EXTRACTS FROM THE CHRONICLES OF A
BORN AGAIN BIKER
January 2007. - RTA of 2006 still causes ongoing problems however through the winter it did not stop me from buying additional items off e-bay to enhance the Harley's specification. Fortunately the arrival of these items coincided with wife's absence due to working pattern, items fitted without comments.
May 2007. - Back on the road again, some good rides out, back condition standing up quite well, the Harley handling really well and not getting into any mischief, well not that I admitted to. Used the Harley until October then garaged for the winter
November 2007. - Visited the NEC bike show in the car just in case I could be tempted to buy things! The new Caberg helmet, leather jeans, Garmin GPS, Cardo Scala Rider helmet intercom, thermal inner gloves, one piece water proof over-suit have proved to be money well spent. Drooled over new Harleys, crazy asking prices, decide to stick with mine.
Managed to justified the purchase of the GPS as it was dual purpose and can be used in the car therefore no more arguments due to wife's inability to read a map. Sneaked the other purchases into the garage but new helmet being a different colour was seen. Explained that the older pre-used helmet could be for her when riding pillion on the Harley and that we could have a common interest to share besides arguments. Can't spell the cuss words used as they were in an unfamiliar language. Asked the Eastern Europeans at work for translations but they looked embarrassed and declined.
GPS fitted easily enough onto Harley. Understanding how to fly it a little more difficult. Wife says I'm educated to above my intelligence level and to ask the neighbours 10 year old to sort it out. Muttered a response, "What locks?" she replied. Explained that a run out to Foxton Locks, a local beauty area, would be an ideal trial for the GPS and would buy lunch and ply her with alcoholic beverage. She informed me that there was not a B, two LLs, or two Os in Locks.
2008 uneventful. - Rides out locally and to east coast, no real earache from wife, fewer back problems from the RTA was an encouragement. Maybe next year do some longer rides.
January 2009. - Decided to trawl the internet looking for motorcycle tours in the UK. Found White Rose Motorcycle Tours offering guided tours in UK and Europe. Booked 3 day Scottish borders tour for the early bank holiday weekend 'camping' in a 3 star hotel in Carrutherstown near to Dumfries.
May 2009. - Un-eventful ride on M1/M6 to Kirkby Londsdale. Loads of bikes at Devils Bridge but had to journey onwards. Used GPS to navigate, biker roads superb taking a route over Shap, arrived at hotel early afternoon. Saturday and Sunday great tours around the coastline and lochs also managed to visit Hadrians Wall. Surprisingly weather was warm and dry. The tour leader took us on some superb roads which could be challenging at higher speeds but, as there were 28 bikes, some with pillion, most of us restrained our exuberance. But there will always be some assholes riding on the limit of their capabilities though. The tour group were great company, ages ranging from mid 20s to 70 years. The bar talk was very stimulating, we ex Phoenix members proving yet again that our skills at ale drinking and bullshitting do not diminish with age.
Return home via M6/M1 spoilt by bad weather, the frequent stops to warm up and dry out increasing journey time but made home base without incident.
Harley in dirtiest condition ever, takes days to clean all the crap out of the numerous nooks and crannies and polish the chrome. Booked another tour, Lakes and Dales for September.
September 2009. - Stayed in 3 star hotel near to Kendal. Great to see people from previous tour plus new faces. Blessed with good weather for the Saturday and Sunday tours.More challenging roads in the Dales caught out a couple of riders on a downhill run into narrow bridge near Sedbergh with 'very tight' bends, the clue to the difficulty factor being 20ft high signs stating '20mph only' spaced at intervals of 50yds - 20yds - 10yds before the bridge. This resulted in a Kawasaki Ninja being wrecked and imbedded in the bridge wall. The following bike, a Rocket 3 trike, ran over the fallen rider and his bike, the trike passenger being ejected from the pillion seat hitting the bridge parapet but luckily bouncing back into the road and not the 30ft drop into a river. Paramedics & police in attendance, fortunately no one was seriously injured, being released from hospital the same day.
The tour leader was very unhappy as the accidents were rider errors and he always reminded us to ride within our limits and road speed limits and incidents like this reflect badly on motorcycle tour groups.
The Harley handled superbly throughout the tour and never gave any cause for concern. Received comments from other riders that they had been led to believe that Harleys were unreliable and don't handle at speed around challenging bends. Pointed out that it's a combination of rider experience - bike set up and an asshole riding on the limit!
Had a conversation with the Ninja rider that evening. He said that he was following the Harley into the bends and expected to see brake lights illuminate to give early warning to slow down. Explained that didn't need to brake as I was in the correct gear on the correct line safely negotiating through the bends due to angle of lean and therefore did not have to do any adjustments. He admitted that prior to the tour his only experience of riding was in London. I felt guilty and a little responsible for the accident however humour survives even in darkest hours. Riders name was Benson. In bar that night said I had heard of Benson & Hedges but not Benson & Bridges. The bar conversation stopped and thought I had overstepped the mark but we all had a chuckle, even the tour leader.
Related the stories to my wife. Her response was that she did not think I would survive the tours and would again have to put the life insurances back in the filing cabinet.
Having experienced the guided tours and wanting to continue decided that a more suitable touring bike with panniers top box and fairing would be better. A used Honda Deauville with combined ABS braking, twin front disc etc was road tested and purchased for the purpose of more comfortable serious touring, managing to convince my wife that its presence in the garage complimented the Harley.
Surprisingly no adverse comment but she admitted that two bikes doubled the chance of a life insurance claim, pointed out that only one bike could be ridden at any time, but she continued to polish the dust off the policies in expectation and went to Specsavers for new glasses to read the small print easier.
Both bikes settled in together. Wish could say same for 'er indoors. Had decent solo rides alternating the Honda for inclement weather riding, the Harley for posing.
