22 December 2016

Quiet time of the year

I used to be an all round the year biker. Only stopping when the snow lay on the roads or the ice was too slippery to make it safe.  Recently, I have become a fair weather biker although an all year round variant.

Also since buying a bike festooned in a lot of chrome, I find myself worrying about the effect on it from the treatments (read salt!) that we use in copious amounts as soon as the temperature gets near 0C.

This last weekend was Meldrews breakfast Sunday and I pulled Pepe out of the garage and as it seemed mild, I wore light gloves.  Mistake.  I hadn't gone more than a couple of miles and my fingers were numb.

Added to that finding the dry line through the damp so to avoid too much splashback was working me too hard!

I'd not got far and was in the next village, where there is a 40mph limit, and I was soon joined by a guy in a hurry in a small Peugeot. Maybe the 40 inside a red ring on the sign meant nothing to him as he sped up my tailpipes.

Don't get me wrong. In Kent there are many places you can do whatever speed you like and the chances of getting caught by the law is remote. But villages with houses and schools, is not the place. 

This a-hole decided to try and pass me into a left and then right S-bend. The local authorities have a solid pair of lines down the centre. It means no overtaking. But a-hole tries it anyway.  The truck coming the other way dissuaded him from that attempt.

Once through that S-bend, there the road straightens, still only two lanes though.  The limit ups to the national limit of 60mph and he has another go. By now I have begun to get annoyed with him. I speed up to the limit. First there is a turning on the right, then the left some 150 yards later.  A car turns out of the first to go the other way, he swerves back behind  me.  The other driver shakes his head.

Past the second turn and he pulls out and passes me.  We continue with him barely pulling away from me.  At the top of the rise he is maybe 100 yards ahead of me, his right turn signal comes on and he actually turns left!  I watch him make the turn and stop where a youth is waiting on the side of the road. I go past and in a half mile pull onto the forecourt of the Blue and White Cafe.  

The Peugeot goes past and the driver looks over and gives a hand signal that's not part of the highway code...... Describing yourself is all I can think as I laugh at him.

Anyway. As usual good company. Good breakfast. Too short a ride. Roll on the Spring.

19 November 2016

Annual Service

Service date today.

As I haven't managed to hit 10000 miles yet, I booked the annual service instead. It's cheaper luckily.
It should have been last week but due to the building work at the Triumph shop it was put back a week.

This morning it was freezing. Cars iced over but at least the roads clear enough. By the time I got to Ashford my fingers were frozen at the tips. 

After changing the date when I got to the Triumph shop the workshop looked like it was weeks away from finished. So we schlepped across to the other shop where  they usually have KTM, Ducati and Kawasaki.

Outside was another Rocket fitted with a supercharger. I'd love to hear that running. I took a couple of photos.

Some three hours later I got an sms to say it was finished. We were in Folkestone  walking the dog and watching a ceremony where they were commemorating the centenary of the ending of The Battle of the Somme in 1916. A picture here too.

At least it was dry and cold but not as cold as the morning.

They have adjusted the clutch and that took a bit of getting used to. But otherwise it passed all its electronic tests and felt a bit more responsive.

31 October 2016

Ride Out for Kelly - October 30th 2016 - Report

From five of us at the Meldrews' meeting point there were only two of us, me and Cal,  that made the ride to the Ride Out starting point in Canterbury. There we found that the local scooter clubs had turned up in large numbers and on a range of scooters form the 1960's right up to latest model four-strokes.

There were fewer motorcycles though and that was a little embarrassing after the publicity the run had been given locally.  

Not that I hadn't seen plenty of bikes on the road to and from the event.  

In the end we had donations from the non-attending Meldrews (well most of them) and this was handed into the run organiser.  Amounting to just short of £1600 in cash and some online donations made from people's phones to justgiving.

