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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Another day in the garage

Have managed a bit more work on my 1972 Honda CL350 'project'.
I'd put my saddle into a local company called Baillie Car Trimmers and got it back a couple of weeks ago. They had done a wonderful job, copying as closely as they could the original design.

The original Honda cover had cast on 'stitching', but Baillies duplicated the pattern with 'real' stitching.

They also fitted standard looking studs round the edge, and where the original saddle had the word Honda stencilled on the back, Baillies embroidered it on.

The cover is of very high quality vinyl, and the fit is superb. They normally do mostly car upholstery, but have done a lot of custom bikes. Price for the job was a reasonable £160.

Today I spent a day in the garage working on the bike. First job was replacing the swingarm bushes. When I'd put the swingarm back in following painting, I could feel there was some movement indicating worn bushes. I bought some pattern bushes from a company that makes parts for racing CB350s that appear to be made from some kind of phosphor or sintered bronze (Original Hnda bushes seemed to me made of cast iron). These were fitted along with some pattern inner sleeves, (the spindle was in good enough condition to reuse).

You can see the difference between new and old!

Old bushes came out easily enough.

And new ones were tapped in with a rubber mallet.

Whole job from wheel out to wheel back in only took about half an hour, and that included stopping to clean my hands so I could take photos.

Rest of the day was spent doing lots of small but time consuming jobs. Footrest bar was painted and refitted, oil filter cover had some scratches polished out and refitted, and the rear brake lever and rod went back in as well.

Saddle has been stored in the house to keep it clean, and there's plenty more small jobs still to be done.
At last it feels like this project is moving forwards at last, although there's still plenty to do!

Monday, 2 April 2018

Easter Egg Run 2018 (and alien abduction!)

In Britain there is a tradition of motorcyclists taking part in organised runs at Easter to raise money for children's charities. Back in 2015 I took part in the local run to Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow. This was a really well organised run that took us through a number of areas in the West of Glasgow and local people came out to wave and cheer us on. It finished at the hospital where there was entertainment, food, and children were brought out of the hospital to see the bikes. It was a great day out that raised a lot of money for the hospital.

By the following year, Yorkhill Hospital had closed and children's treatment had moved to the new Royal Hospital for Children. I had intended taking part in this run, but was too unwell and only went to the end of the run only to see everyone leaving. Speaking to people later, the run had been a disappointment – much shorter and through largely non residential parts of the city, and ended up at a muddy carpark outside the hospital where there was no entertainment, no food, and no interaction with the hospital or its patients.

Because of this, I didn't bother going last year, but the subject came up again this year and some members of the Triumph Owners Club Glasgow Branch were going to an Easter Egg run starting in Falkirk organised by the Carronvalley MCC  in aid of Children's Hospices Across Scotland.

Meeting at Cumbernauld

We met up a café in Cumbernauld for coffee and rolls, then rather than make the 15 minute journey to the starting point at the Falkirk Wheel, it was suggested that we take a backroad route through some villages. This is where things started to get weird!

Now, it should have taken no more than 20 minutes for us to do this journey, but it ended up taking an hour and we had to do a number of U-turns, ask directions, etc before we got to our destination. I don't want to say that nobody knew where we were going and we got lost, but it all went wrong after we passed Bonnybridge, Britain's centre for UFO sightings! I can only assume that we were abducted by aliens, had our minds probed, our memories wiped, then deposited on a country road with no idea where we were!

 Long time since I've seen one of these!

We eventually got to the Falkirk Wheel where there were hundreds of bikes gathered.

We got the signal to start, and the run was incredibly well organised – Police motorcycles travelled with us and arranged 'rolling roadblocks' at roundabouts and junctions so the bikes could stay together, and when we arrived at the motorway, one lane was coned off so we could enter without having to give way.

The route went from Falkirk to the Clackmannan Bridge and along the A736 to the M90 Services at Kinross, a journey of about 25 miles/40 km, in bright dry weather. As we passed through each village, people lined the streets waving to us and cheering us on.

Once at the Services, I got something to eat and wandered around looking at the hundreds of bikes there.

 Interesting arrangement of the registration number!

A good day out, no idea how much money was raised, but it must have been thousands of pounds.

Many thanks to Carronvalley MCC, Falkirk Wheel, Kinross Services, Police Scotland, the various councils, and everybody else who helped make this such a good event.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Bikes on the Beach - St Andrews

The weekend was the first sunny weekend of the year, so I looked around for something to go to and saw the Bikes on the Beach meeting in St Andrews.

This was a combined run and get together organised by The Scotorian Biker who organises similar events throughout the year.

They had meeting points in South Queensferry and Kirkcaldy, but I rode directly to St Andrews as I'm not a great fan of group runs.

It was a nice sunny day, not too cold and with a slight breeze, so the run over was very pleasant. Once in St Andrews I hit the first problem - the meeting was advertised as being by the beach, but how do you get to it? Signposting in St Andrews is very poor so I had ride round the town a few times before I found the right road. 
Eventually I got to the beach and found a few bikes already there. When I stopped the riders asked me if they were in the right place as they'd seen a number of bikes riding past them along the coast. I waited a while then rode along the coast to another parking area where there was a group of bikes and was asked the same question. I rode back to the first car park and left the bike and walked into town to get something to eat.
There were a number of bikes riding up and down and I was asked three times where the meeting was.

