Friday 19 Jan 2018 – Seaford

I haven’t been out on my bike since the Xmas Toy Run at the beginning of December.

Before getting togged up I check that the bike starts ok-which thankfully it does.

Then its inside to get layered up. The sun may be shining but it’ a pretty chilly day.

First a pair of tights, then thermal leggings , then kevlar Go-Go leggings , then on my top half ; a vest top, long sleeved T shirt, thin thermal base layer,  then my Gerbing Heater liner topped off by my bike jacket and fleece neck warmer.

It might sound like a lot, but it works to keep me toastie on even the coldest of rides.

And whilst on the subject of cold rides I’d like to share this wonderful bit of prose with you “Season of the Bike”, by moto-blogger and excellent writer Dave Karlotski.

Those of you who do ride will be nodding your head in agreement and those that don’t-well hopefully it will give you some idea of why we do it!

There is cold, and there is cold on a motorcycle. Cold on a motorcycle is like being beaten with cold hammers while being kicked with cold boots, a bone bruising cold. The wind’s big hands squeeze the heat out of my body and whisk it away; caught in a cold October rain, the drops don’t even feel like water. They feel like shards of bone fallen from the skies of Hell to pock my face. I expect to arrive with my cheeks and forehead streaked with blood, but that’s just an illusion, just the misery of nerves not designed for highway speeds. 

Despite this, it’s hard to give up my motorcycle in the fall and I rush to get it on the road again in the spring; lapses of sanity like this are common among motorcyclists. When you let a motorcycle into your life you’re changed forever. The letters “MC” are stamped on your driver’s license right next to your sex and weight as if “motorcycle” was just another of your physical characteristics, or maybe a mental condition. But when warm weather finally does come around all those cold snaps and rainstorms are paid in full because a summer is worth any price. 

A motorcycle is not just a two-wheeled car; the difference between driving a car and climbing onto a motorcycle is the difference between watching TV and actually living your life. We spend all our time sealed in boxes and cars are just the rolling boxes that shuffle us from home-box to work-box to store-box and back, the whole time, entombed in stale air, temperature regulated, sound insulated, and smelling of carpets. 

On a motorcycle I know I’m alive. When I ride, even the familiar seems strange and glorious. The air has weight and substance as I push through it and its touch is as intimate as water to a swimmer. I feel the cool wells of air that pool under trees and the warm spokes of light that fall through them. I can see everything in a sweeping 360 degrees, up, down and around, wider than Pana-Vision and than IMAX and unrestricted by ceiling or dashboard. Sometimes I even hear music. It’s like hearing phantom telephones in the shower or false doorbells when vacuuming; the pattern-loving brain, seeking signals in the noise, raises acoustic ghosts out of the wind’s roar. But on a motorcycle I hear whole songs: rock ‘n roll, dark orchestras, women’s voices, all hidden in the air and released by speed. At 30 miles per hour and up, smells become uncannily vivid. All the individual tree- smells and flower- smells and grass-smells flit by like chemical notes in a great plant symphony. Sometimes the smells evoke memories so strongly that it’s as though the past hangs invisible in the air around me, wanting only the most casual of rumbling time machines to unlock it. A ride on a summer afternoon can border on the rapturous. The sheer volume and variety of stimuli is like a bath for my nervous system, an electrical massage for my brain, a systems check for my soul. It tears smiles out of me: a minute ago I was dour, depressed, apathetic, numb, but now, on two wheels, big, ragged, windy smiles flap against the side of my face, billowing out of me like air from a decompressing plane. 

Transportation is only a secondary function. A motorcycle is a joy machine. It’s a machine of wonders, a metal bird, a motorized prosthetic. It’s light and dark and shiny and dirty and warm and cold lapping over each other; it’s a conduit of grace, it’s a catalyst for bonding the gritty and the holy. I still think of myself as a motorcycle amateur, but by now I’ve had a handful of bikes over half a dozen years and slept under my share of bridges. I wouldn’t trade one second of either the good times or the misery. Learning to ride one of the best things I’ve done. 

Cars lie to us and tell us we’re safe, powerful, and in control. The air-conditioning fans murmur empty assurances and whisper, “Sleep, sleep.” Motorcycles tell us a more useful truth: we are small and exposed, and probably moving too fast for our own good, but that’s no reason not to enjoy every minute of the ride. 

My original plan was a quick round trip down to Uckfield, turn right and head back via Sheffield Park.

But as so often happens , once I’m out and enjoying my ride , I continue on at Uckfield, heading south , towards the sea.

