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!