Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Ural Motorcycle Sidecar - Collection Day June 2016

A train ride up to Wisbech to collect my Ural from David Angel at F2 Motorcycles!

The feeling of excitement and apprehension is almost too much to handle.

I've read everything there is to read on how to ride one of these contraptions, but to be honest I really have no idea how I am going to get on.

From what I can make out you either love it or hate it! Fingers crossed!

No problems with the trains or connections and arrived after a short journey in a taxi to find the Ural all ready to go.

I must say, David is an absolute star, taking his time to talk me through everything, a proper hand over.

With the paper work completed, I had a quick lesson up and down the track, but to be honest, nothing prepares you for what it is really like to ride a Ural for the first time on the open road!

To give you an idea, forget completely everything you know about riding a motorcycle!

Then you have to remember that the bike pulls to the left or to the right depending on whether you are accelerating or slowing down.

Then there is the camber of the road that pulls you either left or right, then a bend which you have to physically steer through then you begin to have an idea of what it is actually like.

It is also sluggish, if your looking for speed out of the big 750cc boxer engine then forget it, you have just bought the wrong bike!

I left David's and at my 2nd corner put myself in to the path of oncoming traffic!

For the first 20 odd miles I wondered how I could of been so stupid as to think that buying a Ural sidecar was a good idea!

But by the time I was home (200 miles later) I could not stop grinning, and I haven't since!

It is a head turning, mental beast to ride, being so much fun that even when it is chucking it down with rain you still want to ride it!

Kiera, loves being in it and I feel much better with her in the chair than sat behind me on the Varadero. The only thing she is not keen on is the official names for someone in the side car. Being referred to as either "ballast" or the "monkey" is not to her liking at all!

The off we had before our honeymoon departure really messed me up I'm afraid. This is the perfect set up for us!

We even go to Tesco in it!

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

Ural Motorcycle - Dalesman 750cc May 2016

Whilst away on my last trip I went to take a look at a Ural Motorcycle and Sidecar.

To say I fell in love with the thought is an understatement!

So after a lot of searching, research and thought as to the practicalities of owning such a beast I have now got the blessing of my lovely wife to buy one!

Not wanting to waste any time at all all, please welcome to the stable the Ural Dalesman 750cc.

I collect it in a couple of weeks time!

I rode up to F2 Motorcycles at Wisbech and talked with David Angel the owner who was selling the bike, we agreed on a price plus a few extra's that I wanted fitting, such as leg shields, jerry can and a screen.

I also had a new spare tyre fitted and the rear seat removed and a luggage rack fittted instead.

The journey up was on the Varadero and it was wet, windy and to be honest a tad uncomfortable. 

But very happy with the bike and cannot wait to ride her home!

An Adventure - But Nothing Went To Plan! May 2016

Sometimes you just got to go with the flow!

I had a few days off, and I had decided to do something daft and attempt a monumental riding trip by doing all four points.

Lands End, St Davids, Lowestoft and John O'Groats.

Well, that was the plan, but it quickly transpired that this was not going to happen!

I set off bright and early with the bike all ready packed the night before.

I soon made it past Honiton and stopped for a much needed brew. It was a bit damp and a little chilly and my arse felt numb all ready!

Heading on down through Devon I arrived at Lands End where I blagged my way in for free and got my picture taken!

It was misty and I had my waterproof on to keep warm! From here I was now heading for St David's in Wales, I reckon I could get past Bodmin Moor and possibly to Exeter.

In the end I made it to Springfield Holiday Park. after a 335 mile day.

A great spot for just pulling in for the night if all you want is a pitch, great showers and loo's and during the summer there is even a pool!

The Vango Banshee 200 tent still like new and works a treat.

Next morning I wasn't away with the lark as planned, opting for a leisurely start. To be on target I needed to be away by 0500hrs. This was just not going to happen!

I was still away sharpish though and had a brew at Sedgemoor services on the M5.

Crossing over the River Severn I had made it into Wales.

It was then a long blast along the M4 and then continuing on straight out to the Welsh Coast.

I stopped at the services at the end of the M4 for a stretch of the legs, the sun was blazing down, completely different from the day before and I took on a load of water to keep myself hydrated.

Onto Haverfordwest, where I pulled into Tesco to buy some fresh food for dinner that night. I also bought a cool little camping chair!

It was still roasting hot, I booked into a campsite at Newgale and set off heading directly up the coast.