The run itself was along the A257 to Sandwich and then to Deal and then ending at Dover seafront.  Our group was led by a bloke on a GoldWing.  What a prat.  On an open section leading about forty assorted scooters and bike he did 30mph.  We all bunched up and there were cars getting mixed up with us. 

The guys on the 125cc scooters could cope with 50mph and were getting more frustrated than me, I was unable to run top gear even.  

Then he lef us into Sandwich.  An old town with narrow one-way streets, then after that the wrong way so we ended up u-turning to get out.  Cal and I passed a load on the way to the Magnet pub in Deal where we had a break. It was just after 1pm when we arrived.

When the run leader announced we were to leave at 2pm (!) at 1.30pm I decided to call it a day and head home.  

I have to balance a life out on the bike with a family home life and both are precious to me. Perhaps if I was single I'd be able to devote more time to one or more of my pastimes.

I was home about 2.15pm and had a spot of lunch before taking the dog out for a walk and a bit of a rest!

Once again, Red Pepe was the perfect gentleman.

#doingitforkelly #rideoutforkelly

27 October 2016

Ride Out for Kelly - October 30th 2016

This Sunday I am hoping to get out on this run for charity. It's for a local girl that needs some very expensive treatment that can't be funded on the National Health Service and is available only in the US.

That life saving medicine can cost $1m is a disgrace in the first place but that there is no insurance that covers it is equally bad.

So it is for the community to come together and raise the necessary funds to help save a life.

In July some thieves stole the collection from a local shop in Hythe. Despite the cctv video being shared thousands of times on social media and the TV, no one has ever been caught. A women and her teenage son were clearly seen stealing it.  Someone knows who they are and they haven't been turned it to the police or for some local justice.

So as well as having the just giving page to donate, bikers and scooterists will take a collection on this run.  it has been published across the South East and on TV as well as biker sites.  Hopefully there will be a massive turnout.

Service Time

It will be soon that time of year when a find out how much a kidney sells for as I raise the funds for a service.  Okay, it's not that bad, but I doubt it will be inexpensive.

As I haven't made it to the 10000 miles service interval it has been booked in for the annual service. Hopefully that will require fewer body parts being traded.

Before then there a few rides where I can make thew odometer look a little more respectable.

11 October 2016

Ring of Red 2016

This year the Ring of Red will be on 13th November. The official Remembrance Sunday.

We are too busy to actually have Remembrance Day on November 11th when it is supposed to be so the nearest Sunday suffices.

This year I plan to head up the A2 to Cobham Services and see if any Meldrews turn up and then about 1230 head up to the meeting place at Thurrock Services.

Hopefully the weather will be kind again.

Report and pix to follow - and they are here.....

26 September 2016

Short Ride

Missed the DGR yesterday as I had a really bad dose of man-flu. Felt bad most of the day until late afternoon when I pulled Pepe out for a short run around the edge of the Marsh

Down to Dymchurch and New Romney then back up towards Ashford and across the top of the Downs back home. Altogether 25 miles.

29 August 2016

Back from Czech (2)

It's almost a week since I got home and I have just got around to checking the exact mileage and calculating the overall fuel consumption rates, what we call mpg. A bit lazy I know. 

The return trip from home to home worked out at 1767.3 miles on Trip 2.

Mpg ranged from 44.09 to 54.52.  I haven't sorted them in date order only lowest to highest. But at a quick glance at dates the highest consumption was on the way out in the middle of the trip.

Getting 54.52 mpg on a 2300cc cruiser is pretty decent I think.

The cross country sections in Bavaria and Czech were frustrating in parts due to traffic, trucks in the main,  but apart from a few miles the surface was better than anything we have locally in Kent or anywhere in the UK. So much smooth tarmac perfectly made for bikes. And at moderate speeds the mpg went up.

On the way back, one section, when we had to detour off S19 north of Pisek due to the Ždákovský most (bridge) being closed,  was cobbled. Not just by the edge of the Vltava but for miles until we eventually made our own way to the S4 after reprogramming TomTom. Bone shaking and a detour that cost us about 50 minutes.

