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

No I can’t

September 2nd, 2014

Move to Wales, that is. I floated the idea past TFLS (The Fair Lady Scully) and her usually sunny nature darkened. Where we are at the moment, her increasingly infirm parents are in the next village, both our sons live within an hour’s drive, she’s worked in the local school for the past 15 years and enjoys it hugely, she has so many friends in the area… etc… etc…

You get the picture. It’s not practical for “the family”.

Guess I’ll just have to find excuses to go back to Wales on the bike more often.

Dex

We couldn’t have been made any more welcome

September 1st, 2014

Just home from an excellent weekend’s riding around Glencoe, Fort William and Kinlochleven with a group of around 30 of us using the MacDonald Hotel & Cabins as our base. Hosts Mark, Helen & the team could not have been more welcoming – we were all thoroughly well looked after during our stay.

SV1000 at the Bothy Bar, Kinlochleven

The staff were great, and big Andy the barman seemed to own more bikes than we’d turned up with – top guy and a good laugh to boot. Our rooms were clean and comfy, and those who were sleeping in the cabins were all happy with their lodgings too. Given the weather for Friday’s run up, the drying room and communal tumble dryer were in constant, but appreciated use most of the weekend.

Cabins at MacDonald Hotel Kinlochleven

Even after arriving late (9:15pm ish) and soaked to the skin, owner Mark very kindly nipped off to the kitchen once they’d closed up and came back with a steaming hot plate of venison lasagne. It was as tasty as it was appreciated. Breakfast was great – the Feast seemingly the most popular option – as was lunch, AS were the evening meals too. The Highlander Burger (burger, black pudding, haggis and cheese) is outrageous, yet brilliant. Having a really good selection of real (and locally brewed) beers to wash it all down was a bonus too.

As a touring base, Kinlochleven is fantastic, with Glencoe, Fort William, Oban Mallaig and even Skye all well within a day’s round trip. The road in and out of the village must rank among the finest 14 miles of motorcycling tarmac in the world – it’s hugely tempting to stick in another quick lap before heading back to the hotel, and so you should – it’s fantastic.

Kinlochleven Loop

All in all, a great weekend was had by all, and we’ll most certainly be back (some of us have already made bookings for next year).

Thanks again to Helen, Mark and the team.

-James M
SV650.org

Our route

Glencoe Massacre 2014 Route – 305 miles, and every single one fantastic – (that doesn’t include the multiple extra laps of the Kinlochleven Loop)

The venue

MacDonald Hotel & Cabins Fort William Road, Kinlochleven, Highlands, Scotland, PH50 4QL Tel – 01855 831539 WebMacDonald Hotel and Cabins

Why don’t I live in Wales?

September 1st, 2014

Sat at work this morning, day-dreaming about my recent weekend’s escapades and the thought cropped up – I do wonder why I’ve not relocated to Wales.

Okay, most of my clients have their headquarters in the South East, but they have sites that I monitor all over the country. I spend half my life on the road anyway, so why not start the journey from somewhere greener, leafier and quieter than the congested tangle of suburban nightmare that is the current Chateau Scull and its environs?

Snowdonia, Wales

More to the point, wouldn’t it be great to live where all the roads are fast and twisty and involving and – compared with Sussex, Surrey and Kent – utterly empty.

I can see me living in Wales.

Dex

A sad end to a week of racing, and a tragic end to a life

August 29th, 2014

“The Manx Motor Cycle Club regrets to announce that Gary Firth from Barnsley in Yorkshire was killed during today’s Senior Manx Grand Prix on the Isle of Man.

The incident occurred at the 11th Milestone on the Mountain Course, at approximately 1.45pm. The race was immediately red flagged.

Firth, 50, a newcomer to racing on the Mountain Course, finished 34th in the Newcomers A Race earlier in the week and had recorded his fastest lap of 102.282mph earlier in today’s race.

The Manx Motor Cycle Club wish to pass on their deepest sympathy to Gary’s family and friends.

The Coroner of Inquests has been informed and an investigation into the circumstances of the accident is underway.”

Gary Firth

The above statement is an awfully familiar one to those of us involved in road racing. Often those these statements refer to are friends, acquaintances, and colleagues, and somehow even if not directly known to us their passing affects us deeply.

With Paul Dobbs’s death @ Ballagarey a few years ago we saw his wife courageously support both his decision to pursue his love of racing, and accept his tragic loss with a magnanimity that humbled all of us.

I can only hope that Gary’s family and close friends are similarly able to achieve such serenity in the loss of their over one.

All the best

Jim

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