Thursday, 1 November 2012

Badlands

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)

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