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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake


BMW USA

April 3rd, 2008 by sunflowers

I really don’t want to ship a bike. It would cost about £500 shipping and another £500 to crate it (I am not really set up in inner London to crate my own bike). So I went on the US BMW site to find out if the new F650 was available in Anchorage. Only to find out that they aren’t going to do the new F650 in the US! I then wrote to BMW US to find out if they could do a special import of a F650 or when the F800 GS would be available (the website said available in autumn 08). BMW US wrote back a whole bunch of stuff about how difficult it was to import a bike into the US. I pointed that if I did import I wasn’t planning to stay in the US and asked again when the F800 GS would be available but apparently they had no details on the retail launch date.

As much as I want the bike, the retail price in the UK and the added cost of shipping makes it more than twice as expensive as buying a brand new Kawasaki KLR $US5,349 (£2,696 and is also out in red) compared to F650 GS £5,495 + £1000 shipping ($US12,882).

Posted in Motorcycling | No Comments »


Which Bike Part Two

April 2nd, 2008 by sunflowers

IAM at Bike Safe DayI have been trying to figure out which bike to take on my trip. After falling in love with my twin cylinder Kawasaki ER6f with her great torque I had been considering taking it. But I talked to my companies building manager who is also planning to do this trip and he said that you definitely need knobbly tires. Plus I thought I don’t want to arrive in Anchorage and struggle on the gravel roads at the start of the trip.

If I am going to go single cylinder I had been put off the enduro favourite bmw’s f650 by my own Tractor. So I have been considering the Kawasaki KLR as it is fairly cheap and I can buy a brand new one in the US rather than ship a bike over but it is a single cylinder and quite a tall seat height (890mm).

IAM at Bike Safe DayThen I volunteered at the IAM stand at the Police Bikesafe show at the Police college at Hendon and went around visiting the manufacture’s stands. I went to the Kawasaki stand to try a KLR only to find out that they don’t do them in the UK. Then I stopped at the BMW stand to look at the F800 GS which is twin cylinder. When I asked the salesman if I could sit on it he was derisive and said it was too tall for me and said I would be better on the F650. When I said I wanted the twin cylinder bike I found out that the new F650 GS’s have the same engine as the F800 just powered down.

Wall of DeathIt looks like I have found the bike for my trip!

I also found out I am not much of a sales person as I didn’t sell one IAM membership even though I think all motorcyclists in the UK should do it. I did get to see the wall of death (they had four bikes and a girl in a go cart) and some mini motorcycles.

Posted in Motorcycling | No Comments »


One way to Anchorage

March 28th, 2008 by sunflowers

Dawns weddingI know I haven’t been very good at keeping to my writing each week. My project is about to go live so work has been quite busy and very stressful. On top of that I had to fly back to New Zealand for my sister’s wedding. When I first moved to the UK I never thought I would fly back for just one week. But family – what can you say.

So far now I have attended four weddings for three sisters and one of them is due for a second. Being the oldest of four girls my family has given up on me to the point where my sister handed me her bouquet rather than risk someone else getting it.

My sister looked beautifully virginal even being five months pregnant and the minister used the opportunity give a sermon on why those who aren’t born again Christians are going to hell (please no comments this is not my personal view). It was a dry wedding so my family retreated to my other sister’s place for a bbq and drinks.

Just before I left I booked a one way ticket to Anchorage for the 30th August. Once again the preparation begins – but this time I am going!

Posted in General | No Comments »


Spanish Level Two

March 5th, 2008 by sunflowers

SS Great BritainEven though I have been extremely slack on the blogging front (I swear I go into hibernation in the cold months) I am still slowly preparing myself for my trip. In January I started taking Level Two Spanish lessons twice a week. I am struggling as I hadn’t really done level one but I also started going along to Socially Speaking Spanish every second week (on the Monday’s I don’t do Toastmasters) and that is helping.

SS Great BritainAs I am now only six months away from going it is time to start getting everything ready again and I think that I will blog once a week this time rather than every day. But it is all very scary!

I was going to spend the weekend working on the list of things I have to do but instead went to Bristol to visit my mates that got married Sept 06 and had a child last November. While I was in Bristol I visited the SS. Great Britain which was the world’s first iron-hulled, steam powered ocean going ship. I would recommend it as one of the better museums as you can also see the hull of the ship in a water tight dry dock.

Posted in Preparation | No Comments »


POWDERS

February 7th, 2008 by sunflowers

MassageI did manage to bike out to Bracknell and visit my mate last Sunday. But I feel like I am riding a bike again for the first time aka ‘shitting myself’. I attended my bike club night last night and a lot of veteran riders say that they feel like that sometime especially if you have had an off which made me feel better. One of them also said that sometimes it can be a good thing as otherwise you can get to cocky and that isn’t a good thing on a bike. You have to have a healthy fear of the road.

