27 December 2017

No weather for biking

Being on leave from 22nd December until January 1st I had hoped we'd have one mild day to get out on the bike. It's a month since I was last out and it seems like much longer. 

Sadly it has been raining or merely drizzling every day and then it's taken a turn for the worst. Light snow and daily highs of 2°C aren't conducive to two wheel transport.

Thursday this week is supposed to be the mildest day. But...

Update: 31st December 2017

Sadly the Met Office were wrong. As usual. Despite all the computers and weather stations and access to every nutter with a pine cone, forecasts are still pretty rubbish.

The forecast changed and there should have been a five hour window today where the bike might have been dragged out of the garage.  Sadly. That never happened. It rained all day. It has rained all evening.

The forecast for tomorrow is much the same. Looks like 2018 will start as 2017 has drizzled away....

21 December 2017

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Whatever your faith this is a time for rejoicing and friendship.

Best wishes from Paul and Claire Devall.

P.S. Instead of posted cards I have donated to an animal rescue centre. http://www.hillside.org.uk

15 December 2017

The Hairy Bikers

With biking being set to one side for the winter. It's too cold and too icy to venture out too far it at all at the moment. So Rocket web surfing has to do.

I remembered seeing these guys a few years back, when they did a series touring the UK doing cooking and visiting places that cook and sell food.  Regional recipes etc.

As they were on Rocket Touring models.

Here they are.

5 December 2017


For the summer?

I had an email (and no doubt everyone else with a Triumph did!) from Triumph announcing a clear out of parts and accessories.for a range of bike including the Rocket.

When I bought Pepé I wanted the flyscreen but with a combined cost over £250 for the screen and fittings,  I couldn't justify the expense.  Unlike the X model that came with it fitted the ordinary Roadster came with nothing.  

So when I saw in the list of parts at half or even lower price I chased it up. The flyscreen blade came out at just over £40. With all the bits, some genuine parts an some pattern the total cost is about £125.

The reason for pattern parts made by a guy, David Gill, is because the screen needs two brackets to hold it in place. One side is out of stock at Triumph!  And given that the bike is no longer in production as it couldn't meet the latest EU emissions regs, what chance of stuff being made?

What happens if an owner has an accident and needs a replacement?  Looks like tough titty!

I have everything I need.  I had toyed with the custom screen but the guy hasn't come back to me since August (!) and so I have given up on that.

The flyscreen I have bought is the gloss with red stripes to compliment Pepé's existing colour scheme. 

Photo session to follow.

27 November 2017

Sinterklaastreffen 2017?

Currently the UK is in the grip of a cold spell.  Winds from the north-west are coming from the pole and bringing icy conditions to the south of England and snow and ice to the more northerly climes.


The decision whether to go to Belgium will be taken later in the week.  The newspapers are scaremongering about "arctic conditions" being with us for weeks rather than the usual days.  

One of the geographical benefits of where we are off the coast of mainland Europe means that we benefit from the jet stream and that generally brings warmer air up from the equator that means we get less snow but we get more rain than the Europeans. 

Unfortunately it looks as though we are going to be north of the jet stream this week and in the cold air.

It was very cold on Friday when I went on the Ride for Kelly and on Saturday we (Neill, my brother and me)  went to the football (soccer y'all) at Gillingham and even with four layers of clothing, gloves and woolie hats it was still freezing!

Today it was heavy rain!  

The ide aof a Johnny No-Mates trip across the Channel to Belgium in the pissing rain or freesing icy cold is not that attractive!

Let's see........

Update 28/11/2017

Weather forecast for the weekend has taken a turn for the worst.

They are now saying that Friday into the weekend will have what they euphemistically call "wintry showers" during the day and overnight.


Update 29/11/2017

Definitely not going now.  Snow forecast for the south-east and "near continent".  That's Belgium.  Riding a £10000 ($12700) bike in those conditions it a definite no-no.

Update 4/12/2017

It didn't snow but on the morning I should have set off it was -3C in Hythe. Frost and ice to scrape off the car....

24 November 2017

Last Ride for Kelly

The RV was supposed  be no later than 0945. So I arrived at 0920 and found one scooter there and John the organiser.

I parked up near the church and went into the coffee shop. A couple of skinny latté  later the scooters had begun to multiply and a couple of other bikes had joined in.

I was talking to some of the guys when we discovered that the church proceedings started at 1100.
At 1045 we were asked to fire-up and give a rev as the hearse passed by.

It was getting on for noon when we finally got to move and the escort began.

The cremation commitment was private for the family. I carried on from there to get a parcel from the post office and home.

It was cold but dry and sunny.

23 November 2017

Ride Out for Kelly - November 24th

Not quite the "Ride for Kelly" we had hoped to be holding this year or for many years to come.

Sadly, Kelly passed away a few weeks ago and this will be the final ride out as we have been asked to provide an escort from the church to the crematorium.

The Kelly Turner Foundation founded in her name will continue and the money raised used to help other children in the same predicament.


12 November 2017

Ring of Red

It was with some trepidation that once the Remembrance Day Parade had finished on TV that I went to the garage and tried to start Pepé. 

Of course I had to press the "go" button and was relieved to hear the "whirr. click" from last week. I then got the power unit out and attached the leads.

