Why I don’t like chrome

September 30th, 2014

You may remember that my friend Hogsback Harry bailed out of our boys’ trip away – the night before we were due to leave – because he discovered that he’d let his Harley’s MOT lapse, which would invalidate his insurance. He couldn’t book the bike in for a fresh test in time, so he missed the trip.

Well, he took the bike in – not to a Harley dealer but to an independent garage he’s used for years. It sailed through the MOT. But when it came back, there was a mark on the exhaust – a small scrape at one end. But when the whole thing is immaculately shiny chrome, it stands out like bird poo on a tuxedo. Of course, the garage says it was already there; Harry insists they must have scraped it when he left it there for the MoT.

He wanted me to give some kind of statement that the bike wasn’t damaged when he dropped it off. That put me in a tricky position because I couldn’t do it… I could swear that the bike had been immaculate the weekend before, when I’d last seen it. But I couldn’t swear that he hadn’t scratched it on the way to the workshop or some time between me seeing it and Harry taking it in for the MOT.

I’m sure Harry will get it sorted out in his favour: he’s the most stubborn man I know. But it just reminds me why I don’t like bikes with loads of chrome. Far too delicate.

Dex

Lake District or Yorkshire Dales?

September 26th, 2014

Can’t decide between a trip to the Lake District or Yorkshire Dales?

Beautiful Northern England

Good news – now you don’t have to.

We tasked our friends at Crooklands Hotel with the job of spending a couple of days out and about, scouting and scouring the various roads and passes of two of Northern England’s most beautiful areas (*I know – tough gig eh!?!).

Their mission:

Come up with an itinerary that combines the very best of a day’s riding in the Lake District AND a day in the Yorkshire Dales.

And boy, have they delivered – just LOOK at what they’ve come up with!!

How about this for a two day riding stint?

Make your way up (or down, or over) to Crooklands (just off the M6 in the South Lakes), park up, grab a drink and relax – tomorrow is going to be a very good day.

The Venue

Crooklands Hotel
Crooklands, near Kendal, Cumbria, England, LA7 7NW
01539 567432

WEBSITE

Crooklands is a bike-friendly 3* hotel situated just 1 mile from junction 36 on the M6, yet in a rural and peaceful location at the base of the Lake District.

— — — — —

DAY 1 – Deepest Darkest Dales Loop | 157 miles

Starting and ending at Crooklands Hotel, this is a full day’s ride through some of the very, very finest roads that Yorkshire has to offer. Do this once and you’ll be looking for any excuse to come back to ride it again, and again, and again.

> ROUTE MAP & GPS FILES

— — — — —

DAY 2 – Lakes & Passes Galore Loop | 197 miles

If it were ever possible to overdose on magnificent Lake District scenery this would be it. With lush, green enclosed lanes to lakeside meanders and stunning switchbacks along glorious passes this route has it all!

ROUTE MAP & GPS FILES

— — — — —

If there’s a better 2 days worth of motorcycling to be had in England than this, then I’d VERY much like to know about it!

-JM

Motorcycle travel insurance

September 24th, 2014

The big trip is looming, so I thought I’d check my insurance. Bike and breakdown cover were all tickety boo. Travel insurance… not so much.

Motorcycle Travel Insurance

I’ve always got travel insurance with my credit card so never worried about it before, but I was recently advised to check it. So I called them up and went over it… and you know what? It excludes riding motorcycles over 125cc! All those years I’ve been riding in Europe, thinking I had decent medical and travel insurance but in fact I didn’t. I’d have been fine if I’d flown to Rome and hired a scooter, but actually riding my own properly maintained motorcycle on safe roads wasn’t covered.

I was a bit stumped, to be honest. I did an internet search but trying to sieve through the results was sapping my will to live faster than an episode of Downton Abbey (and that’s saying something). In the end, I phoned the high street insurance broker I’ve used for years – he’s got me some great deals on the Pan, which is insured as a company vehicle – and left it with him. Half an hour later, he called me back with three options. I took the cheapest one: his commission was the same as than the policy, but at least now I’ll be properly covered in future.

