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Monday, 31 December 2007

2007 - one last look.

2007 was quite a mixed year in terms of biking, for me at least. I was lucky enough to attend quite a few shows and classic bike events, and the biggest achievement of all is of course, my Cubby finally made it to the highways and byways. In this incarnation the poor wee thing has a quickly detatchable seat, a huge racing carb, drop handlebars, a special one off paint job, oh and a new fangled digital speedo gadget. My 'CBG' year started with Ingliston, the huge bike show there in March attracts the very best of classic bikes - and next year Cubbie should be there too for all to see. You can be as rude as you like about it, as long as you say these things to my face. I was lucky enough to meet Colin Seeley and he had time for a good ol' chat. He even signed one of his books for me! March was also the month when Geoff Brazendale from the VMCC visited the Central Scotland section to give a talk about motorcycle lighting, which was a jolly good evening out. One could even say it was, er, enlightening...

On April 1st this year, we (the Grampian Classic club) had our first Large Lunch. You've probably heard of the Big Breakfast they have down south, well I thought it was about time we had something similar up here. It proved more successful than I imagined with about 15 - 20 coming and going. Next up was quite a treat for me - I was off to the Triumph factory with Shirlaws of Aberdeen. I usually miss out 'cos it gets booked up as soon as it's ammounced, but I managed to get a place this time. The long coach journey each way was a drag but the evening at a posh hotel followed by the tour the next day was brilliant. The end of the month saw me gadding off to Paisley to attend a Skorpion Service Day, which was one of the MZers demonstrating maintenance and workshop techniques for our beloved 660cc singles. It was a useful event, one that I should like to see again. Short Stan invited me to give a talk to his VMCC section in April, so that was a busy old month.

No sooner was May on the calendar then it was time for the Pre65 trial over at Kinlochleven, followed by the MZ Scottish Rally. The ride west is wonderful and the weather is usually good. This time however, gales and heavy rain did spoil the rally a wee bit, but at least my tent didn't get damagaed. GCMCC members at the trial included Captain Bill and Chris whom I managed to con into putting my tent up for me, and Bob P who was competing, but sadly his bike suffered a terminal illness on day one. Robin of Wales and his daughter, Tiny Mite met me there and we headed to Gairloch for the worst weather conditions I think I've ever ridden in. We arrived late Saturday evening, and it was up early on the Sunday morning, tents down and head for home. I wore every item of clothing I had, it was so cold. The Skorps headlight threw a wobbly, only working on dip, and the wind nearly blew me off the road more than once. Luckily once I hit Inverness for brekky the weather was greatly improved. Blimey, the next weekend was the Cairn O'Mount at Banchory. I didn't have to do much for this one, as Davie Wilson (GCMCC) took on the organisation once more. The local branch of the Vincent club kindly invited us to their rally over at Applecross in May, so Mark from the Black Isle, Eddie, Alan, Doug & Sheena and Vic and little old me rode over to meet them. Doug, Vic and I went on the Friday, and somehow lost each other at the fuel stop at the Inverness Tesco. Then we rode to Mark's place and from there it was all a shambles! We had refreshments, then set off once more, this time following Mark so that he could fuel up. At the garage he realised he'd left his wallet at home, so raced off on his Guzzi to get it. He told us to ride slowly to the next village, which I think was Garve, and he would catch us up. Well, we got there and waited a bit but no Mark, so as the weather was rapidly closing in - dark storm clouds and a swift breeze, someone made an executive decision to carry on. We'd stopped at a petrol station and asked the chap to tell Mark just to carry on - he'd easily spot him as the Guzzi is bright yellow and so is Mark's lid! The guy said he would but also said he thought we were foolish for going over The Pass in weather like this! No choice, we had a table booked for dinner and the north route looked so much longer! With me in the lead, I had to keep an eye on Vic's BMW as he kept dropping back, but with Doug & Sheena on the 'Wing at the rear, he couldn't stray too far. By Achnasheen the rain was absolutly dinging doon and the wind was gusting. Visibility was limited and my hands were cold and wet. Not as wet as Vic though who refused to put his waterproofs on...Don't ask! D&S were booked into a B&B at Lochcarron, so Vic and I headed on to The Pass. The landscape up there is quite lunar and barren, but beautful too. With no time or inclination to stop we just kept on riding and progress was slow. Just as we'd pitched our tents, who should arrive in a yellow blur? Mark! I found out over dinner that Vic's BMW was misbehaving because the homemade luggage system he'd built was causing a nasty high speed weave. Mark was pleased to have caught us but he musta ridden like the Devil to get there at the same time as us. Alan and Eddie arrived on Saturday morning, in glorious sunshine - humbug!

