• Category Archives Stuff
  • A melting pot of personal thoughts, views, and comments on life in general.

  • All change!

    A couple of years ago I played a trick on my two riding buddies, Mark and Andy. I came back from Bordeaux and sent them a picture of a VFR1200 I told them I’d bought to replace my BMW K1300GT. Not an entirely implausible action, given I’d often talked of what I’d replace it with. I kept the deception going for a couple of days before cracking and admitting it was a hoax. Since then they’ve tried the odd stunt to catch me out, but these have been easily rumbled by me asking to see their new bikes registration document or a picture of the bike in their garage, and of course these don’t materialise.

    Mark tried to kid me he was buying a Panigale when in fact all he’d bought was a model, then tried again saying he’d bought a Harley, showing me a picture of one in his garage, which later turned out to be a bike he was looking after for someone else.

    This year the stakes were upped. Mark and I have the same R1 track bikes, bought within a few weeks of each other, and we frequently compare notes as to what gearing to use, which parts to buy, how to fix something on the bike, and which parts we want to buy. We’ve both crashed them and done some damage, although Mark did a better job than me and broke his collarbone, so with our first trackday of 2016 booked, and Marks first since his crash in late 2014, we were comparing notes again, with major topics being gearing, quickshifters and quick action throttles. Neither of us had yet fitted or bought the parts but they were on the cards. I thought this time I’d get the jump on Mark as I got a quickshifter, fitted it and didn’t tell him, thinking it would be one up to me when we got to Catalunya, and that he’d be miffed I’d bought something he hadn’t got, which just might give me an advantage, or so I thought!

    IMG_0747

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    SUB PLOT 1 – Andy had been asking me for ages which bike I’d favour or recommend for a new track bike? I like the ZX-10R, but know Andy has had a hankering to own an RSV4 since he rode one a few years ago, but he didn’t follow it through and buy one, instead going for the more clinical and track biased BMW S1000RR. Whilst the RR is a great bike it’s never really stirred his soul, and I could tell he was really wanting someone to tell him to buy the Aprilia. Despite my extolling the Kwaks virtues he wasn’t having any of it, but it was clear that he wanted a change, so what would he get?

    One day he asked me if either Mark or I would be interested in buying his RR. I don’t have the money and am more than happy with my R1, and as Mark had told me hundreds of times how he liked riding an old school bike with no electronics, I told him I thought it unlikely he’d be interested either, and thought no more of it, as with Catalunya being only two weeks away, he’d surely wait until after then before doing anything?.

    SUB PLOT 2- Next day Mark asked me what I thought of Andys bike? I opined it was a good bike, well cared for, but in my view had had a hard life on track requiring a small gearbox repair, had a lot of intelligent extras on it, but was an early model and that if I were to buy I’d steer towards a 2012 model, but that it would be a good buy for someone. After this relatively brief discussion we switched back to the forthcoming Catalunya trip and gearing, stomp grips, and R1 stuff. Hardly conversations you’d spend so long on if you were thinking of buying a new bike?

    A couple of days passed and then suddenly Mark sent me a message saying

    “I’ve bought an HP4”.

    Here we go again I thought, another stupid story, he must be bored and got nothing to do so I replied,

    “Yeah, and I’m the Pope and flying to the moon this afternoon”

    “ No really” he said.

    “ OK, copy of the carte grise and pics of bike in the garage then please”

    “ Haven’t got it yet”.

    “ So where did you buy it and how much”.

    “ Grand Prix Motos and 10k” came the answer

    “OK, Can I have your Akra pipes then please?”

    “They’ve gone with the bike.”

    “When did you sell it? “

    “Just”.

    Now I’m starting to wonder what the hell’s going on. He’s never once mentioned the R1 was even for sale, and has spent forever discussing stuff about it with me, let alone the hundreds he’s just spent rebuilding it, so how come it’s sold so quickly? Who to? Nothing was making sense so I said

    “OK course you’ve bought one, I look forward to seeing it at Catalunya” I said, and  discounted the story as the latest in a line of wind ups, and when I discussed it with Andy, he poured scorn on the idea as it wouldn’t be possible to buy an HP4 for such a low price! Conversation forgotten, especially given the next day he sent me a picture of himself in his Yamaha fleece with an admission he’d lied, and that he still had the R1. End of?

