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Old 07-28-2007, 12:42 PM   #91
MikeO OP
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Saturday 28th July 2007

It's not raining - for the first weekend since time began (at least, that's what it sometimes feels like). The Adv and I definitely need a bit of a day out. After doing various chores around the house - and putting off those that I should probably be doing as well - I get the bike out of the garage.



I've recently taken off the Z-Technik titanium exhaust system (in fact it currently languishes on eBay with ten watchers and no bids ) and re-fitted the standard catalytic converter, but - rather than use the stock silencer - fitted a stubby pipe I had made by a local firm that specialises in custom stainless exhaust systems.

The result is an exhaust note that is quieter than the Z-Technik (which is very quiet when newly packed, but 5k miles later is starting to get noisy again - the continual re-packing was a major factor in deciding to replace it, since I cover a fairly high annual mileage), and very unobtrusive. Above 50mph, the exhaust note is lost in the wind rush.

I set out towards Fakenham to begin with - once voted Britain's most boring town ...



The roads are quiet and I get Bettie to steer me via minor roads towards the north Norfolk coastline...



I'm soon entering some really narrow unclassified roads - there has been a lot of rain in the UK lately and, although Norfolk has avoided the terrible flooding that has hit some parts of the country, I regularly come across sand and silt on the road where streams of water have flooded off the fields.



Still, it's dry and bright today - and fairly warm - so I have the vents in my jacket undone...



I come across the pretty church of St Nicholas at Shereford. Christians have worshipped here for over a thousand years - there are parts of this church that date from 950AD...



There are about 175 of these Saxon round tower churches surviving from the medieval period in the UK.

I ride on, taking my time - it's too nice a day to hurry (plus I'm nursing my clutch - after 122k miles it's starting to show signs of wear and I want to wait until my new gearbox has been built before I replace it)...



I stop briefly to take a snap or two of the windmill at Bircham. It's now a tourist attraction, although it's apparently in working order. It was bloody windy today, but it was completely inactive...



I wander off into the maze of unclassified roads which criss-cross Norfolk - I've really no clear idea where I am...



But then, why do I need to know? It's a nice day, the bike's purring along (OK - purring might be a bit of poetic licence ), the roads are empty and all's well with the world.



I join the main tourist route, the A149, luckily heading in the opposite direction to the continual slow traffic jam of holidaymakers heading towards the beaches. Near the junction is Norfolk Lavender. Which specialises in selling lavender. That has been grown in Norfolk.

I stop in to the holiday village of Snettisham, to visit two (actually three) very good friends. I'm delighted to get a picture of the lovely Mandy (wide awake) Paul (apparently choosing the time I hit the button to start to doze off) and baby Elliot - who slept almost all through my visit.



I expect Paul will forgive me using this picture at some time in the next decade.

After a farewell - and a promise to meet up next week (we really don't see enough of one another and we're determined to put that right), I'm back on the bike, riding past the dinghy sailors in the quiet lagoon...



...and heading - by an equally circuitous route, back home. Bettie takes me down this fine avenue of trees...



...which ends at this rather splendid set of gates...



...which is the entrance to the Queen's estate at Sandringham.



I ride past a seemingly endless walled estate, before leaving royalty behind me and heading south east towards home.



At East Walton I stop to take a picture of a relic from a bygone era...



This Wheelwright's Oven was built in about 1850 and remained in use until 1940. It was used to fit metal 'tyres' onto wooden wagon wheels. The tyres would be heated in the oven, the wheel clamped down in the circular area in the foreground of the first pic, then the red hot tyre was brought out, fitted around the wheel and then doused in cold water, making it contract and ensuring a tight fit.

Personally, I'm really glad they invented Tourances - fitting them seems a good deal simpler.



I eventually rejoin the A47 and get home after some four hours away. Not an epic trip - but not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon...

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Old 07-28-2007, 03:49 PM   #92
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Outstanding as usual mike

Thanks for taking us along around your corner of the world, your pictures and writing make it feel like we're right there with you.

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Old 07-28-2007, 05:25 PM   #93
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Bravo!

Your report truly captured the essence of a meandering Saturday arvo ride through the lanes of England.

Superb!

Rgds from OZ.
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Old 09-30-2007, 09:48 AM   #94
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Bettie's cousin Egbert arrives...

Sunday 30th September 2007

It's a beautiful morning, with just a bit of high cirrus marking a perfect blue sky. As I step outside, however, there's no mistaking the fact that we're in the first week of Autumn - there's a sharpness to the temperature that has me (very wisely) reaching for a fleece to put under my jacket.

I get the Adv out of the garage...



Bettie (my GPS) has just undergone a facelift - those nice people at Garmin recently replaced the unit with a new one when - for the second time - the screen coating de-laminated. But Bettie has some company today...



