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

Thursday 24 August

I’m definitely getting into the holiday time mode now: late nights and late mornings!

I’m lazing about in bed catching up with writing my blog over a cup of coffee when theres a rat-a-tat-tat on my front door. Quickly pulling on my dressing gown I answer – its Martin & Jennifer popping round to say Hello, obviously expecting me to be up as its 11 am! Oops!

After they’ve gone, after a quick chat on the doorstep, I get dressed and do my chores…another coat of primer on the front windows.

In the afternoon I ride out to Rochefort-en-Terre.

I take a slow, leisurely walk through the cobbled town centre, stopping to browse in the many gift and artisan shops- some new ones to visit, but many have been here for a few years.

Always great flower displays here, as in many of the Breton towns.

Look up as you walk round, you never know what you will spot.

One of the new shops sells these rather gorgeous trendy wellie boots, but at 90 euros they are a little pricey.

The basket and bag shop has gone to be replaced with umbrellas.

One of my favourite artists is still here. This lady makes the most amazing sculptures out of wire- skulls, keys, birds so many different items all made so beautifully and crafted using the minimum number of lines possible.

I have a piece of her art- a pair of shoes – that I bought the first year she was here.

The Pelican Hotel

More stonework, this time used as a flower pot shelf

My favourite of the day, a happy face, with a rather knowing smile.

On my way home I detour to have a cuppa with Ken and Lesley at Mototaranis.

The road from Maelstroit to Reminiac is such a joy to ride.

They are waiting for new guests to arrive. These are regulars- as are many of their guests- this is their second visit this year.

Back home and its back to my chores, putting the first coat of gloss on the windows.

Friends, Paul & Tracey are coming to stay for a few days on Monday so I need to have the painting complete by then and it needs a full 24 hours between each coat – its gard work being on holiday!

Wednesday 23 August

My late night stargazing meant I didn’t wake until late this morning.

I decided that I ought to do my chores and start painting the front windows, otherwise before I know it it’ll be time to go home and they won’t be done.

Its up in the high 20s so time to hit the beach.

This is another one that my friend Sara and I went to earlier in the year ( but not the nudist one).

It’s much busier this time of the year and the fields at the back of the beach are all now offering paid parking, but I manage to squeeze the bike in at the side of the road.

Happiness is…

…riding your motorbike to the beach.

I have a swim, then lay sunbathing and reading a Harlan Coben book, The Stranger, for an hour or so.

Then its time to head home.

I decide to go the scenic route.

Through Auray, then to St Anne d’Auray, the most important pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes.

Then I criss cross country roads. The setting sun lighting up the cornfields.

I reach the village of Plaudren.

I smile.

Why?

Well, this little squirrel marks the start of a little bit of country road that I just love. The D133 to Tredion, past the cross for St Bily, or Billy as I call it.

I can’t explain what it is about this short stretch of road.

Most would probably ride it and think nothing of it.

But I love it.

Monday 21 August

Wake up late, which seems to be a bit of a habit on this holiday.

Sit having a coffee in bed, trying to decide where to go today.

I decide on Port du Foleaux for a nice lunch by the river.

Once again I decide to let my Zumo take me on a curvy route. It turns out to be a mix of roads I ride regularly and some new ones. Lots of nice twisties.

I arrive just after 12, perfect as there are plenty of free tables.

The set menu is always good value here and today is no exception.

Rough, country pate, followed by delightfully crispy yet moist chicken and a scrummy coconutty pudding.

This restaurant L’escale de Foleux, was one of those lucky finds a few years back, when I randomly turned down a small road as it was labelled “port”. I highly recommend it if you are ever in the area.

Great food, friendly service, in a a peaceful setting overlooking the river. What more could you ask for?

The temperature is rising so I’d planned to go the beach, but find I have only picked up the top half of my costume.. Doh! Its not meant to be, so I head home. Its too hot to go sightseeing.

I artive back in Caro, to find my normally sleepy road lined with cars. I assume its either a wedding or funeral – and when about hour ot two later the church bells ring dolefully I guess its the latter.

My afternoon is spent soaking up the sunshine whilst listening to a couple of chapters of “Me before you” downloaded from the library before I came away. So much easier to listen to a book than read it yourself when lying in the sunshine.

In the evening I watch this classic Brit film. One of many freebie dvds that have ended up over here

Sunday 20 August

This morning I visit Trehorenteuc craft market, which runs all day in July and August.

It is quite small, about 15 stalls, but with a good variety of crafts.

We are in the heart of Broceillande Forest here, so celtic magic and mystery is a reoccurring theme!

My friend Erin would have liked this stall, bizarrely called Mary Poppins, with its medieval costumes.

This potters’ wares were a lovely colour, but nowhere near the quality of my friend Sara’s work.

There was also a stall selling aromatherapy oils, all with the cutest magic themed labels.

Check out Facebook page Magiflore.

I chatted with the stallholder for quite a while- her English was impeccable.

I then rode to Paimpont, hoping to find somewhere for lunch.

The hotel where I usually eat was full, and the BBQ place my Mum and Dad recommend did not want to give one of their many empty tables to just one diner. Well stuff them- they won’t be getting my custom in the future either.

Instead I bought du pain and a pastry, then road home the long way round.

I then enjoyed a pleasant lunch in my garden, accompanied by my first bottle of red wine of the holiday.

Then it was time to relax in the sunshine, on my green lounger, headphones on, to listen to The Archers omnibus.

Such a rock n roll lifestyle…not!