Monday, 27 March 2017

General Motorcycling

Its been a busy couple of weeks, last weekend we attended a motorcycle Enduro practice day (for novices!) Enduro is a bit like motocross, same type of bikes but through forests normally which means there are more things to hit! Lindsay Barrie had put in an immense effort at Dunning to make a route through the forest and got a former Scottish champion to come along and give us some tips. We did it on the trials bikes which I was glad off but it does give some disadvantages in that on a trial bike there's no seat so you are on your feet all of the time, this led to much pain for the two days after. Despite the rain we both had a fantastic day out and hopefully took away some learning (thanks to all)
A further day in the garage getting the Commando (70 roadster) ready for its MOT and the Mk3 Guzzi LeMans. This weekend we had sun and i'm glad to say both bikes passed. Sunday was a day to move the sidecar before the tax runs out (it's up for sale if anyone is interested) its been brilliant fun but the storage aspect means we will have to move it on.
Afterwards a gentle stroll up to Powmill on the T3 Guzzi which was excellent.
Next Sunday (2nd April) we have the mighty Norton Owners Club Huntygowks meeting at Tullybannocher, Comrie, be there or be square!!

Fiona in action
Lindsay at speed (wearing his tree cutting gear!) its blurred but you get the idea!
Fi looking for the fast route out!
Moving the chair on mothers day so best to use your mum as ballast!
Guzzi enjoying the rest (and the sun)
Thanks to my brother John for this one, taken 3 years ago at castletownbere in the South of Ireland outside McCarthy's bar
L-R Fi's Commando, My Commando, Kevin's Triumph ????(why?) Colum's Atlas and Martins Vincent

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Guzzi & Norton servicing

A weekend in the garage trying to get a couple of bikes ready for the MOT test. The two bikes in question weren't used last year so first job for both was a oil and filter change. The Mk3 Le mans was first on the bench, rear brake overhauled, electrics sorted (starter not working, indicators not working. The starter turned out to be corroded wires and the indicator (a cheap bolt on at the rear) has given way to terminal corrosion so a new standard set ordered up (surprisingly cheap) The rear brake switch had failed so a new one ordered up. A quick clean but not a polish (yet, I'll wait till after the salt has gone from the roads)
The Norton needed some tlc also , the fiberglass tank has succumbed to Ethanol disease and will finally need replaced (I have a steel one already prepared but I've been reluctant to put it on until the glass one failed) With 2 year old fuel in it I was surprised when it started first kick, settling down to a nice tickover.  Like the Guzz some connections were corroded and there was much faffing about with a soldering iron and crimps plus a replacement rear brake light switch (which I had in stock) Annoyingly it was the rubber boot that had failed and not the switch itself but I replaced the whole thing anyway. A quick polish and its looking good hopefully it'll get through its MOT and then its ready for the mighty Tay Valley Norton club Huntygowks meeting at Tullybannocher on 2nd April ( be there or be square).
As always its made me realise not using a bike is worse than using it, stuff corrodes and a perfectly functioning bike when put away is rarely the same when brought out of storage. I will need to rationalise the fleet at some point as I'd rather see them used and lessen the maintenance stress but which ones I'll let go is the really difficult decision whenever I bring myself to make it.
The photos actually make the bikes look better than they are.

Le Mans almost ready
750 Commando being pressed into service until MVD is ready!! 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Bike chess, travel stories and mucking around

I thing on Saturday I invented a new game, bike chess. This came about due to having too many motorcycles scattered across various garages in various counties. First a visit to Perth early Saturday morning to meet David and Anne Templeton who were picking up the G5 Guzzi I bought just before Christmas. I also picked up one of my Norton Commando's and my Guzzi Mk3 LeMans to bring them down to Embra so I can get them ready to use. We then took the sidecar to see Lois Pryce who was doing a talk at BMW Mottorad in Dalkeith. Lois is a bike traveler and writer, she rode from Alaska to Argentina a few years ago then down through Africa afterwards (solo) and wrote two excellent books on the trips, she has just finished her book on a solo tour of Iran and that was the basis of the talk, an entertaining and informative couple of hours, if you are looking for more info check out her website .
After the talk Fiona took control and I had a very quick trip to Prestonpans in the chair whilst Fi tried to prove that no matter how fast she went around left handers the chair wouldn't lift due to my weight!! We then parked up the chair and rode our 800 Honda we bought a while ago back to our house, now that the chair wasn't in the garage there's room for the Norton, Guzzi and Honda. Bike chess, all you need is multiple bikes stored in multiple garages, great fun......not
Today was another trials day, great fun and tiring!

Last ride on the outfit for a bit
Surprised to see this, very nice
For rent, hopefully they throw in tuition!!!
Lois and Fi
Warming up
Me already warm
Tired, actually I was stuck!!!
How do I get up there?

Monday, 13 February 2017

Dragon Rally 2017

After the Elefanttreffen last year our new friend Joe Kuhnie from Stuttgart said he’d be interested in attending the Dragon Rally in Wales, Fi and I have never been so we said ok, we’ll organise tickets. The Dragon Rally is a motorcycle camping rally held annually during winter in North Wales since 1962, making it one of the UK's longest running bike events. In the 1960s the attendance at the Dragon sometimes topped 3,000 riders, this year we were told 1400 attendees were permitted. The rally is famed for its toughness and spartan facilities, i.e a muddy field and not much else but they did have a marquee more of which later. Riders often have to endure miserable riding conditions to attend the rally and, once on site, they are expected to camp without regard to the weather conditions. It is an event held in veneration by large numbers of motorcyclists as a test of stamina and endurance (and gross stupidity) because (in the first two decades at least) it was common to have to endure snow and ice to ride there.