I was taking a photo of a particularly pretty street when this rider came into view. I'd seen him riding up and down, obviously lost.

I walked back down to carpark 1 where more bikes had arrived.

When's the last time you saw this many Yamaha 2 strokes?

There were a lot of bikes riding past so I went to carpark 2 which seemed to have the bulk of the bikes, but some were parked on the grass and some in a turning circle.

We had a visitor from 1969 who had brought his bike in his time machine!

A bit overcast at this point

My Bonnie

More 2 strokes - where have they come from!

Another one!

Not really my 'thing', but the coolest bike there.

I had a good look at the bikes and waited to see if anyone I knew turned up. I didn't see anyone, so rode back to carpark 1 for a look at the bikes there. Eventually I started for home and saw a group of about a dozen bikes in a parking space in the town. One rider signalled to me so I stopped and he asked where the meeting was. I started to explain, but his friends decided they had been there long enough without finding it and had decided to leave.

My journey home was fairly uneventful, to vary the route I rode via Kirkcaldy and over the new Queensferry Crossing over the River Forth (my first time over it).
A good day out and no rain!

Confusion over the meeting point aside, it was a good day and the Bikes on the Beach meetings are well worth attending. List of this year's meetings here.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Breast Way Round

'Breast Way Round' is a group of (mostly) women motorcyclists who organise events to raise money for cancer charities. They are well known at motorcycle events with their stalls and pink clothing. This year's major event is a 500 mile / 800 km, 3 day ride for 100 riders starting from Rugby Park, Kilmarnock on Friday, 25th May and finishing at Loch Lomond Shores on Sunday 27th May. They will be raising money for Cancer Research UK and Target Ovarian Cancer.

Almost everyone will have know someone who suffered from cancer (I lost my mother to cancer when she was only in her early 50s), so please dig deeply and help support this very worthwhile event.
They love their pink clothes!

My friend Shirley will be taking part, her fundraising page is here.

Breast Way Round website and Facebook page.

If anyone is within travelling distance of Kilmarnock next Saturday (17th March), they are holding a collection at MCS Motorcycles. Website. 

Trip to France 2

Was in France for a week recently on a business visit. This was a repeat of the trip I made in December 2016, however this time there were 4 of us rather than 3. Also, to avoid the 13 hours journey by public transport, we flew from Glasgow Airport and hired a car.

One small problem was that there is only one flight from Glasgow to Paris on a Sunday, and that gets in quite late, so we arranged to fly on the Saturday and spend a night in Paris (well, you would, wouldn't you!)

We got an early flight, got to Paris CDG airport and picked up our hire car.

It was a very well specced Opel Insignia with lots of electronic goodies, my favourite being the 'head up' display that projects speed etc onto the windscreen in front of you. As an aside, the car is branded as Vauxhall in the UK, but Opel elsewhere (except Australia and NZ where it's a Holden). It's built in Germany by a French owned company, but if they stick a Vauxhall badge on it, some people think it's British!

I had the joy of driving an unfamiliar left hand drive car on the right side of the road whilst trying to remember to use the clutch (I've been driving an automatic for the last 6 months), through the busy streets of Paris. As I mentioned in a previous post this included going round L'Etoile around the Arc de Triomphe. 12 roads join with no 'give way' lines or road markings! It wasn't that busy, and you learn the technique of 'going with the flow' and I got round it OK.

We got to our nearby hotel, dropped off our luggage, and went for a wander round Paris.

Sarah, Reiss and Louise at the Arc de Triomphe

Reiss, me and Sarah with the Eiffel Tower in the background

Now that's what I call a Metro station!

Saw lots of the sights, then got on the wonderful Metro to The Catacombs These are amazing underground chambers full of the skeletons of Paris's dead. There's apparently 6 million skeletons and chanbers lead off into the distance. If you are thinking of going I would advise buying your tickets online in advance. We paid 29 Euros, which included an audioguide, whereas a ticket at the door costs 13 Euros, plus 5 Euros for the audioguide. This might sound steep, be we went straight in whereas those buying a ticket at the door were having to wait 3 hours to get in.

Stop! This here is the empire of the dead.

After that we went for something to eat then got the Metro back to the city centre. It was now dark and many of the sights were illuminated. We got back to the hotel, soon after the others decided to go out and ended up at the famous Moulin Rouge. Me, being a lot older than them and I don't drink, ended up going to bed early!

Next morning I drove 200km / 120 miles to Vendôme where we would be based for the next few days.

Vendome from hotel room

I'll not bore you with the details, but we spent 3 long days at a factory looking at a piece of equipment, and the people there were superb hosts, taking us out to good restaurants for lunch and dinner every day.

The plan was that we would finish at the factory on Wednesday, stay the night in Vendôme, the drive up to Paris for our flight back to Glasgow on Thursday. However, there was heavy snow, airports were closed, flights cancelled, roads blocked etc. We decided to drive to Paris to then see what flights (if any) we could get.

