Sunday, February 28, 2016

Quick Blast - Tanners Lane Beach

With Kiera away last night in Bournemouth on her Hen Do - I was left on my own and what better way to spend Sunday morning than a quick blast on the bike!

I did not want to go far and recently I was told about a little known place called Tanners Lane Beach, which is just outside of Lymington.

It did not take me long to find it, you just keep on going past the ferry terminal to the Isle of Wight, take the next right in the road sign posted to Sowley, then the next right again.

Easy to miss, as it looks like a bit of a farm track and is not signposted. Coming from the direction of Lymington I did not see the Tanners Lane road sign.

A quick turn around, and then down to the end of the road.

I believe you can park on the beach, but this is at your own discretion. There is just enough space for two cars to park up on the road and that is it!

I'm glad I found the place deserted on a chilly February morning, during the summer I can imagine how busy it could get!

 I spent around 1 1/2 hrs on the bike, as from here I looped up to Brockenhurst and then back home.

A quick blast to blow the cobwebs away!!

The journey continues........

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Riding With A Pillion - How It Works For Us!

Riding with a pillion is a little different than normal riding. Then it is only yourself to have to worry about!

With your loved one sat right behind,  you are tasked with not only to get them from point A to point B, but to keep them alive!

As the days are getting closer to our Honeymoon, when we are heading off to the South of France and hopefully Italy I thought it about time Kiera got on the bike again.

We have only been out a couple of times around the New Forest, but this time we needed to get some motorway miles under our belts.

Kiera was a little nervous about this. We decided to head for Portsmouth, just to see how long it would take us to get to the ferry terminal. So we killed two birds with one stone.

I have now completed nearly 3000 miles on the bike, riding in all sorts of weather, day and night and all types of roads.

I feel a great deal more confident on the bike now than when we first went out together.

The most difficult part for me with a pillion is when they get on and off! Trying to hold the bike up whilst they climb aboard I find tough going.

It's a tall heavy bike and with my short legs it does stretch me to my limits!

Once on and we are off it's as if it's just me. The bike just seems to revel in the experience, being stable, and just as quick off the mark.

It was also very windy today, there were some exposed sections of the motorway with some vicious  cross winds to tend with, but we managed ok. My arms were a little tired by the time we got home.

Kiera enjoyed the ride, and is excited about our European tour, so today's motorway trip did not put her off!

Which is just as well as the ferry is booked and so is the first two nights accommodation!!

The journey continues.......

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

DIY SatNav Mounting Bar For Honda Varadero 2001 Tested!

With nearly 600 miles of testing I can say that the DIY bar held up well with my SatNav mounted to it.

I moved the locating bracket over to the far right of the bar, this gave me a clearer view of the rev counter enabling me to see up to 5000 rpm.

I could of tidied the cable better, but for now it worked a treat. Even in strong sunlight I was able to still see it.

It's location being high up meant I only had to glance down slightly to see the screen.

So yes, very happy with the way it has all worked out.

The journey continues.........................

Valley Of The Rocks On A Honda Varadero Feb 2016

I have just uploaded the video I shot whilst riding the "Valley Of The Rocks". These are situated just West of Lynton, North Devon.

A word of warning though, the road is very narrow in places, I went off season. I can only imagine that in the summer it would be a complete and utter nightmare as passing places are few and far between.

There are also a lot of trees so during the summer the leaves would obscure the views!

You have to pay £2.00 toll fee as the road is private, but to be honest it is worth it.


The journey continues.......

British Long Distance Riders Dorset Road Book Feb 2016 Day 1

Day 1

With another day off and with the forecast set for sunshine it was too good an opportunity not to get out on the bike once more.

I had thought of completing or at least getting some more of the Devon Road Book done, but that would of meant a couple of hours in the saddle before I started.

I wanted an easy day so decided to keep it local and start the Dorset Road Book.

With the bike rested up for the day I did wonder if it would start due to the recent charging issues. I needn't of worried, on the button, so I was ready to go.