A few seconds.  Press again. Start. Phew.

I left it running whilst I finished togging up. Boy was it cold out of the wintery sun. My phone showing 6°C. The wind chill on the motorway at 70mph... I Googled it and it came out at -2.3°C. 

I need Santa to bring me some winter gloves. My usual ones were not that good today. I'll be more specific for him. Not too bulky but waterproof and warm. If anyone knows of a brand/model that fits this bill that won't cost an arm or leg, then tell me.

So back to Sunday. I set off about 1145. This is my fifth Ring of Red. In fact I have been going since the first one. 

The traffic was light to the M20. I decided that I'd go straight up and not bother with the A2 detour. A fuel stop at Dartford and then across river to Thurrock.

There was heavy traffic as I approached the Services. They are off the motorway by a huge shopping centre. With Christmas only 43 days away you can't keep the mugs from spending their cash. Worst still, there's an IKEA to attract the dumbos to buy flat packed Swedish chipboard furniture. 

Once in the services the organisation was excellent. An area of the car park setioned off and the management fully cooperating to make the day a success.

People complained about it being chaotic but simply put, that is bollocks. A small number of volunteers and marshals have to do the organising of hundreds of attendees into a  column and then on to the roads.

The traffic was held up by other volunteers with cars, to let us get out of the service area and onto the M25. Such a shame that Essex Police can't provide a car or two to assist or even a few bike cops?

Once on the M25 the first obstacle is the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Traffic was crawling at 30mph and we had trouble reaching the 50-55mph speed and four bike lengths apart ideal.

I planned to go to the next services but as I was so damned cold I decided to go past and then turn around at the next junction.

Fellow Meldrew, Ian Jenkinson, was a mile or so ahead of me on his 1200GS. I was going to stop off for a coffee with him and his riding buddies on the way back on the other side of the M25. In the end I shot past.

By Maidstone I was thinking about a comfort break but carried on past that service area as well. The urge went off in the cold. 

Apart from my fingertips I wasn't feeling too cold. I was wearing a jumper I bought a few weeks ago in ASDA. That it has reindeer on it.... Anyway it was warming. Plus my ancient boots had back up courtesy of EDZ bikers socks. My legs in thickish kevlar lined cargo pants seemed okay. 

I eventually arrived home about 3pm. Once in the house I felt even colder than on the road.

My wristbands
From Thurrock

Me and Pepe

5 November 2017

Whirr. Clunk. 2

The blogger app gave up the ghost on the original post only about half way through.

After the clunk. I left Pepé in the watery sun on the drive. In the house I called the RAC. Only an hour to wait. Okay.

I'll still be able to get down to Dungeness and meet Cal and Ian and see the old bikes. 

I let them know by sms.

It wasn't 10am yet.  Cal offers to come and bring the jump pack he has in a pannier. I say I can wait for the RAC and not mess their day up. Doh!

The RAC call back. Update. About Noon they say. Bugger. Day ruined.

I go online to look at power packs that I can carry with me in the pannier.

A  note on the Rocket III FB asking for tips boils down to the dbpower 600A portable pack. £69.99 from Amazon Prime.  Tomorrow should be okay for delivery.

Fingers crossed.

Oh yeah  RAC call back with an update "more like 1pm". I say okay, but then call back and cancel. No point at that time of day.

Db power 600A 

Update November 7th 2017

The unit was delivered to my neightbour this afternoon, and they even stuck a card in the letterbox.  Yesterday I only knew they had failed was because I saw it on the online tracking. No card. 

It looks a formidable bit of kit.  I read the instructions before fiddling with it. Truly un-guy-like.  Looks pretty straightforward.  It was charged to about 90% so I put it on to get it to 100%.  We are going to be out on Saturday all day so I need to find some time to try and get Pepé started before I need to be on the road to the "Ring of Red" on Sunday. Maybe in the afternoon before it gets dark.

Update November 11th 2017

Had a little time to test it. Connected it to the bike and pressed the button and Pepe started. I left it running whilst I packed everything away.  Fingers crossed for the morning.

Whirr. Clunk.

This is the third autumn since I brought Pepé home. But the first since he has begun to be a little temperamental.

We are just at the beginning of a cold snap and today. Press the starter.



I was supposed to be going to a classic bike run. So had to cancel that.

Let the other Meldrews know and called the RAC. "About an hour".

An hour later an update. "About 1230". Some two hours to wait.

If tbis is liable to happen I need to invest in a battery jump tool. Neither of the cars can do it as thru have sealed battery covers.

So let's wait.

25 October 2017

19 October 2017

Ring of Red 2017

Hopefully by November 12th the common  fainting (vasovagel syncope) problem will have receded and I will be fit enough to get out on this run. So far I have been every year since it started.

I sometimes think that I should support the RBLR run to Newhaven Fort but that is a very early start. RoR starts well after local cenotaph events are over and well after the televised Act of Remembrance in Whitehall is over.

Plenty of time to get togged up and out.

I ordered a couple of wristbands. Last year I had two. One went on Pepé's speedo surround and the other disappeared.

The 2015 band is on the rev counter. 2016 pinged off somehow so I asked the organisers if they had any spare.  For a donation I ordered another one.  Then this morning I opened a drawer and there was the "missing" one from last year. Now I have 2 for 2016. One spare! !

