Tag 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…

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Please tweet responsibly

 

Image

 

So I and the proprietor of the Northern Rest Home for Distressed Machinery are no more.

It turns out that you can’t express frustration with your relationship to 2,000 of your closest friends and followers on twitter without one of them showing it to him. What on earth is the world coming to!

After the ending of a relationship comes the terribly sad “getting your stuff back” period. I believe that for normal people, this usually covers CDs (though perhaps not any more, in this new world of downloads and Netflix), underpants and toothbrushes.

As my friend said, “only you could leave a motorbike at a bloke’s house.”

But she came home on April 1, bag and baggage, bringing a satnav cable, a drift for fitting fork seals, and a spare eyeliner.

Somewhere up north there is a rather nice Primus flask which has not made it home, because it wasn’t in the drawer that was mine to use. I will treat myself to a new one, for the new start.

I am glad the Triumph is home. i have sold 2Moos to Nikos, and so for all of last week I had no means of getting to work.

That is a boring reason to be glad she is home.

The real reason is that this is The Bike, and she is special to me. I chose her and bought her from new, once upon a time, a long time ago when I lived in a different city and had a different surname.

I bought the GS because my IAM Observer told me the Triumph was not the right bike for me, and I was foolish and believed him. Ruby and I had a lot of adventures but she is gone now. I bought the Africa Twin because I wanted to ride round the world, and because the person that rode it was a very talented rider and I thought it might rub off. I bought the Triumph because I thought she was the most beautiful bike in the world. I still do.

When my marriage ended these lines from TS Eliot were on my mind, because they caught the banality and the pain of the process.

“This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Although I am sad to be single again, this time I am not broken. The return of The Bike is the beginning of a new cycle, and once again Eliot has it, perfectly:

 

“We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.”

 

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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.

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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…

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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.

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Feeling metaphorical..

On Monday this week I replaced the rear light unit on the Triumph – Steve and Caz did a sterling job patching it up to get me through the last MOT, efforts which I managed to undo a couple of months ago in a split second of numptiness which saw me backing into a low wall. I understand the boffins at Mercedez-Benz tune their doors to a soothing thunk of expensiveness – if they run out of ideas I can recommend the sound of crunching plastic as a suitably wallet-shrinking alternative. £75 quid lighter and 25 minutes older, I now have a rear unit of reassuring solidity and was able to take the bike out for a tentative loop of the A10. The steering felt rather uncertain, which I attributed to lack of familiarity with the rakishly-angled front wheel, when compared to Ruby’s teutonic uprightness.

Further exploration this morning with a tyre pressure gauge revealed that no, the wobbly handling was due to a lack of about 20 psi. I have been asking the tyre to perform handling miracles without taking steps to ensure it was adequately resourced with all the support it needed.

Here endeth the metaphor.

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English Humour

Trying to decide whether Emergency Stop man is:-

(a) a very brave stuntman wearing the world’s biggest cricket box
(b) moved closer to the bike by video editing, like Russel Crowe and the tigers in Gladiator
(c) a shop window dummy, replaced by live bloke when the bike is stationary

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They’re black, they’re round, they keep me off the ground..

…NEW TYRES!!

I love new tyres. I’m a bit scared of them, thanks to the dire warning stamped in red on my bill about taking it easy for the first 200 miles. This is only my third set of new tyres ever, the bike came on Michelins which wore out and were replaced with Metzelers in 2004. Now we are on Avon RoadRiders (why couldn’t they have been roadrunners, would have been much more fun trying to ride out past cliff edges and paint my own tunnels on the side of mountains). 350 quid worse off, thanks to an unexpected bill for trucking the stricken beast back up the M1 to Flitwick – my cunning plan to use a temporary repair kit was foiled by the presence on an inner tube – but for at least a little while (until I square them off) I am revelling in the joy of truly 3D movement.

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Unity Ride 2007

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Good in parts

Washing the bike after our monsoon endeavours, I realised that the chain was baggier than an old lady’s underpants, and would probably ping off the sprox if I didn’t get it sorted before heading to Scotland for a few landmarks more. Adjusting the chain is one of those jobs that I know how to do in theory but don’t dare take my spanners to, on the grounds that if I get it wrong my back wheel will fall off. I developed a cunning plan that made it essential for me to ride to work before stopping at Metropolis on the way home for them to do my dirty work.

Riding to work means it’s time to play the parking lottery – made more hazardous by the decision of a film crew to set up on the spaces I had in mind for trying first, but my third-choice spot came good with a broad sweep of tarmac sullied only by two scooters. Within 30 seconds a horde of suit-clad scooterdrones appeared like wasps round pimms to fence me in on all sides – for once my timing was perfect!

Sadly riding home was not perfect, I hate it when I ride like a muppet. 10 years of practice and I’m still emergency braking to avoid the back of the cement lorry, bullseyeing every pothole and rolling off the throttle mid-bend. I thought experience was meant to bring expertise 😦

At least the chain was smooth.

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