End Of The Road?

I can barely bring myself to say this. My Triumph Daytona was my last, best hope, for biking. I fear it failed.

I know from the outside this seems incredible, 5 weeks after getting my dream super toy and being over the moon with it, and I still love it, but I think the bottom line is there is no place in my life for a motorbike right now.

After the painfully obsessive bit, and getting all the kit, I’ve only been out on it about 4 times. I went out today to a quiet spot with a big roundabout just before a dead end, so no traffic goes there, to practice some cornering technique. I was rubbish, and a bit embarrassed, so only did two laps then went off for a ride. As I was riding it struck me. All the arguments that *proved* this was the bike I *must have* were all wrong. I don’t have the skills to ride knee-down, and when I was out on the ride I was having to watch out for speed limits as my job is on the line. I’ve got an awesome, beautiful bike, that I can’t, and don’t, use. The only thing I could think of would be going to track days. So a pointless bit of a pretty I use twice or three times a year. I have nowhere to go. I have absolutely no need for a motorbike.

I’ve been getting regular 5 shifts one week, 6 shifts the next at work (legal maximum) to make sure we have enough money while Wendy is on the sick. I did a calculation the other day and realised, even with Wendy off, we still are the best off we’ve ever been. I was window shopping the dream bikes of my life.

My birth year (1966) Triumph Bonneville (£10K)

A BSA A10 from the 50s (£6K)

A classic CB750/four Honda from the 70s (£6K)

And my guilty pleasure, a Honda CX500 in great condition, from the 80s (£4K)

These are all bikes I’ve spent my life drooling over (well, maybe not the CX, but I do like the ugly beasts) and I’ve suddenly realised if I really wanted to I could afford to go out and buy one. And I’ve lost interest. It’s painfully ironic.

I’m toying with the idea of a Harley. I can think of several good arguments why that would work. Slow, so won’t endanger my licence, you need zero skills to ride one because of point 1 (and the fact they aren’t built to go around corners) and you don’t have to be going anywhere, it’s a Zen Mindfulness bike, the whole fun is in that very moment, pottering along, feeling cool .

But I think I’m fooling myself. Again.

Wendy and the bikers from Twitter are saying to think it over, but I’m having a sad moment of clarity. If I’m having to force myself to go for rides because I can’t see any point to it, and I have nowhere to go, it might just be time to sell up and quit. Now the madness of my obsession is no longer upon me I am just feeling guilty and stupid for buying new leathers and boots. I won’t lose money on the bike, but I feel bad that I was so lost in the obsession.

I am thinking of the Harley dream, pottering, slowly and coolly to the Lakes, riding around, coming home… 3 or 4 hours of motorway, (which is just a busman’s holiday for me) wind buffeting on my face and neck, on my own, just because I have to go *somewhere*.

Hmmm. I *want* a Harley, but I think the bottom line is I just don’t need, and won’t use, a motorbike. This makes me sadder than you’d think.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. I have an exciting new madness.

Yachting!

I was idly looking last week and you can get a 31′ full-on yacht for under £9K! This one:

I think that would be great to nip around the coast and through the Scottish Lochs and such. Wendy is, predictably, less than enthusiastic. She say’s we’re sure to go a watery grave. I say we might not, and it might be fun.

Possibly that would be a bit ambitious for my first go at sailing, anyway. So I did some research, and I’ve found a learner yacht that’s designed to fit on top of a car roof rack (hence the name:Topper) and I can get a second hand one from £150.

And, as it’s a one person craft, Wendy has fewer reasons to hate the idea.

I’ve emailed about lessons, but so far no response. As I said to our Lisa, how hard can it be? Pointy end forward, wind, crack on. Ours is the blood of Drake, Nelson, the captain of the Titanic…

I’ll give it a go around the Lake district. If I can crack it there, then they are sea worthy, and it’s only 18 miles to Liverpool and the sea. If I like it could be a fun hobby, if not I sell up and haven’t lost anything.

In short, I may be getting too old,boring, and sensible for motorbikes, but there’s a whole world of other fun stuff to try.

