Saturday 10 November 2012


Last weekend saw a trip to the International Dirt Bike Show at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry. I met up with Michael at Junction 12 of the M1 and we rode up together, it was a rather chilly ride but went without incident.

When we arrived we were able to park the bikes right outside the entrance which was handy but I then discovered Michael had been promised a ticket by a friend, John and after a phone call discovered he was still twenty minutes away. I decided to buy my ticket and head inside as I had already stripped off all my bike gear and was starting to feel the cold. I went in and got us both a tea and bacon roll, which I then had to hand over the barrier to Michael. I then deposited my gear at the cloakroom. Being a fairly regular visitor to Stoneleigh, I knew that they charge £1 per item at the cloakroom, so had brought along a large roll bag, into which went boots, trousers, jacket, gloves etc. turning everything into “one item” for only a pound J

On wandering outside again we met up with Mark and Vanessa (you may recall I rode with Mark and Michael at the Hafren Rally, when Michael tried to take his eye out)! Shortly afterwards John turned up and we all went inside.

Well to be honest it was rather disappointing being even more dominated by motocross than last year, with several of the adventure/rally biased exhibitors being noticeable by their absence. First stop was the KTM stand which had nothing bigger than a 525EXC on the basis that 690s etc. are “Road Bikes”. They did have Cyril Despres’ Dakar Bike a 450RR which was the only thing of interest to us. Mark especially as he has bought a 690RR which the 450 shares most of its components with and he took over a hundred photos of various aspects of the bike!

We had a quick look round before it was time for the presentations for the Big Bike Rally Challenge and UK Rally Challenge (for the little bikes). With Burt and Moly away in Morocco this fell to Stewie to arrange and it went without a hitch. Mark picked up his trophy for third place in the twins class, a prize that would have almost certainly gone to Michael if he hadn’t DNF’ed at the Cambrian Rally. Several winners were unfortunately absent, so we all pitched in and Michael accepted Lyndon’s first place Trophy in the sub 575cc class and as he was wearing his Lyndon Poskitt Racing jacket, got introduced as “one of his sponsors”. I went up to accept a trophy for someone in the UK Rally Challenge who I don’t even know but it all made it look like it was pre planned.


We spent the rest of the day looking round; Michael bought himself a pair of new (and very orange) Sidi crossfire boots with £100 off the normal price of £350, as well as picking up a pair for his mate Warwick. On the basis of having just bought £500 worth of boots he negotiated a price of £280 for a Shoei Hornet DS helmet. Not bad as although you can get good deals on these, they are usually about £300. The retail price for these is £370 for a multi coloured one and the plain colours go for £320 (seems a lot extra to pay for a couple of coloured stripes)!

Michael got one in Black with orange stripes (which match his new boots rather well) and on the basis of this I asked if they would do another at the same price, which they would, so I got myself a white one with black stripes that matches the bike. I hadn’t intended to buy a new helmet but my old Shoei Synchrotech helmet was certainly due for replacement so it was too good a deal to miss.

A few other friends were bumped into and there were some other interesting sights, like a couple of old CCM’s with the 1985 version looking strangely similar to my 2002 example despite the much earlier 500cc Rotax engine.


Eventually all that was left was the cold ride home again!

Thursday 1 November 2012


After all the fun and games getting dirty in recent weeks, I spent the day last Saturday strictly on tarmac….

And still ended up getting cold and wet!

The plan was to get an early start and head on over to the Adventure Bike Shop near Sudbury in Suffolk, where Author Chris Scott was launching the sixth edition of his Adventure Motorcycling Handbook. Especially as there were free bacon rolls on offer!

As with most well laid plans, things went awry from the start and I woke up to find snow on the ground!!!

OK not too much but it was suitably cold and uninviting not to want to jump on a bike. However by mid morning things had improved and the sun was shining out of a clear blue sky, so I wrapped up well and headed off eastwards.

Well the sunshine and clear blue skies lasted almost as far as Haverhill, at which point the heavens opened and rain of biblical proportions descended upon me. Never mind, I was well waterproofed up so carried on regardless. Although was starting to wish I had invested in some heated grips.

Soon afterwards the fuel light came on but as the sat nav said I only had about 20 miles to go, I decided there was plenty of time to find a petrol station…. Except I never did, as I crossed and re-crossed the Essex/Suffolk border into increasingly rural surroundings, petrol stations were notable by their absence.

I arrived at the Adventure Bike Shop and joined the throng of bikers sheltering inside from the rain and tucked into bacon rolls and coffee that were in plentiful supply. I had a good chat with a few people including one chap who had also ridden from Stevenage and shortly after arriving the rain stopped and the vast majority of people took the opportunity to leave. I got the impression that most of them had been there quite a while not wanting to leave in the rain. OK it was pretty heavy but come on guys… call yourselves Adventure Bikers!

I had a long chat with Chris himself and bought a copy of his new book that he dutifully signed for me. I had a good look round at lots of nice kit but resisted the temptation to buy anything. Every time I decided to leave the rain seemed to start again until it eventually stopped around three o’clock, so I set off to search for fuel.

I decided to head via Sudbury as there was bound to be fuel there, except after a ride round the town I couldn’t find any! I then spotted a sign to Halstead 6 miles, now I know from experience there are a couple of petrol stations in Halstead and the instruments were showing I had done 35 miles from the fuel light coming on. As I have previously managed 42 miles from the light before filling up, I thought that 41 miles would be no problem and set off to Halstead at a nice steady pace.

Except at 38 miles, the bike coughed once and then cut out. I was next to a sign saying Halstead 3 miles, so it looked like a long push was in order. I set off along the road that was mercifully flat and then slightly downhill, so I was able to coast along. Then the road started to climb, so I decided to try the starter and the engine fired up again. I got up the slope and then as road went downhill the engine cut out again but at least I was able coast a bit further.

As the Adventure has twin tanks, linked by a pipe at the front I guessed that the fuel pump must be at the back of one tank. Going downhill allowed fuel from the other tank to flow across the link pipe but only to sit at the front of the tank. Then when I went back uphill and it flowed back to the fuel pump.

I was able to continue this way until the outskirts of Halstead when the road flattened out and nothing would get the bike to run. I pushed on into town and thankfully the road started to go downhill again, this time much more steeply. Sitting on the bike I was able to freewheel the whole length of the High Street and to the other end where the road turned back uphill. Luckily the fuel station came into sight only 300 yards ahead and after a short push I was able to start the bike again and coughed and spluttered my way to the pumps. I then managed to get 20.11 litres into my 20 litre tank!

After this the heavens opened again and it continued to rain all the way home… the joys of year round motorcycling (but I really must get myself some heated grips)