...in the shape of her cousin Egbert, the GiSTEQ GPS tracker. More about him later...



I'm breakfasted, booted & suited and on the road for 0900, following my shadow west on a cool crisp morning...



I stop briefly at a lay-by overlooking RAF Marham, my last posting before leaving the RAF in 2003...



As is normal on a Sunday, it's completely silent. There are four Tornado squadrons based here - but they are spending more and more time deployed abroad, as the RAF grows smaller and their theatre of operations gets ever wider...



I spot this old gent - an immaculately restored 1962 Bedford Duple Super Vega (no - I'm not that much of an anorak - it said so in a sign on the back ). It's probably on its way out to a rally somewhere...



I turn left at Nordelph and make my (fairly rapid) way along a series of fen roads and then enter the village of Welney, home to my friends Paul & Mandy - so I drop in to blag a cuppa...



Paul's out shifting up some furniture with a mate - so Mandy gets to show Elliott off to me. I'm left wondering what happened to the other baby they had - the small one, also called Elliott, I saw them with at the end of July...

Sufficiently warmed after a good strong cup of tea, I set off again towards Cambridgeshire...



The land around here is largely reclaimed and is as flat as a desktop. If you stood on your footpegs here, you can probably see three counties...



The fen roads are always a work in progress. Because the water table is so high, you cannot build a strong foundation for a decent road. This, newly re-surfaced, road is great, but by the time it has been through a couple of seasons, with the sub-strate drying out and shifting, it will be back to the undulating surface it had before the work was done...



The roads tend to run alongside the drainage ditches and are often straight for miles on end...



Of course there will be the odd slow moving tractor - just to make sure you're concentrating...



...to say nothing of the occasional low bridge...



HOW low?

Yes - that's right - Seven feet. And yes - I did duck...



I stop in the small village of Doddington, to take a quick snap of the clock-tower there. Erected in 1897 to commemorate the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria’s reign, it apparently cost just £90.

Onward...



The Salvation Army are out distributing leaflets in Whittlesey - this soldier seems to have been wounded in action.

I head north towards the A47 and come into the picturesque little village of Thorney...



...where the parish church of St. Mary and St. Botolph sits atop the site of an abbey founded in 1108. I get there at 1151.

I turn right along the main road through the village. Thorney campaigned for years to get a by-pass to stop heavy traffic thundering through the village 24hrs a day. It was completed a couple of years ago and the whole place is now quiet and peaceful...



There's a classic car dealer on the High Street who always has interesting stuff out the front - any guesses anyone?



I head east down what was until recently the A47 - it's a pretty village, with houses built mainly from a honey-coloured sandstone...



...but there are reminders of the main road here - the village is dotted with speed cameras.

I get back onto the A47 and start heading home. The good weather has brought the traffic out...



...and overtaking opportunities - even on a bike - are few and far between. At Walton Highway...



...I stop at a Little Chef for a coffee and...



...a surprisingly good tuna mayonnaise baked spud.

Sufficiently warmed, I get back on the road and continue east towards home...



...turning off down some of the tiny back lanes around Beeston to see if Mike & Caroline (Boxertools & Mrs Tools) are in - alas they are away in Gibraltar...



Passing the immaculately cared for memorial to the 392nd Bombardment Group, I notice that the Stars & Stripes seems to be missing from its flagpole...

I get home just after 13:30 and get to work cleaning the insect collection from my helmet...



There are a lot of dead bugs for a cool day. The bike...



...will have to wait until later this week - I have plans for it on Tuesday...

Now - remember Egbert? Well, he's a GPS logger, produced by a company called GiSTEQ. I switched the unit on and put it in the top pocket of my jacket this morning. I now plug it in to my PC and it downloads a route. Nothing too clever so far. The clever bit comes with the software it comes with. I upload my pictures from my digital camera and Egbert works out exactly where I was when I took each one. The lat/long and altitude are written onto the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) file on the pic.

So, linking the ride to Google Earth, I'm given a clear picture of my route...



...from my home to Paul & Mandy's house...



...from Welney to the Little Chef at Walton Highway...



...and from there back home. On my PC, I hover the mouse over any of the markers and I get a thumbnail sized pic and its time, date & location details. This is the first time I've really used it in anger, so there may be a way of getting it to record the complete trip on one map, but its default is to break the trip up if you've been stationary for longer than a given time. The whole shebang cost about $100, and I'm pretty impressed thus far...

Anyway, not a bad way to spend a few hours on a sunny fall day - how many more will there be this year?



Note to self - Get out and ride more
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Old 09-30-2007, 03:08 PM   #95
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Another great one.

That GPS thingy sounds great.
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Old 09-30-2007, 03:19 PM   #96
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I think that the car is an Austin Cambridge
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Old 09-30-2007, 03:56 PM   #97
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It's great to see you back on the road again.. your trip to France was fantastic!! Thanks for the latest installment...

