Monday, 28 September 2009

Great Expectations

The objectives are always modest: Don't Finish Last. However,this year my long term aim was to get out the bottom quarter to somewhere in the middle. The Ts185 had been modified for longer suspension,TS125X forks and a 75 TM125 swingarm.The lock-up in Wales proved to be no more than the kickstart idler gear, but still required a full engine stripdown and rebuild to sort out.
Me and Mark return to Middle Hills and by some El Nino phenomenon England has been dry for 2 weeks. Grrrip -that's what we want.
I have faith in the bike -power although perhaps at least half of the other bikes (17/18 gee gees) was proved adequate in Wales, and suspension improved over last visit here. We get going and as my watching mates told me after -caution was indeed flung to the winds.Was it the whiskey the night before?!... It was grand, battles soon developed for a lap or so and I had a ball with a Maico, a Ts250 and Glen's XT250. A reversal of normality developed as I began hunting the next guy each lap, prey became predator. I discover what that right hand lever is for -yes the front brake is pretty useful as you bomb downhill into each corner! Keep ripping and only one fall,one stall. It felt so good it's like you're concentrating but not too hard -let it flow (maan!). Dinner break and the chain gets adjusted -a bung put in the (absent) revcounter drive,airfilter re-attached and 'Oh yeah the front feels loose' too right, the headset lock nut has been spinning like a breakdancer. The fool is fuelled up and the afnoon sesh goes even better than the first.
Results are posted, ooh eck..Out of 25 in the 250 MX class I come 8th, that's like a podium to me! From around 60 riders (490 Maico's and 500 Tribsa's et al) I'm 18th overall and fastest trailbike. Ok not exactly trophy time but top 1/3 on an un-tuned TS185, I'm chuffed.Over the season, within Midland Classic club riders I was placed 4th in 250 Motocross :-)
As a kid when I used to go and watch the Golden Boy of school on the latest YZ, I would go home to my £10 Puch moped fieldbike and think,well I'd love to do something like that. 30 years later, I kinda have....

Vid here:

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Welsh Racebit

Wake up,banging head, but Lord Be Praised the tea wagon has turned up. It's been raining all night but kit and bike are in the van it's just everything else that's wet. I climb out the tent, that hill don't look any smaller in the morning light. More folk turn up and great to see some familiar faces from Midland Classic events.We look down the list of riders and notice maybe a third from our area (Notts/Derbys).
I wait on the startline, man, I am nervous.Next to me though, is a rider looking absolutely petrified and with good reason,it's hid first time and he's on an old Brit 2 stroke (Cotton possibly) which ain't lightweight, though he is. He is 14 years old. So being whacked with some perspective I shoot off the line. Hey, first corner first hill in 3rd the bike wants to play! Tricky uphill bit, Ok then GUN IT, aahhh up she goes,blast along the peaty mashed up ferns foot poised then straight into a traffic jam. It's a tight swampy uphill right turn and they are wheel spinning stuck, 4 or 5 of them, I wait.Then I get bored. GO! Rev,rev,rev through the slime,through the embedded bikes and out. I've made it worst part done. Take it steady up Rabbit Hill (holes),across the moor, round the farm tracks and... oh yeah, The Escalator.They're holding them up ,one at a time please Gentlemen. First gear,DON'T touch the back brake or the clutch but I remember some trials training -use the front on-off-on-off, sorted.I cruise down to the tight right and just miss the tree. Everything else now is OK just the off camber ride along the hill a few slips but fine, even overtake a couple.
It all carried on in the same vein only they cut out some of the hairier parts, and I'm going a bit faster. I whack it open on the field -full bore in third and then CLUNK! Gearbox and Back wheel instantaneously locks and I get thrown off. Get to me feet -this bike is locked up. I'm out.
A figure appears on a quad "Roll it down the hill, and I'll tow you back" LifeSaver! When we drop me bike off we get chatting, he ain't some local farmer but a Welsh fella (called Jock) who goes to loads of Classic events helping the stricken. Top man, he offers me a lift back up the hill on his quad. Just one thing -I have to go in the wooden box over the front wheels ("As Ballast. I flipped it on Hawkstone hill the other week!"). It was fun being a frontal sidecar passenger, can't beat new experiences can ya?!
It got worse second half and they really struggled getting up the swampy hill, me and Mark acted as marshalls.The best one being when a Honda sliding so much headed straight at me. I jumped left,he went left,I jumped right he slew right, so I ran for me life and promptly fell over. He missed me and span round on the hill and came back down nearly taking out 3 more! Him,Us we're all in hysterics.
So, 200 mile drive £50 in expenses bike locked up and didn't finish,So What? I had a ball, and more importantly I learnt something. My little bike can do it, whatever it faces. If I can ride that course I can ride pretty much anything, and if in doubt Gun It, no faintheart ever got anywhere.
That 14 yr old kid? He did just fine...
Vid here:

