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My Baby Whispers in My Ear

My baby whispers in my ear – mmm – sweet nuthins —

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Says the things I want to hear – mmm – sweet nuthins —

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‘let’s get out there on the track’ – mmm – sweet nuthins —

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‘just don’t drop me on my back’ – mmm – sweet nuthins —

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A guy can’t help it.

Not after working on her all afternoon. It’s well over a year since she carried me while loaded as a packhorse in the Robbie Burns Centenary Run. We completed best part of a thousand miles on a weekend blast around the old Scottish racetracks – all sixteen of them —

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At least two of the old circuits are still open for business and both the gixxer and I are still game.

So a Trackday wouldn’t hurt —

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Would it 🙂

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Gixxer in the Logpile

Probably my favourite —

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My GSX-R600 Streetfighter —

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She has been hiding in a shed —

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amongst the firewood —

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for almost a year —

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So I thought it was time —

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I checked her out —

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Off came the seat —

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and in went her fully charged battery —

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a touch on the starter and —

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it was time to warm up her hundred and thirty horses —

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on a trip to the logpile —

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Funtime over —

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she went back in the shed —

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but one of these fine days I hope to crack her up —

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and head for foreign fields once more —

gixer Istria 013I built this bike to ride 🙂

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Gixxer in the Logpile

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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SACU Centenary Ride

Centenary trip 127SACU Centenary Ride – or the Robert Burns sponsored Scottish Auto Cycle Union Centenary Ride in full.

I was a last minute entry to take the place of a friend who had to go off overseas on a business trip. Well that was his excuse but perhaps he’d had a whisper as to how tough the two Robbie’s Ride would be.

My old trials riding buddy Robbie Allan had been planning the event at the time of his death last month and as he is an ex-Paris Dakar competitor it was never going to be easy. Another friend – Robert Burns picked up the reins and sponsored the event held in aid of MacMillan Cancer Support so I could hardly say ‘No’.

The first bit was relatively painless. I paid the twenty five quid entry fee over the phone and back came the entry pack on the morning of my departure. The map showing the sixteen Scottish circuits where motorcycle racing has been held at some time over the past hundred years was a nice touch. There was also a nice booklet enclosed about the Ride which included the nearest Post Codes and GPS co-ordinates for sat-nav users. Sadly sat-navs were something I never did subscribe to being an old-fashioned ‘map-man.’

Nothing ventured – nothing win so it was off up the road to Girvan on the hunt for Turnberry Airfield which was used for both car and bike racing in 1951 and 52. The view as I came over the hill above Girvan was a bit special with Arran and Northern Ireland glistening in the brilliant sunlight and the blue granite (or was it the guana?) of Ailsa Craig in the foreground shining best of all!

On a normal ride I would have stopped and clicked but today I was on a mission – first stop was Turnberry Airfield —

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Or so I thought. It looked like an old airfield to me and said Turnberry on the roadside sign —

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but I was to learn from a sat-nav equiped someone much later that the circuit proper was north through the Maidens and on t’other side of the road! Looks like I will have to go back and do it right next time —

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With the success of my sunflowers bringing me new-found celebrity status I was late on the road by the time my last interview was over and I only made it as far as my daughter’s old coach house on the River Teith near Doune that night. There I found I wasn’t the only lodger as her cousin Charles had dropped off his five months old Leila for a spell while he went off on a jolly to the Canaries —

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I won the fight for the bed – size counts – and next morning I was off up the Perth road heading for Gask Racing Circuit as it was in my day – 1960-ish.

We would catch the Friday night boat from Broomielaw on the Clyde over to Belfast before taking a double-decker bus up to the Ulster Grand Prix circuit followed by a trudge across the fields to Windy Corner where we watched Hailwood – Redman and Robb strut their stuff with a full supporting cast in the Ulster Grand Prix.

Saturday night would see us back on the boat for the return journey – with a few hundred head of shit-smelling Irish cattle in the hold. The boat lacked stabilisers so once everyone started throwing up the smelly beasts were the least of our worries.

We were made of stronger stuff back then for no sooner had we reached home on the Sunday morning than out came the BSA’s and Nortons and off to Gask we rode for a day’s racing on the old airfield.

