Or die Tri-ing!

I’ve been eating humble pie for breakfast, dinner and tea since I started training.

I used to scorn low gear wobblers, put it in top gear and pedal you lazy bastards!

When I started training for my first Outlaw, on my first day, I did a 51 mile ride and a 13 mile run. A lifetime of bans and motorbike write-offs meant I had cycled everywhere for years.I thought that level of fitness was normal. So people who were making hard work of it needed to pull their finger out and do a bit.

Oh the humility.

I’ve found a decent route into work, it’s 9.1 mile each way. And it’s been battering me. I’ve only ridden in 2 days but I am ridiculously far away from ‘hop on and ride 51 miles’.

I took the car in to a body repair shop to have the wing fitted, pushbike in boot to ride home, and the mechanic was a tri guy. He took one look at my bike and told me to look at bike set-up tutorials on YouTube. I did. Seems I had it all set up wrong. I’ll try this, see if it’s any better.

I’m so unfit I’m not even doing a long run on the bike. I’m going to give it a month of riding to work to build up some semblance of fitness then start.


The “die tri-ing” thing was a bit of a moment. I was having persistent chest pains, smack over my heart. It wasn’t bad, that level of pain anywhere else wouldn’t have warranted a mention, but being there you have to worry. I was steering clear of ibuprofen as it has recently been linked to heart attacks. I Googled it to see if I should worry. “Survival rate outside of hospitals, 6%”. OK, that’s not ideal.

Warren Lang (school friend) said one of his RAF chaps had died of a heart attack whilst training for an Iron tri. One of the security guards at work, who looked fine, has just dropped dead of one.

I carried on training but was going to go to the doctor if it hadn’t cleared by Friday. Then on Thursday morning I was awoken by shooting pains in my left arm and pins and needles.

I really thought I was going to die, right then. I was not a happy bunny. It scared me. I was all “I don’t want to not be!”

I took a moment, “Can’t avoid it. At least I have been.”

I decided to concentrate on the dying bit and not worry about the rest.

I didn’t die, by the way. In case you were worried.

I hit Google again in the morning. “26 causes of chest pain that are not a heart attack.”

I had a read through, tons of stuff. The bit I took from it was “you can tear chest muscles from just a coughing fit… If, after taking anti-inflammatory drugs, the pain persists…”

I took some ibuprofen. Pain gone. I think the left arm thing was just some muscle spasms or something from my weaker arm (of two very weak arms) after the swim. But what are the odds?

Embarrassing, but as I said to Wendy, mild embarrassment is preferable to chronic death.

Today my ‘long’ run is 10 miles. As long as I manage that, then it should be really easy to gradually ramp up the mileage to my marathon in April. I say “easy”, I mean it is within the “no more than 10% weekly increase”, rule. So hopefully I won’t pick up an injury.


Wendy is getting onboard with the whole pushbike thing. We are going to pick up her race machine later.


It’s actually a well sorted bike for purpose. It’s got a steel frame to keep the cost down, (but oddly weighs in a 2kg lighter than the aluminium version) has 6 gears, integrated lights and dynamo, full mudguards (most road bikes don’t even have mounting points for them, you have to get stupid ones that hang off the seat post) full size 700mm (28”) wheels, fatter tyres, and a chain guard so you don’t get oil over your girly trousers. And a side stand and rack. Not sure about the utility of either for Wendy, but for it’s target market, city commuters, it’s ideal I suppose. I was looking at the gearing, weight, wheels/tyres, comfort and practicality. Wendy likes it because it’s black and “it looks pretty”.

I’ve invested in a turbo trainer. It’s a resistance device so you can train indoors. Like a treadmill for the bike. I’ll use it for training sessions, but for most of the time I can leave Wendy’s beast on it so she can build her fitness whilst waiting for spring, when she plans to start venturing out.

I’ve tried to sell her on the ‘women only’ swim sessions at the baths, with a view to her first triathlon, but she’s oddly resistant.

Right, crack on.



Tri, Tri, Tri again.

What was I thinking? After the painfest of the first Outlaw tri I said I was never doing another.

After the near death experience of baking my arse off at my second Outlaw tri I said I wasn’t doing another and meant it.



The swimming (2.4 miles) bores me, the riding is painful and boring (112 miles) and the marathon (26.2 miles) at the end, on dead legs, is just an ordeal.

Not doing it. No way.

Then I got a motorbike and that was that. Never swinging my leg over a pushbike again!



Here’s my new pushbike:


My life had just become work and sleep. I hadn’t done a run since the 2nd of August, no pushbiking for years, no swim for longer.  The running was the last to go because I actually enjoyed that. But the bit I enjoy is when you are pretty fit and you start pushing it, and making gains. In this job, on my shifts, I couldn’t train regularly so I was always struggling to get going, never improving.

I didn’t know I was low of mood, it was just how it was.

On a whim I decided to get back into triathlon for a New Year’s Resolution.. On the 2nd of January, 5 months since my last run, I went out and did a 5 mile test run. The run was easy, getting my arse out of the door was the huge challenge.

