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

Sunday 23 July Wessons & Seaford

First time out on the bike since my trip to France and subsequent back problems, so I am a little apprehensive, but all turns out ok.

The roads are still damp in places from last nights downpour, and more rain is forecast for later, but I aim to be home before the rain.

I head over to Wessons in Horam- one of my favourite shorter rides.

The big decision to be made as I ride over, is what will I order to eat?!

The thought of a Cheese and Ham toastie jumps into my head…Mmm, havent had one of those in ages so thats that sorted!

The cafe isnt as busy as I expected, and I manage to grab a seat outside at the front.

The guy who was behind me in the queue joins me on the table,and we are soon chatting. His big fat breakfast comes out before my order, Work that one out!

Two other bikers join us, Stewart and Tyrone and we continue the chat. One of the great things about a biker cafe- you get to talk to strangers who soon become friends!

Turns out they are both members of the local Top of Town facebook group too.

They are planning on going to Pyranees in September. I suggest they visit the Picos too. Check out my blog post of my trip there and you will see why I recommend it.

They ask where I’m headed and if I’d mind if they tagged on. Not a problem for me, although I explain Im only heading down to Seaford to visit Steve’s Dad, John.

Its a good ride down- My pace may have been a little slow for them, (a couple of times we are overtaken by other sportsbikes) but I’ve learnt to ride my own ride.

We say goodbye at Seaford as I head off to see John.

After a cuppa and a chat with John, who I think is looking really well (must be all those meals on wheels he’s having) it’s time to head home if I want to miss the rain.

A good blast back, stopping briefly at Chelwood Gate to buy some freesias from the nursery there.

I get home just as it starts raining…result!

Put my flowers in a vase

Crack open a beer, put TV on to watch BSB from Brands

And read the two freebie biking mags I’d picked up at Wessons.

And to finish the day off a little later I’ll be off to Beer Club down at The Old Mill to catch up with friends.

My favourite kind of a Sunday

Sunday 26 March: Newhaven & back

As it’s Mothers Day and I’ve been invited to lunch at Vickis, I only have time for a short blast out today to enjoy the spring sunshine, so decide to go to Newhaven and back.

What a beautiful day for a ride. There is a light breeze but it is quite warm.

The tide is high when I get to Newhaven.

I walk round to the beach to pick up a souvenir stone. 

At the end of the harbour wall some lads are doing a photoshoot.  They are a local band,  Igloo.

My souvenir stone!

What do you think of my new lid? 

I was given it by biking friends Nigel and Jane, when I mentioned I had been trying on open face helmets. 

 Nigel hadn’t got on with it, so it was sat up in their loft, almost new and they’ve generously given it to me.

It is noisier than I’m used to, but I do like being able to flip up the front.

Thank you so much xx

Time to head home, taking the back roads out of Newhaven, past Piddinghoe up to Lewes.

I take a short detour to Colmans Hatch church to put some flowers on Steve’s grave and lay one on his Mums grave too.

Then onto a lovely Mothers Day lunch at Vickis, with Dan, doing the honours with the cooking.

As the sun is out I finally get a chance to get do my Pink Stiletto photoshoot! 

On the left is a cover photo for BMW magazine in USA. This caused a furore amongst many lady riders – many of them who ride Bmws. Why show a blonde in high heels and leopard skin trousers when there are so many real lady riders out there, which I do agree with but…

 on the other hand.. 

one of my lady biking friends posted on Facebook that  saying that although she would never look anything like it, that the photo was what she felt like riding a bike. 

I challenged her and said all she needed was bright lippy, leopardskin leggings and high heels and thus The Pink Stiletto challenge was born; a private Fb page set up and a deadline of Easter to try and recreate the photo as best you could- a bit of fun for some of my lady biker friends all over the World.

Can you spot the difference?😉

It was nice to sit on my beautiful Nuclear Red Speed Triple again, but don’t worry Vicki, I’m not going to ask for it back…yet!

And to finish off the day, what better than the first MotoGP of the season from Quatar. A slightly delayed start, but a great race.

All in all a pretty good Mothers’ Day

Sunday 19 February First ride of 2017

At last , a reasonably warm and dry Sunday means I can finally go for a ride, on my nice shiny clean Tiger.

Do you like my new sticker

” The Grandma” in Rossi colours, bought yesterday from the bike show ( thanks Christine)

 

But where to go ?  as I have to be home by lunchtime for my Grandson’s birthday party.

I decide to head down to Newhaven, a  favourite  route.

Then round the curves to Seaford before heading North through Alfriston.

The level crossing at Berwick is down, with a couple of cars and a motorbike waiting ahead.

The bike is  a sporty one ridden by a youngster who does not acknowledge me behind him .

He overtakes the two vehicles in front, and is very lucky not to get squidged by a car coming round a blind corner.

Less haste more speed ,as I catch him up quickly. So tempting to overtake him, but I resist!

At the main road, I decide I have enough time for a visit to Wessons.

As I expected on the first really nice Sunday so far this year it is packed.

The queue is very long. I think the young lad serving is a newbie.

I was contemplating having brunch here, but with this many people my guess is it will take a while, so opt for a cuppa and a piece of bread pudding.

I sit outside at the front, and soon get chatting to the two blokes sitting opposite me, one of whom  owns this rather beautiful Moto Guzzi.

I get back home about 12.30 feeling so much better for getting some Ride Therapy.

Sunday 11 Dec – Rye

A great day to practice some mindfulness:
mindfulness
ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs/
noun
  1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
  2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Or as us bikers call it “going for a ride” !

I start off with no particular destination in mind, but as I ride along I decide to head down to Rye. So plug it into my Garmin Zumo 595 and follow the route given.

As it turns out this is the route that I usually take to ride back from Rye, so although I recognise the roads, I usually see it from the opposite direction!

The roads are quite damp  and a little slippery , so concentration is needed, especially on the last stretch of road  from Newenden to Rye

Can someone tell me why drain holes/covers are so often situated in corners,  right on the biking line?  I always wonder this when my bike slips on one, like it did coming into Rye!

I park up on the Quay. There’s only about half a dozen bikes here and a couple of blokes sitting having a chat. So I decide  to go to  the cafe across the road for some lunch-ham egg and chips and a mug of tea, perfect.

Back to the my bike, and a few others have lined up next to my Santa Tiger

The lure of the sea is as always great, so I decide to ride home via Hastings.

View of Hastings Pier in the low winter sun.

The roads are a lot drier on the way back home, so I’m comfortable going a little faster-which is always good for the soul :0)

Back to East Grinstead and I drop my bike off ,ready for it to be pampered tomorrow by Clean Bike Clinic with a full clean and polish and more importantly a full application of  ACF 50  to keep it protected over the winter.

It’s then an easy walk down the hill to Beer Club at The Old Mill.

Beer Club is our Sunday afternoon tradition- a chance for mates ( biking or otherwise) to get together over a pint of beer or glass or three of wine and talk bikes, food, life in general or just general bollocks – there’s much more of the latter as  the beer kicks in!

A photo had to be taken today when we realised that three of us, John, myself and Sharon had all worn  TT Assen ( MotoGP) T shirts …great minds and all that!

Beer Club is always a great end to a day’s riding.