Category Archives: Triumph

It’s just a jump to the left…

I have taken a version of this photo most years since 2000. As a baby biker living in Buckinghamshire Jack’s Hill was just far enough away to be an adventure and you could get a cheese toastie while you were there summoning up the courage to ride home again. After a few years it became one of the places I stopped for breakfast while heading at speed up to the Scottish Borders.   The wheel of fortune turns and once again it’s just far enough away to be an adventure and get me home in time to placate the dog. Even better, it’s now got a tat emporium in one corner of the car park so I can usually find a small treasure to take home with me – on this visit, a cooking thermometer so I can have a go at slow-cooker-Greekish-yoghurt.

The give-away that this was 2020 – though of course these days you never need to stare at a photo thinking “when the hell was this taken?” because it’s right there in the metadata- is the gazebo and the red plastic lane dividers. Two households or one bubble per table, please. There is always something that makes me sad at the moment and the “new normal” is top of the list – no-one has invited me to “bubble up,” so I sat at the table on my tod and ate my cheese toastie.  In the jacket that I bought when I bought the bike, 20 years ago. I am nothing if not loyal…

Leave a comment

Filed under Triumph

the 900cc solution

PeaceThe Wingman had another wobble about a month ago, and it looked for a few days like he would be packing his bags and making his final journey.  Mainly due to failure of my courage, he’s still here, but while I was trying to think about all the things that would need to be done, and all the ways that life would be different, I realised that I had two motorcycles with sidecars attached for the sole purpose of transporting my hairy life companion, and one Triumph that had done 500 miles on its own wheels since 2015 and about twice that in the back of a van up and down the country before descending into the vicious circle where every time I took it out something went wrong – last year, that was fuel pouring out from the air box drain hose – so I took it out less and less for fear of getting stuck miles from the dog and it got less and less reliable.

Of all the unbearable things that would have been life post-Wingman, the worst would have been taking one of the outfits out with an empty chair so I thought after he had gone I would get the Triumph sorted and return to solo riding.

Then I thought, why wait until after he’s gone? Now that I’m at home with him all the time, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to sneak out on my own now and again. Apart from his wobegone face when he sits right behind the door so I can’t even open it, that is.

Who do you trust with your favourite motorcycle?

There’s only really one answer for the Triumph and that’s Steve and Caz Hutchins of Raceways Motorcycles in Stevenage. A very long time ago I started out on IAM training and the first thing you do is walk round your bike (or maybe that was just the first thing my observer made me do…) – anyway, I was in a Tesco car park in Hitchin looking at my bike thinking “that front end is squint.” Turns out when you smack into some diesel-coated tarmac on the way to your sister’s wedding things don’t quite stay lined up. Steve and Caz took a huge amount of care getting it all straight again and became my workshop of choice until poor life decisions took me to the Fens. So I gave them a call, and they said “bloody hell, are you still alive?” and said of course they would sort the bike out.  So a man in a van did a covid-busting run down and last Saturday was time to go and get her back.

You need to know that I’m a terrible pillion. I hardly ever ride behind people because I’m a lot bigger than most women (and in truth, than most men)  and it upsets the aesthetic of the bike. I’m also a total coward. About this time last year I went pillion to the bike night at Jack Hill’s Cafe and genuinely thought I was going to go arse over tit off the back as Meerkat opened the throttle.  Fortunately in Shoei no-one can hear you scream.

“I’ll put the top box on for you this time,” he said.

Didn’t help.

It’s not that I don’t trust him. I just don’t trust everyone else on the road. So for the first half of the trip down I remembered the advice of Big Chief Polar Bear, closed my eyes, sang show tunes and tried not to throw up.   I quite liked the motorway because the speed was just in a straight line but then we were on the rollercoaster which is the Baldock to Buntington Road, my nemesis as an IAM learner – it’s fast and sweepy and then there’s a tight, tight set of esses which we piled through without hesitation or deviation but in complete terror.  It’s just not dignified at my age to be trying to velcro myself to the leathers of a younger chap like some sort of novelty backpack while whimpering.

I had been a bit worried about piloting the Triumph after so long on tiny bikes. If you add the MZ and the W650 together, you’ve only just matched the Triumph for capacity. But after 75 miles of white-knuckle adventure, there was no adrenaline left in me.

When life got dull, Sherlock Holmes would turn to a seven per cent solution of cocaine to stimulate his brain. He would have been better off with motorcycles.



Leave a comment

Filed under Triumph

How do you steer this thing?

Me, for most of the last six weeks:

“is it ready yet?”

“is it ready yet?”

“is it ready yet?”

“is it ready yet?”

The loss of the Jawa outfit left me confined to the car for any social trips involving AdventureDog. This was not good. The Lomax had gone off to the doctors at the end of April for a new (new to it, at least) engine. The Lomax Doctor’s other half then underwent massive surgery. I’m not completely heartless. I wholly and completely understand – though in a purely theoretical way, being now permanently single – that caring for the sick must come before transplanting engines.