I have ridden this road (A26) so many times- it isn’t a particularly challenging road but has a few nice little twistie bits and some  straights where you can open it up and of course – a great tunnel at Lewes, where one always has to rev the throttle to fill the air-its the rules as any biker knows ;o)

Just before I enter Seaford I take a turning right to take me to the seafront.

As its out of holiday season I sneak onto the promenade for a photo opportunity in front of the beach huts.

The sign said no cyclists-it didn’t mention motorbikes!

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Looking out across the English Channel.

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A kind passer-by, an ex-biker himself, offers to take a photo of me on my bike.

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The temperatures are starting to drop, so I head home , taking the route back via Alfriston.

It feels like 9 times out of 10 on this road I get stopped at the level crossing.

But on the plus side, it does mean I can filter to the front of the queue so that I have the twisty country roads clear in front, not getting stuck behind much slower cars.

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I arrive home, just as it starts to spit with rain-perfect timing.

But, annoyingly I realise that I had forgotten :

  1. To take a photo of my starting mileage for the year
  2. To put on Rever to record my ride

but I reckon it was about a 60 mile round trip and make a note to myself to remember to log my mileage at the start of my next ride.

Here’s to many more rides in 2018.

 

 

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Monday 3 Oct

It’s a beautiful day, so it seems wrong not to make the most of it and go for a ride. One of the silver linings of currently being jobless.

The A272 calls to me. I think I will head to Loomies at West Meon for a fry up brunch, but might continue on to Winchester.

As other bikers know – It’s about the ride not the destination.

At Midhurst I stop to get petrol.

As I get off my bike I notice that the side of the seat looks damp…but its not rained?

Then the realisation hits me.

Can you spot what’s missing in the photo below?

Duh! I’d topped up the oil before leaving this morning and somehow had forgotten to put the oil cap back on 🙄

There is oil all down the side of the bike.

So it’s into the garage shop to buy a roll of kitchen towel,to clean up and a roll of insulation tape- the short term answer to so many problems.

I use the scissors from the first aid kit, that lives under the pillion seat, to cut a circle from the tape’s plastic packaging. I then tape this on, criss-crossing the tape to ensure coverage and hopefully enough stickiness to get me home.

It works!

Here is my “repair” when I get home.

The oil cap is where I left it on the shelf in my shed.

Now why I put it on the shelf and not on the bike seat, which is what I normally do, will remain a mystery. I hope it won’t happen again.

Anyway, despite being shorter than planned, it was still a good ride, the A272 rarely fails to deliver.

Friday 22 Sept 2017: Newlands Corner

I have arranged to meet Jenny Linn Cole, another lady rider who blogs, at Newlands Corner today. We are both also members of the Facebook group Motorbike Women, so as it’s such a beautiful day I also post up a general invite, and message Christine, a biking friend, just in case she has today off.

My wiggly route over:

There are about half a dozen bikes there when I arrive, but quite a few more by the time we leave.

Motorbike Women:

L to R Jenny, Christine, me

Jenny has brought her Round Britain Rumble photos and her sketchbook to show us. I love her sketches.

Paul, Christine’s brother has bravely come to join us too,

He very kindly buys us all a hot drink, whilst we sit and natter.

When a nasty big black cloud obscures the sunshine we decide that maybe that’s our cue to leave.

This rider obviously has a good sense of humour ” Not On”

Paul openly admits that he does like to try and fit a new box or bag wherever he can on his bike !

Christine getting ready for the off .

If you want to see Jenny on her bike, please take a look at her blog Round Britain Rumble as unfortunately the photo I took didn’t come out.

My Garmin Zumo took me home the curvy way, down lots of little wiggly wooded lanes.

On a day like to day, being out of work has its compensations!

#life is good

Saturday 2 Sept

The sun is shining, its my last full day, so I decide to make the most of it and head to the beach.

Im going to try somewhere new Plage de le Mine d’Or which is near Penestin.

I take the curvy route down, sharing it part of the way with a cycling event.

I arrive at Pensestin at lunch time, the restaurants in the centre are very busy but I spot one on the edge of town which had free tables.

I park up, a little too close to the pot plants for the owners liking!

The Moules Frites are delicious.

After lunch I ride to the beach.

The carpark is quite small for what is meant to be a popular beach.

As I walk down the concrete slope to the sea it looks like it is high tide and that there will be no beach to sit on, but how wrong am I?

What a gorgeous beach.

With the added interest of paragliders flying above.