    Next day and a really big shock came when Andy told me he’s sold his RR and asks again what would I recommend he buys? I’d been a bit surprised to find he’d moved so quickly and sold the RR without telling me, especially as he’d said it had gone by word of mouth and not been advertised, but hey, sometimes things fall into place! Ramifications? Well clearly the test ride he’d promised Mark and me at Catalunya wasn’t going to happen, but at least he has an R6 race bike as a back up so he can still ride at Catalunya.

    Trying to answer his question I went back to trying to extoll the virtues of the ZX-10R but could tell it wasn’t going to wash, so in the end I suggested he buy with the heart this time and buy the Aprilia. “Don’t worry it’s Italian and will break and cost lots, you’ll have the time of your life riding it”. He complained that the nearest dealer is over two hours away from him, but so what I replied, I’d once flown from Geneva to Nice to buy a Lexus! so it was a very poor excuse not to go. Anyway,  after thinking about it some more, he drove across to Bern to have a look.

    THEN, a couple of days pass and Mark called and said:

    “What’s this about you getting a quickshifter without telling me?”

    “Well we all have secrets I replied”.

    “‘I’ve got one too comes the response, I’ve bought an RR”

    Here we go again I thought, but this time he sends me a picture from his garage of an RR rear end with it’s exhaust sticking out from under a blanket.

    IMG_0806

    “I see Andy has brought his bike round for new tyres to be fitted before Catalunya “ I said

    “No, it’s my bike comes the reply, Andy is taking the R6 to Catalunya.”

    “So wheres the R1?”

    “Sold”

    “So three days ago you had an R1, sold it overnight and bought an RR? Hardly a credible story?”

    “No really, I had no intention of selling it, but put it up for sale at 12.30 one day and it went the next.”

    “Really, and an RR just happened to be available?”

    “I hope you like it then” I said. I told him that when I’d ridden Andys RR at Dijon I’d  found it to be rock hard, handled very fast, and was nothing like as comfortable as the R1

    “It is Andys came the reply”

    So having been told Andy had sold his bike to a French guy, and Mark outright denying it was him as he’s English, now it transpires that he’s bought Andys bike after all!

    AND, there’s more! Andy has just taken delivery of a brand new RSV4 Factory

    IMG_2098

    So, everythings changed quite dramatically in the course of a week. How will our two days on track go after all these changes and subterfuge?

    Read the coming post !


  • Non starting GT- UPDATE

    After the frustration of the GT not starting I put pen to paper and wrote the previous blog post. 15 minutes later I thought I’d see if the bike would start, not really expecting it would after such a short time, but guess what?, the damn thing fired up immediately!!

    Dashing outside to tell Sue to get ready again, I found her relaxing in a chair taking advantage of the sunny weather, adamant she was going to spend the rest of the afternoon chilling in the sun, and it was clear she wasn’t going to go through the hassle of changing again or to come for a ride with me.

    OK, I’ll go on my own then, and I did. It’s always slightly odd on the first ride if you’ve not been out for a while, but I quickly got back into the swing of things, and despite the French doing their usual trick of blocking roads and sending you miles out of your way on their non direct deviations, I quickly found an alternative route and quite enjoyed the new roads and scenery I was experiencing. Two and a half hours and 175kms later I was back at home, having thoroughly enjoyed the 18/19C temperatures and riding. Interestingly the fuel gauge started working again, although I’ve yet to try and access the menu to adjust the instrument backlighting, but at least it’s been ridden and seems to be ok now.

     

    Hopefully this was a one off, but I’ll be very wary of leaving it out in the sun for a while.

     

    Cheers

     

    Paul


  • First ride of 2016? GT thinks otherwise!

    It’s been coming for a while now, that combination of good weather, free time, and a desire to get back on two wheels and ride again. I’d been watching the forecast for days. Fridays 17C and sun had turned into somewhat less than expected, but Saturday was looking good, and after completing some gardening tasks in the morning I thought I deserved a run out.

