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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


Motorcyclists of the Round Table

March 10th, 2007 by sunflowers

Tower BridgeTower BridgeOn Saturday London woke up to a beautiful sunny day. I had arranged to meet an ex colleague of mine and ride to Winchester the ancient capital of England. Mark and I worked together on an intense project in Budapest for many months a few years ago so it was lovely to catch up with him. He has been riding for years and when I used to see him come into the office in his leathers I never thought that one day I would be going for a ride out with him.

MarkWe had arranged to meet near Tower Bridge so I took a couple of photos while I was waiting and when he arrived we headed off. It took us quite a while to get out of London so in the end we didn’t get to do too many B roads and only had an hour in Winchester. Winchester looked like a lovely town but unfortunately we only had time to see the Round Table in the great hall and grab a bite to eat. On the way back we had a fairly empty road so I decided to see how high I could take my bike and briefly got it up but as it felt like it was going to shake apart so I didn’t keep it there for long.

Round TableGreat HallWhen I got back to London a friend came around and we went and played on the swings in the park staring at the gothic clock tower before going home for dinner and watching the first few episodes of Ewan McGregors’ Long Way Round. It is quite amusing how they make out like it has never been done before by ‘solo’ bikers.

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Ted Simon at Ace Cafe

March 9th, 2007 by sunflowers

Ted SimonTed Simon is a journalist who rode around the world on a Triumph in 73 and wrote a book about it called Jupiter’s Travels which became the classic motorcycle diary. He recently completed a second trip twenty five years later and has written another book called Dreaming of Jupiter. For his book launch he was speaking tonight at Ace Café so I convinced my flatmate to come along with me to see him.

Ted SimonWhen we got there he had a huge queue of people waiting to get their books signed. We were about to leave when we found out that he would be speaking in half an hour and the people sitting next to us said that it was quite interesting so we decided to stay. His talk was delayed a bit while they were getting the laptop to work and then just as he started his drink split onto the laptop so they had to get another one. Quite funny to see them pour liquid out of the laptop. (Actually I just looked at the little avi I took and it shows the drink spilling at the end of it).

Ted SimonAfter about half an hour into his presentation my flatmate wanted to leave and as I had pillioned him I had to go as well. But I must admit that it wasn’t the most inspiring speech I have heard and was quite similar to his original book, predominately about accidents which I didn’t finish reading either.

On the plus side my flatmate was the first person I ever pillioned on the seventh time I had ever ridden a bike since my DAS. He thinks I have vastly improved and that I need a better bike (this is mainly because he really wants to buy a new one).


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No Headlights at Night

March 8th, 2007 by sunflowers

Copper SlickCopper SlickTonight I had my motorbike maintenance class. I have had a squeaky front wheel so tonight I took the front brakes off, cleaned them up and applied some copper slip and my squeak appears to have gone away. I also adjusted the chain as I have never done it myself as I find it a bit confusing how to get the alignment to match up but I think I have sorted it now.

Copper SlickBSAComing home tonight after class a car with a police car behind it turned in front of me but I was pleased that the police car stopped to let me go. Then I started thinking about the times I had worked on my bike or someone else had ridden it and the headlights had gotten turned off. My subconscious must have been warning me as I checked my headlights only to realise that they weren’t on. I wonder what the fine for riding without your headlights on at night is.

BSAOur tutor’s bike is a BSA Bantam D10 which I think that he races. BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms and the logo is three guns.

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Kawasaki Versys

March 7th, 2007 by sunflowers

Kawasaki VersysI have been musing about the possibility of getting a new bike. I probably won’t but there is no harm in looking and it would be nice to get something that is more environmentally friendly and more economical on the petrol. My flatmate recommended the Suzuki V-Strom and the Kawasaki Versys. I was keen on the V-Strom until I saw one on the road and they seem a little bulky. I haven’t seen the Kawasaki in real life but I like the look of it in the pictures.

I rode my bike to the gym this morning and couldn’t find any bike parking near by so I put it up on a wide sidewalk across the road and then coming out of the gym I had a skirt on over my bike trousers so I looked a bit funny. I pulled out off the sidewalk in front of some cars at the lights and then when the lights turned green my bike slipped into neutral. Really, if one is going to look out of the ordinary it is better to do it with flair rather than sitting when the light goes green.

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Stood up from Down Under

March 6th, 2007 by sunflowers

One of my dates mentioned that maybe I had been single most of my time in the UK as I wasn’t from here so I decided to answer an ad that my mate had forwarded me entitled ‘kiwi guy seeks kiwi girl’ and read are you:
-From New Zealand? (not essential)
-Indie/alternative/rock chick?
-Intelligent and articulate? (can communicate in more than TXT TLK)
-Positive?
-Good sense of humour?
-Financially solvent and secure?
-Aged between 28 and 35?
-Preferably 5′ 8″ or less?
-Looking for dating in London, travelling and maybe more?
-Looking to meet someone with all the above?

