If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Dearth of Bike-related Posts

To my biking readers, I apologise for the recent lack of bike-related posts. I have to confess that I haven't done many miles on either bike over the last month. The new job has been one reason. Riding to work on a bike in this weather requires a bit of forward planning - leaving work clothes in work, finding somewhere to hang a set of dripping waterproofs, and so on - and for the first few days, you want to be ready for anything and looking reasonably smart, so I am afraid that I defaulted to using a car for the first week or two. Then I have been doing the Door Supervisor training, which has meant yet another location and a new set of clothing challenges. And then I get back to working, and the worst December weather for decades descends on us.

I like to ride all year, and rain and cold go with the territory. But ice, snow and fog, where skill and judgement take second place to dumb luck, are big disincentives. It was one thing when I was young and had no choice, but these days it would seem perverse to opt for two wheels when a perfectly adequate car (with heater, CD player and - crucially - inherent vertical stability) is available. Unfortunately, my car insurance and MoT have expired, and I haven't yet been able to sort that out, so Anna has been very generous in allowing me to use hers.

I started both bikes yesterday and let them get thoroughly warmed up. The Triumph started first time and idled regularly, as if it were a summer's day. The Yam was a bit more reluctant. It started with a bit of patience, but needed nursing along until it got a bit of warmth into the cylinder. I have said before that I think the Bonnie is good enough to be a year-round bike, and I was anticipating retiring the Yam for a bit of TLC, but in these conditions the idea of a rugged, go-anywhere bike that will stand a drop is starting to appeal again. I think I might oil up the Triumph and put it in the garage for a while.

Tonight, the temperature dropped drastically mid-evening and the rain that had been falling all afternoon (I am at work as I write this) instantly turned to black ice. There are reports of cars in ditches and lurid slides on roundabouts from everyone who comes past, so I think resuming the two-wheeled commuting can wait for a day or two. Sometimes, self-preservation wins.

As a winter treat, allow me to present you with this superb image of Aaron Yates at Virginia International Raceway ...

It's like a lesson in physics.


  1. Heck good photo. I'm using the old mondeo to get around this week. Bike is comfy and warm in the garage.
    Thinking back to my time working in Saudi. Our definition of an arab carrying a motorcycle helmet.
    'Dead man walking'.
    Fireblades were popular when I was there. No training required. With predictable results...

  2. I am Focus-bound this week. It's not bad, for a car.

    Fireblade, no helmet, no training. Plenty of organ donations, then.

  3. So, its come to this. Even doors cannot be left to work on their own any more without supervision.

  4. Thanks for reminding me of winter riding. Not being of an age at that time to have that much experience l now realise with shivers that my survival was down to Lady Luck. The near misses and scrapes l got into on the old T6 Thunderbird are a testament to the good Lady. :)

    Geat photo, although it seems to defy physics!

  5. Mr Baxter, if you had recently witnessed the disgraceful scenes as the ladies of a local charity tried to get in to the Guide Hall at precisely the same time as the Brownies were trying to get out, you would not mock the notion of door supervision.

    I have increased the time-separation between hall bookings, commissioned a couple of barriers and have threatened to buy an electric cattle prod and damn well use it next time if people don't behave.

    I also intend to get myself a kevlar vest and some suitably threatening dark glasses and a stick-on beard. No more Mrs Nice Raft.

  6. Mrs Formerly Nice Raft,

    Whatever their construction or texture, doors are simple entities. I cannot accept that supervising a mere door would have influenced the charnel-house scene you imply. No agency, mortal or door-based, could have interceded. That was a time to pour a large brandy, light up, and leave destiny to its course.

  7. Great Piccie Richard, only for memories in the UK at this time of the year.

    For those who savour extreme angles of lean, try.......


  8. @Jim - doors do indeed need supervising these days. It started with smaller doors failing to close with a nice sssss-kerchunk, and has led to larger doors smalling without warning and in a slightly intimidatory manner. Who knows where it will end? Timely intervention may just stop the rot and lead us back to a Golden Age where doors behaved themselves - Doors As They Used To Be, in fact.