The Night Before The Assault

Off to foreign climes, Wales to be exact for a new event Llangollen Classic Enduro. The organiser tells me on the phone it will be more of a proper enduro, longer than our Hare & Hounds type events.After a 2 hour drive me and Mark (faithful pitman) pull in to the campsite the night before.Behind us is a great big cliff and in front a similarly imposing hill except this has a track marked out on it.Ummm.. We pitch tents and get chatting to a top fella in his 60s with a 250 twin engined Greeves.He's walked the course already and we inform we're about to do likewise,with a beer. "I'll think you'll need about three,lads!". He's right. We get trekking and it goes up;and up, a tight awkward corner,up some more a slippery climbing corner and yes, up some more.We're outta breath and have to stop for a sit and a smoke.We've done about a tenth of the track,Jesus.Hereafter it gets slightly easier til we get round to new terrain,open moorland.Nice and flat but boggy in places.Then it's on to shale strewn farm tracks which lead round to what became termed "The Escalator". Imagine standing at the top of one in the Tube only incorporating bumps and mud.Then just as you're plummetting to your doom more slippery shale and BIG trees to pile into at the bottom. I crack another beer. Mark finds his ultimate ornament,a horse skull which he duly stuffs in his pack, it probably slid down that descent and broke it's neck! From there on it's through the woods,this course doesn't lack in variation I'll say that.A short blast across a field and then it 45 degree off camber along the side of the hill,very tricky. We've had some beers and stopped a bit but it's took us TWO HOURS to walk it.
Return to the tents and guzzle more beer,plenty of others doing the same except we keep going later and later. The conversation turns to dogs in space, at which point I decide it's really time to call it a night.It's a quarter to One,and I'm racing tomorrow,bugger.Still, I cannot sleep, the rain and my doubts are keeping me awake.Will the bike have the power even for the first hill,more to the point,will I?

The Grassy Knoll

Midland Classic Hillclimb, no not a widowmaker climb til you flip off the back but a twisty grass track up to the top against the clock. For a change I drag out my spare red TS185 which is on trials tyres so in a slightly less competitive class.On the day I find I have been possessed by Homer Simpson, I fill the petrol can and leave in the garage and forget my plug spanner,Doh! The bike has a sulk at having an idiot on board and plays up all day.I just keep it going.
I never do any good racing against clocks and on one run I throw caution to the wind and go hell for leather til I hit the one rough part at the top which chucks me off.Oh well no harm in trying. I post the usual pathetic time (34.12 secs) but it's a cracking Sunday amongst fellow old bike nuts, EastEnders omnibus is no competition.
The final part consists of Handicap run-off races between pairs of riders. You have your best time written on your race plate and the difference in times noted. The slower bike gets that difference as a head start over the other.So in theory you should get to the top roughly together, actually it's much harder to overtake the slower guy (something I use to full advantage at the top corner !). I get the start on a Honda 250,KX400,Triumph 500 etc and do the necessary. I line up with a Yamaha 600, oh eck, well at least I'll get a big start. No! It has 37 secs displayed , 3 seconds on my little TS, whaaaaat?! It leaves the start like the Enterprise hitting warp speed, and me like Granville on a delivery bike. As I return to the checkpoint feverish official activity is observed.Seems that the lad on the bike used the mega slow times of his Dt trail bike on his mate's 600 rocket ship.His "win" is declared null and void so I win. That was actually the final, so albeit in controversial circumstances, I am the champ.Wahoo! I'm a bit shell-shocked but chuffed all the same. I've done 6 of these handicap run-offs now,been in 3 finals and won it twice.All on old 185 trail bikes which makes it even better!
Video (not by me) at

