Archive for January, 2020

A Triumph?

I’ve been window shopping bikes for a while now. I know, I know. I love my VFR750 and it’s wonderful and will run for ever, etc, but the grass is always greener.

I was looking at bikes I’ve had before and for which I have a nostalgic fondness. In spite of the actual performance of some of the bikes. But they are all old, old bikes now. My VFR is 25 years old this year.

Then I was looking at the new (-ish) Triumphs. They do a rather nice naked (no fairings) 675cc triple. And the odd thing is, they are really up there on the reviews. Class leading, indeed.

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The downside being they are hugely popular and a premium marque, so expensive. That one is second hand and £4,800.

All the talk is of the distinctiveness of the triple engine. Not revvy like an inline 4, lumpy like a parallel twin, or thumpy like a V twin. Lots of torque, fast, and responsive. With a unique triple character.

I was very sceptical. I thought MotorCycle News (MCN) were just being jingoistic fanboys. The Triumphs I remember were basically semi-mobile teach-yourself-engineering devices. With additional muscle building from pushing it home. But every review, UK, US, Aus, all say the same.

That’s a hell of a turn up for the books.

So, I kept searching the ads, picking my ideal bike,then not buying it because it was too expensive. And I do love my VFR.

Then my lovely VFR spluttered a bit and wasn’t running on all cylinders. Just for a few hundred yards, but then you’re conscious of it. It’s been getting more tricky to start for a while but I put it off as getting at the carbs on a V4 is a bit of an ordeal. Once it’s got to not running on all four you have to do something.

I stripped it down on my day off. Fairings off, seat off, tank off, airbox off, disconnect the carbs then prise them out, take the bottoms off the carbs remove the jets, clean, poke and replace.

Put like that it sounds like a really easy job. So not.  Two of my jets were completely blocked and were really hard to clear. Then just pop it back together again. It took me over 5 hours sat outside in the freezing cold.

I was miffed.

All that faffing about to poke a bit of wire down four jets. Enough is enough.

I hit the internet again, thinking about getting a newer VFR, I love mine, so a newer one, with fuel injection and ABS would be brilliant.

I sourced several. A bit over budget but not by the vast margin of the Street Triple. Then I cross referenced them with MCN reviews. To my amazement they said the VFR800 was good, but the Triumph Sprint ST (Sports Tourer) was in every way better.

A Triumph.

Better. Than. A. Honda.

The VFR is legend. The Best Bike Ever Built. The yardstick. The class leader in ST.

And the Triumph is in every way better.

Wow.

Then I saw it was a 1050cc triple. The magic word, “triple”. WANT! WANT! WANT!

I went on to that sultry temptress eBay, and had a look.

Someone selling a 2005 Triumph Sprint 1050 ST, fuel injection, ABS, 15,000 miles, for £2,500 or best offer.

This was all in the same day and evening as I’d been hassled by my carbs. In a rush of blood to the head I offered £2,300 for it. It looked such a good bike, so low miles, I wanted to click “buy it now” at full price, but I thought I’d try and haggle.

I got up in the morning, cooler head about to prevail, and got an email:  “offer accepted.”

Oh. Whoops.

So Wendy is now the proud co-owner of a Triumph.

She’s totally overjoyed.

Down inside.

Deep, deep, down inside.

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Those are all pictures from the advert. I’ve not actually seen it in daylight yet. Picked it up at night, stupid o’clock start for work, late finish.

I had a massive ordeal going to pick it up yesterday. A bus, 3 trains, and a £21 taxi. Not even as far down as Brum. Wendy needs to get over her fear of motorways. To be fair, after I’d added another hour to my journey time by going to the wrong train station, she did offer to run me, but it would have been too much of a learning curve for her. The M6 is always a nightmare, then unlit country roads, and her longest drive…

Anyhow, I digress.

I picked it up, then followed the taxi driver’s (very bad) advice. What should have been a 80 odd mile journey was 120. And it was so bitterly cold. Several hours of pure frozen.

