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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


Sovay's Surprise

August 27th, 2006 by sunflowers

SovayWhen I got down to Exeter on Saturday night I found out that it was Sovay’s birthday celebration and we were all going out for dinner and then clubbing to a place called Time Piece that had three floors. We had a great time and ended up with a couple of marines back at her mates place drinking broad bean home brew.

The next day I felt totally horrible and after a leisurely lunch at the docks decided that I wasn’t in any state to ride my bike back up to Bristol and crashed out in front of the telly at Sovays and watched dvds for the rest of the day while her flatmates boyfriend cooked us home made black berry pie.

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Doing Donuts

August 26th, 2006 by sunflowers

Bruce and ScarlettWhen I was at my mate’s in Bristol we were talking about what would make my trip more interesting and Bruce suggested that I could do donuts with my bike going up through the Americas. And you could see the marks left on Google Earth. He reckons that you can make out some donut marks on the beach near Wellington on it. (The picture is my mate Bruce and his daughter Scarlett).

So on the last hour of the course were we had free time to ride around a world famous off road track(?) I asked Simon Pavey (the Dakar guy who runs the course (he has completed the Paris to Dakar race about seven times and apparently it costs lots of money to enter and you need a support crew as you go through some dodgy sand places)). When he stopped laughing he said he would show me and asked me if I could make it over this two or three foot gutter. As I was by now an off roader I thought no problem, revved up and went over not realising it was two gutters in a row and I took both me and the bike flying but unfortunately not together. Until I had been feeling slightly smug that I hadn’t fallen off over the whole course and disappointed as I obviously hadn’t been pushing myself enough (I was a bit timid on some of the downhill stuff). I was quite pleased that at least if I fell off it was with style.Off Road Course

Doing a donut involves putting the bike on it’s side, turning the handle bars as far as they go, holding the bike up with one arm and then giving it heaps of revves and letting the clutch out till the bike spins around and then bringing the clutch back in. After a couple of failed attempts on the bike, Simon said stand beside it and try not to be worried about dropping the bike. In the end I managed a croissant type skid mark. Apparently it is a lot easier to learn with a lighter bike so I don’t think that you are going to be seeing donuts from tip to top of America.

AccomodationI ended up staying at a monkey santuary because I hadn’t prebooked anywhere.

I also got to ride a R1200 GS and a Dakar bike during the last hour. Pretty cool but big!

ps. apparently you can download an AudioSlave Nation island that adds itself to Google Earth east of New Zealand.

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Slow Start

August 25th, 2006 by sunflowers

I really enjoyed the bmw off road course I did in Wales www.worldofbmw.com. Though at times it was a bit of a struggle. I guess a bit like any course you are having to push yourself to learn.

Off Road CourseAll of the course is done standing up. Everyone knows that your bike is more stable with a lower centre of gravity but it isn’t quite so obvious that your bike’s centre of gravity is lower when you stand up as it moves the weight distribution from the seat to the foot pegs. Here I just thought that they stood up to look cool. A bit like I thought doing salaam skiing downhill was to look good until I started out skiing straight down a mountain on a medium slope and soon realised I was going to go right over the edge way too fast if I didn’t make turns to slow down.

Off Road CourseOn the Thursday we did slow speed control most of the morning. Then on the way to lunch one of the girls that I had just been talking to (btw the course was a ladies only course) came off and broke her wrist and had to be taken to hospital were she was kept over night.

So that was a bit of a damper for the afternoon and maybe the instructors picked up on it as in the afternoon we did water crossings.

I must admit that when I arrived on Thursday morning after biking from Bristol I walked into a room full of strangers most of whom seemed to have come together, got told that my boots weren’t suitable, had to hire boots that were too big for me, I badly wanted to turn around and go back to Bristol to be pampered by my friends. But one thing that always goes through my mind, any time that I tell my friends that I am nervous about biking somewhere they always chorus that I won’t be able to make it from Argentina to Alaska if I can’t make it to Wales or wherever.

Off Road CourseIt is funny that scared feeling at the start of something new. All you have to do is stick it out for a little while and you realise that everyone is really quite nice and that you can actually get your bike through a puddle that looks more like a stream.

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Back to Bristol

August 24th, 2006 by sunflowers

Scarlett and my bikeToday I am doing a BMW off road course in Wales so last night I spent the night with my mates in Bristol. I was a bit worried about riding to Bristol if it was raining and sure enough it started to piss down just as I left London.

Compared to my last trip to Bristol early on in my biking career this was like a whole different experience. I can’t believe I was doing up to 80 in the rain and did some sustained riding at 90. It is amazing what a different a bit more road experience has made. Plus my fairing rocks. 😉

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Amazing Amsterdam

August 23rd, 2006 by sunflowers

Flower MarketWhen I was in the Netherlands I was hping to meet this guy that had written to me about meeting up on the trip.  He is spending six months going from Argentina to Alaska in November as well.  I had thought that Holland was small enough that no matter where you were it wouldn’t be that far.  Turns out that I was wrong so I wasn’t able to meet up.
 