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Riders On The Storm

All week the weather was bad,I was thinking of quitting the bike scene and go make an Ark. However I really like the course at Ashover,called "The Butts" it's part of an old quarry.It has been in use for decades for Youth Motocross and latterly modern Enduro.There's a particular hairpin bend I get a huge buzz out of if I get it right and to my delight they've removed the hill straight after due to the recent rain.
As I go to sign in a few people make positive comments re the Youtube video I made -makes the time spent worthwhile.I really think you should photo/video every day out in your life - your memory ain't enough it gets clouded ,full of grey spam work,conflicts,chores. Those pics and vids can bring happy times right back to you just when you need it. So with Mark on camera and tools, Dave with food and as somewhat unappealing brolly-dolly ( no MotoGP pitlane girls here!) we join the other 54 resilient if damp riders.
Straight from the off I feel its too wet to really push it.I try wailing it down a long straight and find myself sliding towards the fence, hitting a fence on a corner is Ok but just too damn comical here.No days of glory mister, its stay on your wheels time and fight to keep those goggles clear, at some points I'm riding one handed holding them off my face to de-fog.The best part is every time I hit that favourite corner I get it right -small victories but finally satisfied after competing three times here.
Dinner break and I just lie on back step of my small van, in my wet jersey & muddy boots,exhausted,incapable of movement. Someone asks "Are you a bit tired?" noooo, I just do good impressions.... The whole hour it rains non-stop and some go home -those of us mad enough return to a quagmire of a track. It's really bad and bizarrely the sun emerges which with my wet weather coat causes excessive fog in my goggles,so off they come.Its like riding on brown oily ice but I manage 3 laps til I get a lock up and bike slews to a halt. Seizure? The fins are covered in mud after all. No, she fires up right away drop the clutch -no motion , chain off? No, the brake plate has exploded, as they do. Park the bike and walk down to the van. No mechanic and no keys to get the tools out myself.Mutter something about plans and wander down the deserted pitlane looking for tools to borrow, no luck. 15 mins later Mark runs over and we get to the bike -he removes the torque arm,rod and what remains of the rear brake. I remount and manage to finish the lap and just in time for another.Horrendous as it is,for the first time EVER I ain't come off. I'm the last man home, the lapcount girls cheer and the day is done. Bike and rider are covered in mud, I've done 16 laps (2 miles each) come a mighty 33rd of 55, lost 1/2 hrs racing and need a new brake. You know what? I still bloody enjoyed it :-)

Video here:
Music by The Undertones/Ash/Charlatans/Lily Allen~The Clash

Monday, 4 May 2009

Up On The Farm

It's Race Day.A Twinshock Enduro of 2 hours (2 x 1hrs) and I've been doing these for a while now.First one on an XL185 in appalling conditions with baldy Trials tyres,after picking that 4 banger up 2 dozen times I cancelled my gym.OK seriously then,I got this TS185 instead (-the TM125 has been used too). Mark mechanic/cameraman & myself arrive and it's a great new venue for the club,flat and twisty track and then twice up and down the hill. The other bikes though, Oh my lord there's been a shift in emphasis, mostly MX/Enduro with only half a dozen trail & trials bikes now.There are literally hordes of PE's and RM's,Honda,Husky,Maico,CZ,Pursangs etc plus the older Brits,Triumph BSA etc.We feel like scruffy urchins unloading the TS next to all this bling 2/3/4k stuff (mine cost £100!) .
Off we roar in 2 waves,sprinting for the first corner hit the rear brake, change down, shift forward on the seat weight the outside peg and crack it open for the next straight.Repeat,and grin like a loon! Normally all the fast boys go by and essentially I run on my own just trying to stay upright.Today,Something Strange is Happening.I'm catching people in the first wave, a Suzuki 400 on the straight,then a Maico,I outcorner a big Husky.This is unbelievably cool! I'm actually racing, loving the track and only being cautious on the steep descents.I bin it twice over-breaking downhill so get braver and stay off the rear brake.To my surprise the little Suzuki can blast up the big hills (well it was dry..) the only thing slowing me is the unpleasant sound as my rear shocks bottom and the tyre hits the mudguard bolts.
At break we assess the bike. Oh. The plastic RM tank has slipped down and is being melted by the exhaust pipe! The seam had really cut into it,we hitch the tank up and put gaffa tape on the tank's damage (what that was s'pose to do I don't know...!). At each checkpoint: Is tank OK?Am I on fire?No, good, fly off for another lap then.Second hour same as first a bit quicker but more tired,concentration slipping, wandering thoughts (no change there then!).I race in goggles for the first time as every time some big Brit Iron blasts by I got a face full of mud & stones.At one point something hits me straight in the teeth.Still it's all hugely enjoyable maybe I was smiling too much!
It's no over-statement to say that's the most fun I've had on a motorcycle,but it gets even better.The results are posted online: from 73 competitors I've finished 42nd against mostly Motocross bikes.Without being cocky, that ain't bad for a TS 185 trail bike!! :-)
Mark & me made 2 vids: Grin

