I’ve had my sights set on a Harley Davidson Sportser, just the ‘baby’, the 883 CC one.
As you can see, very pretty.
It was to be a stepping stone then in a few years move up to the Harley I really want, the big Heritage Softail.
Obviously the last word in practicality and knee-down performance with that ground clearance. Surprisingly cheap, starting at around £6- 7K. Well, it surprised me, I thought they were over £10K even old.
But I digress.
I have had my head turned, again, by that Kawasaki W650. A retro bike in the style of it’s 60’s predecessor, the styling of which was in turn ‘influenced’ (stolen wholesale) from the Brit twins of the time.
Look at this:
Just zoom in and marvel at it’s beauty. The peashooter exhausts, the kick-start (kick-start! Ha!) The faux pushrod covers (silver tubes up the side of the engine) the fork gaiters, the finned, air cooled engine, the tank knee pads, the drum rear brake, the absence of plastic. It is a work of art.
The negative part of reviews can only say that it isn’t a screaming race bike. The engine is ‘soft tuned’. Bah and meh! Missing the point. If you want a plastic fantastic 200mph street screamer go and buy a Hayabusa, they are made for the job:
They are not without their own charm, just not what I’m after. They may look as ugly as sin, but ridden right no-one will ever know.
However,the W650 is what I want. ‘Only’ good for 110 mph, looks drop-dead gorgeous, and performs day in day out with the fabled Japanese reliability. It’s like time travelling back and getting a new Bonneville, but one that works. Great electrics, lights you can see by and by which you can be seen, no oil leaks, engine doesn’t go ‘pop’ every few weeks… as the man said, ‘As near as you can get to the real thing without pushing it home at night.’
Told you I was obsessing.
Then, as if that wasn’t good enough, it lends itself perfectly to being ‘cafe racer-ed’.
Cafe racers were a 50’s/ 60’s thing. At the time, I’ve read, the working man couldn’t afford a car so had to get a cheap bike for running around. These mostly had the sit-up-and-beg riding position of the one above.
When people wanted to make them into boy-racer machines on the cheap (to race their mates when they met in the biker cafes) they simply put ‘clip-on’ (dropped, racing style) handlebars on so they could lay over the tank to reduce drag, they moved the foot controls to the back (rearsets) put a 2-into-1 exhaust on (to lose weight) ditched the fat knacker off the back and put a single seat on. Job done. Your pedestrian Volvo estate turned into a smoking hot-hatch Golf.
Look at this then:
(Sorry about the quality, I’m trying to source a better picture of this exact bike.)
*That*, my friend, is a cafe racer. And it’s the Kwak W650. That transcends beauty, it is sublime. Simple, elegant, clean lines, the perfect modern retro cafe racer.
That is going to be an inspiration* for my design. (*I’m going to copy it exactly and fear not the sin of plagiarism.)
Sometime you have to just say ‘that is as good as it gets.’
Everything now is a means to that end.
Must. Have. Kwak!
Just re-reading this. I should point out it’s purely an aesthetic thing. It looks beautiful. If you want to go fast you need the aerodynamic plastic and a different engine. I refer you to the Hayabusa. This is just for pottering around thinking you’re a 60’s rocker on his way to the Ace Cafe.
Like ya do.
A final point I suppose I should mention; Wendy is intractably opposed. Not out of innate git-ishness (as I supposed) or because I selfishly want to blow the best part of four grand of our money on something she’ll never use and I might be chucking down the road, but because she thinks I’ll kill myself.
I think I’m old enough now to ride sensibly. If I’m not and I start getting points then the bike has to go, I can’t lose my job. Nowadays I read the road and am far more aware of things that are going to happen then any car driver. I see situations before they happen and anticipate other people’s reactions way before they’ve even noticed.
And if someone does kill me on the bike, well, you’ve got to die of something.
I don’t drink, smoke or do other drugs, I want something fun in my life or what’s the point?