November 2009. - Most of winter spent in garage drooling and polishing both bikes. No problems with wife as Eastenders, Coronation Street, Come Dine With Me, Celebrity Chef, Location - Location and other similar crappy TV programmes kept her pre-occupied and out of the garage. Private stock of real ale stashed in the garage diminishes at a rapid rate proving yet again the hidden costs of bike ownership.
February 2010. - Booked another Scottish Borders tour for May 2010 staying in same hotel, and for September a Yorkshire Dales tour based at Nidd Hall in Yorkshire. Looking forward to the tours on the Deauville. Surprisingly did not purchase any additional items for the bikes or biker gear.
May 2010. - Scottish tour personally disastrous, weather cold & wet, the biker friendly road surfaces had deteriorated due to snow and frost damage during previous winter, road surface damage was always on the riding line. Surprisingly the Deauville did not handle as well as the Harley, probably due to the Honda being 80kgs lighter, different engine characteristics & rear suspension combined to hammer the hell out of my back. Consequently suffered recurrence of back problems, high frequency vibration through handlebars resulted in finger numbness. Returned home feeling very unwell, decided to cancel September tour.
May/June 2010. - Sold Harley then the Deauville, wife cannot believe a bike-less garage and sympathises (crocodile tears) suggesting we makes plans on how to spend the money from bike sales. Too depressed to give smart arsed reply.
July 2010. - Start selling on e-bay some spare Harley parts purchased over the years and not included in the Harley sale, good responses and a good wedge of cash accumulated.
Six weeks of bike withdrawal symptoms results in trawling bike magazines/e-bay just to see what bikes are available, no real serious interest! Royal Enfield EFI 500cc Bullet looked interesting, light weight 185Kgs, 60s style 'made in India' appears to be ideal for a geriatric biker. 500cc Bullet DL black & chrome for sale on e-bay, local seller, bike had only 35 delivery miles on clock due to seller breaking his hip shortly after bike delivery and could not get his leg over. Said I had same problem but not with a bike! Viewed and seller accepted offer. Great experience riding a 60s style bike again although more sophisticated with electric start, electronic ignition, fuel injection and kickstart but still retaining the characteristics of a bike from the 50s/60s.
Wife not surprised at another bike appearing in garage but no adverse comments. Could it have been her cut of the RTA compensation for putting up with a grumpy old so & so.
Decided to customise RE, removed dual seat/pillion footrests, managed to fit Harley Dyna solo seat and rear fender rack plus a riders backrest off a Yamaha Dragstar Classic. Had to run engine in due to its low mileage, but it eventually freed up to enjoy short, higher speed ride outs. Enjoyed the experience, surprisingly good handling but missing the power of a bigger bike.
Fewer issues with back problems due to a new remedial therapy plus more effective pain control medication seems to have worked. Longer rides out now achievable, wonder if possible to go touring again but the RE would not be suitable. Again trawling e-bay/bike magazine web sites looking at bikes that would enable me to join up with the tour group again.
August 2010. - Triumph Bonneville America cruiser style bike looked interesting. Viewed some at the new Leicester Stratstone Triumph dealership, road tested used bike with promising results. Declined to purchase from Stratstone and started to search e-bay and bike internet sites.
September 2010. - Bonneville America advertised in MCN, low miles, loads of extras and priced reasonably. Owner had set it up for solo riding so it looked to be the perfect combination. Rode over to Solihull on the RE to view and road test it. HOOKED - seller accepted offer and also offered to deliver. Problem , how to explain to 'er indoors that another bike would be appearing in the garage.
All hell let loose when seller delivers Bonnie. Could not disagree that I was a selfish b'stard with no consideration for her and to choose between the bikes or her. Deferred answering that tricky question but pointed out that I have been a motorcycle enthusiast for 47 years and only married for 32 years! WOW slamming of garage door caused stashed ale to dislodge from hiding place, 2 bottles cracked so had to consume contents quickly. Didn't hear garage door re-open - DAMN, caught in the act. Why is that only the female of the species can give a 100 yard laser look of disdain that transcends speech?
Enjoyed getting used to the different riding characteristics of the Bonnie's forward foot controls and handling, the rider footplates ground too easily around bends so re-fitted original footrests which gave better ground clearance. The Bonnie does not handle as well as the Harley being skittish on uneven road surfaces resulting in a self preservation/calming effect on exuberant riding. May fit new set of tyres next year. Although only fitted with a screen for weather protection believe it would be suitable for short UK tours.
October 2010. - Searching e-bay for warmer waterproof riding gear, purchased Buffalo jacket and trousers. Looked at handlebar muffs because fingers suffer badly with the cold. Sensible option but not for me. Spotted Gerbing heated gloves £150 new, bought used pair for £60 on e-bay, they are brilliant, wired into Bonnie battery so can now use bike through winter providing weather is dryish. GPS has now been fitted to the Bonnie, after surviving previous lives on the Harley - Deauville & Royal Enfield.
Noticed on LPMCC website that Ben Crossley & Wishbone are proposing to have rides out next year. Ben has thrown out invitation for riders to join them, will probably do so but on which bike remains to be seen. No limitation as to which days suitable for ride out as retire in April next year.
November 2010. - Life is quiet at the moment silence being golden, wife will probably return home eventually, maybe for Xmas, only problem experienced is I'm crap at ironing and now take a hot water bottle to bed. However it does not snore or pull the duvet off me.
Considered booking two tours for 2011 but threatened divorce proceedings may have financial priority. As a pacifying gesture said would consider selling the RE, maybe too late to save relationship but we will see.
Why couldn't I have found a biker babe 35 years ago?
Anyone interested in buying an immaculate low mileage 2009 Royal Enfield DL FI Special registration R500 BLT?