Friday, 17 December 2010

Indian Reservations

  1. I've said some crazy things in my time but this one,oh wow: "We'll ride across India to the Ocean,then all the way back and up the coast to Goa again" Easy to say.Just like fifteen hundred miles doesn't look much, on paper. Whichever way you say or write 125cc though, it's damn small and that is the approximate size of the bikes we're using. However this will be my 3rd time riding little Indian bikes (see Blog 2009) and I know you can't go particularly fast anyway. Probably only gonna average a few mph less than India's only bigger bike,the Enfield Bullet. Evocative as they undoubtedly are, I sometimes feel image wins over practicality. The route is subject to change and will likely miss Bangalore (BIG City) the primary aim to see lots of temples,ride through the many National Parks/Forests,take the steam train to Ooty Hill-station and a boat trip in the backwaters of Kerala. Or spend 2 days fixing a puncture in Dust Valley...             Trepidations abound, but the Old Man on a Bike did South America on a CG125 and these guys rode their Pre-WW1 motorsickles across the U.S. Further fascinating tales of discovering bikes and people Stateside from this guy here in Nottingham who imports 70s Kawasakis from the USA .An absolute Kawasaki NUT and triples in particular.Yes, the loon machine from the early 70s the H2, a 3 cylinder 750cc 2 stroke ticket to the afterlife.Witness the overwhelming amount of stuff in his museum,not just bikes, merchandise (Kawasaki Soda,anyone?), toys,rogues gallery of engine destructions and sectioned motors from training schools.On the site there's also the deafening 7 cylinder engine on a stand I saw demo'd at Stafford years ago. Together with dreadlocked 'zombie' dummy sat on a triple that bobbed up & down ,what with the noise,smoke and lightshow I rate it up there with many gigs I've been to!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Los Alicantinos

El Castillo de Alicante-climb in  noon heat for hangover cure!
I never thought when watching Hercules ( Alicante's larger football team) in February that they'd be playing Real Madrid in La Liga (Premiership) in October. A last-gasp promotion was achieved and so here we are.Another miracle and we also get face-value tickets on the night.Sadly miracles don't always last and Hercules, despite taking the lead,get beaten 3-1. Still what an experience and we head out into the Alicante nightlife.A beautiful city,hundreds of bars,thousands of people and no idiots.
Well, there's always one.
Next morning a vile young Glasgow Rangers fan threatens Dave (for no reason). In the evening we hear manic loud drumming, and enticed, we aim for the harbour. The World Youth Kick-Boxing Tournament is on and the teams are gathered. Each country's team has a band of drummers who display their skills in turn. They march out and perform,firebreathers and light-dancers making a mesmerising spectacle.Surrounded by youngsters who have trained for months,some who will engage in honourable combat,and all are smiling. The following afternoon walking Alicante's small playa,the Mediterranean Sea laps my feet,cleansing,as the serenity of beach & sun are absorbed. Further up the coast (Benidorm area) the train deposits us behind the beach in a concrete nightmare of scores of tower blocks.Some people's idea of holiday appartment dreams - seems more like a council estate to us!
The bars look much like drinking in a shopping centre. Sun,Sea,Sand, -Soul not included.
On the bike front -very little- only a Honda FTR 223, nice Flat-Track style and a model not imported to UK, or how about this hub-centre steered Italjet scooter (why?).
Anyway -so long as you're Ok with brunettes, there's much nicer things to see in Alicante!

The Peasants Are Revolving

It's not often you have the chance to rub shoulders with the Aristocracy but out of the blue (blood) our club were invited to race at Gawsworth Hall,in the Elizabethan Walled Garden no less.The club rang and asked if I wanted in, as being a Grass Sprint it'd be a good return race.The RM100 was readied for it's first event and we arrived at 16th Century Gawsworth Hall to be given a welcome speech by the owner, Rupert, who was himself into bikes  and old cars,and later on raced with us. Apparently the grounds had been used for jousting in the past ,kind of appropriate really! It was good to see all the usual faces and chew the fat,to talk bones and bikes.
Any doubts that I'd be somewhat tentative after the leg-break were immediately dispelled at the first corner.I flung it in with the usual,er,'gusto'. The little screamer ran faultlessly and absolutely flew down the back straights.After so long,it felt good. Really good.Up against all the 250s and above I was never gonna shine and finished 25th of 33.I did beat my mate Les by 0.08 seconds and we matched up in the run-off heats. Two mad old buggers on the line,revving,creeping, "Wait,WAIT for it...". GOOOOOOOOOO!!!! He wheelies and I get the start but his 250 Pursang overhauls me into the 1st corner, I'm all over his back wheel but can't pass. We go over a small drop -he lands all crossed up 'Wow he's pushing it I think' -until I do the same.
Great fun had by all. As they say, Teenage Kicks -So hard to beat.
Five years ago, in my first ever event my Bultaco completely gave up on the startline. A stranger (Les) offered me his immaculate Ossa to do a couple of runs, "As you might go home disappointed, and never come back". I can't think of anyone I'd rather lose to.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Cheap Thrills