    The first inkling things might not be quite right came when I decided to top up the tank from the spare can I had in the garage. Despite putting 5 litres in the tank, the fuel gauge stayed resolutely locked at the same level and showing the same distance to empty as it had done before being topped up. Thoughts started to cross my mind of the known BMW fuel strip issues, and how problems seem to surface when these BM’s aren’t ridden for a while, and how after 3 months of sitting on its stand in the garage maybe I was going to start to find problems surfacing?

    Next I adjusted the clock, but it wouldn’t let me change the intensity of the dashboard lighting nor let me even access the screen to do so. I wasn’t too concerned as at least the bike had started several times and run ok, so chivvying the wife along to get ready, we put our bike gear on for our first run out of 2016.

    Next came the realisation that despite us having fully charged the Sena intercoms after our last ride they weren’t charged now. Never mind, just have to have a quiet ride, not a problem. So there we are, dressed and ready to go and then, nothing! As in push the start button and nothing. Sue’s stood there looking at me with inquisitive eyes, and I’m cursing 285kg of Germanys finest, that for some reason known best to itself no longer wants to fire up and be ridden.  I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the switchgear which has got hot, as I’d had that problem before, albeit in much much warmer temperatures, todays 16C shouldn’t be causing problems.

    I checked the battery and all was fine, but it was clear that we weren’t going anywhere. I wheeled the bike back into the garage in the hope that putting it back in the shade might somehow allow the switchgear to cool down (if that was even the problem), and if that doesn’t cure it, it will be on a trailer and into the dealer, who will doubtless charge an arm and a leg to fix it. What a crap way to start the year on two wheels!


  • A biking CV

    self

    In the dating world everyone posts up their profiles and looks for a match. I’m not doing that here, but as bikers we all do lots of interesting stuff; ride great roads, visit great places, have on circuit experience or attend race meetings, so I thought it might be interesting to list up what I’ve done over the years in the form of a CV so others can benchmark their biking experiences, it was fun listing it!. How does yours compare?

    AlpineBiker CV

     

    Age-                                 Heading towards 60

    Current bikes-                   BMW K1300GT (road) , Yamaha R1 (track)

    Riding since–                     1976

    Number of miles ridden-    287,000kms / 179,000 miles

    Countries ridden in-         England, Scotland, Wales, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Andorra, Luxembourg, Monaco, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia& Herzegovenia, Isle of Man, South Africa.

    Circuits ridden- Donington Park, Oulton Park, Silverstone, Catalunya, Aragon, Parc Motor Castelolli, Anneau du Rhin, Bresse, Dijon, Magny Cours GP & Club, Ledenon, Paul Ricard, Hockenheim

    Qualification-                  IAM test pass

    Circuit training-             Ron Haslam School x6 plus coaching with

                                           Simon Crafar (Motovudu)

    Number of different bikes ridden- 67

    Aprilia*1, Benelli*1, BMW*11, Ducati* 6, Honda* 20, Kawasaki* 5, Laverda* 1, Moto Guzzi* 2, MV Agusta* 1, Suzuki* 6 Triumph* 3, Yamaha* 10

    Number of bikes owned- 15

    HONDA LOGO

    CB125T, Superdream 250N, Superdream CB400N                VFR800, CBR1100XX Super Blackbird (2), RVF750 RC45

    Suzuki_logo

    GSXR1000K2

     

    YAMAHA TUNING FORK LOGO

    RD250, R1

     

    LAVERDA LOGO

    750S

     

    bmw-logo

     K1200GT, K1300GT

     

    Kawasaki LOGO ZZR600, ZX-10R

    Furthest miles in one day –  847kms / 529 miles 11hours 40 mins

    Longest tour-                      15 days, 4269kms / 2668 miles

    Highest pass ridden-        Col de Bonette 2702m or Iseran 2770 (if extra loop on  Bonette discounted)

    Total passes ridden over 2000m-        26

    Height ascended (of above) –       155,287m

    Fastest speed-                      285mph Honda SuperBlackbird (German autobahn)

    MotoGP’s attended-              Silverstone, Mugello

    WSBK   attended-                 Kyalami (S.Africa), Monza, San Marino     

    BSB attended –                    Mallory Park, Donington Park, Silverstone, Oulton Park, Brands Hatch

     


  • Website change

    NEW TODAY!!!

