A Lesson In Patience & Perseverance

If you are a biker, you may have been fortunate and got away with it; never having to claim for loss or damage to your bike. I was one of those fortunate men in my biking career. I have had all manner of bikes in the past [see first items on here] and have gone from a 50cc moped to a 1400cc beast of a bike, but in all that time, I do not think I have ever had the paperwork for a claim in my hands until recently and it became a lesson in lunacy and error ridden insurance companies as well as a lesson in patience and perseverance.

Now patience has never been my virtue. You only have to sit with me in the car for ten minutes before I am swearing obscenities at some A-Hole in the car in front of me. It is a cross between road rage and Tourettes. I have worked as a miner and a soldier, so I know every swear word there is and am not averse at using them, especially when behind the wheel. When on the bike, I just mutter the words “Fuck Off” as I fly past said numptie in his car trying to be stupid because there is a bike behind him, and it is usually a him!

But claiming insurance for theft this time was one hell of a lesson.

I think I told the story on the last thread, but on October 11th, I was woken by the Police at my door, telling me they had found a bike, my Honda CBF1000, wedged into a hedge on a playing field near to where we live. They were happily returning it, looking me up and down in my jammies and asking “how strong are you? This is one heavy bike!”

Pair of puffs, the both of em!

I thanked them in my state of shock and needed a sweet tea immediately. My anger and my PTSD were kicking in, big time, causing me to wretch after they had gone. They did what they do and sent a Forensic bod to my bungalow to dust for prints, but said directly to me that “it was most possibly the Pikies on the next estate and they always wear gloves” so they weren’t expecting much.

I was just glad to get it back!

I went to the local shops, bought a bitch of a chain that was so thick and heavy and 2m of galvanised chain, with two very thick padlocks, again so heavy that if you dropped one on your toe, you’d not be walking straight for a week! I then put the bike back where it had been for the entire time I have had a bike since we have been here. I got onto the insurer as well, Bennetts Insurance, who were very supportive.

Then came the nightmare.

Bennetts you see, do something very strange and for this reason, this is why you should never go with Bennetts, or never go with an insurer through the likes of GoCompare, or MoneySupermarket, or indeed, any of those comparison sites. You see, what happens is that they look around for insurers and you can insure a beast of a bike like a CB1300 for £127 for the year. That is amazing when it comes to quotes. But move house and then ring them up and see what happens next. Yes, we have changed your address and will send your revised policy out. Now can we have our £35 admin charge please? Any change you make, whatever it may be, incurs such a charge and I moved three times once in a year when all we had was a car.

It is a bloody nightmare!

So I knew that cost was important but balanced with the rest, it had its faults, but I was not expecting what would happen next. You see, as soon as I saw the damage to the loom, I thought I wonder, how much would Teasdales charge me to fix it so we leave the insurer out of it all. I asked them for a quote and they said £670 which in essence made my decision for me. The claim had to continue. But the lovely man at Teasdales, my favourite bike shop for many reasons, sent me an email telling me that if Bennetts say they will use a company called 4th Dimension Ltd, from Surrey, say no, for they will take your bike and write it off when it need not be written off. They are known for this, apparently and treat you like scum. Wise words in the end of it, as you will see.

Within three days of being stolen, re-protected by chains and locks, some git appeared and took the bike again. This time, we think it was a different brood. It all seemed more professional in terms of thieves. So now, within three days, the bike had been stolen twice. Bennetts were notified again. They said no problem, we will stop the first claim and open a new one. We will use a company called 4th Dimension. I said no thanks and they ignored me. They had said they will do the admin when the bike was returned to me and the local Honda dealer, at my behest, would do the work, but when it vanished totally, like a fart in the wind, they were now in charge.

My two word response was, “Oh shit!”

This was the 13th October 2017. Normally, once they have the keys and paperwork, the payment is quite swift. But this was nothing but snail pace when it came to paying me what I was owed. I had to send emails every day, asking about this and that. They would send emails back and phone me saying sorry, they had made an error and so payment will be delayed. I was looking at bikes again, being told by them, that the payment would be made by the 18th. If I had not got it in my account by then, then give them a ring or another email to let them know.

The 18th came and went so I emailed. All I got was an email saying we apologise. We have made another error internally. We will get on it immediately and get the payment to you by the 20th. Yes, you guessed it. It never materialised and after 7 more days, it still had not come to my account. I had had to say to five dealers “I am interested in that bike,” only to then tell them that I could not go forward because 4th Dimension were being a pain in the arse and not paying me. In the end, I threatened with the use of words like “my former colleagues at the Press Association” and things like that, bringing on a telephone call from the Chief Customer Relations manager. He apologised again and said that as a way of saying sorry, I would receive the £2150 as it should be plus a payment of £100 because so many errors had been made in this case.

He said it would all be in my account by midnight that day. But this was now the 28th!

I emailed him the following day, thanking him for the £100 but to tell him that the other £2150 was still not there. He was apoplectic. He then went about his business colleagues with an iron rod by the feel of it, because on the 30th, at 3pm, when he says payments have to be authorised by, the £2150 hit my account and I was so relieved.

But it had put me right off even thinking of trying to get another bike.

The added thing was that I could not get one without a garage here and the landlord had refused me to erect a garage. So I began to sell everything; boots, both jackets [thieving gits had got my gloves] and other stuff I did not need. I had just bought a rad grill and a new Givi screen for it two days before it was stolen. Not happy!

Thankfully, the other day, my church Minister agreed to let me put my next bike in his garage. He lives two doors away so it will be a brilliant arrangement for me. But what a bloody palava with the insurance payout. The CS Manager has said he has raised a formal complaint on my behalf with a view to Bennetts and ERS paying me some compensation but to be fair, I could not be bothered because in the end, I shall not be going back through Bennetts.

Ironically, yesterday, my renewal papers came from Bennetts and I took one look and said “Not bloody likely” and rang them up to cancel telling them I no longer own the bike after payout. 4th Dimension do.

Insurance, we all know, is a pain in the rear, but I did not want a proctology exam when making a claim. I got one in the end, but with perseverance [and some patience] I got my cash from them.

Now, all I have to do is buy another bike and I am looking at this one.

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Oh happy day!

 

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Good Days & Bad Days

Here we are again thinking about bikes and biking and all that that entails and here am I with two stories that will make you respond positively and negatively.

The first is that after nine months of owning my beloved CBF600SA, I decided to opt for spending a bit more cash and getting the CBF1000 and boy was it a day to remember coming down from Tom Conway Bikes in Durham on that beast. I traded the 600 and got 2k for her which is not too shabby at all, even though I had added so much onto her. She simply was not strong enough to take a fat, balding 22 stoner like me and then a pillion rider in the diminutive stature of the Mrs.

