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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


Picture Proof

June 8th, 2006 by sunflowers

Me at the Ace Cafe
My bike at Ace Cafe
Here are a couple of the pictures that my flatmate finally sent me from last weekend. This is me on Friday night at the legendary Ace Cafe. This is a close up of my bike at the cafe. The Ace Cafe has a really interesting history that you can read about on their website at www.ace-cafe-london.com/f1.htm. I hadn’t realised it was famous until I signed up for the Police Bike Safe day that is held at the cafe and was looking at their website to find the address .

The bikes at Southend-on-Sea
And a picture of our bikes parked in Southend-on-Sea on Saturday. I was hoping to get a swim in but by the time we got there it was pretty late and the beach doesn’t really look all that appealing at Southend-on-Sea. Part of wanting to go there was it was one of the first day trips I did after arriving in London seven years ago. At the time I thought that is what all British beaches were like. Now having visited a few more I am glad to report that they aren’t.

Nerves. I have a confession to make. Every time I start researching information for my trip by reading the motorcycle handbook, looking at the horizons unlimited website or other people who have done the trip websites, I get totally freaked out for some reason. Maybe it is like the stress before and exam and is meant to be motivating to get a hurry up on the organisation front.

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Advanced Riding Recommended

June 7th, 2006 by sunflowers

All our bikes outside the hall
For the last four fortnightly Sundays I have been somewhere near Chingford taking my advanced riding lessons with the East London Advanced Motorcyclists (www.elam.org.uk) with the aim of taking the Advanced Riding Test done through the Institute of Advanced Motorists (www.iam.org.uk). Well actually, I am not that fussed whether I take the test or not, even if you do get cheaper bike insurance. I just wanted to learn how to ride better. These are a couple of pictures taken with my phone (I had forgotten the memory card from my camera again!) of all our bikes outside of the hall Elam uses. Including a close up of my Tractor (this is my pet name for my bike. After riding a newer bike being back on the f650 is like riding a tractor. Turns out that it was probably acerbated by the carburettor issue). I don’t mind riding a tractor as I do feel safe perched up on her seat and the sitting position is similar to my ‘pee-wee herman’ bicycle. Plus she is pretty for a old bike.My tractor

We have had lesson on the following topics:- the system of motorcycle control, bends, motorways, overtaking and roundabouts and town riding. After the lesson we would be allocated an observer who would watch us ride a route following the given topic (unfortunately the first three were in the rain and town riding which I don’t mind was in the first good weekend of weather we have had). We then evaluated ourselves and the observer would fill in an evaluation along with a couple of points that we should practice. I don’t think I could express my gratitude to the guys and girls that give up their Sundays and Saturdays to become observers so that we can all become safer riders. This is a picture of Jack who was my observer twice and was brilliant at it even when I decided not to finish motorways in the pouring rain. My mate asked me why he is crying. It might be because he is having to fill in my evaluation. But probably just because of the sun.Jack my observer

Most of my group will be going on next weekend to be observed for test readiness but I have been asked if I would like to wait until the end of summer so that I can get more practice in. No arguments from me about that. Thankfully I won’t have to sit through the course again so no more seven o’clock starts on Sunday mornings!

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Geek Test

June 6th, 2006 by sunflowers

I said to my mate that I wanted to include non-bike related topics into my blog and he suggested that I have two blogs like both he and his wife have. So I pointed out that there isn’t many things that I won’t do but even for me two blogs was a little bit geeky. To which he replied I needed to take a geek test to know www.matthewbarr.co.uk/geek. Though I have always prided myself on being a geek that lives outside the box it turns out that I am not so geeky after all so maybe I am just back to being an extrovert who lives inside a box.

My geek test results
You are 47.5% geeky.
OK, not that geeky at all, are you? I’ll bet you even have a girlfriend (or boyfriend).
The current average score is: 32.48%
Fact: 6.98% of people who took this test wear a bum-bag on holiday.

I do have some overwhelming geek qualities though. I am writing a blog. I have always worked in IT. I have an icq number. I helped start a dot bomb. I have been mentioned in computer weekly twice. I have googled my own name (this was only after someone at work did it first and pointed out to me that this was the first reference that came up at the time theimparchives.tripod.com/first10/pearson.html). I have 17 domains and make lists. I would like to point out that I do not on-line game or spend time in chat rooms (c;

Ok, I just did a little results comparing with my ‘two blog’ friends and someone who started their own forum and I got a higher geek rating than all of them. No wonder why I don’t have a boyfriend. Shall we talk about shoes instead.

