unridable. As soon as it was reported to the insurance, a hire bike was delivered, but given that it was a sports bike, Jayne could barely ride it. She then spent five months riding the most boring bike ever built, the Honda CB600F, the motorcycling equivalent of crocheting bobbles hats!


With the final Bike Night upon us and a dark winter to look forwards to, our dear friend Wayne has just finished his Superb Kawasaki ZX10R stealth fighter. It was the bike equivalent of a super model, thin, pretty but with the engineering excellence of a mad genius under every panel. Sadly while on his way to the last Bike Night of the year, Wayne was very badly hurt in an accident and the ZX10R was left a barely rolling wreck. With Wayne in hospital, Biker Rock Radio DJs Carol, Lee and Jayne drove out to collect it from the depot. With it safely put in the trailer, it was delivered to Wayne’s Dad and left in the garage. Fortunately Wayne is now out of Hospital, but for a while he was a great worry to us. Thankfully, the ZX10R is also back in the workshop and Dr Wayne is about to start a rebuild.

 Carol and Jayne were both asked to take part in the Remembrance Parade as members of the British Legion. With Carol on the ZRX1100 and Jayne still riding the Hire Honda, we took part in the parade along with other members of the local Riders Branch. It was a proud moment for us both being there with the other riders and veterans.

Finally Sylvie came home and the horrible Honda was sent back with a flea in its ear. Riding Sylvie again was a joy after the boring Honda, the feel of the power, the way she drops into corners and just the grin factor of riding a bike that growls in the way that she does. She was in need of a Valve check though and Jayne was dreading this. If she needed new shims it was a case of removing the cams. Luckily everything was with in tolerance and no cams needed pulling out.

So that was out 2011, a mixture of the sad and the exciting, great times spent with friends at their best and worrying time spent with very ill friends and loved ones. We had some great adventures and saw some amazing things. With 2012, we have Carol’s son Alex about to take the big step into the world of motorcycles as soon as he is old enough to get his license. We have Bike Night starting again in April and there are the other many things that we are looking forwards to as well. So from all of us at Curious Adventures, we hope that your 2012 will be fun, peaceful and most of all, filled with curious adventures. 

Alex on his Yamaha DT50

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The return of Sylvie

It is official, Sylvie my gorgeous SV650S bike will return to me tomorrow, after all of these weeks she will be back home where she deserves to be. Sadly all is not well, I have been informed that her rear light is faulty and needs to be replaced.

However, it is not a blown light bulb, nothing so easy. It is solid state electronics and ultra bright L.E.D.s, or Light Emitting Diodes in case you didn't know. These are Surface mounted items and are regulated by a pile of resistors all sat about doing sweet FA.

So, I have ordered a pile of new resistors and shall ensure that I sit in the garage with my soldering iron trying not to bugger up her lights anymore.

She has been repaired and rebuilt by a company called Plantec and to be honest, I cannot wait for her to be back with me. I shall update you as to how well she was fixed once I have seen her.

Anyway, today is my (Jayne) birthday and I am sat in Bed, feeling rotten with a nasty cold and sore throat. Typical. Luckily, my sister and my niece are driving here as we speak to cheer me up. What could be better than an afternoon spent with my niece? Not much at all.

We do need to teach her how to ride a bike though, bless her. 

Friday, 30 September 2011

Oh Wayne...

Our dear friend Wayne has had a horrible accident, we heard this morning that he came off his bike and has seriously hurt himself. so being the good friends we are, we sprinted across Bristol to see him. He is alive, but battered and enjoying the attention of the ICU staff.

Wayne, the genius bike builder.

Sadly Wayne's bike was not so lucky and it is very likely that she will be sent to the great scrap yard in the sky. 

Rest in peace Little Ninja
After years of hard work, the ZX10R was finally finished in all of it's carbon and titanium goodness, to hear that she is most likely going to be broken up and scrapped is heart breaking.

Both Carol and Jayne would like to send the warmest get well wishes to Wayne, we know how hard he worked on his bike to make it perfect, but more importantly, we are just so pleased that despite the seriousness of his injuries, Wayne should be back up on his feet in a few months. Time to finish the ZX13R  with all of that Stainless steel and carbon goodness. 

Much love to Wayne and a huge thank you to the medical staff who are working tirelessly to make him better again, from Carol and Jayne

MAG protest ride against bike fiddling laws...

Ban this sick filth!

Mag protest Ride, 25th September 2011. Did you go? Did you know why it took place? Do you care?

We did this because we were worried about what Legislation is going to hit us from the non elected bodies that advise the EU law makers. Now this is not the place to make a political statement, this blog is about fun and adventures, but even we get political occasionally.

So it was planned and we spread the word and we well buggered about in pouring rain trying to stay dry. But most of all, we had a damn good laugh while making a powerful statement. We as Bikers, yes bikers, leather clad, tattooed, petrol snorting, fag smoking, café racer building, chop making and streetfighter riding bikers are not prepared to take it up the arse any more.
Is that a Type Approved Air Filter Madam?