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So I traded and went here, there and everywhere on the thing, until last week. Last Wednesday, at 7-30am in the morning two burly coppers ended up on my door. They woke me from my slumber to tell me that my CBF1000 had been pinched and left wedged into a hedge on a playing field adjacent to an area of the town where I live which contains all the dross and the nutters of the area. Even the coppers said “it will be the pikies off the estate” when asked.

There was some damage and the photos below the next one show it. Fairing trouble, steering lock snapped and weirdly, the ignition loom cut. Stupid bastards thought they could hotwire a HISS system protected bike.

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This was the day I picked up The Beast from Durham, a very happy day indeed. But that turned to sadness and now, I am bikeless. When the Police came, they showed me the damage.

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I have never been great at receiving such news and needed some sweet tea to get over this one, ending up having a panic attack a few hours after they had gone. But I decided it is time to beef up the chains and locks. There was no way I could get an Oxford Boss that day. I can get them for £30 on ebay and did think of that too, but in the interim, went and got two sets of heavy duty chains and two of the thickest padlocks I could find. I then added them to the bike thinking “Nick it now you bastards!” The ground anchor I had was a sodding telegraph pole!

Guess, what? They did, three days later, on Saturday morning, between the hours of 1245am and 0215am. That will teach me for tempting fate eh? I know this to be the case with the timings because I went to sleep at that time and woke up at 0215am needing to pay a visit and when I looked through the window, I saw the lack of a bike. I live in a beautiful town, a market town in North Yorkshire. It is for the most part, idyllic, but now, I am bikeless and bereft. For a good few days I wanted to do one thing and one thing only, move! As far away as possible from this melee. I am still of the same disposition now.

The bike I loved had gone.

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The closest thing to my old GSX1400 that I could get because I cannot afford the GSX1400, is no more, probably in some twonk’s garage and the cops are doing sod all about it. Frustrating is not the word! Yes, they gave me an incident number but what else can they do unless someone names the culprit.

So I wrote to the local newspaper, the Northern Echo and told them. I wrote the report, for the most part, in the body of the email. I thought sod this, I have to do something about it. I need to get it back, get it even more secured and stick my fingers up at the thieves.

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/northyorkshire/15599355.Biker_distraught_after_motorcycle_is_stolen_TWICE_in_three_days/

I even went driving round the town and the local villages, in the vain hope that I could bump into [literally] the idiot who took it. If I had and if I do one day, then unless they are wearing Police uniform, they are getting knocked off and run over, on purpose. Shit on me and I will give it back tenfold.

So now, I have a huge dilemma. I have to keep going. I have to keep on two wheels, but how can I do it now that the arsewipes have struck twice within three days? It is no longer safe here and the insurer has hinted at someone coming out if I buy another to ascertain how safe this place is. The thought of it is doing my head in. Move and rent a house with a garage is an option but we do like it where we are and that would piss my wife off no end. Forget buying a bike? Not an option. As soon as the insurance have paid out I am down the bike shop for a new one [to me]. I will not be beaten by these idiots. God knows what my insurance will be next time but I am not being scared off by some Yokel who is as brainless as they come. I have seen them on that estate. Jesus, but they make Dillon out of the Fenn Street Gang look like Stephen Hawking!

They can all go fly a kite, for all I care but they’re not having another one of my bikes.

My options, at the moment, are a Suzuki Bandit 1250 Faired which I have seen. It is a 2005 bike though for the same money but a true muscle bike and a Beast of bigger proportions than the CBF. Perhaps, if I get one so bastard heavy, they will think twice. BMW then, is another option.

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Or perhaps something else like a Deauville. I saw an old one, which the idiots may look at and think no thanks to, like the one I used to have, in the old 650 version on an S plate for 975 quid so that is an option plus a train ride and 3 hours of fun coming home.

The other thing I have seen is this. And boy, does it tantalise my sensibilities.

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It is a case of to be, or not to be, mine? That is the question. My nephew, a biker himself, says “go for it Uncle Rob.” I am not totally convinced the riding position would suffice and the good old Bandit would suit this cripple better than something leaning further forward. A friend suggested doing what he did and moving to the VFR800. His is a lovely bike but again, I am not sure as yet and have not seen one that has blown my skirts up enough to think yep, that’s definitely me.

Then again, there is the option of buying back my CBF600. I do miss the old girl and I do know the bike well. But I sold her because I needed something that can take pillion plus me and that is why, I think, it is so hard to decide at this moment. The insurance are due to pay out soon, very soon and I have the dilemma of parking the thing, whatever I get.

Someone suggested one of these. They cost £60 a month to rent on a secure site. You plonk your bike in, plus all your gear, drive up to it from home in the car and then go biking. When done, you come back to the unit and put it all away till the next time.

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Only time will tell what I shall do next!

Happy biking but be careful out there folks. I had mine chained and padlocked with two heavy duty chains and then a disc lock on the front and they went through those like a knife through butter, with bolt cutters. Next time, if there is a next time, there will be no chance of anyone nicking my bike ever again. I simply refuse to buy one until I can guarantee that level of safety.

 

Still Learning…

Squires Cafe Bar – Sherburn In Elmet [A Review – of Sorts]

Back in the day, when I had my Suzuki GSX1400 [2003 – 2006] and before that even, when I had the Deauville 650, we lived in Doncaster [South Yorkshire. UK] and the nearest cafe bar that was specifically for bikers was in a place called Newthorpe, near Sherburn in Elmet, Leeds. It is called the Squires Cafe Bar.

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Jason and his dad owned the place and at weekends, did a roaring trade, but what made it special was not the bikes but the family that owned it. They were special. As was their dog, who used to walk around the cafe with a tiny peak cap on, I forget with which words on it, but the little mite looked like any greasy biker you would befriend on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The greeting you got was fine. The food was fulsome and there was plenty of it. Many a day, I have had a chip butty or a veggie burger with the wife and a coffee with whipped cream oozing out the top, or just a brew and a pastie, to keep the hunger at bay. I took my kids there, one by one for hot chocolate drinks with the same heap of cream on top. They adored the place.

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I even remember sitting down by the raging coal fire one day, with the father, who I think was called Harry, chatting about bikes and even being offered the chance to buy the place because I said, as a former chef, that I would love to own a place like this. Of course, this was in the days before the DMP and then the IVA, so now, I would not be allowed to own such a handsome place as this.

Well, handsome might be pushing it.

That was then, when it was in need of being done up, but was homely and rough n ready. So what about now? What about the time since I last cocked my leg over a bike seat and roared off into the sunset? It has been ten years since I owned the Suzuki 750, the all too naked, sit up and beg version, in an attempt to get back into biking from the 2003 – 2006 days of the GSX1400. But that had to be sold when I lost my job, again. Austerity and cutbacks have been a bitch!

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So, since last November, when I finally got the chance to own a decent bike again, I have been up and down the A1M to the Squires on about three occasions. At each venture, I have seen the usual things; the place rammed to the rafters with bikes. Stands selling bikes, like today, when Suzuki were giving test rides on new Vstroms and other luscious Suzis and bikers with all their differing bikes and gear on. It has been a sight to behold.

