New battery, new front sprocket, new sticker. Good to go 🙂
Category Archives: 2Moos
This is Winston. He’s the mascot for the Black Dog Ride, a fabulous Aussie initiative bringing bikers together against depression. There does seem to be a big overlap between bikers and people who suffer mental illness – though I don’t know whether that’s because bikers are more vulnerable to depression, or whether we’re just more willing to talk about it because we know our community won’t judge us.
I was hoping to take Winston with me as my passenger on this year’s Old Farts Tour of Scotland, which takes in the Scottish RBR Landmarks as well as sufficient checkpoints to qualify for a Touring Award in the Scottish National Rally – but he’s rather bigger than I thought he was going to be. That’s Nathan Millward‘s book in the photo for scale. Far from being pocket-sized, Winston is in fact about three-quarters of a Jack Russell.
Like the supersonic sausage dog of legend, he does indeed have rubber suckers on his feet, but I don’t dare stick him to 2Moos’s screen for fear he will have my knee off when he comes loose.
So Winston will have to stay at home and guard the house while 2Moos and I go off and play. In preparation I have changed his air filter and his oil, though not his oil filter because I don’t want to find at this late stage that I can’t get the bash plate back on with the bike on the side stand. I shall continue reading Mr Honda’s “Common Service Manual” to see whether he has any advice on this. And in the meantime, we are off back to the top of Scotland. Though not, this time, in search of Vikings.
I have done page 62, Air Cleaner (though I really ought to buy a new one); page 63, Crankcase Breather; page 73, Throttle Operation; and page 100, Cleaning. I have also had a go at re-gluing the heated grip back onto the throttle (it twists round until it acts as a rev limiter) and trimmed some of the end of the rubber in an attempt to stop it sticking open.
I haven’t done page 64, Engine Oil, because I’ll check levels before we set out next week. I haven’t done page 69, Spark Plugs, because it seems to involve taking half the bike apart; or page 75, Drive Chain, because despite working out I still can’t lift 2Moos onto the centre stand. We’ll get there.
I also haven’t done page 84, Wheel Removal, because I’m not sure how this will help. But I’m reassured that should I need to do this, my Owners Manual has helpful pictures, unlike the BMW one which just said “this should be done by your Authorised BMW Dealer. “
An excellent haul waiting for me at the post office this morning 🙂 The grommet and the satnav mount bring the Triumph back into play, while the cateye mounts mean that I'm legal (and safe) to ride the pushbike after dark again. And the Workshop Manual for the Africa Twin is a work of explanatory beauty. Though it does still say “Installation is the reverse of removal.”
Neither of these items could be postponed. The tyres are both flat and bald, leading to some very squirrely white line moments on these cold greasy mornings; and though my hair might not be bald it is certainly grey in parts it should not be, especially with a works party tomorrow and a holiday coming up.
After entrusting 2Moos to Phil at Cambridge Motorcycles I folded myself onto the tiny Suzuki and had an equally diminutive espresso from Christina to kickstart the day – but when I went back to the Suzuki a few hours later for the return journey to collect a freshly reshod Africa Twin, the battery gave the engine one limp spin and died.
Not really good news on a freezing cold night and with a pressing appointment for a new coat of dye.
So I called Phil, and he said give me five minutes and I’ll come round in the van. I lurked on the street corner, fortunately not reciving any offers, until the van arrived and Phil opened the back doors to reveal….a rather small moped. Which didn’t seem a fair swop for an Africa Twin, even if one of the heated grips isn’t working and the high beam switch keeps getting stuck on.
One short van ride later and a brief pause to admire the Cambridge Motorcycles tree, I was back where I am supposed to be – on a large Gnarly Thing, which feels at least 2 inches taller on new rubber.
Back to the office, grab stuff, run to Toni & Guy for what is a really rather splendid retouch, then to the Hungry Horse to catch up with some biker friends. One of whom was the wronged party in this case, which is on my mind these dark evenings when cyclists ride with no lights and then write to the Cambridge News claiming that the only person they are endangering is themselves. Not so.
And now I’m shivering next to my hot water bottle and consoling myself with the thought that in 10 days I will be on a plane, migrating south.
… but sprox and chains excite me
Another first today – the Africa Twin had to go in for replacement chains and sprockets. The Triumph hasn’t needed them yet, and Ruby had a shaft drive, so this is a new experience. After another excursion on the dinky Suzuki (“better than walking, but only just” said the man behind the counter, handing over the keys) I collected 2Moos and rode back to work.
I like new tyres. I love the three-dimensional fluidity they bring to my riding, for the brief period before I square them off again. The new chain brought fine throttle control and the re-introduction of engine braking to my arsenal. And we could accelerate without sounding like there was a spanner stuck in the spokes.
But the gear change didn’t feel right. So when I was back in my parking space I knelt down for a look and found the chain was tighter than a mermaid’s fish mitten. If I’d been sensible I’d have checked it while I was still outside the shop, but it didn’t take long to nip back over and ask politely for someone to come and check the tension with me.
There was a slight rolling of eyes and a patient explanation of how to check a chain. You do this, and then you do this, and then yes, it’s too tight. Which was a relief. Junior garage person was chastised and told to try again, and I’ve been given a compensatory tin of chain lube. Thanks due to Graham for showing me how to check!