     

    I’m pleased to launch my revised website today.

    The old hosting company wanted 4 times the previous renewal charge, so I decided to move to another hosting company. Unfortunately as the old site was created with the previous hosts software, I wasn’t able to transfer it across in the previous format, so a few hours of grafting were involved in recreating it in the new format you find here today, hope you like it?

    The R1 is pretty much prepped and ready for Catalunya, has a new Zero Gravity Corsa tall race screen mounted, and is ready for it’s first track foray of 2016. The final touch will be making a final gearing change decision, which I’m struggling with despite having spent ages studying charts and discussing the relative merits of plus and minus sprockets on either front or rear end.

    We’ve been counting down the months and weeks since booking, and now with just 2 1/2 weeks to go, Mark , Andy and I are chomping at the bit to get out there.

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    Andy surprised me yesterday by telling me he’s sold his RR, so will be coming with his R6 instead, unless he finds a replacement in the next 10 days? Perhaps he’ll buy the Aprilia he’s been hankering after for years?

    Mark is back on track for the first time after an 18 month gap after breaking his collarbone at Magny Cours at the end of 2014.

    The GT has been on the battery charger and still waits to turn a wheel, with it’s first ride out likely to be to the dealer to have the wheel carrier recall attended to. I’ll see if I can take the opportunity to blag a test ride on the new RS whilst it’s there for the three hours they need it.

    I’m looking to be running a tour in July with a group of 5 or 6 from Ireland which should be fun.

    Hopefully the weather is now changing for the better, the clocks go forward next weekend as we go into summer time, lighter nights are coming, and things start to look less gloomy. Fingers crossed for a great 2016.

     

    Cheers

     

    Paul

     

     


  • First post of 2016

    Belated New Year greetings to you all.

    It’s been a while. I’ve not posted a single word on here for months. In the general scheme of world order, that’s not a big deal. There will still be visitors to the site reading the older posts, and perhaps the odd few regular visitors might be wondering why it’s gone quiet on here, or maybe not?

    The reasons for not posting have been many, and mostly of a very personal nature, but life moves on and looking back, is something you shouldn’t do, they say ( who the hell are they?). For me last year was such a poor one on so many levels, that trying to take positives from it is hard. Members of the family died, my job situation changed, necessitating major living accommodation changes, but through all those difficult times I’ve had the support of some good friends and of course my wife and parents, all of whom have helped keep me on the straight and narrow and keep my spirits up.

    My circumstances changing have led me to question many things. One of them is to ask how an address change now means that insuring my 2005 Jaguar S type now costs more than my daughter pays for her 2005 Peugeot 206cc? She is a first year driver aged 30, I’m 57, go figure that one!

    I’ve come into contact with lots of recruiters, and whilst it’s the way of the world for companies to use them, I’m getting weary of regular weekly calls asking if I’m interested in such and such a position, and being led to believe I’m an ideal candidate for the latest position they have. It’s odd that I can be a hot property on a Tuesday, asked if I’m available for an interview on a Friday, and then never hear from them again. It sucks to be selected for an interview and then find the position is withdrawn, only to later find the company has a history of such tactics. The latest variation on a theme was to be sent for an “assessment” day, only to find there were 9 others there, and then to find I was unsuccessful because my experience wasn’t as relevant as others. Hardly surprising since I came from a totally different industry, so why bother wasting my time and money (no expenses paid) when the chance of success was always likely to be small? It would be nice if recruiters ever came back to you with updates on the position they were hawking and for which you were the ideal candidate, but they don’t. Why don’t they?, because they need to call another x number of people and tell them they are ideal candidates, and eventually one might be, but you’ll never know what happened because they don’t tell you.