Sadly there’s no airfield at Gask now —

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Only an up-market housing estate —

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Soon I was back on the bike – next stop Errol between Perth and Dundee —

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Errol is another old war-time airfield where bike racing was held in the fifties. It is an industrial estate now but I did find something interesting to photograph —

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This old Gannet has seen better days but I think it shows that this was a navy base with the Gannet being used for North Sea patrols and anti U-boat sorties (what I don’t know I make up) —

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Wasn’t long before I was through Dundee and heading for Arbroath. Next was a left to Friockheim where I hung a right and left onto an unclassified road – well that’s what it’s called in the notes —

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I thought this building on the hill looked familiar —

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and so it was. This next circuit at Kinnell was at an old airfield on a farm where I had lived as a four-year old in 1946/47 – the winter of the ‘Big Sna’ when snow drifted over our cottage and we had to dig our way out.

Don’t know if that’s where this next pic came from but it certainly shows how my dad got into town for supplies when the only tractor on the farm couldn’t get through —

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I’m sure Kinnell had an F’ in front of it in the old days —

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I found a young Polish worker who clicked a couple of pics to prove I had been there —

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Before climbing back on Susie and riding north again. She may not look the part but she was covering herself in glory and I was enjoying the ride.

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All the way up past Aberdeen for my next target at Crimond airfield near Fraserburgh —

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where after a face-off with some cattle who claimed they were there first —

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I was eventually allowed to photograph my bike by the circuit gates —

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Time was wearing on and I spent a lot of it looking for this next airfield. I’ve had business connections with the place in the past and thought it would be a doddle. But – I didn’t reckon on the cunning of the Ride organisers who I was to learn later had hidden the marker beside a cottage up a dead-end track

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With neither a GPS nor ordnance survey map to plot the co-ordinates I had no chance of finding the marker and settled for a few photos of the airfield instead —

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It’s now a heliport too you know —

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I had arranged to meet Simmo – Robbie & Co at our hotel just off Union Street in Aberdeen where we were to stay the night and headed of down the Aberdeenshire coastline to rendezvous.

My daily paper had shown people in the sea during a ‘heatwave’ earlier in the week but as my pic from a detour along the promenade shows the heatwave had been short-lived —

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So I settled for a pic across the road to Pittodrie where my football team plays instead —

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Quite apt really on a day to stir the memories. This is where Grahan Leggat – Aberdeen and Scotland – took time out from a busy footballing career to write to a very young ‘me’ sixty years ago and included a signed photograph.

Enough rambling – time to park up in pole position beneath the hotel and wait for the boys to arrive —

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Will carry on south tomorrow – hope you come with me 🙂

OK – it’s tomorrow. We will draw a veil over last night in Aberdeen – suffice to say it left me slightly hungover!

Not to worry – we got saddled up and out of there before ten – the boys heading north and me going west on the A944 for Alford. Twenty miles into my ride I spotted a roadside plate saying Mid-Mar – yup that’s all it said. It didn’t say Don was born here or anything like that but I know that’s where I came from. Not that roadside field where the sign was but further back into the forested hills where I was born as a wartime baby boy in an old woodcutter’s shack.

The Parish of Mid Mar as it says on my birth certificate still hasn’t grown into anything and is still pretty much a gathering of farms and cottar houses just as it always was.

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Didn’t even stop for a click – I was lapping up the twisting undulating road as it carved it’s way west to Alford and after a bum steer I found my way to the Motor Museum where a nice lady bound for the golf course next door took over my camera —

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That looks like my slightly hungover ‘superman’ pose – best get the camera back and horse on —

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She just wouldn’t listen so I posed in the other direction before taking off on the ride of my life. Over Cairn O’Mount we went did Susie and I – absolutely loving it! There might not have been a race circuit at Fettercairn but that Triumphal Arch had all the connotations of a laurel wreath to Susie and me after our fun on the fast unfenced descent —

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What a ride! Over and through mountains – forests – rivers and bridges – thank you Susie – you were wonderful!