As I came down the hill and into Broad Haven I noticed the bike handling a little different, but I kept going, as I started to climb the hill I could feel the back end moving around.

Yep, I had a rear puncture! There was no way I was able to stop on the steep narrow hill so went very slowly till I found a place to pull over.

And this was as far as I got!

I could not see anything in the tyre like a nail or screw, but with the bike being very difficult to move with a flat decided to call out the AA to sort it out.

After an hour they turned up and we discovered that it would not hold air, and that there was a rather large problem with the tyre!

The tyre had split! Now the tyre was not that old or had very many miles on the clock, infact less than 2000 miles so why this would happen is still a mystery!

Maybe the heat? maybe the weight? Like I said a mystery.

One thing was for sure, I was not going anywhere else today!

Loaded up, and after numerous phone calls we managed to get the bike to a dealers at Clunderwen called Lamo's who had a tyre in stock that would fit and this would be done the next morning.

This left me with a dilemma, where to sleep tonight! I decided to check into a hotel in the same village as the dealer, as the nearest camp site was too far away and would involve taxis. I could walk from the hotel to the garage.

We left the bike round the back of the garage, hoping it would be still there in the morning and the AA man dropped me and my kit at the hotel.

I later found out that the guys from the garage went back later that evening and wheeled it into the garage - top lads!

I checked into the hotel called the Nantyffin Motel, which I have to say is the sort of place where the saying "any port in a storm" will do. It did just that, but only just!

After checking in, I was shown my room which was through via the dining room which happened to be hosting a dinner for the local bowls club that night.

I'm really not sure what they thought of a big hairy biker in full gear with panniers walking through their presentation evening!

By the time I had got everything to my room I was drenched with sweat. Before dinner I'll have a shower and freshen up.

Only to find the bloody water was freezing! No hot water at all. As you can imagine with my plans shot to pieces this was the final straw! 

I managed to get a shower, a very quick one, and went to the desk and managed to get a reduction on my room, and a free pint. I ended up with two free pints. I think the look on my face gave the impression I was not in the mood to be messed around!

Gammon, egg, chips and peas, which was good and needed. I later sat at the bar and enjoyed my second pint, where the barman kindly informed me "Sir, I believe you have a pea in your beard"!

Next morning at 1000hrs I called the garage to find out if the bike was done. It was and I walked up to the garage. Leaving all my gear to be collected from the Motel later.

With the tyre off you could clearly see the split!

I'm just glad that it did not decide to let go when I was sat at 70mph on the motorway! Could of been a whole different story!

I settled up and thanked the lads at the garage for helping me out so much, they were great.

Back at the Motel I Ioaded up and headed off once more.

Last night I had thought long and hard at what I was doing on this trip and why I was doing it.

I was really not enjoying the motorway riding, you get to see nothing and to be honest I found it a chore and boring.

The trip as it originally started out was no longer going to be a high speed endurance test.

This type of riding is definitely not for me. I prefer to bimble along on back roads taking my time and stopping often.

I had also decided that to even try to carry on with the original plan was foolish.

So this is where I decided to head up the coast and spend the night at Caernarfon at a camp site I have stayed at before - Riverside Camp Site.

On my way I stopped at Aberaeron for a brew and a stretch of the legs, the weather was wonderful, and following the coast road had some great views out to sea.

This was more like it, nice roads with fantastic views, I was back in my element and loving every second.

I pulled into Riverside camping and asked if they had any pitches left. I wasn't that hopeful as when I rode down through Llanberis pass it was mobbed, I have never seen it so busy!

Expecting them to say no we are full, they said yes, plenty of room and I managed to pitch in the exact same spot I was in the last time I was here!

Not only that but as I was walking back to my bike the owner came over and said Hi, back again, I remember you from last time! Brilliant!

 I had a relaxing evening, cooked my tea, read and showered and went to bed with the gurgle of the river in the back ground.

Next day I packed up after having a brew and a good breakfast.

Heading south, riding through some great roads with no real plan other than to get to Brecon tonight and stop at a little site that I stopped at last time I was over in Wales.

But first down through the Elan Valley, there are some amazing views as you ride through this area.

I rode to the campsite that I knew, and found the warden who was happy for me to stay. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of the site as there are 3 all within spitting distance of each other, so I cannot work it out even looking on line!

It was a nice surprise to find these at the bottom of my pannier! I'd forgotten all about them!