Sunday the 25th September, I got up early which was not hard because I was at work and about ready to come home. Usually after a night at work I crave only my bed for it’s comforts and the warmth of my wife, but not today. Today I dashed home and dumped the work kit before heading out into the rain to collect a good friend of Curious Adventures, Carley, also known as Fazer girl. Carley has just over come huge personal difficulties and life threatening illness and has fallen in love with bikes. Seems pretty normal to us and it is always cool to have a biker mate to hold your pint while you drill out a stuck exhaust stud.

Sadly Sylvie is still away at the motorbike hospital and it seems more and more likely that she is about to be written off, so today’s adventure for Carley and I was on a bike designed for elderly gentlefolk, the classic lines of the do it all Honda. A bike so bland it makes knitting and embroidery appear to be dangerous pursuits. Luckily Carley was not too unkind about the Chronically boring 600 and just about managed to climb aboard. The ride back to Curious Adventures HQ was so dull both of us nearly fell asleep on that Honda.

Carol and Alex were almost ready, computers were packed and barn owls fussed. Pulling on the one piece water proof suit Alex declared that he felt like he had gained years if not decades in age and kept stating that he felt like an old man! I was sure that there would be plenty for him at Gordano.

So two bikes, four riders, all bikers. Carol and Alex were to ride Noreen the ZRX1100, leaving Carley and I with the Chronically Boring 600. So off to the motorway we headed and with in minutes car drivers started doing what they do best in the rain. Drive like bigger pillocks than normal! While we are on the subject, car drivers this question is for you. Why, when it rains, do you insist on driving like you are a gorilla that has just had a frontal lobotomy? You are inside your nice dry steel boxes all tucked up nice and safe, yet you still manage to drive your two tonne death machine like a dangerous road weapon. Use you damn mirrors, give motorcyclists braking space and try to drive with a bit of consideration. To the gentleman who changed lanes with out even so much as a sideways glance and in doing so nearly took out the two beings I care for most in the whole world, I say this. Stay off the road you dangerous old fool. Had you hurt or killed those two people, you would have been deeply sorry. Luckily for you, you got away with a pushed back mirror. Eye for an eye remember.
So we hit the motorway and headed to Gordano, it was a gentle ride, a little bit of speed never hurt anyone did it? However, being undertaken by a tit in a road going 4x4, pulling a caravan at over eighty was taking the biscuit. You are the sort of man who deserves to have a Police Man following you and then taking away your license. Swerving from your lane to mine because you were speeding, while towing a caravan in bad weather makes you an idiot. It is not often that we here at Curious Adventures use such harsh language in text, but you deserved it, for nearly hitting my friend and I, it is justified. Let’s just hope that you did not hit anyone else that day.

Arriving at Gordano we were greeted by a beautiful sight, half of the car park was filled by bikers, of every conceivable type. Fluro vest wearing super distance riders, chop riding old schoolers, sports bike riding super heros, hack bike riding couriers, patch club members and us. Even the Harley riders turned out despite the rain, ever seen a rain soaked Harley? I have now and they are still pretty.

Unfortunately for me, the Chronically Boring had picked up a bolt and which pierced her tyre and slowly let the air escape. A quick discussion and the thought of a RAC truck home with a lovely chap just did not appeal. So from the hidden depths of friendship appeared a bottle of Tyre weld and this got us home. I do not know how, to me it looked like soap foam, the stuff you would use to wash the sofa (especially if you have a pet Barn Owl!) or the carpet, yet it blocked the hole with white foam and held the air tightly enough to make it ridable.

With seconds to spare, I inflated the tyre and found Wayne waiting with Carol, Alex and Carley. With in seconds, we were off. It felt like well over a thousand bikers surged forwards as one and the ride was begun. Carley and I sat upon the Old persons bike, Carol and Alex on Noreen and Wayne riding his old work horse Fazer. It was time to make a statement. That statement was big bold and took place all over the country and it was this. Do not mess with our lifestyle!

Now I know that some people have discussed the mass protest ride and stated that it achieved nothing except for slowing down other road users and annoying car drivers. Well, I have a counter to this, in the fight fir civil rights, some people are going to be upset. After all, let’s look at some of the significant figures in history. Emmeline Pankhurst (1858 – 1928), a women that we adore to this day caused a significant amount of upset. If you check out the joy that is Wikipedia, it has this to say about her.
She was widely criticized for her militant tactics, and historians disagree about their effectiveness, but her work is recognized as a crucial element in achieving women's suffrage in Britain.”

Given the fun things she got up to, a few thousand Motorcyclists taking up a couple of lanes on the motorway is hardly that big a thing. Remember though, this was about civil rights, your right to modify your bike with parts that may not meet the strict rules of EU law. We all want safe bikes and to be safe on the road, but do we want the strict anti modification laws telling us which air filter we can use and what bits we can bolt on to where? I don’t think so. My bike is unique, it may look like many others, but it is mine and I will do with it what ever I want.

