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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


Good news

May 12th, 2006 by sunflowers

I just phoned Motoden www.motoden.co.uk and my bike should be ready to be picked up today!

On a totally different topic. I don’t think I can express in words how much I love the summer weather. During my walk to work this morning I ended up jogging between Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and then from Kensington Gardens to Hammersmith just because. Listening to my favourite songs and watching a swan fly in and land in the Kensington Garden pond I felt that nothing in my life could be more perfect. I think sometimes that I am cold blooded and need the sun in order to feel alive which is why one of my long term goals is to spend six months in each hemisphere following the summer.

Then I had this thought – do we only truly appreciate summer because we have been through the winter? …

End of the work day and the euphoria of this morning is totally gone. Not that I don’t love my job but it isn’t the same as being outside is it?

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Summer's Started

May 9th, 2006 by sunflowers

Thanks to all those that came to my bbq on Sunday. I believe it was the fullest I have ever seen the backyard which was nice as the weather had been forecast for rain. My school hood friend who is visiting said it was one of the more eclectic groups of people she has come across (though she is from Northern Alberta 😉 ).

I like this one better

A bloke who came along to the bbq from my motorbike maintenance course didn’t recognise my picture on this website as the same person in his classes. So I have cropped a picture of myself that was taken at the after party of my sister’s wedding so hopefully that is recent enough. Personally, I still like this photo better. What do you think? btw you can comment by clicking on the title of the post, scrolling to the bottom and leaving a reply.

Now that I have reduced my intended trip duration to six/seven months I am re-planning my itinerary and have updated the ‘The Trip’ section with the latest route.

Bremen, Germany

btw – I am writing this from the hotel room at the Hilton in Bremen, Germany where I have been working for the last two days. The weather has been beautiful the last two days and I spent this even wandering around town and along the river then went back to the hotel to use the pool and sauna. I am so looking forward to a great summer.

ps. also got a text from Al the singer of the band I was managing and they are playing the Guilfest (14-16 July) www.guilfest.co.uk which is well cool. It also means that I can stop looking for a festival to go to since I missed out getting tickets to any of the big ones this year.

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More mishaps

May 6th, 2006 by sunflowers

My bike was finally ready to be picked up this morning seven weeks after dropping it off at the dealership. When I picked it up engine would not idle without cutting out so it was a forty minute wait for it to be fixed. Something had happened when they had jet washed it.

I had arranged two friends to ride out in the morning and the afternoon in order to get my practice in before my second advanced lesson. Seven miles down the road the back break stopped working completely. So it was back to the bike shop. It isn’t going to be ready until next week so they are lending a loan bike again for my lesson.

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Putting things into perspective

May 2nd, 2006 by sunflowers

Bike still isn’t back from the bike shop and I will be missing the ELAM May maintenance workshop this evening. The next two weeks of my motorbike maintenance classes on Wednesday night have been cancelled and my request for a sabbatical has been turned down. Work will kindly see if there is a job for me when I get back but can not keep my job open for six months (I reduced my request from 12 months to 6 months when the 12 months was turned down – God loves a tryer but GED doesn’t 😉 )

So now to figure out whether I am still going to do the trip without a job to go back to. If I still do the trip, how long for, when and which way.

Still, my friend is visiting from Canada and we went to Krakow for the bank holiday weekend (along with all the stag do’s) and saw the remains of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp which is a sobering reminder of how lucky one is. I will add some photo’s of Krakow to this post when I get them off my mate as I managed to leave my memory card in my computer rather than taking it with me and my camera in Poland.

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Posting about anything

April 24th, 2006 by sunflowers

I was trying to keep this blog about my bike trip and related preparation. But someone pointed out that I already had twenty four posts and I hadn’t even started yet so I might as well add a few more in that have nothing to do with my trip. You will have to excuse these ones and I will add them into a different category and hopefully figure out how to display the categories correctly.

Back of dress

My sister in her Korean wedding dress

Mainly I want to put a picture of my sister up. My sister Gaylene moved to Korea to teach english about five years ago when she was finding difficult to get a job after university in New Zealand. Meanwhile my other sister Dawn had gone to spend some time in Grande Prairie where my mother had grown up in Northern Alberta and met a Korean guy out there who was studying english. When he moved back to Seoul where my sister was living they met up, hooked up and ended up getting married a few weeks ago in a traditional Korean wedding ceremony. Here is a picture of the front and back of her dress when she was getting ready in the hair dressers.

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What a palava!

April 24th, 2006 by sunflowers

The loan bike a Honda CBF 600

My IAM.org.uk advanced riding course started on Sunday and even though Motoden, the Honda dealership I bought my bike from, thought that they would be able to finish my bike before Easter, it still wasn’t ready. Apparently BMW can not send through the correct clutch plates. So Motoden offered to let me use a CBF600 their kiwi mechanic rides. The catch was that it was uninsured. So Saturday was spent sorting out temporary insurance and a place to store my bike. Luckily I had met this guy over the web who lives between my place and Motoden who had a lockable garden and kindly volunteered to look after the bike on Saturday night. And my insurance policy was with ebikeinsurance.co.uk which allows you to add another bike online.

Sunday morning I set out on a 2004 CBF600 in the rain. Having only ridden the older riding school bikes and my ’94 it was really nice to ride something so smooth. I am beginning to think there is more than just the higher price to having a newer bike. Also it increased my confidence on the bike to be able to put both feet flat on the ground. Unless anyone is restricted to a type of bike having a lighter bike and able to comfortably reach the ground makes learning to ride a lot easier. And this new bike thing – I am definitely writing to Honda to see if they will sell me a heavily discounted Transalp or BMW for a F650.