I’ll give it a while to accustom myself to a new bike and get used to this one for what it is, before I commit to a review of it. But first impressions are; the engine is smooth. So, so smooth. The power is there and it just builds. It doesn’t thump, or scream, or hit mad power bands. It’s like turning a dimmer switch. I’m not sure I like it. It might just be that I have to adjust my riding to how the bike works.

The reviews talk of 160mph top end, footpeg to footpeg cornering, and total comfort for touring. Hence Sports Tourer. I’ll give it a while to adjust to it.

If I don’t take to it, I just have to wait for some warmth and sunshine. When the fair weather bikers get out of their Volvos I can make a few bob on this one.

Rejoice! For the time being we are a two bike family again. Wendy is ordering pink leathers as we speak.

Later,

Buck.

Happy Days!

I’ve completed day 26 of my run streak today. A minimum of 2 miles every day. I will accept 1 mile at a desperate push, but so far I’ve stuck to a minimum of 2.

The idea is that running every day is the quickest way to regain my fitness, stamina and, hopefully, strengthen my weak running muscles that caused the IBTS.

Before I got the IBTS I was trying to go for a sub 3 hour marathon, and I was fairly fit, so I was knocking out lots of PBs. More or less at will. I went for a 10 mile one and near killed myself. I got it, but when I checked back it was only a few seconds faster than when I was run streaking. So, I know it’s the way to go.

I’ve gone from 3 months of injury and a really gentle and tentative start on January the first, to making my ‘long’ run a half marathon (13.1 miles) last week. About 4 miles in to that run I was having self doubt. “Can’t do it! It’s too far!” Today I set out to do a 15 mile run and I felt so good I was going to do 18 miles. My knee started hurting though, so I settled for turning round at 8 miles. My knee held up on the way back, but it was lucky I turned when I did, as the wind was in my face on the way back and I flagged badly. The last 3 miles were tough. Another 2 miles would have been too much.

But the good news is I set out to do 15, did 16, and my knee held.

A nice easy 2 miles tomorrow.

Another positive is some people make it their running goal to do a thousand miles in a year, I’ve started off from tiny runs, there’s another 5 days of this month, and I’m currently on 133 miles. As always, everything is subject to injury, but so far, so good.

In other running news, I’ve been doing one run of hills. This involves running through the pitch black park, over several bridges with steps, one of which is unlit, and doing hill repetitions on a steep bridge that crossed the Mersey, but goes nowhere, so there’s no traffic on it. Also dark.

It turns out the Mersey bridge, running up one side, down the other, then back again, is .4 of a mile. 2½ miles (with 4 bridges) to get there, then hill reps. My second go at that route, this week, I got there then did 3 miles of hill reps.

I’m going to need one for the 24 hour run anyway, but I’ve got a head torch for the dark training.

Some loud!

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I got a cheap, generic one from Decathlon, but it was rubbish. Hard plastic with no padding so it digs into your head. I asked my running chums on Twitter and everyone recommended this brand (LED Lenser). Also, if I don’t like the headband thing, it comes with a chest strap.

That’s my plan now. Hill runs, speed runs, long runs. With easy runs in between. Which reminds me, I started back at the running finding it tough to get under 8.30 m/m. On a 2 mile run this week I warmed up on the first mile then sprinted back. It was incredibly tough, but I got a 6.50. I only need to maintain 6.47 for a sub 3.

I’m not thinking sub 3 at the moment. I’m going to build everything, but aim to put 2 miles per week on my long run. Train more for the 24 hour race. Once I’ve got that out of the way my fitness should be able to cope with trying to go fast.

Yes, back to boring running blogs.

Later,

Buck.

I’M BACK!

It’s only as I sat down to start this that I realised I’ve not done a blog for 3 months.

I’d just done the Chester marathon, set a new PB, but failed at my target. And it was hilly, which I didn’t remember from last time and for which I hadn’t trained.

Turns out missing my target was the least of my worries. Trying to slog up the hills then sprint down the other side to make up time absolutely battered my knees and gave me Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IBTS –now I’m wondering where the T comes from-), which is a tendon (T?) that runs down the leg past the knee. It gets inflamed by “too much, too soon”, or unaccustomed hills etc. I thought I’d shrug it off, but it laid me up for best part of 3 months. I kept going back to it, doing a run or two, then it would flare up again.