Right next to the campsite is a river.

This was my final night. The next morning I packed up and rode home, but I did stop off and take a look at a Ural Motorcycle and Sidecar set up, which I quite like the look of and would suit my style of travel.

Arriving home I had covered 1097 miles, the best days were after the puncture.

I have now decided that I will no longer chase big miles, but be happy to bimble along with no destination in mind.

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

Bike Night April 2016 White Horse Quidhampton

There are a couple of bike nights around locally, but finishing work early enough to make it to them is always a bit of a challenge!

So when myself and my mate Richard heard about a new one at The White Horse Pub, Quidhampton (Near Salisbury) we checked our work schedules and found we could make it.

It did not take us long to get up to the pub, it was a small affair, with a few bikes but not on the same scale as Poole, probably no more that 20 or so bikes.

Never the less, a pasty and a pint for a fiver, and a good blast on the bike was fun!

Richards Bandit

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

Micro Adventure To Tisbury Wiltshire

After getting back from honeymoon and sorting various things out, we found that we were still in possession of of an amount of crockery and serving platters from my good friend Toby who did all our catering.

Now the sensible thing would of been to put it all in the back of the car, wrapped in towels to avoid breakages and drive up.

But, where is the fun in that?

Instead I filled the panniers and strapped the largest of the platters behind me and rode the Honda Varadero up, as this was my first proper ride after her repairs!

The repairs were all straight forward, the crash bars were re-straightened and the fairing was drilled and stitched with cable ties. Makes her look like she has a scar, but works a treat.

I arrived in Tisbury, had a bag of chips from the chip shop and unloaded all the items which thankfully were all intact!

I headed home down and through the chalk valleys of Wiltshire, stopping off to see the badges carved into the hill side at Fovant.

My old Regimental Badge of the Royal Corps of Signals is the one in the middle, Mercury - Gods Messenger.

A good day out on the bike.......

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

Honeymoon In Scotland - Home At Last

After 2055.8 miles, a cracked windscreen, which we only got around an hour before we got home and a damaged motorcycle we finally made it back.

Stopping off for lunch, we met up with my gorgeous daughter who I do not see enough of, but any time I get is a bonus so I do not complain.

It was a fantastic honeymoon, made possible by the generous gifts of cash we received as presents for our wedding.

Scotland is a special place, well worth a visit, we will be back one day to spend some serious time exploring and savouring all there is to do.

Finally, after all the luxury we found that our boiler was not working so no hot water or heating - welcome home!!

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

Honeymoon In Scotland Day 10

We had spent the morning at Stirling Castle, we now had the choice of pushing hard and getting home late this evening or taking our time and stopping off for one final night.

One final night it was, and how glad we were that we did!

We left Stirling, picked up the motorway and headed South. Turning off and heading across country, up over the Kirkstone pass before dropping down towards Ullswater lake.

We had not pre-booked anywhere, we thought we would drive, spot a hotel we like the look of and try our luck.

We spotted a hotel on lake Windermere which looked rather impressive, right on the lake and pulled in. As soon as I walked in through the door, regardless of cost I knew we were staying here the night!

I have to say that out of all the hotels we stayed at the Langdale Chase Hotel beat them all hands down.

Words fail me as to how good it was, you will just have to go there and spoil yourselves!

This was what I saw as I walked in!

Later on relaxing with a Gin and Tonic beside probably the best fire place in the world!

With views like that from your bedroom window, how could you possibly not like the place!

That evening we had a fabulous meal, the staff were brilliant, but to my disappointment we were not woken during the night by ghostly goings on as the place is reportedly haunted!

We could not put off our journey home anymore, tomorrow we would be back to reality!

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

Honeymoon In Scotland Day 9

This would be our last day in Scotland, but before we left Stirling we thought it would be nice to have a wander around Stirling Castle that sits high up on the hill, dominating the local landscape.

The castle itself is steeped in history, far too much for me to write up here, so follow the links and spend some time learning about this amazing place.

We spent a good few hours wandering around the place, but by far for me was the Regimental Museum of the Argyll and Southern Highlanders.

Reading about their exploits over the years, did make me a bit emotional!

Well worth a visit, I think we were lucky going at this time of year, I could imagine at the height of the tourist season that it would be just a bit too busy!

We now had to make a decision. Do we head straight home in one dash, or do we break the journey up by stopping off in the Lake District?

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