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Old 09-30-2007, 04:33 PM   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UK_Engineer
I think that the car is an Austin Cambridge
I thought some sort of Hillman (maybe a Minx), but I'm really not up on 50's Brit cars.
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Old 09-30-2007, 05:08 PM   #99
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Welcome to the world of MikeO, Egbert!

(Nice report... have fun on Tuesday!)
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Old 09-30-2007, 08:19 PM   #100
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Mike, two years ago my friend linked me to your first ride report in America and today I just got my motorcycle endorsement for my license. Thanks for opening up a whole new world of travel for me that I didn't even know existed before.

Maybe I'll meet you on the road to Patagonia some day.
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Old 09-30-2007, 10:15 PM   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RatBob
Quote:
Originally Posted by UK_Engineer
I think that the car is an Austin Cambridge
I thought some sort of Hillman (maybe a Minx), but I'm really not up on 50's Brit cars.
Close UK_E - Morris Oxford, according to the badges - there were two of them there, although I know the Cambridge shared the same body shell - the registration suggests they were built in 1962/63...

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Old 09-30-2007, 10:16 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by Hellfish6
Mike, two years ago my friend linked me to your first ride report in America and today I just got my motorcycle endorsement for my license. Thanks for opening up a whole new world of travel for me that I didn't even know existed before.
Blimey...

Mike
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Old 09-30-2007, 10:42 PM   #103
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I just started reading your ride reports MikeO... Love your sense of humour

Quote:
Suddenly the bling of my chrome bezel seems to be eclipsed…

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Old 10-01-2007, 06:15 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by MikeO
Close UK_E - Morris Oxford, according to the badges - there were two of them there, although I know the Cambridge shared the same body shell - the registration suggests they were built in 1962/63...

Had to be one or the other - just about identical apart from the badge - lots of them on the road when I was child.
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Old 10-17-2007, 02:24 PM   #105
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Dark mornings, warm tyres, Typhoons and finding the line...

Tuesday 2nd October 2007

The alarm goes off early - very early. No matter - it doesn't herald the start of another work day, so it's no effort to throw off the covers and bound out of bed. I then have a bit of a sit down to remind myself that, at my age, bounding should be kept to a minimum.

I'm soon abluted and kitted up, getting the Adv out of the garage where it has been for a couple of days - curious possibly about the amount of care suddenly lavished upon its tyre pressures and fluid levels...



I start up and immediately ride away - I like to keep on good terms with all my neighbours and even though - as we shall later discover - the Adv only produces 94dB, I feel it's only polite to keep the noise to a minimum.

I set off west along the A47 - travelling in my own little cocoon of light in the night...



As I approach Kings Lynn and join the A17, I come across some light traffic - almost exclusively trucks just starting their day and cars with a collection of foreign number plates - Latvians, Poles, Lithuanians - migrant workers about to start their shift in the fields picking vegetables for a slumbering Britain...



It starts to get light as I head off north towards Boston...



...and the sun comes up on my right hand side as I enter the Lincolnshire Wolds. At about 0730 I arrive at...



...Cadwell Park race circuit.

I'm early, but I'm soon joined by more riders, including...



...Martin Hopp, who is running the track day here. Martin arrives on the bike that BMW built just to make the GS look pretty - the R1200ST.

I've known Martin for a few years, since he was Chief Observer at Fenland Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists (IAM) and I started examining candidates in the area. Martin has now left the IAM, but has not left motorcycle training and arranges a number of courses, at tracks and elsewhere, designed to improve road riding. To this end, this is not a track day in the normal sense of the word - there will be no racing or indiscriminate overtaking, but rather a concentration on good, smooth riding techniques with instruction on how to find the best line around the course and to develop machine skills in a controlled environment. As an utterly non-competitive rider (I can't take people who need to race seriously) this is the only type of track day I would consider going on. A lucky (for me) coincidence of having a free day today and another GSClubUK rider being unable to attend means that I'm a very late joiner.

Nevertheless, I'm impressed to see that the admin is up to speed and that my name is on the (extensive) list (there must be almost 100 riders here) and I note I'm in the 'B' group. Riders are (largely self assessed) put into A, B or C category. A Cat riders are very experienced at the circuit and have probably attended at least half a dozen of Martin's instructional days. C Cats are first timers or those with little riding experience - my category encompasses all the others...



First things first - we line up and let the scrutineers test the noise level of each bike. After having a probe shoved up the Adv's bum, it is declared legal at 94dB, and given a sticker to prove it...



Stickers are a big part of today. I normally keep my bike completely free of them, but today I'm going to have to make an exception. I get a number...



I get another sticker showing which group I'm in (amber triangle)...



Looks like turning up early was a good plan...



What? ANOTHER number?



Can't remember what that one was for - never mind - time for a spot of breakfast...



