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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Suzuki GS 1000E

Here’s a very nice Suzuki GS Thou from1979 that’s been in the same hands for thirty years.

She is stunning —

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All credit to her owner – Dave from Scunthorpe. Yes Scunthorpe – North Lincolnshire. Dave assures me that they can grow palm trees there 🙂

And a few words from Dave about his bike —

The Suzuki GS1000 has always been my favourite motorcycle and when the opportunity came to purchase one back in 1983 I leapt in with both feet. That same machine is my absolute pride and joy today. You would not believe that it has been through rain and snow in its earlier years but I have relentlessly tried to keep it in tip top condition over the years as it has given me such fond memories.
For the previous two years due to family and personal issues I haven’t been able to ride the Suzuki but this year I am hoping to spend a lot of time riding her. To that end over this winter I have been giving the bike a full makeover. There have been plenty of little niggley jobs that have needed doing for so long.
As with all Suzuki GS1000’s they notorious suffer with rattling clutch baskets due to the weak basket springs. So have I had the clutch basket modified with a heavy duty Falicon kit by Straightline Racing in Peterborough at the same time taking the opportunity to fit a new complementary set of EBC friction plates with heavy duty springs. Another area in which GS’s suffer is with the starter clutches particularly the starter clutch allen screws working loose. So I have stripped out the old rotor and starter clutch unit and fitted a new complete starter clutch.
Next on the agenda was to fit a Dynojet Stage 3 kit. This has now been fitted with full synchronisation of the carbs complementing the Vance and Hines performance exhaust and carb bellmouths. She is undergoing a 530 chain conversion in the next couple of weeks. The engine has a 1085 Wiseco big bore, high compression kit fitted. The chrome bottle that you can see in the pics is part of the nitrous kit I had fitted 15 years ago in my mad years but is no longer used.
Thanks for the photo and write up Dave – your Susie is a beauty  🙂

Suzuki GS1000E

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Model ‘A’ Ford at Portpatrick

Model ‘T’ Ford springs to mind but it could well be an ‘A’. The following photos are refugees from my recent mishap with my Posts —

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This guy should know what she is – because he is the happy owner —

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I bumped into him at Portpatrick – I was on a bike ride and he had just finished lunch at one of the harbourside hotels before heading up to Cairnryan with his co-driver for their ferry home to Belfast. Turns out he had been on a mud-plugging weekend in the Lake District for classic cars and they don’t come much more working classic than this fella with it’s two spare wheels carrying mud tyres —

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The headlights are impressive but I notice the co-pilot doesn’t merit a clean windscreen on his side —

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I’m sure this is a 2.3 litre side valve motor and judging by the way the team took off on the next leg of their journey it doesn’t lack in power. With loads of torque the three speed gearbox had enough ratios for most occasions —

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and a useful horn to help clear the way —

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The running boards give her that period look although the crash helmet is mine. I think a flat cap would be more in keeping with this beastie —

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and if nipples are your thing this old motor will have you pumping that old grease gun a’plenty —

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Have a safe trip back to Belfast my friend. I look forward to meeting you on the road again sometime —

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I’m so pleased to have found these photos of the old Ford again.

OK a Quick Edit – Nuff fretting in case it’s not a Model A. I did a quick check with my friends at Wilkipedia and I’m pretty sure now that it is —

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I reckon this is the one that Al Capone or Buggsy Malone would have used when they went over to ‘blow away’ the competition at the local speakeasy back in Chicago. Only one windscreen wiper on that one as well 🙂

Model ‘A’ Ford at Portpatrick

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2013 in out and about

 

Yamaha XJR1300

After the tailend of Hurricane Katia had blown through last weekend leaving a trail of devastation amongst the fully foliaged trees, big G was certainly in his heaven today. Blue skies from daybreak augured well and I had my chores done and ready for the road by twelve noon.