Last night we looked at basic bike maintenance eg. how to change lights, check the chain, adjust the suspension and how the valves and pistons fire. We were given the mnemonic POWDERS to remember when checking our bike before riding. Petrol, Oil, Water, Drive (chain), Electrics, Rubber (tyres) and Suspension.

Riding back was a bit hairy as it was raining and very windy and I was actually pushed onto another lane riding up Holloway Road. I think I just need to build up my confidence again.

Posted in Motorcycling | 1 Comment »


Getting Back On

January 26th, 2008 by sunflowers

Today I was going to ride my bike for the first time since coming off before Christmas. Walking down Holloway Road I realised that there was an Arsenal match on and that by the time I got to work on the bus through the heavy traffic and picked up my bike it would be almost four o’clock and as it is getting dark at four thirty I didn’t want to ride in the dark. Plus the thought of getting back on has been very frightening. So I decided I would get up early on Sunday morning and ride before the traffic gets too bad.

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Ride for the Road Conditions

January 12th, 2008 by sunflowers

The Thursday before Christmas I decided to take my bike into work and park it in the garage there while I was back in back New Zealand for two weeks. I didn’t really want to ride it as it was quite frosty but I live in an ex-council estate and it isn’t the nicest area and I didn’t want anything to happen to my bike. After a summer of learning not to be too scared of leaning the bike while going around corners I hit the first corner on the road in my estate and found myself lying on the ground looking at my bike skidding three metres down the road.

I think that my bike is ok as the mushrooms that Kawasaki came into their own as one of them looks like I took a cheese grater to it. My shoulder was hurt quite bad. But the worse effect was a knock to my confidence of whether I can actually bike that kind of distance if I can’t even make it to work. I did end up riding the rest of the way to work after a couple of guys helped me pick up my bike. After a bit of consoling from my mate he pointed out that I forgot about that whole tyres thing so he wrote out:
warm tyres + dry road = excellent
cold tyres + dry road = ok
warm tyres + wet road = ok
cold tyres + wet road = bad
cold tyres + black ice = very bad

Posted in Motorcycling | 1 Comment »


Pantomime in England

December 7th, 2007 by sunflowers

CinderellaAccording to Wiki Pantomime is popular Xmas tradition in Canada, Australia and NZ but I first came across it here in the UK where it seems that most people have been to one. Pantomime is a form of theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, in-jokes, audience participation and mild sexual innuendo. Often the opposite gender play the role eg. the dame is played by a man in drag and minor celebrities play parts.

Last night I went to see Cinderella (one of the most popular and first performed in Covent Garden in 1870) at the Old Vic (the theatre where Kevin Spacey of the Usual Suspects and American Beauty fame is the artistic director).

One of the reasons I haven’t posted in a while is that work has been particularly stressful. This week more than others so I haven’t been able to sleep most nights. Thinking about my trip helps though!

Posted in General | No Comments »


Which Bike

November 25th, 2007 by sunflowers

Now that I have my date fixed I am having second thoughts about which bike to do the trip on. Delaying my trip to earn a bit more moola means that I don’t have to take the Tractor anymore so I was going to buy a enduro bike in Canada to save myself the hassle of shipping one over.

But I must admit that I really love my ER6f and when I talked to my flatmate about it (he biked around South America for two years on a Kawasaki KLE) he told me about this Dutch guy he met who went around the world on a Yamaha R1 and I am totally inspired.

So I might sell my ER6f before I leave (and while it still has 1 year warranty left) and buy the American/Canadian equivalent the Ninja650R.

I went to see a midnight comedy show Maxwells Fullmooners in the Alexander Place theatre which hasn’t been used for over 60 years (it was falling down and mighty cold) and this bloke said that Canadians liked saying A at the end so much that they must say their alphabet A, B A, C A, D A, E A, F A – that they must have come up with the country name that way CA NA DA. Actually it doesn’t work as well written down.

Posted in Motorcycling | No Comments »


Definite Date

November 16th, 2007 by sunflowers

I have extended my contract until the end of August 2008 with a departure date of 1st September 2008 (originally it was supposed to be the end of June). I did this for two reasons. 1. Timing. I only want to take 6 months to do this trip and I have been told not to enter Central America until October and I want to spend the summer in the UK. 2. Money. A little bit more always helps.

After making this decision I emailed my mom who is from Grande Prairie, in Northern Alberta.
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And she said that I really should go Jun-Aug but as I had already told work I would stay I asked for a second opinion from my old school friend who used to work on an oil field slightly further north and she said I would probably be ok.

So I think rather than my original plan of flying into Calgary and visiting my family on my way up through Alberta I will either fly into Anchorage or Whitehorse and go straight up and then visit family on the way back down and then try and make it down to LA by the 5th October for my birthday. That is 4,145 miles. Good thing that I don’t really want to see much of the US on the way down.

Posted in Preparation | 1 Comment »


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