Saturday, 20 December 2014

Weston Bike Nights - The Summer of 2014

Monday, 29 September 2014

A Ride from Khao Sok to Koh Samui - Thailand

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Jayne playing with Sylvie's rusty balls... as in bearings!

A mechanical update story for you all and a lesson in knowing better.

I have recently taken my precious SV650 off the road for a rebuild and replacement of the suspension. I have been complaining for a while that the rear suspension on my bike is too harsh and it hurt my back to ride. So as soon as I won my court case against the B@st@rds who have permanently injured my back, Halfords, I spoke to a good friend and ordered a custom made rear shock from Penske. This shock has been made with a spring set for my weight on the bike and has a remote reservoir for damping functions. I also bought a set of new forks, Showa USD sportsbike shocks as fitted to the R1 and these came with an excellent set of Blue spot brake callipers and a Braking Wave disks fitted to the new front wheel.

My plan was to ride to my mates house in Yorkshire to get it all fitted, along with the modifications to the computer so that I could still have a working speedo. Anyway as big plans like this can go, my back got worse and we called it off, which was a shame because all of the parts had been shipped North!

So back to my rear end and I decided to start work on Sylvie myself and began to strip her down, finding rust and the occasional bit of neglect along the way. First port of call was the engine, which has just started to play up a little, however my wonderful Darling Carol had that fixed in a couple of heart beats and Sylvie's heartbeat was back to her usual gentle purr.

Then came the strip down. Off with the whole front fairing so that I could rewire the indicator lights and tidy up the loom, I could also get access to the computer and I will admit to giving consideration to opening it up and changing the LEDs for different colours to illuminate my clocks. However such a change was just vanity and not worth the effort.

I also discovered a major fault in the ignition circuit and traced this to a damaged connector, the well known and renowned evil Green Connector of Doom. I promptly cut the little Shitebag out and replaced it with a good one from a Quad bike and this one wont burn out.

The stripping continued and I started on the back end. However if one more person tells me that I should turn my bike into a stripped down single seat streetfighter, I am going to hit them in the mouth with a three foot long torque wrench and break as many teeth as I can. This comment is getting very old now.

Getting to the rear shock is a serious PITA and resulted in having to grind out a huge FO bolt that had a captive nut hidden in the folds of the under engine exhaust. Sports V-Twins have a torturous exhaust route and the bolt was in the hardest to reach part of this. Once again with the help of my beautiful Carol, I was able to fix this and we pulled off the full stainless exhaust system, which after eleven years was rather dirty with burned on crud.

So out came the back wheel, off came the rear shock and the bottom rocker that activates the shock when the swing arm moves was removed and examined, leaving behind a big space on the bike that now has no back end.

Pulling out the swing arm was made complicated by the use of a recessed castellated nut, but I was able to make a removal tool by cutting an old socket into the required shape. Chrome vanadium sockets are damn hard work to shape and my fingers are now worn to stubs, it is a good job I don't spend a lot of time fiddling with my moomoo! Anyway, once I had made the tool, the swingarm came out with ease. If only my own coming out had been so easy.

The bearings in the suspension rocker though were completely screwed, not just rusty or pitted, but seized and ruined. This is the reason why my suspension was so harsh, why every small bump felt like I had just jumped the Grand Canyon!

I now have to push the bearings out, which is going to require using my brain rather than the massive sledge hammer I have in the garage. Thankfully my gorgeous Carol has come to the rescue again and I hope to have new bearings in by the end of the week.

What do you think of my nice silver swing arm?

So what if anything can we learn from this adventure in filth, grease and worn out parts? Simply this, which was told to me by a special friend. "The big Japanese Bike manufacturers all get together once a year and buy a small pot of grease, which they then share between them!" Yes folks, always remember to strip and service your bearings yourself. 

Friday, 30 May 2014

Jayne writes another bloody book!

Hey folks, yes I am here to plunder your pockets and ask those of you with computers/e-readers/smartphones or other suitable electronic devices to go and download the new E-Book entitled The Thinking Tree and Other stories.

It is available through Amazon and will cost you just enough to make it worth while buying. The book contains ten stories of strange and unusual happenings some of which will make you cry and some of which will make you laugh. However it is out fond hope that all of them will make you think.

You can purchase your copy of the e-book from Amazon and down load it to your machine for your reading pleasure. You know that you want too...

Jayne's new book available here for a good price

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Removing the sting from a scorpion and letting it go for a walk

A family of Monkeys near the Lodge

Lizards at the lodge

View point on our way to Khao Sok

Carol represents England at Phuket bike week and gets a commemorative plate

Carol has a ride on a Demo MT-09 at Phuket Bike Week

A soggy blog on the way to the Jungle

Crossing the road in Bangkok

The Gordon Mc'Clue Button

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Only in Thailand

Only In Thailand, can you be given the keys to the shop only hours after meeting the owner. Only in Thailand does a posh restaurant play videos of animal operations on the big screen while you try to eat. Only in Thailand is the theme for today's update!