I’ve had a really bad couple of weeks. After being fine for months I had a mild spell of plague weakness for a week, then got battered by a really bad dose for another week. It hit me that hard I thought I’d got the new variant. I was whingeing about it on Twitter, saying I’d gone from thinking I was over it forever to swinging around to the conclusion that this is how it is now, suck it up and try and get on with it. Someone posted a link to brilliant NHS article I’d never heard of, Post Viral Fatigue. It was such a relief to see it was a thing, not just something I’d made up. They reckon it has a direct link to exertion, which is unfortunate for me.

I know you should never google to self diagnose or you end up convinced you’re pregnant and have Black Death, but that really nails it. They say to even ration thinking as it wears you out. That struck a chord. In the afternoons when it was hitting me hardest at work, my brain was so slow, and it was such an effort to think, I just couldn’t bring myself to make chit chat or banter. Not that I generally want to, but being too exhausted to do it is a different matter than just being anti-social. Again, I’ll try and nurse the injury until after this year’s running is over then rest up.

Wendy has taken the extremely brave step of trying to go back to work. Her first half day shift is on Thursday. It’s going to be tough for her, but she’s womanning-up in an epic way. And we’ve been over it to death, to try and prepare her responses. If they give her a hard time she is prepared to go back on the sick. She’s not putting up with the abuse. Personally I don’t think she should go back to this job at all, but if she does, and can manage the pressure, I think it would be the quickest route to her regaining full sanity. Such a (potentially) hard, hard way to do it though. I’m not sure I could have faced down the ‘trigger’ event when I was still suffering from it. So brave.

Well, I’ve talked it out and talked it through. I’m feeling less sad about the biking thing now.

Right, some Twitter and a few garden pics and I’m going to bed.

Later,

Buck

All The Gear, No Idea.

I had a bit of a to-do when I got my new bike and realised my kit wasn’t appropriate. You need proper race type kit for a race bike, in case of crashes. Previously it was my leather jacket, a stout pair of boots, a stylish (but minimal protection) pair of soft leather gauntlets, and, usually, whatever trousers I was wearing at the time.

If you want to throw the bike into corners you need knee sliders. So that means new leather jeans. Then I might as well update my jacket to suit. And I need proper bike boots. And gloves.

I got my kit. It took a few goes on the trousers as I am the exact perfect height for a man (5′ 6 ½”) but everyone else is freakishly tall, so I had to get short leg. And they flatter us porkers with the waist sizes. I’m, at best, a 34″, I ended up having to get a 30″ waist.

I got all the kit. I was ready for some knee down thrilling heroics. I went out for a few rides. Turns out I’m still crap, but with better kit. Oh. Should have seen that coming, really.

I was a bit sad about that as I can’t do any track day tuition on my bike until next April (I think) when I change to an insurance policy that covers track days. On the off chance I’ve just googled “Knee down course” and there is one run in Wigan. That’s handy. And you train on their bike so no need to worry about insurance! I’ve emailed to see when they have any availability.

It’s a progressive skills course. Teaching you theory, motorcycle handling, more theory, cornering with no hands (body balance steering) more theory, then application in the form of knee down riding.

Until you look like this:

And that is a blue Daytona, so that’s pretty much exactly how I want to look.

So that’s good.

The other thing at the moment is work. I’ve been trying to get the legal maximum of 5 shifts one week, 6 shifts the next for the last 8 weeks. So far I’ve only had one day when I didn’t get any work. That’s pretty amazing for an agency job. I couldn’t get that in my last, full time, job.