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1st Lesson Learnt

March 30th, 2006 by sunflowers

My observer, Colin on the Police Bike Safe day

If you think that there is a problem with your bike, don’t think it will be all right for a while. After the machine control day when my clutch slipped I thought that I should take my bike back into the dealership for them to look at it while it was under warenty. But there wasn’t enough time for me to pick my bike before the Police Bike Safe day www.bikesafe.co.uk on Saturday morning after arriving back from a work trip in Slovenia on the Friday evening. So I decided to have it seen to after the course.

Loading my bike into the van

Wrong decision. At the start of the afternoon ride with the lovely police bloke Colin who was allocated as my observer my clutch gave out along the A40. Colin ended up having to wait with me for three hours while a pick up van arrived to take my bike to the dealership in shoreditch.

I finally stumbled home at eight at night thinking that the advice to buy bike boots I could walk in was a jolly good idea.

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Machine Control Day

March 12th, 2006 by sunflowers

My bike club held a machine control day on Sunday. The club’s website had mentioned that the postcode of the parking lot we used in the Docklands was not accurate. It might help if they point out it is probably another fifteen minutes ride from that position even if you didn’t have to turn around and go the other way a couple of time. At least if I was going to be late for a slow speed control class I was doing u-turns to get there.

The morning was spent doing slow speed control, circles, emergency stops and counter steering. After the circles my clutch slipped and I had to get one of the observers to use some pliers to fix it. Maybe it was a circle thing all round as I was luckier than a bloke on a Kawasaki whose clutch slipped, front brake locked and over he went scratching up the side of his bike.

On the way home I think that my clutch tightened up again as the bite moved right back out to close to the full clutch being let out. As my next day riding will be the police bike safe day the weekend after next I am going to talk to the bike shop about having a look at it before then.

It also turned out that the Machine Control Day was only a morning so I was able to go out to visit Lois and Austin (www.loisontheloose.com) in the afternoon and get my Sam Brown (reflector belt) that I had left out in Uxbridge.

Statistic of the day:- Just as the number of Mercedes that decided to overtake me almost equalled the number of BMW’s a Roadster put the BMWs back ahead.

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Bristol and Back (visiting close friends from NZ)

March 12th, 2006 by sunflowers

When I had talked to a few of the people in the bike club last weekend about biking to Bristol the predominately reply was that the M4 is boring. When doing my first proper motorway riding ‘boring’ is not the first word that I would have said about my journey. Mine would be ‘windy’. Though windy does not accurately sum up devastating combination of wind, motorway and motorbike. Someone somewhere had mentioned something about strong neck muscles. At the time I hadn’t quite understood what this was in reference to. But after half an hour of the wind hitting my upper body and my neck wobbling around due to the force of seventy mile an hour wind I finally realised what they had meant. I felt like I was being blown off my bike. The first few times I tried to pull myself up the seat I would turn the throttle and the bike would just start going faster increasing the pressure of the wind on my upper body.

In Bristol

After having made an executive decision to ride at sixty miles an hour to reduce the wind factor the road turned into a wind tunnel and for the rest of the trip I felt like I was being blown off the road and every car/truck that passed, buffeted me around my lane. ‘Scary’ soon became another word I would have used to describe the M4. There was also a lot of traffic on that road and ‘congested’ was soon added.

After two neck-wobbling, buffeting hours the main word going through my head was ‘horrible’. At that moment, I could not think of anything that I would least rather be doing. Why was I not on the train reading a good book, speeding along to visit my friends in Bristol. On a train you didn’t have to concentrate on staying on a bike and the bike staying on the road. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the train network in the UK.

I am pleased to say that the ride back was much better. The road was emptier and there wasn’t as much wind. It was then I understood why to those with experience, heavier bodies and heavier bikes with a decent fairing thrown in for good measure the M4 was just ‘boring’. Singing to myself to relieve the boredom I wished that I knew more of the words to the song ‘Here comes the sun’ so I ended up taking my mate Bruce’s advice and by going faster than seventy miles an hour the adrenaline I felt did help somewhat.

 Bruce, Kate and Scarlett

Getting to London I decided that it would be faster to ride through London than taking the North Circular. As most of my riding is on a bicycle I was still trying to figure out the best way to motorcycle to Holloway as I hit Piccadilly Circus but thankfully not all the pedestrians that don’t realise that the road isn’t their right of way. Keeping a dominate position my in my lane riding up Shaftsbury Road and having two black cabs simultaneously filtering around me on each side I decided I wouldn’t be going that way again.

Statistic of the day:- broke the 40,000 miles barrier on my bike

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Pillion at Personal Peril

March 5th, 2006 by sunflowers

A real weekend of firsts for me – I reckon it makes a right difference having nice weather! I did my first pillion (riding with a passenger) today from Holloway to Manor Park in East London to visit some friends and watch the ‘Might Boosh’ (well funny show www.themightyboosh.com). Pillioning made the bike a lot heaver. It was a bit scary when the pillion passenger shifted their weight and I had to keep the bike upright. It made me realise why my instructor had said that when I first pillion I should make sure I get someone fairly light. Also the start of the journey was straight onto braving the traffic on Holloway Road. I did the ten mile journey in just over an hour – the time lag due to stopping to look at the map four times and the 20 miles an hour that I was doing for most of it at. Still by the end of the ride I think I was getting a handle on it and a bonus that I could put both feet firmly on the ground. Thanks to James for being my guinea pig at his own risk (c;

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