90 PSI

The TS185 racebike after several phantom intermittent breakdowns (suspect crank seal) was treated to a bottom end stripdown and new mains & seals.Some issues with Piston supplies (Chinese -from a moral & quality viewpoint I returned it)meant it ended up with a 2nd hand top end,from a £7.50 Newark jumble engine.Well of course on completion it wouldn't start.Not for me,anyway...I took to a friend for some helicoils and his mighty swinging kick did the trick.I check the compression: 90 PSI."Oh, that's too low" is the advice. Out of curiousity I check the red TS185 which starts fine.Guess what? Yep,90 PSI! I put new rings in it,check the PSI, all together now "Nineteeeeeee PS Aye!".It's still not kicking up.I adjust the carb ever so slightly 8/9 kicks "Kapow Bang Smoke Wahoo!". It now goes 1st/2nd kick. Jumping Jesus...
So me and Dave (TS250) head off to Derby for a 'shakedown' test,which I half expect it to fail. Well 2 hours later I've ran it til out of fuel (kinda like a Sat afternoon as a 12 yr old) and had all the gears and not one problem.A great place to practise; plenty of space but a strange location.As we load the bikes we have Derby footy fans stream past us (Rams to the slaughter..Wolves eat em 3-2).I'm not sure which of us is staring more but I know one thing, I'm gonna go home happy.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Moonshine Down On Me

My neighbour brings me a liquid present back from Slovakia - made by his father.He pours it on the table and ignites it,it burns with a vivid blue flame: and then we drink it.
Half nine in the morning,eyes blurred, but ears receiving -noises downstairs.. There's intruders in my house! After a tirade as blue as the flame my mates inform me the door was unlocked and it was MY idea to go watch Twinshock Motocross anyway. Off we head to Polesworth near Tamworth for one of the rounds of the National series. Dry weather,grand track (a little stony) good racing and best of all bikes of our era.Mostly Jap, a few Euro and some evolution monoshocks.My faves the 125s have plenty of Suzukis to keep me happy.Mark is amazed that these gladiators of speed once helmetless prove to be bald or grizzled 40 + like ourselves.Dave is made up to meet a former childhood mate racing a Husky/Honda 500.Gestures are exchanged as he rounds "our" corner and he nearly loses it on the exit! A great day by a top club and no MX snobbery encountered whatsoever.Maybe next year I'll be more than a spectator..

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Testing Testing

Meet up with Dave (and TS250) at Cromford -I have another new bike to try out.It's a Honda CT125 farm bike (big in Australia) has the TL125 type frame and other stuff from the 70s XL series.Sadly it's now been fitted with a pushrod CG125 motor.On the plus side it has lost the front and rear (sheep) racks! We drive up on to the top of the moor, to a track created by a local farmer that I rode many times last year. Oh Christ,what's this? Barbed wire fencing all round and a new pegged out circuit.We see an older fella come out with tractor and lock up.Apparently its now a pay track only open weekends.Bugger.We get the phone no. and make plans to come back,although I'm somewhat reticent to be getting in the way of all the superquick MX lads.We ask if we can ride the lanes outside? "As far as I'm concerned you can ride ANYWHERE round here" Well that's alright then!
So a simple hour is spent riding up and down to the quarry and back.Dave is the chauffeur for our mate Mark due to my single seat. Apart from one incidence of misfiring ( choke coming on over bumps) the CT125 runs fine,Dave's TS250ER also.So,despite initial disappointment have found out that the CT is Ok,which is what I needed to know.It's a fun little thing to ride albeit with zero power,a 19" front wheel and ridiculous single seat.So two days riding on two untested bikes went Ok (pics: ).
The following day I stripped the TS185 racebike and put new rings in, still down on psi -needs rebore.That,as they say,is another story....!