"You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension — a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone." Or in this case, Thailand.

We have mentioned many times that the roads of Thailand present a significant danger, although those species with eyes on all facets of their head may well find the danger to be insignificant, but for the average human basic, the roads can be lethal. The primary danger is the white minibus driven at great speed by the pick up drivers who simply wish to transport as many tourists as possible in a limited space of time. These maniacs will tail gate you so closely, that you can smell gulped down sick of the passenger in the back seat. If you ride a bike, be it a huge muscle bike or a tiny scooter, these guys will see you as merely an obstruction over which they can drive. You will be pushed out of the road, almost run down and when you lose patience and stop, they have no idea of what your problem is! The white minibus will also over take long lines of traffic and suddenly cut in when the gap between them and on coming traffic is no longer larger enough to contain atomic oxygen. Over taking will often be saved for blind corners, blind crests of hills and gaps into on coming bikes.

Thai massage is wonderful, imagine gentle music playing, cool wind licking over your naked skin as a well trained medical professional rubs delicate soothing ointments into your stretched and aching muscles. Now imagine what we have seen here in the twilight zone of the tourist massage trade. Overly loud dance music blaring out as scantily dressed overly made women wearing too much jewellery attempt to extract hard currency from your purse by offering you the client of what ever age, gender or planetary origin a menu of playful, painful, or simply perverted practices. It saddens me greatly that these well trained and well practised medical professionals are treated as something else by tourists. Let me put it to you this way, would you ask the nurse who has just done your blood test for a quick hand job? The shame of it is that many of these women will now initiate the conversation because this is what they think is expected of them. Carol and I have both recently encountered this behaviour while seeking relief from pain during our stay in Phuket. I have had many massages now and can say with certainty that a medical massage is in no way erotic because it really, really hurts, while a relaxing massage is a waste of my time because it just puts me to sleep but does not stop my pain. At no point do I desire any fiddling in my pants!

Imagine if you will the end of a journey where at your destination you are suddenly asked to mind the shop you have just walked into. What would you do? This is the situation I found myself in upon my arrival here in Thailand recently as we discovered a rather fabulous bike shop here on Koh Samui. The owner of Keen Big Bikes is a lovely gentleman named Keen, in his early thirties, energetic and enthusiastic, what he does not know about the Honda Super Blackbird you can write in full on the back of a stamp. I popped over to say hello a couple of days ago and to see if he had seen Carol and Diarmuid who had gone out on a mission to collect a motorbike. He looked at his watch and said he would not expect them back just yet and I could wait if I wanted. He was fixing a Honda CBR and chatting away when suddenly he stood up and asked if I could watch the shop for a while and then he jumped on his bike and left. In no way could he know that I was trustworthy, but he gave me the chance to prove that I was. So I sat and watched his shop for half an hour until Carol arrived with the bike. twenty minutes later Keen arrived back and was all smiles. I guess that I passed the trustworthy test.

There are so many stories we can tell of only in Thailand, but some we dare not go into. Only Thailand will you be told that Prison is more human than in Britain and that British law is barbaric. Only in Thailand will the local cops drink your coffee and then nick you for riding with out a helmet while every one around you rides past not wearing a helmet. Only in Thailand will the Police give you the thumbs up for speeding, Only in Thailand can you score from the Rozzers! This truly is the Twilight Zone!

Only in Thailand can you find yourself in a posh restaurant, seated on the terrace at a table that has starched orange linen table cloths and napkins that are so well folded that they can be used as structural supports for the collapsing kitchen! Only in Thailand can you be told that the burger you wish to order for dinner that night is only available on the breakfast menu until eleven in the morning! Only in Thailand can you enter a fantastic custom shoe shop that has plush carpets and teak shelves showing the hand crafted motorcycle boots that cost tens of thousands of Baht and yet find behind the small door in the back, the bare concrete walled, dusty floor bed of the shop owner and his wife!

I cannot explain to you the incongruence of how things look and how things are here. The shop this morning had the door wide open, the sign in the window said in large friendly letters that it was open and yet the shop owner was in the shower because she did not expect any customers at that time! Imagine if you will a family who dwell in a hovel that is made from broken pallets and ripped hard board, they have no running water, they sleep on boxes covered in old blankets and yet they have a flat screen TV with satellite dish and a custom 4x4 outside! The balance of what matters and what does not is strangely mixed here. The working week here has no weekends, the Thai people are so driven by money and status that they work all hours and will buy the most luxury items rather than buy the essentials.