I always ride with panniers fitted, it just makes me feel safer by giving me greater road presence. With the amount of lunatics on the road Ill take any help I can get.

I was a bit later getting away and filled up with fuel at 1025hrs at New Milton.

From here my satnav was set for Knowlton Church. At a little over 20 miles away it would not take me long to get there.

On my way satnav wanted me to travel up the Wessex Way, which is currently down to one lane with excessive tail backs. This is one of the major routes in and out of Bournemouth.

I avoided this and took the road that leads up past Matchams, all the way to Verwood. Passing  all the stationary traffic made me smile!

Out and into very rural Dorset, and picked up the road that leads back to Wimborne. 

Although I had been on this road before this was the first time I had actually noticed the church up to my right on a hill.

I turned right off the main road and down a lane and pulled up right in front of the entrance.

It's free to enter, it's a place I want to go back to and have a wander around, but today it was off to my next stop.

Tarrant Rushton, or I should say as it was RAF Tarrant Rushton. Parts of the runway are still visible, as is a massive hanger.

The map below takes you to the village of Tarrant Rushton, but the airfield is just outside the village.

This airfield was used during WW2 and has a great deal of history attached to it. A memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives is accessible from the road.

From here it was only a short hop over to Compton Abbas Airfield. This one is still working and is a busy little place. It has a great cafe with amazing views across towards Shaftesbury

But be warned, in the summer it is packed and to get in is almost impossible! It was almost full when I arrived!

I stopped for lunch here, food was good if a little on the expensive side.

I managed to bump into Mike Nelson, who runs Maverick Motorcycles. The guy who taught me how to ride a motorbike, it was good to catch up with him.

Full after my lunch it was a very short 10 minute ride to the foot of Gold Hill in Shaftesbury. My home town.

The hill was made famous by a TV advert. Remember the Hovis advert with the boy riding down a cobbled street on his bike?

This is the bottom of the hill that is never seen and rarely photographed.

History has it that towards the bottom of the hill was a poor house and also a brothel!

I wound my way through St James, and down the hill towards Guys Marsh and it's Prison!

My next stop would be The Mill at Sturminster Newton.  I often used to come here as a young lad to look at the water running through the sluice gates.

The water can often be right over the top of the walk ways!!

Sturminster used to have a massive cattle market, my Auntie Dot used to work there. I often used to go down and look at all the animals. Sadly the market has gone and to be honest the town has died as a result.

I left Sturminster, riding past the old Red Lion pub at the foot of Glue Hill, now a private dwelling with houses built in the car park and beer garden.

I spent many an hour as a boy in that garden whilst my Nan had her 8 gallon scrumpy barrel refilled!

 On towards Sherborne and it's Abbey. A beautiful building, which really does glow in the sunlight due to the colour of the stone it is built with.

Sherborne is also famous for it's Castle, built for Sir Walter Raleigh and later the gardens were designed by Capability Brown.

My last stop of the day would be The Giant and Cerne Abbas There are many theories as to what this 180ft chalk carved Giant represents. However, I like it just because it's there!

Situated up on the hill outside of Cerne Abbas you would have a job to miss it as you drive by!

As this was now my furthest point from home it was a case of retracing my wheel tracks and heading home, going back through Sturminster, Blandford, up over the hills and out across the Cranborne Chase.

I stopped at the Horton Inn for a brew and to use their loo, and then it was the last push for home, riding through the New Forest getting in around 1700.

A brilliant day on the bike covering 147 miles and grinning from ear to ear all the way round!

The journey continues.........................

Sunday, February 14, 2016

British Long Distance Riders - Devon Road Book Feb 2016 Day 2

Day 2

My alarm went off rather rudely at 0600hrs, I promptly ignored it and dozed for a bit. I could hear that it was still raining so I made the decision that I would finish off what I didn't finish the day before.

This did mean I would have to back track on myself, but it was the most logical thing to do.

