Friday, 10 June 2022

Rok Straps

 A quick post and something of a product endorsement.

For more years than I care to remember I have been strapping things to my bike with bungie straps, a length of elastic rope with a plastic-coated metal hook on each end.

They can and do snap, and with use the plastic coating gets worn and the now exposed metal bits can damage the bike’s paintwork.

On a recommendation from a friend, I bought some “Rok Straps”. These are regular nylon straps with an elasticated mid-section that you anchor to your bike by looping around a secure point.

My bikes mostly have racks and panniers so this is not a problem for me. If you have a modern sports bike you might have to get a little creative.

I used them for the first time last weekend and they worked as well as advertised. Easy to attach, easy to use, and no likelihood of damaging the paint.

If you are looking for something to tie your gear down you could do worse than try some yourself.


Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Under Canvas Again

I needed an early start on Saturday for an event I was attending in Inverness. However, as Inverness is a good three hour ride away, rather than being forced to set off at dark o’clock, I decided to work a camping weekend around it. I asked about and had the site at Bunchrew Caravan Park recommended to me. A quick phone call and I was booked in for two nights, Friday and Saturday.

Ready to Roll

Now, I haven’t been camping in over three years, for obvious reasons, so I dragged out all my kit, rummaged about to find what I needed, and loaded up the panniers that had been stacked in the back of the shed for the same length of time. All set for the morrow.

Highland Cow Sculpture, Ralia Cafe

As I didn’t need to be in Inverness for any particular time I had a bit of a lie-in, a late breakfast, and then a leisurely run up the A9, stopping just the once at the Ralia CafĂ© just north of Dalwhinnie for a bit of a break. 

How Much?

Filling up in Inverness once I arrived was another wallet-emptying experience. The joy of a bike with a 25 litre tank.

View from my tent

The campsite is located a few miles out of town on the shore of the Beauly Firth, and the area for tents is next to the shore giving you spectacular views out over the water. 

Feet up and relaxing

With no hotels or pubs nearby I had brought my own food and some whisky should I feel like it later. With the weather being bright and sunny it was nice just sitting and looking out over the water and reading a book. There are worse ways to spend your Friday night.

Kessock Bridge in early morning haze

Saturday was spent on a run up the east coast, and I’ll post about that separately later.

Back at the site it was more of the same, although the wind got up a bit in the evening forcing a few folk to rig extra guy ropes and dropping the temperature a bit. 

Sunset over the Beauly Firth

Sunday morning, all packed away and another gentle run back down the A9. This is actually a rather pleasant road if you’re blessed with warm weather and a Sunday morning’s lack of traffic. And all too soon I’m home and the weekend is over.

A smashing weekend away, I must get the tent out a bit more this year. A trip further afield may not be out of the question either. Pity there’s no guaranteeing similar weather.

The only downside to staying on a big campsite like this, however, is that you are at the mercy of whoever rocks up and camps next to you. An awful lot of people don’t seem to realise that tents aren’t soundproof, so loud (drunken) conversation into the wee small hours, along with radios blaring, are a nuisance if all you want to do is enjoy the tranquillity and/or get some sleep. I just put in some earplugs and tried not to let it bother me overmuch.

Sunday, 5 June 2022

West Coast Run

A week ago I did a run up to Fort William on the big Aprilia with some friends. We met up at Stirling before heading west to Crainlarich and up the A82 to Fort William.

This is a road that I am extremely familiar with. In fact, it’s where I did my first big run on a bike more years ago than I care to mention (see link).

We stopped once for lunch at Tyndrum and again for fuel at Ballachulish, just after exiting Glencoe, before pushing on to Fort William.

It was a pleasant run in bright sunshine, which was a welcome bonus. It’s not always this pleasant weatherwise on the west coast, even in summer.

When it was time to head home it seemed a shame to just retrace my steps, so I decided to head a bit further north to Spean Bridge and cut across country to Dalwhinnie and from there head down the east coast to Perth and eventually home.

So, that’s what I did. Total distance for the day worked out at a little over 300 miles. A thoroughly enjoyable day out on the bike, if a bit tiring. Hauling a big bike around for hours at a time can be like a full body workout.

I think I deserved to put my feet up and relax for the rest of the evening with a nice cask strength Highland Park whisky for company.