Month: July 2014

Bike II

Still loving my bike.

It is bloody lovely. After I’d blogged last time I thought of a few things I should have added. For one thing I do seem to have learned restraint. In the past I’d tootle along until someone was in my way then I’d blast past them. And the one in front of them. I was a Pringle overtaker, once I’d popped I just couldn’t stop. Until Mr Plod had a word or I was picking the remains of my bike up. It was great fun, but not conducive to long periods of safe motorcycling. Anyway, I said about finding the torque-y part of the rev range on the same ride as I came off the motorway a BMW tried to pass me on the inside. I was feeling a bit sporty so I held him off. Then we came up behind an artic (bastard lorry drivers!) and I thought “let’s see you do this, sunshine”, I could have blasted down the separation zone, the foot or so wide bit painted down the middle to keep the traffic apart. This would have left me with millimetres to spare if a lorry had turned up the other way. This would not have even been a consideration before, I would have shot past and any potential oncoming traffic would have to make way or kill me.

I di the unthinkable; I dropped off the revs and sat behind the lorry! Nothing came the other way, so I could have done it, but strangely I didn’t care.

I’m still not too concerned about crashing and dying horribly, I’m just terrified of smashing up my lovely bike.

So that’s good.

I spotted some groovy gauntlets on ebay. My gloves are mad hot and not gauntlets. I’m of the old school. Gauntlets are what you wear on a motorcycle.

Check that out for groovy! Half way to my elbow, thick but pliant leather with wool lining.

When I convert it to a cafe racer I’m going to go the whole hog and get an open face helmet and goggles. And a white scarf. And boots with buckles. I’m drawing the line at turned up blue jeans though.

Just looking and I am tempted by a modern take on the open face helmet. You know those pilot’s helmets with the slide down darkened visor/ sunglasses thing? That.


I don’t know. I think the goggles and helmet look wins out if you can get it to work. The last time I had it the goggles were too big, wouldn’t fit in the helmet open face, so were totally useless.

Try before I buy next time. If the goggles don’t work the above is an option.


You know the ongoing saga of my shin injury?

I thought it might be related to my over-pronation, ie rolling my foot outwards as I run. Obviously this puts undue strain on things. And I had that massive injury when I tried to rush the conversion to forefoot striking (natural running). My trainers for over-pronation correction boast that they don’t do it by sticking a spike in your instep to stop you, but by guiding your foot from heel to toe in a corrected style.

Adding all this up, in my ill informed and utterly half-arsed manner, I concluded that for my trainers to work, thereby correcting my over-pronation, thus preventing further injury, I should heel strike. My natural tendency is for more of a forefoot strike, but I’ve been forcing my head back to make my foot reach further and heel strike.

I did one run last week on tarmac at a relatively good pace and my shin was miserable again.

In despair I put it to the Twitter hivemind: “Doing everything; running slow, on grass, heel striking… help!”

Someone got back saying “How’s your gait? Over striding and heel striking can injure your shins.”


I did an easy 5 mile run yesterday (before that conversation) and my shins were still hurting. Today I was down for a 17 mile run. As I had nothing to lose I thought I’d abandon my ‘corrected’ gait and run naturally, which is more forefoot striking. 17 pretty constant, relatively brisk miles and my shin was fine.

*death from headdesk*

Months I’ve been trying everything and anything to stop the injury getting worse but it’s possible I was actually causing it.

Once again the irony gods piss on my cornflakes.

That was only one run so let’s not get too excited, but it was my longest run in many months, at a reasonable speed (by current standards) and my legs were good to carry on at the end. That is something. A big something.

The slight downside to my jubilation was the fact today was the Outlaw. From which I withdrew, wisely as it turns out, but still…

Now I’m starting to think triathlon again. Oh dear, oh dear.


Work has picked up. 5 days straight last week, already pestering people to do extra shifts next week. This is good. Last week was a trial though, every day as I got in the bedroom was like an oven. By the end of the week I’d thrown caution to the wind and was leaving the window wide open for a draught. The kids didn’t wake me too much. Not looking forward to summer holiday sprogs.

Wendy is back to her full hours as of last week, they reckon she’s back up to speed now so she’s being set loose on her clients as of tomorrow. She’s dying for it. To get back to what she knows and does well, rather than having people setting her computer tasks (with which she struggles) and constantly looking over her shoulder. I gave her my old ‘phone a while back. Bit by bit she’s got dragged into the 21st century. She’s realised she can watch stuff on it and google stuff. I’ve shown her how to text people. There is no stopping her now. She sent a text last week. Not even a reply, she went to contacts and texted from there. Go Wendy!

Now I just have to sneak a Twitter account on there for her and she’ll fully integrate into the Collective.


Right, I’m buggered now.

I will get around to catching up on Twitter for you, not tonight though.




Just a quick one to say all is well and better than.

