Saturday 31 December 2016

Looking back at 2016

It’s that time of year again when I look back at what I’ve been up to and I’ve done and not done.

Firstly, after 2015 being the year when I had 3 full time jobs, I’ve stayed in the same job all year. Things are going well and I don’t think that it’s very likely I’ll be looking for anything else.

An unexpected and unplanned year as far as bikes are concerned. I started the year with my silver Traveller being used for riding to work, my white Traveller being close to being back on the road, my Yamaha SZR 660 project nearly completed, and my Honda CL 350 project stalled.

My plan was to use the silver Traveller as my ‘trips’ bike, the white Traveller as my commuting bike, the Yamaha to be completed and sold, and the Honda to be worked on. However it didn’t quite work out that way!

I got the white Traveller completed and on the road by April and started commuting on it. This gave me time to do some jobs on the silver Traveller in readiness for summer runs. However, in late summer I started feeling that I wanted a change as I’d been riding only Skorpions for 16 years, so in August I bought a 2003 Triumph Bonneville T100.

I can’t really explain this change of heart, but I think you can get a bit jaded with riding the same bike, I had a bit of spare money and it came up at the right price at the right time.

This meant that one of the Skorpions would have to go and I quickly found a buyer for the white bike. He flew over from Ireland and rode it back.

New owner taking part in toy run

This meant that the silver bike now became my commuter. It was OK at doing the job, but riding a 660cc bike in stop/start traffic isn’t ideal so I started thinking about what to replace it with. As I rarely have the opportunity to do more than 50 mph (80 km/h) during my commute, something smaller and with an automatic clutch would be ideal. As luck would have it, as soon as I started looking, a Honda PCX 125 scooter came up near my work at the right price!

In the 41 years I’ve been riding bikes I’ve never owned a scooter and had only ridden one a couple of times, so was a bit hesitant. Two minutes into the test ride I knew I’d made the right decision! It’s great fun to ride, very easy through traffic, fast enough, and uses about half the fuel the Skorpion did.

As for my remaining bikes, the silver Traveller will be for sale soon, I’ll have to finish the SZR 660 and get it sold (didn’t I say that last year?), then get back to work on the CL 350 (likewise!)

Didn’t manage any big trips on the bikes this year, but I’ve got some things planned. I did have a trip to France for work, so at least I got away once in the year.

I’ve been continuing with the yoga classes I’ve been going to, and early in the year started going swimming regularly. I used to swim a lot about 25 years ago, but moving house, getting married, etc got in the way and I stopped going. A friend encouraged me to go again, and I could barely manage one length of the pool! However I persevered and now do 30 lengths of a 25 metre pool once a week. I once did 40 lengths, but I thought my arms were going to drop off! I also go for a 30 minute walk round a park every day at work, and with this, yoga and swimming I’ve been feeling a lot better and fitter.

Not much to report socially – 2 concerts, 1 comedy night, 2 meals out, and no dates.

Got a lot of plans for next year, but that’s another post!

Friday 23 December 2016

Friday bike

Here's a bike from a manufacturer I hadn't heard of before.

UM Renegade Sport S

UM International is a US based company that has entered into a joint venture with Lohia Auto to built motorcycles in India. The Renegade is a cruiser with a single cylinder 278cc 4 stroke engine producing 25 bhp.

Whether or not we ever see the Renegade outside of India is another question, but in India it costs about the same as a Royal Enfield 500 Bullet (around £4000 in the UK).

Good to see more manufacturers selling ranges of bikes and expanding the choices available to buyers. Found this video about prototypes of the Renegade in its Sport S and Commando variants.

Saturday 10 December 2016

Trip to France

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet recently, but I was on a business trip to France, didn’t have access to a computer, so took an ‘Internet holiday’.

I was visiting a factory in the town of Vendôme that was building a piece of equipment for the company I work for, so me and two of my workmates had to go to have a look at it.

As you can see, Vendome is about 180 km South West of Paris, and we had a slightly involved journey there. For some reason, our flight was from Edinburgh Airport, so I headed off early in the mopning to pick up the others and leave my car at the airport. From there it was a flight to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, a bus to Gare Monparnasse (railway station), a TGV to Vendrôme, and finally a taxi to our hotel. We arrived late enough for half of the journey to be in the dark, so didn’t really appreciate how fast the TGV was.

Our hotel - image from Google Maps

As we spent long days in the factory (9 – 10 hours), I didn’t see the town in daylight until a half hour ‘window’ on the last day, so my photos are a bit dull. Also, neither of my workmates could speak French at all; our host, the salesman from the UK division of the company we were visiting, couldn’t speak it either, so it was left to me to deal with things with my rudimentary knowledge of the language! Add to that, I knew that as a vegetarian I would have some difficulties finding food, and this was compounded by one of my workmates being a vegan – fun and games ahead!

Vendrôme is a very nice town so here’s a selection of photos:

Tower in middle of town. Has a plaque commemorating British airmen who were stationed nearby during WW1.
Church that had an ice-skating rink in its inner courtyard!

Really nice shop.

Another church illuminated at night.

Workmen were fitting Christmas lights to the wall beside the river. Typical French approach to Health and Safety!

Porte St Georges - only surviving gate (of four) that guarded the entrances to the town centre.

View of town at nightfall from castle.

Christmas lights in street outside our hotel.

As it turned out, we didn’t have too much difficulty finding vegetarian and vegan food, it was just a question of asking in restaurants and they would make us something specially. I found an Indian restaurant with its menu in English and had expected that it would be British owned, (or at least by English speaking Indians), but they didn’t understand English at all! Worked everything out in broken French and very good it was too!

We headed home on Saturday morning, and being in daylight we could see just how fast the TGV was. You know you’re going quickly but it’s only when you pass a road and the cars seem like they are stopped do you realise just how fast you’re going – 320km/h, 200mph!

Our very fast train pulling into the station.

We had a couple of hours in Paris before we had to catch the bus to the airport so went for a walk. We headed towards the Eiffel Tower, but it was just too far away for us to get to in the time we had. I hadn’t been to Paris for about 35 years, so it was great to have a look around. One thing that strikes you is the amount of scooters.

Just about every street was like this!

Met this familiar friend!

Eiffel Tower in distance.

Sheep keeping the grass short in centre of city.

Don't know what this is, but it looked really nice.

Entrance to underground railway station.

Who needs parking radar!

After that it was onto the bus to the airport, our flight back, then a drive back home. I wish I could have had more time to see things, but you can’t complain when someone else is paying for your trip!