The next weekend took us into June, and the Fraserburgh show, a small but pleasant gathering, followed by the Ayr Classic show. Shirlaws kindly lent me a new Bonnie for the journey, which was jolly decent of them. A nice bike the T100, but I ran out of fuel - luckily right by the slip road to the Stracathro services. I was accosted at the show by the Saints and Sinners who hauled me away from my presentation duties to sit me on their collective knees for a photo opp. Fyvie Castle was next on the list of shows, again, another small one with only a handful of bikes, but as it's just a few miles from me, I went along for a natter with the chaps. Saturday June 30th @ 10.30am was a time to remember. I was still trying to hook a kill switch up as a horn button on the Cub at about 9.30am, but my skills as an electrician came through and after nearly suffering a heart attack as a wire touched somewhere and set the horn off, I made it to Camerton Autotech in Cuminestown and watched the highly trained mechanics put it through its paces. I soon had the certificate in my paws and was off to Turra to get my free tax. Even the post office operative telling me I'd have to go to the DVLA place in Aberdeen didn't spoil my fun. It just felt so good to be riding a bike that I'd built (albeit with a lotta help from people) and brought back from a rusty grave.

The next day was July, and I took the Enfield down to the Strathtay Stravaig to meet the Scottish Classic club. It rained, my all-in-one suit leaked, I got wet and grumpy, got lost, missed the ride out, but got chatting to two handsome young bikers in the hotel until the group returned. They invited me to stay for the meal but I reckon that was just so that Graeme and John could embarrass me by presenting me some some cute undies in front of everyone! The ride back over Glen Shee was great, and I made good time even in the thick mist. Our club meeting that month was a BBQ at Eddies place down near Stonehaven, with an afternoon ride out. A few of us arranged to meet at Fyvie and the northern contingent would ride there together. This was my first 'long' trip on the Cub and everything was going swimmingly until just a few miles from Eddie's house, I nearly got us lost, then Cubbie just stopped. Not a dickie bird to be heard. Vic tried to leave half of my new back tyre on the road as he attempted to bump start it but there was just no life at all. A call to Eddie resulted in Captain Bill coming to rescue me with his trailer (which he'd used to transport his Connaught to the BBQ) and back at the ranch, the BBQ was lit and everyone poked and prodded poor old Cubbie. Much laughter was had at my expense when Davie hit the seat with a plank of wood 'cos they couldn't get it back on. I told them there's a knack to it but would they listen? Huh, would they heck. The next weekend saw me jetting off to Shetland for my day job, and while I was there, I happened to bump into some amazing, wonderful people. Geordie met me at the museum where we had a cuppa and he tried to arrange some bike tests for me. Annoyingly, with my work to do as a priority, when I had time off, the weather was misty and grey, not ideal for a photoshoot or riding bikes really. I did however meet a few people and got to test Geordie's Ariel and meet the 'Company'. That afternoon, the Shetland Cruisers were off on a jaunt to Eshaness on the west coast. I'd met Colin and his wife, Carol, a few days before and they'd thought it would be nice to invite me along. Carol rides a Harley and Colin's bike at the time was the Purple People Eater - a huge purple trike, so I had the privilege of a shotty on the pillion seat which was brilliant fun. Sadly a few months later, Colin suffered pnuemonia whilst on a trip abroad and didn't recover. He will be sorely missed. At the end of July, I had arranged to test a BSA Shooting Star, that was great fun and an ideal little bike for someone like me, if only it had a Triumph badge on the tank! You should have read all about that in the mag.