    One of the things that has remained positive and for which I give thanks, are my riding buddies. I took a group of Americans on a tour back in 2011 and I’m still in touch with a couple of them, which is great. One of their group decided last year to hang up his boots, sell his gear, and concentrate on 4 wheels. Always a shame when that happens, but this group did something special. They held a “wake” for him. They organised a party, showed old pictures, played the last post as they presented him with the Swiss flag everyone on the tour had signed, and played him a video message they had asked me to send, and I’m delighted to say he loved it, as did the group. It was nice to be asked to be a small part of their celebrations, and shows to me the value of having a great group, of not only riding buddies, but “real” friends, and to the group, I salute you all, it was great riding with you then, and my memories of that tour are some of the best I have ever had.

    It wasn’t all doom and gloom last year on the riding front though, as I managed to get to the Isle of Man for the first time, for TT practice week, with my new group of UK riding friends, Jon, Dog, Roo, Jim, and Kev. I also managed to get some track days in, with five at Donington and one at Oulton, where my French licence wasn’t initially accepted, because it had been transferred from a Swiss one, and the girl checking it thought there was an endorsement on it, although if riders with endorsements weren’t allowed on track, numbers would be much more limited I’m sure!

    Other than the IOM trip the GT went largely unridden, something which I need to rectify this year.

    So what will this year bring? Hopefully, health wealth and happiness. I don’t suppose I’ll get rich by winning the lottery as I don’t buy tickets, but there are some things coming up this year to look forward to. My daughters wedding, a visit to parents overseas, a euro trackday (or two), and meeting up with my Euro riding buddies Mark and Andy for some good company and track time, where we’ll chew the fat, tell tall tales, compare lap times, and generally put the world to rights, so although 2015 was pretty crap, hopefully 2016 will be better, and I’ll be back to posting more regularly.

     

    Ta ra for now

     

    Paul


  • Donington- first visit 2015

    First trackday of the year 2015

    In previous years when I lived in France, I’ve had the benefit of starting my track riding season earlier than I’m currently able to. Imagine being able to nip down to Spain for a few days at Aragon in March and have a 90% chance of good weather! Now contrast that with options in the UK, where now I have to wait until June/July in the hope of getting good weather, since not having wets and a spare set of wheels means that a wet UK trackday will mean no riding and a waste of my hard earned.

    Since last years August crash at Donington I’ve been rebuilding the R1, and it’s been waiting for the past couple of months to be unleashed back on track. June 18th was the designated date for it’s first outing in full track bike format, so here’s how it went, but first, a list of the changes:

    Fairings- OE replaced by track only meaning seat position changed, low foam no comfy padded seat!

    Handlebars- OE ditched and replaced by Renthal clip-ons- another positional change

    Forks- serviced and stock springs replaced with linear K-Tech springs correct for my weight

    Tyres- Superbike Pros replaced by even stickier Pirelli SC2’s

    Throttle- shorter throw R6 throttle gave a cheap QA option.

    The sum total of all these things should theoretically give big improvements everywhere, after all, a QA throttle should cure my wimpiness getting to full gas, the forks and tyres should give better control and feel, and the seating and bar positions should make for a better track riding position than the comfy road biased settings it originally had, SO, how did it all work out?

    I have to say that for the first time in a long time I was nervous going back on track. The 3 sighting laps didn’t help much either and Coppice seemed menacing as I remembered my off there, and the bike just didn’t do what I expected of it. It certainly felt fast with the new throttle action, but modulating it in the slow corner of the Melbourne loop proved tricky sometimes, although more likely this was caused by the chain having a couple of tight spots? The forks dived too much even with the improved springs which I found was because they’d been returned to me with mid point settings which I very quickly had to change.

    First session saw me reacquainting myself with the track and trying to figure out what was happening with the handling, but with two red flags disrupting the session, it wasn’t the best of starts to the day. The first was the result of a ZXR750 running off track, the second after a spectacular ZX6 blow up three bikes in front of me going down Craner Curves, leaving the rider tumbling off track whilst his bike disintegrated into pieces leaving an oil trail which was to cause a 15 minute delay while the debris and oil was cleared. After this much interrupted session I’d only managed a 2.12 lap, showing how rusty and off the pace I was, with last years 1.57 seeming miles away.