One will go on the bike with 2017.

As Seen from the Sidecar 2

Sadly due to the "common fainting" (vasovagel syncope) problem I seem to have added to my list of ailments I have had to drop out of the run to Paris.

It's a bugger but health and safety has to come first. Hopefully I'll be okay for the Ring of Red in three weeks time.

5 October 2017

As Seen From the Sidecar

I signed up for this charity run. The guys are attempting to ride around the world to raise money and awareness of modern slavery.

I had planned to do the whole run but have another event on the Sunday. So will do part of it with them and come back on the Saturday evening.

What they are doing is going to be an adventure beyond what I can imagine on a small scooter. 

8 September 2017

Vimy 101

After attending Vimy100 in April 2017 I have been looking at going again 2018.

I fully expect that it will be a more relaxed affair than the Centenary this year where there were around 20000 people attending the event.

When we went in 2014 we were able to park in the parking​ lot right by the visitor centre. Unlike this year where there were park and rides setup with buses to the site.

I'll probably be Jean Sans-Amis again but hopefully less of a cock-up like 2014 when I managed to get lost after deciding to leave the satnav at home!

Although I did all the planning for the 2015 trip I was unable to go after my heart attack less than week before.

So fingers crossed for good weather etc.

Update 23/10/17

Booked the Eurotunnel shuttle today. The cost is £30 so no point using the £50 voucher they gave me after so many delayed and cancelled services.

29 August 2017

Two in One

Two different events on the same day at almost the same venue. How could that happen?

On the Sunday of August Bank Holiday in the UK an event was organised at Dover on the esplanade in the harbour between the two docks.  

The Eastern Docks are primarily for passenger and freight ferries to the France and the Western Docks for cruise liners.  In the middle is a crescent shaped beach and an esplanade. 

At the eastern end of the esplanade the owners of the Pebbles Kiosk and Gift Shop had organised "Bikes on the Beach" for a third year.

At the Western end. The local sailing and rowing club had organised a fun day with stalls and exhibits.  The exhibits included some local classic car owners and the Dover Transport Museum brought some of their collection along.

I was a little late getting up after some overnight dog barking and disruptive sleep because of that.  The Dover event started at 10am and as I rode out of the close I was in two minds whether to actually go.  In the end the Meldrews were on a longish run from the Blue & White from about 1030 so I decided to go there, have a cup of tea and a chat and then see where that left us.  

They left about 1100 and I togged up and decided that as I had my camera slung over my shoulder I'd go to Dover after all.  Rather than go the A20, I went up the road a bit and then onto the M20 south and cruised to Dover.

There didn't seem much traffic around and it was pretty clear and warm. Glad I had the Joe Rocket on again.  Even though it is getting a bit "tired"  it is still comfortable in hot weather.

Amazingly for us in the UK, the Bank Holiday weather was dry and hot for the entire three day long weekend. I expect that the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey will make itself felt later in the week. We usually get the bad weather generated by hurricanes on the US east coast a week or so after they hit.

It was also good that after a year or more the ridiculous 40mph limit on the last five miles into Dover has been scrapped.

On arrival I was directed by a volunteer onto the esplanade via a drop down kerb and told to ride along until I found a space.  It was about 1120 or so.  I had to go about 100m down to find a space and back into it.  I locked up, and took a walk to the Western end first.  The stalls didn't really interest me much but the cars and buses on show did and I expended a lot of MB of memory card to get some pix.

I had a chat with a guy showing his 1958 Oldsmobile 88.  The 50's and early 60's must have been a great time to have been able to buy these cars.  They are so big and look like they are worth a million dollars.  It seems that each maker had to have something to stand out. Cadillac with their fins. But on the 88 it is the tail lights.  A real golden age of design.

Back towards the eastern end I hadn't seen the RBLR crew I had expected to be there form the FB page.  They were meeting a guy called Aaron Mitchell, who was returning home after riding around the world.  (See http://www.aaronmitchell.net/

I didn't realise that there were bikes etc the other side of the Pebble Kiosk! DOH! And that's where they were.  It's only after when I looked at my pictures, mostly of individual bikes, but some shots of the esplanade with multiple bikes, that I had got him by his bike.  What a plum! Me not him.

I missed them leave for a massed run to Rochester in North Kent as I was in one of the little shaded seating areas out of the sun and enjoying a tea.

All the pictures are on Flickr and linked here:

14 August 2017

Bird Toilet

Had a run into Folkestone today as I had a dentist appointment and thought the bike would be better.

Nice and sunny. Parked almost outside and was early. Went for a coffee at the cafe over the road. They couldn't make change for a tenner and trusted me to go back. Biker friendly.

After the scraping around I had a walk to Debenham's for another drink and make change.

Back at the bike I couldn't believe it. Bird shit on the screen and tank. Spattered on the chrome work too.

I stopped at the café and paid my £1.30 and rode home to clean the bike.

A short ride that would have been longer without those bloody birds.

11 August 2017

Custom Screens

I have been looking at the smaller flyscreens as the big screen on Pepé can be a bit of a pain in the wet as no matter how much polish it has on it, it still becomes a little hard to see through and you have to look over.

