Thursday, 11 September 2008
Counties 14...15...16...17...and my friend Ronald.
Was late getting to Alford, no surprise there, but our man in charge of the Grampian Classic club stand, Peter D, had done a perfect job of setting it all up the day before and was as organised as an organised thing. Thank you Peter for doing such a grand job. Set Cubbie up in the display and started receiving 'comments' straight away. Jealousy really is such a terrible thing. It rained 99% of the day, and was actually quite cold with it. Dried up a bit by the time the classic racers went out to 'parade'. All good fun, had a chat with people I never normally get to chat to, and met up with Timmy the Twister # 50 and his Ma and Pa. Had hoped Twister was going to be able to ride Cubbie around the track, but there was such a lot going on that there wasn't a slot in the programme. Did however get a good piccie of him with Cubbie....courtesy of Mr Twister. Had planned to nip away early to allow for travelling down to Glasgow. In the end, I think I snuck out about half an hour before the show closed, so not much of a head start but better than nothing. Got to Glasgee in the pitch dark but somehow found my way off the motorway (and made it through the road works where there was one of those confusing convoy vehicles and flashing lights and cones and and and all kinds of difficult things to negotiate) and to the hotel. Such a good head for map reading y'see.
So cut to Tuesday, the day of the county hunt. Original plan was to drive to Dalserf (Lanarkshire) in the van, as that's where the VMCC meeting was that evening, then head off on Cubbie to Linlithgow, Queensferry, Edinburgh city, out to West Lothian and then down to Berwickshire, Selkirk and Peebleshire then back to Dalserf. Then I thought that might be just a little too much to attempt in one day, seeing as I had a time limit. Then Mrs BC contacted me to say that the Tunnocks factory had replied, and they had a cancellation on the tour that evening so I could go along. Woooo chocolate!!! Trouble was, that began at 6pm, leaving me even less time to ride. And as it happened, I had arranged to meet up with a friend who lives in Strathavon, just to the west of Dalserf. Oops, looks like I would be running out of time, but I woke up on Tuesday at 7am, bright and early, lovely, plenty of time for brekky and to check Cubbie over. Er, woke up again at half eight, panic panic rush rush, no brekky, off into the rush hour traffic of central Glasgow, in the van. Luckily it wasn't too bad in the direction I was going. Got down to Dalserf, junction 7 off the M74, straight along the Lanark Road, over the two bridges at somewhere beginning with G - Garrion Bridge? Then it was just a short hop to Dalserf, which didn't really seem to be anything apart from a row of beautiful white cottages with flowers round the doors, and a cute white church. Oh, and several black cats. Oooooh. Parked up, got the bike out, topped petrol up, late late late, at least an hour behind schedule by now, not helped by over filling the tank and having to mop up the spillage from all over the engine / tank / boots. Well done. Made it to Susan's house in Strathavon, although it would have helped if I had taken a note of her address. As it was, I decided to ride up and down the street until she heard me - which she didn't, so I took a guess at which house looked like a Susan house, and was right first time. Thanks for brekky, quine. Right, on the road again by 11.23, no sooner had I left then it started to rain. And it didn't stop until I got back to the van after 5pm. No more shall I mention the rain. Out to a place called Law, then right towards Carluke on the A721 (coincidentally, the same number as my hotel room so easy to remember!), on to Carnwath where those nice people who's Triumph chop I tested a couple of years ago live (was hoping to stop off for a chat but the road was calling!) There is a really good section of road along there somewhere, well, good in terms of twisties but also slightly bad in terms of bumps! The road became the A72 after a while, which took me into Peebles, a town which was twice burnt to the ground by the dreaded English. Fortunately not in recent history. Mind you, they would have had a bit of bother getting anything to burn on the day I was there - did I mention it rained? Somehow I ended up on the Kingsmeadows Road, a little B road running parallel with the main route out of the town, but far superior to the main route, especially for a small bike. Very impressed that the council worker I asked for directions knew his Tiger Cubs from his wotsits. Bit slippery, that road, under the trees which are now shedding their leaves - rather a depressing sign that winter isn't far away. Humbug. Talking of humbugs, Shorty wasn't at Alford this year due to having contracted Man Flu. Hope you're feeling better soooooon, Westie and I had a good chat about how best to take our revenge - cold or hot - very hot or frozen?? Traquair House (Scotland's oldest inhabited house, dating back to 1107) was next, rolled up at the ticket booth and the nice man very kindly let me in just to take a couple of piccies - promised him I'd take his photo on my way out, only to discover the route was a one way system. Exiting the grounds on a completely different road meant I got sightly lost, rode up and down a few times trying to get my bearings but in the end (and in the rain) gave up and had to ask a couple of old ladies who were also lost. Ended up heading for Innerleithen before getting on to the A72 and in the direction of Selkirk. I presume it is the River Tweed that gurgles its way along side the main road, looking ready to burst at any moment. Best not to get too close then. Must have been aboot 2pm by the time I sailed into town. I had already decided that I would stop there for lunch, not having had anything to eat since a bagel at Susan's house, and I had also decided that I would only have half an hour there, in order to make it back to my appointment at the Tunnocks tea cake factory. Stopped at Halliwell's House where the nice tourist board man informed me that if I headed out to Saint Boswells, I would be in Roxburghshire, or I would be if that county still existed. Currently, that particular town resides in what is now called the Scottish Borders.
