Sunday, 6 October 2019
Just back from a great week in Wales, me, Mrs B, Ted and our new pup Bob the Dog. Bob has had a hard start in life, his mum is a rescue dog, bought from travellers and pregnant with five puppies, she lost two but the surviving pups are all healthy, mischievous Parson Jack Russell/ Chihuahua crosses, little skinny fuckers but with massive hearts and attitudes to match. Since we lost Gus back in 2017 I swore I wouldn’t have another dog but I really think dogs find you not the other way around, so here’s Bob!
After 15 years of road trips to the ‘States, due to circumstances we have had to stay closer to home this year, we packed the van and headed to mid-Wales, a tiny camping pod on a farm, twenty miles from the ‘local’ shop, Red Kites skimming above our heads, the only sound sheep grazing and the wind, a distant dog barking and the crackle of our fire sending sparks into the dark sky, light pollution zero, the stars standing out against the inky blackness, dolphins playing in the surf at Mwnt, the coast walk from Aberporth to Tresaith, the waterfall cascading down the cliffs into the sea, the forest walks, foraging for wild mushrooms and drinking tea waiting for the sun to rise..............
Sunday, 29 September 2019
Horncastle, home of the second best chippy in the world and I get passed again by ‘lard boy’ who this time decides to give it the ‘English Archers’ as he burns past me at 80+ in a thirty. Out of Horncastle and i catch and pass him again, the twat is actually ‘leg dangling’ in a moto gp stylee for fucks sake! As I park up matey pulls up at the side of me and attempts a clumsy high five which I ignore. He still doesn’t get the message as I take off my helmet and he attempts to engage me in conversation. ‘That was fun’ I stow my gloves in my Arai, drop my day sack on the floor, ‘I said, that was fun’ matey still doesn’t get it, he’s grinning like a Cheshire Cat, his hand extended to receive a high-five even after his last failed attempt. Summoning all my willpower not to spark him out I lock my bike and go in search of a brew instead, there’s some class machinery here and the lads out on track are setting a blistering pace, a very pleasant afternoon wandering around the pits, chatting to like minded people, a great early evening ride home and trying to dismiss the craving for a Suzuki TLR thousand................
Saturday, 28 September 2019
So, apart from a blue screen [bad] and h.e.l stainless brake lines, [ok, there blue so I’m going to swap them for black] it’s a 22 year old bike, three previous owners and a startling 12,000 miles on the clock from new! It needs a gentle massage, I’ve already fitted a new clear screen and new battery, I need a couple of new front indicators as both are slightly marked but you know I’m ocd and can’t live with what a lot of people would just dismiss. The bike is a credit to the former owners, especially Ruben the guy I bought it off, it lived in his flat alongside his R1 and he was genuinely gutted to see it go due to a lack of use.
I had originally been looking for a tatty srad project to hack into an endurance racer replica when this turned up but it really is too nice to introduce mr hacksaw to so I’m into a couple of more potential ‘victims’
As a side-note, this is the first aluminium framed machine I’ve owned, the first jap four cylinder bike since my 750 Honda SOHC fatracker [sic] and I was going to say the first RWU fork machine for years. And then? I looked at the Moto Guzzi.....................................................
Saturday, 14 September 2019
Tuesday night at the Festival of Motorcycling sees the Italian Bike Night in Port Erin, traditionally held on the railway station which was a great venue, it moved down onto the Promenade a few years later, [ I rode the ‘peaky blinder’ TT F2 replica at Jurby and decided to ride it down to the Prom for the meeting under duress from Dangerous and Chalky, no tax, no mot, no insurance, what could possibly go wrong? An un-silenced, illegal race bike on the road, we got loads of interest and admiration, lots of nice comments and chased back to the digs by the local constabulary who, much to my relief, just wanted to have a look at the bike!]So, the last few years the venue has changed to the local golf course, the land of funny handshakes, Farrah beige slacks and Volvo’s. A pleasant stroll from Base Camp on a late summer night, fizzy lager beer served in a flimsier than flimsy plastic glass and a perusal of the lovely Italian exotica in the car park. And then, there it is, sticking out like a pimple on a pigs arse, a bevel drive Ducati. Dufuckincati. Dufuckingenius.............
Tuesday, 10 September 2019
What i do know is that this is a cracking little bike, well proportioned, nicely engineered and some great attention to detail, the orange and matt black paint is simple but really effective and I absolutely love the ‘Fuckstone’ tyres, brilliant...........
Saturday, 7 September 2019
Friday, 6 September 2019
I would really like to get a photo of some of the people I meet on my travels but I do feel a tad self-conscious about asking a stranger if I can take their photograph, any suggestions of how to approach this anyone? Anyhoo, matey informs me that the local MCC [ the rather splendidly named Moddey Doo, in Manx Gaelic black dog, which was reputed to have haunted Peel Castle],have worked with the VMCC to arrange a combined vintage/classic/custom show at Peel instead so I wend my way down there to have a gander. I love Peel, the castle dominates the skyline and the gentle arc of the promenade is great to stroll. Today peel has been transformed into a motorcycle Mecca, all along the quayside and promenade there is motorcycling exotica and around every corner, tucked away in corners and even bushes, [all will be revealed!] there are some real gems. Here’s a few, Triumph moto 2 bike? Yup, AyJay rigid frame, exhaust wrapped OBW? Yep, Sammy Millers aluminium faired NSU Sportmax? present and correct sir! ‘Modern’ racers represented by the amazing line up of lime green classic Kawasaki two-strokes/diesels. More to follow.........
