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Peter Genet

Gentleman Biker of Cricklade

Tutoring again – telling associate to speed up!!

What a great day that was! Spent it tutoring one of the guys from RoSPA. Really nice chap and enthusiastic about his riding too.

Took him down to the Divine Cafe, a favourite Wiltshire RoADAR meeting point, via Royal Wootton Bassett and Avebury, then back along to Marlborough and to the Triumph showroom in Swindon for another cuppa tea.  Only around 60 miles all told, but we stopped often and chatted about bikes, his riding and so on.

Major points – he is a really good rider, corners well and at appropriate speed too. Makes it difficult for me to really provide useful advice, however, no such thing as a perfect ride. So, couple of points I picked up on were making sure there was sufficient safety margin between him and oncoming traffic, and to speed up! Yes, speed up!!  Being told to speed up is not what he expected to be told. He missed the national speed limit down to Avebury and thought it was a 50mph zone!   That little error would have knocked his grade down from Gold to Silver had this been the actual RoSPA test!

The point is though to ride at the appropriate speed according to the road, traffic and weather conditions. 50mph was too slow in this instance. If it had been wet, raining, muddy, then 50mph would have been appropriate.

Live and learn!

 

Sally rode pillion on the Tiger!

Wow! Ok, she had little choice to be honest as our car is being repaired this week – all week! Ouch, that’s going to be expensive.

Anyway, seems she really enjoyed it! Fresh air coming in was the best. It was dark and a bit wet out, but….Got me thinking about the next bike; sticking with Triumph (of course!)

Next bike perhaps?
Next bike perhaps?

 

Riding with pillion reminded me of how much extra care I need to take. Extra time to brake; even more care when accelerating – don’t want to jolt her around; looking further ahead to make the ride as smooth as possible. And the pre-ride pep talk – lean with the rider, don’t lean the opposite way as this makes it really hard to control; hold onto the grab rails or me; tap me once to turn left, twice for right, and many times to stop!

But, she enjoyed it, and so did I!

Riding in the dark was good too. The Tiger’s lights work really well compared to other bikes I have seen. The road was a bit damp and there was some mud about, but with traction control this proved no issue at all.

Can’t wait now for lighter evenings and dry days to get out again, perhaps for a whole day!

 

 

Good morning tutoring!

Nice day – ish! Spent the morning tutoring a good friend of mine who is just getting back into riding a motorbike! He’s been off them for many years now. He used to race them in his younger days so its been a bit daunting for me in many ways!

Using 2-way radio, I was able to provide advice on road positioning, moving out for hazards, watching speed, getting rid of old habits and looking out for overtake opportunities. We went up the Fosse Way but turned off at Stow-on-the-Wold as we headed towards Evesham.

This was our fourth ride and its really good to see the progress he is making. From being extremely nervous to having the confidence to lead me through towns and Cotswold villages at the appropriate speed – though I still paid for the coffees!

Using the intercom is good as it allows us to chat and talk about all things roady. Bit nerdy I guess!

From Evesham we headed back to the M5 for a brief stint getting off at the Cheltenham/Cirencester junction to head back along the A419 to Cricklade.  A good collection of roads, A, B, dual and Motorways.

We covered around 100 miles over a period of three hours. Great ride in some fantastic Cotswold scenery even in mid-February!

Blowing away the cobwebs up the Fosse way!

Blimey, what a nice day today turned out to be. Sat indoors all morning and around midday, sun was out with clear blue sky, so what the hell, thought I’d go for a spin. First long-ish ride of the year. Just got back home and now its turning a bit dark and cloudy again.

Headed up to the Fosse Way all the way to Morton in Marsh. Turning right towards Oxford along the A44, and once at Chipping Norton, headed to Burford, Lechlade and home again to Cricklade.

What great riding! Long sweeping bends. Some tricky ones too in places. Sun was a bit low in the sky which made riding home a bit more interesting.

I’ve just notched this particular route up as one of my favourites, though a bit more exploring of the side roads is beckoning next time. And the really good thing is, there seemed to be plenty of stopping places for the obligatory coffee/tea break too!

Looking forward to doing it again once the weather warms up a bit. Hands got a bit nippy towards the end which makes typing this a bit tricky.

But, what great scenery we have. All around us are these fantastic views of rolling chalk hills – after all that is what the Cotswold hills are.

It didn’t take anywhere near as long as it suggests in the map above. Just over an hour; maybe an hour and a half perhaps. But mileage was spot on!  Happy days are here again!

Tanzania, I presume!

Popped to Dar Es Salaam for a week to help out with some solar power lighting installations in houses in a remote village, Mkoko, at least 2.5 hours drive from Dar Es Salaam.  And why not?

Note also, that Dar Es Salaam is not the capital – Dodoma is! I learnt that too!

Tanzania is a large east African country, known for its vast wilderness areas. Sitting directly below Kenya, it plays second fiddle in terms of tourism popularity to its neighbour. Which is a shame to be honest. But, not for much longer from what I saw and heard.