I was a bit nervous that the bike would not start, but I needn't of worried, first push of the button and she fired up! Brilliant.

I got away around 0900hrs and headed for Hartland Point. This was back up on the North Devon coast.

Satnav once more took me down some tracks, which if I had been in a car I would not of been impressed with or indeed even to negotiate! 

Once there I could not get to the lighthouse as this was on private property so I had to park up as suggested by the tower.

Now on the Honda Varadero it has no fuel gauge so I reset my mileage clock each time I fill up and a warning light comes on approximately after 180 miles. I have a 25 litre tank and when the light comes on I know I have approx 5 litres of fuel left.

So, when I had the charging issues yesterday, my clocks reset automatically so I had only a rough idea how much fuel I had left.

As I was doing a lot of lane riding and garages were few and far between I thought it a good idea to fill up as soon as I could.

Riding down the lane from Hartland point, I stopped and talked to a dog walker who told me that there was a small garage at Woolfardisworthy, miss this one and it was 15 miles in either direction to the next ones.

I found the garage and filled up at a cost of £1.17 a litre! Considering in most places it is down to just 99p a litre I thought it was a tad excessive!

Anyway, I needed it so did not begrudge it too much.

Next stop was Upper Tamar Lake, the lake actually straddles the Devon/Cornwall border.

I had a brew here and sorted directions to my next and final stop of the day.

I had decided that due to the hold ups later I would complete what I should of done the day before and then I would head home. Leaving the the next part of the trip for another day.

My final stop of the day was Roadford Lake, here I stopped and as there was a cafe I had lunch which was very good indeed.

Here I loaded up the satnav for home and headed back to the Forest. 

I had one last stop in Dorchester for a brew, then with it starting to rain made the final push for home.

I got home around 1700hrs, tired, damp but very happy.

A shower, a beer, a chinese delivered and by 2030 I was in bed snoring!

I had completed 484 miles.

The next part of the road book will have to wait for another day. Two days of great riding on roads of all grades with some fantastic scenery. 

I'm glad that I did the trip this time of the year, of course in the summer the weather could of been warmer but the roads would be clogged with Grockles making it no fun.

So there it is, part completed, I now need to wait till I have a couple of spare days to get the rest of the Devon Road Book completed.

The journey continues.......................

British Long Distance Riders - Devon Road Book Feb 2016 Day 1

Day 1

I wanted an early start, but the alarm going off at 0400hrs was not welcome!

Managed to drag myself out of bed and brewed up, got my last few things together and got dressed ready to go.

The weather has not been brilliant so I dressed expecting the worst, many layers including a thick pair of women's black tights! Now, you may laugh, but they are brilliant for keeping you warm!!

I took the panniers out to the bike and clipped them on, I did not bother with the satnav as I had a way to go before I needed that.

I got away at 0540 and headed for Dorchester. I had to stop and put my waterproof jacket on, more to keep me warm than anything else.

By the time I had got to Corfe Mullen the rain had started to fall, nothing to drastic, it was the spray that caused me more bother.

I stopped in Dorchester at Mcdonalds for a brew and a bacon roll, much needed and it warmed me back up.

From Dorchester I headed for Honiton, the rain holding off.

The Devon road book consists of 25 places of interest, dotted throughout Devon. There is no time frame to visit all of the places, but I had set myself a target of two days to complete it.

I roughly worked out that from door to door it would be approximately 600 miles.

My first stop was Dunkeswell Airfield, around 5 miles north of  Honiton. It was used during WW2 initially as a RAF base but later turned over to the Americans. Clicking on the link gives you more details as do all the links in this blog.

Not a great deal going on this early in the morning, so it was just a quick photo and off I went!

Next stop was the Grand Western Canal in Tiverton.

Being off season there was little life here, I had the car park to myself, so once I had used the public loo's I was off again.

It was then a bit of a trek up to Lynton - to look for the Valley Of The Rocks.

