Tag Archives: winter

Zen mind, beginners mind.

My luck is not getting any better. I had to pull out of my house purchase after the survey found that the roof needed replacing. My tax is so screwed up that I will be paying twice as much as normal until next April. And the weekend I had planned to ride the Jawa down from the Northern Rest Home for Distressed Machinery was the weekend that winter decided to show up, with Met Office warnings for ice and snow.

I decided that the preservation of mental health made the outfit a survival item and arranged for it to come down on the back of a lowloader. If I don’t eat for the rest of Decmember I’ll be able to cover the fee.

The outfit arrived at 7am on Saturday morning. The keys followed in the post two hours later. I’m not saying I was desperate but the postie looked very surprised when I wrenched the door open as he turned into the drive. He was getting no chance to stick a card through and run away.

Wingman and I have been out twice already – the weather was horrible yesterday but today the sun came out while we were having a coffee and a burger at the drive-thru. I am remembering how to turn left and right, and that you need to give it an extra boot to get from third to fourth.

And it is lovely to be out on a bike and learning again. Wingman isn’t convinced yet but if I keep taking him to McDonalds for a plain burger he might come round.



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Filed under Riding, Sidecar

I have everything I need

I’m not generally a fan of moving with the times. A glance in my garage should make this rather clear. So when it comes to psalms I prefer the rolling complexity of the King’s English than the simple language of the Good News Version.

Except for Psalm 23. “I shall not want” sounds like things will be better in some uncertain future. Or a statement of determined self-denial.

As I drive my car round this UK through this snow-bound hell that is supposed to be spring, I take stock of the equipment I have loaded into the boot. I have warm clothes. I have jump leads. I have coffee. I have in-car-entertainment, though it goes into fits of randomly pausing the CD to provide moments of reflection. I have warm feet, gloves to wear and a Scottish Rugby beanie to keep my brains in my head. I have a shovel in the boot. I have a dent on the bonnet, but that is a different story.

I have everything i need. Right here, right now.

This is a good place to be. Although the car looks like it is about to be baked with a salt crust.


Filed under 2CV, Gear, Introspection

All dressed up and no place to go

The weather found a new indignity to inflict upon me this morning. I tottered out of the house (after 15 minutes looking for the keys, Mondays really do hate me) wrapped in thermal underwear, clutching winter gloves and wearing a BMW winter jacket two sizese too big for me, ready to laugh in the face of sub-zero air temperatures …..

…only to find that I couldn’t get the key in the locks of my Metal Mules.

Unwilling to balance my harp bag and the netbook PC I was taking back to Comet on my lap, I had to scrape the ice off the car instead. And then drive with the windows open so as not to boil like a lobster.


Filed under Uncategorized

Winter 1: Highwaylass 0

My Christmas visit to the camping shop played its usual trick on me. We only went in to buy a thermos mug for a friend who has taken to the life less insulated, but merino base layers were half price – until I got to the till, when it turned out that only bottom halves were reduced and my carefully chosen gender-specific pink hoodie was full price. And how did the MSR mug, dinky coffee maker and extra-gnarly tent pegs get into my shopping bag? Credit card whimpering slightly, I returned to the Christmas festivities rather poorer but smug in the knowledge that, come the resumption of my car-free commute, I would laugh in the face of windchill and be snug as a mug in a rug.

Monday morning dark and early I wrapped myself in 100% wool and loaded up Ruby’s panniers, ready to plug in the satnav and the heated vest and head off to work. Just one challenge – the 200 yards of ice between me and the main road. I won round one – big handful of throttle (fuel pump pretending to be frozen again) plus BMW torque reaction plus lack of traction between army boot and tarmac nearly – but not quite – put me flat on my warm, woolly arse. But the weather won round two. I couldn’t get any grip on my boots to push Ruby round and out onto the road. The journey of a hundred miles stopped by a single slip.


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It’s lovely once you’re in

I’ve been riding for 12 years and on Friday morning I thought I’d just had the most miserable, joy-starved, frozen and dangerous ride of my Biker’s Dozen. When I woke up I couldn’t see the other side of the street because the freezing fog was in the way. So I waited a bit for the sun to come up (though I’m not sure whether “Sorry I’m late, I wanted to improve my chances of not getting killed on the way by waiting for dawn” is an acceptable excuse anywhere outside of the vampire hunting industry.)

Ruby likes to tell me when it’s cold. I’m really not persuaded it’s that helpful to have 0.0 * flashing once a second while I’m trying to convince myself that because my hands are warm the rest of me follows.

The shockingly poor anti-fog performance of my BMW visor gives me 2 choices – closed (moderately comfortable but steamed up); or open (a freezing 70mph wind compromising visibility by pulling tears from my eyes.) I alternated, relying on skills gained during a lifetime of myopia and my parent’s ban on wearing my glasses during PE to interpret the intentions of misty shapes looming out of the near distance. The motorway had helpfully conspired to put me out of my dilemma by jamming solid and requiring 20 miles of first-gear filtering, which I thought I’d left behind when I left London. It has been quite educational – a few days ago I passed a line of brand-new bin lorries, smelling very fragrantly of rubber and WD-40. On Thursday I spent a little while behind a van promoting Soft Landings for freestyle MX guys, which I could have done with the previous week, and today I was mostly advertised at by a company attempting to winkle team-building corporate types off the clay-pigeon range and onto trail bikes.

I got to work. “That’s your not very impressed face,” said my colleague – clearly I have been wearing it more than once this week! I thawed out a bit, cleaned the evil visor inside and out – it does have an anti-fog coating, it just doesn’t work – and tackled the chores of the day, thinking, well, at least that’s over.

But it wasn’t. The forecasters told me with almost as much glee as Ruby that it was going to be a cold clear day dropping to minus three, so I set off home at dusk thinking, at least I’ll be able to see.

Halfway along the M6 I realise my visor is getting covered by a thin layer of what I can only describe as oily shite. I’m quite used to getting covered in motorway mank when it’s wet – the lorries chuck up spray, the cars in front are liberal with their screenwash – but this is the first time it’s ever happened on a clear, dry (if baltic) night. I have my suspicions that it’s the infamous pre-wetted salt, which is extra-sticky so that it sticks to the tarmac – and passing bikers. I tried scrubbing it off with my glove, but that only moved it around to create a smeary layer of oily shite and an interesting TOTP-style starburst effect. Until they invent helmet-mounted screenwash this is going to be a remarkably unpleasant winter.


Filed under Uncategorized