But you have to understand, I go more than slightly mad if I can’t get out.  The dead Jawa meant I missed out on the VMCC Dorset weekend, which I had been looking forward to since the spring. I stayed at home and cut down the foliage in the back garden. I didn’t go to our local biker meet, because I don’t want to look like a wannabe when I have been riding almost half of my life.

“is it ready yet?”

Hope to get onto it next week.

“is it ready yet?”

Starting tomorrow.

“is it ready yet?”

I passed the time getting the Triumph ready to return to the road. Though I can’t velcro the Wingman to the seat, we are on the path of  getting a chair attached to it to convey him about. I have a deposit on a subframe, which is needed to provide the anchor points, and an offer of a Watsonian Palma. So it seemed wise to get the bike taxed and MOTd, with new plugs, fresh petrol and a change of brake fluid.

“is it ready yet?”

engine is in, just reattaching all the bits.

“is it ready yet?”

We’re just trying to do the MOT now.

So Friday was super-exciting. Not only did the Triumph start, more or less first press of the starter, but the Lomax came home.

This morning I took the Triumph for its MOT. I have been riding tiny bikes for the last three years. The Triumph is a heavy bitch. I tried to turn left, she totally ignored me and sailed across the road to the opposite kerb.

Fuck, I thought. I know it’s been a while but have I forgotten how to do this?

I kicked the tyres a bit in case one of them was flat.

No, I was just rubbish.

We tried again and made it to the MOT shed without further embarassment. We came back the long way, so that I could get into third gear. I think it is three years since I have travelled at 60mph on a motorcycle. The bike with no name does it without breaking a sweat. When we are post-dog there will still be roads to ride. And though the news seems uniformly dreadful at the moment, a day is still improved by riding a ridiculously beautiful motorcycle in the sun.



1 Comment

Filed under Lomax, Triumph

Hair oil

The Triumph has needed servicing badly for a while. Unfortunately that’s just what it got yesterday – I am not normally quite so cack-handed as to get more oil on the drive than in the drip tray, to dip my hair in it when getting down to check the chain tension, or to spend 20 minutes winding the chain tensioner the wrong way, but those are just the highlights.

It is, I suppose, an improvement from earlier in the week, when I managed to put the car into reverse instead of first and smack the poor bike into the garage door.

It may be that used 10w40 is good for split ends and overall condition. I will let you know.

Leave a comment

Filed under Garage stuff, Triumph

now I remember why it’s called the Book of Lies…

I need to go to Halford’s to buy some Q-bond which Graham says is the best thing to replace the crack in my fairing which *may* have resulted from a cack-handed reassembly of 2Moos’ front end (not by me).

So I thought I would pursue my new role as “Person who can do simple bike tasks,” adjust the chain on the Triumph, and nip off to the shops.

I’ve read the instructions, and I’ve seen it done, so I felt pretty confident. But I have fallen at the first hurdle (again). Here’s the picture in the Book of Lies, and the same shot showing my bike:-

Can you spot the difference?

In other questions, how do I get a torque wrench on without taking the exhaust off?


Filed under Garage stuff, Triumph

The past is for reference not residence

I take seriously Oscar Wilde’s advice that a woman should never travel without her diary, for fear of lacking something scandalous to read on the train. I’m not as consistent as Rio, who I believe has written in her diary every day since childhood, but I have, erratically, kept writing since 1982. Don’t worry, I’m not the strange kind of woman who reads through old notes for entertainment – I recognise the wisdom of recent advice that forms the title of this post. But I was looking for two reasons yesterday. I have a commission from Camping magazine, and they like to have memorabilia as well as photos, so I wanted to see what I had kept from my first foray into bike camping in 2004. In passing I was also interested to know what I’d written when I first met someone who started as a fellow London BMF member, turned into a colleague and is now a friend. It turns out that in 2002 we talked about Felix Dennis and the Oz trial. And bikes, of course.

Trying to stuff the box back on the shelf provides a vivid reminder that paper is, essentially, nothing more than a pile of wood shaved thin. I wonder if the weight of the pages is what we mean by baggage. This sort of thing is on my mind at the moment as I am halfway through losing a butt-load of weight. I put on 2 stone in a bad relationship and another stone in a crappy job. It is now coming off again but as it gives up the ghost I find myself suffering echoes of the stress and unhappiness that I had postponed with chocolate. Still, the benefits are worth the pain.

As well as learning that I spent far too much of my time stressed about work and trying to pretend that all was well in my domestic life, I found that I really, really loved my Triumph.