Interestingly, the Omani Arabs founded their African slave trade business in Tanzania way back in 1699, where some 1.4million peoples were enslaved over the years, in a town just north of Dar Es Salaam. Also, Bagamoyo ,another town  laying north of Dar Es Salaam, was where Dr David Livingstone was buried for four days!

Our first day, after travelling for more than 24 hours, saw us frequent the popular Samaki Samaki bar – sounds like Smacky Smacky – which is a fish bar (honest!).

Enough of that, I was there to help install solar powered lighting and TV systems into a remote village, Mkoko, see map of rough location.

 

En route to the village of Mkoko, we passed by many mud huts with both tin and thatched roofs. Surprisingly, these mud huts last for many years and do not wash away in the rains that frequent this area.

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The important work we were there for was to install solar power lighting into the houses.

Very hot tin roof - cable melted!
Very hot tin roof – cable melted!

And a very happy customer once we had completed! Yes, he was even happier when Jeff gave him his shirt of his back!

Happy customer!
Happy customer!

Unfortnately, we couldn’t stay around for darkness to see the lights working. The road out was a rough dirt road which we needed to see in daylight. Shame to be honest, as the lights made a lot of difference to the inside of the house.

The locals were friendly enough and happy to pose for some insane Brit taking pictures!

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Ok, I didn’t get to ride in Africa, but sat on a bike anyway!!

One day I will take a Tiger to Africa!
One day I will take a Tiger to Africa!

End of a long few days, decided to stop off at another bar, Karibu Sand, adjacent to the Indian Ocean, for a beer!  Jeff and Robin gulping down just the one – this time!

At the Karibu Sands Bar - for just the one!
At the Karibu Sands Bar – for just the one!

Was our trip successful? Yes and no. We learnt a lot that’s for sure. And these lessons will be put into practice for the next time. No – we didn’t install anywhere as near as many systems as we would have hoped. But, hey, that’s the way these things go. Africa is a hard place to work; its unforgiving when things go wrong; best be prepared next time.

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Errrrr....Brits abroad!!!
Errrrr….Brits abroad!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As an aside, I did watch the latest Ghostbusters film on the way home, and I have to ask the question “Why?” Not why did I watch it, although I have since asked myself that, but simply “Why?”. What was the point? It was dreadful!

Overall impressions of Tanzania. All though only there for a short while, and saw only a small part of it, I have to say it has a lot of potential. Once the locals realise what they have and stop spoiling it with chucking away their waste that is!

Looking forwards to the next trip!

Chip run to Swanage – and why not?

Long way to go for a plate of chips I know, but………!

Leaving Cricklade in slightly damp conditions we went via Marlborough, a market town in Wiltshire and home to St John’s public school. The name Marlborough reputedly comes from Merlin’s Barrow – referencing Silbury Hill nearby which is rumoured to be Merlin’s resting place. Or, does the name derive from the Medieval term for chalky ground “Marl” – town on chalk. Luckily for us, the annual event of the Marlborough Mop has been and gone which means riding through the town is much easier for us!

Rather than going via Salisbury which is a our usual route, we went via Pewsey along some wonderful winding country lanes and back roads full of character; not too challenging to maintain a good speed. Not too slow nor too fast. The picturesque vale of Pewsey passes us by without incident. My wife and I plan to come back here to do some camping and walking as this is an area we do not know! Why don’t we know it? Its so nice here I can’t believe we go abroad to visit places when we have so much on our doorstep, literally.

Next up is Amesbury on the A354; then turning right onto the A303, from a slightly confusing roundabout, where we rode along for quite a stretch as it turned out. Passing some old ancient standing stones I believe called Stonehenge (I hate to say it, but I know they are old and important, but,  I do find them slightly underwhelming)  before eventually turning left to Shaftsbury and Gillingham. I have to admit stopping to check the map as I thought perhaps I had gone wrong.

Then onto Blandford Forum and Wareham. Following signs to Poole before seeing signs for Wareham. This route is rather familiar – stopping again along what I call the straight switchback road for its many undulations and obvious straightness, to clean my visor from all those bugs and bird poo!

Couple of tricky turns to negotiate and eventually, passing Wareham, I see signs for Swanage and Corfe!

Corfe Castle – the now ruined 11th Century castle built by William the Conqueror, stands at the gateway to the Isle of Purbeck, and hauntingly looms up at you as you approach along the A351. The history of Corfe is suggested to date back some 6,000 years with ancient burial mounds surrounding the castle. Corfe is derived from the Saxon word “gap”.

Yet all this history whizzes by in a noisy blur as we sped onto Swanage.

Swanage at last! A coastal town at the edge of the Isle of Purbeck. Somewhere we used to come often but not for a few years now. We once had a great evening watching an outdoor performance of Arabian Nights over at Kimmeridge Bay.

