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.

17 April 2016

Sunday Ride

With the weather looking sunny, it was also Meldrew's Meeting Sunday.

I was away a bit earlier and decided to take a scenic route to the Blue & White Café.

Mistake. The country lane I ended up on was oiled high in the centre with mud and debris and the edges no better. Keeping to the narrow bits of clear road on a 700lb bike was pretty much heart in mouth...

In the end I arrived just after 10am. We had a discussion about different runs and then we split up. By the time I got home the bike was covered in mud and I got the hose out to wash it off.

A sunny day but still very cold.

The next run out should be to Southend on Tuesday to go to a football match. Fingers crossed it stays dry.

11 April 2016

Sunny Sunday

Toasted Teacake

Despite getting up a little late as I was suffering with what we call "dehli belly" after a curry a few nights before (it was there all the day before too!) , we managed to get to Dover and part way back in an aborted attempt to "take the air" on the White Cliffs. We did have a walk with Reggie at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel-le-Ferne, plus a tea for us. A little painting needed doing before I could leave Claire pottering in the garden and set off on the bike for a short ride.

It was warm when I left and perhaps the choice of the mesh Joe Rocket jacket wasn't the right choice. Even with a polo shirt and V-neck jumper underneath once above 50mph it was freezing. Of course, as the afternoon wore on, even with the sun still shining, it got colder.

I headed west along the A259, through the neighbouring seaside resort of Dymchurch, the self-confessed "Childrens' Paradise", where there were many people enjoying the amusements and cafes. All of which were open for business. After all it was the last weekend of the kids' Easter Holiday.

Continuing west I decided once through New Romney that I'd head towards Rye. "Old" Rye sits on a cliff overlooking the sea, or where the sea used to be before it silted up and the sea itself retreated a mile or more away. A similar silting has happened along the coast here forming what we call Romney Marsh. When the Romans landed at Portus Lemanis (modern day Port Lympne) the sea lapped the foot of the cliff. Now it is about two miles away across the flat "polder like" marsh.

Anyway, I digress. The A259 from New Romney is one of the roads that suits bikers. Generally in good condition with a few curves, two railway crossings and about 10 miles to have a little fun. Sometimes riders have come a cropper on it and there have been a few fatalities. The last being last summer when a guy in a car decided to do a U-turn and was hit by a bike and a car. The rider was killed and so were two of the car's passengers.

On the way west I decided to stick to about 55-60mph (the max limit is 60) and in places generally observed the limits. I ride a bike with the largest production engine , with 149bhp in my hands but sometimes it is all about knowing it's there rather than proving it. The sun was out and I was wearing my old Caberg J1S helmet. Sometimes a flip front is the best choice on the day.

In Rye the bikers have for years squeezed between a wall and a barrier to park on the apron by the dockside. Why they don't simply open the barrier and let bikes in is no doubt one for the land's owners to answer. Maybe it stops cars parking in there too to avoid the exorbitant Rother Council parking charges. In their car-parks, even disabled drivers pay. The rule of thumb in UK is that disabled badge holders park free.

However today the barrier is lifted and the gap is filled by an ice-cream van! Entry via the gap is limited to one side and not two as per the many times I have been before. Even at this time of the afternoon, about 4pm, there are about fifty bikes parked up with comings and goings all the time. The squeeze through the gap was very tight as my bars are quite wide and I just got through. How the 1500 Wing made it I have no idea!

After a look at the bikes and in particular a BMW R1100GS with the full massive tank and rally-raid preparation (somehow the picture didn't come out - thanks Apple) I needed a warming cup of coffee. Across the road a Darcy's there were loads of bikers trussed up against the breeze and sitting in the sun. It was here that I decided to have the (pictured) toasted teacake. And lovely it was washed down with a cappuccino.

Once finished, as this was supposed to be a short run out, I went back to the bike. Some guys had taken a photo of Pepe before I got back and they asked a few questions. As I left I heard a few less than flattering comments from a couple of race-replica owners. I don't care. I have had GSXR's and adventure bikes, sometimes you want to have something different.

The ride back was almost as relaxed as the way there. Backtracking along the same route as I left Rye I was tail gated for a while by a guy in a BMW X1. If you are going to buy a butch SUV, buy a decent one not the entry level toy car. I overtook a couple of cars before the first railway crossing and he followed. Maybe he can see around blind bends, but somehow I think he was simply stupid. Before the second one I slid past another and then gradually moved clear of them all. He caught me in the 30 limit in New Romney. As I had been riding to the limit everywhere he must have been way over to catch me. Who cares. Maybe he was impressing his girlfriend. Don't impress me much (Thank Shania!)

It is amazing when you keep to all the limits how many don't. I'm not talking about the needle on 40 in the 40. I am talking about the needle on 45 to allow for the 10% speedo error in the 40 and still they surge up your ass. Maybe a bike with a bigger engine than their cars' intimidates them?

I arrived home in time for a little bit of painting around the exhaust to the new boiler before packing Reggie in the car for another, longer, walk.

A nice day to be out on the bike. Can't wait for the next weekend!

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