Finally imagine if you will a business that is clearly owned by a non Thai and in which non Thai practices are the norm. We encountered such a business only this evening, a restaurant that is clean, smart and modern. The food is cooked in plain view of the patrons and all looks normal, but remember this is Thailand, expect the Twilight Zone at any second and sure enough gently at first the weirdness starts to filter through. As our food arrives it is apparent that what was asked for and what was delivered do not compare favourably, so it is sent back and a replacement is requested, the misunderstanding of language is a common thing through out the galaxy and what is needed is a Babel Fish, but sadly since they do not naturally occur on Earth, we shall persevere. When the correct meal is delivered normality is almost present, but it was then that we noticed the television on the restaurant, showing a program about animal behaviour. Namely the consuming of other animals in horrific ways and with catastrophic results! So as we enjoyed our charming meal out we were presented with Dog operations, Snakes swallowing alligators that split them in half, Pelicans swallowing whole pigeons on city streets and frogs being torn apart alive by strange hill-billies who eat the resultant mess. 

Only in Thailand, not even the Restaurant at the end of the Universe is this bizarre!

Friday, 2 May 2014

Saying good bye hurts the most

Khao Sok is a beautiful place, our friends there have become parts of our hearts and to be honest we were missing them by the time we had packed our bikes. To quote Juliet, "Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow." Although I would hardly call the team at Khao Sok Valley Lodge our Romeos! 

For our last day Man (pronounced Min for non Thai speakers) gave us a very special trip, firstly he took us to a cave and showed me the Giant Golden Orb spider, a beautiful and delicate animal that I have wanted to see for a long time. He then took us to a place he has not taken a tourist before, to his parents home where they work on the rubber plantation. He taught us how to cut the bark on a rubber tree to ensure that the raw latex sap runs into the collection bowl and showed us how it is processed into raw rubber mats. The shock came when he told us how much work it takes to earn enough to afford to live. 

Next time you buy a rubber product, think of our friend Men, he probably had a hand in its making, the amount of effort it took to earn the thirty Thai Baht per kilo as a reasonable wage though is shocking.

Our last night of freedom in the park though was spent at a party with Mr Bao, whose Father cooked for us traditional Thai rice wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in a bamboo pole. The Rice was delicious as was the meat cooked by Bao's wife Oye. 

It was a real honour for us to be invited to dinner like this and it just reminded us of how lucky we are as travellers in that we have found the most amazing people as we have gone. So yes, Juliet was right, parting is such sweet sorrow. 

We packed the bikes and then came the time to say good bye to Sai and Man, the work force at the lodge.

Carol was as always dignified and gentle. Jayne was not!

The ride back to Koh Samui had begun and it was a long hot day in the saddle.

Sometimes the views are just too amazing to miss out, even when on a ferry! 

Back on Koh Samui the roads were as manic as always and finally exhausted we arrived at our destination only to find that the beach bungalow we had booked had turned into an up stairs room in a block, hardly the paradise we had wanted to celebrate our anniversary. Yes, poor Carol has endured my constant farting, poo jokes and swearing for six years, bless her! The room was beautiful, but it was not what we had booked and as Carol discussed this with the hotel owner, Jayne was left almost in tears by one of the members of staff.

A beautiful Forest Scorpion had come out onto the hotel forecourt looking for water due to the drought on Samui, now a sting from one of these animals is painful, but then so is a bee sting and they are equally dangerous. In Khao Sok, Jayne had been able to handle one of these beautiful creatures in safety because the jungle guide removed the sting, leaving the animal safe and growing a new one which takes about thirty days. At Sea Deang, the owner of the restaurant Jenny came out and battered the animal with a stick, leaving it as a battered mess on the road. Sadly the creature was still alive and another guest finished the job off to end the animals suffering. This simple act of animal murder made Jayne want to leave immediately and Carol was in agreement.

These are docile and gentle animals, just like bees and if left alone to wander as they wish, just like bees, they harm no one. Having a wild scorpion walk up my arm and come to a rest on my shoulder under my hair was probably one of the most wonderful moments of our trip. Seeing one murdered outside the hotel was the worst and I can never forgive such a barbaric action.

So now we are staying in the Boardrooms and the place is lovely, but that is a story for another day...

Friday, 25 April 2014

Khao Sok Good View Resort and Khao Sok Minimart and some really nice knives

Khao Sok Good View Resort - Google Maps

Mr Bao's beautiful new development, next to Khao Sok Minimart you will find the new and very well finished Khao Sok Good View Resort

A friend of Mr Bao's happens to make some very nice knives