As soon as I got back I was buzzing. Really up for it. I went out the next day for a 4 mile run, then yesterday for another, knocking 30 seconds a mile off the time of the day before. I just can’t help myself. That is so bad. I was trying to take it slow as 90% of injuries are “too much, too soon”

I was thinking “getting back into tri”, no specific deadlines.  Tonight I enquired about “improver” swimming lessons, the last two times I was so crap I was too embarrassed to go a tri club for tuition. So I stayed crap. And thrashed about for 2.4 miles, then got out of the lake in the last dozen.

Looking at a 1½ miles long lake is a terrible sight when you’re a crap swimmer.

Outlaw lake

I’ve bought a decent bike, I’m looking into swimming, (training and pool times), and I’ve done three runs.

Half an hour ago I Googled the Outlaw 2018. It’s not sold out yet. Oh god! TEMPTATION!

29th of July. That’s 29 weeks.

It’s do-able, but massive.

I want to commit right now.

I’ll be gutted if it sells out and I think I can do it.

I’ll have a trial week. See what training I can do around work.

I could totally do this. If I can train.

Oh wow. This is more like it! The terror of a vast and seemingly impossible task with a fixed deadline. Now, I feel alive!



Quick PS, as usual I was suffering with delusions of adequacy. I thought it would be easy to jump back on a pushbike (after about 4 years off) and nip 10 miles to work and then back again. I went today for a test run. Holy crap!  It nearly killed me. Even small hills I was changing right down the gears. It was goddawful. This is going to be even more of an epic undertaking than I thought.

On the bright side, I worked back from the date of the Manchester Marathon (April 9th, I think) and to reasonably increase my distance each week and be ready I had to be able to run 6 miles today. I ran 7. But that was mixed training (a ’brick’). I did my killer ride, got off at work, drove the bike back in the car, then went out for a run. Brick’s are way harder because your legs are buggered from the bike before you start the run. That’s why you practice bricks. So I’m pleased with that. I only started training 4 days ago, and I’ve done a brick. For my long run! Also pleased because I showed restraint. I would have liked to do 10 miles, but my legs were feeling tired a 3.30 so I got to 3.5 and turned around. Keeping my disciplines apart I expect to be able to do a 10 mile run next week, putting me 4 weeks ahead of schedule.

By the way, I was rescuing my motorbike from work, (it got stranded there when the disc lock seized in place) so I had to drive the car to work, ride my motorbike home, pedal back to work, put the bike in the car, and drive home. ballache, but the taxi home at ungodly o’clock when it got stuck was £27!  Bugger that for a game of soldiers. It’s not that the bike ride was so terrible I had to drive home. Although it was. That was the plan.


I was resigned to selling my bikes after the police bust. I can’t say I was happy about it, but I was getting my head around cycling and maybe triathlon again.

The copper said there was a chance I could do an awareness course, but Mr Google said I couldn’t. I was expecting big points. Even at the bare minimum of 3, I was still thinking I should probably sell my bikes to be on the safe side.

I got my letter off the coppers today.

3 points, £100 fine.

Or no points and a £79 awareness course!

Let me think about that for a second.


So chuffed.

It’s not a done deal just yet, the plod can withdraw the offer right up until me completing the course (booked it immediately, it’s on the  27th January) but it’s odds on I’ll just do the course.

Now I have to keep my sensible head on. Another bust means pushbike.


In other bike news, Nathan has pranged his bike. Lost it under brakes. He’s OK, but oddly he managed to smash his clocks and headlight bracket without damaging his front end. Apparently it slid under a crash barrier, the headlight and clocks did not.



I ordered some replacement second hand bits and fitted them today.


I’ve still got an issue with the indicator coming on but not flashing.

Lisa, who obviously didn’t take it well, has taken me up on what I said when he first got the bike, upgrade the tyres. She’s buying him a decent front tyre for xmas. I’ve ordered the rear as well, Nath’s paying for that. Hopefully I’ll fix his indicator and get the tyres fitted tomorrow so he’s back on the road. It’s been costing him £18 each way in a taxi. The lesson here is; don’t crash!

Me going on about Nath crashing has been a source of cheap amusement for Wendy, at least. It does feel hypocritical, me saying don’t crash.

Bikes, eh?



Schrödinger’s biker.

Well, it was all going so well.

It was a relatively warm and dry day, the first for a few weeks. Good riding weather in other words. So I opened it up a bit. I still haven’t got my plod detector working. Can you see where this going?


Apparently the plod didn’t bust me for crossing the solid white line to get off the sliproad onto the motorway at some speed. I didn’t see the plodmobile, obviously. He didn’t do me for being a bit quick. Then I got held up by some cars in the outside lane. They were doing some speed, but I was full of the joys of traction, so I filtered. Down the white line between lanes 2 and 3 and give it beans.

Blue lights and sirens.


So busted.

Anyway, now I’ve got to wait and see what I get. Apparently they do awareness courses as an alternative to points, but because I did a speed awareness course a few years ago I won’t be eligible.

The plod said I was just being charged with Due Care and Attention, and should only get three points, or the course. Which is a laugh. I was *SO* paying attention. You don’t get to survive that shit at those speeds if you are not very, very focused.