Sunday, 1 September 2019
The A36 is a thrilling, super fast road that offers an unrestricted speed limit across a mountain and down into Foxdale that will challenge any rider. Make no mistake, this road will bite you on the arse if you show it any disrespect, it was controversially re-surfaced at a cost of half a million big ones back in 2016, I can remember me and Croftsy riding it Port Erin to Foxdale, Foxdale to Port Erin, Port Erin to Foxdale time after time until we collapsed, absolutely fucked in the picnic area as the sun set and we lost the light, a total mind-fuck that saw us giggling like teenagers at a Bieber concert.
I’ve seen Classic TT / Manx GP riders testing their bikes up here, as far as I can remember there is only one junction, maybe two on the whole road, visibility is fantastic and the road surface super grippy, for me I always feel I could go faster, I’m in track mode on the 790 and chucking gears at it but I’m craving more horse power.
Keep it quite folks but your welcome for the recommendation, [no one reads the blog anyway so we should be safe!] Anyhoo, I join the TT course at Ballacraine and a fast ride down to Quarry Bends and I get a prime spot against the Recticel barrier before realising I’m missing an essential tea making ingredient, Skin out up to Sulby Crossroads for a pint of milk and back again before the roads close for the Classic TT Superbike Race, my fellow spectators think its highly amusing when I get out my super light stove and mashings from my day sack but after a three hour delay are soon asking me if I can spare them a brew, fucking amateurs!
An early retirement is Gary Johnson on the beautiful York Suzuki prepared oil burner, them, there are factory Yoshimura carbs people! Check out the welding majik on the frame, the qd battery charger connector, [got these on my fork truck at work, not exotic, just superbly practical]
I offer my phone so Gary can inform his nearest and dearest that he’s safe but he’s already phoned them, he tells me most riders have a burner tucked in their leathers to let the family know they are safe and well, as I pour over the details of the machine I notice two of the ht leads are flapping in the wind, the plug caps still attached but the circuit broken.
Friday, 30 August 2019
The racing in the Isle of Man devides opinion like no other discipline in our chosen and I hasten to say this ‘lifestyle’ that we follow, the detractors say that we lose too many competitors in horrendous accidents, life’s are snuffed out in milli-seconds by an error in judgement, clipping a kerb or running into a bend too fast, machine failure, or a hundred and one other reasons that at the speeds, racing on normal roads with all the associated road furniture all too often prove fatal to the riders.
No one is forced to race at the Isle of Man, be it the Tourist Trophy, the Classic or the Manx GP, there are no World Championship points at stake as there was back in the day, the racers, their nearest and dearest and associates all know the risks involved when they head off across St. Ninians crossroads and onto the fearful drop of Bray Hill on the Glencrutchery Road.
The men and women who choose to do these races are chasing something that we mere mortals can only dream of, to compete here is the ultimate test of bravery, skill, endurance and determination and I have nothing but the utmost respect for each and every rider, from the well established winners with their names etched onto that famous ‘silver lady’ to the bloke who comes last, but, who has still managed to finish a race at the Island.
I must admit to having mixed feelings about Agostini’s appearance at this years festival, here is the man who was vehemently against the TT and ultimately got it dropped from the World Championship standings and yet continues to enjoy a handsome payday from cruising around on an old MV Agusta in the parade lap and selling loads of merchandise on the back of it. And yet, here is an absolute legend, ex world champion and probably Mike the Bikes greatest rival, who am I to deny that Giacomo Agostini should not enjoy a leisurely trundle and enjoy the experience in his twilight years and yet I feel that after all this we should really be supporting the right of choice of the modern day competitors to take on the Mountain Course.
As soon as the second motorcycle was built men and women have wanted to race each other, this year we lost Chris Swallow and as tragic as this is I cannot imagine for one second that his father, the legendary Bill Swallow would be calling for the races to be banned, in the Classic Lightweight and Manx GP we saw the emergence of James Hind, a baby faced 19 year old who despite getting a 30 second penalty for speeding in the pit lane still managed to get a third place in the 250 junior classic, two lightweight wins and two lap records, [one from a standing start!]
Yes, the stakes are high and sometimes tragic but in this world of mission statements, health and safety and rigid control there’s something ultimately life affirming about the right to choose wether to race and place ones destiny in the lap of whichever god you follow. Stay tuned race fans, Loads of photos and wordy bollocks to follow about my own experience over on the Island........