It would have been nice had the local authorities bothered to signpost a detour! Once we got to the other side. There were diversions posted to Tabor, where we had come from!!!

Once we arrived at Plzen it was motorway mostly all the way to the stop at Leidersbach and a really superb guest house called Zum Grünen Baum.

For €30 a night each, we got en-suite single rooms. Superb place to stay and not too far off the autobahn. The food was excellent and the beer? German purity law standard means it tastes good. 

Wherever you are.  But here it was easily a euro a glass cheaper than our earlier stops.

Add caption
Selfie before the off

26 August 2016

Back from Czech (1)

I have been back a few days now. 
Overall the Rocket and I did over 1730 miles.
There were some really long days using the Czech roads off-motorway routes.  But rewarding to see the countryside.
The Burgenstrasse in Germany was a nice route but sadly most of the castles weren't easily accessible for the killer bike and building photo.

16 August 2016

Packed and Ready

Well. Mostly packed. Just sponge bag and the new pocket atlas to go out and be stuffed into the Saddlemen bag.

It's a bit full as I wanted to save the panniers.

The left one contains my Kent Fire Brigade "Biker Down" first aid kit and... two bottles of English white wine from Chapel Down Vineyard (never call it a winery!) That's about 15 miles from home.  Both bottles wrapped in bubble wrap and then on a travel blanket.

The right one has my Triumph waterproof over jacket and trousers.  Plus a lock and a bag for race day.

I was going to manage without my tank bag, but I need somewhere for my passport and spectacle cases! 

Now I have to decide on what to wear. Vented jacket obviously but it looks like Hood jeans over leathers.

So. It's nearly 1030pm and I have to be up early to be on the train to France at 8.50am.

8 August 2016

Short Ride

Sunday. A short run out this afternoon.

I checked the oil and topped up the tank.
The Rocket has a dry sump system with a car like filler cap on top of the oil tank on the left side below the fuel tank.  Luckily it comes with a dip stick attached to the cap. The Hi and Lo marks are quite close together and Pepe only needed a few drops to get it back to the upper level.

The tyres are another weekly check. With no centrestand it is hard to get both valves where you can get to them without moving the bike back and forth.

The rear wheel is so huge, getting a hand past the disc to the valve is quite hard. Getting a digital gauge in is even harder.
In the end I set off for the air pump at Stop 24. It's 50p for three minutes of air.

The front was about 6lbs down and it went up to 34psi and the rear was down to 36 when it should be 40psi.

That done I set off to see what difference it had made. Er. None. None noticeable anyway. 

Obviously the right pressure in tyres is important for handling and wear.

With the vague memory that we needed some cream to go with the strawberries we had bought. So as it was after 4pm  and Sunday opening means most shops and supermarkets close at 4pm. I remembered that Tesco Extra at Dymchurch was open a little later. 

I had a bumpy ride across the marsh to get there. The marsh roads are generally narrow and bumpy.  More suited to adventure bikes than cruisers.

I was hoping to find some Cornish Clotted Cream but had to made do with own brand double cream.

The small sissy bar bag I have fitted was pressed into service and it took the cream easily and I got it home unharmed.

The ride also was the first where I could test my new LS2 Metro helmet. It needs putting on carefully to make sure my ears slip into the recesses and the microphone os positioned correctly.

It is very comfortable and the inner dark visor worked really well in bright sunlight.
The only problem is getting my spectacle arms to fit between my head and the helmet lining.

A little jiggling about gets that sorted and then it is all okay.  Maybe I should have had that laser surgery last year after all.

Just over a week to the Czech trip and I have a working relationship between LS2 and TomTom. My phone is already on a BFF footing with TomTom.

All systems green.

25 July 2016

Don't Ride Angry

Never ride angry. It leads to mistakes.

For some unknown reason people in England have this urge to travel. That's not a problem.