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Carburettor Cover Cracked and Cutting Out

June 4th, 2006 by sunflowers

My flatmate borrowed my bike and rode it to Canterbury on the bank holiday weekend and said that the bike engine kept cutting out when the bike was in neutral. Or course I just thought that he must be riding it wrong. Then yesterday we biked to Southend-on-Sea (if one of my instructors reads this please note that I managed to make it up to seventy a significant proportion of the way there) and on the way back it cut out once on me – but I thought that maybe I had done something wrong.

Today I had my last advanced riding lesson in town riding and it was cutting out with a pop at every second light. After the lesson one of the blokes who was doing the observer training noticed that the rubber cover over the carburettor was badly cracked and moisture was coming out so I think that air was getting in causing the engine to cut out. So it was back to Motoden to drop my bike off. I am going to talk to the dealership on Monday but this is the first time that I have actually thought that I should just get my money back and get a new bike. Even if it is a bright shiny red bike. Btw I am going to put up some pictures of my bike at Ace Café from Friday night and Southend-on-Sea on Saturday but I again managed to forget to take my card for my camera so will have to get them off of my flatmate first.

Love London

I do have a picture of me in my volunteering shirt from handing out reusable bags and events guides at the Camden Green Fair day today. www.lovelondon.org.uk

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Working from home

June 2nd, 2006 by sunflowers

I am working from home today as the oven needed to be fixed. £115 for a new grill and that is with £15 off as the bloke felt sorry for me. Nice man.

song bird

I spent some time in the backyard restringing my washing line which was a real pleasure as my jasmine is in full bloom with a few roses thrown in. Also there are quite a lot of birds that hang around which is pretty cool considering I am pretty much inner London being 1 mile from Kings Cross.

my jasmine and roses

Tomorrow I have nothing planned except a whole day of riding my bike. My recently acquired flatmate James who I met at one of the Horizons Unlimited meetups has just gotten a motorbike so we are going to go for a ride out.

Btw there is a post on Horizons Unlimited called ‘meeting wanderlust partner opposite sex’ www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/travellers-seeking-travellers/meeting-wanderlust-partner-opposite-sex-1532. Some of the comments on it are about how females that ride are likely to be lesbians. I haven’t met too many females that ride but all of them so far have had boyfriends. Even though I sorta got stood up yesterday I don’t think it is because I come across butch (c;
Beautiful South
Anyway it didn’t turn out so bad as my mate had a spare ticket to see Beautiful South which was brilliant. I loved the album 0898 when I was at university. Thanks Ian. Thank goodness for friends eh!

Off to the Ace Cafe for dinner tonight like a right bikie chick. I might take a movie little clip of me on the bike and try and figure how to put it up on my blog.

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Bike Battery

May 25th, 2006 by sunflowers

Brilliant! I finally did some useful motor mechanic maintenance last night. My bike battery water was really low so after taking the side panels off my bike and removing the battery I filled it up with deionised water and checked the battery charge. This might not sound like a big deal but it was the first time in my life I have used a wrench so understandably I am quite chuffed about my first bit of motorcycle maintenance!

I also got a phone call from the IAM instructor who said that after my failing to complete my ride on Sunday that maybe I should delay my observed ride for test readiness until the end of the summer. You won’t hear any arguments from me. The one thing the advanced riding course has highlighted is the need to get as many miles under my seat as possible before I go.
Love London
Tonight I am off to the London City Hall find out about volunteering for the Love London Sustainability weeks www.lovelondon.org.uk which should be well cool.

ps. Invariably it poured down again last night riding home. I don’t understand how people do it. I skidded around most of the way home as well as no visibility with my helmet visor down or being able to see with it up and rain drops stinging my face.

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Rain rain go away come again another day …

May 22nd, 2006 by sunflowers

Why does it always rain on me when I am going to ride my motorcycle? I find it hard to believe we are in the worst drought in ages and everytime I have to ride my bike it is raining. Of course my obverser would say if there was a coorelation between my riding and the rain my lack of practice is the cause of the drought.