I have thought about hydro-dipping but have yet to fnd someone that will reply to an email enquiry or in fact show an example of a Rocket flyscreen suitably decorated. The ones I have contacted can't be short of business as they can't be arsed to come back with a price.

I have seen the work from Chris at Custom-Sculpt.  He does all kinds of different work and has a portfolio of bike work and a lot of R3 stuff.

You can design your own but I have always liked Iron Maiden's "Eddie".  A quick email confirms that Chris has the mould and can make one. I can decide on any colours I want as the mould starts off plain.  He has work piled up and so I'd have to fit in. That's fine with me. Time to put some pennies away.

Update 9/9/2017.

After a few days of looking at hydrophobic liquids I decided to risk buying one to try on the paintwork of Pepe and also on the seen. 

I still like the idea of one of these custom jobs but in the end delivery and cost is a major factor.

Update 15/11/2017

I think this has gone about as far as it is evet going to.  Chris came back to say that it might be a while before he can do it as he hasn't been well.  It's over two months and he hasn't come back apart from a price of £195 for Eddie (above).  I am looking at other options. 

10 August 2017

Sinterklaastreffen 2017

It's a bit early to be booking bike trips into December. But seeing a special offer where the return fare to France for bike and rider was only £22.50 ($28.50 or so) for what amounts to two 90 minute (not luxurious though) cruises is the cheapest I have seen it for many a good year.  Book now!! Thank you P&O.

As every other year since we stopped going for the weekend, the plan will be to go over early but not too early. Fill the tank with slightly cheaper EU benzine and go to Ostend. Check out the chocolate shops and have lunch. See St Nick. Then ride home after a good day in Europe.

I'll probably put it on the Meldrews' Facebook page  at some stage in case there are any takers for the trip.  I have been Johnny No-Mates a few times and the last time it was just me and Cal.

Still a while to go before December 2nd.

Paul Devall shared an album with you from the Flickr app! Take a look: https://flic.kr/s/aHskn4opxt

17 July 2017

Third Sunday?

Then it must be Meldrews' Sunday.

Usually we meet at the Blue & White Café at Smeeth on the A20.  We have been meeting there practically since it re-opened with Superbike racer Leon Camier's mum at the helm. But it is getting busier and busier on a Sunday morning, not with bikers, who seem to have started to to back to the Airport Cafe, but with "normals" and their kids.

Biker life has always been a little adult and we aren't the axe chucking mob, just blokes of an age that like to have a breakfast and chew the fat in an adult way without feeling that some bullethead might be offended on behalf of his kids or his delicate wife.  It's not that we use the f-word all that often, but like any group, we have people that are drawn together for their love of bike and biking from across the spectrum. We have all shades of political views but it rarely comes up as a subject.

So this Sunday we tried the County Members pub in Lympne Village.  Lympne has a claim to fame as it it is actually named after Portus Lemanis, one of the first ports that the Romans used when they invaded from Gaul (now France) in about AD66. There are still Roman remains, of buildings etc, on the hillside below the modern village.

Over the past two millenia the silting up on the English side of the channel has seen the sea move away. Instead of being at the foot of the cliff, it is now about a mile to a mile and a half away across what we now call Romney Marsh.

The ruins are in the domain of Lympne Castle.  The Saxons had a fort up here in the 4th Century.

Lympne Castle is also one of the homes of the Aspinall Foundation. The two zoos at Lympne and Howlett's near Canterbury are conservation and breeding centres for endangered species, mainly focusing on gorilla and rhino.

So after that digression.  

We had a bumper turnout with nine of us including one member's son on the back of a scooter.  Start them young and in all the proper gear. 

Breakfast was very good, not too expensive and relaxed.  We pushed three tables together and could all chat. No rush and breakfast runs until 11am. Then they prepare for pub opening hours and the lunch crowd arrives.

From here we split up. Most of us decided to head over to Robinson's Foundry as there was an Indian open day.  Others went home.

The ride to Canterbury was lively.  I like to be an old and alive biker so tend to ride a bit more sedately.  The adventure bike group (GS, KTM something and V-Strom 1000)  flashed past. I held back and like the tortoise and hare, I was behind them in the shopping traffic in the city centre.

Parking up with loads of Harley's and a few Indians and the occasional Victory across the road meant we were near the dyno that was testing bikes for £19 for two runs.  I decided not to bother. Pepé is okay as he is. Just a big cuddly tourer.

After a tea and a look at the high price tags on the Indians I headed for home.

Another nice ride out and I still haven't cracked 6000 miles! I need a bigger challenge.

2 July 2017

AMRR 2017 - Report

I was up on time and after breakfast I finally got away a little earlier than the planned 9am start.

As I was already fuelled up I decided to make my first stop just before the Dartford Tunnel. The traffic was running unusually smoothly. Maintaining 70mph was hampered as north of the tunnel I caught the back end of a rolling road block. The overhead info boards said there were animals on the road.

This lasted until almost to the M11. I chose stay in the left most lane of four for most of the way. Despite costing a £1m a mile to build so few seem to want to use it. Maybe the common term "slow lane" makes them feel inadequate?

It was about 1030am when I pulled into Birchanger Services. The car park was full and there were a few bikes dotted about. I didn't recognise anyone. Jean Sans-Amis again.