As of the first of January, my new year’s resolutions, I’ve been on a run streak (run every day) and 2 sets of exercises specifically designed to strengthen the weak muscles that cause the knee into excessive lateral motion. They are horrible. I’ve avoided strength training these last 9 years because it’s awful and tedious. Needs must.

I’ve even had to be sensible about the running. I usually return to running with a 10 mile run. I tried a few 5s, before breaking again, in the 3 months I was out of the game. This time I started with a 3.3 mile circuit, covering my watch so I wasn’t going for a time, and just plodded it out.

Then I slowly built it up. Like some kind of sane person. After a fortnight, with my ‘long’ run at 6 miles, I cracked and did a 10 mile run. My knee didn’t break so I thought I was alright. Then I started to let it slip. They say hard run one day, easy the next, never back to back. I did the 10 mile (long, by current standards) then a hill run, then another fast one. And my knee flared up. Panic! Back to 2 miles easy, 5 miles easy, 5 miles easy. My knee forgave me, so today I did a test run of a half marathon (13.1 miles). And it held! YAY!

As I was going ‘long’ I didn’t batter the pace or put hills in to it, but as a steady run, it showed my knee will work. So now it’s back to easy day tomorrow, maybe a hill day, easy day, fast day, easy, etc, and keep up with the IBTS exercises. Fingers crossed I am back in the game. Realistically my sub 3 hour marathon isn’t happening for at least the first half of this year. *sigh*

 

The other reason I’ve been absent was the politics thing. I put all my time into flagging up St Jezza and the Glorious Socialist Worker’s Utopia on the thrice damned Facebook, and then I was too devastated to think straight for a while. Luckily, just after the rigged election, Wendy was kind enough to share her norovirus (winter vomiting bug) with me, which focused my mind on more immediate matters and got me through the 7 stages of grief.

I was desperately looking for foreign driving jobs for a while, to try to escape the Reich, but I’m at exactly the wrong age. 55 is the cut-off, I’m 53, by the time I’d got my feet under the table to apply for citizenship I’d be too old. Now I’m settled into waiting out. The only thing that might change is if Scotland look like getting a second independence referendum, I’ll relocate to our Livingstone branch.

For now the only thing is to stay and fight for the continuation of the socialist dream in Labour. And watch as the Brexit turkeys get their Christmas.

Poole, Dorset. 19,000 Tory majority, 72% Leave, have just had the towns only A&E closed.

Grimsby, similar, now begging for a Brexit exemption.

The same week as the election the Tories sold the first NHS hospital to the yanks. And our Defence company. Today the fourth biggest US bank has issued a loan to a UK social housing group. As soon as they miss a payment, there goes the social housing stock.

In the Financial Times today, a top business geezer was saying that Brexit will mean UK workers rights can now be scrapped. There was something a few days ago, holiday pay, fixed hours contracts, sick pay, etc, may soon be a memory.

There is only so many times you can say “We told you so” before it loses all meaning. But that’s not going to stop me.

I’m not down about it anymore. It is what it is. Try and stay left in Labour, wait for the unmitigated disaster that is Brexit, make damn sure the Tories own it, then try again.

 

For me, for now, I’m happy with today. I’ve run a half marathon, sorted my sticking front brake on my motorbike, and changed my ‘phone and broadband contracts for better (and cheaper) ones. And believe me, that was quite an achievement. The company’s website was working perfectly until I hit “want to leave”, then, by some crazy coincidence, it all went horribly wrong. Took me forever. But I won. Ha!

 

I’ve asked work to go back on to a full time contract at work. It’s not the 4 on/ 4 off I thought I was getting. I wanted to work 6 (4 plus 2 overtime) one week, one day off, then 4, with 4 days off. I can’t do it on this shift pattern and I’m having to book extra days in work anyway, so I might as well get my shifts back.

 

So, I’m doing what little I can on the big stage and working on my stuff on the small stage. And now I’m back to running I’m feeling better about life in general anyway.

More boring run stuff will doubtless be forthcoming. Sorry.

Later,

Buck.

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