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Author Archives: Don

Suzuki V-strom 650XT for yamahista

Javier I know you have a banana coloured 650XT now but all I can make from that little bit of info is that they don’t sell the Bonnie Black XT in Spain.

I had our purty black Strom out yesterday for a jaunt across the island to Toberonochy – yes that’s the sweetly named village on the eastern shores of the Isle of Luing – so I popped a pic for you and here she is —

OK – I know it isn’t Barcelona but I managed to fit in a couple of little boats and a bit of seawater for you.

The first third of 2019 promises to be very busy as Helen has a family visit to Japan planned for March and there are various other things like a new knee for me and (at the risk of upsetting the squeamish) removal of knackers for Loki to be fitted in.

No doubt the new knee will require training to ride a bike and Loki will also take time to adjust to his new station in life but Helen and I are hoping to put a few thousand more miles on the Strom this year so who knows —–

It could be a case of ‘catch you on the road sometime’ —

Whatever happened to Shortie? We have lost touch completely! But this pic was taken back in 2002.


Javier and Shortie on the ‘King’s Rock – somewhere north-west of Madrid.

 

Loki – our Flat Coat Retriever

Loki – named after the Norse God of Mischief – here he is guarding my walking stick while I take his photo on the hill behind our house —

He emerges from his kennel every morning as shiny as a shiny thing and at eleven months old he is a picture of health and happiness and looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth —

Particularly when he has a toy in his teeth – stolen from the wee collie dug next door.

Yes he can be a handful but he is well worth the effort.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2019 in out and about

 

King of the Castle

Just had to stop on my way into Oban this morning and take a pic of this fine fellow feeding at the hay rack ‘abune them a’ as our bold Rabbie wrote in an early poem in reply to a letter from a Mr McAdam of Craigen-Gillan —

‘I’ll cock my nose abune them a – I’m roos,d by Craigen-Gillan!’

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2019 in out and about

 

Blue Skies over Mull

Looking across a calm Oban Bay under beautiful blue skies to the Isle of Kerrera and the mountains on Mull between wild snow showers today —

Feels good to be alive on a day like this.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2019 in out and about

 

Castle of Gold

Castle Stalker on Loch Laich by Appin – North Argyll. Back in the 14th century it was the home of Clan MacDougal – Lords of Lorn and also of Dunollie Castle on the outskirts of Oban. They had the misfortune to back the wrong side when Bonnie Prince Charlie arrived from exile in France on an ill-fated mission to reclaim his throne for the Stewarts leading to the rout of the Highland clans by the Hanovarian backed English at Culloden in 1745.


Pity I did’nt have my shovel with me today as I could have dug up the pot of Macdougal gold at the end of the rainbow – buried there by the defeated clan after King Robert the Bruce took his revenge at the Pass of Brander for an earlier mugging by the MacDougals in Strathfillan.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2019 in out and about

 

Big Horns on Loch Tayside

I’m taking a chance with this Post as we’ve recently had a trigger happy dame from the States posing in the National Press with a ‘Wild’ Blackface Ram she claimed to have shot on one of our neighbouring islands.

Now these guys aren’t exactly ‘wild’ as most of them have been bottle fed from babyhood and hand reared to become the fine specimens they are today – such as the fine fellas we spotted above Loch Tay during a recent visit to the area.

I hope you readers understand when I don’t give an exact location – just in case our lady decides to visit with her hunting rifle at the ready. Hell these Highlanders over the fence are so tame you could knock them down with a stick if you were so inclined.

It’s a beautiful part of Scotland tho’ —

But the way things are going I’m pretty sure that this proud but hornless woollyback is quite happy with his situation.

Somehow I don’t think our gun toting ‘lady’ would consider mounting this unadorned ‘Head’ on her wall back home.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2019 in out and about

 

My Last Bike?

My last bike – how many times have I said that?

I said it to my son at the TT on the Isle of Man in 1993 or was it ’94 after he had cut enough plaster off his damaged wrist to wheelie my precious new model BMW1100GS off a Ramsey campsite and give me a nervous couple of hours waiting for his return from what I thought would be a five minute ride into town.

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Not my James – the wee bugger cleared off and did a fast lap of the whole TT circuit. When I remonstrated ‘mildly’with him on his return – saying amongst other things that this was probably my last bike his casual reply was – ‘ well I didn’t expect you would give me another shot of it’.

Too Right!

So – that ‘Last Bike’ toured Spain and Portugal several times before being pensioned off when I decided to startup a Rider Training enterprise down in Shropshire. Then there were five Yamaha 125s after that – a 600 Bandit – a GPZ 600 – a GP 750 – a BMW 1100R – and a Mick Andrews replica 250 Yamaha based Majesty Trials —

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There were at least three rider friendly – off/on road Yamaha XT 600s. Two mean off-road Honda 600 Rs and a very pretty Yamaha 375 Virago —

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A too-small (at the time) Yamaha Serow —

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and a 1200 Bandit – seen here in Brittany disguised as a sheep. The bare seat was a pain in the jaccsy over a distance!

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Five XJR1300s – this one with the ijit embarrassing his friends in Spain was favourite and featured in many a mad foray during it’s years with the Owner’s Club and reached Dubrovnik amongst other faraway places —

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A very nice old BMW R100GS I imported from the States after an aborted ride from Bar Harbor Maine to Alaska via Oregon due to hospital trauma. A bit agricultural compared to Jap bikes – I didn’t keep her long after she arrived back in the UK at Thames Port. She does look nice amongst my roses.

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Ahh – America – how could I forget the whole Ducati Racing Equipe I bought from the late David Jeffrey family. The 956 Corsa was raced for me at the Daytona 200 in 1995 by an up and coming Neil Hodgson who would go on to become World Superbike Champion on a works Ducati a few years later.