Bush Mechanics

What do folk think when they see a 40 summink guy pull a battered old bike from a van and zoom off into the woods? Not exactly sure but I don't think Steve McQueen or Brando is in the mix..I didn't exactly zoom either the chain came off as I bumped up the kerb.Remember the decent chain adjuster I didn't have? Yep wheel slackened off that side.Behind a couple of small trees I indulge in some "Bush Mechanics". I nick a 6mm nut off the mudguard place on the errant adjuster,then I bend it behind the end of the swingarm.As I'm tightening the spindle,I experience a fluorescent vision.Its Keystone's Finest. Great.I wait for the inevitable "You can't,You shouldn't etc" but they don't come back.Ring-A-Ding, I'm outta here.Into the woods and far away -amazed how big the trails are in this little wood (see photos).I encounter two groups one with dog,other with chainsaw(sounds like my KE!) both say "Ay,Up" so no problem there then.This is new riding territory but seems fine and is 5 mins from mine.Nice.A bit more bush mechanics are involved -bent lever etc but I spend a pleasant hour and a half zipping round the trees and the little bike pulls well.The suspension is absolutely shot at both ends and the tyres are grip free, but thats Ok when the back end steps out under,er,power! A play bike but at the very least I'll get £70 worth of fun out of it!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Kwack Kwack

I'm back at work but have a little time to tinker with the KE125. I fix the rear wheel with a spindle I had lying around,the brake had one missing lining -I find one Suzuki shoe that fits perfectly.I find an old trials tyre, and a tube in an old decrepit wheel.I only have one decent wheel adjuster though.The rear half of the frame is in red oxide. So I rotary wirebrush and paint that and the swingarm in black (noticing that before it has been gold...).The weekend comes and I free off the choke cable,fix the petrol tap and remove a broken bolt in the top yoke.The worst mudguard in the shed -off a Montesa but cut in half and sporting a Joseph of a paintjob,gets scraped down with a stanley blade and drilled to suit bike.The bent handlebar brace gets "adjusted" with a scaffolding pole.The missing footpeg is replaced,for now, with a bolt and rubber hose.I clean all the bird crap off and paint where needed. Exhaust has a big hole so off to mate's for a plate to be welded and Chem Metal for the little holes (does it work?? So far...). I blag a wheelbarrow handle and use that to make middle piece of exhaust,some brackets and an unknown silencer and the neighbours are smilin' !
The Kwack's took me 2 easy days and a coupla evening sessions,working outside (shed rather full...) in warm sunshine.No dramas and fixed at Absolutely No Expense. Now for a test ride.

Baby, You're Coming Home With Me

Well, India 2nd time around was even better; now for reality. Sunday,I go to Newark autojumble as usual. Parts for old m/cycles don't just grow in the garden and its enjoyable just looking.I see a rusty,pitiful looking thing minus its back wheel and covered in pigeon paint.The seller is repeatedly starting it for potential buyers.I emphasise repeatedly, i.e reliably -a concept often a stranger in my shed... I look and walk away 3 times, trying to talk sense to myself, besides I don't have the money.
Unfortunately I bump into a mate who's flush. One lend later and I am the owner of a 1981 KE 125 field bike.Just How Did This Happen? I've been home 2 bloody days. The Curse Of Too-Many-Projects causing rising anxiety levels again and then I go and buy this, to go with the other 12 refugees from hope. Its not "I must be.." I am, mad. Still its my first ever Kawasaki I s'pose.I meet my dad (its his fault -he's a compulsive "bargain hunter" too) and slowly push the Kwack with some threaded bar through the clanking,tyre-less wheel,in freezing,driving rain back to my van. Welcome Home Boy.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Never Give In