Last week I was on the verge of quitting my super-duper job and going back to a mass stress, treated like shit one that provided regular hours. I’d had three shifts the week before, one shift that week. I was giving it until the end of this week then applying. Then I had five days on the trot working. This week, the last three days, have been long hours. I’m on for a £600- £700 week this week. I was looking at £800 plus but they stood me down yesterday. Apparently the Southern depot start doing the spud runs to Cornwall from now so they are maxed-out doing that, meaning loads of work for everyone else. And then it’s the holiday season, so the driver I was talking to reckons there will be work aplenty for the next three months. That will do nicely.

I love this job but I needed more work. And here it is. Yay!


Then there’s the running. Following my training plan I’m now half way through week 5, (of 16 to marathon) I did a 15 mile run for my end of week ‘big’ run, and my injuries are no worse. My shins still hurt a bit. Enough to make me nervous they are about to go again, but so far they are holding out. 19 runs in 4½ weeks and still not broken.  Fingers crossed.


Wendy is doing the last day of her phased return to work tomorrow, after that she’s back to her regular hours next week. This is good. She has been freaking out as they’ve upgraded the system so instead of hand writing everything then inputting it into the PC later they just do it straight into the computer as they client tells them. She’s not best clever with computers. ‘Crap’ springs to mind, unbidden. So it’s been freaking her, but I think she’s sussed it now. And they are having her refresh her specialist skills in benefits as well as debt, she’s going to be doing two days a week Specialist Debt Advisor, two as a Specialist Benefits Advisor.

Benefits are not her favourite, but in these uncertain times hers is the most most secure job there now. Even if they lay off all the paid staff and go back to being a volunteer only branch (because they lose all the government funding, could well happen) she is then the most qualified for a job in other sectors, such as housing trusts.


But all this is a sideline, a mere added bonus to the win-fest that is the bike! (Wendy still doesn’t thinks so.)

It’s beyond lovely. I’ve already tensioned the chain, changed the plugs, cleaned the air filter, downloaded a digital workshop manual and looked up other stuff. Today I was off so I took some parts I’d ordered (two tiny washers and a new air filter) and did an internet fix. Apparently Kawasaki designed the bike with a 3½-5 thousand rev flat spot (so that it would pass the emissions test). I’d been riding it and was content riding up to the flat spot then changing up a gear. It wasn’t awesome performance but it was nice. They guy doing the online review said it handled like his Bonnie after 5 thousand revs but I wasn’t thrashing it. Then I revved through the flat spot accelerating to merge onto the motorway. Holy crap! She upped and flew, I was having to haul in the speed in seconds.

Anyway, apparently the fix for the flat spot is to strip the carbs, remove the needle thing, put these tiny little washers on the needle, reassemble and job’s a good ‘un. I read the online instructions and it looked like I was going to be fiddling about all day with it. I did it this morning. It took me less than an hour. And I replaced the air filter with a new genuine Kawasaki one while I was at it.

I took it for a test ride afterwards. The ‘fix’ was so suspiciously simple I thought I must have done something wrong. But no, pulls like a train from any revs now.  I picked up a plod so was tootling along at dead on 30mph, I got to a 60mph section, flick of the wrist and instantly doing 60!  Awesome.

It’s not a Japanese 4 cylinder race bike, the front wheel is not in the air every time you open her up, but it’s more than enough to make you smile. And it’s delivered in the classic twin cylinder fashion; a brutal thump and roar of power.

Also my log book arrived today.

6 previous owners. Averaging 19 months per owner, 2,833 miles each. And none of them had bought and fitted the 2 washers that fix the flat spot. I’ve ridden 533 miles in 16 days, serviced it and got it riding properly.

Next jobs are to check the ignition timing, the valve clearances and the carb balance. Then just to upgrade the springs in the front suspension and get new rear shock absorbers. That’s as tight as it’s going to get as a ‘standard’ bike.

After that it’s cafe racer!

This is all in the future. First and foremost I have to pay for the bike itself.

If work is in a 3 months frenzy that should more or less cover it. Once we are out of debt again it won’t matter if I get a few short weeks. The three day week with minimum hours per shift was still £330 take home.

If we don’t have to pay anything off that’s more than enough to get by on.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a blog where everything is groovy. Nothing to whine and bitch about. It feels good. And novel.


I’ve still not got around to doing the Twitter update, I’ll do it soon. To be honest with the longer shifts, on nights, I’m not getting on there that much.

Right, bedtime.




OK, my maturity and delayed gratification ethos may have had a bit of a blip.

I was obsessing over that Kwak W650, but delaying buying one until we’d paid our debts. I was doing lots of window shopping though. Lot’s of 1999 or 2000 bikes for sale, about £3,500- £4000. Then I found out in 2003 they upgraded the front brake and put lower handlebars on. Obviously I then wanted the newer version. Less time to rust, better spec.

I also realised I had enough credit on my credit card to buy one. Once I’d realised that the die was cast, really.

Then someone advertised a 2004 bike, 17,000 miles, lovely condition, for a smidge under £3K.

I cracked like an egg.

After the kids vandalising my car I’m scared to leave it around the front, but I’ll try and get some better quality pictures soon.