Had a bite to eat, squeezed the water from my gloves and fired Cubbie up again. I have to say, it was running exceedingly well. Chugging along, pop pop bang bang and all that, nipped past a bin lorry, tooted the horn to thank the driver for waving me on, arrived at the next junction, slowed to a halt and the engine died. Clicked it into neutral, and kicked. Bother. Check horn, only a slight squeak. Lights? A mere glimmer. Kicked again, nothing. Obviously, this was the busiest section of road I had encountered all day, well, since leaving the big city. Then the bin lorry pulled up behind me so I thought it best to wheel Cubbie out of the way, in case they mistook it for....well....you know....rubbish.... I thought if I left it a while, enough life might seep back into the battery to get it started. But on the other hand, I wondered how and why in the space of about 10 minutes, the battery could have gone that flat. Gave the horn a peep after a while but there wasn't even a squeak. Oh dear. Oh well, at least I had completed all the counties I had planned, so if the worst came to the worst, I could call the breakdown service. But I didn't want to do that! Oh no! Not really knowing what my options were I had a peek in the battery box, checked the fuse, which was fine, but after popping it back into the holder, tried the horn and lights and BINGO! We have power. Wrapped it up with a bit of sticky tape, supplied by a most generous supporter of Cubbies Counties.
Gloves and helmet on, rucksack on and attempt to fire it up.
Life burst forth, echoing from the mud stained silencer, rumbling like a beauty, vroom vroooooom pop, isn't that just the best sound there can be, when you're sitting in a puddle by the roadside, mentally rummaging through your pockets to find the number of the recovery company. Anyway, enough poetic nonsense, we were off once again, heading for Melrose, then Galashiels. Didn't want to go right into Galashiels though so did a quick U turn when I found myself pointing in the direction of the town centre, and followed a fire engine down a narrow, twisty side road, which took me back on to the road out of Selkirk. Feeling pretty peckish, I rolled up at a big garden centre just outside Dalserf, hoping to grab a hot meal before continuing on to Uddingston (destination : Tunnocks). Garden centre shut though. Switched my phone on and got a couple of texts from Norm who had nipped over to Dalserf on his way home from work. Scarily, he had found where my van was parked, and was waiting with supplies of chocolate. To be honest, after 5 hours in the saddle in the rain and with not much food, a short break off the bike and some sugar was just what I needed. Kindly, he programmed the location of Tunnocks into his GPS gadgety thingy and set off with me following closely behind. Up the M74. Yikes. That's a motorway. Horrible nasty place for a Cubbie to be. Cars whizzing by at slightly more than the 70mph limit, and me in the left hand lane chugging along at 49.7mph. Well I saw no reason to push Cubbie just to keep up with the rush hour. Off at junction 5, I think, quick bit of lane swapping, ended up in Uddingston. Sat at lights for hours, engine died...wouldn't start, then it did, phew.
Now then, Tunnocks, for those of you who don't know, make the finest tea cakes and caramel wafers in the WORLD. The family owned (and run) business was started in 1890 by Thomas Tunnock, and the guy in charge currently is his grandson. My tour guide...Janet...Jean...Jane?? Drat I was sure I would remember! Sorry! Anyway, she was most helpful in pointing out all the details we needed to know, as well as telling me when and where I could and couldn't take photos. We got kitted up in overalls and hair nets and set off to the Snowball production line, followed by visits to where the wafers and caramel and gooey creamy stuff that goes in the tea cakes are made, packing areas, bakery and mixing bits. I'll have to check my notes tomorrow, but I'm positive Jean (Janet? Jane?) said that they can produce 4 million wafers a week and 3 million tea cakes. That's a lotta choccy. I was incredibly lucky to get a last minute place on the tour - everyone else had pre-booked 6 months ago! I can tell you, its well worth going to, even if its just for the free goodies and a cuppa tea at the end of it!
Had to leave the Tunnocks place a wee bitty early, the impending darkness, and the thought of that ride down the M74 back to Dalserf spurred me on to make haste. Arrived at the VMCC Clyde Valley section meeting sometime after the alloted start time - only a few mins, and I wasn't the last to arrive. Thanks to Bob Dougan and Paul Rickards for inviting me / allowing me to gate crash. It was quite an interesting talk from an insurance company - unfortunately, I can't say which one, cos as you'll know, DIAMOND INSURANCE (www.diamondinsurance.net/classic.htm) is the main sponsor of Cubbies Counties, so t'would not be right to name another company on this here blog - or would it? I dunno, just don't think it would be the thing to do. But whichever one it was, the lady gave us a load of info about agreed value Vs market value (best to get an up to date agreed one, btw) and how to insure your bikes even when they're not on the road. Also, did you know that you have to inform your insurer if you put panniers on your bike? Neither did I! At the end of the meeting, the guys very kindly donated a total of £33.50 to my charity fund - thanks so much for that, shall add up the new total and let you know. Sooooo, with the time getting on for 11pm, I still had to load Cubbie in the van and drive back to Glasgow. Was ever so slightly peckish by then, but thank the lord of fast food - Ronald, there was one of those manky burger shops still open and just a few doors down from the hotel. Medium chips to go, please. Back in my room, TV on, chips munched, head, pillow, sleep. Golly gosh, so thats another 4 counties ticked off, 5 or 6 hours of riding, 100,000 gallons of rain, and something in the region of 200 Cubbie miles. 1 false break down, 1 moto cross stlye slide over a bridge with a 90degree left hander at the other side, not to mention what could have been a big slide on that diesel in one of the villages I passed through. Tell you what, it's all good fun though, even in the wet.
Posted by Gorgeous Biker Chick at 12:19