Besides the point. I tried googling it, but they changed the law this year. It’s no longer “Offence A = X points and Y fine.”

Now it’s judged on a scale, weighing culpability and such. Then awarded points and a banded fining system based on a percentage of wages. Basically, you have no bastard idea until the letter arrives through the door.

Because they’ve rebranded DC&A as Careless Driving (again, *SO* not!) the range goes from tailgating to death by dangerous driving. So the range is from awareness course to disqualification, from course fees to unlimited fine and jail.

So, I wait and see.

Plod said 3 points. I’ll take up to 4. Anything more that and I’m going to have to sell my bikes. If I was to get, say 6. I’d be one offence off unemployable. . I overheard a ‘phone call, someone refusing to give a driver with 9 points a job, “He only needs a speeding ticket and he’s banned.”

I said to Wendy when I got my bike that I’m old enough now not to be crashing all the time (once in 2½ years, go me!) but if I started piling up points I’d sell my bikes rather than lose my licenses.

I’ve got a plod detector, I couldn’t get it set up. If I’m staying biking I’ll have to sort that out. If not, I’ve already bookmarked a carbon framed pushbike. I’ll ride to work, 18 miles a day round trip, and maybe get back into triathlon for the three years until my license clears. Roll with punches.


Ironically, my other bike news is that I’ve just paid for a Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA, don’t ask me how) advanced motorcyclist course. I know, right.

Apparently it’s the best course a civvy can do. Next one down from police bike training. When I got my license you stuck L plates on a bike and learned how to ride on the way home. After I’d been riding 6 months I took a one day crash course then my test. Which was off-road around cones, then drive around the block of the test centre twice while the examiner stood on the pavement and watched you! If you put your indicators on for each corner and didn’t run over the examiner, you passed. Which means I’ve been riding potentially lethal bikes, at stupid speeds, with no idea of what I’m doing. Since I’ve been lorry driving I’ve learnt about reading the road, forward observation and planning, which I really could have done with the last 30 years, but this course is taking it to the next level.


Other motoring news, Wendy has moved it up a few gears. She learnt the mechanics of driving, but was scared witless the whole time. Then she started to relax a bit and really improved. Next she had to learn what every bastard else on the road is doing. At first she was stopping at every roundabout and had no idea when to go. She’s got that sussed. Her instructor has moved on to test manoeuvres and she’s got most of them cracked.

Typically though, they’ve just (December the 4th, I think) changed the test. Now they have to do 20 minutes independent driving (no instructor input, just following signs etc) and a SatNav section. Seems the examiners are out on strike about the latter at the moment.

Harsh. When I think about my bike test…


Apart from that, work is good. Good money, good conditions, well treated. For now. It looks like the buy out by Tesco’s will be approved, so further down the line we’ve got to worry about them moving us into their big-arse branch at Wigan (run by Stobarts) or outsourcing the driving jobs to said Stobarts, as they did with their own Tesco’s drivers. Nothing I can do about that either, just have to wait and see. There are plenty of jobs for lorry drivers in Warrington. Damned if I’ll work for them.

I said I was going to get back into running. There’s the Manchester marathon in 21 weeks. Do-able. Then I got battered with a 72 hour week. When you are working 12. 13, and one day 14 hrs 45, with an hour commute on top, there is no way you can do shit apart from sleep.

Which brings me back to the pushbike again. I was considering it anyway, but I love my motorbikes too much.

Wait and see.



Mission Accomplished!

How often do you get presented with a serious problem and have the means to quickly and simply fix it?


It just doesn’t happen in my experience. It’s always a process. A series of token gestures. Often as not a well intentioned disaster.

I was presented with the problem of Nathan (my nephew), stuck in a £5.60 p/h job, the meagre proceeds of which (save the housekeeping he volunteered to give his mam) he was spending entirely on getting wasted to tolerate the job. He was taking home between £100 -£150 p/w. Unpaid extra hours, flat rate for overtime, fucking disgrace. He was going to get a bike off his mate so I gave him a jacket and such. Then his mate’s bike got nicked.

The solution seemed clear, if Nath was willing to clean his act up, we’d lend him the money to get a bike so he could get a better job.

I say “if”, without emphasis in that sentence. When I was in that situation I simply couldn’t have quit. I would have preferred to have lost a limb. It was my whole life.

The fact that Nathan gave up the same day that Lisa (my sister) put the offer to him I find nothing short of staggering.



Anyway, he immediately got his shit together. So I tracked down a decent learner bike, and we lent him the money to buy it.

He put in for his Compulsory Basic Training, and completed it last Thursday, I went out for a ride with him to get his confidence up, and that was that.

He is a biker.


Phase one completed.


Being a methodical sort he was waiting until he was legal before applying for jobs. I put in an application form for him for in the warehouse, order picking, at my works. Then I noticed the actual job was being advertised online so I recommended he applied online as well. Yesterday they told him he had an interview today, (Tuesday). I had a surprise day off so I went with him for a ride, to show him the way.

He passed the interview and the drugs and alcohol test, his induction is on Monday!