    Session two and I’d changed the suspension, stiffening the compression and rebound further, and this clearly did some good as I dropped 9 seconds straight away, and ended with two consecutive 2.03 laps , the better of the two a 2.03.51.  The organisers, Focused Events run chrono days but now with a changed format, instead of switching groups after 3 sessions (based on times), they now do it after two. I really wasn’t sure my time was good enough to stay in the inters group, but the posted lists with new groups showed it had been, so I now had 4 sessions in the afternoon to improve in the relative safety of the inters again.

    Session 3 after lunch saw a minute improvement with a drop down to 2.03.45 but only the last of the 7 laps was down at this level, work to do then. With last years 1.57 still miles away and not looking achievable I decided something had to change.

    Session 4, and having now got used to all the changes, and with the handling closer to what I wanted with the firmed up settings, I decided most of the problems must be in my head, so I had to stop thinking about it and just ride. This proved to be a turning point as my second lap in was my lowest so far at 2.03.02, and every lap in the session was either a 2.03 or 2.04, so now I’d gained some consistency.

    I was having a problem though, the brakes. Sometimes I’d get a firm lever, the next it would come back a little further than expected. I’m hoping that it’s just the pads wearing and the fluid level dropping and can be cured by a bleed through, but will have to keep an eye on it.

    When I got back into our garage, I got taking to one of the guys on a very nice Aprilia Biaggi rep, who told me he had run on at Redgate as his brake fluid had disappeared along with his brakes, two in the same garage with braking issues??!

    Session 5, and I decided to make one change to the suspension, at the rear this time. Feeling the bike pumping under hard acceleration coming our of Redgate, I decided to increase the preload, a tiny change but one which led to me being able to hold a tighter line everywhere, and when after 4 laps we were back in pitlane after another red flag, I was amazed to see my lap timer showing my first two laps had been a 2.02.07 and a 2.02.09, how’s that for consistency!! Back out and the last two laps of the session were 2.00.92 and 2.00.30, so consistent, and with a best time again!

    Final session and with only .30 seconds stopping me from breaking under the 2 minute time I hoped I could get an even better time but it wasn’t to be. Three consecutive 2.03 laps, a 2.04 and a final 2.01 .11 was how the day ended, but at least the bike was intact, I knew the areas I need to improve on, and I’d got my first trackday of the year under my belt.

     

     

     


  • Numbers 2015

     

    Every couple of years or so I post a set of numbers documenting various aspects of my riding, Here are some numbers along the same theme from this year.

     

    285,647– Kms ridden in the past 19 years

    216,198 – total number of visitors to this blog

    178,529 – miles ridden in past 19 years

    107,752- kms ridden on BMW K1200/K1300GT

    99,708- kms ridden on CBR1100XX (2) in 10 years

    83,518- kms ridden on K1300GT since July 2009

    82,503- number of visitors to this blog

    67,345- miles ridden on BMW K1200/K1300GT

    62,317- miles ridden on CBR1100XX (2) in 10 years

    52,198- miles ridden on BMW K1300GT

    15,034 average number kms ridden per year since 1996

    10,234- highest number of kms from a front tyre on K1300GT

    9,396- average number of miles ridden per year since 1996

    8,550- highest number of kms from a rear tyre on K1300GT

    3,399- highest kms ridden in one month in 2013

    2,124  days of ownership of K1300GT

    308- number of published posts on this blog

    67- number of different motorbikes ridden/tested

    53- number of track days ridden

    26- todays date

    16- number of countries ridden on K1200/K1300GT

    15- number of bikes owned in past 19 years

    15- pairs of tyres used over 83,000kms on K1300GT

    13- number of different circuits ridden

    10- number of years ownership of an Honda RC45

    7- number of different bikes ridden on circuit

    6- number of different marques of bike owned in past 19 years

    6- number of Honda’s owned in past 19 years

    4 number of different countries where I’ve ridden on circuits

    1- Laverda ever owned


  • First ride of 2015 and Ducati Coventry

    November was the last time I rode the battlebus and that’s too long to be off two wheels, so with a half way decent weather forecast and a plan to have a ride out to the local Ducati dealer I braved the 9C temps and rode out to meet up with Jon and Andy. Andy has a 748 and needed a couple of things from the shop so it was a good excuse to go and look at some Italian metal, and as the shop contained some beautiful bikes I thought I’d share them with you.