So we headed onto the Motorway, our statement big and bold as brass. Keep your hands off of our bikes. The rain fell and the traffic slowed. Cars suddenly took on formula one tactics, weaving in and out of the bikes like action movie stars. This was despite the fact that we had left the outside lane clear. Then came the git in the Gold coloured Range Rover, pushing his way through the bikes and forcing me into the middle lane. He wound down his window and began to shout abusively at me. He was disgusted that we were doing what we did. It hardly seemed fair to argue back while trying to ride in a pack with others on a motorway. Instead as he attempted to push onto my lane, forcing me back slightly, I just opened up the throttle and pulled forwards. Mr Range Rover had to stay in his own lane. Maybe if he had indicated I could have moved out of the way, but he was using his large truck as a weapon and once he came close enough I was able to reach into his vehicle and rifle through his glove box, help myself to a werthers and switch his radio station. He was very cross and he promptly sped up and tried to bully the bikes in front of him.

Our next incident came from an orange people carrier, one of those vans that are littered with seats so the comically inbred can carry their sisters and all of their children in one big car. Mr Inbred sat on my wheel, luckily Carley was in the way so he could not take up the pillion seat, but he was close. Then with no indication he snapped into the clear outside lane and then darted back in front of me, causing me to brake hard and sound my horn. Another stupid Car driver thinking that they can bully a biker out of the way. I will be eternally thankful for the chap riding the yellow GSXR Streetfighter who shot up behind me and proceeded to bang on the window of Mr Inbred. Mr Inbred then backed off from riding on the rear tyre of the bike in front of him.

After that excitement, it just chilled out. One car driver chose to leave the motorway by driving down the hard shoulder for half a mile before cutting up a queue of bikers by the exit. Mr 4x4 gave it a good shot of doing the same too and Mr Inbred managed to slip away with out endangering anyone else. We left the M4 and turned onto the M32, heading for Bristol. The last few miles of calm before the chaos that is Bristol, scary when you ride a bike. The procession slowed and more cars joined the queue to leave or enter the motorway. Finally we hit the end of the motorway and rolled to a stop at the traffic lights. Here everyone dispersed and with in minutes, no one could tell that Bristol had just been besieged by bikers with a political agenda.

So, who do we have to thank for this protest ride? Firstly, the EU. With out them none of this would have been needed. Now I usually love Europe, especially having travelled around a lot of it and been to many of it’s beautiful countries, but suggesting that I stop fiddling with my bike was a step too damn far. This leads us to MAG, the Motorcycle Action Group, a huge massive thank you to them for organising and designing the idea. With out them, many things would just go with out comment that would other wise affect our hobby. So thanks MAG and keep up the good work. Also a big lot of thanks to the riders who rode with us, you made a cold and wet day a huge amount of fun and made sure that every one had a good day.

We're not going to take it -

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Sylvie has gone to Motorbike Hospital and Jayne becomes a Vicar!

Sylvie was knocked over and damaged recently while she was parked up outside my place of work. So the Insurance companies have taken over in dealing with the repairs. So far it looks like she is going to be away for a while and I am greatly missing my beautiful girly bike.

While it is hard to take photos that show the damage, we have managed to get a couple.


Luckily it was a low speed impact, and damage was minimal, but the lesson learned here is to never rely on just parking sensors alone.

In the mean time, the Insurance company have provided me with a couple of Hire bikes while Sylvie is away. 
The first was another SV, a brand new bike with just enough miles on the clock to justify the first service! She was a beautiful bike, but with the standard clip-ons was murder to ride. Strangely, she felt much smaller than Sylvie, the seat felt lower and the bike actually felt much smaller and lighter. I cannot imagine that there are that many differences between a K3 (Sylvie) and a brand new one (K9), but I did notice an aluminum rear frame. 

Jayne and not Sylvie.
The saddest part of riding her though was not the position, it was the restriction. The SV was restricted via the horrors of a throttle stop, giving the throttle about a third of a turn before it stopped. Just lovely, in a very un-lovely kind of way. If anyone out there wants to restrict their SV, I fully recommend the restricted ECU as opposed to the throttle stop way. The ECU allows full use of the throttle and allows the engine to breath fully, but electronically restricts the bike rev speed. This keeps you legal, but still allows your bike to feel like a big bike. The throttle stop prevents the engine from hitting the power band, so it is always under powered, unless you keep it in lower gears than you would normally use. Then it goes everywhere screaming, which sounds great, but looks pathetic!

The next bike delivered was a Honda CBF600 and I was expecting great things.

Castration is a terrible thing to do to a bike.
The CBF was comfortable, but felt narrow at the bars and overly top heavy. Riding it though revealed that it had been badly castrated by the throttle stop, so badly in fact that it was unable to make it up our local hill, two up, in second gear. 

The ride to Gloucester was a nightmare of struggling to keep up with Carol and Alex on the gorgeous Kawasaki ZRX1100, the Honda was simply outclassed, which is such a shame because I have always held Honda Motorcycles in such high regard. The Honda has a power band starting at about six and a half thousand revolutions of the engine, the throttle stop prevents it getting much past four thousand unless it is again ridden in low gear and thrashed like a loon. Riding the Honda is an experience that in terms of excitement I can only compare with extreme sports such Knitting, embroidery or ironing! For such a good looking bike, it has a terribly bland ride and trying to fit Sylvie's luggage was a disaster because there are so few fitting points. The grab rail is actually a pair of handles that are open ended and do not give a tie down point or easy fitting of a seat pack. Were that not bad enough, while riding it has a disturbing feel to the steering that causes the rider to have to pull the bars back from a turn because it feels like the front wheel wants to fold under the engine. In all, the Honda feels entirely underwhelming and nothing like the Suzuki SV, which is a fire breathing monster in comparison. I miss my dear Sylvie.