Dry roads and sunshine – perfect! My first stop was around the fifty mile mark at Seven Mile Beach by Sandhead —

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The beach swings all the way round the top of Luce Bay, most of it designated Military Area and Luce Bay itself is marked as a Bombing Range on my Ordinance Survey map. There was no military activity but I wasn’t tempted to go for a swim and soon had the helmet on and back on  the road again. The approach to the picturesque small town of Drummore was my next port of call —

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I could have photgraphed my bike under the palm trees along the front but I thought that the Pampas grass at the far end of the beach past the harbour was more sympathetic —

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I was ready for a coffee by this time and tried the local cafe which had a few enduro bikes spread about the place. The Wild-West theme above the door certainly suited my image of Drummore but the coffee was good and the lemon merangue came real cheap. The biker girl who owns the joint rides a CBR400 and collects Speedway trivia – programmes and suchlike.

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I happened to set the lamp swingin as I tend to do on such occasions and reminisced about having seen the Templeton brothers, Dougie and Willie sliding round the shale oval at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh back in the sixties. Would you believe it! Biker girl had a Match Programme there on the table from 1966 with the Templeton boys figuring in it!

Coffee downed and biking yarns exchanged it was time to mount up the old XJR and head outta town.

Okay – next stop was the Mull of Galloway lighthouse —

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Best thing to do is to head on down to the most southerly point in Scotland and see it for yourself. The Gaillie Craig visitor centre at the Point will be open till end October with limited opening in November and February. Closed December and January.

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One thing that never closes is the RSPB managed Mull of Galloway Nature reserve which goes all the way out to the cliffs at the point. It’s a perfect place to view the seabird spectacle with more than 3,500 pairs breeding in the area. Perhaps by Oct/Nov I’ll be tempted to head back down in the car but today was made for motorcycling.

There are a few pics lost all together but the bulk of it is there so that’s another Post saved after my fiasco with the photo gallery. Sorry about the ads that WordPress tag onto all my posts but it would cost me thirty bucks per year to employ a gateman to keep ’em out. 🙂

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Tenere on the SW Triangle

This south-west corner of Scotland forms a triangle of biking gems – from fast ‘A’ roads to interesting ‘B’ roads and single-tracks winding through the hills and forests with the odd dirt trail coming into the equation.

All that’s needed is a little bit of decent weather and out comes the Tenere —

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This ride started with a 50/60 mile mainly ‘A’ road blast to Portpatrick for coffee with the monkees on the seafront where I was just in time to greet the new baby —

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I fancied something a bit different for my return ride and got the Ordnance Survey maps out. It looked like there was an interesting single track starting between Stranraer and Cairnryan ferry terminal that would make for a good ride home —

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To be honest I was spoiled for choice and could have picked any one of a few routes that presented themselves to take me back to Newton Stewart and the road home.

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As it happened I chose the long way round and found quite a bit of recent activity due to the monster wind farms being constructed on the hills around these parts. In some cases new roads have been built to access the sites but it wasn’t a problem to follow the old road – as long as I didn’t mind getting my feet wet —

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I got more than my feet wet as that river was deep and slippery on the weed covered stones in the middle.

No worries – it was worth it for some of the pictures I got on the way back —

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It’s such a beautiful corner of Scotland – I cannot understand why it is so little used —

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Apart from the main truck routes heading for the ferries to Ireland there is very little traffic – unless you count the huge four-wheel drive tractors engaged in forestry operations —

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They certainly fill the singletracks from hedge to hedge and are not to be trifled with. Forestry is one of the mainstays of the economy here in the south-west and it’s always worth keeping in mind that all those logpiles by the roadside need to be transported to the pulpmills.