It has been an old-school weekend. Because Ruby’s battery is playing silly buggers and stranded me outside the chip shop I thought I’d better not take her to the inaugural Cheddar Mendip RBR Gathering. Also, and don’t tell either of them, one of the two Gnarly Things in the garage has got to go. I can’t afford to run three bikes any more, and one of my lingering doubts has been whether I can do all the things on the Africa Twin that I’m used to doing with Ruby. (Apart from waiting outside the chip shop for the man from ETA.)
This was also a test weekend for the tipi – which means I was probably the only camper this weekend hoping for rain – properly timed, in the hours of darkness, so as not to upset too many people – in order to find out whether rearranging my flaps as recommended by Tentipi UK will indeed prevent unwanted leaks. (The answer appears to be yes. Who’d have thought it?)
The only flaw in this plan is that the Africa Twin has neither a satnav mount nor a baglux harness for the attaching of mapcases to. The challenge this presents to me is amply demonstrated by the fact that it came as a surprise when I sat down on Thursday night to plan my route to find that the Mendips are not in fact near Minehead.
An anxious Thursday night editing the amount of kit I normally sling on the bike for a weekend, writing out instructions that, at a pinch, I could sellotape to the tank, and fretting about the lack of frame to strap the tipi to, was followed by a 6am wake-up call from next door’s screaming child. One cup of coffee and a short amount of faffing with tie-downs later, I was off. Thanks to the miracle of modern communications – and the fact that I’d mentioned my planned route on twitter – I had a rendezvous with @Jezza1956 at noon in Monmouth to hit – and 5 landmarks later I made it just 45 minutes late, which I thought wasn’t too shabby.
“Blimey, that’s big” said a man on crutches as I parked up. Assuming he was referring to the Africa Twin and not the size of my arse, that made it two for two in terms of stops and conversations, which I think may have sealed Ruby’s fate. No-one talks to me when I pull up to a kerb on her. The Triumph is a magnet for nostalgic old men, who like to tell me about their national service, while at the M6 services the Africa Twin had attracted the attention of a chauffeur who wanted to tell me about the Brough Superior he’d owned as a lad but sold on for 25 quid.
Cheddar is Jerry’s stamping ground so we had a short play in the Wye Valley, a steak-and-ale pie lunch in Tintern, a rather hot and sweaty time battling traffic on the M5, and then he very kindly delivered me via Burrington Combe to the gate of the campsite and handed me into the care of Jacki and Mommybear.
Checking in has become my least favourite part of staying at a Camping and Caravan Club Camp Site. “It’s just a small tent, isn’t it?” said the site manager. No. It’s a tipi, it’s 10 foot in diameter, and I did tick the box that explained that on the web site. “Oh, we thought it was just 10 foot in one direction. Well, maybe you’ll fit.”
They took me past Jacki and Phil – and the two big empty sites opposite them – and to the bottom of the site and a small corner about 8 by 6 foot. “No chance,” I said. “Oh. Oh, I’ll see if there’s anything I can do,” said the manager, and vanished.
When you’ve been riding for 12 hours, you look forward to getting your tent up, having a shower and getting changed into civvies. You don’t look forward to being left standing like a muppet on a campsite and then having to go and hunt down the people who are supposed to be sorting it out, to find that they’ve been distracted by selling loaves of bread and tubes of toothpaste to campers who’ve been given a site that does fit their tent.
I had a small strop in the shop and they gave me a great big pitch under a tree. So on Saturday afternoon I could lie in the tent for a disco nap and watch the leaves making patterns on the canvas. Which was nice. Opposite a family with three boys who wanted to play football with my bike as the goalpost. Which wasn’t. Yes, I felt like a bitch when the keenest footballer picked up the ball with his saddest face on and went back to see his dad. But it wore off pretty quick when his dad expressed the view that no-one fucking cared about my fucking bike and people like me should leave his family the fuck alone. The thing I used to like about the Club was that they were strict about noise after 11pm and about ball games outside the play area. This site wasn’t particularly bothered about either and I don’t think I’ll be rushing back.
But the weekend wasn’t about the site, it was about the company. As well as Jezza@cix, who was one of the people who watched over my first wobbly U-turns, figures of 8 and camping weekends when my bike was a KH100, Viv’s birthday barbecue brought together the usual suspects of the RBR social section, a scattering of grandchildren, Gordon’s girlfriend and the RBR debut of Desperado, who packs up a tent even quicker than Paul Belcher.
On Saturday Jerry and Marysa met us at the Rose and Portcullis for carvery and skittles – analogue ten-pinbowling. With only nine pins, Andy picking up the skittles and the balls being sent back to the business end through a length of sloping drainpipe. Told you it was an old-school weekend!
Sunday morning was about packing up and saying goodbye. I am still a long way from coming to terms with going home from these fantastic events to my quiet house and my own company. I distracted myself with a ride over Salisbury Plain and past Silbury Hill, one of my favourite places on earth. Not that I’ve seen much of the rest of the earth yet to compare it to. So this is my new cunning plan. If I just keep going, then I don’t have to worry about going home.