As I entered Lynton, I saw a large tourist notice board, so thought it a good idea to pull over and have a read as "Valley of the Rocks" does not come up on my SatNav.

Not that I needed to of bothered, as soon enough I picked up road signs showing me the way.

Must say the valley all though very short was impressive enough, not on the same scale as North Wales or Scotland, but for Devon, not bad at all!

I continued along this road, which leads to a private toll road costing £2.00 From here on the road narrows considerably with a few passing places.

Thankfully I only met one car, I cannot begin to imagine the nightmare it must be to drive along at the height of summer. One to be avoided at all costs.

I put the GoPro on the bike and recorded this part of the trip, so in due course I will get the footage uploaded.

It was a great ride, with some spectacular views.

From here I made my way towards Ilfracombe, a quaint little fishing village, which hasn't changed in years. I was following the A399 and stopped at Combe Martin for my first fill up.

Once at Ilfracombe, down at the end of the quay is a massive bronze statue of a pregnant woman holding a sword called Verity. It was made by Damien Hurst, who has lent it to the town for 20 years.

Climbing out of Ilfracombe I headed for a small village called Georgham, this is where the author Henry Williamson lived whilst writing his book "Tarka The Otter."

After getting directions from a local who told me that he had actually lived in several houses in the village I found the blue plaque, parked up and took the picture.

My next stop on my travels was the Cobbaton Combat Collection. A word of warning it is down a rutted track, so if your driving a lowered sports car forget it!

A really interesting place and this is on my list to go back to, unfortunately it was closed the day I was there, not that I had the time to stop!

However I did speak to the owner and someone who worked there, but that was by pure chance!

After I had taken the photo of my bike by the sign I hopped on and went to start it. Nothing, only the clicking of the starter motor. 

Not a good sign as this meant I had a flat battery. I had only been running the satnav and that would not draw enough current to flatten the battery so there was something wrong somewhere.

So, with the help of the guys from the museum we got a set of jump leads and she fired up. My thoughts now turned to how do I sort this out.

As I left and headed for the main road, waiting to get across the road I spied a BMW GS parked up in a garage, so I thought I would try my luck and pulled in.

They couldn't help me but gave me directions to the nearest bike dealer in Barnstaple who may be able to help.

This happened to be Irelands I pulled in, left it running and popped my head in the door.

I spoke to the chief mechanic who said yes, sure he can take a look but gave no promises as to the fixing of the problem.

He was busy with another bike and I got talking to a customer who spotted my Royal Signals and Veterans badge I wear on my bike jacket. He was an ex Warrant Officer in the Coldstream Guards. We chatted and laughed about our time in, and both agreed that it was different back in our day. Makes you feel old saying that.

With the saddle off exposing the battery, we checked to see what was going on. Not a lot by all accounts! The battery was ok, but there was not a great deal of power going into it. Which was why it was running flat.

Now the reason for this could be one of many things, the main one being a dodgy alternator or the rectifier is fried!

I was hoping that it was the rectifier, mainly due to the fact I just so happened to have a spare with me!!!!!!

I don't think the mechanic could believe it when I pulled it out of my pannier!

So we swapped them over, plugged it in, fired up the bike and the bike was measuring a correct 13.2v going into the battery!

Old Rectifier

Back on the road again!! Yeehaa! Oh I was so happy!

Yet again my spares policy paid off. It so happened that the rectifier was also a Christmas present from Kiera who thought I was mad for asking for it!

On my way and now heading for Bideford Quay and Bridge. I had lost a lot of time with the charging problem, so I made a decision that my next stop would be my last for the day.

I pulled up onto the Quay, had a brew and took the obligatory picture to prove I had been there.

I left Bideford and headed for Okehampton where I was booked into the Youth Hostel for the night.

Unfortunately the A386 was closed at Torrington, or somewhere close by which meant I had to take a detour down the A388 before my wonderful satnav decided that this would be a good time to take me cross country down lanes, and nothing more than tracks, I even went through not one but two farm yards!

