Nice ride on Sunday with a good friend of mine. Made a change to ride without having a purpose other than enjoying the ride itself. Too often, over the past three-months I’ve ridden to work and back; yes, these rides are enjoyable, but to ride for no reason other than to ride brings back why we ride in the first place!
Sunday was a gorgeous morning. Dry and bright with white fluffy clouds hiding a blue sky behind. We headed up the Fosse Way for a ride I’ve done before. All the way to Moreton In Marsh, turning right towards Oxford, arriving in Chipping Norton and bearing right for Burford and then first left to Bibury. Then Latton and back to our meeting point in Purton Stoke.
The roads were sublime; plenty of straights and bendy bends causing a few challenges. Rolling grass covered chalk hills of the Cotswolds saw us passing through pretty villages and valleys. Even with the speed limit set at 50mph in many places, this did not distract from the overall feeling of the ride.
Stopping only once in Bibury for a brief chat (we were using blue tooth headsets) and drink, we watched some tourists chuck stones at a dead trout floating upside down in the shallow river Coln.
Leaving a packed Bibury full of tourists and their coaches, we headed back home via Latton and Blunsdon. We had to use the dual carriageway in the end, but it was worth it.
A great familiar ride, made all the better of riding it purely for pleasure, and because we can!
No photos unfortunately as I forgot to take my phone with me!!
What a day it turned out to be! Popped down to the Divine Cafe on the A4 just outside of Calne, and it chucked it down! Hail! Thunder! Lightning! Heavy, heavy rain! Wouldn’t believe it’s August would you! Then the sun came out and the ride home was superb!
Still, cuppa tea stayed dry!
The only real down side to the rain was I washed the bike only yesterday! Now its bloody filthy! Again!!!
The ride home was nice though. Back up through some narrow lanes, covered in grass and gravel, to Hilmarton and Wootton Bassett!
Route, in case interested! Only a short ride, but it involved a morning of chat with the chaps from Wiltshire RoADAR!
Not what was expected eh? This was a family holiday to one of our favourite campsites, Mother Ivey’s Bay, near to Padstow for the Whitsun week saw us on our first run in our new, to us, camper van! Something we had been hankering after for a few years now, and now we have one!
Mother Ivey’s bay is just a few miles from Padstow – we try to avoid the town as it is always overrun with tourists which is a great shame.
However, not visiting Padstow didn’t stop us from having a great time.
We popped down to Bedruthen steps for the first time, and the scenery blew our minds! Couldn’t believe how nice it was here; we’ve been coming here for 30 years or more and never once visited.
The sea on Constantine beach started off cold. By Thursday, the sea had gotten bloody cold! But, we (Richard and me) still went in wearing wet suits of course. Booby’s bay, just around the corner to Constantine, is one of my all time favourite beaches in the world. It has everything including loads of rock pools, surf and often a world class sunset! No coral or really pretty fish like in the Maldives, but nonetheless, a magical place to spend time.
On our way home, we stopped off at Dr Marten’s house in Port Isaac which, in my opinion, is a much prettier Cornwall town than what Padstow has to offer.
And slightly further up the coast we stopped at Boscastle for a cuppa tea before the final drive home.
Its a shame a great week has to come to an end. But, I guess that is what makes holidays special – you get chance to spend time with your family doing fun things together. Which we do at weekends of course, but a whole week or two is even better!
The Tiger is in for it’s 6,000 mile service, and I was provided a courtesy bike in the form of a Triumph Street Triple 675, 2016 model.
Its tiny compared to the Tiger. But, although short in stature, it seems to be “large” on character. From the picture it is hard to tell the size of it.
Anyway, so far, I have ridden it all of 10 miles and I must admit, there is a large grin on my face.
The riding position makes me lean slightly forward, like a racing bike. The pegs are at a “funny” angle to what I am used to, slightly tipped forward which is a little awkward. Cornering is a lot of fun! It turns so easily and nimbly.
Would I buy one? Yes, but only for hooning about at weekends, and for short commutes to work. It is great fun though, and good for filtering through traffic being a lot narrower than the Tiger. Would it get to the Alps? Probably, but I think I would be hurting when I got there!
However, it was bloody good fun!
I took it to work and back today. Up the A419, into Cirencester, along the A453 (back road) to Cheltenham.