Trying again, with another agency. Since I got binned 5 weeks ago, I’ve had 2 days work (for the thrice damned Stobarts). One of the agencies, that was advertising “Warrington job, trunking to Scotland and Darn Sarf” (then tried to give me jobs 30 miles away) got back to me two weeks ago saying driving assessment for the job I applied for, the following week. On Friday I went for a ‘driving assessment’. It turned into a 4 hour hour induction, site walk, health and safety briefing, drugs and alcohol test, loads of paperwork and finally a drive, which I passed. It’s not in Warrington (only 10 or so miles away at Haydock) it wasn’t just a driving assessment, and it isn’t trunking, it’s store deliveries.
So, nothing at all that they advertised. *sigh*
I start tomorrow. There are hopeful signs. I googled it, someone had asked what they were like to work for and the reply was “my mate works for them, cards in, and he says he’s there for life.”
As I’ve previously noted, all drivers do is whinge, so that’s hopeful. Also it’s delivering to Cash and Carry’s, so it’s not going to be poxy little high street shops. And it’s fully unionised, which is a nice novelty these days.
I noticed on the daily sheet for full time drivers they have a box for double time and triple time, also the sixth day working is paid at time and three quarters! That is shockingly good. And the agency asked me when I wanted to work, said ideally Mon-Fri 05.00-06.00 hrs start, they asked if a 06.00-10.00 window was OK, not a problem. I start at 07.15 tomorrow. That’s promising.
We’ll see tomorrow. If I don’t love it, the other agency still haven’t got back to me about the Sainsburys induction, I could try that when it comes up. It is directly across the road from this job.
In other news the plaster has been round to mend the hole in the ceiling caused by the flood. Which meant we had to decorate. I’d forgotten what a time consuming pain in the arse that job is. It took two days to paint the kitchen, toilet and adjoining space. And all the doors, which showed up as yellowing when I started doing the skirting boards. Then the wooden blinds looked minging so the third day I had to get a new roller blind, which took 3 trips to the shop. Defective crap. Now we need to replace the lino. It’s not dear but it is going to be a total ballache to fit.
That was not all the painting we did.
Stupid bloody cat had to get in on the action.
Now she lives in fear of serial rapist French skunk, Pepe LePew.
In other news, I was at my Karate class on Friday when the main sensei (instructor/ master) asked to see how I was getting on. Told me to do a few katas (set sequence of moves) then punches, blocks, takedowns and kicks. Half way through I started thinking, “hang on, this feels a lot like a grading”. It was. I was totally unprepared. Normally they set grading days and you have weeks to practise. I passed. I am no longer a noob white belt but a full-on ninja yellow belt now! Men fear me, women want me, tramps shun me.
Also there’s the running. I had sacked it off for a month due to the cold, concentrating on Karate training, and general bone idle laziness. I had put it off so long it had reached a crisis point. I was on wavering over quitting altogether. I even put it to Wendy that I might quit and concentrate on Karate. She said it would be a shame as I’ve been doing that a lot longer.
I focused my chi and went for 10 mile run, the following day I did 8 miles, at the weekend I tested my fitness with a long run and managed 17 miles. Not the 20 I was hoping for, but not the 10 I was fearing.
I’m still in a position to get up to speed for the 50 miler in September.
I will have to see how this new job pans out. If it is early AM starts and not too long shifts, I could alternate my running with Karate training.
But enough of my wittering, time to catch up with Twitter.
The DMreporter had:
SECURITY: Friday’s solar eclipse "could be the perfect opportunity for ISIS to launch a nuclear attack on Britain" warn terror experts.
BUDGET: Personal tax allowance rises to £11,000, pauses then starts again from £300,000.
STEPHEN GLOVER: "Jeremy Clarkson’s real crime is being everything the educated, Guardian reading luvvies at the BBC hate." And assault.
