Friday 4 October 2019

August was kinda busy too...

After a busy month in July, it didn’t really let up….

After my very relaxed ride around Leicestershire and Rutland doing the first recce for the August Adventure Cannonball, Burt and I headed off to do the final check. This was especially needed as we had just had a week of torrential rain.
  • And sure enough, what had been bone dry lanes were now transformed into quagmires!
  • Shallow fords a few inches deep were now a couple of feet deep!
  • A road closure needed diverting round
  • And the byway I had found to be closed for drainage work was still closed but they had moved the works the “wrong” side of a junction so some re-routing was needed for that too.
We managed to re-plan and in the bargain shortened the route and also had a chat with the excellent Dairy Farm Café who confirmed they would be more than happy to host us on the day.

The day itself arrived and rather than take the van, I rode up as it was only an hour and a half from home and the weather was once again glorious.

The café had done us proud and given us a separate field to park in and laid on extra breakfasts. Everyone was sent off and Burt and I headed inside for our own breakfast!

Burt set up camp in the café to do some work and I set off to sweep the course. Guessing how far the riders might have gone, I headed straight for Bruces Lane near the village of Somerby. Sure enough I pulled up just to see the last couple of riders come through, I leap-frogged ahead of them (and a few others) and got some photos and video as they passed. 

Again cutting the course I rode back along it in the opposite direction but only met one rider who turned out to be the lead bike before finding another spot to sit and wait for the others. This didn’t last long as I got a phone call to tell me one rider had snapped his chain!

I wasn’t far away and was able to get there in five minutes. Unfortunately there was nothing that could be done so I stayed with him until he had recovery sorted and then returned to the café. We had a report that the last few riders were still out on course having stopped for a break in Oakham.  I agreed to sweep the course, heading straight to Oakham then following the route back in.

I took the A606 straight to Oakham and decided to take the loop through town in case the riders were still there. They weren’t but I did manage to get stuck at the level crossing in the centre of town for nearly 15 minutes! I had a very interesting chat with a Nepalese rider who pulled up beside me and wanted to know how I could get my bike so muddy around Rutland. Although running riding tours around Nepal, he was completely unaware of the existence of Byways and Unsurfaced Unclassified County Roads in England and was excited to learn about the Adventure Cannonballs, I of course directed him to the RallyMoto website.

After riding the remaining course, mostly fast flowing B Roads, I stopped in Melton Mowbray for fuel when I got the call from Burt that the last riders had turned up only a few minutes after I left!!! Oh well it was a fun ride!

The next outing was a trip to the Lake District to plan Octobers Adventure Cannonball. Grainne and I decided to make a weekend of it. I was going to ride my 1090 R but she decided to take her BMW G310R rather than her trail bike on the basis the route is mostly on tarmac and the few byways could be easily diverted round.  

As it made more sense for me to go straight from work in Northampton, I took the 1090R to work after loading her bike in the van. She drove from home to the Northampton Services on the M1 where I joined her and loaded my bike. We then headed up to Keswick and the B&B we had booked.

The next morning dawned sunny and bright and I unloaded the bikes, no mean feat in the very narrow and crowded street outside the B&B. Grainne was understandably nervous not having ridden either of her bikes since last year as result of her broken shoulder on our snow boarding trip. I had just changed the levers on her BMW for short adjustable ones as the standard nonadjustable ones are impractically large for a bike clearly designed for smaller riders with smaller hands. Unfortunately the clutch was now out of adjustment and the bike stalled every time she tried to pull away, I had a go with no more luck, the cable needed adjusting but try as I might we couldn’t get the adjuster to budge by hand. What I needed was a pair of pliers to get it to turn but of course I hadn’t brought one with us.

We decided to cut our losses and put her bike back in the van and ride the recce two up on the 1090.

It turned out to be a great ride, as mentioned it’s mostly on tarmac but what tarmac! Narrow lanes, twisty mountain passes and spectacular views all round. Unfortunately there is major water main replacement going on around Keswick for several months and three parts of the intended route were blocked, requiring some major re-routing. This will make the navigation “interesting” but after all that’s what these events are all about.

At the end of the day Grainne admitted that she would have struggled with some of the route, after all things like a twisty 1 in 3 (30%) downhill descent would not exactly be easy after twelve months off the bike!

It was a long day too and turned out very hot by the afternoon but the route was all done and dusted.

The next day we played tourists and visited Ambleside, Tarn Howes and Hawkshead before the long drive home again.

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