4 days of training in health and safety, driving a LLOP (Low Level Order Picker), stacking pallets, that sort of thing, then crack on.

More money on basic, with lots of extras on top, better job, better conditions, a real full time job, with a pay rise at the end of the 6 month probation.

He’s got a bike. And within a week, a decent job!


Phase two completed.


My work here is done.

That was easy.

How I like my good deeds; quick, easy, and involving motorbikes.

Bloody good effort, Nathan.



St Buck of the Blessed Bike.

Borderline Personality Disorder.

I watched a clip via Twitter last night and they mentioned Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which reminded me of my army days. I got sent to the shrink due to issues and a panel of them interrogated me. They sent me back to my regiment with a letter for my army doctor. The doctor’s was closed so I had it overnight. Curiosity got the better of me and I steamed it open.

It was 27 years ago but I know it involved Personality Disorder, I think it was Borderline.

Nearly 30 years I’ve dismissed it. Borderline makes it sound like barely a consideration. It turns out that’s just the medical term for an exact condition.

One that is characterised by anger, risk-taking, drink/ drug abuse, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and a lack of self esteem.


27 years.

All the bikes I’ve crashed, the wilful disregard for life and limb, the years and years of alcohol dependency, self mutilation, mental anguish, anger and self loathing.

All. A. Fucking. Condition.

I thought the individual bits were normal.

I thought everyone else was a pussy because they saw a gap that was so tight that if *anything* went wrong they would die and they backed off. I did it anyway.

The bleeding I’ve done to try to atone for the unconscionable deeds of my past.

Slipping into overdose unconsciousness knowing I might not wake up.

If that’s how you are, you rationalise it. Everyone get’s stressed, the self mutilation is a release valve. You’re going to die anyway, why not have some fun on the way? If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention. Etc.

All. A. Condition.

The whole of my life is a lie.

I’m a tad upset, as you can probably guess.

I’m going, in another case of hope over experience, to see the doctor.

Most of it I don’t actually mind, but there are some aspects from which I’d give anything to be free.


A Series Of Unfortunate Events.

It’s been eventful.

I said last time that my black bike had blown over.


A horrifying picture to be sent when you are 5 hours away.

At first I didn’t believe it was the wind, thought it was the kids messing about. But for some reason our house gets the wind howling across the front. We have to bungee the bins to out awning thing to stop them blowing into next door’s car. So OK, wind.

I changed the lowering kit thing, fixed the snapped fairing and carried on.

Then I looked out of the window last week to see my red one on it’s side, which had toppled the black one, which had smacked into the car.


I ran outside, dragged the covers off the bikes and the locks and stood them up. Not easy. The red one got off with a graze to the bar-ends as the black one cushioned it’s fall. The black one had the red one’s handlebars smack it in the fairing.


Smashing a lump out of the side that hadn’t been damaged last time. Super.

The car too the black one’s handlebar to the (rusty) wing.


Buggery bugger.

For the time being I’ve stopped using the bike covers which are obviously catching the wind like a sail and I’m putting the bikes on main stand every time (instead of side stand). So far, so no worse.

You can’t get replacement fairings for love or money. Mainly money. But you still can’t get them.

I’ve found this product that you mix up and pour in and it set as plastic. I just have to take off the fairing, tape it perfectly and pour it in. Easier said than done.

I’ve bought a new wing and been spray painting it. I’m waiting for it the clear lacquer final coat to dry. Tomorrow I have to take the grill, bumper and wing off to replace. Super dooper.

It was near dark when I finished but it totally looked the wrong colour. I’m hoping it dries right, because I’m not doing it again.

What else?

Oh yeah.

To deter thieves I put a disc lock on my red bike (on top of the engine immobiliser and alarm). This slots through your front brake disc and locks, making it impossible to ride the bike away.

I forgot to take it off. Rode forward a foot then slammed to a stop, nearly falling off. I thought nothing of it, took the lock off, rode to work down the motorway. And back. Giving it beans.

I stopped outside our house as usual, started walking the bike back into the parking spot, touched the front brake, nothing. What?


Bad picture, but if you look at the bottom of the brake calliper (black bit with “Nissin”) you can see the brake pad dangling down. That is supposed to be in the calliper.

Part of the calliper where a bolt goes through has snapped off.

I’d just ridden like a dick along the motorway. Twice. I was going to pick Nathan (my nephew) up on it the next morning. 

75% of a bike’s stopping power is the front brake. You can stand on the back one and it will lock and you’ll speed along with your back tyre sliding. If the ffront had of failed so utterly on the motorway, when I needed it, I wouldn’t be writing this.


Wendy thinks god saved me.

I’m an atheist, but fuck me!


One bit of good news amongst all the bike tragedy, we have another biker in the family!

I heard that Nathan was in a shite £5.50 p/h, dish washing job that he hates. I had a look online and there are £9.50 p/h warehouse jobs he could easily be doing but they are a bit far to pushbike. (For the yoof of today. I was cycling 22 miles a day a few years back as part of my Tri training. *tuts*)

His mate was going to give him a cheapo Chinese bike but it got nicked.