Sadly we leave Patnem .Cham from the huts taxi's us to airport and we fly to Mumbai.Leaving the airport we are beseiged by taxi drivers,some legal and some not.We head off to the Taj Hotel and Leopold Cafe, scene of the shootings.Death Tourism? We have come to show our solidarity and screw you to those who would destroy our freedom to go where we wish.We take photos of the Taj and the Gateway to India arch then walk down to the Leopold.Beggars abound.Dave is collared by one girl who refuses money but wants baby milk.Being a good sort he buys it, 360 Rs maybe 20% of a months wages.We both saw the Leopold( before the shootings) on Palin and wanted to go.It is rammed. We find a table and tuck into the beer.Then some more beer.We're going for it -I notice by Dave's elbow a hole in the wall, yep it's a bullet hole.We spend a pleasant afternoon getting drunk with two German girls from Munchen (Monica & Stephanie).We meet more folk from Ireland,Holland, Yemen and India.It's buzzing.
We take an inebriated nighttime taxi across Mumbai.Someone called Mumbai, London on acid not far wrong.Finish off at Juhu beach-in-the-city. I eat simple food and lush ice-cream -Dave runs around with menus pretending to be a stall holder.A fitting end to the Mumbai experience.

South Of The Border

Get up and buy presents for the lucky few.Dave is chilling so decide to make most of last day.I'm off south of state border into Karnataka down the N 17 coast road.Rip it and briefly hit 103 (wow) just to beat Dave's 100 and through the border post in a flash. Destination is Karwar, I go into the town and experience urban riding.Imagine a load of toy vehicles dropped in a food mixer... Back out to Karwar beach, an Indian doctor introduces himself offers his services and phone no. shakes hands and disappears.All in 30 seconds. Do I look like I need a doctor? Perhaps.
Return to border and they drop the barrier.I am summoned by two cops.These two clowns only know 2 words in English: "Documents" and "Fine". I have NO documents, either for the bike or myself.Ah, the infamous Baksheesh (bribe) . I act cool repeating "Yeah,kitnah paiseh?"(How much). I place 100, then 200 on the table -they want 500. I make play at only having 400 (£5.70) they take it -while the other 4000 stays in other pocket.I ride off at full speed nearly taking out the other border guide.Farewell jokers...
On the way home I take a detour to Galgibag and Talpona beaches, turtle protection beaches where there are no beach huts.Tranquil spots I note to visit next time.Have omelette bread and chai for 40 Rs on the street and explore all the back roads surrounding the inlet from the sea.See another Western biker parked enjoying the view -we nod.On the same wavelength, without a doubt.Head off for one last walk down Agonda beach,this is heaven.
Return home and give the Pulsar a pat on the tank,Cheers.

Park Life

We head out on bikes to the Cotigao Wildlife Park, a large area encompassing several villages.There are roads all the way through it plus numerous side trails of varying quality.As expected we see little wildlife but the beautiful surroundings and the ride are a blast.At one point we take a side trail which quickly becomes off road territory.All very well but we're doing it on a sports bike and a chopper.I'm loving it, up on the pegs ripping through the stones and sand, Dave is a little less enthusiastic.I'll always fondly remember the kids in the one-room schools running to shout hello and wave as we fly past. Then seeing them at home time,wandering across the paddy fields to some unknown settlement among the palm trees.
We return to Patnem and decide to do something I've waited a year to do. Fire up the mp3 player and speakers and listen to some tunes on the rocks as the sun sets on Patnem beach.Two large KingFisher Strong (8.3%) accompanies Hendrix,Stones (Dave),MC5 ,Clash Buzzcocks Rancid leading into big Charlatans sesh (Then,Crashin In' era). 4 hrs riding and 2 hrs sounds,Perfect.

2000 Years

Awake to birdsong and crashing waves,it's sunrise.Walk the 50 yards from my hut across the sand into the warm Arabian Sea.Fishermen are landing their boat with wooden rollers.Repeatedly they move rollers from back to front as they push the dhow up the beach,This could be anytime in the past two thousand years.As I paddle I look back,there are 5 people on this beach, my disfigured body goes unnoticed and I feel like a lucky man.
The Delhi Belly has caught up with me though and I have a day off beer and food.Dave goes to a barbecue we were invited too, samples Honey Bee brandy and has a good time,sort of.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Can You Dig It?