What is the problem is that no sooner has the final bell of the summer term/semester rung,  like lemmings they are in their cars and motorhomes  (RV) and heading on their summer holiday.

Why? Most kids won't be back in their classrooms until September 6th or even 7th!!

To coincide with this exodus, small 'e' as the waves don't part for them, after some terrorist activity in France (not to mention our vote to leave the European Union) the French boeufed up their ridiculously slap dash border control.

Traffic was queued back on the M20 for about 15 miles. Three lanes and then two.... The A2 into the port two lanes for about 7 miles.

Add to that both roads closed due to the inevitable accidents and a rare truck fire, and you have CHAOS.

People trapped for upto 14 hours.  It later turned out that for a few hours one single lone French douanier was the only one working.  At peak they had three booths out of seven working.

Now tell me that wasn't pipsqueek M. Le Président Hollande making a Brexit point!!

Where do I come in. Mr très angry.

Friday we missed a concert only 40 miles away as we couldn't get there due to the traffic and roads closed, see above, so that was £60/$80 up the swanee.

Saturday we were going with Pepe to a bike show and meet at Dover.

Roads blocked..we got as far as Folkestone (5 miles of the 14!!) And were blocked along with other bikes by a truck deliberately blocking the road. The temperature was about 80°F and little shade.

Another event missed. At least this one was just time and petrol wasted.

And as we got moving I made my mistake. I made a right turn into a one-way street. Luckily I was on the right kerb so the car coming was easily able to miss me. In fact it never got close. The passenger called me quite a few names. I shouted back to asked if he had ever fucked up? I rode off to more abuse.

My fault entirely.

So let there be a lesson in there somewhere.

The road is no longer one-way!!!

9 July 2016

Short Run

Just a short run today.  A week since we got back from the Somme and Pepe  needed a wash'n'brush up.

I togged up and with a plasttic bottle of cleaner  bungeed on the rack I headed for the jet wash.

The idea was to get the worst of the French crud off from under the engine, mudguards and if course the easy-corrode wheels that Triumph preferred to fit.

The wash machine has changed and takes £1 coins and you get three minutes. There are six options from jet to wax and rinsing.

In the end and £2 later it all looked good.  Ten minutes later I knew I had to do it by hand again when it was cold! At least the mud and crud was gone.

As it was sunny the wax rinse dried in streaks.   I had a ride to Tesco to fill up with their 3p a litre cheaper 95 unleaded, then a tour around Folkestone to check out the football ground for the next home game and then home along the coast drive.

It was some two hours later when I  went out with a  bucket and some Simoniz suds to clean the exhausts and the streaky bits.

Then after a mere 13 miles today,  Pepe went back to bed. Hopefully I can get out tomorrow.

3 July 2016

Saddlemen FTB3600

Profligate that I am I decided the used bag wasn't going to work properly as it is simply too soft and doesn't hold its shape.

Looked at a few Saddlemen options and with my refund from British Airways I bought a new bag.

The quality is instantly evident. It came from a UK Harley dealer and luckily isn't badged HD at all.

It had its first outing on the Somme trip and was perfect  it swallowed all our "duds" for the Ceremony and more.

The bright yellow waterproof cover came in handy in some terrible weather and no water got in. The cover is big enough to fit over the main bag and the top back. It looks a bit flimsy but worked well.

At £138 inc taxes and delivery it's not cheap but you'd gave to pay more for hard luggage and a rack to mount it.

The standard setup was the right size for my sissy bar pad and I used two other supplied straps to keep it tightly in place on the little rack, should it try to get off on its own!

The Rocket is so heavy and planted on the road it didn't cause any handling problems as it was probably at the 20lbs capacity and it us behind the rear axle.

I saw a couple of Harleys with no racks  with bags not too disimilar mounted the other way around, so the bag was on the back seat. I don't think that will work on the Rocket.