But I have also noticed the change in ownership, or at least, the change in the people running it. New leaders. New girls serving. New chefs. I have not ventured into the land of the veggie burger yet, or the chips, which used to be as chunky as hell and totally gorgeous, but what I have seen is a cleaner place, good for the health inspector I suppose, but a spruced up joint that looks better than it did. Whether the food, or the gracefulness of the owners is any better, only time will tell.

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Today, I went and had a tea and a pastie. I am a lone rider now. My wife chooses to stay at home. My bike, being a 600, will not take the both of us, according to Honda, as I am worth two in one go, if you get my drift. So all I need is a pastie, but the same things are there; bikes and bikers, tea and pasties, pool tables to thrash my son on, back in the day, telly screens for the MotoGP, when we ever see it nowadays.

But the soul has gone from the place because Jason and his little family are not there, or if they are, they are not seen any more. And that is a pity, for today, as with each day, I have gone down, bought my beverages, looked around for a friendly face and all I see are strangers. Perhaps that is the old fart in me, but in the end, the place is not the same as it once was. As I went today, mainly because there is nothing near to me, I decided to go via York from Teesside, down the A19. I normally go via the motorway, to get there faster, but did the opposite today and loved it. When I got there, I took some photos, as you see here, and then sat down to have my brew and pastie.

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Lovely it was too.

And then, I went for a wander, glancing at all the beautiful bikes. As I did so, I saw a bench I could go and sit on so headed off to sit down and watch the world go by for a few minutes.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an ageing biker motioning to me, waving his arms at me strangely. How odd, I thought and carried on to the bench, whereupon, as I was about to sit down, he simply said four words which finished me off in one go, for I had been walking round for the last twenty minutes, soaking up the atmosphere.

And those four words were …..YOUR FLIES ARE DOWN!

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Lesson learnt #3 for this biker. Ah well, there will be other days.

Here We Go … A Bimbling

The Great CBF600 Biker Jaunt 2017: Windermere UK

We [four CBF600 riders] have just returned from a weekend away at Ullswater, Lake Windermere and Sykeside Campsite. For me, it was a 250 mile round journey at least so I plan to share here, with photos and some of the elements of the trip. Our trip had been planned for weeks, with the deposit being paid by me for the campsite where we would stay, so we waited and waited till June 17th [some of us more impatiently than others] and then, when the final day came, we all met up at Scotch Corner Services here in the UK. After a brief stop to check things over, have a brew and take a few photos, off we went, with Tony in the lead as he was Mr SatNav for the trip. Not only did he know his way there, but he has the gadgets with him to cover all eventualities.

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Half way there, we stopped and out came the visor wash from Tony’s bag of tricks. Talk about being organised. By now the heat was about 30 degrees but with bike jackets, helmets and gloves on, even thin ones for summer, it was getting slightly unbearable for me. I am a big fella so suffer in this kind of oppressive heat.

On we went, to Penrith, where the plan was, with me not understanding it fully, that we would stop for a drink, cool off and then head off to the site. Going 60mph all the way over the A66, for me, was somewhat annoying in a way because all week I knew that road would be there for me to test the bike out properly. I wanted to add at least another 20mph onto that, but I behaved myself and finally, as we arrived into the Red Rooster Cafe in Penrith, bike followed bike, I followed on in third slot and as the leader made a super quick left and then right, I got all confused and wondered where I was going.

I assumed he had made an error, very unlike him, so wobbled my way out of his way, veering left, off down a road, with our final rider behind me. I think I put him off, but he says that is not so, for after I had turned round, gone back up the hill and parked the bike, I found that the front end had gone out on him in some freak accident. Luckily, no one was involved apart from bike and rider and another biker came to his aid to lift the beast up. As we all chatted over a cup of tea or coffee, it struck me that it seemed to be taking forever to get to our destination. I am so impatient at times. It is the PTSD in me I am afraid.

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From Penrith down through Ullswater is a seriously pretty ride, but when you turn right onto the road at the side of the lake, your breath is suddenly taken away. Now, it was getting interesting! I have been to places like Venice and it is stunning but this was on a scale with Venice easily. I have canoed in Windermere when I was younger, swam in it as well, so know the beauty of the place, but it was like I had forgotten about it for so long. The last time I went to Windermere was a decade ago or more with my wife, so Ullswater was simply breathtaking. Trying to ride, take bends and gawk at the scenery is an interesting experience and we did not stop to take photos, so I knew I was missing the chance. But we rode on, trying to find the campsite at a place called Hartsop.

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In the end, we got lost, found our way again and arrived at the site, tired, hot, incredibly sweaty and began pitching our tents. Now this is where I learned two immutable truths about myself. Number 1 is that I am an old fart who does not do camping very well and Number 2 is that I am never buying cheap crap again. My tent was advertised as a three man tent. Aye, if your arse is as short as a Pygmy Chinaman. Putting it up damn near killed me [mainly because I am partially disabled and tire very easily due to injuries sustained in a car crash]. But the tent went up, eventually and I was left with a pole that seemed to be spare.

Hmmm, thought I. Like with the bikes in the past, now where the hell does that bit go?

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Just then, Tony saw the place where it went, across the top with the flysheet, so it was shoved through in good old Yorkshire style, resulting in it poking out the front end and breaking the flysheet where it slotted in. With no log cabins or huts on show, this could be interesting, thought I. My tent is broken! But no, out came the bag of tricks again and two minutes later, the tent had a band aid on it in the form of black insulating tape to keep it in place. I had huffed and puffed my way through putting the damn thing up, so simply added “don’t worry Tony. It is getting binned anyway.” They all laughed, but I meant it. If ever I go away on the bike again, it is like Le Mans in 2004, where I stayed in the Hotel Mercure.

Bugger camping! My wife has that one right I am afraid!

Eventually, we all had tents up and it was now about 3pm, so we all headed off for a rideout, down towards Lake Windermere. The road was simple enough, with only one turn off on it, to the right. Kirkstone Pass was the main road, but there was a lesser taken road, sometimes no more than a track and the plan was to turn right there, but one of our troop decided, in his words, to “have a bimble” down the main road, when we turned right. We would not have minded, but he was second rider at the time, so he saw the lead rider turn right and carried on going. We all stopped and waited for him to return, but there was no sign of him so one of us went to catch him up, returning having not been able to find him. Now, we were split up. Not good!

It was so comical to the three of us how it all happened, that while waiting, Tony took some photos, one of which is shared here.

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On seeing it when we got back, it inspired me to write this poem, based on the real event that shall go down in the annals of biking fame, if I have anything to do with it, for it simply is majestic in its daftness. It is written in honour of Robert Frost and my mate Paul, who when he should have turned right, went straight on down into Windermere as we went over the pass. Boy did we give him some stick for that!


The Road That Should Be Taken


The biker sat on the hill side, thinking of his future
He pondered the twisted route that he would now take.
And as he sat there, thinking of the delights ahead
He thought of the destination, the glittering lake.