So while Sylvie is away I must endure the trials of boredom by Honda and frustration by Insurance Company. Now to be fair, this has very little to do with my Insurance company and I can now fully recommend CIA Insurance (although I am profoundly grateful to not have to be dealing with the incompetent MCE at the moment. God alone knows what kind of a mess they would have made of this!), who have gone out of their way to be helpful with Sylvie. They have passed Sylvie over to a company called Plantec and it is from Plantec that I have had the hire bikes. Now having never heard of Plantec, I was more than a little worried about giving them my bike. Internet feedback seemed poor and advice from trusted people in know like dear old Lozzo from the SV forum made me even more worried. However, armed with good advice from these sources, I was and am still prepared for war. So far though, Plantec have been very good, with regular weekly updates on progress with Sylvie, checking that I am happy with the hire bikes and that I am able to perform pre-ride checks. Their service has so far been very good, I just hope that this remains to be the case and that Sylvie is returned to me very soon, especially as I am not sure that I could survive a long trip on the Honda, I might die of boredom first!

So, that is the ongoing Sylvie story, I feel like I have had a limb removed while she is away, luckily Carol has been a rock and continues to be so. As for my friend who knocked Sylvie over, she continues to be my friend, I just hope that dealings with insurance companies do not mess that up, she was extremely sorry and knowing how much I love my bike, shed a tear or two with me. Bless...

Yes, Bless her. In my newly acquired official capacity as a Reverend, I can bless her, I am just not sure as what Deity, if any, I should choose to bless her with!

Burn, you sinners!

Not being the overly religious type, not really believing in God and not liking religion makes it hard to be a Vicar in this modern world, but I do not see why only men who wear dresses (and possibly harm children) are allowed to perform such duties! After all, I am very well educated woman, I have an excellent vocabulary (although it is littered with filthy words and vile terms!) and I am able to listen to people while providing a kind and sympathetic ear. 

Now I feel that I have to explain my actions a little, after all I would not want you thinking that I am something of a hypocrite. I have a very strong and profound belief in something very dear. It is not in a deity, for in truth I am not sure that there is room in our universe for such a being, however my faith if you want to call it that is in something far more tangible. My faith dear reader is in you. I have faith that you as a human being are capable of many great things and many great acts of kindness and courage. If you take away the spooky stuff from religion, you are left with a moral code, if you remove the political nastiness from that moral code, you are left with some pretty basic good stuff. Be nice to each other, don't murder each other and enjoy life.

So ladies and gentlemen of my flock, this is my sermon to you.

Go forth and enjoy your lives, show kindness to those about you, hug those you care for, do something that promotes human rights and most of all, watch out when reversing your car near my bike!

Bless you, now go and have some great sex with someone of the same or opposite gender to yourself!

Love each other and listen to lots of brutal black metal!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A Curious Adventure to the Bulldog Bash

Yeah, we went to the Bulldog Bash. We loaded our bikes up, we rode to Stratford Upon Avon and we camped for three days in a field of bikers. Well field does not even come close, it was a town made up of Bikers, fifty thousand Bikers. That is more people than live and work in some towns. We camped in a field that was populated by bikers, organised by Bikers and Policed by Bikers. In some respects what happens here is a new state and the UK is left at the front gate, in there you are under Biker Law and some times you can feel it.

Loaded up and ready to go.

The twenty fifth Bulldog Bash was a fantastic event, as a complete virgin of the event I was a little apprehensive of what to expect. I had heard stories of who it was organised by and having read a little into it, I was just a bit worried when we set off. Our bikes were loaded with tents, bedding, stoves and one plastic kitchen sink. My panniers were full to literally bursting point (I am still to have that seam fixed!) and everything we could squeeze in was packed in water proof bags!

My MP3 player was playing some very nice chilled out Black Metal as we headed onto the Motorway and we made our way through heavy traffic. Sadly the other carriageway was blocked due to a nasty accident and as we drew level with it, emergency crews were helping people from crumpled vehicles. Having heard the stories of Carol’s late father, himself a Paramedic and Ambulance man, I wished all of those hurt a fast and painless recovery, but doubted that it would be the case for all of them.

Leaving the Motorway and turning onto the A46 was a time to relax, the road here is lovely and riding a fully loaded bike was a pure joy. Carol was leading the way still and we were making easy progress. The excitement was starting build, my first Bulldog Bash. Butterflies flapped in my tummy with excited apprehension. 

Seemed like a nice place to stop!
Getting there is an adventure, after some brief stops for a rest and a slight deviation we approached the main gate, from here things were to get very interesting. The first sight of the event is a broken old aeroplane on the approach to the site; a gravel road leads to the main gate and series of scary looking, but very polite bikers who issued us with our bright orange wrist bands. From here on in, we were under a new kind of freedom, I could feel it in the air and on my skin.