Good to be back at base and Dave opts for a beach day,whilst I miss riding me bike.Off to the best beach Agonda, for a banana & cheese (!) sandwich and chai. I notice like last year Agonda has travellers trucks at the end of beach.Can't knock em, turn up set up the awning Goa hoilday for free.Some German,some Brits so these old Mercs etc have come a long way.As I go to leave I see a car stuck in soft sand,I offer help which the 4 Goan kids readily accept.They jack & place stones under wheel, loads of revs,we push it and car moves forward 2ft and digs in.Its 30-33 deg C.After a bit of this my face arms clothes are covered in red sand. I adjourn to a bar for a cola,a beautiful German girl sits and stares,and stares some more.It's not lust it's bemusement.So the Desert Fox returns to work and 2 other guys help, success, handshakes and cheers all round.
I head off and cover every back road I can find, I have a new bike a Pulsar 200 after a few moments off road -mainly due to no rear brake I get used to it.A solid afternoon's biking and it's back to the beach for cocktails and vodka - we head off to Palolem in search of footy but it ain't on.We have trouble getting a rickshaw back as everyone has gone to a Silent Party.You pay for a set of wi-fi headphones and the DJ plays on 3 channels you tune in to. The thought of turning up to see your fellow partygoers gyrating to apparent silence seems bizarre.How do you interact,how do you know you're even dancing to same song?!! Or am I just old?!!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

Wake with confused head & guts and taxi off to Panaji, Goa's capital. We land in hell's bus station and pay 100 rupees to get to the steamer jetty.Panaji is a fairly relaxed city and has it's share of traffic and other urban delights.I must recommend the 5 star Hotel Fidalgo.No I ain't won the lottery just go to the public restaurant Legacy of Bombay (veggie).The tastiest pizza,veg burger fries 2 chai in clean a/c luxury 175 rupees.We get a rickshaw to Sao Tome the old portuguese quarter.Its beautiful Mediterranean houses and narrow streets are a visual treat. I visit a Hero Honda dealer and see new models, Unicorn (monoshock) and CBR125 (watercooled).Why?India's mechanical simplicity fix-it and carry-on has served them well.Taxi to Margao and local bus home.In Margao bus stops and street sellers ply their trade through the open windows(feels like 90 deg on this bus).Woman in front buys oranges,Dave behind has some rapidly decaying cheese.A female beggar with baby approaches.She points at Oranges gets one and has Dave's cheese.I'm so wedged I can't get in me pockets..She returns asking for shampoo now and taps me again on arm.I ignore and get orange peel chucked at me,I'm boiling.
Return home and go out in Palolem to watch Lpool get beat.Dave is happy at least.

Hippy Trail

Get local bus at 7am from Patnem to Margao, cost 25 rupees.We have advance train tickets to Thivim.The train station beggars aside,is great -clean lots of info and plenty of food.I have Thali 4 dishes & rice 30 rs.Even see motorcycles with addresses on being posted cross country.We find our carriage among the 24 and see our names listed on window. Train ride is interesting and chai & food wallahs abound.At Thivim we taxi (Bedford Rascal minibus) to Arambol. This is a well known hippy beach in the North. Dreads and white blokes on Enfields, tye dye, cows on the beach you get the picture.Still it's less commercialised than much of Goa beaches. We haggle a taxi to Chapora fort which dominates the skyline. We climb to its ramparts to look down on Chapora beach, think Robinson Crusoe with scarf-sellers.One of these sari clad Indian girls introduces herself "Alright mate, what's your name then?" in broad Essex...
We are here to walk through Vagator & Anjuna beaches home of the famous raves & Goa trance music. We are stunned by how small they are (2000 ravers, where?) and the daytime occupants,more Saga than soundsystem.The plan is to stay in Anjuna, we ask a coupla places and bag a clean room for 2 around a pool complex and cafe for 700rs.We pile over to Sunset Bar to watch the sun do its stuff over Anjuna beach. We drink KFs while Dave takes 200 pictures of the waning moon.
Off to Baga (the package hoilday nightmare of Goa) I show Dave the Karaoke type bars,nightclub etc. It seems so quiet on the wobbly white fleshometer this year.We hit the Sports bar upstairs for vodka & beer.Good move.As we look down Tito's Rd we can see all the girls coming out for the night! I've returned to Baga to meet Alven a great bar owner and Alwyn a top Welsh bloke I drank til dawn with last year. Both are AWOL tonight, shame.2 more vodkas at Alven's and back to our room. Find a shop open nearby its 12.30am and I get beers.Dave hasn't noticed my sneak mission and can't find me.An Indian guy spots me "Your friend looks for you!" he takes me on the back of his bike,Dave turns see me on the bike -clutching beer.Indian guy asks me for 50 rupees 'to buy a tab of acid'.He is over 60 yrs old.
Return to room to guzzle beer and chuckle like kids.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Wacky Races