I said if he was to get his shit together to get the job we’d lend him the money for a bike. Instant transformation! Totally impressed with him. Dropped his vices like a brick and got his head into the Highway Code. Went to town to get a provisional license the next day and posted it ASAP.

I’ve been getting excited searching for learner bikes for him.

He wants to get into bikes, and wants something that will do him for a few years. (I suspect that will change. He’ll either love bikes and want a bigger one or get his car license. I suggested the latter to him, in my defence.)

My criteria was: Japanese (reliability, resale value), low mileage, naked (no stupid expensive fairings to replace if/when he drops it, so easy and cheap to fix) and 4 stroke. I have a loathing of 2 strokes. Temperamental, polluting, hideous sounding things. OK, shit-off-a-stick fast, but just no.

As bleeding usual everything that fit the criteria was a gazillion miles away. Which would have been no fun riding back on a 125cc.

Then someone put one up in St Helens! As it turned out it was way in the sticks on the far side, but still a lot nearer than Devon or the bottom of South Wales.

Nath and I went to look. I checked out the mileage. It’s a 2009 bike, online the MOT records only go back as far as 2012 or something, but it has been putting on 400 miles for the last 4 years, so the claimed 6000 miles is quite possible.

There are a few dings, a dent in the tank, a scrape on the clock, the mudguard has been repaired (just looked on eBay and got him a used front mudguard for £15. Job done.) but the engine is superb. It’s a Yamaha YBR125 Custom. Hilariously underpowered, but that’s a plus for a learner. Apparently the YBR125 road bike (the non-custom style bike,whatever it’s called) is the standard beast of burden for motorcycle training schools. The Custom is the same engine with different styling.

We got it. Lisa (my sister) broke her motorway duck to run me up to collect it. She passed her test about 6 months ago and had never been on the motorway. “I’ve never been in fifth gear.” lol.


As I said, I rode it home. About 19 miles. It’s a cracking little beast.

I was reading a review saying it costs about £9 to fill the tank, and you get around 214 miles!

Supposed to be about £19 per year road tax.

Top end of 65mph. Allegedly. I had an indicated 55 out of it, but I wasn’t trying to redline the poor little thing.

I’m not so sure about the feel of the tyres. Nath might want to get a new set. £60 for the pair. My back tyre alone was £152!

I’ve given him my (armoured) textile bike jacket, some decent waterproof leggings and gloves. He just needs a lid. He has to attend (no pass or fail) a one day course before he can go on the road. Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). Seems it’s classroom, practical on clutch control, gears, steering and such, then 2 hours out on the real roads with an instructor.

After that, get totally bitchslapped for insurance, (over a grand! For a 125! Ouch!) get the road tax and he’s away.

Wheels and a desperate desire to get out of his current, hated, piss-take job should see him earning big bucks in no time.

As I sent to our Lisa

Bikes drugs

This is the perfect time of year for getting a job order picking. Or that one sorting parcels. Possibly at thrice damned Herpes, but it’s good money, no freezer to worry about, and it would do until he can get better. I was talking to a picker at our place. He said the management leave you alone, the pick target is easy, and you have to request to go in to the freezer! I saw a wage slip a few weeks back and they aren’t on that much less than me, and I paid £5k for licenses. I’ve just looked it up, it’s about 10 or 11 miles from Lisa’s to my works avoiding the motorway, about 25 minutes. That’s a do-able commute for double his money. (At ours it’s not the hourly rate, it the overtime rate, the rate for working past 18.00, the bank holiday rate, etc that make it good money.) Just got to wait for them to recruit again.

Right. That’s Lisa sorted for motorways and fifth gear (lol again) and Nathan’s life sorted.

I’ve offered to give Pam, (Bryn, another nephew’s wife) our car when she passes her test. It’s a scruffy bag of shit but it seems determined to run for ever. If she wants it, it would get her started. That just leaves Robyn (niece) to sort out.

God knows.


One other thing. The red bike. The front end has gone from “bit iffy” to “sweet Jesus, I’m going to die!”

I was banked over and accelerating when the bike started to oscillate. That is so not good. I was putting the forks in for a rebuild this winter anyway, but now it’s a necessity. I took the black one out for one day, after months of familiarity with the red one, and I was throwing it down into corners in a way I’d never dare on the red one. It made me realise how bad the front end must be. I’m getting the forks done, but if it still doesn’t have the feel of the black one I’ll be selling it in the spring.


In other news, my loss of taste is getting worse. Now I’m getting false tastes. Eggs tasting like garlic, cakes tasting like mad chemicals. On the bright side, I’ve dipped under 11 stones today for the first time in years. I was within a jammy doughnut of 12 stone for a while. And the associated messed up sense of smell isn’t too bad. I’m coping with the minging smells I think I can smell. Such as my leather jacket smelling of rotting meat. As long as Wendy and Lisa assure me they aren’t real. I couldn’t bear to think others were thinking I stunk that bad.

Ho hum, whaddayagonna do?



Funny, not haha.

I got a really shitty cold, back in March, since then I’ve lost a lot of my taste.