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If you round a blind bend on the singletracks and meet one of these foragers or the mighty trucks loaded with timber there’s just going to be one winner and every chance you will end up in Boot Hill where I met the main road just a few miles north of Newton Stewart —

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A sobering thought but I can think of worse places to be 🙂

It’s probably where many of my photos ended up as this is just one of the hundred and something posts I’ve had to re-write. No Worries – there’s less than ten still to do 🙂

Galloway with the Tenere

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Holy Island

There are a few Holy Islands as the early Christians saw them as reasonably safe havens from where they could spread the good word. My Holy Island today is in the north of England just off the Northumbrian Coast.

One of my favourite photos – taken on the sand dunes not far from the tidal causeway approach to the island —

The ruined Priory of Lindisfarne was started by St Aidan who came to Holy Island from Iona in 635AD. No doubt like most of the day trippers such as myself he had to wait by the causeway for the tide to ebb so that he could walk (or drive in my case) over to the island.

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While I was there several people were waiting to greet a chap who was due to finish the walk from Iona to Holy Island in memory of St Aidan. I believe the plan is to create a Long Distance Trail over the route so look out for a Pilgrim’s Way or St Aidan’s Way cutting across central and southern Scotland sometime soon.

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The lobster creels were being made in sheds by the beach. The interesting thing about the sheds was that they were formed from the wooden hulls of upturned wooden fishing boats which had been cut across the middle to form two sheds from each boat..

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The castle in the distance is Lindisfarne Castle – built around 1570 using stones from the old Priory which was in decline by then. The castle was put to many uses in it’s lifetime before being bought by Edward Hudson, owner of Country Life magazine who employed Sir Edward Lutyens as architect to convert it into an upmarket holiday home.

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The island is well worth a visit even if it is just to walk round the coastline. Our Barnacle Geese overwintering on the Solway Firth each year have been tracked to Holy Island on their way back to breed in the Arctic Circle. It was estimated just prior to my visit that around 70,000 geese were on the island eating the precious grazing while they waited for the weather to improve and let them get on their way north to the artic circle to breed.

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Many of them left on the day that I was there  – must have been something I said!

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in out and about

 

Snow on the Merrick

A re-write of an earlier post that was spoiled when my fumbling fingers dumped some photos by mistake.

I had just about given up waiting for that Indian Summer the media forecaster’s promised us. Now the ‘dog days’ of autumn were here I had started to look forward to the cold but crisp winter mornings.

I didn’t have long to wait. In the first week of November there was such a start to the day. I wakened to sunlight streaming in through my bedroom window holding the promise of the first snow of the year. By the time I had breakfast and chucked a few sandwiches together with my flasks and other essentials for a day on the hills into the rucksack time was getting on. Not the best preparation with a fifty mile drive ahead of me before starting to climb the highest hill in south-west Scotland but just about what to expect from a spur of the moment need to touch the first snows of winter.

I took time out for a photo on the way to my parking spot by Bruce’s Stone —

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It was after eleven o’clock before I had togged up and stepped out on the well marked trail for the hill. It’s a few miles walk into the Merrick from the car park and a diet of easy coastal trails had ensured that I wasn’t fit for anything remotely serious. The beauty of the initial route over a rough stone trail winding between the woods and river was reward enough and I kidded myself I wasn’t too bothered if I didn’t reach the top.

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After emerging from the trees a fairly level half mile led me to an old stone bothy. It looked to be in good repair – just minus it’s window’s and doors. Sited in a sheltered south facing sun-trap a corner of the building can be seen behind my left shoulder.

The relatively easy start had been the lull before the storm and the path became steeper up through the pine wood behind the bothy. Soon I was above the tree-line and finding the steep gradient hard going but the promise of getting amongst the first snows of the winter was enough to drive me on.

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I reached the snow at about two thousand feet and by two o’clock in the afternoon and I was having my very welcome late lunch by the cairn on top of Benyellany at 719 metres – about 2400ft in old money —

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Taking a look full circle just before the weather closed in I spotted the Isle of Arran – Ailsa Craig – Northern Ireland and I’m sure the Isle of Man and the Lakeland hills were there to the south. Wonderfull!