I show Dave nextdoor beach,behind there's one street dominated by the presence of a large hotel complex.In the lagoon sit motor launches and expensive boatsRajbag beach now possesses nothing but the hotel's sunbeds.Judging by the "CCCP" bar I think we know the clientele. We push on north of Agonda stopping only to take in a Hindu temple.Near Kola we stop for mango juice -contrary buggers..It's so hot its downed in seconds.It is cooler to ride and we get to Cabo De Rama an old Portuguese fort.We climb up to the gun tower and are rewarded with a stunning view.A tourist boat zips across the bay, waves are exchanged we're all having a damn good time.Up to Betul now, we park bikes and look over to Mobor beach, however this needs a ferry to reach.In Betul Dave spots a truck so old it has only leaf springs for front suspension.The Indian way, keep it going no matter how old. I like it.
On the way home 2 lads on a bike blast by," Agonda! Agonda!". The race is on.They are young and rash but I begin to close, overhauling them thwarted first by pigs on the road and then cows.Then I whack it up to 90 kph and fly by I turn round to get Capt Slow and pass the Indian lads -smiles and waves.Great Fun.
Bikes are parked and we go out on a tiny fishing boat to see Dolphins .The boat bobs pleasantly up and down and we are rewarded with these graceful creatures and also Sea Eagles hanging around as a trawler loads its catch, the locals singing as they do so. We return and help them land their dhow the trip cost us 300 rupees each (4.30) well worth it. Hit the beach bar for a few KFs, what a day.

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Monkey Run

Get bikes and go, Agonda beach of course the lushest in South Goa 7km away. We're off and thankfully the bike's horns work Ok,nothing else matters . Take Dave through a spot where I nearly got a bovine assassination last year,later a rickshaw driver says "Yes this is Cow Corner!". The ride up to Agonda is top, sweeping corners, breathtaking green hills, temples in the jungle. A monkey skims across the road, everyday stuff like..Drop into the beach eat the biggest Tuna sandwich ,chips & salad ever (1 pound) get back and curry again no KFs.I look at my Pulsar -its my bike from last year. Sari guard an all case I get lucky.Under rear no. plate is says "Lonely Without U" this proves prophetic as Dave is already declared Capt. Slow. Fill up with petrol from the snack shop up road (70p a litre) ready for big ride 2mrw.

Delayed Kick Off

The holiday itinerary gets complicated by Inter v Man U ko at 1.30 am . We warm up with a few Kingfishers (KFs from now on) over at Palolem -next beach more lively.Meet interesting,lively lass from Brum at ace bar with footy highlights on -turns into Thatcherite loon after 4 beers so engage the Italian gearbox... Go eat but Dave keeps ordering large KFs. Get back to Patnem and blag a seat in bar with footy on, crap match only enlivened by maniacs piling in with info on their current chemical state. Been offered stuff twice already here, Patnem's got a little less innocent. However we have bikes,mine Pulsar 180 sports bike Dave has Avenger 200 lowrider .Bajaj of India's Bad Boys!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Planes Trains and Auto-rickshaws

Petrol Head Overload.Car to Nottm.Coach to Heathrow.Big Iron Bird to Mumbai.Taxi across Mumbai.Smaller Jet to Goa.Small Minibus to Patnem Beach South Goa, Our base for next 10 days.
Arrive more tired than Last of the Summer Wine. Celebrate with Goa's Kingfisher truly the King of Beers -roll in at 2 am. Wake foggy headed to the slow realisation I haven't got lashed up in the shed but am in a beach hut in India.Oh.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Why Are These Bikes Picking On Me?

They say after a while the owner starts to resemble the dog.These petrol pets of mine are driving me nuts.Why have most of my bikes got issues? Is it in reverse and they are reflecting their owners eccentricities? What drove a Fantic carb that worked Ok on a sick engine refuse to play ball on the rebuilt one?With astonishing perversity the pilot jet I could blow AND see through, once replaced resulted in 1st kick starting.Maybe its cos I made it stand in the corner for 2 years..
My red Ts185 became a non-runner whilst IN MY SHED.Was it bored? I stripped it and found only one ring, so the top one's abducted by aliens,right? My Bultaco broke down startline of my 1st event, for that jilted-at-the-altar feel .How does my Ts185 racer start with another's kick but not mine? Is it personal?