So that’s Dex’s top tip of the week: don’t take your travel insurance at face value. Before going on a trip, call them up and check you’re actually covered once you’re on a bike.

Dex

Smartphones pt 2

September 22nd, 2014

Okay, I admit, Smartphones can be very, very, very useful sometimes. Like when there’s an unexpected power outage on site and you still need to send a few emails (like the one on Friday warning the client and the one to check the back-up systems are working).

They are also very handy for eBay – when I was sending those mails I saw my bid had won a second-hand textile suit that’s the right size for The Fair Lady Scully.

eBay logo

So maybe Smartphones aren’t the work of the devil. Even so, you won’t get me on Facebook. That’s when you do become a slave to the phone.

Dex

I’m not playing

September 16th, 2014

I don’t “do” Facebook (*to the point where I even have to get James in the office to post these onto the MotoGoLoco wall for me…). I think I’m too old and I’ve a better face for radio (as long as it’s played at night, with the lights off). So that means this whole ice-bucket challenge thing of late has largely passed me by.

Ice Bucket Challenge

Don’t get me wrong – I like the idea of anything that gets people thinking about charity. Though I think people should perhaps think more about which charity they want to support, rather than just taking a dare and giving money to whoever suggested it. For instance, I support the NSPCC and the local Air Ambulance.

So I’m not tipping a bucket of icy water over my head. For anyone. Sorry.

Dex

Washer

September 15th, 2014

I found a washer on the garage floor this morning. Next to the bike, about six inches from the side stand. A 10mm/M4 washer, judged by eye. Stainless. No idea where it came from. I spent ten minutes going all over the bike and couldn’t see where it might have shed a washer – and obviously a fastener as well.

That’s the kind of thing that can prey on your mind…

Dex

Smartphones

September 11th, 2014

I have to admit it: I hate Smartphones.

smartphones

Of course, I have a Blackberry, as it seems you can’t be taken seriously in the IT game without one. I’ve also had HTCs, iPhones, Nokias, Motorolas, even the Windows phone (very briefly). Having a client who’s in the phone game has helped when I’ve found I really can’t get on with a particular handset.

Now, most people who know me think it’s comic how much I dislike Smartphones. After all, I spend most of my waking hours immersed in proper high-powered computing processes… so they all assume I’d like to take a miniature version with me in my pocket. But actually, that’s the point: I love and admire genuine technical power; the silicone chip refined and sharpened into a truly razor-sharp tool. By comparison, even the smartest Smartphones are gadgets, gimmicks…

That’s not why I hate Smartphones, though. That just makes me yearn to get back to the cathedral hush of the server room to see some proper technology in operation. Just give me a box that can make and receive calls. With a battery that lasts more than a morning.

Another thing I dislike about Smartphones is the way they’ve removed the ability to do things from large chunks of the population. Do you know what something is? Doesn’t matter, just whip out the phone and Google it. Not sure where something is? Look it up on the phone’s sat nav. Unable to make conversation with your fellow humans? Just hide behind the screen, playing Angry Birds. Knowing where you’re going and what you’re talking about – and being able to actually talk about it – are irrelevant skills in the age of the Smartphone.

Even worse, the Smartphone is what lets people update their Facebook status. They’re so busy trying to show off to people who aren’t with them that they ignore the people sitting at the same table. I stopped off at Loomies the other day and I reckon two-thirds of the people in there weren’t talking to anyone – just fiddling with their Smartphones.

And that’s what I really hate about Smartphones. I remember when biking was a big, inclusive, welcoming fraternity. You’d turn up at a coffee stop and people would nod, ask about your bike or where you were going. You’d have a pleasant conversation with someone you’d never met before. Because you were all bikers. There was a sense of solidarity and community. It seems to me that’s disappearing – mostly because everyone’s too busy fiddling with their phones.