With the cloud cover coming ever lower and the promise of more snow on the way the prospect of early darkness let discretion take the win over valour and I reluctantly retraced my footsteps back down the hill. The summit of the Merrick hadn’t been too far away. At only four hundred feet higher and even though lost in cloud it wasn’t a daunting prospect but when my knees turned to jelly with fatigue on the descent I knew I had taken the right option.

It’s just as well I had taken advantage of the sunshine earlier for this photo on the way in —

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Snow on the Merrick

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in out and about

 

The Nailheads

There’s a new show in town! The Nailheads!

I’ve just been for my daily walkabout – just something I do to keep the joints working. I’ve to go for keyhole surgery on my right knee soon but I am hoping to have my bum fixed first. It never rains but it pours!

No worries – The Nailheads are in the studio just round the corner from me so I don’t have far to walk.

There’s Lead singer – Joshua  —

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On Backing Vocals – Gasper —

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with his twin brother – Growler —

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and little Eddie —

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while Brucie is on the harmonica —

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and Jasper plays the tambourine —

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Now that’s something you don’t see every day. There’s obviously a fertile imagination at work here. I asked a couple of old guys – former Woodentops – who were hanging around outside the studio what they thought of the new boys in town —

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They were speechless —

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But I think their expressions say it all 🙂

The Nailheads

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in out and about

 

Eyemouth Breakers

In a previous thread I mentioned my penchant for long stay cheapie breaks in Tunisia to get away from the winter frosts. Cyprus and Jamaica were another two destinations that I used.

But this time I stayed in Scotland – I should have been well warned when on my way to Eyemouth on the east coast I stopped by this clifftop memorial to the drowned fishermen in a former maritime disaster. It shows the families waiting on the shore and wading into the pounding surf in some cases to pull bodies and exhausted men from the sea after their boats had capsized —

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I was on my way to Eyemouth where a friend had offered me the use of his holiday cottage for the winter at a reasonable rate. Facing the beach right behind the breakwater – it all sounded idyllic – till the waves started coming over the houses —

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But it wasn’t always blowing a hoolie! No – sometimes it snowed!

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at least the horses up on Lumsdaine Farm had their coats on.

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while silly old me gave his hat and gloves to this snowman!

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But it didn’t blow and snow all the time. I had some lovely coastal walks between Berwick and St Abbs Head.

Both with —–

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and without the snowshoes —

and – how could I forget my away-day to the Holy Isle down the Northumbrian coast.

It’s a truly magical place that gave me one of my favourite photos —

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Watch the birdie —

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and close your mouth in case it’s a swallow  🙂

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Eyemouth Breakers

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in out and about

 

Sunshine and Snow with Smartie

Smartie shivering under a blanket of snow when I emerged from my hotel one morning while on a visit to Grantown-on-Spey Wildlife Hotel – the Grant Arms —

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No worries – I left her where she was under her duvet and went walking in the pine woods above the River Spey instead —

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Fresh powder! What more could I ask for?

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Sunshine and blue skies perhaps? No sooner said than done for here we have both filtering through the tree tops —

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OK I’m fibbing – I’m not up there today although with these pics I could have been. This Post is from an earlier year and is just another one rescued after my mishap with the photo gallery. I actually like the new layout better  than first time round  🙂

Sunshine and Snow with Smartie.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2013 in out and about

 

Limski Kanal

In Jake the Peg I described how I hauled my caravan from Scotland to Croatia and made friends with Jake the one-legged seagull.

This is the story or part of it from my summer spent down there.

My Eriba Troll caravan needed careful weight distribution otherwise the tail started wagging the dog when towing with my 2 litre Dodge Caliber and at 1200kgs gross weight she was bang on the maximum for that car.

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All this meant that heavy items from the large storage space beneath the permanent double bed had to be moved forward while in transit or even into the car itself. At that stage I was considering moving to Croatia permanently so had everything with me I could carry. But – with a little jiggery pokery my light alloy framed Raliegh bicycle found it’s way into the empty space beneath my bed and proved to be a useful means of transport once I was settled for the summer.