By the time I'd got a coffee it was nearly 1100am.  I usually reckon 25 minutes to the rendezvous. With holiday traffic it was nearer 40 when I pulled into Cambridge Services behind the police out riders and a support 4WD. They do a great job marshalling us through the city to the cemetery.  Such a shame on similar runs that Kent Police can't copy their Cambridgeshire colleagues.

I had time for a chat with a guy with a Suzuki M1800. It's a nice looking bike but maybe too futuristic for me. A walk around the packed parking area revealed a whole load of bikes from race-reps to customs.  And a fair few Rockets. I took a few photos of the assembly and they are all on my Flickr photostream.

Then we were off. The bugler played Reveille and we mounted up and gave it a bit of throttle. The "norms" at the services were applauding and taking  photos and videos.  We left at 1230pm.

As I was right at the back of the third column I somehow managed to get behind the stinkwheels; scooters by any other name. The smell of two-stroke, and after the run, the taste of it on my lips was terrible. I should have brought a drink to clear my throat of it.

As we crossed over the bridge over the A14 we could see to our left that the road was closed by a police car, and to the right the column of bikes stretching two by two into the distance.  I have no idea how many bikes and stinkers there were on the day.

We headed it the city. Cambridge is one of the two biggest and more elite of the university cities along with Oxford. So many colleges and so many tourists. I hope the spectacle was recorded by them.

Once at the cemetery we parked up. The overflow car park is not too comfortable being 10 x 8 inch cobble stones with grass growing between them.  And it slopes away from the monument.
Once settled everyone set off for the service.

This doesn't take long. Once we had sung both our national anthems and taken the Lord's Prayer we were off.

With 165 miles to ride home I went quickly. The ride home was done only with a stop at Ashford Tesco  to fuel up. The odometer showed 181.9 miles with "miles to empty" down to 55. A return of 49 mpg (UK gallon). No bad for legal limit cruising and 11 miles at 20 mph or less!

I seems a long way to go for half an hour.  But it is a show of respect to our fallen allies. Those men and women who may have a cross planted here or their name on the wall of the missing.


More Photos:

AMRR 2017

26 June 2017

AMRR 2017

Just a week to go until this year's Allied Memorial Remembrance Ride, I have managed to source a Royal British Legion car-poppy to install on Pepé.  I need to find a space for it now. I might put it on one of the screen brackets.


After missing the last two years due to the heart attack and the Somme 100 I am pleased to be able to attend again.  

It's usually a nice run up to Cambridge although to get there in good time it it mostly motorway plus the added hassle of the Dartford Crossing through the tunnel.

The local RBL Riders group in Kent are setting off a bit too early for me as they are leaving the A2 Services at 0845. I am not planing leaving home until 0900 and the RV is about 45 mins from home!

I might catch up with them on the road as I am not planning a stop once I have a full tank of fuel and they have a few meeting points along the way.

On the way up I'll see if I can get the 410 to work on the bike! I know where I am going but some assistance with fuel stops would be appreciated.

Photos from past runs.

Update: Found somewhere go put the large poppy.

22 June 2017

British Bike Night

Tonight Pepe and I had a ride up to the Wagon and Horses in Charing for the annual bike night. We had a good run up and back in fact. A chance to park on grass and a bit off off roading was enough for me!

A walk around the parking and grassy area.  I took a few photos and they can be seen here.

For once Pepe and the other Rockets weren't the biggest bike when the Boss Hoss V8 turned up.  Boy is it fugly.

More Pix!

20 June 2017

Ride to Work Week UK - 2

The ride home after work was every bit as bad as the way in. In reverse.

The ride down from sunny Islington via Hackney to sunny Darenth took over an hour but did include a fuel stop at Sainsbury's near the Millennium Dome.

I rolled onto the drive at home two hours after leaving work. This included a nice fast run on the motorway as well as the miles of bumper to bumper traffic basically from Dalston to Kidbrooke.  

On the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel I was filtering when the guy in the left lane decided to block me off. Result. My left bar end weight and his mirror interfaced. No damage to me but his mirror knocked back on its hinge. Oh dear. He was effing and blinding at me but maybe next time he'll not deliberately try to block off a filtering biker.  Somehow I think he'll be the same cretin for life.

So was it #commutehappy for me. Was it buggery!

On the road for the three hours fifty to cover 145 miles. Even with the drive to the station, hanging about a bit and then the train,  it is way quicker and in this time of jetstream induced high temperatures,  comfortable and air conditioned! !

Commuting is not for me any more.

Ride to Work Week UK

Pepé at work
Ride to Work Week UK

The idea behind this is to get people out of their cars and onto two-wheels,  It will reduce congestion, save on parking spaces and reduce pollution.

As my commuting into London days were over a few years ago, once I came to terms with having to sell an organ to pay for the train fares every month,  it was a bit of a shock to see what the every day motorcycle commuter has to contend with.  

Although saying that, the "ride" time is not much different to two years ago when I commuted on Döra the Explörer.

I made pretty good progress at first.   From home to the Darenth Interchange was just shy of 50 minutes. Google maps (below) has the time at 55 mins.  As this bit was pretty much free moving traffic that's no surprise. There was a little congestion where the cars were actually stationery on the M20 by Maidstone but I safely filtered through. Google maps is aimed at cars and not the more traffic slipping motorcycle.