After 6 weeks of TV my leg was out of cast but my spirit felt like it was in one. I'd tried to do some spannering but it's difficult on one leg. You may remember the XL125R roller I bought at Newark autojumble for £25, as I could now stand I decided to do this project before I returned to work. Straight away I'd acquired a good tank off ebay (£10), both sidepanels (Newark £7),headlight cowl (ebay again £5) .Top find was a wrongly listed (as Cr125 ) complete exhaust,home made but done well and goes outside the frame (£5 plus p&p!).I will never have a cold right leg! The engine is a pushrod CG125 unit I'd saved from my CT125 before I sold it and stands me at £20 and that got new black paint. . It wasn't such an easy fit though.I had to grind out a section from the CG front engine mount.At the rear I made a special bolt as the frame has 10mm holes and the engine 8mm. I turned down a very long 10mm bolt in the lathe and cut a new thread by hand.The spacers were 12mm with 10mm 'shoulders'.The carb top would foul the frame so I extended the manifold with a TL 'heat spacer'.Ignition switch is a Yamaha one with some mods to fit top yoke. The tank & panels got fresh Cherry Red paint & some decals.The frame and swingarm were well scuzzy so I decided to dismantle the bike and re-paint,the forks were rotary wire-brushed and silver painted.A seat cover's nearly £30 so it's got tape on for now! Front wheel is an alloy TLR trials item I'd bought for a fiver years ago.
After no ride for 3 months - I couldn't resist (despite the lack of MOT,Tax,Licence etc ) so I rode her up to the next village. All I can say is,it went well,it was bloody loud and it made me smile.
Bikes,they can drive you mad yet keep you sane.

Above 3rd July Here 30th July total cost I reckon is £95

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Pushin' Too Far

Sun and Rain,Joy and Pain. Life is full of contrast, just mine seems to have been turned up to full. Strength and weakness,pushing it and getting pulled. So, I'm all over this guy's back wheel missing by an inch as I switch sides and then take him on the outside. I'm thinking God whatever happens this is it,I'm on it, lovin it,can't stop me now. Twenty minutes later,"Are you alright?" Well,I'd be a lot better if you removed that front wheel,and the rest of your motorcycle, from my now broken leg.
Flying on my inside a Honda 500 had caught my foot,rolled up my leg and snapped my fibula.Nice. If the ambulance leaves,the race has to stop,so playing the hero I insist they wait until the race finishes.Then shudder as my MX boot is removed,I felt the bone 'clicking' and fear a gorefest (It ain't).At hospital, I grimace as the nurse says "Now that will need pulling".Strange moments,delays in anaesthetics arriving,silence,the Indian doctor holds my widely displaced foot,he looks into my eyes. No words exchanged.Alright then,go on. Time passes. "Ok it's in. You don't even flinch,you very strong". Cheers matey, and even better afterwards when I get left with the gas & air..:-) . A week in hospital until they operate and have a variety of Meccano put in my lower leg. Still, Rossi & De Puniet were racing Moto GP in casts a matter of weeks later. Mental.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Thumbs Up!

The target over winter was to get this RM100 ready for the Twinshock practise day at Gale Common,Selby for March 14th.Bike gets took out for a 'shake-down' locally on the Golden Field beforehand.Miraculously,nothing falls off,not even me.I must be too used to the fairly sedate canter of the Ts185, everything suddenly happens at 3/4 revs:a rush of noise,power, rear-end snaking.Did I mention laughing?! So 2 hrs session -all good.
After a night before jet wash,we arrive at the track.It won't start.Gutted,and I can't even watch the rest roar by.In desperation we bung in an old car plug and whaddya know? Ring-a-ding.Off for my first ever session on an MX track and oh my gawd this motocross lark is something else. The enduros I have done are all natural terrain,this is an assault course of ruts,jumps,bouncing and hanging on.Still,it's hairy but not terrifying,well you can't be scared by 100cc I know...By session 2 -I'm still getting blasted by all and sundry but give chase on 1 or 2 slower ones and end up having a ball.Free practise at the end is great fun too.Can't hold the powerband on as I bounce around on what seems like a turbo-charged wailing banshee space hopper, even tho' I know to keep the revs on before a jump. Is it lack of experience,or lack of decent suspension? The thought occurs to me after:perhaps I'd be quicker if I'd started racing at 13 rather than 43 !