I am reliably informed that all the top track riders start their day with a latte and a bacon roll.

Or something like that.



Soon it's time for a very comprehensive safety brief. Attendance is mandatory and - as expected - is marked by the issue of another sticker. The bike's full so I stick it to the face of my watch...



Almost forgot - my other wrist is sporting what looks disturbingly like a hospital ID bracelet...



Soon the brief is over and the A Cat riders start taking their place in the paddock. They are sub-categorised by speed, with the fastest being on the left of this picture and the slightly more sane on the right.



Each sub-group has a dedicated instructor who individually briefs the riders on what is going to happen in the first session - 6 laps of the course.



It's a short course, with plenty of vertical displacement as well as some interesting curves. The A cat chaps and girls set off and I wander about the B cat paddock to see quite how out of place the Adv is going to look.



There is an eclectic mix. As expected there are a lot of oriental crotch rockets - some with undamaged plastics...



But there is the occasional surprise - I believe this Silver Wing rider was pondering what idiot brought a GS to a track day...

Pretty soon we're ready for the first session. My instructor briefs us as a group - the brief is - basically - "Follow me exactly" - if we're doing it right, he should only be able to see a single bike in his mirrors.



We set off and are introduced to Cadwell Park - there is a cone placed on the grass at the turn in point and the apex of every curve. The trick is, of course, to look at these in the periphery of your vision and to be straining your neck to see the one which is just out of sight.

After six laps I wonder what the bloody hell I'm doing here. I've scraped some serious metal off both footpegs and both sides of my centre-stand. If we are going to lap much quicker than this, I'm not going to be well placed...

When the group re-convenes after the de-brief it is apparent that the instructors think there are too many riders in each element and want to form a fifth sub-group. They ask for volunteers and (no doubt to the relief of the other members of my sub-group) I put my hand up.

Well, the five of us who volunteer strike gold - Martin Hopp is taking this group. The second trip around the circuit is completely different - I feel that I'm quicker, but I'm definitely not leaving some much of my Fastways on each curve...



On the third session we each take a turn in front. Whereas I've been sitting behind thus far, fat dumb & happy - it is suddenly pointed out to me quite how complacent I've been. Judging my cornering speed by following the bike in front rather than calculating it myself - I run very wide on a couple of corners and reach the paddock for a de-brief feeling somewhat chastened by the experience...



Still - misery loves company - the guy on the R1 was bloody awful...

Gradually we're given more freedom and our lap times improve (although I never checked mine). There is a lunch break, followed by another safety brief and (natch) another sticker. It's difficult to see the time using my watch now.

We're allowed out in groups solo now, although I stick with an R1200RT rider who was clearly feeling a little under-confident for a while. The resident photographer, Keith Martin (who owns the copyright on all the photos of me on the track) captures me working a little harder...



At the top of the Mountain, the suspension is unloaded and the front wheel a little light...



...but at this point my concentration is on the next entry point. This is not true of all participants...



Never mind - keep plugging away at finding the line...



No - that's not it...



Return to the Paddock to discuss - repeat...



Hmmm - closer...



...at least I seem to be getting value for all the tread on my tyres...



On the last session of the afternoon, I'm almost on my own. Many of the married chaps have had to take off to look after progeny and a few of us are left to the circuit. I notice the Silver Wing about five or six seconds ahead of me...



...and decide (in a completely non-competitive way) to see if I can gain some ground on him during the final four laps. I work hard...



...in fact, I don't think I could have cornered the Adv faster or more smoothly...



...but I can't make a dent in his lead - he's riding the wheels off that scooter...



Eventually, the session is over and I follow him into the Paddock. I guess I can take some consolation in the fact that - compared to the R1200S rider we both overtook - we've probably had a pretty good day.

I say farewell to Martin - but I know I'll be seeing him here again next year - I will become addicted to this...

I head back south towards the A17 - overtaken by Jon Taylor - my IAM Area Examiner...



...and later on, by a few more players...



As I approach the village of Coningsby - my ears - despite my plugs - are assaulted by the roar of jet engines...



I take my place amongst "those who have no life"...



...although I'm the only one here at the moment...



...and watch a couple of Typhoons in the circuit...



Call me jingoistic - this makes me proud to be British. Just imagine strafing a train with one of these things...



I continue east - I have a Spanish evening class to arrend tonight and I may just make it.

Actually - no.

I feel too dehydrated and hungry. I decide to stop at a Little Chef and have a salad and a coffee. I feel much better after something to eat and drink, despite the fact that it makes me 15 mins late for my class.



Parking is hard.

I arrive at my Spanish class at 1915 - Lo siento, estoy atrasado

Track Day - £90
Fuel - £55
Getting re-introduced to your love of motorcycling - priceless



There are some things money can't buy.

For everything else, there's Mastercard...

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