At least the weather was kind.  Sunny but no too hot so I could wear my Joe Rocket mesh jacket.

Google Map of full journey

From the map we can see a few problems but this was made after I arrived at work. The two accidents marked towards the bottom right weren't there when I cruised through.

It's hard to see from this map the changes in colour to show traffic.  There are some roadworks and it seemed like they had coned off the entire left lane, but there was no sign that anyone had got off their arses to do any work. 

Fifty minutes to get to the Darenth Interchange.  Then another 50 minutes to get to work due to basically solid traffic requiring filtering (lane splitting) all the way from about a mile north-west of Darenth and through the Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames.  This can be better seen from the second Google Map.

Only another 50  minutes for this section is a bit better than the car estimate.  The problem with this part is that the approach to the tunnel is three lanes but each lane is narrower. As the tunnel is only two lanes there is a massive tailback and far less room to filter as everyone has to squeeze together and a lane is lost.

And to get home?  That's about six hours in the future.  But I expect the same traffic and hassles.

18 June 2017

Meldrews Sunday

Another shortish ride out today. It was Meldrews Sunday and also father's day so we had a reduced turnout. Still there were four of us in a pretty deserted Blue and White café.

After a chat about their trips last weekend we went our own ways.  I headed back home via a loop across the downs on some roads that seemed new to me. Following signposts I must have ridden further than expected. 

With temperatures hovering about 28°C it was great to be wearing my Joe Rocket vented mesh jacket.

Stopped however. It was far too hot in Kevlar lined combats.

Still nice to be out and about on the bike. My next outing might very well be a ride to work day on Tuesday. Why Tuesday? It's the only day my boss won't be there!!!

11 June 2017

Gravel car-parking

Today's run out was a tale of two gravel strewn parking areas/lots.

We'd been out in the morning in the car to see the poppy art installation at Shoeburyness.  When I say "we" I mean Claire,  Reggie and me.

After lunch I hauled Pepé out of the garage and headed to the bank in Hythe to get some cash. Man can't live by credit card alone.

Then I thought of a great photo op. A tribute to British engineering. My Rocket and the WW2 fighter aircraft at the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne.


Turning off the paved roadway entrance onto three or even four inches of grey gravel chips is not to be laughed at. Maybe on a cycle but not on a 700lb heavyweight cruiser. Jesus that was scary as the bars went straight to left lock. Luckily I got a foot down!!!

I took a picture (and not the one I wanted) and left.  It's a great cause but that's my lot. I am never going back.

From there I went to the White Cliffs. The car park here is a little light gravel over a  hard surface like tarmac. Shitty getting in where you have to go up about six feet and hairpin into the lower parking. The other tiers are cinder or grass.

At least here to café was open. New outdoor seating and a good tasting tea....

In all I was only out a little over two hours but bid get to put some miles on the clock.

Deep gravel,  not deep joy.

Biker's Tea

6 June 2017


When you own a Rocket keeping a note on fuel consumption isn't really necessary. However, as an exercise I find it quite good to keep a record so I can see what is happening when I am out. A bit of fun. 

Oddly, the app that worked on the iPhone doesn't work on the Android, so after ages I found Fuelly. It shares with other users and I need to see if there are other Rockets on there.  So over the coming months I'll be able to track the consumption on trips.

4 June 2017

June run out

The last two weekends were crossed off as potential bike runs out as we were on holiday in France and in the car.

With such a log gap between rides I begin to feel guilty. Since I stopped commuting on two wheels I haven't even become a regular and fair weather rider.

So when I saw on facebook that some Meldrews were having a breakfast run to thr Blue and White I decided to go. 

Otherwise I was going for an aimless ride across the marsh.

Yesterday I found a bottle of cleaner in the garage I had forgotten I had. The petrol/gas tank was a little dirty. A few squirts of this magic no water needed elixir and a rub over with a microfibre cloth and it was super shiny.

So I hauled Pepé out of the garage and headed to the café. Egg sandwich for me.

After an hour of chat we went our separate ways. Mine was to Tesco to fill up after the ride to Wimbledon a month ago! Tesco to Tesco was 160.2 miles. I was dreading filling the tank but was surprised at at an average cruising speed of 75mph (cough cough) that I could only squeeze 16.9 litres into the tank.

I have also joined Fuelly and have the app on my phone. First fuel came out at 43.1mpg.

From there I went on a longer run home arriving back just before noon.

A good ride out but only about 30 miles added to the odometer.

3 May 2017


Pepé must be thinking it is his birthday. Out twice on a few decent length runs in the same month.  Amazing.

The last day of April was the end of the football/soccer season for the League One teams.  Oldham were away at AFC Wimbledon. I did add this to my general blog.

According to Google maps the journey would be about 80 miles, mostly on the motorways but with a little bit at each end on ordinary road.  I set off about 0930 for a 1200 kick off.  

The area where the ground is isn't totally unknown to me but the final bit was definitely in need of TomTom's assistance.

I stopped to fill the tank at Tesco in Ashford. The French petrol from the Vimy run might have seen me get there and it may have been a few pence cheaper in South London but I wanted to be in and out after the game.

