Wednesday 19 September 2018

A Tale of Youth and Stupidity

I bought my very first bike as a teenager, a small Honda CB100N, second-hand from a workmate on the proviso that he delivered it and that he throw in an old helmet as well. Money changed hands and he duly dropped the bike off at my flat on a Thursday evening. 

In preparation I had borrowed a book from the library entitled something like, "How To Ride A Motorcycle", never having actually been on one before. It had lots of pictures in it.

Armed with the book, I practised kick-starting the bike and worked out where all of the levers and pedals were, and what they were supposed to do. Seemed easy enough.

Next day, Friday, after work I managed to ride the bike round the block a couple of times, practising changing gears and braking. As I didn't crash or anything I figured that now needed to do something a bit more adventuruous. I decided that I was ready for a short trip to put into practise all the things I'd been reading about.

So, bright and early on the Saturday, only two days after my first time on a bike, I had myself a quick breakfast and kitted out in my new bike gear of  leather jacket, jeans, and army boots, convinced  that at least I looked like a proper motorcyclist, I headed the bike out of Glasgow northwards on the A82 towards Loch Lomond.

The original idea was that I'd head out of town a bit to ride the bike on the open road before turning around and coming straight back again. At least that was the plan when I started out. Things didn't go quite as planned. What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?
With the exception of some unfamiliarity with road positioning, and I think I might have stalled once or twice at the traffic lights on the trip through town, everything went fairly well. I was quite enjoying myself. 

Before too long I found myself about 30 miles from home and riding happily along mercifully empty roads, and it seemed like a shame to turn back just yet. I kept promising myself, just a little bit further.

I managed A to B. C would have been pushing my luck.
Almost before I realised it I had reached Fort William, which is about 90 miles from where I started, and a lot further away than I had intended.

I stopped for some lunch at a cafĂ© to take stock, after which I decided that I had better get myself home before something went wrong. 

Half way home, something went wrong!

Riding along the bike spluttered, picked up, spluttered again, and then the engine died completely. I coasted to the side of the road in what seemed like the middle of nowhere and a very long way from home. 

I have to admit to having a bit of a panic at this point. Remember, all this was in the days before mobile phones, so calling someone wasn't an option and, as I didn't have breakdown cover anyway, it began to dawn on me that no one was likely coming to help.

When I'd bought the bike it had come with a top-box and I'd noticed some tools in there when I'd put my waterproofs away. So, more in desperation than hope I opened it up to find two screwdrivers, a plug key, and a rolled up bit of sandpaper. Not too promising, but from somewhere I vaguely remembered talk about plug fouling, so I removed the spark plug and set to with the sandpaper. I refitted the plug and carefully kicked the bike over. It started. Result. I readily admit that I was really pleased with myself at this point as it looked like I'd solved the problem and was on my way again. This lasted about a mile before it conked out again. Damn! What was I to do?

Stranded at the side of the road I leant over and opened the fuel cap and had a look inside the tank only to discover that it was empty. I hadn't thought about the fuel I'd been using, if I'm to be honest.
Relieved that I'd found the source of the problem I located the fuel tap, turned it slowly to reserve, and very gingerly kicked it over again. It started up and I got on and headed slowly back onto the road expecting it to conk out at any moment while keeping my eyes peeled for a petrol station. 

A couple of miles later I pulled into a small rural petrol station, now long gone, and a grumpy old man filled the tank while I watched. I can't remember how much fuel it took but it accounted for all of the money I had left on me, which wasn't that much as I hadn't intended to travel quite so far on my maiden voyage. 

The rest of the trip home passed uneventfully, except that I decided that I'd better find out a bit more about how things worked and how to fix things should I ever find myself properly stranded. Oh, and some tools might not be a bad idea either.

Exciting this motorcycling lark, isn't it?

Monday 10 September 2018

Weekend Roundup

from the pages of the internet

Over The Sea

Crossing the border is simplicity itself. No barriers, no guards, no passporst etc.
A week or so ago I made my annual trip to the Republic of Ireland for the MZ Riders Club rally there.

MZ TS250s

ex-Belgian police ETZ250 with an estimated 350,000 km on the clock
As in previous years there were a goodly number of Royal Enfields present, as it seems that many of those who like MZs and Jawas also like the simplicity of Royal Enfields.

Continental GT & 500 Bullet
350 & 500 Bullets
military 500 Bullet
In addition there was a lovely little Jawa 350 and, my personal favourite, a Ural 650 sidecar outfit.

It wouldn’t be an MZ rally if someone wasn’t dismantling their bike on site. In this instance the rear shock on this TS250 decided to dismantle itself en-route. So, out with the spanners, and wasn’t there a huge selection?

The evenings sorted them selves out, as these things usually do, with music and the odd beer or two.

Mick & Sean providing some tunes
this doesn't sound quite so bad in Ireland
So, until next year then. Actually, this is one of my favourite things about motorcycle events. You can make plans for twelve months hence and no one thinks it odd.

beautiful Norton which looked like it had just rolled off the production line