There has been a bit of a hoo-ha lately over lorry drivers. A totally unexpected side effect of Brexit, the Hostile Environment, and telling foreigners to go back home, is that the foreigners have gone back home. Nobody could have seen it coming. The upshot of it is panicked newspaper articles where supermarket bosses are saying they have empty shelves because they can’t get the drivers, calling on the government to mobilise the army to do deliveries (as far as I know, the army don’t have artic drivers, they recruit civvies to the TA to drive the artics) and warning of “supply chain collapse”. The government’s response is to rip up the working time directive (a Brexit Bonfire of Rights. Again, who could have seen it coming?) so drivers can work longer. We are already legal to drive 10 hours, and work 15 hours a day. I’ve not been able to find any details on the changes, but apparently they came into force on the 12th. I’m not sure how you can compensate for a lack of foreign drivers by killing the domestic ones. I think this is why I can get every shift I want, though. They just can’t get the drivers. They have their core drivers, loads and loads of agency, and they are still coming up short every weekend and having to have other firms come in to do runs for them. They advertised for full time drivers recently. I’ve applied, and not been formally rejected yet, but it’s been 3 weeks and I’ve not heard anything. Meh. I don’t have to worry about money, the work is there, but it would be nice to have the security of a proper job.

In other good news, Wendy is feeling a lot better. She had taken a turn for the worse, and was starting to feel proper down with it. She’s taken the online advice and is grinding it out. Get out of the house. Get exercise. Get in nature. All of which have been proven to help with the loony. And, obviously, are all the things you least feel like doing when you are scared and depressed. So big-up Wendy for doing it.

She’s taken to driving to a really nice spot down the canal (the prettiest mile I do on my runs in that direction) and communing with nature and big dogs.

She’s also started doing some exercises at home and has broke out her pushbike from a few years ago and has done a few rides on that. Excellent work. She’s a lot better. Still not right, but tons better. That’s movement in the right direction.

Other cheery news is the garden is starting to look nice. More by accident than design. A bunch of those “lucky dip” flowers I got and overwintered have turned into really interesting plants. And considering the “before” shot of a few months ago, it’s looking pretty good.

It will look better when a few more things have started flowering, and when I’ve properly filled in the end of the garden, but it’s definitely an improvement.

The only other thing is I’ve got back to running. After pulling out of the 24hr race I’ve been concentrating on building a solid base of fitness. I’ve managed to get out and do an hour on most days. Even during that beastly hot heatwave. That took some doing. By keeping it small but regular I’m hoping to build my speed and stamina without smashing my foot. So far, so good.

Some Twitter and bed.

Later,

Buck.

The Cusp of Antithesis

Once again I find I’ve lived long enough to become what I previously despised.

I’ve got my new bike as a toy. My main mode of transport is my pushbike, the motorbike is just for having fun. For going fast into corners, leaning right over. It follows, therefore, that I want optimum riding conditions. If it’s raining, and when it gets around to snow and ice, there would be no point in taking it out.

I’ve become a Fair Weather Biker! The shame!

I’ve also realised that the loud “race” (exhaust) pipes are exactly that. For racing. I’ve always loathed the numpties who have hideous screaming pipes, thinking it was ‘look at me, look at me!’, noise for noises sake. It’s not. With no baffles the exhaust gases blow out the back in the most efficient manner possible, allowing the engine to perform to it’s maximum capacity. Yes, it’s totally anti-socially loud, but that’s the by-product, not the goal.

I’m still in two minds about the latter, to be honest. I don’t need the extra few horse power, and I don’t like the racket. I might put the legal baffle back in. It’s a compromise. Not the strangled and heavy original exhaust, but not the ear ringing race can that it’s running now. If I put it back in I’ll have to take it to the Triumph garage to have the engine mapping (fuel computer) reset.

Another thing I’ve never realised, being a year round, mode of transport, biker is how much you can specialise your kit if you’re a Fair Weather. I won’t be thrashing around in the snow or rain, it’ll be mostly bone dry, warm days. Up until a few days ago I thought that meant you had to sweat buckets in your leathers. It always has in the past. Nope. That what race leathers are for. Really safe in case of crashes, but with vents and such to keep you cool. All my kit is for trying to stave off hypothermia in winter.

I’ve treated myself to a new set of leathers. I was vacillating over many options. A cheap set that had been crashed and had bust bits, other second hand stuff, or new. I was nearly swayed to buying this:

It’s a second hand set of trousers and jacket, by a good make, branded Triumph. I looked and the sizing is wrong on the trousers. I’m too short. On normal trousers you can just chop the bottom off, but bike trousers have knee armour and knee sliders so you can prop the bike up on your knee if you go in to corners really hot. This was what stopped me from getting second hand in the end, I need short leg, in a world of freakishly tall people.