  9. @Smokie - I think we can all look back and wonder hot the hell we got away with it. The fact you are here is as much to do with the forgiving qualities of the T6 as the generosity of Lady Luck, though.

    The photo is a favourite of mine, and it's my wallpaper on the other computer. I think of it every time I get into a fast corner and wonder if the tyres are going to stick. If you look at the angle, the likely outward forces, and the tiny contact patch, you realise that tyres are a damn sight stickier than you think. It's also a great aggressive attitude - Aaron Yates is known for his take-no-prisoners, back-it-in riding style.

  10. WoaR - you need a Qualified Door Supervisor for your Brownies and charity functions. I know someone, reasonable rates, cash-in-hand, won't upset the punters, knowwhatimean. Let me know.

  11. @Joe - funnily enough, I have never been tempted to go ice racing. The thought of a hundred 3" spikes on each tyre, and how much I would resemble a colander if I fell off and were run over, puts me off a bit. But the lean angles are interesting. Yates is leaning off the bike on the inside to get ground clearance. These guys are leaning out, and the bikes are virtually horizontal. I once met a guy who did a bit of that in Scandinavia, and he said it is both easier and safer than it looks. Which isn't saying much, to be frank.

  12. @ Jim - 'smalling' = 'slamming' in your Earth language, of course.

  13. It's not really biking weather, to be fair. 8" of snow had me working from home for the end of last wek. Now it's just raining, so normal two-wheeled service can be resumed.

    I have been that far over on a bike. About 10 milliseconds later it got very expensive very quickly. Do wish I could do it in a rather more controlled fashion, though.

    Slightly off-topic, it's rather nice to get back to a civilised part of the internet. I joined the Kawasaki Riders Club, because they asked me to and just to see what it was like. It's always seemed to me that Kwak riders, of all Japanese marques, come closest to having that rather dreary form of brand loyalty which one usually from Harley owners. It gives me no special pleasure to discover that actually is the case: a whole forum, seemingly, full of people preaching the cult of green-is-the-only-colour (apparently especially true for functional illiterates). What a truly pleasant contrast this blog makes!

  14. Too kind :)

    I know what you mean, though. I used to read/post to a forum based on the Yamaha XT660 models. Not only was any reference to other bikes (for example the Suzuki DR400) deemed heresy, but even mentioning people from the *other* XT forum was verboten. It gets very tedious. I visit a Triumph forum which is mainly US-based, and that, by contrast, is remarkably tolerant and civilised.

    I think the head-banging nature of Kwackers attracts a certain category of punter. Likewise with Harleys - baaaaad accountants to a man.

  15. "It's like a lesson in physics."

    It is indeed. It's telling me I'd probably lose at physics... ;)

  16. I find it strangely reassuring. I generally go round corners at (estimated) half that angle and feel a bit of a hero doing it, so that photo tells me that I am in the zone of 'reasonably safe, even though it feels lairy'.

    Except, of course, when it's involuntarily, as Endo relates.

  17. It was on a Honda, on ice! Realistically, like yourself, I don't get anywhere near that sort of lean on road tarmac - even if does sometimes feel a bit like it...

    It's a weird thing, that K-mentality. Trading off past glories, I suspect: from the H-1 up until about the GPZ1100 they actually were the mentalist's choice. The Gixxers kinda ruined that party, from then on the Ninjas tended to be fourth in class right up until the mid-2000s. (Honourable exception for the ZZR11, of course). Now, I'd be hard-pressed to get a fag paper between most of the comparable offerings (not just Japanese) in the market.

    Ah well, some of them may go on to learn that it's the rider, not the bike...

  18. You have just named the three Kawasakis that I have ever lusted after. The mental triples, the big bruiser GPZ1100 and the awesome ZZR. Funny how the purple and orange colour scheme actually enhanced the appeal - it was so bad it was good.

    Never actually owned a Kwacker, though. And there's nothing in the current line-up to tempt me to change that. Apart, curiously, from the Versys. Strange, that.


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