Carol and I bought a new tent for this trip, a Vango Orchy 400, a tent big enough to sleep a football team. Well OK, maybe that is an exaggeration. We chose the tent especially because it is big enough to fix a motorbike in the porch. Technically, we could fit both motorbikes and both of us with all of our gear in our tent. It is for this reason that we chose it, after all who wants to be sat on a rainy campsite trying to fix a broken down bike while getting cold, wet and covered in mud? Not us.

Home sweet home!
Our tent did not go with out comment, but for us it was perfect. Once pitched, out came our air bed which was inflated thanks to Sylvie’s battery. With home made and the furniture set out, we went exploring, orange wrist bands giving us freedom of the town. Some of what I saw appalled me, some of what I saw amazed me and some of what I saw was more fun than anything I have done before.

There was one aspect of the Bulldog that I found very difficult to deal with and technically it was nothing to do with the event. One of the stores who shall remain nameless had several flags flying above its tent, flags of a seriously dubious nature baring Swastikas and the double lightening strike lettering of the SS. As a member of Amnesty International, as a free thinking human being and as firm anti fascist believer, I found these flags to be very offensive to my very heart and soul. The stall itself was selling BB Guns, knives, cross bows, catapults and seriously dodgy looking porn. Maybe it was innocent, but it made me feel very uncomfortable being on a site with company that was flying eight large and different Nazi flags.

On a more positive note, there were many things that amazed me, the biggest if which was the numbers of friendly, happy people. With a campsite the size of a town, I expected some disturbances and yet we only got disturbed by the sound of the drag strip opening at Nine in the morning! I slept better at the Bulldog, in our double sleeping bag, on our soft airbed than I do at home. I don’t think that anyone said an unkind word to us at any point of the weekend. Many towns have far worse behaviour on a Friday night that I saw at the whole of the Bulldog Bash. It is interesting to reflect on why that was and at one point while stood in the early hours of the morning, outside a toilet block waiting for Carol to come out, I realised that I felt safer stood there among all of those strangers than I did in my home town on a Saturday afternoon. Everywhere I looked were big burly and friendly bikers, who were having fun, enjoying a relaxed weekend and just keeping themselves to themselves. Our towns could learn a thing or two.

The Biker Town at night, peaceful and calm.
My introduction to the drag strip was frankly brilliant. As I sat there bike after bike roared up that strip recording speeds and times that just got better and better. The track glistened like wet leather in the hot sunshine, perfect Tarmac, smooth and dark and needle straight. What made my day was watching a rider on a bike that had a wire basket on the back blast up that track, front wheel arcing through the air with the engine screaming. Eleven seconds from start to the gate and not once did that rider lose control of that bike. The dark blue Suzuki SV650S with the loud can that recorded time after time after time up the track and just kept going gave me the seed of an idea, maybe one day I could blast my precious Sylvie up that track too? Carol and I talked about her sending Noreen down the track, but we chose against it in the end preferring to sit and watch as race after race took place. Yet as I sat there on the top row of the stands, looking down through the rickety structure, stomach slightly tense due to my fear of heights, I could not help but smile as the smell of burned rubber and exhaust gasses passed by me on the breeze.

It is pretty high up there!
 Then came the serious stuff, the bikes with huge engines, burning special fuel, spinning huge rear tyres that sat in long extended frames. A sense of urgency appeared on the track for the first time as these bikes sat there rumbling like old diesel trucks, turbos occasionally blowing off unwanted pressure. Burnouts sent plumes of smoke up into the air, the smell like exotic perfume to my gentle virgin nose. Then came the noise as each bike sprinted like shooting stars along that quarter mile straight line of perfect black. Something in my heart went click and I knew that I had found something very, very special. Those bikes, the incredibly determined riders upon them hit speeds I can only dream of on my precious SV. I saw the first bike blast through the gate in a fraction over nine seconds. Then came one that scored an eight second run.
Now that is a bike for fun only!
The jet car, Fire Force, deserves a special mention here. Nothing can prepare you for that thing. Having seen that thing run I can rest easy knowing that out there some where is a man called Martin who is an absolute speed demon. Starting the engine, a former Pratt and Whitney Helicopter engine, takes a special set of kit that is held in a van. The engine starts with a whine that can be heard all over the site, then a blast as fuel in injected, the engine speed picks up, the whine increased in pitch and then another blast of more fuel. The wall behind the car was visibly shaking as the thrust from that engine blasted into it. It takes about fifteen minutes to get the car ready, they play with the smoke by dumping diesel into the combustion chamber and the cloud hides the final seconds as the car is made ready before gently creeping to the line. Then some one takes a hammer to your ear drums! It truly felt like some one had hit me in the centre of my ears as that car fled past where we sat. A speed of nearly three hundred Miles per hour, a quarter mile of track covered in five seconds. I left the stands in a daze, I had just seen something impossibly dangerous and it changed the feel of my blood in my veins. One day, I am going to ride my bike down that track as furiously fast as I am able.