Maybe when it’s gone completely, someone will post about it on their Smartphone.

Dex

Dexter Uber Alles?

September 8th, 2014

I admit it. I wandered into a BMW dealership over the weekend. I did get out without buying anything, but boy it was close…

There were a lot of bikes there that really appealed to me. I had a K1200RS at one point, bought for the blend of speed and practicality it offered. While it did everything it promised and was a pretty good bike, there was not one aspect of it that you could call pretty. It was as big and solid and muscular as the stereotyped Seventies East German lady shot-putter. It didn’t stay in the garage for very long.

BMW K1200RS

But now… I think if I’d been less indecisive I might have been in danger of talking finance deals with the salesman. Or at least a test ride.

When I’d walked into the showroom to collect the RS, there were no bikes that really looked good to me. Now, I like the look of all the BMWs. Is something wrong with me? Have I changed? Or have they?

OK, I always thought the GS was a funky thing but the new water-cooled one looks the absolute business – especially the huge Adventure version. But it’s probably too much of a handful for a shorty like me. Maybe the 800 would suit me better.

BMW R1200 GS Water Cooled

Then there’s the K1600GT – a six-cylinder luxury liner with the styling of a great white shark. This dealership had a used one that was merely eye-wateringly expensive rather than pass-the-smelling-salts pricy, which a brand-new one would be.

BMW K1600GT

Then there’s the new RT. OK, I understand there are issues with the rear shock to be resolved. But that really does look right up my street. But then again, I quite like the look of the F800R… and the S1000R… two naked bikes that look like they’d be great fun.

And then I saw it. The RnineT – stupid name for a great-looking motorbike. Simple. Elegant. Classy. Impractical. Lovely. It’s that classic I was musing about, but modern. OK, also very expensive for what it is. And you can’t get one until next year as they’re all sold out and pre-ordered, etc…

BMW RnineT

The salesman was trying to get me to explain what I needed the bike for, what I liked the look of, which would suit me best… But the trouble was, I need the bike for everything. I like the look of everything. I reckon everything would suit me. I genuinely didn’t know where to start. It felt too much like being given the run of a sweet shop.

Better not go back there for a while. Not with a wallet, anyway…

Dex

The Forth Road Bridge is 50

September 4th, 2014

Despite clearly being the uglier sibling, (and facing imminent replacement) the Forth Road Bridge was first opened by the Queen 50 years ago today, on the 4th September 1964.  Costing £16m back then, it now transports upward of 25 million vehicles between Fife and the Northern outskirts of Edinburgh every year.

The Forth Road Bridge is 50

So – by way of our own little celebration of sorts, here’s today’s challenge for you.

What’s the best day’s riding you can come up with that INCLUDES the Forth Road Bridge?

The rules are very simple – come up with a route, draw and save it in MotoGoLoco Maps (*remember to save it as Public) for 1 day’s riding – whatever that may be to you. 50 mile Sunday morning escapees and Iron Buttocked GS’ers are all equally welcome here!

Then once you’ve saved your route, click the ‘Share’ button and paste the URL (web address) below.

Your route must include at least ONE crossing of the Forth Road Bridge.

This one’s just for fun – what’ve you got?

My new boots

September 3rd, 2014

I finally replaced my excellent but exhausted Hein Gericke boots not with another set, nor with another set of the brilliant-but-pricy Daytonas that had preceded them. I took a bit of advice from a friend and got a set of AltBerg Clubman boots.

AltBerg

They don’t look amazing, I have to say. A bit basic, very old school. And to be honest I wasn’t sure about them for the first 1000 miles. The leather was stiff, slightly restrictive. There was more than a hint of that new-pair-of-school-shoes feeling, if you know what I mean. But now they’ve broken in and they’re wonderful. Really, really comfortable.

They’ve gone through a couple of downpours without letting in a drop as well. Great new boots.

Dex

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