Which is pretty much me. So we swapped a couple of emails and arranged to meet for lunch today but unfortunately he never showed up as I think he forgot. Then I got cancelled on by the person who recommended it in the first place.

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Show a little tenderness

March 5th, 2007 by sunflowers

I phoned up my mother on the weekend as I have been having quite a distressing personal problem. Unfortunately things are going worse at home with my parents than for me so I didn’t elicit much sympathy. But in a chat my boss today he asked me if I was enjoying my job as I had seemed a bit unhappy for the last few days. I explained it was a personal thing and that I was really enjoying the job. It is touching when people show concern and is totally different to my last job.

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Counter Steering in Gallons Reach

March 4th, 2007 by sunflowers

Gallons ReachGallons ReachThis morning it was up early to ride out to the shopping centre in Gallons Reach where my bike club was having a machine control day. You are allowed to go whenever they have one but it is mandatory if you are on one of the courses like I am. We started by riding at a walking pace using clutch control and the back brake to speed up and slow down. Next it was slow speed circles where I got a bit cocky and tried to do too tight a turn and when the instructor said stop I was still turning, tried to stop and almost dropped the bike revving the heck out of it instead (which a few people tactlessly commented on).AllotmentAllotment

I almost never use my front brake (due to pulling it on my DAS course when learning to do u-turns on ice and dropping me and the bike directly on it’s side while my helmeted head bounced off the concrete) and I have a tendency to ride with my hand on the clutch so on the emergency stops I concentrated on not hovering over the clutch and using my front brake to stop. I managed to stall the bike and do a fairly impressive skid when I locked the wheels. I might actually go somewhere and practice stopping as it is a pretty important skill to be able to do well.

Roast DinnerRoast DinnerRoast DinnerAfter a short break we did figure eights and counter steering. Counter steering is when you go around a corner above 30-40 miles an hour you actually steer your bike opposite to the direction you are turning to tip the bike on it’s side. When I first heard about it on my DAS course I thought there is no way I am doing that but then someone pointed out that everyone does it naturally and learning the theory just helps you do it a bit sooner if you need to.Roast DinnerThat was the last exercise of the day and as it had started raining after the break I think that everyone was pleased to be going home. Instead I went up to the allotment to help do some digging in the rain which was a bit funny to be doing in my bike kit – though luckily I had left my gum boots up there so I didn’t ruin my bike boots. Afterwards I went to my mates place for a roast dinner where they hassled me about having my pretty female tenant move out before I had tried to set them up on a blind date.

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Biking in the Bus Lanes

March 3rd, 2007 by sunflowers

Saturday morning I got a call from my newly established tenant and she wasn’t happy with the state of the flat when she moved in and wanted a bunch of stuff removed so we talked it through and decided it would probably be better if she found another place as it is really too small for her. So I am back to square one.

Lunar EclipseThere is a petition to bike in the bus lanes in London which I have signed (you have to be a UK resident).
petitions.pm.gov.uk/bikesinbuslanes

And we had a lunar eclipse which I started to watch and then fell asleep waking up at four in the morning with the lights on and a book in my hand.

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Here comes the sun

March 2nd, 2007 by sunflowers

Walking to the gym on Friday morning I was in the most euphoric mood watching the sun shine that sometimes I wonder if I an acolyte in Apollo’s temple in a former life. I was musing what the future holds. It is weird to think in five years I could be anywhere from having babies in Essex to living in the Middle East to working on an oil rig in Northern Canada like my old school friend does for five months of the year. Though most likely I will be sharing a flat and working in the city (-;

I got to the gym and the person who was suppose to do my induction hadn’t turned up and on a personal level the rest of the day went down hill from there. On the plus side I did a presentation of my project for one of the mangers out from Japan and was told it went well so that was good!

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Checking the Sprocket

March 1st, 2007 by sunflowers

Headlight ProtectorHeadlight ProtectorchangeTonight at my motorcycle maintenance class I wanted to check the chain and chain roller (this cylindrical thing which is no where near my chain so maybe it isn’t a chain roller after all) and clean the guck behind the sprocket cover like Skip taught me (Changing Tyres). My chain and sprockets seem ok so I attached the headlight protector that I bought just before I was suppose to go away and cleaned off the stickers from the ferry to Bilbao and the Essex Air Ambulance ride I did last year. changeThen I showed off a little and showed Mary how to pick up the bike spilling petrol onto the floor of the workshop in the process.

Today I found out some friends where going to the V festival in August and the Killers are headlining. By the time I tried to buy a ticket all that was left was ones including the coach so I bought one of those.

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