This blog started when I owned and MZ Skorpion Traveller and a bike magazine dismissed it with the phrase 'you can't tour on a single'. The Skorpion's gone and I now have a Triumph Bonneville, but I can't be bothered changing the title of the blog!
coming Sunday (29th
September) I'll once again be taking part in the Glasgow ride of the
Distinguished Gentleman's Ride to raise money for prostate cancer and
mental health charities. This involves dressing in our finest attire
and riding in a group through the city. You can read more about the
Ride and their aims here: about
year my friend Jane rode pillion with me,
This was only the second time she'd ever been on a bike, but still managed to shoot some video:
Jane's daughter Summer baked lots of cakes for the after run party earning herself a rosette.
Jane won't be able to take part this year (health reasons) but Summer will be baking again.
If you can, please donate to this very worthwhile cause on my page: Norman's page
Really good weather
the last week, unseasonably hot and sunny – just right for riding
The Triumph Owners
Motorcycle Club (TOMCC) had arranged a weekend rally in Kyleakin on
the Isle of Skye, a really good ride to a very scenic part of the
country. I would have gone, but the TOMCC insist that entertainment
at rallies is provided by rock/heavy metal bands, so not for me.
A group from the Glasgow section of the club had arranged to meet at Dumbarton and
ride up to the rally, so I decided to join them for part of the route
then return home. I got up on Friday morning and couldn't see across
my street due to thick fog! I hadn't got any better by the time I
left, and traffic was down to 40 mph/60km/h due to poor visibility
and I was struggling to keep my visor clear.
Just after the Erskine
Bridge I saw a couple of heavily laden bikes at the side of the road,
and as one was a Triumph Tiger, I stopped to see if they were heading
to the rally. They weren't, but asked if they were on the right road
for Loch Lomond (they were) and if there was a café
nearby. They had Lancashire accents and were shaking with the cold.
If they'd left Lancashire that morning, they would have been on the
road for 3 or 4 hours by that point. Luckily there's a service
station a couple of miles further on with a Starbucks that I could
direct them to.
headed on to the service station at Dumbarton, went into the café
for some coffee and waited for the others to arrive. Eventually about
20 other Triumph owners turned up and the fog had lifted a bit.
group headed off towards Loch Lomond and it became clear that the
Triumph Club doesn't do group riding – everyone just rode off at
their own pace and would see the others at the next stop. One rider
had gone into the shop at the services just before we left and the
others had left without them. I rode slowly to see if they would
catch me up, eventually stopping and waiting for them. From there we
had a good clear ride (fog had lifted), albeit a bit slow due to
touring coaches. Next stop was the Green Welly Stop at Tyndrum where
we met with other riders.
there we rode through Glencoe where I managed to shoot some video. As
normal of these roads, I was stuck behind a touring coach driving
completely lost sight of the other Triumph riders, some were in
front, some behind by the time I got to Ballachulish where they would
head north towards Fort William and I would head round the coast to
I love Art Deco buildings
was unlocking my bike to leave when I was approached by an elderly
American tourist. He asked, incredulously 'how to you manage to ride
on these roads with so many curves? He must come from somewhere
where the roads are dead straight!
Oban I headed towards Lochgilphead, where I stopped for something to
eat, I'd worked in Lochgilphead at one time, but hadn't been there
for a long time.
Worked on an alarm system in this building. Think it was Social Work Department at the time
there it was an easy ride back throught Inverary to Rest and be
The following day I did some jobs around the house and garage, then in mid afternoon I decided to go for a run. I had the scooter (Honda Forza 300) out of the garage to wash it, so went on that. Had a pleasant couple of hours riding backroads of Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire, no real plan, just taking roads as they came.
I stopped at the Harelaw Dam above the village of Neilston. When I was a teenager me and my friends used to cycle here. It was mostly uphill, so it was fun freewheeling for miles on the way back! Back then it was 'the middle of nowhere', but now there's a carpark, an angling club, a trout hatchery, boats, etc. Changed days!
The road after that becomes rougher and narrower, eventually becoming little more than a farm track with grass up the middle. This showed a limitation of the scooter - its small wheels and limited travel suspension make this kind of road a bit of a challenge! On surfaced roads it's fine, but this was taking it a bit out of its depth. Once back on surfaced roads it was a pleasant ride home.
One thing today's trip showed was how good a touring bike the scooter would be. I normally only use it for commuting on a journey that is 99% motorway and dual carriageway. However, it's perfectly at home on winding country roads (as long as they are surfaced!) It has enough power to cruise at 70 mph/115 km/h, has good fuel range (150+miles/240+km), is comfortable, and has luggage carrying capacity under the saddle. You could comfortably ride one from here to the South of France and back without any problems. A single you could tour on!
was woken during the night by very strong winds. I knew my tent would
survive, but it was whipping about a bit, which meant that I didn't
get a very good sleep. I got up about 6 and had a shower, it was
still windy and some people were starting to pack up and I saw a
number of tents in a sorry state.
some reason I was feeling really down and seriously felt like packing
up and going home. I knew the mood would pass, so I had breakfast and
went for a walk along the canal and back through Cropredy.
Only in Cropredy would you see a bicycle drawn record shop - it's that sort of place!
got back to the campsite about 9 and had a sleep for a couple of
hours in the car as my tent was still flapping about a bit. More
tents had collapsed and there were a number of spaces where people
had left. I made my way down to the performance field to find a crowd
waiting. Due to the high wind, the opening of the field had been
delayed for 45 minutes for checks on the stage and lighting to see if
it was safe to proceed. Eventually the crowd was let in and
announcements were made saying that the crew had been working on the
stage since 4 am to get it ready and the Safety People had given the
OK for the Festival to continue. A number of the food and clothing
stall looked a bit worse for wear and apparently a caravan had blown
they were running a bit late the first act came straight on and the festival
was back on.
Richard Digance - has opened the Saturday session at Cropredy for the last 16 years!
Tide Lines - young band from the Highlands showing there's not enough bagpipes in rock music!
Only really bad band at Cropredy - Zal Cleminson's /sin'dogs/ (that's how they write it.) I'd seen Zal over 40 years ago with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. SAHBs were a really interesting band, they took music from a wide range of backgrounds, Jacques Brel, stage musicals, etc and performed then in a rock vein. I was expecting something similar, but the /sin'dogs/ were just a really poor heavy metal band. I texted a friend saying there was a 'Spinal Tap tribute band' on stage, but at least Spinal Tap had a sense of humour! It gave me an excuse to go for a walk and look at other things.
Martin Barre Band. They were billed as 'plays 50 years of Jethro Tull'. Martin had been a member of Jethro Tull for about 50 years, so I expected a sort of 'tribute band'. However, they performed modern interpretations of Jethro Tull songs and were much better than expected. Band included ex-Jethro Tull members Clive Bunker on drums and Dee (formerly David) Bedford on keyboards, and Fairport's Dave Pegg, himself ex-Jethro Tull joined them on stage for a couple of songs.
I had filmed a number of acts with a GoPro clone action camera but it hadn't really worked out as the lens is too wide and the microphone a bit poor. During Martin's set I filmed him using the video function of my still camera and was very impressed with the result.
Now was time for the hosts, Fairport Convention to close the festival. They played a two and a half hour set and invited a number of guests they had played with over the years onto the stage.
Cropredy residents Joe Brown and a fiddle player who's name I didn't catch joined them for a couple of songs.
At the end of their set all the guests joined them for a traditional singalong version of
'Meet on the Ledge'.
After that we all made our way back to our tents for a well deserved rest - it had been a long but enjoyable 3 days!