So i came home, locked the bike up, made a coffee, played guitar for a little while and then put the racing on. I don’t know whether it is the comforting sound of engines or the sound of the voices but very sleepy. To far gone to get off the sofa. Attempt snooze, can’t, too quiet. Thumb remote until there is prog metal playing, Dream Theatre to be precise. Out like a light. Now it’s 2am, I’m hungry, mobile and can’t sleep. Frozen lasagne and racing it is.
I’m in the bath. I won’t burn your minds with a photo of my hairy body covered in tesco value bubbles, you’ll just have to use your imagination. This is a rarity. I think i clean a piece of bike or riding kit in here more often than i clean myself. It’s not a problem if I leave a fender or my boots in the bath. I’m a bit boned if i can’t get myself out.
Of course it makes perfect sense to get in the bath after a longer journey as the warm water stops things hurting. I had a busy weekend on the bike, Monday and Tuesday mostly disappeared and this is late on Wednesday.
My bath is not even particularly difficult to get out of. In addition to the little and pointless handles built in to the side, there are some nice big rails i had put in. Still doesn’t stop me being a smelly biker though.
The venerable twin was doing well. I had been racking up the miles having moved out of the city into a small town in the sticks. I’d been changing the oil every 2000 miles. Fresh filter every time. No surprises in there. Using Motul 5000 or 5100 as it is a reasonably good quality semi-synthetic at a price i didn’t mind paying for frequent oil changes. I think i’d changed the oil about 1000 miles previously.
I was on my way back from the dentist, which is in a village on the other side of the city. There is a dual carriageway that is mostly traffic lights. I accelerate away from the lights, into second, accelerate up to 40 (that being the speed limit) change up into 3rd and then there’s a loud clonk and and the back and starts to snake like i jumped on the back brake. I pull clutch in and the bike stops snaking. It’s also not running. I thumb the starter. Clonk! Not good. I throw a left indicator on and let the bike coast.
There are railings along both sides of the road so i can’t pull up safely. I toe the gear lever around until i have neutral. The bike comes to a halt just before a big roundabout that i dont like. I hop off and push the bike off the left exit. More railings each side, single carriageway and now an imparient bus behind me. I finally take refuge in the corner of a bus stop.
I call my local bike shop. They advise me that it’s at least a dropped valve if not a completely lunched engine, but bring it in and they will have a look. I call the RAC, describe problem. They have a patrol out quickly. Apparently their phone monkey understood the symptoms to be a flat battery. Facepalm. Patrolman summons a recovery truck for me. I have much fun with optional RAC survey asking patrolman to check the oil on my bike. He can’t find the dipstick. There isn’t one. I explain the procedure.
There’s a little window there, hold bike upright and look at the oil level. As the bike has been stopped for a while it should be dark which means it’s safe to start the bike. Do so and bring the engine up to temperature, turn off bike and leave for 3 minutes, then check level is between the upper and lower marks next to the window.
He tries to hold bike upright and look in the window which is just in front of the left footpeg. He can’t do both so I hold the bike. He gets a flashlight out and declares the window dark, and the whole procedure insane. He asks me how i manage. I tell him i have a mirror on a stick with a light on it, and that if the window is dark there’s enough oil so long as i haven’t just done an oil filter change, which requires the second check.
The RAC man departs and the recovery contractor arrives, we drop the bike at the shop and he gives me a ride home. I get a phone call the next day. Engine is full of metal fragments as the big end bearing has failed and at the very least it’s new pistons, com rods and cranshaft as it’s a proper mess. Beyond economical repair.
I begin bike hunting. I sold the remains through a web forum. I got more than salvage value, but little more than the new exhaust i’d fitted 12 months previously had cost me. I could have made a little more parting it out on ebay, but my housing contract forbids me from keeping motorcycles indoors and i had nowhere to work outdoors.
It’s been a long time. I’m still alive and still riding. The last year or so has been mad. I’ve moved house, changed bikes, got rid of my 33bhp restriction, changed luggage, started touring 2-up, changed kit and had battles with my lack of mobility. Lots of stories to tell. I’d best write catchup.
Bike: Japanese Retro, shaft drive a bonus, low seat and lightweight. Old and well used. Currently a scruffy 1992 XV535.
Custom Work: Luggage rack, topbox with extra reflective tape. Heated Grips, wider mirrors, fender extensions.
Helmet: White HJC Ben Spies race rep, because animal skulls and damask patterns are cool. And it’s light, cheap, and exhibits Sharp stars.
Eyewear: Black plastic glasses, ironic that they came from specsavers bottom shelf and have a real proscription. Pinlock and Yamaha race rep sunstrip on clear or smoke tint visor.
Facial Expression: Hidden behind chinbar and foggy mask.
Facial Hair: Apathy beard, shaving is time I could be fixing bike or drinking coffee.
Clothing: Black, mostly gore-tex or equivalent, mix of textiles and leather. Occasional stick-on retro-reflective star. Tough and utilitarian touring kit.
Footwear: Retro high-leg motorcycle boots, from Altberg so fully armoured and CE certified
Accessories: flame pattern buff, spare visor
Tattoos: None, due to chronic indecisiveness.
Bitch: Filthy redhead, has battlecry of ATGATT, missing some kit…
Average ride: Twenty miles down back lanes because through town is being dug up / full of traffic / infested with imbeciles, inevitably a social call or to the supermarket.
I can’t sleep. It’s horrible o’clock in the morning. Everything that can ache is having a pretty good go at doing so. My mind is still racing. I can’t decide whether the most strenuous thing I did today was watch the MotoGP or whisk custard. I didn’t ride. And given that it’s morning, today was yesterday.
I’m not at home. The red-haired Virago is snoring contentedly, occasionally she stirs just enough to smile. I am insanely jealous of her ability to be asleep whenever the opportunity presents itself.
I am not that fortunate.
I have already scoured the usual sources if internet entertainment for novelty, poured over ebay for potential bargains on the spares list, devoured the last third of the book I have been reading for months, contemplated all the things I would do if I had just a little more energy, and resigned myself to the fact that there is likely to be a flurry of creativity until the headache I’m nursing gets in the way, followed by long hours of staring blankly into space or the back of my eyelids, able to do very little, before sleep finally takes me. I will most likely wake up about 6 hours later, feeling little better, but hungry.
When I do wake up feeling non-achey enough to do something, that something will likely be pull my kit on, and ride somewhere. Probably home, via the supermarket, and then sleep some more. Or fail to sleep some more.
I’d been asleep and inactive most of the Tuesday and Wednesday. So it was Thursday and I felt OK and I needed food, so a trip to the farm shop and the supermarket was the thing to do. By the time I got to the farm shop every small feature of the road felt like bouncing over a speed hump too fast. I ordered some pork, and realising I wasn’t going to make it to the supermarket as well, grabbed some overpriced bread and eggs. I picked smoother roads on the way back, still hurt. Much agony by the time I was home. Pretty much abandoned the bike in the back yard for an hour or two before finding the energy from somewhere to lock her away for the night, quite glad the gate locks. Didn’t come out again for another few days.