I used to love cream, now it is meh. I can sort of taste it, but mostly meh. I warned Wendy off a cream cake the other day saying it tasted like cardboard. She ate one anyway, said it was gorgeous. One of Marks and Sparks special range, apparently.

I had a hankering for chips. We’ve not had a chip pan for at least 10 years. I bought a deep fat fryer with a lid and a filter to keep the smell down. My Swedish chum put me on to a top tip, pre-boil the chips. 5-6 minutes pre-boil, drain well, straight into hot oil. I reckon I’m at the peak of my chip game, they are fluffy on the inside, crisp on the outside, perfect. And tasteless. I bought proper salt (as opposed to the grind-it-yourself sea salt rocks) and proper chip vinegar, not the tons of fancy white wine vinegar and such we have in the cupboard. About all I can taste is the butter on the bread.

Butter and chocolate are about the only things I can still properly taste and enjoy. Which is just super for a lardarse.

But now it’s going from irritating absence of taste to false tastes. I had to throw the egg component of the classic British delicacy, chips and egg, away. It tasted of garlic. I know there’s no garlic in the pan, the oil or the egg, but bugger me I can taste it.

And now my sense of smell is getting in on the act. Our washing powder, which we’ve used for years, is starting to be repulsive to me. And my leather jacket. I washed it and conditioned it with leather conditioner. A honey and jojoba thing that makes the leather supple and waterproof. It’s a proper product, as recommended by a proper biker site.

But for the past few weeks I’ve noticed a disgusting smell that has just been getting worse. There isn’t one. I’ve asked Wendy and Lisa to smell it and they say it smells of leather and vaguely of  patchouli oil (I tried to mask the smell but the oil has lost it’s potency). There is no disgusting smell. But when I put it on I’m nearly heaving.

I already had some specialist leather cleaner so I’ve given it all a couple of coats today and I think I’ve got rid of some of the stench. I’ve ordered a conditioner made from other stuff. And some new, very stinky, patchouli oil.

If I can’t sort it I may have to mothball my leathers and buy a new coat. It’s making me gag.

My only consolation is no-one else can smell it. If I thought everyone else was smelling it I’d have binned it already.

Another bloody annoying thing, I think I’m starting to get tinnitus. I use silicon ear plugs at night to get to sleep now I’m off the sleeping tablets. I noticed when I put one in, on top of the usual whine there was an undulating noise. At first I thought it was something from next door, but once again it’s (literally) in my head.

So I googled “quietest helmets”. It’s not the engine or exhaust noise, it’s the wind noise at speed.

Anyway, they had a top 5, all of which were ridiculously expensive. The “Basic” model of one was ‘only’ £270.

Two Hundred and Seventy of her majesties pounds, sterling. About 50 Euros, after Brexit.

I wasn’t happy about it, to say the least, but tinnitus is for life. I bit the bullet and bought the bloody thing. It’s no quieter than my last helmet. *sobs*

It’s all singing and all dancing, great helmet, but no quieter. I googled again. You need to buy an additional velcroed flap that fits under your chin to stop the wind whistling in. From Germany. Another £30. For a piece of cloth with velcro around the edge. Maybe a little quieter. Maybe. I noticed the helmet had an always open vent thing that blows air up the inside of the visor, to de-mist it. Which is going to be bloody nippy in winter. First wet and cool day my visor steamed up!  I had to buy the anti-mist inert. another £27.

So not a happy bunny.

Oh, I forgot. In the high winds lately, I got a message and picture off Wendy, my black bike had blown over. I was in deepest Darn Sarf at the time so couldn’t do shit. Wendy couldn’t lift it. She tried, bless her feeb good intentions.

The arsehole before me had put the lowering kit on the bike but hadn’t shortened the side stand, so instead of leaning over onto the stand the bike was sort or perched on it. Strong wind, bike cover flapping about like a sail, BANG!

I got off fairly lightly. The fairing cracked but I’ve managed to fix that with an internet tip, this glue that actually melts and fuses the plastic at a chemical level. And I dropped and broke a mirror in taking off and refitting the faring.

But here’s where it get’s good.

I took the red bike for a service and brake pads, dicked me about for a week, £310.

I waited for the small garage, took my own brake pads in, got it serviced and brake pads fitted, next day, (by arrangement, he had someone off sick so asked if I needed it back the same day) for £130.

He said he checked the plugs and filter and they didn’t need doing. Anywhere else would have done it anyway and charged you, or not done it and charged you. Top man. He said the only fault he could see was a sticky front brake piston, needs new seals, so he’s doing that this Friday.

While I was there I asked him about the lowering kit. He said it was just two triangular plates that attach the suspension to the frame, held on by three bolts. Undo the bolts, replace the original plates, do them up. I thought it would be a big job as you’d have fit them under pressure from the shock, nope, put it on centre stand, and it just pulls out. I got one off ebay for less than £30, fitted it myself, and job’s a good ‘un.

In other good news, I fitted that hugger (close to tyre mudguard) more or less hassle free, and got the Scottoilers on both bike working. (Vacuum drawn oil bottles that drip slowly on to the chain to keep it lubricated.)