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Looking along the sea front

Nearby lay the beach of Studland if you fancy getting fresh air around your bits and pieces! Old Harry Rocks sit in the bay east of Studland and northeast of Swanage. There is a lot of history in the area with the town being mentioned way back in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle 877AD. Swanage also lay at the end of section of coastline known as the “Jurassic Coast” famous for its many prehistoric rock formations covering some 180,000,000 years!

Swanage itself is a small-ish town popular with divers and tourists alike – and now motorcyclists looking for some decent chips for lunch! How times have changed! Surprisingly busy for mid-October, but it was a nice clear day in the end.

On the way down I was looking forward to some chips and a coffee. Once I’d got there and smelled the food frying, you know what, I couldn’t face it! So, after a brief stop, I decided upon the return route home.

Studland and the Sandbanks Ferry which was £1 for a motorbike! No, didn’t stop to air my bits!

King Harry Ferry to Poole/Borenmouth
King Harry Ferry to Poole and Bournemouth

The ferry is quick and lands in Poole/Bournemouth. So, I followed signs to Bournemouth and the town centre.

Leaving Bournemouth was a tad slow; speed limits all over the place restrict good progress but they are there for a reason of course.

Following signs for Salisbury, then Marlbourgh brought us back through familiar roads such as those passing Tidworth and Savernake forest.

The opportunity for getting up to a constant speed along these roads is limited and you can get caught behind some slow drivers. But, going from Dorset to Wiltshire was rather nice. Lots of small villages with thatched roof cottages to admire – always think its best to buy the house opposite as that way you can admire the cottage! If you live in it, you don’t get to look at it really!!

Then, signs for Swindon and up and over the M4, along the A419 all the way home!

All in all a very nice day out. Total riding time around 5 hours or so. This was the first long run on the Tiger and you know what? It was fantastic. I did wear some ski-ing under-warmers to keep warm as these are less bulky than a sweatshirt and jeans. Worked a treat; stayed nice and toasty!

The Tiger was brilliant. Never missed a beat and I don’t think it wanted to stop. Plenty of fuel left in the tank for another 50 miles or so. It was me needing a cuppa tea that had to rein it in and call it a day.

Now it’s raining, so washing the bike will have to wait until another day 🙂

Total mileage – 201; 62mpg on average; 37mph average speed.

 

Holy bangers, I met Batman today!

Not often one can say that, but its true! This morning I chatted to Batman, aka Gary Franks, on Swindon 105.5 about his recent banger run of around 2,500 miles over 6 days to Lake Como in aid of “Help for Heroes”.

The banger run has been organised for the past few years to raise money for “Help for Heroes”, http://www.bangerrun.com/

This year, after completing the run, the Batmobile raised over £1,200 and still counting.

The funny thing is that Gary’s co-driver is called Robin! Coincidence I’m sure, but the Gotham-Twinning team did rather well despite being side swiped on the autoroute by a devil may care driver.

The route took them across France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and over the Alps to Lake Como on the Italian side.

The Alps proved to be interesting; many passes to cross including Stelvio amongst others. Not for the faint hearted these passes, but I must admit to being a tad envious – I want to go there!!! Now!!!

For more details of the trip and photos of the Batmobile and the other contestants, see the www.bangerrun.com as well as www.facebook.com/Gotham.Twinning

Kapow! For now!

 

Riding in the rain – and the dark!

Something I do enjoy doing I must admit, is riding in the rain, but riding home last night after my evening class was rather less “enjoyable”.

Coming back to Cricklade from Wroughton via Purton, the roads were poorly lit if at all. Muddy, leaves and rain, but having “Rain” mode on the Tiger meant the bike coped and was brilliant. Made me look like I knew how to ride 🙂 As well as having traction control and what could be the best lights on a motorbike, the ride home was not too bad.

Did I enjoy it? Hmmmm……..! Yes, probably! I still got off with a big grin on my face, but a knackered back from Tae Kwon Do!!!

Route below:

Pub talk – four pints and a laugh or two!

After a good evening of Tae Kwon Do I received a text from Richard suggesting beers were in order. Being a Friday evening, and watching the first part of Pale Rider (I enjoy the bit where Clint beats up those chaps with the hickory axe handle – don’t know why I enjoy that bit but I do) I headed down the pub.

Sitting in our local, the Red Lion of Cricklade, we talked about our children and their recent exam results and what they are up to now, and more obviously got round to talking motorbikes and some potential ride ideas.

  • Chip run to Swanage;
  • Spain via Plymouth to Santander;
  • weekender to Wales;
  • long weekend to France via the Chunnel.

After four pints of North Wall, I was feeling like the Tae Kwon Do session was slightly wasted in terms of making me fitter! But, the upshot is this coming Saturday the plan is to ride to Swanage for a plate of chips and ride home again!

Assuming Richard gets his leaky clutch fixed first!

 

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