So he thought to himself, now should be a good time to go
Upon this, one of life’s great adventures to master.
And as he pulled the throttle back, he saw the road
Fall and appear before him, daring him to go faster.

He thought of all of those less fortunate than he;
Those for whom this sight would never please,
And chuckled to himself as he continued to ride,
A faint, but growing laughter that would not cease.

For he knew the truth of it all, the one, undeniable fact
That there would be others who he could only call
‘The ones who travelled a road that he would not take;’
The ones whose names were not Chris, but Paul.

By the time we met up in Windermere, I was beginning to suffer from the heat and from my illnesses, so I was glad that we could sit and rest, but my phone had gone on the fritz from setting off so bless em, they tried to find me a new one. It was then that I saw the strangest thing ever in the form of two Police Officers, both dressed in black from top to toe on a 30 degree day, carrying sub-machine guns or such like. Paul, in his usual style, simply said to one of them, “Aye, but I bet they’re not as good as the old SLR eh?”

They ignored him and walked on!

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Eventually though, after some time to chat, we headed off down to the bottom of the lake, where there is a magnificent stopping place, close by the water, where you see the real beauty of the place. Now with the bikes as well, it made for some wonderful camera work, most notably Tony when trying to set a timer on a mobile phone camera. If you have ever tried to balance a mobile phone at that angle, you will appreciate this shot.

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By this time, Tony had to take off for home and leave the three of us to the campsite for the night, so we returned and had a meal, a few beers and then tried to get some sleep. Once again, things got in the way; a snoring fella in the next tent, a host of crows going KARRRR all night. I did sleep, but not much and the following morning, had decided that the tank bag would be binned because the magnets were rubbish [it was a cheap ebay one so I only have myself to blame] as well as the tent. I even managed to break my boots as well, so they went in the bin. In the end, I came with a bike full of gear and left with it half full, not an untypical thing for me.

But I insisted on taking one form of luxury with me; a pillow from my bed! I got some stick for it in the form of “have pillow, will travel” comments from the fellas, but there was no way I would sleep without it. I am just a pampered old fart at heart. I know this to be the truth.

But that was not the last thing to go wrong for me at least. No. On the morning we were coming home, I packed the bike and decided to take her up to the main entrance, mainly because of the walk and the steepness of it. I cannot walk up stairs in a house easily and a steep incline like that took me three stops to master just to go to the pub. And there, I waited for the other two to pack up their tents. I was simply exhausted.

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An hour went past and nothing, so wanting to get off, having changed my mind to go back down through Ullswater, so I could take some photos [remember the way in, how I could not take any?] I put my specs down and clipped them under my bungee net on the back seat, then put the helmet on, rode down to tell them I was setting off a different way to them and then headed off for home. I just needed to be on the road.

Yes, you guessed it. My specs were still [at some point] attached to my bungee net, so at some point, my £150 specs came off that and were lost. I only realised as I was near Ullswater, stopped to check the net, saw no glasses, swore vehemently to myself and then carried on thinking I am not turning round now!

So, it has been an interesting weekend away in a lot of ways, where certain things have been learnt. Firstly, I am too old in the tooth for camping. Next time it is a hotel, BB or a log cabin set up. They can camp but I am for the luxury after a hard day in the saddle. Secondly, buy the right things for the bike, especially the boots. Mine wore through, stopping me from walking down to the water side, forcing me to rest. I have since, yesterday in fact, bought some proper biker boots and will road test them soon. Thirdly, and most importantly, plan accordingly for all contingencies.

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The bike ran like a dream. I was doubting her ability to do this trip, if I be honest, because of some noise coming from the engine, but riding home, on the A66, a quarter tank of fuel and worrying about there being no petrol stations anywhere, I just carried on going at 55mph to conserve fuel and fell upon a BP garage, where I could fill up. From there, back to Scotch Corner services was a blur. Nothing overtook me; that is all I am saying here. Don’t want the Rozzers to come knocking. The bike handled really well at low and high revs, took off at 7k into lands I have only experienced with the GSX1400 before now and I completely fell in love with her all over again. I had been thinking of trading, but not now. The CBF600SA is simply, one of the best bikes I have owned.

But when I got to Scotch Corner, I heard something that made me chuckle so much that I simply have to share it here. A man was overheard, by me, talking to some other folk, who mentioned Kendal and Windermere, where we had just been, so it got my attention. The man then asked the other, “Ah right, do they have their own sheep there, or do you have to take your own?” I rode home the forty miles or so, chuckling happily at that one. The best comics could not have done better.

On the whole, it was a fab trip, even though there were issues, a bike dropped twice, excessive heat, the loss of specs etc, but the bikes, the place, the journey, the ride, as well as the sheer thrill of it all makes it something that I shall treasure in my memory till the day I forget when I get too damn old, or till the day I shuffle off this mortal coil and go racing in heaven. Thank you to Tony, to Chris and to Paul, for making this little holiday something to treasure. You are all friends of the highest calibre now, all found on Facebook, in my estimation and that is not bad from me, for I do not make friends easily and do not have a lot of folk who I would trust with my life. You lot fit the bill perfectly.

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God bless you all.

The Phantom Of The Hugger!

 

My last post was about the search for a hugger for my bike.

This one goes one step further because there have been a series of events, that are beyond belief and extremely testing, that have taken place that leave me believing that there is no such thing as a hugger for my bike.

Why do I write this you may be thinking? Be serious Robert. Think positive Robert.

Bullshit, thinks Robert!

You see, if it was a case of order a hugger, get it into stock and then get the bike there for a mechanic to fit the thing [remember, I am useless mechanically minded] then it would have been done by now. But no! I am huggerless still! I am beginning to believe that it will never happen.

Let me explain what has happened so far.

I went to a dealer near to where we live. There are two. One in Stockton – On – Tees and one a bit further away, which is not necessarily a Honda dealer [not adding names because all this fiasco is not their fault] that has excellent street cred and is known for reliability. They have helped me in the past with this beast and in the end, because I was in there for something else, I asked them about a hugger and they said they get theirs from a company in Lincolnshire.

It appears, from a phone call I have just made, that this company are the market leader for after market add ons like this hugger I am after. But there is a problem hinted at in the last blog piece. My bike is a CBF600 and has a 2010 plate [10]. But the bike seems to have been sat in a showroom before 2010 so was more likely built at any time before that, so the 2010 hugger was ordered and it was the wrong one.

I have just been today because they ordered the 04-07 one, but after a short time, in walks the boss this time with a seriously annoyed look on his face, telling me that this one is wrong and does not fit either. I am leaning against a high counter at the time, trying to remain cool on a warm day, not something one does easily at 21 stone. But when he said that, my head fell between my arms and my face more or less hit the counter in shock. I simply could not believe what was happening to me.