ATTENTION!: We’ve decided that the flight path between Barcelona and Düsseldorf is now called ‘the route of death.’ Y’know, out of respect.
As I’m unemployed I went racing after a bunch of jobs. Turns out it was the same old agency bollocks. One of the jobs, which would have been ideal (06.00 start, Mon-Fri!) sounded too good to be true. It was. I rang the mobile number they gave every day for a week, straight to voicemail. I emailed a CV, ignored.
I’ve heard of the Jobcentre posting fake jobs so they can sanction people for not getting them, I guess that was one of them.
Another agency was advertising long term contracts in Warrington and Widnes. I jumped through a million hoops to get on their books, they offered me the odd day 30+ miles away. Couldn’t be bothered.
Another agency I signed with were offering day shift Full Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs doing supermarket deliveries. They have the contract for Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s. They were waiting for an induction day at Sainsbury’s so they asked would I do ‘days’ at Tesco’s.
Day’s being midnight to 04.00 start. Usually about 02.00. That’s nights in my book.
And Stobarts have the contract for Tesco’s.
I asked straight away what sort of shift length it was. They said about 10 hours. I’ve worked for Stobarts before and they wanted 12+, up to 15 and running out of hours so having to sleep in my cab.
I gave it a go. 02.30 start first day, 11.30 hours shift.
Second day, 02.15 start, finished my run after 8.30 hours, they said to wait while they sorted me out a second run, nearly 14 hours.
Screw that. You’ve literally only got time to work and try to sleep, nothing else.
10 hours my arse!
I told the agency not to send me back.
So that’s been it. 2 day’s work in 3 weeks. The Sainsbury’s induction was supposed to be “in 2 weeks” which would have been this weekend. No sign. But that is a FTE job, and while I was at the agency I overheard a driver saying to them that he loved it there. That is something to behold. Drivers are known for whinging about everything and calling ever job shit.
If I can get into a decent FTE job I’d be happy.
Whilst I was chasing up contacts for my CV (the up to date one having been wiped when I killed the computer, *sigh*) I noticed that the agency that ran the Walkers Crisps contract were recruiting again, but days! A world of win! That was my best job to date. I rang up and asked about it, roughly how many shifts they thought I’d be able to get a week (I left because of scarcity of work and hating night shift) but they wouldn’t commit to any shifts and said it was mainly just weekends on days.
I would do it, but I don’t want to go through the day long induction and assessment if I’m only going to get a few days and be leaving again as soon as I can get a FTE job. It’s not worth the hassle and it’s not fair on them.
I went to the huge Asda warehouse/ DC they have just finished building to see who they were recruiting drivers through, the security guard said it was going to be all robotised inside, which they were still fitting, and they weren’t opening until June.
Oh, maybe not then.
So all is on hold at the moment. I keep on looking for jobs, keep on applying for them, but the jobcentre is just agency spam nowadays.
The one job that is always available (other than the Stobarts one) is Hermes. I’m holding out until things get desperate before taking that though. I’ve worked for them twice. There is a reason they are constantly advertising for more drivers.
I am never working for Stobarts again. Two attempts, same culture. The desk jockey’s are paid to screw you over, the drivers are dicks. Last time when I dropped my digicard (without which you can’t drive, so lose 2 week’s pay waiting for a new one) I found it in a bin. Someone had seen it and rather than hand it in, deliberately chucked it in a bin. There was another driver’s digicard in the same bin, so it wasn’t an accident. This time I was there for 2 days, on the second day I got my truck, 02.15, bit bloody nippy, some arsehole had left the sunroof open just to freeze the next driver. That’s what they are like there. Utter arseholes.
On the plus side I’ve had plenty of time for karate. I’ve bought a cheap pair of martial art trainers (6.5, kids range, so £11 not £16! Ker-ching!) and put my punch bag back up. I have stretching exercises, warm up kicks, (which are not to my eyebrow height for side and turning kicks) the out onto the heavy bag to practise putting some power into the blows.