Next it was Edzell Airfield. Or it should have been but the white golf ball type radar screens that marked the base for me in the past have gone along with the Yanks and it took me forever to find what they left behind —

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Not a lot —

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so on we jolly-well go. Down through Dundee and over the Tay Road Bridge just in time to mix it with the many thousands en-route to Leuchar’s Air Show —Red Arrows

and see the legendary Red Arrows sign off in style.

Next it was St Andrews – summer break is over for the students judging by the many suitcases being dragged around town. I was so tempted to stop – it’s one of my favourite places in this world but daughter had given me a deadline for our evening meal and I still had four race circuits in Fife to find.

First was Crail on the toe of Fife —

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it was a no-brainer for me as I had raced there in the past and it is still a circuit of sorts —

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But my fistula was beginning to react to the bumpy roads in the East Neuk so I found shelter from the cold wind in a sunlit garden and enjoyed a pannini with bacon & brie —

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before heading off along the coast to Kircaldy where I had fun and games finding Beveridge Park —

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It hasn’t moved since I watched my hero Bob McIntyre race his works Honda there in 1962 but the town has grown a long way in every direction. Bob was inch-perfect through the tree-lined turns of the narrow parkland circuit but sadly was to lose his life shortly afterwards at another race meeting. After all my travails in finding the place I ventured inside —

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and took another couple of pics —

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It was getting close to my deadline but a quick flip soon saw me at Knockhill – home of Scotland Motorsport —

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then a series of guessing games took me through to Balado —

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where a guy was chaining up the gates. No worries – job done for the day and I still had enough left in my tank to enjoy my blast with Susie up another old favourite. Glen Devon – cuts through the Ochil Hills and finishes at Gleneagles Hotel – biking nirvana!

Daughter was pleased to see me and even Leila failed to bark at this biker – maybe cos Lady Bella had arrived home from her hols —

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Bella loves soft toys and was quite happy to nick that one from Leila. But it’s hard work entertaining a puppy dog and after a couple treats from the boss —

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it was time for a rest —

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The end of another long day – or not quite the end as we went out for our evening meal at Ciros in Callender before coming back to fight over who sleeps where 🙂

Edinburgh and the south to follow soon – be there 🙂

It’s amazing the powers of recovery the human body has and even my seventy one year’s old bones felt ok as I headed off on my homeward leg of the Ride next morning. That feeling lasted as far as Ingliston where I met VFR riding – sat-nav equipped Garry scoffing a sandwich by the marker post at the entrance —

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He has been following my tracks and made a few points where the sat-nav beat old guy’s logic. H-mmm – why didn’t they do it the old way and use a few Castrol or Dunlop triangles at junctions to point the way into the various circuits off the main drag?

No worries – but I had let the sat-nav thing unsettle me and I zinged past the East Fortune turn-off from the A1 as my low fuel light came on and the glass fell out of my right mirror. There was nothing wrong with my reactions for I caught the glass with my left hand mid-flight as it flew off and stuck it in my tank bag without missing a beat.

It’s ten miles till the next exit where I spun round and did the ten miles back. Fuel stations are thin on the ground in Haddington but I found one eventually and brimmed her again.

East Fortune was easy after that and having both raced and spectated there I was soon at the closed gates —

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I found a newsagents in East Linton shortly after where I was able to buy superglue and re-fix the fly-away mirror glass before re-joining the A1 and heading south past a barrage of speed cameras.

My next target was a stotter – Winfield Airfield. I had never heard of it – west of Berwick – only the North Sea lies east! It wasn’t till I spotted a line of straw bales stretching into the distance about a hundred metres from the road that I thought ‘that’s an old runway.’ A quick turn onto a dirt road took me to a miserable sign wrapped round a fence post in the middle of nowhere!

Winfield – you may be the veritable needle in the haystack – but – I’ve gotcher! —

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I was fading by this time and my last target – Charterhall – where I have spectated in the distant past should have been an easy find but I was coming from an unusual direction and without any signs showing I would probably have missed it on my first pass.

Luckily my old friend Gary from Ingliston was coming out as I slowed for a look and his shouted instructions sent me down through a busy Co-operative Farm to another well hidden post carrying the welcome sign for my sixteenth and last Race Circuit.

