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.