On the A419, I could feel the wind hitting me at 70mph. This bike is definitely more at home on the ‘A’ roads where it can be chucked into corners. And it likes being thrown into tight bends! Got to work and I had a big smile on my face!!! Couldn’t wait to ride home again!!
It was a very hard and firm ride; I felt every bump. I hadn’t realised there were so many drain covers in Cheltenham – live and learn I suppose.
I got the Tiger back this evening and it was like sitting in an armchair! I’m definitely built more for comfort these days!
Not often this happens, if ever, but it’s true! Tiger sandwich of the Triumph variety!
Leading this month’s Wiltshire RoADAR ride was a Tiger 800 XRx; (me) and bringing up the rear was a Tiger 1050 ridden by Les – both, confusingly, the same colour. Using the drop off system we departed Marlborough promptly at 9.30 only 15 minutes late. Les, on the 1050 Tiger, reckoned the rain would miss us as it was going across country – well Les was bloody wrong! Both ways!!
Our route followed the road to Pewsey, Amesbury, along the A303 towards Shaftsbury, Cann Common and zig-zag hill, Blandford, Wareham, Corfe and finally Swanage.
The idea of these rides is not to be a training session, but a social one. Friends riding out for the sheer fun and pleasure. Oh, yes, and some chips too!
Ascending zig-zag hill and stopping after an hour and half riding at Cann Common airfield for a well deserved tea/coffee/cake/bacon or sausage sandwich, we observed two brave souls do a wing walk on an old bi-plane! Crackers, both of them!
Thoroughly refreshed, we headed onto Swanage. Corfe castle eventually looming up from nowhere, I couldn’t help but ponder how on earth the walls stayed up in high winds when it dawned on me they don’t; Corfe Castle is a ruin! Funny the things you think about when riding isn’t it! I can get quite argumentative with myself sometimes.
Pootling on to the sea front we parked up ready now for our fish’n’chip lunch. What on earth was that pirate doing? Remember, what goes on tour stays on tour!
Wandering around Swanage, had our final cuppa tea for the day, adjacent to the tourist info office. Six bikers chewing the fat, having a bit of banter and generally laughing the day away sat in the sunshine! What could be better?
Leaving Swanage for our homeward bound journey, we ambled along the road to Studland – yes, we all claimed to be from around here! The ferry cost us a quid each to get to Poole and Bournemouth. Following our noses we took the road to Salisbury, Marlborough then home again.
What a cracking day it was. Sunshine, rain, sunshine, rain, tea, fish’n’chips and great time with some great blokes!
200 miles all told; 6 hours riding time. I got home around 6.30pm in time for tea – perfect!!
Sally bought me a new Stealth2 helmet camera for my recent birthday! Which means I’ve been out playing with it and learning how it works – as you would expect from an engineer? I may even read the instructions one day, but I am a typical bloke after all so probably won’t!
On Easter Monday, we went for a spin – and Sally rode pillion with me which was great. The video of this is below. You can’t see Sally but nonetheless it was a nice ride with just the two of us.
The first video was shot at 30 frames per second; so, the one below (my ride to work) was shot at 120 frames per second, which should improve the overall quality.
I have used Microsoft Movie Maker which accounts for the lack of professionalism!! But, learning all the time!!
When you think of bikers I bet, if over a certain age, the image of Easy Rider on Harley Davidsons springs to mind or, hairy blokes wearing denim jackets, club logos emblazoned on the back, leather jeans and racing loudly around stopping only to eat raw steak, drink snakebite and vodka! Those of a younger age might imagine Charley and Ewan in the Long Way Round; but whatever age you are, I bet you don’t imagine bikers drinking Earl Grey tea and eating chicken with a Cesar salad (ok, this was asked for in hushed tones!). Well, surprise surprise, the latter is what you get with the modern biker. Ok, some of us may be hairy, we do wear jackets with the Wiltshire RoADAR www.wiltshireroadar.co.uk logo on the back though not compulsory, and we do all wear protective clothing.
Recently we took on a genteel ride starting at Sally Pussey’s pub (yes, we still snigger at this too) in Royal Wootton Bassett; heading down to Chippenham to pick up four more bikers via Brinkworth; then to Cheddar Gorge en-route to Weston Super Mare. Eight bikers all told; all on big bikes (Triumph being the most prevalent – just saying). We did return via the M5 and M4 to get home in time for the rugby – well done the French and Irish! Come on, we must be nice to these guys if we want a good deal after Brexit!