Into August and the year is fairly whizzing by now. The Garioch show at Oldmeldrum was Cubbie's first outing as a competitive vehicle. Although to be fair, I only entered so that I could do the games...but I ran out of petrol and the torrential rain put an end to play time. It's the middle of the month, and I'm getting ready to go to Crieff for the S&T. My friend and fellow MZer Andrew R had offered to pick me and Cubbie up as he would be passing my door. This solved the problem of how to get there, and also gave a bit of moral support. I was on the brink of crabbitness when he arrived, for I was sure I had a problem with the clutch. I'd just about given up but he insisted on having a look and getting covered in oil. We didn't arrived at the campsite until midnight, and it was a busy day we had ahead of us. One final check of the Cub showed that all was well and the clutch was working perfectly. About a quarter of the way into the route, an unhealthy squeaking started emanating from the primary case but Andrew (I'm blaming him as I don't think he reads the blog!) said it would be ok, so we carried on. The kick start lever started to spin round too, and just a few miles before lunch changing gear became a bit of a problem. We limped on and arranged for the breakdown boys to take Cubby and me back to camp. A nice guy called George wasted no time in stripping the gearbox (in the pouring rain and failing light) and was amazed, just as I was, to find there was practically no oil in the 'box. No damage was obvious so I thank my lucky stars and resoved to fix the leak in time for next weekend - the National at Blairgowrie. When I was doing a dry run before applying copious amounts of sooper dooper silicon sealer to the joint, I discovered that the gears didn't work at all, so it was a bit more of a rebuild than I'd thought. Eventually I narrowed the problem down to a selector fork not being in quite the right place - thank you to Diggy in New Zealand who was adamant that's what the problem was all along. Somehow, I got it up and running in time for the following weekend, when Captain Bill and I made the journey south to the National. This would turn out to be the first competitive event I've completed - yes, much to a certain person's dissapointment, I made it all the way round using Cubby power only. I was fair chuffit as they say, to win the prize for Youngest Rider too - at my ripe old age! A quantity of oil was also presented to me at the awards ceremony. Ha ha. Monday 27th Aug and I set off on the MZ, loaded to the gunnels, heading south to Heysham to catch the 2.15AM ferry to the Isle of Man. I made good time and met up with my friend Sandra. It's amazing how quickly the time passes when you're playing snap with a pack of cards with fifteen 8s of hearts, in a pub with a karaoke night going on. The Island was a blurr, so many VMCC events happening and a drop of rain or two but it was certainly an experience. Next time I go, I'll be better prepared and know the best places to watch the races from.

By the time I came home, it was September and time for the annual Alford Convention. For some reason it clashed with the Scone Farming of Yesteryear show and the MZ AGM in Wales, both of which I would have liked to have gone to again. I rode to the convention and exhibited Cubby for the whole word to see. Some people just don't know quality when they see it. The next weekend was the UCAN run, a charity ride to raise money and awareness for a local cancer charity, organised by Chris Norton. The weather was appalling and I chickened out, not wishing to get hyperthermia, but I did go and meet the guys at Alford for the prize giving. It was a well supported event so I hope next year the weather will be better and even more people will make it along. The autojumble that followed more or less signals the end of the season up here, but at least I got a nice spanner set (metric and imperial) for a few quid.

October greeted me with a nasty knocking noise coming from the Cubby, but where from? I stripped the clutch and all looked well, so I pulled the gearbox apart and lo and behold, the nut that holds the front sprocket on, fell off - the thread on the high gear being more or less non existent. When I get round to it, I'll order some new bushes and bearings for the rebuild. I've got a spare high gear in my box of bits, so that'll save a few quid. With a late spell of good weather, I managed to squeeze in a bike test in November. It was a nice little James. My grandad had a James (different model) but sold it before I was born. Well, I think you know the rest, since then I've been shedding and getting nowhere, and over this festive period I've had a chance to do a bit of writing, in fact, just finishing the RE report so you should see that in the mag soon, and I must do my VMCC monthly report pronto or I'll miss the deadline for the next issue.