19 June 2016

Sissy Bar Bag

I have been lusting over some extra luggage for a while.

Checking forums there are lots of guys with some really good looking Kuryakyn or Saddlemen bags that are designed for the cruisers or customs and that attach to the sissy bar.

The plan was to look at them on a recent trip to the States, the natural habitat of the cruiser. In the end this never happened and so the lust has been cooled.

Instead I have invested a few pounds in a bag from a friend of a friend. It's not new, but hardly used.

It's basically a largish square bag with two pockets on each side.  There's a roll bag that is supposed to fit on the top but I have no idea how. There's no waterproof cover so everything will have to go in waterproof bags inside it.

I tested it for fit earlier and it has two velcro straps that one fits under the sissy bar pad, the other across it and two others to anchor it to the rack. It's semi rigid and looks like once it is filled with clothes etc it might firm it up.

Whilst out there messing about I fitted my new number plate complete with GB badge surrounded by the EU stars. These are legal in all EU countries.

Two rides

Had two rides out today and probably added 35 miles to the odometer!

Firstly to the Blue & White to meet the Meldrew's and possibly the largest turnout since records began.

Lively chat about the Somme trip in less than a fortnight. At least we have an idea who is going where and when.

The second was only to Folkestone to see how Claire gets on with the bike and the seating position. She has hip problems again and my large butt means she has her thighs wider apart. This causes some discomfort.

We had a gelato and a slow ride back home.

17 June 2016


First trip out for way too long. Just back from holiday in the US, I found a letter in the stack of mail concerning my echocardiogram at the hospital. 

June 16th. Unable to work from home and going to a hospital that I knew the location but not the parking situation, I decided to ride. Also bikes still park for free! 

As there is a football championship on at the moment and England was playing Wales in the "Battle of Britain" at 2pm management weren't allowing any "work from home". At least our management weren't. I know other managers were allowing staff to watch, and schools allowing pupils to watch! What does that say about the trust between bosses and is plebs?

The appointment was 1030am and I was away from home an hour earlier. 

Canterbury is only 20 miles away but who knows the traffic situation. As it was it was just after ten when I pulled into one of the car parks and saw some bikes parked. The faded writing on the road said "m/cycles bay".

Getting in was hard enough as the narrow gap between two disabled car spaces was  blocked by a badly parked GSXR of some description.

I had to ride around the car on the left and across the entrance to Minor Injuries to get into the small space.   

After a reasonably long wait I had the echo and was back at the bike about 1115am luckily GSXR plonker had gone so exit was easy enough.

The "miles to empty" was showing 32 miles and so I set off firstly for Robinson's "The Foundry" to look at jackets. 

My Joe Rocket vented jacket is getting a little tatty and I saw a guy with a Furygan, made in France, semi vented jacket at th Dover run last month, and it looks good. Not cheap, but looks good quality.

They had a few although not my size. New stock in soon.

I had a quick look around the Victory and Indian stock. Very nice. Something for everyone.

From there, I called in ASDA, part of Walmart's web, for petrol and then home via Sainsbury's to pick up some lunch to be home in time for kick off....

England won 2-1 in the last seconds. Both teams played well and Wales must be disappointed. I hope they beat Russia in the next game.

8 May 2016

Dover Transport Museum Open Day

The Meldrews decided to have a run to Whitfield and the museum's open day.  After breakfast at the Blue and White a small but elite group made the trip to the museum. Okay, three of us!  Cal, Ian J and me.

The weather was hanging on to the brief look at summer we get in England and it was vented jacket weather all the way.

I forgot my camera, but the iPhone made up for it and I took a few photos on some of the classics plus the Rockets that turned up.

Not along run out, but a few miles on the clock!!

The Gresham Flyer. I had one in dark blue back in the early 60's.

Yes, you are seeing a four cylinder Kwak two-stroke!

Red Pepe!

Yes, that is my finger!

This HD has a different picture on every panel depicting images from the Battle of Britain.