Outside our hotel on Thursday morning

We set off on Thursday through snow that thankfully cleared as we got near Paris, returned the hire car, then found there were no flights that day. We stayed at a hotel at the airport having bought tickets for a flight to Glasgow via Birmingham, early the next morning.
We got the flight to Birmingham, and were called to the gate for the flight to Glasgow. While we were waiting we were told that the flight would be delayed by 20 minutes. I thought this was unlikely as there were no aircraft on the apron outside the terminal, and after a lot longer than 20 minutes were were told to follow an official who took us through a maze of corridors before taking us back to the entrance lounge where we were told to join a very long queue where 'things would be sorted out'. After about 2 hours we still hadn't got to the head of the queue, and on the phone we had found out that Glasgow Airport was closed, and there were no trains going north of Carlisle. All this time we were given no information by the airport or airlines! Eventually, we decided to hire a car and drive the 300 miles / 500 km home. Luckily the 3rd company we tried would hire us a car, and we got into a Vauxhall (Opel elsewhere) Astra and headed north. Once out of Birmingham, the snow cleared and it was a fairly uneventful drive to Glasgow.

Approaching Tebay on the M6
In Glasgow there was fairly thick snow and after I'd dropped the others off at their houses, I managed to get stuck. I was about to abandon the car and start walking when some locals came out of their houses and manhandled my car onto a drivable road - times like this you appreciate the kindness of strangers!
Got to about 2 miles / 3 km from my house when I hit something hidden on a snow covered road – probably a pothole. Just after the 'low tyre pressure' light came on – I had a flat tyre! I changed the wheel at the side of the snow covered road whilst being showered with slush from passing cars, and my hands were so numb I could hardly open the car door. Finally got going only to have to abandon the car 200 metres from my house and walk the last bit!!

It was a good and interesting trip, but I cold have done without the excitement of the last 2 days!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Plans for 2018

Sorry for not posting for a while, but I was waiting to see how some things worked out.

Posting a 'plans' post is always a bit tricky as things change, don't work out, other things come along, etc – perhaps 'hopes' or 'aspirations' would be better words!

2018 is going to be a year of changes for me – I'm 60 in April and don't like my job, so have decided to leave my job just after my birthday and follow one of two 'plans'.

Plan A is to find another job and work for another 2 or 3 years before retiring. I get my work pension at 65 and my State Pension at 66, so should be able to save enough to live on after a few years. Have been looking around for another job, but no luck yet. Although it's technically illegal to discriminate on grounds of age, we all know it goes on and I've had the 'you did your qualifications a long time ago' comment from one employer. I'll keep looking to see if I can get anything, and could those who know what I do let me know if they see anything.

Plan B is to sell my house, move somewhere cheaper, and retire and live off the money I make. I've made the calculations and it should be possible – just have to do some work to make my house ready for sale!

Either way I'll let you know as things progress.

If I do retire, or get a job where the scooter is not suitable for commuting, it'll be for sale so if anyone is interested, let me know.

I've previously mentioned that I'll be selling my Yamaha SZR660 when the weather improves, so that will be me down to the Bonneville and the Honda CL350 'project'. If I retire I'll have no excuse for not getting it finished!

Back in November 2016 I went on a work trip to France to see a piece of equipment that was being built for my company. I've to return at the end of this month to see a similar piece of equipment that's being built for my company's new plant in Singapore. Unlike the last trip, this time we'll be flying from Glasgow Airport (5 miles/8km from my house), travelling by hire car rather than public transport, and spending a night in Paris before driving to Vendôme. I'm the only one of our group who can drive the hire car, and our hotel is about 50 metres from the Arc de Triomphe, so I've got this to look forward to!

I'm planning on going to Spain this year and have started Spanish lessons in the next village to me. These are being held in a pub as there's not really anywhere else to hold them. It's a fairly straightforward conversational class, so hopefully I'll be able to pick enough up to get by.

I don't know how long I'll have to go on the trip, if I'm working I probably won't be able to go for more than 2 weeks, but if I'm retired I'll be able to go for as long as I can afford.

I've a couple of ideas of places to go, so it'll be a case of working out a route taking them in. More later, but my friend Maureen lives near Madrid, my friend Jane will be moving to Murcia, I've always wanted to go to Barcelona, and I found this bike event in Northern Spain,

so I could work out a route taking them in. Also, there's a ferry service starting from Cork in Ireland to Santander, so that's another 'possible'. If I go to all the places in Spain I've mentioned, this is the approx route.

Obviously, this is just at the planning stage and some, none or all of the above might happen! If anyone has any suggestions of places I could go to, please comment below.

Another plan I have is to go to a music festival. I've never been to one, so was looking about for one that I thought I would enjoy. This one looks like having the best line-up, and being near the South Coast, could be taken in as part of my Spain trip.

Other than that, my 'aspirations' for this year are the usual stuff: go out on the bike more, go to more concerts, lose weight, get fitter.............. and who knows, I might even go on a date! (Although that's probably wishful thinking on my part!)