Our first stop for coffee was at New Manor Farm Shop at West Harptree on the Wells Road south of Bath. Hot chocolate topped with cream and marshmallows and a flake! Crikey! Just what I needed – trouble is, no time for a snooze as we sped on our way in blustery gales through sleepy Cheddar gorge to Weston Super Mare.
Dropping into Cheddar it was hard not to admire the ancient rocks of the gorge which was formed from the melting ice age waters either side of us, almost, it seems, within touching distance. Not just us but many walkers were also out. We made our way slowly through this bustling little village following signs to Weston.
At Weston the tide was out as it nearly always seems to be but we arrived in time for lunch – talk about coincidence! Fish’n’chips! And, guess where the motorbike parking was? Right opposite Winston’s! First time a town planner has got this right!
This was a nice ride covering some 180 miles all told. The roads varied greatly in terms of size and condition. As did the weather! Wet and windy at times. Mild at others.
Last year, I presented a programme on Swindon 105.5 titled “Driving after a stroke” and my guest was Eddie Ruskin. Eddie suffered a double stroke at the age of 46, yet he has since made an incredible comeback, though not perfect. He became a Gold standard Advanced Driver within a year of his strokes; went onto becoming a Tutor (his first tutee obtained a Gold pass in her test); and also a top notch observer/instructor with the IAM group! I met Eddie at the Wiltshire RoADAR group where we have since become good friends.
As a follow up, I thought it would be a great idea to go and see Eddie at work.
Thursday morning I thought would be a good day to pop along and see Eddie at his business unit just outside Chipping Sodbury. I had to get to Chipping Sodbury and home again via a decent route which means avoiding the motorway at all costs. See even visiting a mate I need to find an interesting route.
Eddie’s company, Dynamic Mouldings Ltd (their logo is on these blog and web pages) has gone from strength to strength making fibre glass mouldings that are challenging to say the least. When others can’t, Eddie can. And he only has the use of one side of his body – an after effect of the strokes.
Housed in a small industrial unit off the A432 near Frampton Cotterell, Eddie is joined by his business partner, Robin Jenkins. Eddie showed me a photo of a motorbike project that they are currently working on for the Discovery channel – I’ve seen the design and it looks fantastic, but I won’t show it here! The motorbike as a work in progress piece is to the right of the picture above and will be complete in the next 10 days or so – hard to believe that’s for sure! Everything is crafted by hand to incredible detail and accuracy. Old fashioned engineering and true craftsman ship at its finest.
I have to say coming from an electronics manufacturing background, I am more used to seeing a tidier workplace! But, working in fibreglass is a dusty old business and yes, it gets messy. The team do have plenty of projects on the go and when one is being painted at another unit down the road, they get on with the next project. Some projects, like the one below, take several years to complete.
Some projects, such as a dashboard only Eddie and Robin can get right. It took three attempts to achieve this mould which has been used several times to provide the client with new dashboards.
Ok, so where does the pot noodle engineering come into it? Rather than paying for expensive tins and bottles, the team uses old plastic containers. Could be yoghurt cartons, or pot noodle pots – anything to hold the fibre glass resin. The pot will be thrown away anyway so why not use something that has already been used. That’s good recycling sense!
Dynamic is a good word to use for Eddie. Dynamic by name (business) and dynamic by nature. I was certainly overwhelmed with the enthusiasm both Eddie and Robin have for what they do. My visit was a whirlwind of discovery looking at the variety of projects Dynamic Mouldings are working on – from ambulance ramps, birthing pools, wind mills, lorry panels, old cars to modern futuristic motorbikes. Made my workday look rather dull!
If there was ever a moral to noted this has to be the pick of one of the best. No matter what life throws at you, a double stroke in this case, just get back up and do what you enjoy doing. If you can’t do that, then find something else to enjoy. Just don’t let life get you down!
As an end note, it was a nice ride through via some of my favourite roads. Coming back via Castle Combe was different though so a new bit of the country explored too!
Total mileage around 78. Plenty of places to stop en-route for tea/coffee/cake.