I sit myself down for a bit of sunbathing. An old lady coming back from a swim is very interested in my blow up wedge

The beach is huge, and fairly empty so why does this family have to set up just 6ft from me?

The sea is lovely. A few odd stones on the seaedge but otherwise sandy.

I stay on the beach for a good few hours listening to downloaded Radio 4 dramas on my headphones.

Time to head back, as I still need to pack as its an early start tomorrow.

I take a more direct route back via Questermbert- still an enjoyable ride. I have to keep an eye on my speed as its so easy to end up riding much too fast.

I am feeling super chilled after my afternoon on the beach – a fab way to end my holiday.

Friday 1st Sept

Paul and Tracey start their journey home today. They are staying in Caen tonight before catching the tunnel tomorrow.

The statutory photo outside my #littlefrenchhouse.

After a quick stop at SuperU to change some clothes that Tracey bought yesterday but which don’t fit, we ride to Ploermel for lunch.

Tilty head melon smiles.

Tracey tries the Breton speciality pancake – a Gallette for main.

Once again the heavens open halfway through lunch, but this time we are ushered indoors to a basement room, as the canopy is broken and doesn’t extend properly.

For pudding I introduce Tracey to the joy that is Cafe Gourmand.

An expresso coffee and 3 little puddings – in this case pink blamange, fruit salad and creme brulee.

Its then time sadly to say Au Revoir, as they head off.

I ride to the Lac du Duc to walk round the Hortensias, but it starts to rain, so decide against it.

Once I’m back on the bike the rain stops, so I ride over to Mototaranis, as I may not have time tomorrow and they needed me to countersign some bank documentation.

Whilst chatting over a cuppa it starts to rain heavily again, so when it stops I quickly ride home to avoid getting drenched.

I had washed the sheets this morning, but because of the downpours they hadn’t totally dried, so it’s on with the large heated towel rail in the bathroom to try and air them properly.

Thursday 31 August

Because of the rain yesterday I have to rethink my plans on where I was going to take Paul and Tracey- so difficult as there are so many good places to go and so little time as they head home tomorrow. They will just have to make a return visit.

Decision made. First stop Josselin. It takes a lot to beat that first view of the château as you come down the hill.

Heres one taken at the bottom.

We park at the top of town- for a moment I thought I’d lost them but Paul had dropped a glove.

Another pretty town with lots of half timbered houses.

The restaurant ( above) I’d planned to go to is closed, but we manage to get a table at another.

Top tip if you are ever in France, don’t just plonk yourself down at a table to eat, you should always stand and wait to ask the waiting staff- apparently its considered very rude just to sit down.

The menu

The tartine for starter. I thought it was a quiche…wrong!

Tracey looking pensive.

Paul with a happy french frie

Halfway through lunch the heavens open. Luckily our table is under a large umbrella and the staff quickly put up another round one at the side to catch the overlap.

This gargoyle on the church does his work splashing the rain onto the stones below.

The rain eventually stops and after finishing lunch we walk it off.

Paul climbs the church tower…

Tracey and I sit and watch!

The view- photos by Paul, obviously!

We then take a look round the church- it is deceptively large.

Tomb of Olivier d’ Cuison and Margarete de Rohan from the 1400s.

The mourning monks on the side were destroyed in the French Revolution.

This creature, allegedly a greyhound, keeps guard at the feet of Margaret.

After Josselin we ride to Porcaro to visit the Oratory/ Bikers Chapel.

We also wander round the exhibition showing the history of the Biker Blessing which is still in the church. Its amazing to see hoe its grown from 38 bikers to 20,000.

Below are photos from when the Pope sent a crown for the Madone statue.

Then it’s back to the house as Martin and Jennifer are coming round for an aperitif.

They leave around 8 and I cook merguez sausages for supper.

It ends up being a long night ad Paul and I sit up chatting till gone 1am, with the help of a couple of bottles of wine!

Wednesday 30 August

The word of the day is rain.

All day up until early evening. Rain.

It’s days like this that I’m glad that Im not staying in a hotel and can slob around all day in my own place.

A couple of damp patches have shown up in the bathroom and Paul kindly takes a look for me- seems the insulation has not been rolled back properly, which he duly sorts.

Then going above and beyond, he cleans the ceiling patches off, then decides to paint the whole bathroom ceiling with gloss paint – what a star! Thanks Paul.

At about 7pm the rain clears, but as drinking had commenced earlier we can’t go out on the bikes, but just enjoy some fresh air in the garden

Would you let this man stay in ypur house?