Modern Enfield Bullet 

We split up here as we all lived in different directions.  Ian was in fact going to Ashford rather than home and he followed me to the M20 and then showing off the power of his new 1200GS he was gone.

20 April 2016


What can I say about the ride from home to Southend. On Google Maps it shows a distance of 34 miles, as the crow flies. Once it works out the route that changes to more like 81 miles depending on the way you go.

With the 1945 kick off as the last time I could get there, counting back and allowing for traffic,  I set off at 1615. 

Traffic was relatively light on the M20 considering the hour, but as I got nearer  London it started to build. The swoop from M20 to M25 is quite a nice experience as long as there is clear road and Pepe managed it at the legal limit without any trauma. That’s when I was faced with a four lane wall of traffic all crawling along at walking pace.

Even filtering through between the outside two lanes I lost over 20 minutes getting from the M20/M25 junction to the tunnel itself.  The last couple of miles had cars and trucks at a standstill, and it was the same for the tunnel itself. There was a brief respite from this when we started to move and achieved 40mph for a mile or so. TomTom wanted me to exit onto the A13, but the column of stationery traffic meant I went past to the next junction, the A127.  This is the route straight into Southend some 23 miles away. And 23 miles of solid traffic, sometime stationery! How do people do this every day.

As we entered Southend the “miles to empty” showed 55 miles but the yellow fuel light had come on. Rather than mess about after the game I saw a Tesco off at the next roundabout and went in there to fill up.  This tank had managed just under 45mpg. Gulp. It was 1823 when I came out and put the details into the MPGCalc app on my phone. 

Traffic was still heavy as I went past the ground and was unable to turn right into the club’s car park that's next to their club shop. So I had a detour around the houses to get back with it on my left!  In the end I found a Sainsbury’s with an ATM.  Dinner could be paid for now.

All in all the journey inc petrol and ATM stop was 2h 35m. I had passed the entrance though after a mere 2h 20m.

Parking was easy enough. I had contacted the club in advance and they said the car-park was for season ticket holders only but bikes could be found space.  The guy put me next to the club shop where there are cctv cameras.  I locked everything away in the panniers and took TomTom with me!  My helmet was locked on the back seat by cable.


The pictures were taken from the small area in the North Stand where they would let us sit.  Nearly 200 made it, mostly from Oldham, some on the club’s official coaches and some by train. Only me by motorcycle. The rest of the stand was empty save for a few flags laid across the seats behind the goal.

In the end it was worth the trip for the 1-0 win for Oldham.

After the game I applauded the team and manager as they came to the supporters and then shot out to get togged up for home.  It was quite cold and I wanted to get away as quickly as possible.  It was just gone 2145 when I turned out of the car park onto the A127. Traffic as already at a standstill despite it being two lanes in either direction. The reason was the local authorities had decided to dig the road up.  About 400 yards from the ground the road takes a left turn at a roundabout, then it's two lanes all the way to London…..  So on the night that there were thousands of people coming out, they had coned off one lane!

It is sometimes hard to credit the joined up thinking that doesn’t take place sometimes.  The cones and workforce weren’t there when I had gone the other way a few hours earlier.

Once clear of that and keeping to the legal limits I was at the M25 in 35 minutes and home at 2310 or 1h 25m door to door. It was cold and it took a while to warm up once I got to bed. At least I had Reggie lying next to me like a little heater for a while before he cleared off to bark at something through the window.

So some more miles under the belt and Pepe behaved like the perfect gentleman.

19 April 2016

Getting ready

Day off today. Some chores before getting Pepe out to fit the panniers and the satnav mount.

The trip is only across the Thames to Southend-on-Sea. By crow's flight it's out 35 miles, but by road around 88 miles to the ground.

The trip is to see the football between Oldham Athletic and Southend United.

What lurks in the greenery?

Had to relocate the satnav mount as it was last used without the screen.

From the riding seat.

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