Charterhall —

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This is the Memorial Stone mentioned in the notes – I missed it as I came from the Winfield direction —

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M-mmmm — in my haste at East Linton I managed to get superglue onto the face of the mirror glass. Does anyone know how I can get it off?

And – No – I don’t carry nail varnish remover in my tool kit 🙂

I must be a glutton for punishment but this event has given me an idea for a personal ride next year. I lived in eighteen cottar houses or farm houses before my eighteenth birthday. They range from Huntly in the north to Kelso in the south – about the same spread as the two Robbie’s Centenary run. Maybe I will visit them all in turn with my camera.

The Centenary Ride might even be by the Three Robbies as Robert Burns the poet got a mention for his Federation in the Welcome pack. It’s worth a try and maybe I will get an extra point for this photo of his auld hoose which I clicked on my way north from Turnberry —

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Catch you next time – Don

SACU Centenary Ride

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gixxer and the New Galloway TT

The New Galloway TT – not quite but a pretty good day all the same. A late start saw me dragged into the church next door – I’ve never seen it so busy. Turned out to be the special Jazz Festival Service – even the minister got in on the act and was jiving in the aisle to the band. Great Stuff!

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Church service over it was past noon and I still hadn’t had breakfast so I spent the next hour in the sun on the pavement in front of Mulberries Café with my Sunday paper – coffee and a bacon buttie. What a great start to the day!

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I’ve been on a guilt trip over my Gixxer for a few days now. She has been hidden away under a cover by the dustbins while I got the Tenere back on the road and galloped – so out she came blinking into the sunlight for a wash. Couldn’t stop there now could I? Yup on a black leather jacket and jeans day there was nothing else for it but to go for a spin.

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My New Galloway TT route is a smidgeon over fifty miles per lap and one lap is enough for a rider with a suspect butt. So – it was over by Gatehouse of Fleet and on down the A75 to the Minigaff turning and a lovely blast back along the Queen’s Road for a pot of tea and a scone outside the Smiddy Café in New Galloway. Yup – even TT riders have tea and scones and the view up the burn from the bridge is a beaut.

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And that’s when I spotted my next piece of ‘must have’ ordnance!

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I hadn’t been too impressed with the cane and string support structure I made up for my peonie rose t’other day and I have found a posh option made by a basket weaver. Yes I came home with his number and I believe he even does training courses – magic!

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Then it was a case of sharing the craic with a bunch of visiting Irish riders on a £25 Away Day courtesy of Stenna Line Ferries. It works both ways and is a cheap crossing providing you do it all within 24hrs.

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Craic over it was time to head on home down the west side of Loch Ken —

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with the occasional photo op down the twisties —

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This picturesque cottage that I caught in the corner of my eye was another ‘must’ even if I did have to turn back from further down the road to get it 🙂

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Nice one —

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And the weather vane?

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It’s a shot through the treetops of the church spire weathervane taken from my front garden when I got home. I reckon my New Galloway TT course took me 50 odd miles N/NW – not a bad way to spend a sunny Sunday 🙂

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The New Galloway TT

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Go East Young Man

Go east young man – well that’s what the weather forecaster said but I always have great difficulty in persuading my bike to head in that direction.

So – instead of reaching Kielder today as planned, I had a late start and arrived in sunny Portpatrick on the west coast facing Ireland around five o’clock —

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There was a chilling breeze off the sea so I didn’t hang about long.

A quick pose for the camera and that was it —

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The gixxer showing the benefit of my few hours spent fettling suspension and suchlike was spinning along nicely and with a following breeze the run back home was done in jig time even if I did take a detour into the forestry —

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and down the Dee estuary for more pics —

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It hasn’t been the best of weekends weatherwise or for that matter healthwise but I’m pleased to say I got myself together in time to catch the late Bank Holiday sunshine —

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Go East Young Man

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Tinkering

It’s nice having a bike out in the yard to tinker with. At the moment I have the gixxer out there and considering she hasn’t changed much since I rode her down in Croatia five years ago it’s amazing how I can still find things to twiddle with.