Swindon's magic roundabout

Sunday’s lession was motorways, overtaking and roundabouts. I still find it quite scary riding on the rain as I am really worried my bike will lose grip on the many hazards there are on the road for a motorbike on a wet road. Half an hour into my observed ride I was pulling onto the motorway coming off the slip road. There was a van quite far behind indicating to go to the lefthand lane but thought seeing as how I was also indicating to pull into the same lane but was in the slip lane I should go for it. So the van came right up behind me an honked his horn a few times. And that was it. I decided that this wasn’t fun at all and I asked my observer if I could save the motorways and over taking practice for another less wet day.

Btw – for all of you not from the UK. They take their roundabouts pretty seriously over here. Still I was pretty amzaed by the one in Swindon.

Posted in Preparation | 3 Comments »


Love London

May 18th, 2006 by sunflowers

One of the reasons I love London is that you can bicycle around in knee high boots, a bright orange skating helmet, red Cuba baseball top with a bike basket and no body blinks an eye (in fact white van drivers still pretend they haven’t seen you).

Yesterday when I motorcycled to work it took me 45 minutes, on my bicycle it takes 55 minutes and I don’t feel so bad if I skip the gym yet again.

In honour of High Fidelity on telly last night and being British (does any other country in the world air so many random top number of something shows eg. top fifty one hit wonders that fell on even years and the lead singer had an A in their name) my top five reasons for living in London are:-
– the number of diverse events you can attend. I have signed up to volunteer at the Love London Sustainability weeks particularly the Camden Green Fair and Bike Fest and the Mad Show at Earls Court www.lsw2006.org
– the unconventional classes I have tried, poi spinning, circus skills, African drums, Capoeira (which I wasn’t very good at)
– the ability to find jobs that you wouldn’t anywhere else eg. ones that let you fly all over Europe
– cheap flights out, live theatre and music
– and that you can bicycle most places, it really isn’t that big for the number of people that live here.

ps. I have to ride out on Saturday morning in order to practice if anyone out there is keen. I have to get more experience on my country bends in particular.

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Motorbike Maintenance

May 17th, 2006 by sunflowers

The instructor showing me what to do

I just got back from my motorbike maintenance class tonight. We had two weeks off as our tutor had a bereavement in the family. If that wasn’t bad enough the poor bloke also managed to write off his motorbike when a van pulled out without looking.

The two week break was good for me as this is the first class I have been able to take my bike to. We were practicing removing the rear wheel. I wanted to remove mine but only got as far as removing the plastic guard thing. Next week we are doing chain adjustment and what is under the seat.

Me pretending to work on my bike

Biking home tonight was the first time I have biked with the combination of it being dark and raining. For most of the way it was absolutely pouring down and I couldn’t see a thing so was doing a sedate 20 miles most of the way home. But luckily the roads where almost empty with the Arsenal vs Barcelona match on. Speaking of which – when I was mentoring Rebbecca we got free tickets to see an Arsenal vs Liverpool match last summer and I enjoyed it so much I signed up to be a season ticket holder in the new stadium. Even though I was 32,000th something on the waiting list as they are allocating more tickets to Islington residents I now have the opportunity to buy a season ticket if I want. But probably won’t.

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Bike back

May 15th, 2006 by sunflowers

Hertford House

My bike is finally back on the road. I picked it up on Saturday and rather than following my mates car to Brighton for a bbq I decided I needed a non-pressure weekend and had the type of weekend I love living in London for. Saturday morning I went to the library across the road and spent most of the day lying around in bed reading. Saturday night was out for a friend’s hen night at a Brazilian club where they had a Brazilian drum band playing. Sunday started with lunch at Camden market with friends visiting from Bristol and to find out the times for the African drumming classes that I have wanted to do for ages. Then we walked through Regents Park to see the Wallace Collection (art museum) at Hertford House (near Bond St station) with a social group for Londoners from around the world www.diffplanet.net. After which my mate convinced me to pillion her to Ace Cafe for a cuppa www.ace-cafe-london.com. Followed by an early night after tuning my silent guitar for my lesson after work today.

But now I have to figure out where to practice riding to before my next advanced lesson. Last week it was the bends. We were taught to follow a wide line around the corners to increase our line of sight. Being good at following rules a half an hour into the lesson I got pulled up and told that this method was only for the country lanes and that my weaving from side to side of the road in the villages might give people the impression that I was intoxicated. I am glad they pointed that out!

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