 We secured tickets in October and arranged to meet Joe in a Hotel in Bangor, Wales on the Friday night (the Dragon is a Saturday / Sunday only rally) After some weeks of reasonable weather the temperature dropped (of course) just before the meeting. Fi and I set off down the A702 just after 6am on the Friday, mainly to avoid the chaos of the Edinburgh bypass, this was a good decision, despite the dark and cold we had a good run down to Biggar for our first re fueling stop. The outfit is not great on fuel when fully loaded and ridden at high speeds so fuel stops have to be planned with military precision.

The ride then down the M74 & M6 passed without incident, we stopped at Tebay services for Breakfast and we thought we would get some heat but recently I’ve noticed the services are kept at a temperature to discourage prolonged stays, fine if you are in a car or van but not when you get off a motorbike, arseholes, turn it up a couple of degrees!!

Fi took over as pilot for the stretch down to Manchester and another stop for Fuel at Lymm services where I regained the controls for the last leg into Bangor, en route we passed some Germans on outfits so we were obviously going the right way. We found our Hotel, Joe had been there the night before and had gone for a tour, we booked in and still wearing all our bike gear (it was freezing) took a walk along the pier to the café at the end which was of course closed, we found a place eventually to eat before going back to the hotel and meeting Joe.

 A fine night in the bar (12 year old Glenlivet) was followed by a not so fine morning, breakfast and bikes loaded in the wind and sleet we headed to the checkpoint at the services just outside Bangor. The Dragon format is you go to a checkpoint to have your tickets verified and to be told where the rally is. This seemingly was the first time they have used the services and it was chaos, around 300 bikes blocking the whole place up, we queued for at least and hour to have our tickets verified and witnessed the staff losing patience with all those guys blocking up the whole service station, we just lost the cut when they closed the queue down to assess and come up with a better plan.

We eventually got our tickets stamped and made our way to a muddy, windy and wet field around 3 miles away. Of course my favourite pastime is putting up a tent in the wind and rain so once that was done and the bedding sorted that was the fun over, now just stand the rest of the day in the wind, rain, sleet and watch guys drop their bikes in the mud, drink first tea, then beer, then whisky whilst talking nonsense and waiting for hypothermia to kick in.

Around 5pm after a particularly wet and windy spell we decided to go to the marquee to check it out, we got a beer there but realised soon all those bodies inside a cold tent meant we were constantly showered with condensation from the roof, good thing was it meant your pint never got emptier, bad news was the beer was being replaced with other people’s sweat effectively. We left for a couple of laps of the field, some home cooking in the rain then we spent the night basically sheltering from the weather in the front of our tent drinking and talking nonsense. If we could have had a fire (not allowed) it would have been a more pleasant experience. It was still a good rally though , we met some nice people as always and it was good to see a few “classic” bikes on the field being used rather than polished, sorry i never got any Triumph photos George but you never turned up with the chips.

Sunday we packed up as the snow threatened, said goodbye to Joe and headed home. Similar run home but with gale force winds (Fiona piloted the bit over Shap where it was horrendous) The outfit struggled to do much over 70mph into the wind on a full throttle so that gives you an indication of how bad the winds were. On reflection a good weekend, around 650 miles, the onset of hypothermia delayed, good people BUT we won’t become regulars, got the badge, got the woolly hat (to join my large collection of lost woolly hats) that’ll do us for now. Of course next week more camping, excellent………..

Breakfast at Tebay
Petrol at Lymm
View from the hotel steps was nice
Walk along the pier
Old fisherman's houses were pretty
Bangor Pier
It was windy.......
Yet another dram with Joe
12 year old Glenlivet, (we finished it)
Arrival at the checkpoint
The re organised queue
All sorts of bikes, a group of loonies on step through Hondas
Fi Praying for the rain to stop
Nice, used as it should be Vincent over the fence from us
It got busier
Sheltering from the rain for a while
Very nice, not polished but better for it
Boys with too much time on their hands
Used Guzzi, kinda cool, must stop polishing mines
Atmospheric B/W shot
Really dont know
Still even less clue
Anything goes
The only mighty Norton I saw, an ES2
Another Vincent and an owner with a sense of humour
2017 or 1967, probably some of the same people
Chef Fi cooking dinner in the rain
Eventually the rain was too much so indoor dining and drinking in Casa Rondelli
Fi explaining something technical to Joe
Sunday morning snow on the hills, braw!!!!!!

Sunday, 29 January 2017

More mud, no tarmac

The last couple of weekends have been devoted to garage time and trials time. Getting the sidecar ready for the forthcoming Dragon Rally in Wales in a couple of weeks, getting the T3 Guzzi ready for an MOT and looking at the parts for MVD in preparation for the rebuild. Thanks to Laurenne for picking up my bits from the powder coaters, looks like a great job. Hopefully soon we will have a Commando rebuild thread.
I have been up and down the A702 a few times lately, a road which is scenic at times and bloody frustrating at others, because of the disaster that is the M8 / M74 I think more trucks are using the 702, 45MPH is no fun no matter how scenic it is!
Managed to get some nice pics over the last few weeks on it though.

En route to the Guzzi post Christmas dinner
Pretty, takes your mind off following a gritter at 30MPH
En route to work, sunrise, very tranquil

This week saw the annual celebration of Burns's birthday and we celebrated with Bert &Laurenne Friday night in Haddington therefore Saturday was not to productive but we did get the trials bikes ready for Sunday, a great day today proving we still have a lot to learn but great fun despite the bruises!!

Thats not right!
Fi having a dab
Climbing the hill
Which you have to go down again, much scarier
I was tired.......
Giving the bikes a clean
Good practice for river crossings