Well – what did you spend your divorce settlement on? At least I got more than a few free airmiles out of it and I did get every penny of my outlay back when I sold the job-lot to the Irish division of Scania Trucks within weeks of coming back into the country.

I don’t have a photo of the Ducati but I do happen to have a painting of the 500cc Roc Yamaha raced by Neil in GP’s worldwide that same year. We did the Australian – Malaysian – Japanese and Spanish 500 Grand Prix’s together with some success. The spots in the colour scheme were considered bad luck and the acne was ditched for the remaining European rounds —

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On and on the list goes — and that’s only since 1994. In my lifetime I reckon I’ve owned and ridden over a hundred bikes which brings me nicely to my current stable consisting of —

The smallest – my Honda 125 MSX which will go for her first MOT on Monday —

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The biggest – the mighty V4 engined Honda Pan European ST1100 – still a lovely ride if a bit of a heavy handful to balance  on our small ferry crossing over Cuan Sound on a rough day. Tiedown straps are only for oil tankers and cissies around here —

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The tallest – my trusty Yamaha Tenere 660Z – should come complete with stepladder —

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The easiest to ride – my sweet Honda CRF250 Rally – especially now that I have lowered the gearing making it easier to keep the smooth little motor in it’s sweet spot —

The dirtiest – looked fresh enough the day I bought her but underneath those plastics lurked thirty years of grime —

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My current ride for all reasons – our hardy – non complaining 650cc Suzuki V-strom —

The toughest? My 1994 all-alloy Raleigh Maxim Hybrid.

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Together we did the Dairi-Pak Challenge event over some of the toughest mountain roads in Wales and came through it alive if a bit sore behind and red in the face. I still have that bike but there are times I wish she had an electric motor in her.

So what about this ‘last bike’ thing? Well have you seen the latest 125cc Scrambler version of the Honda Monkey Bike – dial it up and have a look –  –  –  –  – 

Now that could be my last bike – pity I’m ot ready for her yet 🙂

.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2019 in Motorcycling

 

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CRF250 Rally – the Bike from the Horsebox

Well that was a long break – I switched my blog off on 28th Feb 2018 for some daft reason I can’t remember and here on the first day of 2019 and after a recent health scare that involved a midnight medi/vac from the island by whirlybird I’ve decided to kickstart her into action again.

No worries – having walked the dog over the hill late morning there was still enough in the tank to think about riding the CRF250 Rally over to Ardnimar and wish Jim and Gaynor a Happy New Year. Tea was just fine Gaynor – thanks.

The Rally currently lives in the old horsebox by the backdoor where she is easy to access for minor maintenance jobs.

But – did I mention walking the dog? More like a bit of a hobble with the dog as I wait to be notified re my date with the surgeon for a new knee. Yes – after delaying the inevitable for over four years – just in case the new knee can’t ride a motorbike – I decided to bite the bullet and get it done.

At least Loki – our ten month’s old flat coat retriever will be happy if I can walk a bit quicker when we are out.

Wishing you all the best for 2019 – givitsum.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in out and about

 

Bare Faced Rider meets Roland Sands

It seems I’ve turned the clock back much longer than I care to remember – all because I couldn’t resist an original Bell open face helmet for sale at a knockdown price from the Glasgow Harley Davidson shop recently. The clincher was the Roland Sands quality finish inside and out which I got for free —

I bought my first open face Bell back in 1960 from a pal in Dunblane who didn’t need it any more as he was finished with bikes having crashed head-on into a coal lorry wrecking both his Norton Dominator which my brother was in the proccess of buying and the coal truck. I kept up the crashing habit of that particular helmet a short month after I got it when I wrote off the ill-used Bell and broke my neck while suffering a head-on in my own little mishap while riding my ‘race prepared’ BSA 650 A10.

I might have more to add to this Post if I find any pics from back then – oh – and the facial fungus is my new look – riding in any weather can be a painful experience with a bare baby face when the rain – sleet and snow start pinging off my chin 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in Motorcycling

 

Yamaha FJ1100 in my Shed

A few years back I had a big workshop with not-a-lot happening in it. Modern bikes are pretty reliable and unless you are using them for something they weren’t mean’t to do they don’t take much spannering. Yes winter boredom had set in and I fancied a project.

A ‘friend’ spoke of an 1984 Yamaha FJ1100 ‘going cheap’ that would make a good project – especially with my long interest in the Yam XJR1300 which uses the same motor. I found my FJ in the middle of a D&G forest and of course paid too much for the bike which had been shut in the guy’s logshed for a number of years. She started up with the aid of a set of jump leads as the battery was duff and on the whole she didn’t look too bad.

Previous owner and his dog are not impressed by my first offer —

but she ended up in my workshop and it bit-by-bit she came to pieces —

despite a few pauses to read the newspaper which always looks more interesting second time round —

Wiring? it’s all there —

Sixteen inch rims on the FJ —

with big fat tyres to compensate —

She originally came out as top of the range sportsbike —

then Kawasaki spoiled her fun with a neatly packaged (for the day) Z thou —

A good condition Z thou will cost a small fortune nowadays —

and while prices may be creeping up for an old FJ1100 —

spares parts are still cheap —

 

and available —

 

if you know where to look —

 

but they still have a long way to go —

to catch up with the Z1000 —

The FJ with it’s strong wrap-around front end —

handled well for it’s time —

A dirty beggar right enough when the plastics came off but cleaned up well —

she will make a nice bike when completed —

Just can’t make up my mind whether to go for the ‘Luing Scrambler’ look – build her back as standard – or – flog her as ‘an unfinished project’.

Labouring in a cold workshop doesn’t have the same appeal as it once did 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Isle of Luing, Motorcycling, Yamaha FJ1100