I rode her to the King Bill in Fenstaton yesterday to play some blues and to gossip about Bruce Springsteen with Tony Ginger, who knows more about Bruce than I know about Ayrton Senna and is training me up for the Hyde Park gig in July. Because I’m a lot thinner than I have been for years I dressed for the occasion in Gialis and my Crowtree leather jacket. And everything was perfect. For the last two years riding the Triumph has felt strange. Yesterday she felt like she did when I rode her home from On Yer Triumph in Tring – the perfect bike for me.

This seems very odd, but perhaps it is something to do with being the right size and in the right frame of mind. I bought Ruby because I wanted to ride like my IAM Observer (before he threw himself into the scenery. Twice.) And I bought 2Moos because I wanted to ride like Big Chief Polar Bear.

But all I really need to do is ride like myself. In a leather jacket that was made to fit me and skinny Italian kevlar jeans that are slightly too big. And all shall be well.


Filed under Introspection, Triumph

The two foes of human happiness are pain and boredom.

This morning I got the park-and-ride in to work. Because I was planning on going to a do in London, and the Triumph doesn’t have anywhere safe to leave a helmet. (I didn’t go in the end, which is interesting in its own right – perhaps I am leaving London behind at last.)

Now, it was all very trouble free, but it was also a rather stony-faced experience. Bus drivers in Cambridge don’t talk, they just nod gnomically and take your money. The other four people on the bus sat in gloomy silence as we travelled a roundabout route to the centre of town. So I had to buy myself a Pain au Chocolate from Christine just to get a smile and a cheeful hello.

Yesterday I rode the Triumph to work. “New bike?” asked the man from the cycle shop, after watching me park up and give the bike a farewell pat. No, I said. Old bike. New tyre.

And we talked for a bit about the unbreakable bonds we have to our first bikes, the horror when they get nicked, and the sense of pride from being able to do work on them. And then I went to work.

On Saturday the Triumph and I went to Cambridge Motorcycles to get the new tyre put on – for I can do some simple things, but I can’t do tyres yet. And when I was walking back to the workshop, having wandered way too far along the river, a car pulled up, and a bald man with tattoos said “are you heading to Cambridge Motorcycles, love? Hop in, I’ll give you a lift. We work just opposite.”

And I got into a car with two strange men. And yes, I did pause to wonder if that was the last the world would see of me.

But on a day when terrible things were happening in another country, sometimes it is necessary to do unwise things in order to prove that the world is, most of the time and for most of us, a good place full of good people. A stranger made a kind offer because he recognised me as a biker. I got a lift down the road, and picked up the bike in time to go to Barney’s graduation party.

And this is why riding motorcycles will always be better than taking the bus. Because I ride a bike, people I don’t know talk to me. And that makes my life more interesting. And for as long as life is interesting, it will be worth living.

“Om én mann kan vise så mye hat, tenk hvor mye kjærlighet vi alle kan vise sammen”. Stine Renate Håheim


Filed under Triumph

Still Crazy After All These Years

I met my old lover
In the street last night
She seemed so glad to see me
I just smiled
And we talked about some old times
And I kicked her into gear…

Still crazy after all these years.

This is a Triumph with a decent battery and a back tyre that doesn’t have any cracks in it, parked in the sunshine while I go off to a small graduation party. Posh frock on top, jeans and German army boots below. Too long on the sidestand has caused her to spring another leak, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed.

I have too many motorcycles and they all make me happy, but this is the only one that makes me grin like a loon.


Filed under Triumph

If it’s March, it must be MOT time….

This year I am feeling a little retro. I think it is time to tackle the Round Britain Rally on my approaching-classic-status Triumph Adventurer, who will be 11 in May this year – do I only have two years left before it becomes a stroppy teenager, refusing to do what I ask and shrugging me off with a roll of the headlamps?

I am driven to this thought for two reasons. The first is that MOT time is here for the Triumph With No Name and I have a sinking feeling that we haven’t actually turned a wheel since the last one, apart from up into and down out of Mel’s van. Which is a terrible thing to do to a beautiful motorcycle.

The other reason is that Ruby is definitly having to go up for sale. If I get a half-decent price for her, I can pay half my tax bill. Needs must…


Filed under Ruby Thursday, Triumph

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr Erskine

The Triumph with no name came out of hibernation today for a photo shoot. This is Steve Lockwood being photographed by James Erskine, for Steve’s forthcoming album. She didn’t actually start, but it turns out that was because the kill switch was off, not because she was sulking. As a reward she is plugged into the Optimate, because now I live in the boonies I have a garage with heat and power. For my reward I am plugged into a bottle of Dornfelder Spatburgunder, which was a housewarming present by the lovely Nikos Cosmos. Fortunately I only have to drink it, I don’t have to pronounce it.

I had to quit my job this morning, so it is a good time to be working on an album launch. And to be drinking a bottle of good red wine donated by a friend.


Filed under Triumph