5 December 2019

Christmas Mug!

My brother Neill saw this mug on Amazon and thought I could add to my Christmas list.  

I have so many mugs that Claire keeps complaining.  I have four in use at work that I rotate my way around. Three in my locker and one in use, then wash, and choose another.

Maybe it's true. 

2 December 2019

New Battery?

The weekend showed how weak the battery has become. 

Having had to use the dbPower unit on four separate occasions during the day in Belgium was the giveaway.

We are in the second winter of this problem where the battery isn't strong enough to start the bike.

In the summer it charges and holds that charge and although I keep the dbPower unit to hand I rarely have to use it. 

But in winter it barely has the power to turn the engine over. It's simply "clunk". The lights come on though and that probably doesn't help.

So what to do? Being a fair weather biker nowadays I won't be using the bike that often until the new year.

Do I get a new battery sooner rather than later? It might end up freezing away in the garage. I have a garage in a block away from the house with no power, so a trickle charger is no use either.

I have been looking at a replacement though. 

Motobatt with a high cranking power should be around £75. So unlikely to break the bank. But when to get it?

Looks like January then. The MoT runs out in early February. Mmmm.

A few years ago when I had a similar situation with the GS I was able to jump it from the car. Then I had the FIAT Punto. The Insignia specifically says never to  jump from it. I have used dbPower on it though when its 🔋 went tits up.

I did buy a large solar panel. It proved to be totally useless.

30 November 2019

Sinterklaastreffen - The Day

I was up at 6.50am and out before 7 30am.

Pepé needed the dbPower unit to start as I had expected. I had had it on charge to make sure it was at 100%. Why? I expected to use it a few times in the day.

The first obstacle was J11 was closed other than northbound on the M20. A truck had overturned and the carriageway was damaged. A little self made detour (turning around the end of the centre verge (median),  and I continued onto the A20 to the Shuttle.

Both UK and French passports were taking time to get through. A terrorist attack in London the day before was probably a contributor. At UK I had to take my helmet off. I had chosen the Shoei over the LS2 flip-up.

It looked like I was going to miss the booked shuttle as I waited for the queues to move. In the end it was gone 8.30am before the barrier lifted and I was off to be squeezed into the last carriage. Or so it seemed. I was told to park, as usual front wheel into the kerb. The cars shuffled forward. 

And I was on my lonesome.

The crossing went off okay and I had the dbPower unit ready but it wasn't needed.

By the time I got into Belgium my fingertips were frozen. I stopped for a pee and coffee break at the Manneken services. I started off wearing my Belstaff Hypora gloves and changed into the Dainese Scout with Goretex.

The problem with wearing bike trousers with a gusset front and long-johns is visiting the loo. I don't need to drawer a picture or say anything more!! Let's just say there are complications....

I finally arrived at the Velodroom at about 12.20pm. Tony was already there with his Boom trike. It has some rather interesting embellishments and a Ford 1600 engine.

Tony's Trike
We  had a coffee in the marquee and then had a walk to buy some Christmas stuff, chocolates and biscuits etc. 

I took some pics of the assembled bikes...

R1150GS with sidecar


Belgian couple with nice CBX

Very nice Z900

A few random shots here and below!


I bought some Brugge Tripel as well. It billed as "spicy bier". See how that it when I get home.

Finally the run set off for the short convoy ride to the square by the fisherman's quay. Tony and I had a spot of lunch at the nearest Frituur. Chips with mayo and a meatball.  

St Nick arrived at the quay near the Aquarium and we walked up there. There were loads of people up there and many with kids and dogs. Nick was kind enough to pose for a photo.

The Last MTvO St Nick!
We decided as it was getting late that we would swerve the run and head back. We had further chocolate shopping to be done as it was.

More random "street" shots and below

Once they had all gone we set off with my TomTom taking us a rather long way around via the A10 and in the direction of Brugge. It must have thought it was quicker as that's the way it brought me in as well!

It was just as cold.

First stop was the Manneken services on the westbound side. Pee and coffee for both of us and fuel for Tony.

When we set off from Ostend the Pepé's "miles to empty" gauge (MtZ) showed 74. It went up whilst cruising on the motorway to 85. Once out of the walking pace traffic it could recalculate.

I needed the dbPower again to start and MtZ had suddenly dropped to 35 whilst stopped!

We pulled off again at Adinkerke to stop at what must be a mecca for tobacco addicts. The volume of cars must have matched the volume of tobacco smoke in the air!

Attached is a Leonidas chocolate shop. I bought twee/two/deux 375g boxes!

And then we were off with Tony leading and setting the pace. We stuck to around 60-65mph unless overtaking one of the many trucks.

Over the 40 or so miles to the Shuttle the MtZ hardly changed. I took the lead just before the ferry turnoff junction and MtZ was now down to 21 when I got to the ticket barrier.

Both of us opted for the 6.20pm train rather than our booked 6.50pm. MtZ had now dropped 0 whilst on tick over doing the ticket operations on the screens! I had my Eurotunnel clothes peg for the ticket hanger!