The M20 and M26 were pretty peaceful. Cruising at an indicated 75mph and TomTom showing satellite speed at 70 was good enough for me. The M25 was its usual PITA. It was recently widened to get rid of the hard shoulder (emergency lane) as part of the "smart motorway" project.  If you are suffering a breakdown, car not driver, they have hacked "refuges" into the side of the road. You just have to hope you can reach one" If not they have installed overhead gantries where they have red lights to show the lanes are closed, and also hide the speed cameras! 

As usual hardly anyone ventures into the left or "slow" lane.  The centre two lanes being far more popular and the outside lane (of four!) has the usual high speed drivers.  Usually under-taking is frowned on but with cars travelling at below the speed limit in random lanes. you drive/rides where there is some clear road ahead.

Once off the M25 I was on ordinary road. A road that seemed to have more speed cameras per mile than I have ever seem before. Eventually arriving at the Kingsmeadow Stadium at about 1115. The last few miles in heavy traffic.

I saw the car-park full signs and rode up anyway and the guys let me through and then I had to find a space to park. By email in the week before they had said part by the cycles racks outside the leisure centre.  What leisure centre!  I ended up locking the bike on a small piece of grass verge.  Not a good start to my first (and last!) visit here.

I had a chat with a guy alongside in a car. A  home supporter about the game and he directed me to the "away" entrance on the far side of the stadium.  The stadium is small. Sold out there were 4800 packed into it.  They still have standing, something that needs sorting before they can move up the pyramid. My ticket was standing. I got a burger and coffee and found a place under cover.  The weather had been pretty good so far.

The game went okay, ending 0-0 and then after the players came over and posed for pictures it was back to the bike.  Pepé always attracts comments even if not quite a crowd.  I togged up and wended my way through the crowd.  TomTom decided that although I had come the "fastest" route, the "fastest" route back home was totally different. Always a slave to the satnav I decided to see where it would take me.  I called Claire on the Scala and talked hands-free for a bit. No dramas apart from the M25 when one guy didn't want to let me join. I simply opened the throttle and he was  history.

The run back pretty unexceptional.  Cruising at the same 75mph indicated.  The only note was seeing the "miles to empty" go up once cruising speed was reached,

The TomTom Urban Rider does keep stats for the journey and showed that the day had been achieved at an average speed of 52mph and that I had actually covered 158 miles.

Another good trip out  and I can't wait to get out again. Sometimes life gets in the way though.

10 April 2017

Vimy 100 - Report

The day started a little later for me as I had misread the booking for the Shuttle and set off to arrive at 0850 when I fact the train was at 0850 and I was supposed to be there before 0820 when that train closed.  Curiously the automatic booking system didn't quibble and still gave me the crossing I could never make.  

As usual there was a delay. I don't think we have been over using Eurotunnel for many years where the train has left on time or at least as scheduled.  The last time was with Reggie and Claire when we went glamping on the Somme (80) coast last October.  Delays both ways.

Anyway.  Once I had done a few laps of the parking I slipped between the barriers.  When I arrived with my "hanger" - a thing that car drivers can hang from their interior read-view mirrors - showing crossing K, the staff didn't say, "Go straight to the controls", instead I would have done a 360 loop of the parking had I not snuck through the barriers after 180!

UK passports was relaxed and the French were creating queues.  Usually they are reading the paper or simply not there but today it was "only have two windows open" day  for hundreds of cars.

On the Shuttle

Once aboard the train we were told there was a slight delay as there was a hold-up loading the coaches in a different section of the train. As usual bikes are the poor relations and we wait for all the cars to load and they shove us on the end. I have never had a valid reason for this.  Once I was told it was because a bike might go on fire!  I am sure that my £13500 Triumph is less likely to cause a problem than the number of £2500 crap heaps that wheezed past me as I queued.

Once in France we were off into the same warm sunny day as it was at home.  As a consequence I only wore the Aldi base layer under my Joe Rocket mesh jacket. And I was fine even into the evening.  I did take a v-neck jumper just in case.

Other things packed included a couple of pies, a bottle of water and some biscuits, plus by accident some sun screen!  One each of the pies and biscuits came home too.

Once onto the A26 southwards I was in need of a drink. I pulled into the Aire de Rély and unusually for me,  I topped the tank off with €9 of unleaded.  Rather than hunt around later as I wouldn't manage there and back on one tank that wasn't full to start with.

A coffee and pain-chocolat later I set off again.
Slightly delayed as Pepé attracts people to come and have a look, I almost felt sorry for the glam couple in the Porsche being ignored, even when they blipped the throttle a few times.  Very Loud.  Feeling smug I set off.

All was going to plan, after the problem with the new TomTom 410 I was back to using the "old" Rider.  It took me off the A26 and A21 to the parking.  But sadly, by the time I got there it had closed as full. There did seem plenty of spaces for a motorcycle but the French jobsworth is more resolute that his English counterpart. Even the Gendarme was on my side but M. Jobsworth was adamant.

So I was directed to Lens, where I had already passed by, to Parking D situated at the 2000 car space parking lot by the RC Lens football ground.  Pepé was quickly locked up and secured and I was on a bus within 10 minutes.  
What organisation!  Don't worry reality will set in later!