I’ve started tinkering a bit. Changed the plugs, ordered a new air filter, adjusted the tickover, adjusted the chain tension. It felt like it was gasping a bit. Then it cut out on me twice. After worrying about that for two days I finally solved the problem.

I put petrol in the tank.

Who knew?

It’s hard to convey what a difference it is. In a car you sit there, bored and frustrated and at best get from A to B without too much hassle. On a bike you enjoy the ride and are gutted to arrive. First ride in the rain today, and even though I was tip-toeing around it was still great.

Over the last few days I’ve remembered what biking is about. All that horrible stuff you hate about car driving, queues, arseholes in BMW’s screaming from the lights, it’s all fun on a bike. Nip to the front of the queue grinning the whole time. Beemer boy smokes it from the lights, twist of the wrist and you are monstering him. It’s pure joy.

I’m managing to stick to sensible speeds and ride fairly safely. I tried to reassure Wendy, who thinks I’m going to kill myself that it’s such a lovely bike, and I’m so happy with it, I just want to keep it upright and in one piece. I said “I really think this will be the last bike I ever buy.” Wendy replied “That’s what I’m worried about.”

Got a new bike jacket as well. Tons of armour. All kevlar and such.

Not that I intend to crash, but I want to be fit enough to seriously pound anyone who crashes into me.

I’ve got the bike, now I just need lots and lots of work to pay for it.

As things wear out and when I’ve paid everything off, I’ll start converting it into a cafe racer. For now though, it a beautiful bike as it is.

Oh, I also got a bunch of kit with it. A screen, a back rack and topbox, and engine crash bars. And it has heated grips for winter. So much win! I could fit all that kit and make it a much more utilitarian beast, but it’s so damn pretty I don’t want to. I’ll stick the engine crash bars on. They are not too ugly and should the worst happen would save the engine.


On the win front, Wendy has started a phased return to work this week. They are getting her back up to speed and making sure she’s OK, then she’s back to normal work. She went for her ultrasound yesterday and they reckon she’s all clear. YAY!

They think the pains were normal healing pains, they couldn’t find any missed stones or signs of fluid build up to indicate organ damage from the operation. In short, she should be fine and shouldn’t need further surgery. If the pains persist she has to go back to the doctors and they will have to give her different scans, but the ultrasound guy thinks she’s OK.


My non-diet diet is still working. Just try to eat a little less, not as much chocolate, and keep up the running. I’ve lost over half a stone. It’s taken ages, but as long as it’s moving in the right direction I can wait. And it’s sustainable. ‘Real’ diets that leave you starving and craving are not my bag. I don’t have the willpower.

My latest attempt to get my running mojo back and avoid injury by following a training plan seems to be working. I’m on week 3 and (touch wood) still not crippled.



I’ve been re-arranging the garden again this morning, trying to make it easier to get my bike in. 4 bin bags of plastic plant pots, and general crap, 4 old mouldy garden chairs we never use, a rusty old knackered chiminea, a broken hosepipe, the frame of a mini greenhouse… Amazing the shit you pile up and forget about. That’s all been taken to the skip. I had a spare paving flag so I’ve laid that. Shifted the potted pear tree, the daphne pot, the green bin and the punch bag. I now have a fairly large area to play with. We’ll see.

I bought a bike cover yesterday as it’s going to be massively impractical to try and get the bike in the shed every day. I’ll save that struggle for when I’m working on it. I’ve sawn the fence down and put it back up with hinges on to make it into a big gate. The gap between the buildings is just enough to squeeze the bike down, there is no room for manoeuvre and the lock on the steering is laughable, so the single gate was never going to work. I thought I was saving money by buying a cheap set of three hinges for about £6 instead of the big-arse hinges that were £12- £14 each. They bent after two days. Oh.

Still, I’ve proved the principle works, just upgrade the kit.


As it’s such a faff getting the bike in and out I’ve not tested the cleared garden yet. I’ll do it later when I have to get the bike out for work.  If necessary I can stick another two flags down easily (and cheaply) enough. Everything is about the bike. Priorities. I’ve got them sorted.


Just tried the new arrangement. It’s spiffy. I’ve got enough room to easily bring the bike in and room enough to turn it so I can take it out front first instead of having to back it up the whole way.

I’ve just been for a spin. I ended up going through Frodsham but that wasn’t where I was going. I wasn’t going anywhere, just enjoying the ride.

I can honestly say I can’t remember ever ‘going for a spin’ in a car. I am always going somewhere. It wouldn’t occur to me to just drive about aimlessly. That’s what I just did on the bike and loved every minute of it.

People stop to watch you go past, every queue for the lights is a bonus, the instant surge and roar of power at the slightest twist of your wrist, bikers nodding at you, guy at the cash machine started talking bikes.

It’s a different world.

Of pure fun.

Happy, happy, Bucky.

I did notice after opening it up I was having real issues keeping the bugger down to 30mph. You only have to think of moving your wrist and you’re off like a shot. I’ll have to keep my eye on that.


I’ll do twitter and that next time.