After a call to the company, they are told that the 04-07 one is not the right hugger for my bike because mine is the SA model. The one we have may fit the S model but not the SA model and that, is Honda’s fault, for changing out the holes. I begin to feel like that song by Johnny Cash, where he worked in the car plant and day by day, nicked a piece at a time, and before too long, had a 49, 50, 51, 52 car for free etc. If you know the song then fine, If not, then here you are…..

 

By now, it is becoming a nightmare. This hugger is turning out to be a phantom of someone else’s making, a Honda ruse to make life bloody hard for people like me who buy their bikes. It is not like I am wanting something difficult but the 2010 bike that is the S model being different to the SA, which is mine, is a nightmare. I am tempted to say this is the last time I am buying a Honda, but I know that the others will be the same too. I am not that green.

So, the dealer asks me if it is okay for me to go for a Puig or an Ermax [may have the name wrong there] instead, so I agree and they price it up, from the same company, and guess what, the 85 pounds I have agreed to pay suddenly rises to 107. Then there is fitting of course.

I am beginning to think by now, that I should have paid attention in Mr Withers’ Car Mechanics class! Or at least I should have continued as an apprentice fitter at the pit, when I was 17, for at least I would be able to buy one off ebay and then fit the bugger myself. I am more than annoyed, past vexed and into the world of murderous thought. I have PTSD so things like this annoy me more than others but I am there and I know it is not the dealer’s fault, so I say okay, go for the gloss finished Ermax [107 quid] and let’s try that.

But I have told them, nicely, which for me is a good sign, that if this does not fit, then that is that. Game over.

The Phantom of the Hugger strikes again!

Watch this space.

Lessons Learnt #2

Have you ever sat and wondered just why you bother with certain things?

I am no new man to bikes, having had them since I was 16, on and off, so you would think I would have got wise before now. I am a teacher of English too, so I should be able to read and decipher the words between words, the semantics of an easy text.

But no, I am human and because of that, I am sure I am as fallible as the next bloke.

Today’s little duo of despotic moments are testament to just that. The readers to this blog will know I had some trouble a few weeks ago with a rack and box, got help, took the thing off and tried to fix it myself. Bad idea! I am about as mechanically minded as a slug and I was forced into going to the dealer and getting them to do it.

I, after all, am the one who has a scrape on my Z250 many moons ago now and pushes the thing home, about half a mile. I put it in the garage and the following day decide to try and fix it. My Mum and Dad are on holiday abroad leaving me Home Alone at 16. Another bad idea. So, I strip the thing; tank off, down to the nitty gritty, engine out bit by bit till I get to the offending article, a rod of some description. It is cracked. Something to do with the camshaft, or something like that, I seem to remember. I get the new part, put it all together again and am left with a piece in my hand, thinking where the f*** does that go?

So I get dealers to do things now.

Today saw me go for my new hugger to be fitted to my beloved Biffa 650. It has been on order but each time I have tried to go down, the heavens have opened and I have been stuck, so I got there, left it with them, went for a smoke and a coffee, or should that be cofveve?

And chill.

Half an hour in, one of the mockaniks with the spanner comes waltzing round the corner at me and then into the shop area. I ask him is that mine? He answers that it is and that it does not fit. It is the wrong part. After my coffee, and a chat up of a lovely Polish lass, [there has to be some perks in life] I head on in to find four of them in heated debate as to what to do next. This is their cash flow that is being held up after all. They are all very nice and re-order one for me, of the right one.

Now here is where it went tits up, so beware all you young bikers, or old farts like me, who know no less, for the age of the bike you buy may just drop you in the clarts like with me today. If you check on the MCN Reviews for the CBF600, you will find two of them. The first goes from something like 2000 – 2008 saying some unsavoury things. Then there is a review of the bike built from 2008 onwards. A better review on the whole. [I may have mistyped a number there so apologies if that is the case].

Point of order being that although mine is a 2010 bike, it is not a 2010 bike! That is what I was told!

I asked them what they meant, thinking that I had been sold a pup, not the first time that thought has crossed my mind in recent times I can tell you, but he realised what he had said and assured me it was kosher as a 2010 bike, but that he meant it had been manufactured some time before that and had, no doubt, been sat in a showroom, waiting for Mr Right, with his big fat wallet, to come in and fall in love with her.

This is the deal you see, for my bike fits into that first MCN review category. It must do, for the serial numbers to be wrong on the hugger, for the later 2010 onwards bikes, apparently, have a wider hugger, with the holes drilled out in different places. So beware of taking what you think is a 2011 bike. It may just be a 2008 one that never got bought when the rush came in March or September ad then when it did get bought was registered as that year when new.

So, with all this in my head, I head off home, to put it bluntly, slightly pissed off, and then get pissed on! Yes, you guessed it; on the way home, the rain came in small amounts, just enough to get me moist. Now, before your eyebrows go over the top of your eyes at the word I used there, think on, I have not got any wet gear. So I am disgruntled by the time I get home.

But when I get home, there are two surprises waiting for me; a tiny camera for the bike, for when I go away next week [review to follow] and my new leather seat covers. Now I expected covers that simply slipped over the seats, where maybe I could add some gel pack into the space left, or some foam, to make the seat wider, or comfier.

What I got was this…

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And this….

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When I opened them, I thought oh, what have I done? I started calling myself all manner of names and then thought try the other one.

I got this… for the back seat.

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More like it, thought I. But then I was confused again. Had I been given a tank cover as well? The first one was so big, it could almost be that.

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But I was happy with the red stitching and the logo, for my bike is red and black.

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So, I decided to have a look at the ad again on ebay and there, in plain print, I saw something so obvious, it might as well have been a bloody duck that flew into my face, slapped me round the chops and then buggered off again. There, in nice lovely font, were the instructions that this silly old sod had neglected to read clearly.

I had seen the image, fallen head over heels and bought, not really knowing that when they arrive, you have to get a heavy duty staple gun, remove your seats, front and pillion, and then proceed to staple these covers over the already bony, excruciatingly horrible seat.

Now I was annoyed for a second time but this gave way to a sense of relief in a way, because at that point, I realised something that had only, in a way, occurred to me, that could be true. I had asked some friends if their seat covers they had bought had space between cover and seat, when they flipped the cover over [thinking slip on covers] whereby a small piece of foam, cut to the shape of the rider’s seat, could be inserted, to make the seat slightly wider and more comfy.

They had said no, there was not enough space, but I looked at these and an idea began to form in this crazy 4XL head of mine. I could do this with these, so ten minutes later, a staple gun had been ordered, along with a 20 x 20 inch strip of foam. As to the foam, if it does not work, then no worries, it can be binned, but the covers will be able to be fitted by me quite easily.

Remember, I am talking about Bobby The Slug here! The air could go very blue when I do it. But I am prepared to have a go.

So, lessons learnt #2 as daftness once again reigns with this nutjob biker who fails to read everything. Well, I am male and I have had head injuries in the past due to a car crash, so they are my excuses and I am sticking to them both.