The journey to the Memorial Park went along where I had just ridden and then we were disembarked some 500 metres from the festivities.  Along the way a lady kindly gave me a little maple leaf badge to wear. 

From there is was a bit chaotic as no one really knew where to go.  I picked up a programme and a water bottle from a table where volunteers were handing them out.  

On the really plus side and with the weather hovering about 25C in full sun all day, the organisers had water stations, with water cooler bottles so that the bottle they gave away could be refilled.

When I last went, in 2014,  it was mid week and there were maybe five coaches.  I doubt the ceremony was seen by more than 200 people. Today over 20000! Groups from all over Canada. School groups with those irritating little table tennis bat signs the leaders hold up and then proceed to push past every one.  

In the end I went to the right of the entrance and the path from the road to the monument was fenced off for the services to parade.  

There was plenty of seating and I took the opportunity to sit on an end. I got chatting to a couple in the back row, and I immediately forgot their names (!).  As I had packed light, I didn't bring a camera, just relying on my phone.  
For that I did bring two battery chargers though to top it up.  One didn't work though but the other did provide 50% charge for the S5.

More people in this pic than in 2014 at all.

We had a good view of the marching and for the speeches conducted on the other side of the monument, facing the west where the troops had attacked from, we had a screen to watch.

Unfortunately, the Samsung S5 has a good camera, but in full sun the screen is 99.99999999% impossible to see.  Some of the photos dotted around this blog were taken using the system of locating the target by checking their position in relation to a hat in the crowd!  It worked occasionally.

The massive crowd was entertained with music and dancing from people from the English and French speaking communities and from the First Nation. Gradually bringing us closer to when the dignitaries would arrive. Usually this is 3pm, but for some reason it had slipped back to 4pm and of course, they were late. As well as Canadian Veterans Affairs there was President Hollande from France, Justin Trudeau the Canadian PM, and of course Princes Charles, William and Harry representing her Maj the Queen.

The ceremony proper started off with a gun salute.  I lost count of the shells fired.  As we didn't see any part of Lievin and Lens on fire we assumed they were blanks... With my new found sighting system I managed to get some photos and accidentally a video! If you look it you will see the sighting hat!

Gunners getting ready.

One of the themes was the need for boots. Some letters read out from men that took part, and the main, were killed or wounded in the battle, they were concerned with few things other than having new boots, Their old boots hadn't been designed for spending all day in mud and water.  it does make you wonder who supplied the army.  I'm sure Canada has its fair share of wet and muddy conditions, not to mention -30 temperatures and snow.


All but M. Hollande conducted their speeches in both English and French. Some of the Canadians in my area were a little disgruntled by this as they thought it a little rude.

Mr Trudeau received the biggest cheer from the assembly so I guess that the disgruntlement wasn't to do with French per se. He slipped from English to French and vice-versa with ease and confidence.

There followed a fly past by some replica aircraft from WW1. Even though they weren't too fast, they were too much for the S5 and the new sighting system.  I just kept clicking hoping to get one decent or at least one none too laughable shot come out. By accident I did get a video but it needs editing to remove some of the verbal comments....

Replica aircraft fly-past

Okay, so they are a little small.  At least the purple umbrella helped get them all in the same shot!

And then the people began to slip away towards the buses.  And here's where the system failed.

The four parking area bus "stops" were close together.  Instead of organising lines/queues to each, they left it in a chaotic mess.  The school leaders blocked everywhere up to try and keep their charges together or at least round them up. That should have been done elsewhere and taken as a group to a bus.

In the end after two and a half hours I made it to a bus.  The humour in the crowds shows that at the end of the day, Canadians are generally nice. Some cat calling and rude waves as the seemingly endless procession of cars and coaches took the dignitaries and their hangers-on away before the plebs were supplied with buses.

Once back at Lens I got back to the bike and was ready to leave in ten minutes. I had no idea how to escape the parking and set TomTom for Home.   I mixed up "laissser" and "departer" up asking a security guy for the route to "direction a Calais" but in the end TomTom came to our rescue.

Once on the A21 and then the toll A26 I was off like flint. The speed limit is 81mph on the toll sections and I was about that all the way between toll stations. Another €4 spent going north.  

At Eurotunnel it told me I was late and had missed my scheduled crossing. As it was 2145 local time I was 55 minutes late for the train. The automat kindly gave me hanger O and a time of 2225 departure.

Once clear of the passport formalities I saw that O was loading. Once again, I sat alongside the train as they loaded all the cars. It's annoying anyway, but when cars with P and Q hangers are loaded first..... Then that is taking the piss.  In the end I squeezed on the very end of the train. Just enough room behind the last car so they could close the fire doors with inches to spare.  I didn't bother taking any more photographs! OMG what if I had gone on fire..... The 2007 Peugeot in front of me was more likely to do that!

And so 40 minutes later we pulled into Folkestone and I was last off. Duelling with the foreign lorries to get onto the M20.

I was pulling up on the drive at about 10pm. Feeling a little hungry and also in need of the loo.

All in all a really great event to be part of. The chaos at the end could have overshadowed the day's events but for the good humour of the Canadian and British sharing the same  fatalistic sense of humour - making jokes out of adversity.

Most Popular Posts