Once through both countries passports and customs we split up. The trike through the car lanes and me on the bike through the higher vehicle lanes. I had no time to queue and luckily PepĂ© started without assistance and I  loaded onto the 5.50pm train. 

I was in the second to last carriage. Once again on my own. I saw the one in front was empty too!!

Tony had got on the same train and was the last 3/4 wheeler on the lower deck. I found this out when he came back to see me. The conductor told him I was on. It turned out the were three empty carriages between me and him as the last in his carriage!

Where is everyone?

As we came out of the tunnel at Folkestone end I had the dbPower setup and fired Pepé up. By now I wasn't going to waste time trying and then setting it all up. Pepe fired up okay.

With MtZ still showing 0 I decided to go to Tesco and fill up. I went slowly down the A20 to Cheriton to fill-up.

It took 17.66 litres to fill the tank.  The specs show that the R3 has a 24 litre tank. Miles to empty at 0 seems a little inaccurate.Even quick maths show that there ought to have been 6 litres or so in the tank.

PepĂ© fired up without dbPower assistance at Tesco.  It was still very cold and I was back in the Belstaff gloves.

I was back home not long after and an hour earlier than planned.

Another enjoyable day out despite the cold and  battery problems with PepĂ©.

Great to meet up with Tony after many years. Also good to revisit the St Nick's together 34 years after our first visit, back in those days when we were both younger, slimmer and with fewer ailments! 

29 November 2019

St Nick's

So the weather is turning drier tomorrow. At least the rain looks to be holding off. Instead temperatures are to drop into low single figures. Centigrade that is. A high of 7°C.

I popped out briefly last Sunday to fill the tank with our cheaper unleaded 95 fuel. With a full tank it means theoretically I could get to Ostend and back. 

In reality I will need a top up. I'll most likely do that on the way to Ostend on the motorway near Veurne, once in Belgium.

On Sunday I used the dbPower charger to start the bike, but risked starting it at Seabrook without it after fuelling and it started. 

Still. The unit goes with me. Fully charged! Whether it will boot up at the Tunnel.... 

From my local riders I will be Billy No Mates. Instead I'll meet up with Tony Young at the Velodrome. He went today and booked in and got the special event t-shirt. It's €15 for the weekend and €10 for a day visitor. The t-shirt included. 

50th & last

So to tomorrow. Up early and out of the house for the short ride to the tunnel.

I have already put the route into TomTom. It's 61 miles from Calais terminal to the Velodroom.

All the rest of the gear is out and ready. The Cardo headset on charge. In this weather the Shoei Qwest will be preferable to the LS2. 

18 November 2019

Meldrew Sunday - Waterside Café

An early start. Definitely. I guessed that Pepé wouldn't start without an infusion of electricity.

I was of course right. Without dbPower he is d e a d. Looks like  new battery in the new year. Maybe one of the Motobatt "big yellers" like I had on the GS a while back. Plenty of cranking amps.

Anyway, the miles to empty gauge showed 1. By the time I got to the first meeting point it was up to 81. Remember this.

The ride across the top of the Marsh was done slowly. There are so many leaves on the road. On the edges, and down the middle where they have been thrown by cars and trucks. It is very easy to come a cropper! 

At the bottom of Knole Hill in Aldington I set the Yamaha My Ride app running, then headed to the meeting place. 

To my surprise the app worked! 

Only short but at least it worked. The phone was upright in my inside jacket pocket. I will reveal the stats later.  It was slippery underfoot remember!

From Hamstreet we (Iah J, Paul R and Cal) and me!) set off across country to Tenterden and then Rolvenden before the right turn towards Hawkhurst.  Still in Kent at this point! It was up this stretch that rufty tufty adventure bike riding  Ian decided to avoid a small track of a road that had a slight big of grass in the centre.  A GS fer chrissakes!
Eventually we arrived.  I stopped the app and saved to  route and the stats that it creates.

A shame it doesn't all fit on one screen to screenshot.  Anyway the lean angles look a bit er... upright.

On arrival at about 10.10am the car-park was quite full and it is also grey gravel. I can't say as the owner and rider of a 700lbs (dry) bike that having my feet slide from under me fills me with any enthusiasm.  If I was on a lighter bike maybe not as much trepidation!

The "big breakfast" was really good.  The jury for me is still out on Korker sausages though.  Thjey are okay, better than most cafe fare.

After a chat and a few coffee/teas we set off.  Cal and I left to the road Ian baulked at.  Neil who had joined us at the cafe a different route and Ian dis his own thing. From FB it looks as though he was drawn like a moth to a flame to Rye.

We had a weird TomTom journey around parts of Kent I have been to before but didn't expect to see on this trip.  The My Ride app shows the strange roundabout path I took!

Despite the slippery roads and the other road users seemingly not noticing the conditions the ride was good and enjoyable. Cold but mostly dry.  Hoping for the same in a fortnight when I go to the Last St Nicks.

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