All the best for next year, and a big THANK YOU to everyone who has let me test their bike, or invited me to an event, or helped me with technical mechanicl electrical stuff...this classic biking lark is great fun. See you on the road in a very sunny 2008!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

A little ditty

On the first day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, a Triumph Tiger Cub.

On the second day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the third day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, five big Ducatis, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, six Bultacos, five big Ducatis, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, seven MZs, six Bultacos, five big Ducatis, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, eight more Cubbies, seven MZs, six Bultacos, five big Ducatis, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, nine 999s, eight more Cubbies, seven MZs, six Bultacos, five big Ducatis, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, ten Bonnie Triumphs, nine 999s, eight more Cubbies, seven MZs, six Bultacos, five big Ducatis, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, eleven stunning Scramblers, ten Bonnie Triumphs, nine 999s, eight more Cubbies, seven MZs, six Bultacos, five big Ducatis, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my troo luv sent to me, twelve hunky mechanis, eleven stunning Scramblers, ten Bonnie Triumphs, nine 999s, eight more Cubbies, seven MZs, six Bultacos, five big Ducatis, four Triumph Speed Fours, three Speed Triples, two Triumph Twins, and a Triumph Tiger cub.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Shall I leave the hat on? No, don't answer that.

You have never seen a Christmas card as good as this one. I'll tell you why; I'm in it. Yep, GBC and Cubby. The Stirling Castle section of the VMCC apparently have a habit of sending personalised cards to entrants of their S&T regularity run. In mine, I'm hunched over the tank, front wheel just nudging the start line, and Big Rab next to me waving his flag. You can't see the rain dinging doon, and believe me, it was! It was a nice surprise to open it up and see Cubby there in all it's glory. Unfortunately, since then, I've removed the gearbox and clutch to try and trace / fix the strange knocking noise, and now the bike is sitting in the MZ shed looking rather sad and unloved. Still, Tuesday is the day for mixing concrete, providing the frost goes then I'll have a Cubby shed to fix it in!

Due to circumstances outwith my control I missed the Toy Run today. I'm not a happy bunny as I bought a Santa hat especially for the occasion, and a couple of toys for the kids. But with the benefit of hindsight, it was -1 when I was getting the bike ready, and I guess the roads would have been a bit dicey between here and the big city. So I made good use of the day by trying to fix the headlight on the car (and failing), messing about with Cubby bits, catching sheep and trimming their feet, dishing hay and straw out to them, assessing the work that needs to be done to the bird table and finally, since 4pm, sorting the contents of my wardrobe. Just to put that last bit into some sort of perspective, I stopped for tea at 8pm, and I've still got piles of clothes that need to go somewhere! No matter how much I throw out (all to a good home; charity shops!) it never all goes back in without some left over. And before you lot start, it ain't all shoes. Oh but I found a fiver, how good is that!

I got an early Xmas pressie yesterday - which I was looking forward to wearing for the Toy Run today. Something to keep me warm and cosy on the bike - nope, not a Santa suit...thermals. Mrs GBC was going to buy me one of those windproof, thermal, sooperdooper special motorcycle tops, but they're quite pricey in the shops, so we were looking online but didn't find one that I liked. Then coincidentally, we were in Somerfield and saw they had a range of ski jackets - just thin thermal things, but they looked ideal for wearing under bike gear. They also had thermal under troos which Mrs GBC treated me to, as well as the jacket. So now I'm all thermalled up and nowhere to go...

PS, Tuesday was too frosty for concrete mixing, and I've been reprimanded by Jake & Gino from the Scottish classic club for not mentioning on here that they (well not them personally, but their club) invited me to their Christmas buffet, and what a wonderful time I had. It's true, I really did have a great time, even though the quiz team I was in only came third (that would be the team led by Jake...) even though I supplied them with a whole heap of correct answers. Tut tut. Thanks though guys, even the 3 hour drive each way didn't spoil the night.

Monday, 10 December 2007

How to get rid of the pre-Xmas blues; get on yer bike and ride!