If I’m going to be riding the black one all winter I wanted it to sound a bit better. I did a lot of research and some measuring the red bike. The silencer on that is 450mm long. It is about 77 decibels (I got an app just for that) which is the same as stock. I had my eye on two cheap end cans. One was 450mm, the other was 350mm and was high mounted. It looked really cool, but I was worried about the noise. I couldn’t get the TL1000 to an acceptable noise level even with stock pipes.  I emailed the guy at Delkovic about the cans. He said the 350mm was about 2Db louder, but both would be over 100Db. I have now discovered the Db scale isn’t linear, 30 is not half as loud as 20 again, but double. Does that make sense? Each 10 is double the previous 10. So, roughly 80db for my current exhausts, That means 100Db would be 100 times as loud. That doesn’t sound right. Look, you know I’m shit at maths. The point is, it would be bloody loud.

So I opted for the 450mm and if it was too stupid loud I was just chucking it on ebay and staying stock. It’s 77Db.


Still it does sound lovely, just not ridiculous at tickover. Then you open it up and it sounds gorgeous.

That’ll do nicely. Bit miffed as I reckon I could have got away with lots snazzier high mount one, but still, it was well cheap, easy to fit, good kit, and it is a nice sound.

Getting there.



More of the same.

I’m still in a transitional phase. Work is long hours so good money, but it’s killing everything else.

I had an upbeat day a few days ago when I decided to get back to my running and sax, but I’ve not, yet.

The only thing I’m keeping up at the moment is my painfully slow learning of the Spanish language. I’ve put all the lessons on my ‘phone so they shuffle up randomly. I was struggling over one lesson and not moving on until I’d mastered it. This way, I’ve found out by accident, is more like natural learning. I think. You are bombarded with stuff, most of which you don’t get the first time around, but by constant repetition you learn it. Which makes other bits fall in to place.

Anyway, I’ve finally finished the introductory course and I’ve just started on the language builder.

It’s not like I’m in a rush. And if Theresa the Appeaser does bollocks Europe up for us I’ll just go back to learning Russian, but with my new approach.

That’s it.

Work, a vague desire to return to saxing and running, and plodding on with my Spanish.


The only other thing is bikes. Glorious bikes!

The VFR750 (black one) didn’t sell, even at a £300 reduction. Bugger ‘em.

I’ve stuck a new back tyre on it as the tyre on it, although it still had loads of tread, kept spinning up in the wet. I did it today. The guy at the tyre place said “That’ll be why, this one is from 2005.”

A 12 year old tyre! With tons of tread! What the actual hell is wrong with people? Even running two bikes I’m not expecting to get more than two years out of a tyre.

Once I knew there was a way to find the date of tyres I googled how and checked my other tyres. I’ve only just changed the front one on the VFR800 (red one) the back one is 2014 and quite surprisingly worn. I noticed a small groove in a flat spot on the centre of the tyre. A strut that was supposed to support the hugger (mudguard close to the tyre) had snapped and was rubbing against the tyre! I took the strut out. The hugger is supported everywhere, it obviously doesn’t need it.

I’ll be using the black one as a winter hack to I’ll easily get another month or two out of the red one’s back tyre, then replace it next year. It was £143 for the black one’s tyre so I’m in no rush.

That just leaves the black one, front. It wasn’t alarmingly old (forget exact date) but I’ll be keeping an eye on it. First signs of dodgy front end and it’s getting replaced.

Seeing as I can’t sell it I’m getting the black one ready. I’ve changed the back tyre and the footrest (which had been welded, frightening off one potential buyer) and I’ve booked it in for a service at that local bike garage. It’s not the dear one, and he is letting me supply my own brake pads (which I’d already bought) for him to fit, so that will save me more.

The only other thing is my red one, the front end, I just don’t like it. It feels like it’s really stiff to lean it over to the right, but virtually falls in to the left. Hammer and Tongs said they’d do a service on my forks for £180.

I was looking through the paperwork that came with the bike and I saw the rear shock had been replaced and the front forks upgraded by Maxton Engineering. It seems they take crap front shocks, strip the guts out of them and rebuild them internally with their performance voodoo parts.

This was done in 2001, when the bike was right at the bottom of the country. I thought I’d google the company and see how far they are. For once I got a break. They are near Frodsham!

They’ve said they’ll strip the forks, replace the seals and reset them back to perfect for £145.

They are busy right now (who isn’t?) so it could take a couple of weeks. So I’ll get the black one serviced on the 20th, (he was busy right now, couldn’t fit me in before) then ride that while I take the forks of the red one for a service.  Then, say January, when surely no bike mechanic is busy, I’ll take the red one back to have the valves checked (which will cure what I suspect is a slightly leaking head gasket) then the red one is good for years.

When they stop spreading salt and the red one comes back out, either sell the black one or get the valves checked. Then that one is fully sorted.

Then as I’ve said before, it will take years before I have to have anything else done. Just ride the buggers.

I mean, if I’m keeping it I could upgrade the rear shock and remove the lowering device on the black one. But, apart from your foot grounding out during enthusiastic cornering, it’s still perfectly rideable.