Happy trails!

The Great Debacle

One of the things I have learnt since I bought this new bike is that since the last time I rode a bike, circa 2006 when I had the Suzuki GS750, things have changed somewhat in the field of bikes and parts manufacturing. Old fogies like me will always begin a sentence with words or phrases like, “Back in my day….” and then go rambling on about how things were better back then, as if we have moved into a society that somehow is failing us.

Oh wait, I forget. We have!

Whenever it gets to the point where such a debacle as I have recently endured can take place, I know that consumerism has taken over and biking, bikers and bikes have begun to suffer as a result. Let me explain. When I bought the bike in November last year, I did so knowing that there were some marks on her, on the box [a lot of scrapes and dents] and that sooner or later, I would have to change them out to make it look nicer, neater and newer. My OCD would never let me live with those marks.

Little did I realise the debacle that would follow.

When I got the bike, she looked like this.

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She was and remains, a good looking beast, but upon closer inspection, a mark or two on the bodywork that cannot really be fixed by me means they will have to be left, but the back box needed sorting and I quickly decided that it would have to go in one way or another.

So, one day, I decided to get my meagre tool box out and try to remove the bolts. It is an easy job, I thought, but they had welded on with time over seven years and there was no way I was going to get this off without help and assistance from somewhere, so I shouted out in a facebook group I am in and someone just around the corner said come and see me. Twenty minutes after starting and getting air hoses and angle grinders on the thing, he asked do I want to keep the plate. Now here was my first error for I was so annoyed, I said, “No, do you want to use it, or sell it for your help?”

I am simply too nice at times!

It was a Honda box on from the birth of the bike and worth £450 new, but Muggins here did not know that until later, so my new friend got a right little earner there. So now, I was left with a rack where I could get a standard, universal box and all would be well. £20 later off Ebay and I am waiting for my new box to arrive. When it came I was elated, for it looked marvellous and had its own universal fitting kit, but could I get it fitted to the old [CBF1000] rack? You guessed it, the answer was in the negative. Now I had a bike that looked leaner yet all I could do with the rack was tie bungee ropes around black bags or something like that, if I wanted to go anywhere nice, like camping for bike races.

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Lesson learnt. Never try to do anything yourself when you neither have the skills or the tools or even the know how. It is a waste of time and money. So far, this had cost me nothing apart from the loss of the box, so a local bike shop helped me take the rack off when I could not get that to shift either. Thus I ended up with a back end that just looked odd when the rack was removed. I was advised it was not the rack for the bike but I have come to think they might have been saying that for commercial sales reasons, trying to get me to spend more of my hard earned. The same racks on ebay are selling for £70.

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Now, the bike looked like this on the back end and no matter how hard I tried, the box would not fit to the rack and when the rack went I had a choice; spend about £250 on a full Givi set, or buy a rack that is considered “Universal” to fit my bike so I could add my new box. Because of funds being sparse, I decided on being frugal and immediately regretted it because when the new rack came, there were issues. No matter how I tried to match plate to box [which would work], when you added the plate to the rack, there was no way the box was going to fit on.

Now I had a rack and a box that were useless, so again, I took advice. Someone had rewelded their rack to make the sissy bar more of a 90 degree angle than the 45 degree it came as [it was a sports rack designed for bungee roping things on the back etc] so I paid someone £10 to do that for me. When I finally got it back after a week of waiting, I put plate to box, and plate to rack, added it to the bike and found the holes where the bolts go through were out by about 8mm. No way would the rack ever fit to the bike! No way of sending it back as a reject because I had amended it. Thoughts of annoyance and anger at myself for not picking the Givi set idea in the first place. I am such a Numptie at times and should know better. Let those who do it professionally fit the thing.

So now, I had a box that was worthless, would not resell on ebay, a rack that would not fit and a bike that was naked. Two very special friends on Facebook put that to rights when one offered me an M5 plate for a Givi rack set, for free. I said yes please. It would save me £40 or thereabouts. The other offered me a set of grab rails at a very reasonable price, so I got both. The bike suddenly looked somewhere like it should be.

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By this time, I had made the decision to ask the local dealer to help me out. I had tried to sell the new cheap box on ebay but there were no buyers out there, so that and the rack went to the skip. The man at the skip told me that if it was okay with me, they have a spare area for “bric-a-brac” where things are auctioned off for local charities. I said of course and left them with him. What he does next with it is up to him.

And then, when the time came for me to go down to the dealer, I had ordered a new Givi rack and 37 litre box. I had the M5 monokey plate, so all would be well, they assured me. On the day I go down, I get there and leave the bike with them and after an hour, return to find they are having “issues” getting it all to fit. We had fallen foul of a Givi decision made some time ago, making my gifted “M5” plate not be able to fit to the new rack that was the given rack on their system for my bike. The rack was on, but the plate would not fit to the rack!

It is at these times that you know someone has something against you! Fate has fouled you [I so wanted to type another word there]. Time has trampled over you and your beliefs that this will ever get sorted vanish. In the end, Givi had manufactured and sold the M5 plate for their CBF600 bikes through the Noughties to about 2009 and then, from 2010, they had manufactured a plated called an, “M5M” plate, that fitted the “M5M” rack designed for my bike. Gone were the days of get a rack, get a box and with two spanners, put the thing on! Gone were the days when the consumer was King!

I was more than demoralised by now!

But the mechanic, who sussed I was about to opt for buggering off down the road on the bike with just the grab rails, came up with an idea. He would look in their old stock, for an M5M plate. It would mean I would have to pay an extra £40 but it could all then be put together. The other option was to put one on order and wait a week or so to come back the 12 miles and have a go again. He knew, I think, what my reaction to that would be. This had been happening for weeks now, so he found one from somewhere [the cynic in me knows this was a sales ploy] and within ten minutes, the rack, plate and box were on.

At last, over a period of several weeks, I now have something worth looking at but what has it shown me? What lessons have I had to endure to get from grotty old box to this? Well the first is that I should have asked for help to get the Honda box off so it could be repaired. A few quid for repair would be better than this. Second, never ever try to fix something if it ain’t broken and my box, although damaged, still worked. Thirdly, never try to do something you know you cannot do. And lastly, if in doubt, order the whole thing rather than trying to cut corners. My friends in the CBF600 group on Facebook sure helped me out and I will be forever thankful [especially as I try to sell the M5 plate to recoup the money paid] but in the end, what I should have done was left it all alone, removed the Honda box, had it fixed and then added it back on.

With the money saved, I could have ordered and had fitted my next purchase, a Hugger for the back wheel.

Only time will tell if I do this and the truth of the matter is obvious. I am NOT about to try and fit it myself! In good old Yorkshire terms, “Sod that!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Barnard Castle Again?