I was tempted by the brand buy-in. Look at me, I’ve got a Triumph. (Sad.) Which is why every single item a Harley rider owns has the words Harley and Davidson on it. The other thing is they are old leathers, and he wanted £400 for them. You can get a brand new set of trousers and jacket for less.

I had already ordered some short leg trousers by a quality, cheap (er) brand (RST).

I primarily wanted them for the knee sliders. I’ve got leather jeans, but you don’t want to stick your knee out and risk going too low if you’ve not got the the sliders. Now I can slowly work up to the bike’s phenomenal handling potential. Next year, when I’m used to the handling, I want to do some track days. You can book lessons on a race track. An ex racer teaches you the theory, then takes you round and shows you the racing lines, braking points, etc.

I wanted to do this years ago, but one of the rules was you had to have either a one piece leather suit, or leather trousers and jacket that zip together all the way round, effectively a one piece suit. At the time I wasn’t willing to pay for new leathers just for that. Now I’ve got a brilliant bike, that’s sole purpose it to go fast around corners, and I’m upgrading my kit anyway, I might as well. I got the short leg RST trousers. After much vacillation, -should I get second hand, or Triumph full set, or get new- I plumped for a new RST jacket.

The beauty of keeping it a single brand is 1: RST are about the best bang for buck brand, and 2: the trousers and jacket have corresponding zips, so I’m good for track days (and 3: the set of brand new, properly fitting kit, is still cheaper than the 10 year old Triumph set).

As you can see, there is a shedload of armour in the jacket. It even has a spine saving hump on the back.

It’s perforated to keep you cool, and by the look of it, if you tire of motorcycling you can always turn to American football.

So that’s me a happy bunny.

Some other good news is that some guy wanted to buy my bike. He’d just passed his test. His first bike then is a 1000cc with enough grunt to pull your arms out of their sockets. Good luck with that, lad. Who am I to argue? Give me the money and be on your jolly way. This meant I could go into the bank today and pay off the loan I got out for my new bike. It said on my ‘phone banking app that if I paid it off in 30 days I wouldn’t have any charges. They still charged me £120. For a couple of days loan. Ho hum. It’s still a lot better than the £750+ they were going to charge if we’d kept the loan. And the agency are giving me work every day I say I’m available (6/ 5, legal max) and sending out begging texts to try to cover several days a week. So we don’t have to worry about me buying leathers, which is really nice.

I didn’t do Endure 24 today, because of reasons, so I was looking forward to the 4 days I’ve booked off (2 days rest, 2 holiday), nipping out on the bike to have motorcycley fun, going out with Wendy, etc. It’s set to chuck it down the whole time. Super. Supposed to be thunderstorms today, but not so far.

As I was focusing on Endure 24, the only runs I’ve done in the last month are two 50K’s and a marathon. Go long, wreck my foot, rest and heal. Terrible way to train. The consequence is I put a pair of jeans on tonight and they are really uncomfortable because my gut has grown so much. Tomorrow I stop being lazy and get back to it. As many shorter runs per week as I can fit in around work. The lorry driver physique is catching up with me.

It’s all about regrouping and getting back into good habits tomorrow. As soon as I get up I’ll get a run, then start on my sax practice while Wendy’s at church. There is supposed to be a dry hour in the afternoon, but it depends on if the roads dry out. If so, I can squeeze in a short blast. Also I have to start back on my Duolingo (language learning app.) I’ve lost my streak so I’ve skipped two days. I need to do a little bit each day and keep chipping away at it.

Right, to bed. I had a 12 hours 50 shift yesterday, running to London on a Friday afternoon (total nightmare) and didn’t get to bed until 01.30, I was a awake for half an hour in the night, and still ended up getting up at 08.00. I’m a bit tired, me.

Later,

Buck.