I'm so excited. And I just can't hide it. I took the Enfield out for a spin on Saturday afternoon, and I have to admit, it was soooo scary, but fun too! By the time I got away it was almost dusk, the roads were wet and things were beginning to get frosty. I also have to admit that I haven't ridden a bike for a good few weeks, and I was a tad rusty. I just nipped over to pick up a key from a friend whose cats I had to look after while they went away for a couple of days, and rather than go the direct route, I decided to go the long way through Cuminestown. This meant going down a steep hill with a 90 degree left turn at the bottom. Rather interestingly, when I applied the back brake, the bike slid left and right so I dared not touch the front one. Luckily there was nothing coming so I just overshot the junction and paddled round the corner. Embarrassing or what? I don't know what was on the road; oil, ice perhaps but it wasn't nice, and t'would have been a lot more embarrassing had I ploughed into the metal barrier on the far side, or slid down the road on my you know what. Anyway, the journey home was uneventful, and where I'd been nervous and slow on the way out, with it being pitch black, I think I rode a lot more confidently, mainly 'cos I couldn't see enough of the road surface to panic at every dark looking patch of tarmac. I need to keep riding through the winter, within reason, even if it's only on my trials bike...which is nearly, oh so nearly ready! I've managed to house Cubby - temporarily - in the MZ shed but there's no room to actually work on it in there, so the BIG shed is a must!

It's amazing how much of a buzz even a short blast on a bike can give ya, but anything bike related - like planning, can be almost (ok, not quite) as exciting... I'm planning 2008 and I can't wait. I'm thinking about exhibiting Cubby at the Scottish show at Ingliston, providing a) theres room and b) I can get it there. And I'd love to return to Shetland for their bi-annual show in June, and I rather fancy a trip to Spain or Italy, or maybe Switzerland on the MZ. There's talk of a few of us heading to a classic bike event in Englandshire at the start of 2008 just for something different to do, I've apparently been lumbered with sniffing out a good place to go - so any suggestions for events in the north of England would be handy, otherwise it'll be a 'shut me eyes and pick one' jobbie.

It's the Aberdeenshire MAG toy run next Sunday, I'm taking the RE and looking forward to it. Most years I either don't have a bike on the road, or am working, or I'm up to my ears in snow. Having overcome the first two, I hope the weather stays open and I can make it this year. Which reminds me, I keep meaning to pop in to the supermarket in Turra and purchase a Santa suit...that should provide a little light relief for some of the kids in the homes and hospitals, and so what if I look like an idiot!

Over 'n' oot chaps.

Thursday, 6 December 2007


Oops, sorry to anyone who looked in for an update. I was going to do it yesterday, but nipped outside and it was such a nice day (tee shirt weather in December in Scotland!) that I got involved in mixing some concrete for the side bits of the shed base. Where the stones are piled up to make the inside bit level, I'm concerned that they might all tumble out when I remove the shuttering, so I'm plugging the sides with concrete.

Anyway, I suppose those of you who have sat through the slide show want to know how I ended up with a black eye...on Friday the fencers turned up to fence the top field. They had to move a concrete water trough and the only way of doing so was to pull it with their tractor - but they didn't have a tow rope, so muggins here got the one from the steading for them, which has a nice big metal hook on the end. It was stored on a high shelf, and wouldn't budge so I gave it a little tug...and yep, it whacked me in the face. A huge bruise appeared instantly where it caught the edge of my eye, then over night the rather pretty shades of purple, blue, black, green and a bit of yellow developed - and of course, I had to work on Saturday! I noticed that people in shops tended to move away from me and give me funny looks!

Tuesday was a chuckle 'cos it was the Grampian Classic club Xmas bash, and all those funny funny guys had a right old laugh at my expense - one cheeky so 'n' so even said that I'd been due a black eye for a long time! He was only about 4' tall though so I can cope with insults like that... The party was a great success, with a total of 40 members / partners attending and all seeming to have a good time. Some of us had a little natter and are planning some trips for next year - notibly to the Shetland show in June.

Roll on next year, I've got so many places to go to and things to do, I can't wait! Oh, guess I better put the gear box back in Cubby before I can go anywhere...


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