Porec was my nearest town at three miles up the coast. To the south I had the smaller but equally picturesque harbour town of Vrsar about five miles away.

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The statues in this peaceful park were donated by a famous sculptor son of Vrsar – so famous in fact that regrettably I can’t remember his name. He is eco-friendly and made his statues using re-cycled vehicle tyres.

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Well done that man – who unfortunately will have to remain nameless for now. And yes – I was careful not to scratch his work of art when I parked my bike. It was really to give an indication of the size of the thing.

Vrsar is quite close to the entrance to the Limski Kanal – the only official ffiord in Croatia and possibly outside of Norway. The scrub covered area on my side of the ffiord was designated a National Park and the vast network of dirt trails through the bush became my playground.

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But first I had to pass Airforce One – —

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One of the dirt roads into the National Park starts around here so I got to know the area and it’s wildlife quite well. There are wild pigs – I saw there tracks on a few occasions where the family had crossed the trails but never caught up with the pigs. I was probably lucky as I remember meeting a family of warthogs down by the Zambezi when I worked in Africa at the Kariba Dam and they weren’t to be trifled with. A wild boar or a sow with piglets can be a tricky proposition.

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What I did see near where my bicycle is parked above the Limski Kanal was a herd of wild goats. They were mostly stood on their hind legs feeding from the green tops of the thorn bushes just off the trail. They didn’t panic – just melted into the undergrowth but the smell of the big billy goat lingers in my nostrils yet! Boy was he rank!

Halfway down that cliff below my bicycle in a cave is a family run bar used by the many tourists who have taken pleasure boat excursions out of Rovinj and Vrsar to visit the phenomenon that is Limski Kanal. I seemed to be the only visitor they had from up top.

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I bumped into this young lad and his mate on the trail. They were collecting some kind of weed or grass from the roadside. I can’t remember what it was called but it was a sweet herb if hard to find with the un-trained eye.

The lad wasn’t very old and as a proficient footballer he had already spent time with one of the senior clubs in Zagreb. Croatia and especially Istria where I spent my summer is a sport mad country and it is little wonder that many of their countrymen ply their trade on the world scene. It is also a training ground for many professional cycling teams because of the testing mountain roads and the facilities at the sports complex where I was staying at Zelena Laguna play a big part in this too.

It was with one of those teams I had my Mr Bean moment.

After my 20 odd kilometre trek through the bush I would stop at a roadside fruit & veg stall to stock up. The farmer and I had no lingo in common but he aways offered me a glass of schnapps after I had made my purchase – it would have been rude to refuse.

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Suitably fired up I was cycling steadily back to the coast on a metalled road when one of the afore-mentioned cycling teams caught me up and sailed on by.

After a kilometre or two they weren’t far ahead so I put on a ‘casual’ spurt and got on their tail. Just an everyday thing for us sporting grandad types. Phew! Once up there it was surprisngly easy to be dragged along by the group.

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When they got wise to my presence one of their number with legs like muscled tree trunks dropped back alongside me to say hello and to look for my hidden electric motor. He gave me a look of respect when he found it was all down to pedal power! At least that’s what I want to believe – ok – pedal power fueled by the magic locally brewed schnapps!

On the flat was fine – downhill I didn’t have a high enough gear and my chicken-legs were whizzing round like a wild things! Then we came to what I would call a climb! Nobody told the bunch it was a climb and they kept up the same speed while I dropped off the rear with all hopes of being signed for the Tour of Croatia gone.

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Now I know how World Champion sprinter Mark Cavendish feels on the alpine stages of the Tour de France. Just like him I must have short twitch muscle fibres more suited to sprint finishes than alpine climbs. That’s my excuse – take it or leave it! Yes there are two goats in the above pic and only one of ’em is a work of art!

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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in out and about