    Below, a stellar line up including the uber expensive Desmosedici and an olide but goodie, the 888.

    No excuses for showing so many pics of the Desmosedici, it really is a fabulous looking machine. There were two there, one for sale at a mere £38,000.

    View from the cockpit

     

    Beautiful Ohlins/Brembo combination

    Next the venerable 888. I once rode it’s predecessor the 851 and found it the hardest bike I have ever ridden to get to turn!

    Expensive engines!

    I have been considering what to buy if I replace the GT and had my interest piqued by the Diavel. Concerned as always for the comfort of my better half I was pleased to see that there are pillion pegs that fold down and that there is an extending handrail accessed when the seat is raised, both very smart and functional items and clever design! There were the carbon versions here at £17,000 and slightly less exotic material version for a slightly more palatable £14,000. They have a demo bike so I may take SWMBO with me for a test ride soon!

    The 899 is getting rave reviews in all the mags, and I was surprised how small it is and how little weight seems to be on your wrists, unlike several other Ducati models I’ve ridden.

    A couple of oldies

    The view into the busy workshop below with Monstermob, FILA, Desmo and Airwaves fairings hanging from the ceiling.

    The weather improved to a massive 14C later on and despite some mud on the roads it was good to get back out again, although for sure I was feeling rusty from lack of saddle time.

    Still, the season is starting and I’m looking forward to more rides out and track time soon!


  • Book reviews-Guy Martin autobiography & The Barry Sheene story

     

    I read a couple of racers biographies over Xmas, the first was Guy Martin and the second the Barry Sheene story I mentioned my wife had bought me when we went to the Steve Parrish MAD tour at the tail end of last year.

    In these types of books I generally expect to find some in depth insight into what make these guys tick and what drives their achievements. I’ve read a few racers books, Rainey, McKenzie, and Doohan being just a few examples, but they all seem to fit into one of two camps; either it’s a life story, warts and all of how they grew up, went to school and married their childhood sweetheart, which is all very nice, but doesn’t tell you much about them as individuals, or they are real mines of information with personal insights and you learn about the real person behind the persona.

     

    Guy Martins book was, I have to say, not the greatest in revealing too much about him. The overriding thing that seemed to be repeated ad infinitum, was that he doesn’t consider himself a racer, he is a truck fitter who just happens to ride a bike quite quickly and enjoys his run outs, but who would be quite happy to return to his inspection pit tomorrow and work on a Volvo truck.

    When you have the benefit of seeing him on TV in one of his seemingly endless series of TV shows, he is without doubt entertaining. I struggle to understand him half the time, but you can sense the passion for what he does and it’s tangible. And in the film Close to the Edge, how can you not have a chuckle when he openly admits parking up his van somewhere and having a wank! He’s a genuine one off, but I’m afraid the book doesn’t get this character across, and for me was like a damp squib from a story telling perspective. All I took from it was “I’m a truck fitter me”, and protestations that he can take or leave the fame that has come with his TV work. It was mildly entertaining at best, but if you want to enjoy his character, watch him on TV, don’t bother with the book!

     

    Barry Sheene on the other hand was a story that was a great read and one I’d highly recommend. Steve Parrish spent so many years with Barry as both his teammate and best friend, that he had a lifetime of memories to share, and the tales were both funny, poignant, sad, and surprising in equal measure. You can tell the love and camaraderie they shared as they grew up in the dangerous world of GP racing back in the 70s and 80’s . What was shocking was to learn that Barry was quite insecure and heavily dependant on Stephanie his wife.

    The story moves from how Barry and Steve became friends, how Stephanie became his wife, his survival of two major accidents at Daytona and Silverstone, and develops into the sad tale of his diagnosis with cancer and his battle to beat it. Sometimes you’re not 100% sure who is making what comment and have to check back a few lines as there is so much packed into it, but I found it funny, moving, sad, and informative, in equal measure, and having watched him race in my formative riding years in the early 80’s, I now feel I know him a little better, and for me, the book succeeds at every level, it was a great read!