The thing to do when you get a new bike is get out on her as often as you can and with my illnesses and ailments, being partially disabled through injury on and off a bike, it is not always easy for me to just hop on the newbie as often as I would like to. But I had that chance recently as I got the chance, on a blustery, windswept day, to start off from Stokesley and head out to Yarm, before crossing over to Darlington and then via the A66 and A67, to Barnard Castle. It was an interesting run out to test the bike now I am used to her, to see what she was capable of in terms of handling when the wind is up.

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And boy, was the wind up. It was up more than a boozer’s back end after a night on the booze and a Ruby to end the night! The wind blew from just about every direction and on one occasion, swept me sideways, so far, that I thought I would end up on the grass verge at the side of the 66 coming back. Not the first time I would have been laid out in a farmer’s field and not very pretty.

I set off, not having a SATNAV mounted to the handlebars [my next purchase], which was interesting to say the least. I had looked at the map online of course, knowing I had to go through towards Yarm but the maps on Google Maps were not so clear as to whether I was to avoid the centre of Yarm or not, so I had to pull over, get the stand down, check the phone and set off again. Yes, Yarm centre, always chock full of cars, was a nightmare as usual but with a bit of patience, something I am not that good at, as well as some crafty balancing on two wheels [have you ever tried that behind cars, to see how long it takes to put the left foot down?] I was through and on my way to “Darlo” as the natives call it here. I am from South Yorkshire. We have another few names for it I am sure!

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But then I had to stop again when that sensation of where the hell am I kicked in. Another check of the maps on the phone from my pocket and I knew I had to head to the 66 and then the 67 and I would be on the right road. Three roundabouts and all would be well. Six roundabouts later and I am thinking this is a bloody long way and expecting to see the banner which says WELCOME TO SCOTLAND pass me by any second, but another stop told me my error and off I went again, trundling now along a country road to the place of my destination, some 9 miles away.

Let me tell you, that was the longest, most violent 9 miles I have ever encountered because of the wind and because one idiot after another in car or van decided to make my day and treat me as a punk! So I acted like one and blew them all off in a cloud of smoke and annoyance, eventually arriving at Barnard Castle where I could stop, have a brew and a cigarette, before having a gander at the castle.

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But there was no castle in sight, just a monument to Methodism in the shape of a church, somewhere I would love to preach in by the way [my Sunday job as I call it] but a little wander made me go round the back and there, before my eyes, was this castle I had heard so much about in my youth. I began to walk to the gates and then was confronted with a price guide for entry. Since when did museum pieces and castles start charging? I thought they were free entry and then buy the goodies. Alas, no more, so I swiftly said what I thought, took a few photos of the exterior and left, disgruntled at the cost of entry into such as this in our heritage.

Now was the time for the journey back but the trip there had been so eventful and at times, slow, that I thought bugger that and decided to go the other way out of the town/village. First stop was Bowes, over a bridge and then onto the big A road going from Scotch Corner to Penrith. Good job I did not turn right eh? As I was heading down that road, I was suddenly aware that this road takes me to Scotch Corner services, and felt such a fool for coming the way I did. Stuff using Google Maps again I say.

But such as I am, another thought entered my little noggin as I was riding, head down and rear up, along to the services; do not turn left and go back the way you came. Turn right and head for Northallerton, then home that way, and am I so glad I did. Yes, I had to stomach ten miles of 50mph aggregated speeds through cameras, but after that, as I got off and headed to Northallerton, the ride home was so much better.

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I got home a happy chappie, but not before stopping twice to rest my weary back and legs. You see, as I get to know this new bike, I am more and more aware that the seat needs raising a tad. I am 5 foot 10 inches in height and at its lowest setting [I think] I feel like Willie Carson on board the Queen’s Neddie at Epsom, so there is a new job for me, or for the mechanic when the Givi box goes on next week. I have thought about trading for the CBF1000 and have looked online at three or four, but as yet, not one of them makes me want to get my wallet out.

Instead, I think a Summer on the 600 has to be the thing for me. I am off to Oliver’s Mount next week for the Bob Smith Cup racing, so that should be my next blog entry.

Until then, safe riding, good journeys and may the road always be clear for you!

Lessons Learnt

I learnt the meaning of friendship and brotherly biker gifting today!

I have been having issues with my bike in the sense that I removed a smashed top box, a Honda one, binned it [and then found it was worth a lot of money even when broken or damaged] and then removed the rack as well, thinking I will get one off ebay, which I did and then found the damn thing would not fit.

Lesson #1 learnt. Use a supplier who is trusted, not some Ebay twonk who can sell you a Doozie of something that is supposed to be for the bike, but actually, isn’t. So, when discussing my plight with friends on Facebook, as well as within a CBF600 fan group, I was offered a spare plate for a Monokey Givi rack and box. I accepted this and was then asked if the man concerned could bring the thing to me, as he was thinking of having a day on the bike. He lives about 80 miles away from me, so that was lesson #2 learnt; some folk are really kind and when they ride a CBF600 like you do, they can surprise the hell out of you with an incredible gift. I am off to the dealer tomorrow to order the new rack and box. Within a week, all should be well. Thanks Tony.

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We agreed [yesterday] to go for a short punt up the road to Sandsend, near Whitby. This was to be my first real ride out where I was not on my own, since getting my new bike, so I was looking forward to it. Little did I realise that I would get the bug and what started as a 30 minute ride to Sandsend, for a coffee and a chat, before setting off back; he to Wakefield and me back home to Stokesley, actually turned into a five hour bike ride for the both of us. Lesson #3 learnt today was therefore, to expect nothing when out on the bike and just go with the flow. It is easier that way.

Our little meet up and treat was in a word, glorious! It has been a real blessing to meet someone I had never met before today and for that I thank Facebook and its founders, for without social media in this instance, we would just be two CBF600 riders who would more than likely never be destined to meet, especially somewhere as beautiful as Sandsend.

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But the ride out today was a stunner, as you will see from the photos I am adding here. From Stokesley to Sandsend is about 20 miles and takes about 30 minutes. Some of it is very twisty in places and at others, so long as you are not hitting things in the road, like an alloy casting someone had left lying there, you are fine. I saw it at the last minute, began to swerve to miss it and guess what, belted it with the front wheel. For a moment there, I thought to myself that there would be damage. It was the size of a tennis ball and solid metal, shiny and dangerous for a bike to hit. Visions of front end massacres I have had where the front end has gone before flashed through my head as I wobbled all over the place, trying to save the bike and then looking down to assess if there was any damage at all.

Thankfully, there was no damage! CBF600 = Strong Beast!

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So on we went to Sandsend, where after a brew and for me, a well earned Bacon Butty, something I had been craving for the best part of a week now [going Vegan is a Bitch] we decided to ride the last little bit into a very sunny Whitby, on the north coast of England. Now I love Whitby and have done since going there with the school when I was about ten, so the chance to ride there was not going to be missed. The bike performed effortlessly, especially when one Numptie in a Micra sized car, you know, the sort that I could happily squash if still driving my 7.5 tonne van, decided to slow down going up hill because he knew I was in a solid white lined road both sides. I waited and when I got the chance, he simply saw a red and black flash go past him into the sun. I cannot stand idiots on the road. I am the worst, after all.

