Monday, 28 March 2022

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride 2022 - update

 


That's me now registered to take part in this year's ride in Glasgow. After a few years of solo rides it'll be good to have a group ride again and to actually see other participants. My friend Jane will probably be riding pillion with me again and her daughter Summer making cakes for the other riders. I've put down that I'll be riding the Triumph, but if I get the Honda running reliably by then I'll use it.

If anyone else reading this is taking part in any of the rides, please let me know.

Details of the DGR here.

Please donate on my fundraising page.

More later.

Monday, 21 March 2022

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride 2022

 


Once again this year I'll be taking part in The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride to raise money for charity. If anyone else is thinking of taking part, in any city in the world, the website is now open for pre-registration and you'll be informed of your local ride's details.

Website

Friday, 18 March 2022

Retirement Trip – Carry on Camping

I finally retired from working just before Christmas. My current contract expired at the end of January, but my boss had asked me to stay on and I'd agreed to continue working until my birthday at the end of April. Unfortunately, we were overtaken by events as the company was unable to obtain parts from suppliers due to the delays caused by Brexit and we ran out of work to do. As always, contractors go first and we were paid off. This wasn't a problem for me as I was paid up until my original contract would have ended anyway.

I haven't been for a touring holiday on the bike since A Trip Round the Neighbours in 2017 and had been promising myself a good trip away when I retired. I've worked out a list of places I'd like to go taking in numerous countries and lasting for about six weeks. I'll be writing more about this later.

Back in 2019, I went to the Cropredy Convention and enjoyed it so much the I immediately bought a ticket for the 2020 event. Unfortunately Due to Covid-19, this didn't take place but my ticket is still valid for this year's event.

THURSDAY 11 AUGUST

The Trevor Horn Band

Clannad

Edward II

Thumping Tommys

Fairport Convention Acoustic

FRIDAY 12 AUGUST

Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited

Turin Brakes

Sharon Shannon

Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Martyn Joseph

Home Service

Emily Barker

Maddie Morris

SATURDAY 13 AUGUST

Fairport Convention & Friends (inc Full House)

Richard Thompson

Matthews Southern Comfort

Rosalie Cunningham

The Bar Steward Sons Of Val Doonican

Holy Moly & The Crackers

Seth Lakeman

(No poster for this year's event yet, but here is the line up)

My plan was as I was in the South of England, to head for the ferry after the Convention and head off of my tour. However, I found an interesting festival nearby the weekend before Cropredy, so bought a ticket for it as well. Wickham Festival



Going to festivals means camping but I intend staying in hotels for the rest of the trip and didn't want to carry camping gear on the bike for weeks. So, I planned of using camping gear that I didn't mind discarding after the festivals. I have an old sleeping bag and map that could be discarded, and planned on buying a cheap tent. Out of interest, I looked on Amazon for their cheapest tent and found this one: Link When I first looked it was only £14, so bought one to see what it was like.

Well, what did I expect for £14? The fact that the bag tore down a seam when I tried to get the tent out tells you all you need to know. It's a small, very cheaply made single skin tent. I'm 172cm (5'8”) and can only lie out in it diagonally (just)! Seams aren't sealed so would leak in the rain! My friend's children are going to have fun playing in it in their garden, it's really just a child's play tent!



(Ignore the broken fence - a victim of the recent storms!)






Next I looked online and saw this tent on Go Outdoors' website. I went to my local branch for a look at one. Due to Go Outdoors' strange pricing policy, the tent was £60 instore but £29 online??? (Plus £5 for their membership card if you don't have one) Ordered it online and it looked a lot better when it arrived.

I was impressed when I got it. Seems reasonably well made and thought out. Pitching is a bit time consuming and fiddly, even on a calm day in my garden. On a windy day in an exposed location would be a bit more of a chore. It has 3 shockcorded glass fibre poles (2 are longer than the third but they and the tubes they go into are colour coded – nice touch) and you erect the outer first. (handy when it's raining). Inner hangs inside the outer with loads of toggles and loops. Once up, it is very stable and roomy inside, easily enough room for two people. Lots of nice features like good ventilation with insect mesh, pockets inside, the porch has a proper floor, and the inside is very opaque making it quite dark inside (ideal if you don't want to be woken up at dawn).






Logo of their opaque inner


Instructions printed on a plastic sheet stitched inside bag - neat idea!

All in all a very good tent and well worth the money, especially if you buy it online. Only real downside is that it's a wee bit big for a bike when packed (54x16x16cm), but it can go across the back of the saddle.

More about the trip later!



Saturday, 5 March 2022

First Ride of the Year

 

Sorry for being quiet for so long but I've not been doing anything motorcycle wise for a while. I had been using the Suzuki for commuting to work until the weather got too bad, but I was laid off from my job two days before Christmas. This wasn't really a problem for me as I'd intended retiring (finally!) in April, so I regard it as coming early.