The Jet car ambles past at close to 300MPH!
Coming back again.
 After that show, nothing else can compare. We chatted to other bikers, we shared stories of silliness and lonely breakdowns and we shared in a community spirit that I rarely see else where. Children were rare, but those present were polite and well behaved. The food court had more choice than we could try in one weekend and cost more than we could earn in one month. The stalls on the main shopping area had everything from Army Surplus to Exotic leather goods. Carol managed to persuade me try on a Leather waist coat and to be honest I fell in love with it. With my badges attached and two little patches sown onto the back, she looked at and approved. I was now a proper biker.

Packed and ready to head for home again.
Packing everything back down and back onto our bikes was a sad affair. If I am honest I did not wish to go home, back to the humdrum of work and paying Council Tax and washing dishes in a dish washer. I was happy on the road, packing what I needed onto my bike wearing little and washing when I could. The sun was kind to us and the rain clouds kinder, the ground was warm and dry for leaving the field. Three gentlemen camped opposite proved that the old school and the new generation could ride together and enjoy it just the same. The family next to us, the children grown up and riding their own bikes, spoke only in kind words and good humour. After a weekend like that, why would anyone want to return home to the normality of a street where people stare because you ride a dirty great big motorcycle?

George, Mark and Henry. Teacher and former pupils enjoying bikes as friends.
The Bulldog Bash for me was not a bike rally, it was a visit to a town populated by bikers who no matter what all do something with as much joy and passion as I do, they live for that moment when riding the bike fills the heart with joy. It did not matter if they were a teenage Dance music fan or pension paid grandma, they were there for the same reason I was, because they loved bikes.

Stopping for breakfast on the way home.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Congratulations to Rachel and Jan, with love from Curious Adventures

Yes folks, my dear friend Rachel has tied the knot and got married to her fabulous partner Jan and seeing them dancing together at the party after it was obvious just how much in love they were.

So what has this got to do with Motorbikes you may ask? Well, now there is a story all of its own.

Carol and I woke up good and early on Saturday morning, the previous evening had been spent sorting out clothing, hats and shoes and then packing it all into the panniers. The weather forecast warned of showers, so everything was packed into waterproof bags and sealed in good and tight. The panniers were slung over Sylvie and Noreen before being secured into place. Sadly other things had conspired against us and we were now running late, but this was time that we hoped to make up once out on the open road.

Riding a fully loaded Sylvie for the first time was interesting and to be honest, she had barely changed her gentle road manners. She was still very easily flickable and cornered with her usual good grace. My chain oiler was full of brand new and specially formulated oil thanks to the lovely folks of Tutoro Chain Oilers  and we hit the road.
Getting out of Weston was interesting and I picked up a tail in the form of two guys on those huge BMW GS1200 touring bikes, loaded up for a weekend break. Having left them behind in traffic I headed out of town to wait for Carol at our meeting point.

While waiting I noticed a huge amount of other bikers had the same idea, so this is the last petrol station we hit before the motorway, but even so, there were loads of them, ranging from Harleys to Hondas and Sports bikes to mopeds. It felt like every loved two wheels on that day.

I heard Carol approach before I saw her. Noreen has something of a characteristic exhaust note, or rather bellow. She pulled in and then together we headed off into the world of traffic that is the M5 on a Saturday afternoon. Sylvie picked up speed and we managed to get past the first of a series of numpties that we would meet. If I have any questions it would be this. Why would you drive your car onto the motorway at 40 miles per hour and then stay at that speed? Were it an old car I could understand, but this was a recent modern car. Oh I know why, it is because you are on the telephone!

So we blasted off into the distance, but traffic was heavy approaching Bristol and it stayed heavy until we cleared the M5/M4 interchange. Getting onto the M4 was surprisingly easy but traffic was still slow, finally we made it through and our speed picked up to real motorway speeds, progress was now being made. My MP3 player was gently singing away with such delights as Dissection and Slayer before a muffled raw of Dark Funeral live kicked in. Black Metal and Motorcycle touring, never before has this unholy alliance been so comfortable.

Loaded and ready to go, Jayne has a stretch!
 Talking of comfort, Sylvie has had a lot of work done to her (as documented else where in this here blog) to make her comfortable for long trips, but one thing we have not been able to modify yet is the super hard seat. Usually with in five miles, my back side is pounded to burger mince, but not this day. We made it all the way to our first stop at Leigh Dellamare services with out so much as a bum ache. We did need a wee though. From here we blasted along just enjoying the sunshine and riding together.

Riding long distances with your partner (or friend too come to that) is just awesome. I looked at Carol as she piloted Noreen along the motorway and she looked so serene, sat there doing what she does best, which is riding bikes very, very well. She noticed my quick glance (how does that happen? You look at some one on the motorway for a second and they notice and look back, even if they are asleep! Actually, riding bikes while asleep is dangerous, so don’t do it!) and I got a smile back.

Another wee stop at Membury and then back on the road. Traffic was still light here, but we both knew that London was going to be hectic. I was a little anxious about it to be honest, but Carol assured me I would be fine. Handy having a Senior Motorcycle Instructor Trainer as your girlfriend. Finally we stopped for fuel at Heston Services and prepared for the final long haul into the centre of London. The MP3 player was put away and the Sat Nav switched on. Bloomsbury Hotel here we come!

