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

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

Saturday 19 August Vannes

Saturday is market day in Vannes and it is heaving with people.

But it all seems to be the same old stalls selling the same old stuff.

There are a few new shops round near the Cathedral including a jewellers dufresne. A simple bangle in the window catches my eye…I just can’t resist going in.

The jeweller promises me the clasp will not come undone. I say that is good as I’m always losing jewellery. I try on about 4 of the bangles before getting the correct size- sold! Well that’s half my tax refund spent :0)

I ask if he is OK for me to take photos- of course he says. I explain that I write a blog of my trips.

So if you are ever in Vannes please do visit him and say bikerbunny sent you!

I am always fascinated by a craftsman’s tools. The bangle he is working on had taken 4 hours so far. He says it is in his heart to do this work.

It is now past twelve. I need to find somewhere to eat before the tables start to get full and the restauranters do not want to give up a table to une personne.

I decide to try somewhere new.

Not my usual style, as its all bio and healthy, but it is also chocolate!

The healthy, slightly unusual, goats cheese salad…

Followed by a less than healthy chocolate brownie.

I feel really sorry for the mother of this rather naughty little girl, sitting on the table next to me. She makes a real fuss over not just her main course but her chocolate pudding too. I have to laugh when she refuses to give the extremely yummy caramel sauce a try, raising my eyes in solidarity with the poor mum.

After lunch a walk in the Jardins du Ramparts. As usual there is a stunning display of flowers

I do have to have a little giggle to myself at this couple who have brought their own picnic table. Although I guess its a step up from sitting in the carpark like Brits so often do.

Stunning colours.

Unsuspecting tourists do not seem to have noticed the giant spiders web….watch out!

After my walk its back on the bike and a short ride to Sene, to the large charity warehouse Emmaus.

They have cleared so much stuff since Sara and I were here in June.

This time I also go in the clothes and haberdashery store.

I really wish I sewed or did crafting, some of the stuff is gorgeous and so cheap. Old buttons, linens and all this lovely thick crocheted lacework trimmings.

But I leave empty handed.

Next stop it’s the beach: Pointe du Bill.

I haven’t planned this perfectly as have to change in the car park trying to use my bike to hide my bits! Not that easy, but better here than in full view on the beach!

I’m not sure what it is about this spot, maybe it gas great acoustics, but theres a random man playing the sax, right next to the car park… Weird!

I may not be fully prepared with my cossie, but I am with my new beach shoes…the stones and seaweed won’t bother me now.

There are quote a few windsurfers out on the sea, as it’s pretty windy.

After my swim, I sunbathe for a while, before heading back to Caro, following a curvy route that takes me a new way home.

This shrine catches my eye.

It’s been an enjoyable day #lifeisgood

Saturday 12 August: Ferry

One happy bunny as I’m on my to Brittany for two, maybe three weeks.

I reach the port in good time and unusually I’m sent to a lane to the left of where the cars are queued. But I’m not alone on my left are the larger people carriers.

Let the Loading Lottery begin…who will get on first?

Well certainly not me or the other bike who arrives behind me!

We are eventually motioned to board, on2ky to be sent to one of the upper floors.

Not fun to have to ride up a large metal ramp.

And even less fun when getting to the top they expect us to turn the bikes round in a car width and length space.

Now in normal circumstances this wouldn’t be too bad, but on a slippery metal floor with a fully loaded bike it is bloody difficult. I am furious. Why did they not board us earlier when there was plenty of room to manoeuvre?

We hardly had time to get off our bikes before they have loaded the cars on next to us.

Happy bunny is now hot and stressed bunny, made worse when I realise my cabin is down in tbe depths of level 2, and it gets worse when I exit the lift to be told the rooms are not ready. Grr.

Only one thing for it, I head to the Restaurant.

Phew there are tables available, but you can’t book.

So I take my table; a lovely one in the corner overlooking the whole restaurant; order my meal and a bottle of bubbles, then head off to the loos to change out of my bike gear.

Voila! From hot, sweaty, stressed biker bunny to a lady who dines in one fell swoop!

My, rather handsome, waiter does a double take when he returns to serve my bubbles, and calls me “Wonder Woman”, a compliment I’m happy to accept!

Dinner is as usual lovely. Buffet, help- yourself starter, cheese and desert and this rather delicious lamb dish for main.

After dinner I decide to give the boats entertainment a miss. Taking the remainder of my bubbles and water to my cabin.

A pleasant surprise in my cabin is that it has a tv. So I sit and watch the Athletics World Championship – cheering rather loudly when our boys win Gold for the 4 x 100m relay!

Considering I am, I think, below water level my cabin is comfortable and I manage a good night’s sleep.