Cabin Fever

When there is snow on the ground,and Cheryl Cole has clearly lost your phone number, all a man can do is polish his plastics.After nearly a week of this indoor bike work (plus seat foam & making decals) however, I was ready to run screaming to them thar hills,or hoover up,or something.If I couldn't get mud on my bike,or oil on my hands then I needed sun on my back.Last minute to Alicante,Spain for 6 days: it has beer,football,Sun(remember that?) and senoritas.Well, 3 outta 4 ain't bad,and managed to go to Hercules v Celta Vigo,although what they made of a drunken loon shouting in pidgin Spanish on the terraces God only knows.. Afterwards went drinking brandy,to a gig and nightclub.To coin a term I was "beyond the beyonds".A top city tho',with ne'er a Red Lion or Full English in sight (that's 10 miles up the road in Benidorm,er,no thanks) .
Suitably recharged, arrive home and the RM100 gets finished double-quick. Quite pleased how it looks,especially as it features such items as a £1 fr wheel,£2 mudguards,£10 exhaust and home made and 50p decals. A lot of it came from a rolling chassis I got years ago for £15,the frame came from a £70/70% of an RM. The whole bike came in on budget at around £300 -helped no doubt by the fully rebuilt engine lucked on for £85!! The down side of being 'frugal' is time spent refurbishing,this bike and the other engine & rewound coils totals maybe 250 hours. To some folk, that's a whole 2 months watching evening TV.
This poses the question: What exactly is, "A
Waste of Time"?
RM100 with 125 suspension.Front end to finish and temporary race ovals to be sorted :-)

Sunday, 10 January 2010

2010 Resolutions

Ah, 2009 an excellent vintage .Great racing, fun times,some riding improvement and two ace holidays both involving bikes. Stagnation is the roadblock on the road to happy times, therefore we must always keep moving and learning. At the start of '09 I wanted to be able to totally rebuild engines, rewind stator coils and install my lathe to start turning small items. All 3 achieved although it must be said not without major setbacks, mistakes are nothing to be ashamed of, I learnt a helluva lot.
This year's plan(and here it is in print....!) is to move into some Twinshock MX racing (been coming awhile) on the RM, modify the van to carry 2 bikes, make a start on the TM125 (1974) and get the XL125 ready for some adventures on the road/green lanes. Hopefully will sell the Fantic 200 as I don't need 2 trials bikes I didn't ride ONE trial last year,now that must change. The usual workshop stuff too, waterproof the roof and get some more lighting in.
Oh the XL125 well yes,er,another Newark autojumble purchase (see previous impulses..) OK I know it doesn't have an engine,or tank,or panels - merely details. It has a no. plate and on the white paper on seat the magic numbers 2 , 5 and a £ sign. It now has a tank,panels and a running CG engine in it. The mountings had to be fabricated dans la shed but it's a viable project. Just say it:I want to BELIEVE... The amazing device on the right with revolutionary new steering system (and only one tyre to buy) is the RM100. I'm aiming to race it this year; Yes really.

Ibiza: Never Mind The Balearics

Why Ibiza? To be honest £50 flight, £20 p.n accommodation. I hear it's £8-12 a beer in clubbing hotspot San Antonio so base myself on the opposite side of the island..A quick walk round the old fort in Eivissa, a trip to Spar for food/beer and yes 73p a litre: much more like it. Bus to little bay named Cala Llonga where my Self catering apartment is brilliant, make sandwich and straight out for a beer and exploration. There's around 10-15 bars on the streets behind the idyllic bay, and £3ish a pint but £8 and up for a meal (Spar food diet beckons) . I pick a bar with pictures of the owner and his CRF450, "Bike es bueno,Senor" and this sets me up. Magazines are produced ( luckily I read a little Spanish) the TV goes onto World Superbikes and he tells me a good bike is coming,soon. 3 pints later as he TV surfs to all available bike racing channels, a beast of a KTM690 roars up, a magnificent thing indeed.Get invited to ride the upcoming Ibiza Rally course with him, haven't got the heart to tell him I can only get a scooter....
Get myself a Honda 100cc 4stroke scoot for £20 and for a first ride (on the "wrong side of the road") a wise man starts gently. I am not known for my wisdom. Coast-to-coast Ibiza it is. It's hairy riding that little scoot on the highways with lorries tonking past,and trying to get the correct lane for San Antonio. I pull up at the marina,heart-rate a little higher, enter a cafe and spy the clock. 15 bloody minutes! That's all it took.I zoom off into the lush hinterland and soak up the warm rays and verdant hills riding almost alone on the roads. I hit the coast and go to every beach on the North of the island to East,parking up on the sand in some places.By the time I return the bike (getting dark) I've done 160km but at a cost: fuel has set me back FIVE POUNDS.
More good memories, choosing the swankiest seafront hotel bar in Santa Eulalia (reputedly Spain's richest town..) smoking Camels while white-shirted staff bring me endless cerveza. Those 2 hrs in scorching heat to find the Secret Cove, accessible only through the forest and via a tunnel; then spending an afternoon there in splendid isolation.There's more to Ibiza than nightlife and burning money (why d'ya think the Hippies came here originally?). I never was much into dance/house music anyway,because as we all know, Ace of Spades beats King Of Clubs every time.