Back to today and I thought I would take the Triumph out for a ride for the first time since the last post in September. I'd started the bike every two weeks or so to circulate oil round the engine and had kept the battery charged. It was a bit cold (c. 7º C), so wrapped up warmly and headed out. I rode on some rural roads for about an hour and popped in to check on my late father's house.




Back on the road, and it was more rural roads for another hour or so with a stop at the Thunderbolt Memorial.




During WW2, US Air Force aircraft were carried by sea to Greenock, transported to Renfrew Airport (then an RAF base), assembled and prepared, then flown south to operational airbases. Unfortunately, a Republic P47D Thunderbolt flew too low in misty conditions, struck some trees and the pilot, 2nd Lt Herman Carey was killed.



Republic P47D Thunderbolt

The road is fairly narrow and only serves a couple of farms and kennels. I'm not sure how old the trees are, but they were probably there when the plane crashed. There's a gap in the row where the memorial is.



After that it was an easy ride back home. Not sure how far I travelled, but I was on the road for about 2 hours. I'd stayed warm enough as long as I kept my visor closed and didn't need to switch my heated grips on. There was still a lot of salt on the road, so the bike will be getting a good clean!

It was good to get out on the bike, it ran well and there didn't seem to be any problems from it not being ridden for a while. Hope to get a lot more riding done this year, and I've a major trip being planned. More on that later!

Thursday, 23 September 2021

SCMC Autumn Gathering

 On Sunday I went to the Scottish Classic Motorcycle Club Autumn Gathering at the Tullybannocher Café near Comrie in Perthshire. I've not been to a bike event for a long time and hadn't ridden the Triumph for weeks (I've been using the Suzuki for work each day) and had neglected it a bit. So much that the battery was completely flat and the warning lights wouldn't come on.

I'd bought an 'emergency starter', basically a lithium battery with leads attached, and started the bike using it. The makers claim that this will start a 2.5 litre car, so had no problem starting the Triumph. 



I was very low on petrol, so rode to the  local service station to fill up and had to use the starter again. It was raining and misty so I headed to Comrie by the 'main road route' taking the M8 motorway to Glasgow then the M80 past Stirling. There was very heavy rain through Glasgow, but the weather had brightened up by the time I got to the Tullybannocher Café. 

There was a good selection of classic bikes already there and others arrive whilst I wandered round the car park. Good to see all the bikes were ridden there, too many bikes turn up in vans or on trailers at shows. While I was there I met my brother Stuart plus a few friends including a couple I knew from my time in the Triumph Owners' Club. I took numerous photos and this video of a look round the carpark.


Of particular interest were no fewer than four old Indians, particularly rare and they left together with a Nimbus and a Triumph.


When I went to leave the battery was still too flat to start the bike so it was out with the starter again. I headed west to wards Lochearnhead then south towards Callandar. At Kilmahog I turned right to take the Duke's Pass to Aberfoyle. This is a good winding road with spectacular views, but half of it has recently been resurfaced leaving it covered in gravel. After that it was a fairly straightforward ride home. Total distance was about 140miles/225km, 



About an hour after I got home I tried starting it and it managed OK. However, I tried again tonight (Thursday) and the solenoid just clicked - looks like a faulty battery!

Some photos from the Gathering - more at my Flickr page.








Links:

Scottish Classic Motorcycle Club

Tullybannocher Café


 

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

My old bike

 Was sent links to a number of Facebook posts concerning my old silver MZ Skorpion Traveller. I'd owned this bike for 17 years and had it set up for touring, but sold it about 5 years ago when I bought my Triumph Bonneville. The latest owner is building it into a café racer and fitting a Yamaha RD 350 YPVS engine to it! Interesting to say the least!

I've never heard of a Skorpion being fitted with a different engine, so this could be a first.










 

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Suzuki SV 650

 Last year at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, I left my job and had intended on retiring. However, things change and I started a new job on Tuesday. I'm a maintenance engineer in a factory that makes electrical generators in the town of Dumbarton. The commute is 15 miles (24 km) each way, so I was looking for a commuting bike or scooter. Luckily my friend Kirstin had a Suzuki SV 650 for sale and we did a deal.

This bike is a 2004 model that has done 14,000 miles (22,500 km) and is in very good condition. It hadn't been used for a while so needed a new battery to get it started. It also needs new tyres and an MOT (annual safety check) and it'll be ready to go.





It also has a luggage rack and a large topbox (not fitted in the photos) that'll be handy for carrying my sandwiches.

In my 46 years of motorcycling, this is my first Suzuki and also my first V twin.