Passing under the M25 signalled for the traffic to start getting manic. With busses, cars, mopeds and cyclists every where and pedestrians with no sense of traffic fear walking in the road, London is a place to be cautious. Carol led the way as usual with her fine skills, I swear that she has a homing pigeon roosting in her brain that guides us to anywhere we want to go. She seems to know instinctively where we are at all times and I am starting to suspect that actually she is a Skynet Terminator turned to good! So using Carol’s inbuilt Sat Nav and the Tom Tom, we navigated through London heading towards Bloomsbury, the roads crossed and confused me, we went down roads going one way and then the other and to me it felt like we had entered a great labyrinth, luckily there was no minotaur to fight at the centre!

The Girls relaxing in the sunshine.

Then with less than a mile to go we hit major road works and the traffic halted. Passing along that final mile took nearly forty minutes. My engine temp gauge started to creep up and Sylvie was humming along at just over boiling point, thankfully she was well topped up with coolant. Noreen though was less happy. Her eleven hundred CC lump was getting hotter by the minute and sat in traffic that was moving in a speed measured in Snail time was not helping. With the end in sight we managed to find the street we wanted and there on the side of the road was a motorcycle park, two small spaces next to each other in an otherwise full parking lot.

The most impressive thing about parking in London is the Stainless Steel Ground anchors fixed into the road! With Sylvie and Noreen locked to these with no less than five locks, we dashed off to the hotel room to get changed. Noreen was still steaming away like a kettle on boil!

Our precious bikes locked up and secure.

The wedding reception was lovely in every way that such a thing can be lovely. The two young brides both looked elegant and beautiful in matching outfits and shoes, Jazz singer was crooning away and the music sounded wonderful. Despite my inherent dislike of Jazz, I found myself enjoying the entertainment and I wandered around the room finding friends long missed and thought never to be seen again.

The venue.

So a small message to those who are dear to me because we barely had time on the night.

Xander, you sir are a Scholar and a Gentleman, you also have such a kind, strong & gentle heart. You make a great little Brother.

Sam and kat, you are both wonderful beautiful women. It is wonderful to see you happy Sam.

Laura and Debbie, so little time to talk and yet so many happy memories. We must go and play soon

Pam and Mig, such a perfect couple and you both looked gorgeous. I have missed you Pam.

Gil and Jim, so lovely to see you again after so long, Gil still looks incredible.

But most of all, Rachel and Jan, you are perfect. Rachel, you are the best friend any one could ever wish for. Your grace and poise is evident in every thing you do and you are more lovely than ever. Jan, I have not met you before, but I can see how you won Rachel’s heart. The smile on her face when you are near is radiant.

Carol and I both wish you every happiness together, life will sometimes be hard and sometimes it will seem cruel, but as long as you love and care for each other, these things will pass you by with barely a mark on your hearts. Seeing you both together and so in love fills us all with a sense of good things for the future, not just for you both, but for the world to.

The evening ended and Carol and I headed back to the Hotel. Our room was stiflingly hot, the window barely opened and the duvet on the bed would have turned it into a furnace. So with the fan on and under a thin sheet, we snuggled down for a night of well deserved rest.

The Orwellian building as seen from our room, Minilove maybe?!

The following morning, I awoke and headed to the shower, it was so cool and refreshing, but the water seemed too slow…

I returned to the bed and sat with Carol for a while before she too made her way to the shower. She turned it on and waited. She turned it on more and still waited. No more water was to fall from that shower on that day. So it was a quick wash in the sink. She turned on the tap and waited. After half an hour she boiled the little amount of water left in the kettle and washed using that. It seemed that our hotel had maybe not paid it’s water bill!

We loaded our kit and headed back into London traffic. There were fire engines and ambulances roaring to and fro and sirens wailing for a fair bit of the time, but Carol and I were blissfully unaware of the rioting that took place while we slept in a different part of town!

Stopping for breakfast.

Negotiating the traffic was still stressful and once again we stopped at Heston services for fuel before heading back onto the motorway. The threats of rain turned into showers, but fortunately we had seen it coming and were already in our water proofs. It could rain as much as it liked, we were toasty and dry.
That lasted until just outside of Chippenham. A sudden increase in rain and then the flashes of lightening pointed to a storm. The rain that was hitting the road was bouncing four feet back into the air. Road spray made seeing cars running with out lights on hard work and our speed dropped to that of an elderly tortoise on a roasting hot day! Progress was slow. Then suddenly a barrier gave way and I felt the cold chill of rain water find it’s way through the outer layer of my riding kit and soak through to my smalls! It was like some one had poured a glass of water into my underwear, soaking my clothing. It was so cold and I was starting to shiver. Our last stop was at Gordano services, a top up with fuel and bit of chocolate was enough to warm us through for the final few miles home.

Minutes later, we were soaked by an electrical storm.