Fast FoodInstead I walked from the hotel to the central station and took a few pictures.  Lots of people ride bikes around Amsterdam.  There are also vending machines for fast food and lots of coffee shops of which I haven’t been in. 

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Neat Netherlands

August 22nd, 2006 by sunflowers

Canal HousesYesterday I was told that I had to fly to see a client in the Netherlands today. So I caught an early morning flight to Amsterdam and then took the train down to the south of Holland. Turns out I didn’t have to stay for tomorrow so I decided to see if I could fly out tonight but wasn’t able to change my flight so am spending the night in a dodgy hotel room in Amsterdam.

CafesWhen I first came to Europe I had heard heaps about the coffee shops and red light district in Amsterdam. But when I saw the city for myself I wondered why no one had talked about the canals that grid the city, the narrow wooden houses lining the canals, the numerous eating districts (for when coffee drinkers’ get the munchies) and the flower market all which give Amsterdam a unique character that enchant visitors even without the red lights.

Coffee ShopUnfortunately I didn’t bring my camera as I thought I was going to be onsite the whole time but I will try and get a few shots tomorrow with my camera phone.

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No Internet due to Orange

August 21st, 2006 by sunflowers

Apparently Wanadoo my previous broadband supplier was owned by Orange and they were going to rebrand to Orange. For some reason this meant getting the Orange Livebox even when I told them that my wireless router worked fine. After a day spent configuring the new box it managed to work for about a week and then stopped a week and a half ago.

I have now spent two or three hours on the phone to Orange Support (which charges for calls) only to kept on being told to reset the box and that they are going to do a line test. Last night I spent another hour waiting to be put through to someone only to finally hang up just after midnight when no one had taken the call yet.

So please forgive the delays in any postings at the moment.

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Fabulous Fairing

August 20th, 2006 by sunflowers

Charlie and RenscheToday I biked to Poole (near Bournemouth in Dorset). It took me two and a half hours to bike the 120 or so miles. I was a bit nervous as I haven’t ridden by bike for about a month.

I was going down to pick up the fairing and pannier rack that I had bought off Charlie. Charlie and his girlfriend Rensche are biking from the UK to South Africa next year and were originally going to go on BMW F650’s but as Rensche is only 5.2” even with the bike lowered by 15cm she is still not able to put more than her tip toes down so they have decided to go on Hondas instead.

Bike MaintenanceWhile I was down there Charlie showed me how to change the oil and spark plugs. We also checked the coolant and the petrol level in the carburettor as well as fitting the pannier rack and fairing.

It was nice to meet Charlie after all the email help he has given me and discussing the difficulties of learning to ride on a big bike with Rensche. I can not express my gratitude to Charlie for showing me how to do the basic maintenance on my bike that my motorbike maintenance class didn’t teach.

On the way home my new high fairing was great. It wasn’t quite the calm of the eye of the storm that I was expecting but it made a huge difference to the comfort of being on the bike at speeds of over 60 miles an hour.

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Slobbing Saturday

August 19th, 2006 by sunflowers

Friday night I went to see Fuerzabruta at the Chalk Farm Round House (a building that used to be used to turn the trains around and has now been renovated into a events venue). Fuerzabruta is done by the Argentinean group that did Da La Gardia a few years ago. It is an aerial show and includes a huge see-through platform that has performers swimming above you and is lowered to just over your head.

change At the show I ran into Jackie and Trent who I met at a Horizons Unlimited meeting up in London back in February. They are really cool and a few years ago biked from London to New Zealand where they are originally from.

Saturday I decided after having been away from home for the last four weekends that I would do absolutely nothing, went to the library for books and managed to get through two chicklets and a thriller.

Overnight either someone nicked my bike cover or it blew off.

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Phone Preparation

August 18th, 2006 by sunflowers

I had to recently switch my work mobile to my personal one due to tax reasons for the company making us use our personal phones for work. So I now have three mobile phone numbers that no one ever calls me. Mainly because I rarely answer any of them.

AmbulanceBut it meant that I got a new phone, which was just as well as my personal one was run over by a car and I can’t see the screen very well. Sorry to those that phone or text and I don’t reply.

So I bought the Motorola razor as it is quad band which means that it can use all four frequency bands 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 1900 MHz.

The US traditional uses 1900 MHz and uses 850 MHz in rural areas as it has a better range. Most of the rest of the world uses 900 MHz and 1800 MHz. This is because the GSM standard originated in Europe and the US wasn’t allowed to use the same as it had already been allocated.

Self PortraitThere are two countries in South America which only use the 850 MHz (this is usually the band that is added for the quad band phones) Ecuador and Panama. So as I am going to both I thought I better get a quad band phone which is cheaper than the satellite phone that my mates thought I should be carrying as a single young women motor biking the Americas on my own.

The photos are ones that I took with my new phone. One is some weird ambulance we saw on the way to the festival last weekend and the other is a self portrait that my phone is capable of taking using the little screen on the front.

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