Sunday, 18 August 2019
without injuring himself or anyone else.
altogether, he is riding a 1290 Superduke R, as we chat he is quaffing lager, this time pints of draft lager, his bike is sans rear view mirrors, ‘don’t need ‘em mate, not bothered what’s happening behind me, only what’s happening in front’ his tyres are ragged beyond belief, I enquire if he’s done a trackday recently? ‘Nah mate, used to do them but too many rules, got bollocked last time I did one for forcing someone onto the grass’ he traded the 1290 for a Panigale. ‘I like this better, I can wear my jeans and a hoodie’ indeed, that’s the sum total of his protection, no gloves, trainers but an Arai rx7,with black visor.
‘I felt a bit of a twat in my leathers, looked like a chimp, they were Dainese D-Air’s, cost me two grand, couldn’t walk straight in them, race crouch cut you know?’
‘The 1290 is more ‘stealth’ for on the road, you blend in more’ oh yes, especially with the Austin Racing end can, I’ve heard some loud bikes in my time but whoah! Fruitier than a fruit bat with a hard-on! I was just saying, your motorcycle is a tad loud, ‘sorry, what did you say?’ ‘I was just saying, your two-wheeled, fire-breathing death machine is rather at the higher end of the pain threshold in relation to its decibel output’ ‘sorry, what did you say?’ You get the picture. LOUD.
‘Suspect Two’ skins out, ‘I’m off for a pint, see ‘ya later’ and with that he treats the onlookers to that glorious cacophony that accompanies his first, second and third gear mingers as he disappears up the road.
It’s still relatively early so I make my way down to the Norton factory in Donington, it’s very busy here and bikes line the picturesque courtyard of the old house which serves as the offices for the Norton concern, I grab a brew and settle down to watch the comings and goings as the bikes continue to roll in. Tea quaffed and a slow lap of the courtyard to check out the machines and I skin out as the sun starts to set, the roads are quiet now, the commuters long gone and I give the KTM it’s head on the way home, I detour onto one of my favourite roads rather than going straight home, the air is cool now, definetly a touch of autumn in the air and I shiver as I’m only wearing a t-shirt under my bike jacket, any thoughts of being cold disappears as I wind the throttle on, there’s nothing like riding a bike, fast on a quiet road and as the darkness falls I kill a million insects as they are drawn to the light.
Saturday comes and an afternoon out on the Moto Guzzi, I head out into the high peak via the Staffordshire moorlands, out over the Roaches, the rocky ridge over Leek and drop down into Buxton, I turn off into the beautiful Goyt Valley, it’s so quiet up here, the roads are awash with the previous days heavy rain and the road is more like a stream bed in places where the,water is coursing down from the peat banks leaving a trail of mud and grit in its wake. I stop a few times to take in the view, the heather on the moorland is just starting to get its purple hue and I watch a pair of Buzzards gliding on the thermals, a Curlews haunting cry ringing out across the desolate moor as it calls to its mate.
As I ride along on the Guzzi, it’s steady burble my soundtrack and my butt cheeks slowly succumb to the vibration induced numbness I realise that this is why I ride, my consciousness is raised as I tune into the sights, smells, sounds and senses of moving through the air without encumbrance and as I wend my way home I’m already planning my next escape........
Sunday, 11 August 2019
I’d forgotten how much machining work had been put into that rear hub! WTF! I think we made a good fist of turning a piece of shit, neglected, unloved, [see what I did there?] unfashionable 650 tourer/commuter into a rather smart race machine........;.;
Thursday, 8 August 2019
The JAP engined, single cylinder ‘Montgomery’ I have no idea about but I loved it, girder forks, ridgid frame and that tank cut away to fit around the cylinder head was mint, the tiny, jewel like Kreidler/Van Veen 50cc racer was just beautiful, so tiny but packed with engineering brilliance, I wanted to pick it up and take it home in my game-keepers bag, throw the telly out and just place it on the table, lush.
The standard of the bikes was exemplary, these are no show-ponies here, just race machinery and even the people ‘parading’ were seriously rinsing these old knackers, the way it should be. My favourite bike? Well, you do become a tad blasé when there are so many fantastic bikes on show, [can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of any of the big buck ‘lansdowne’ manx nortons] May be a surprise but for me, it’s the Takuma Aoki ‘Cup Noodle’ 250 ‘stroker that gets my vote for bike of the meeting, bike porn of the highest quality, I’ve got this on my shed wall from a centrespread poster from an old ‘fastbikes’ magazine, if my fading memory serves me well, the stickers are all painted on as they are unobtanium, the photo doesn’t do it justice.......
Saturday, 3 August 2019
I rock up at 1100 hrs and I’m surprised that it doesn’t seem too busy with punters, the pits though are a hive of activity, the whole place is packed to the rafters with race machine exotica. this is a noise limit free meeting and the glorious sounds of unfettered race bikes warming up is pure music to the ears, two-strokes, the sound of racing, a high pitched scream, the revs rising instantaneously and the haze of blue smoke, I breathe it in, memories of a simpler time, free of save the planet, greta thunberg, political correctness and emission conscious bollocks, yes, I’m a caveman, I make no excuses for that.
the ‘diesel’s’ are well accounted for, the bass tones of the four-strokes shakes the ground, I must admit a wry smile glanced across my boat race when a small child burst into tears when a particularly loud MV was being given the berries! Fond memories of the Carib club in derby, warm red stripe, dub reggae and bowel loosening frequencies.