In total we clocked up just over two hundred and eighty miles, we each used two tanks of fuel and drank several pints of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. I saw some very dear friends and witnessed one of the dearest to me looking so radiantly happy I could have cried with joy. I also rode my bike in the busiest place I have ever been to and survived with out a scratch. Sylvie performed flawlessly despite having a thirty three BHP restrictor kit fitted and Noreen barely spluttered even when her fuel tap was turned to reserve.  My Tutoro Chain oiler was three quarters used when I got home and I swear that it made a difference to the ease at which my precious Sylvie ran.

What a wonderful weekend. We owe a huge debt of thanks to Rachel and Jan for inviting us and providing us with somewhere to sleep that was both safe and quiet. We most sincerely wish Rachel and Jan a very long and happy future together, filled with love, fun and all of the things that make life so rewarding.

I don't want to ride in London, I is scared!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

MCE Motorcycle Insurance, Lying cheating scumbags!

So any of you out there in Internet land ride bikes on the public Highway?

Any of you do so safe and secure in the knowledge that your motorcycle Insurance Policy is up to date?

Well if you are insured with MCE Insurance, think again.

It is my view that MCE are Corrupt, lying, dishonest and incompetent!

Let me lay a nice story for you, starting last spring when my old insurance policy came to an end. Carol and I decided that we wanted to ride together on our bikes, after all this is the first summer of us both being able to ride long journeys on big bikes. Rosie the GTR is slowly being rebuilt and it is still our aim to make her road worthy. However when we took the policy out, it was our aim to get both bikes on the road and riding in time for the Bull Dog Bash in August.

So away we go and get checking, sure enough the joys of the internet bring us the prices for two bikes with two riders. Three hundred pounds for us both, fully comprehensive. Then we get a phone call from MCE and they offer us a slightly cheaper deal. Thinking I had struck lucky, I spoke to Carol and we agreed to go for it. From there on it went down hill rapidly.

It is my view that MCE are Corrupt, lying, dishonest and incompetent!

The Policy for Both Carol and I to ride our bikes does not exist. The Sales woman who sold it to us lied through her filthy lying teeth, to make us buy it.

I stated very clearly that the insurance I required was for both Carol and myself, to cover us on our motorcycles. When the document arrived it was not even close in it’s cover from to that of the policy that I purchased from the MCE Sales Woman. I phoned MCE to complain and was told that a policy I described could not exist. The Team at MCE were extremely unhelpful and were rude to me on the telephone, stating that I had not asked for the cover I was now rudely demanding. I was finally put through to a manager and my policy was changed, but I was charged for this change because they claimed that I had not told them that I wanted cover for me to ride my bike!

I made a formal complaint to MCE because I did not feel that it was right for me to be charged and because due to their incompetence I had unwittingly ridden my motorcycle with out insurance, which is a Criminal Offence. MCE never replied to my Complaint. Their only comment was to ask me if I had had an accident. When I said no, they said not to worry about it then! There is a reason for this and that reason is

It is my view that MCE are Corrupt, lying, dishonest and incompetent!

Eight weeks later Noreen the Kawasaki ZRX1100 arrived in the stable. The Gentleman that I spoke to at MCE informed me that there was no record of me making a complaint against MCE and he flagged it up for his supervisor to investigate. I heard nothing from them for a week.

My New Insurance Document arrived and the motorcycles now present on the Insurance cover were the Sylvie and Noreen. However one of the riders had been removed from the cover slip. This rider was me and once again, I had been riding my motorcycle with out Insurance thanks to MCE making serious errors despite my very best efforts to comply with highway use. This time they did not even bother to talk to me and just said that MCE do not have such a policy. This would be because

It is my view that MCE are Corrupt, lying, dishonest and incompetent!

I once again phoned MCE and was spoken to again rather rudely and informed that it was impossible that I could have been insured because MCE do not offer multi rider policies. I had in my hand at that time my previous policy that showed the GTR1000 and the SV650S insured for two riders, Carol Sexy Bum and Jayne Grumpy Bitch. The Assistant told me that there was no one who could help me at that time and informed me that a Manager would phone me back.

I called back ten minutes later and spoke this time to a gentleman called Trevor Murphy. I explained that I was extremely unhappy with MCE and that I wished to cancel my Policy that I had been mis-sold in April and that I wanted a full refund from MCE for failure to provide what they had contractually agreed to. Mr Murphy informed me that he was unable to comply with my request and told me that all he could do was charge me a large sum to cancel my policy. He assured me that he would personally pass the case onto his manager the following day and that I would receive a phone call from them.

My complaints started on the first working day of May and have not been resolved. MCE do not uphold their promise to call back and they charge for a long wait on the telephone. Their customer service is appalling and they have lied to me several times about the service they offer. When I have requested the policy be cancelled, they have argued and have been dishonest. This is because

It is my view that MCE are Corrupt, lying, dishonest and incompetent!

From the very beginning all I have wanted to do is insure my motorcycles so that my Darling Carol and I can ride our bikes together, I can commute to work and together we can enjoy our hobby. MCE have prevented this from happening and have been nothing but unhelpful and dishonest. You know why that is though, maybe something to do with this…

It is my view that MCE are Corrupt, lying, dishonest and incompetent!