Here we are on a dirt road somewhere in Istria —

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Susie and I spent the summer there and boy did we enjoy the sunshine and evening sunsets over the Adriatic —

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and my ol friend Jake the Peg —

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That was the day he arrived and made a one-legged landing on the electrical hook-up box beside my caravan. I hope he is still hanging in there 🙂

Tinkering

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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What a Difference a Day Makes

What a difference a day makes. I may have sounded as if I enjoyed my first ride of the season yesterday but in actual fact there were bits of it that weren’t much fun. It must be coming on for a year since I rode the Gixxer and I was expecting too much to think I could just take up where I left off last summer.

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If truth be told I hadn’t gelled with the bike the way I expected to and didn’t think I would want to ride her again today. But – after an hour or two spent fettling the old girl I couldn’t wait to try again —

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so it was off to the hills for another go —

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The earky bonding sesh with the spanners had obviously worked for I was enjoying my ‘easy rider’ mode —

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and even found time to watch an aerial display by a pair of red kites – (there’s one taking a rest in the field bottom left)  —

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and pose by some roadside daffodils —

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But it wasn’t all about flower arranging and she did manage to loft the front wheel a time or two on the run home.

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It’s a poor workman who blames his tools so I might not stick my poor old gixxer on ebay anytime soon after all 🙂

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What a difference a day makes.

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Back on the Road Again

I’m back on the road again with my Gixxer 6 —

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I didn’t get far – just brought her home —

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But it’s a start and it’s not as if I’ve missed much good weather  🙂

 

Back on the Road Again

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gixxer Glam

Winter Gixxer 002The wraps came off my gixxer today – but not for long. A quick once-over and she went back under the covers again for another month at least.

I found this PTFE based protective spray in Halfords during the Christmas break and have been waiting for a dry day to uncover my bike and givit a blast – just from the spray can unfortunately.

It will be a few weeks yet before she is on the road but we’ve had early mild weather for the past two years so I best be prepared to catch the chance of dry roads when they come.

A hospital visit put paid to my plans to run her last autumn which means it is over a year since she was on the road as the Tenere tends to take precedence. Perhaps this year will be different.

I fitted new handlebars to the Gixxer a few months back and I am hoping they will improve the riding position but it’s hard to tell without a long day in the saddle. I will give her every opportunity to impress because I like her light weight and eager performance from what is a genuine 600 sports bike motor and chassis.

OK – I’ve had her double-wrapped for freshness under two bike covers long enough —

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Let’s get ’em off and see how she is faring back there during what has been a very damp twelve months of being idle —

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M-mmm — not bad from this angle. There’s a bit of moisture here and there that a quick wipe with an old T shirt will fix —

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Then spray some of that Muck-off about her – let her sit for a bit then wipe off the excess —

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Hey! I almost forgot – there’s a barely used 190 section rear tyre in there this year courtesy of my Yorkshire mate Jaffa Cake —

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Something else to look forward to trying out. Childish I know but that’s how it is with ‘boys and their toys’ – we do like to play —

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She’s lookin good 🙂

Must remember to take it easy for the first few miles because the overspray from that Muck-off left the damp paving around the bike slippery as ice and no doubt some of it will transfer to the tyres where it will possibly have the same effect. The blurb on the can reckons all the bike will need after a ride is a quick wash to retain her shine. Magic!

I’ve also decided to splash out on a new battery for her as the old one was getting rather tired and needed to be regularly refreshed. With less than ten thousand miles on the clock in ten years including long spells off the road it’s not really the way to treat a battery. So ebay here I come.

Wraps off the Gixxer

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gixxer 6 Streetfighter

I’m grounded at the mo’ with this rotten cold – or is it the dreaded manflu?

Nothing else for it but to go through my picture libraries and put up a collage of Gixxer six pics.

Starting down at Hermitage Castle in Steve Hislop country —

this one is further afield in Croatia —

From St Mary’s Loch up past Meggat Dam and over the hill to the next one —

posing at Ballantrae —

a handy little whatsit under her chin —

Back in Istria —

Just up the road at Parton —

and taking a break by Wigtown Harbour —

She’s a wee cracker of a bike – a joy to ride but with two bikes too many sumthin has to go and she’s for sale 🙂

Gixxer Six

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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