I found the Hostel with no problems, but I was expecting it to be a bit closer to the town, but this wasn't going to be a problem as on the website there said there was a restaurant at the hostel that did evening meals.

Access to the hostel was up a steep track which to be honest had seen better days and could of done with a bit of upkeep.

There was some one in reception as I pulled up, so I checked in and found out I was in the lodge, not the main house. Not a problem, or so I thought but the main house was taken up with a private function which meant there was no restaurant operating tonight or for breakfast in the morning! 

This I was not made aware of when I booked on line. So I did feel a little miffed, as this now meant I had to go back into town to get something to eat.

I had booked a single room, which was supposed to have a wash basin and a bed side table, as you can see from the picture it had neither.

It was however, clean and dry, which for £27.00 for the night wasn't too bad.

I unhooked my panniers and settled quickly into my cell!

Looking on line I found the Ma'ida restaurant and managed to park opposite. I wasn't too sure how the they would react to me turning up in my dirty bike gear, but they didn't bat an eye lid and showed me to my table.

Poppadoms and pickles followed by a chicken dansak and mushroom rice went down a treat, I was starving.

After this I headed back to the Hostel, parked the bike up and hoped that it would start again in the morning.

I made a brew, grabbed a quick shower got my laptop out and started to write up my blog, but I was knackered so didn't get too far.

I sorted my gear out ready for the next day, set my alarm for 0600hrs and got my head down.

The journey continues.........

Friday, February 5, 2016

DIY Sat Nav Mounting Bar For Honda Varadero 2001

I tried mounting the SatNav directly onto the handle bars, which did not work out as well as I hoped due to a couple of reasons.

Firstly, to get a good view of the SatNav whilst riding it had to be tilted up, but on a bright day the sun made seeing it a problem, so not a great position to be in.

Secondly, I could not use it with the tank bag on, as the bag obscured vision of it.

All in all a bit of a nightmare.

The only thing for it was to look at ways of mounting up higher on the fairing/dash. I wasn't keen on drilling holes, as this would of been the most obvious answer, instead I decided to investigate my local DIY surplus store for inspiration.

I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, based on the fact that there are two screws on the fairing either side, just above the speedo and rev counters of the dash. They secure the black moulded plastic to the screen.

If I could some how attach a piece of conduit or pipe across I could mount the SatNav directly onto it using the existing screws as mounting points.

As you can see from the pictures above, it seemed to work a treat! Not sure if I will have the SatNav mounted centrally as shown or to the right.

Centrally may obscure the dials, but to be honest I do not ride faster than 70 mph which is where I wont be able to see or take it over 6000 revs.  So not really an issue.

But happy with the concept and design. Total cost - £5.20

And it took less than 15 minutes to bolt on. 

The journey continues......................

Honda Varadero In For It's Service At 34,000 Miles

This morning I took the bike down to Bursey Engineering based in my home town of New Milton for a full service.

I dropped it off in the capable hands of Paul, who also looks after my little Honda C90 aka "Lucille".

I only have one known problem at the moment, which Paul says is an easy fix and they can sort for me.

The problem is when I brake using the foot pedal the brake light comes on, but when I brake using the handle bar lever the brake light does not come on.

This is 9 times out of 10 the fault of the micro switch in the lever.

On initial inspection Paul thought it prudent that the front tyre is changed, all though it is still good for a couple of thousand miles, with a couple of trips planned it would be ragged by the end of them. Better safe than sorry.

So she is down there as we speak, I haven't had a phone call yet telling me there is a problem, so fingers crossed!

Will find out later today!

Well it's now later, and I am pleased to say that I have the bike back with no issues! Hooray!!!

The brake light was sorted with a new switch.

I was a little nervous, I asked Paul to give it a proper going over, but he couldn't find anything wrong with it at all! 

Very chuffed - £200 lighter in the wallet, but money well spent as far as I'm concerned.

Just the new tyre to go on the front and ready to go!

The journey continues...........