Now for all those who may be from abroad, Whitby is famous for all sorts of things; Captain Cook, Goths, Bram Stoker and the Dracula legend and an unwritten law where I am from, that if you visit, you have to have a plate or tray of fish and chips.

We both behaved ourselves!

We parked up and admired the scenery, taking some fantastic photos, memories I shall cherish for a long time and ones that I will annoy my kids and Grandkids with, when they get off their arses and make me a Granddad! They will see this so they have been warned.

Remember what I said about going with the flow? Well, I decided to go with the flow and take a drive up through Sleights, behind my new friend, who went round a slow moving tractor or muck spreader and then proceeded to bugger off into the distance, leaving me behind this rambling monster of a vehicle. Memories of my trip to Le Mans came flooding back.

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I soon caught up with some speedy manoeuvring of the bike through the traffic and then on to the open roads out to Pickering, where we said our farewells, and he went on to Malton and I hung a right to Helmsley. Before we got there though, we had a short stop at somewhere I remember when I was a kid on the trip to Whitby. See picture above. Legend has it that the shape of this is hand shaped, as if a giant hand has reached down and grabbed a handful of earth. Only legend mind so do not scoff.

At Pickering, we went our separate roads and I got stuck in traffic coming out of Pickering and going to Helmsley. I love Helmlsey for a pit stop, so rode the bike up to this wonderful little market town and stopped for another brew and a chicken pastie. I even made a friend whilst sat there next to the monument. An elderly gentleman started to talk to me, telling me of a haunt in Whitby that does Thursday Night events. It is called The Whistlestop and is somewhere I shall be heading before too long. They get about 200 bikes every week in the summer. Out of all the bikes and bikers there, he was the nicest and eventually, he got up and got on his bike; a battered out old pushbike, with a basket on the front and one of those clip things you held stuff down with on the back when you was a kid. On the back was a sticker that simply read, “THINK BIKE!”

Respect to the man!

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The final part of my 20 mile jaunt took me from Helmsley back home to Stokesley, via one or two stops to admire the scenery. What began therefore, as a short jaunt, turned into a 5 hour marathon of riding and all the way round each wonderful step, I was singing a song out loud, whilst fighting the wind, the bike and the road. The song, I blame my wife for. She has a ringtone that keeps going off that is the song, You Are My Sunshine and it is that that I was singing all the time. This tends to happen each time I ride this bike. It is as though I was singing to the old girl below me, asking not to ever have the sunshine taken away from me.

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Just before getting home, at Chop Gate, or near there, is this view. I have driven past it a dozen times since last August when we moved here, but never stopped. I decided to do so today for a short respite and I was not disappointed. Some will say it is beautiful and it is. Others will say it is an inspiring view and it is. But the one thing that came to my mind was the wonder of God’s creation in all its splendour. On the way back, the scenery is excessively joyous to behold on that road and this is no exception, but this view had me mesmerised.

I love this bike!

But at the end of it all, when I consider telling the tale of the Pheasant Killer Biker [but shall refrain], or the one about the surprise this bike always tends to be, when riding, the one thing that I learned today, or lesson #4 learnt, was this: When the clocks go forward into Summer time, change your bloody clock forward when you do all the rest in the house. I was sat there, happily mootling along the road, coming from Helmsley to home, thinking it is only 2.30pm, when in fact, it was 3.30pm. Oops!

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Not bad from 1030am to 3-45pm to be out and about on the bike.

Best half a tank I have ever spent!

My thanks to Tony Ward for some of these pictures. Northumberland next time? We are already planning a jaunt there before too long.

An Endorphin Rush

The first day of Summer has finally got here and so, I decided to go for a nice long jaunt on my new bike. What a journey it was too.

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For those who do not know, I now live in a little place called Stokesley, about ten miles south of Middlesbrough, in the UK. We have been here since last August when I was given a bungalow in my retirement.

In late November 2016, I bought this new, to me, bike, a Honda CBF600S and boy, is it a revelation. I have had thrills and spills on everything from a 50cc Garelli, to a GSX1400 Suzuki [see other blog pieces on here] but the first real jaunt has so far been the best and a taster of what is to come through this summer I hope.

I set off to Thirsk, to start with, because I had issues with a box and rack that came with the bike. The box was damaged. It looks like some over zealous ferry official had strapped the bike to a load of others, either on the ferry to the TT, or some other boat, causing all sorts of scrapes and damage, mainly to the box, but in minor places, to the fairing as well. So I removed the box and then could not get the damn rack off, which just happened to be the wrong rack for the bike! So I went to Thirsk today, down the A172 and onto the A19, where I was able to open the throttle somewhat and find out what she was capable of.

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Reviews of the bike use words like “planted” when referring to the CBF600 and this one is no different. I was enjoying myself in seconds, now that I am used to the bike. It has taken a while, due mainly to the inclement weather and the few times I have had opportunity to get out on the thing. But today was a revelation indeed and by the time I got to Teasdales Bike shop, in Thirsk, I was beginning to have too much fun.

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A short stop there, to remove the offending rack, left me with no grab rails, or sissy bars, as we know them to be named where I come from, a bit weird, but I thought they would be cheap. I was wrong! A rack costs the same as two grab rails for heaven’s sake, and that is ebay prices, not dealer prices. And so, once all was secured and the rubber things put under the seat for safety, I decided to head off to my favourite bike haunt, the Squires Cafe Bar in [or near to] Sherburn In Elmet. I did not know it, but the trip to Thirsk is 20 miles and then the one to Sherburn would add on another 45 or so.

But the ride was incredible!

I have had fun before on bikes, most notably the Deauville I had and the 1400, especially for speed, but for handling, I have never been so relaxed on a bike than on this little 600. It handles beautifully. It eats up the road once you get past 7k revs and behaves like a hooligan once you get past 8k revs. Now I can be a bit of a maniac when it comes to riding. I like the speed. But this little bike had me laughing my ass off half way down the A1M as I was heading to the Squires. By the time I had got there, albeit with a numb bum and an aching back due to my two hernias, I got the shock of my life.

The place was rammed with bikes of all sorts of varieties!

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A cuppa later and a short trip to the local parts store round the back and I was off again, this time back home, via Tadcaster and York, the country way, the scenic route. Little did I know this route would be the harder way to get home but it was still a joy. The little bike surprised the hell out of me; surprised a few endorphins out of me as well and made for one very enjoyable ride. It was, in a word, remarkable!

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I am now looking forward to being able one day to going down to Doncaster to see my Mother, just so I can get on the bike and take her further. What started out as 10 mile round journeys have now extended to 142 mile round trips, not bad on half a tank either. It is so much fun owning a CBF600, but I still need to get the rack and box situation sorted; then, I shall be very happy indeed.

Happy trails!