And, before I go for any epic trips on the red one, possibly a seat upgrade and the slightly raised handlebars that 100,000 miles yank owner recommended.

But these are just optional extras. Once I’ve paid for the main jobs there is nothing more should *need* doing for years.

I was thinking if I go for long runs I should do it on the black one to save racking up the miles on my mint condition red one. And don’t throw the red one around too much for fear of crashing it. But that’s just a milder version of those arseholes who buy bikes as a retirement fund and never ride them. It’s a bike. It’s purpose is to be ridden. To do less robs it of meaning. It stops becoming a thing of joy and becomes a worry. You no longer own a fantastic bike, you are owned by a fantastic bike.

And that’s my homespun philosophical cliché for the day.



PS, I took the new back tyre for a spin up around Hardknott Pass and such in the Lake District today to wear it in.

Here are some snaps.



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View from the top.

I’ve made it.

Full time gig, ideal bike, money pouring in.


The taxman finally contacted me to say as I’m paying them the money my accountant stole from me (instead of paying to HMRC) they couldn’t refund me. After 8 weeks 3 days of sitting on their arse. I had to cancel the direct debits, but then they paid it straight to my bank. So they say, not appeared yet.

The good news is; my last accountant, the not robbing-bastard one, said they’d calculated it  to be £850 HMRC owed me but HMRC made it more, I’d have to wait and see which amount they paid me. I looked online while chasing it all up today, HMRC are refunding me £1.235.59! Ker-ching!  That’s a bit better than £850.


If my first week’s wages are representative (my second week was virtually the same hours, so probably) I’m now on £40K p/a. for a 5 day week. Including bonuses and bank holiday pay.

I’ve said it before, but when you’ve walked around with a safety pin in your fly because you couldn’t afford a new pair of jeans, this is minted. Proper rich.

I say that. We’ve still got a big loan to pay off, Wendy is constantly thinking she’s going to lose her job (not her specifically getting sacked, more the whole bureau shutting) and there’s the looming threat of Stobarts, but for right now, things are peachy on the money front.

The trade off is it’s long hours, and starting at 11.00 I don’t see Wendy except in passing, and I have no life other than work and sleep. I’ve not got time to do anything before work, and it’s far too late when I get back.

It’s like the “dead man’s shift” of 2-10, but with 3 hours tacked on the start and usually a bit on the end for good measure.

Don’t get me wrong, this is still the best job I’ve ever had, and loads of money. But the money is because of all the hours.


I’m in a state of flux. I am seriously thinking about selling my sax. And the other one when the HP is clear. I had a bad day a week back. I was struggling with some new-ish tunes and I suddenly thought “I’m just not getting better.” It’s been ages, off and on, and I’m still crap. And it’s a pain in the arse lugging a sax back and to to work.

And the running. I just haven’t got time to train. It’s not that I want to give up running, but if you can’t run regularly you get big injuries when you do. And you are always at the ‘painful/ crap’ stage, never at the level where you are fit and pushing hard and really improving.

Which leaves me with work, the glorious ride to and from work, and sleep.

It’s a nice position to be in financially, but everything else is dying on its arse.


I’m not having much luck selling my VFR750. If it doesn’t go this time I’m going to stick it in the bike garage (possibly a different one so I don’t have to die of shame) and get the brake pads changed, get a new rear tyre, then use it as a winter hack as soon as they put the salt down. It’s ideally suited for the gig. Lowered seat, already scruffy, nice and predictable ride. With the exception of the current rear tyre. Oddly it still  has loads of tread but I managed to spin the back end up 4 times in 2 days in the wet. Not my idea of fun times.

I don’t mind having two bikes, especially two VFRs. It would save a lot of winter corrosion on my nice bike, extend it’s life and service intervals, and still give me a really decent bike to ride, without worry, over winter.


Whatever the downsides to this gig, it’s bloody nice that I’ve got a Veefer (or two) and can pay someone to keep it professionally pristine. Thinking about it, there are plenty of bike related niggles upon which to spend all this future money. The VFR750 needs brake pads and possibly a service, also I could do with having the valve clearances checked if I’m keeping it. That’s a fair bit of cash right there Also, just for cosmetic reasons, I could do with a new gear and brake lever, footpegs and the engine cover repainting.. The VFR800  steering feels a bit off. Sort of having to push it in to corners rather than flowing in. Hammer and Tongs do a full fork rebuild for £180. Whilst it’s stripped I could get them to powder coat the fork legs, the only signs of cosmetic wear on the bike.

See, there goes the best part of 1½ grand. Easy as that.

The thing is, if I am keeping them both, once the jobs are done, it will be ages before I need to do it again. Oil change every 5 000 miles, valve clearances every 16,000 miles.

If I run both bikes, 6 months each, that’s an oil change roughly every 1½ years, and valve clearances every 5 years. Get the initial hit out of the way and then it’s just fuel up and ride. And I have a bike to ride when the garage fanny about for a week at a time.


Bugger. I’ve talked myself into this. I hope no bastard goes and buys my Veefer750.