Saturday, 30 January 2010
Don't bother with the search party, I'm back. Had a few inches of snow yesterday when we took the car and the van down the bottom of the hill last night, it had already started to drift. We only just managed to get the car back up and had to bash our way through the drifts, wow that's fun! Managed to get to the local town today and stock up on animal feed and a few bits and bobs for our cupboards. The forecast for the next 6-15 days predicts more snow and high winds, so we wanted to be prepared. So I was going to blog a little bit, but just had to swap the two video recorders over and now I've got to wind the umpteen dozen yards of video tape back into the cassette and cut and splice the chewed up bit. DVDs? What are they all about then?
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
You might be thinking that Mr Polar Bear has nothing to do with travel or transport, but I thought it was such a great work of art, I'm going to let it stay here on display for a while. And the same goes for these pics taken by Oor Slick while he was on board his wee boaty with nothing better to do...
And then some of Slick's lady friend, Annie, in Holland I believe. He certainly knows how to make a girl jealous.
Winter in Douglas, IOM.
So there you have it, plenty of inspiration. Don't forget, you could win a GBC Blog Tee Shirt, or a free subscription to Old Bike Mart.
Monday, 25 January 2010
I think some of you may recognise this handy little gadget that GB is going to tell you about...
The Vee Wipe is a visor wiper made by Bob Heath that slips onto the index finger
of your left glove.
The Vee Wipe
It comes in three colour coded sizes. Grey = small, Black = medium and Red = large. I have only tried the black, medium size one and it is a secure fit on both my summer and (more thickly padded) winter gloves.
It is flexible so it doesn’t restrict your movement. I normally carry mine in my tankbag and only put it on when it looks like rain so as not to risk damaging the wiper blade by everyday use in dry weather. It’s lasted ten years so far and still works fine.
I find it’s easiest to be wearing the left glove but not the right and put it on with my right hand. But I’m right-handed so it may be better to fit it before putting on the glove if you are left-handed.
The Vee Wipe fitted to my summer gloves
It costs around £5. A lot of money for not very much you might think but believe me, the first time you use it you will consider it money well spent.
Why is it so good?
Wiping the visor with just a gloved finger always leaves some rain behind to obscure your vision. The Vee Wipe is as effective as a car windscreen wiper. You have to see
it to believe it!
Additionally, a gloved finger gets wet by soaking up water from the visor. With the Vee Wipe fitted your finger makes little if no contact with the visor and stays dry.
I’ve bought two of these as presents for friends because I think they are so good. As well as taking some stress out of riding in the rain, they are a useful safety aid.
Go on … treat yourself to one. You won’t regret it.
I should point out that Graham has no vested interests in the Vee Wipe or the Bob Heath Visor Company, and if you want to find out how to obtain a copy of his books, pop over to www.lulu.com/ImprovingClassicMotorcycles and see how to get your bikes ready for the road.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
The Editor of OLD BIKE MART has kindly donated a FREE ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION so you now have twice as much chance of winning a prize.
The address you need to send your entries to is comp AT aultan . com
**Ok, that's better! Starting to get some in now, and by gum there's some good ones!
Saturday, 16 January 2010
First up, a wee note about "Cubbie's Counties". In case you missed all the hoo-haa, this was a plan conjured up by my own not very realistic mind, to ride Cubbie, my 1962 hardly-restored-more-like-refurbished/painted-and-rebuilt Triumph Tiger Cub, around every one of the old fashioned 33 Scottish counties. I could have made life easier by using the modern county boundaries, but that seemed boring and far too straightforward when I set the challenge in the deep mid winter of 2007 (heck, it can’t be that long ago, can it?). The system I used includes places such as Banffshire, Roxburghshire, Clackmannanshire and so on, rather than the modern, huge, all in one ‘regions’. The charities I chose to support were the ME Association and NABD. I hope to make the presentation of monies to each one some time in the spring when their representatives can visit Aberdeenshire. At the time of writing it looks like we’ve reached our target of at least £1000 each.
The New Year saw a refreshed and rejuvenated Cubbie on the FRONT PAGE of Old Bike Mart, thanks to Dr Jim who waved his magic electricary wand in Dec ’08. Ever present in my mind was the thought that I was only half way through Cubbie’s Counties, both time-wise and county-wise. Not wishing to wait another month longer, I decided to visit Perthshire. The trip was dual purpose, as I had to attend the Central Section VMCC meeting to give a video presentation about the charity challenge thus far, but hey, if I didn’t do it then, I probably wouldn’t have been able to fit it in. A grand night was had by all, well, at least some of them must have enjoyed it as they very kindly dug out a few coins from their collective pockets to bump the total up a bit more.
Hmmm, it's February, what can I do to pass the time? I know, I'll drag my bike through the snow and catch the ferry from Aberdeen to Orkney to conquer county 19. It was a great trip in all honesty, stayed in a nice little B&B, did some of the day job while I was there, met some classic bikers, saw Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar, rode around in the snow. Odd that, the roads were as clear as they would be in June, yet the snow was piled high on the verges and in the fields. While I was away, you were all taking part in the First Ever GBC Blog Winter Photo Competition, sending in some fantastic pictures of snowy landscapes, biking in the snow, snowmen and wimmen, and winter colours, and it was brilliant to have entries from all around the globe. Head Judge, Phil Mather (he's a motorcycling photojournalist ya know, so well qualified to be Da Judge – see his new website at www.philmather.com) chose a rather cool (in more ways than one) pic of MZ Mark's outfit in the snow on what looks like a very cold and icy day. Which reminds me Mark, talking of 'outfits'...did you ever send a pic of you sporting your photo comp prize???
Rolling into March and the long awaited results of the Vintage Motorcycle Club Scottish Area Rep ballot came through, and I was fortunate enough to be elected to do the job. It's a position that has certainly kept me busy throughout the whole year, and I've thoroughly enjoyed it. The bit that I have to confess I don't really enjoy, is getting up at 4am every couple of months to visit HQ in Burton Upon Trent. The meetings are well worth going to, as I'm learning about the organisation all the time, and have the opportunity to put forward any relevant points of view from the Scottish members. I just hate getting up at 4am. The plane and train companies seem to have worked out how to avoid running any useful services that get me from Aberdeen to Burton by 2pm, and / or home again the following day. Talking of which, looks like I’m in for a bus journey on my next visit as there are no trains north of Dundee on the day in question! Anyway, I'm lovin' the job and that's the bit that matters.
In the same month, we were hit by The Twister! Not the meteorological breezy happening, but our very own Grampian Classic MCC sponsored 16 year old racer, Tim Hastings. Tim was the current British GP125 ACU Academy Cup CHAMPION at the time of his visit, and was hoping to be the first person to ever win the title back-to-back in 2009 - well I can tell you he did just that. Well done laddo. After a few seasons in the 125cc championships, this year he's got a deal to ride in the National Superstock 600 series - on a green meany Kawasaki Ninja ZX6R race bike.
Counties 20 & 21 - Kincardineshire & Forfarshire were squeezed in too, with great help and support from Smokey Child and his good lady wife. Had a bit of an oil leak on the way to Stonehaven, but thought if I kept going fast enough the oil wouldn't have time to leak. But it did, quite a lot! Arrangements were made then to get Cubbie to the big BIG motorcycle show in Ingliston, Edinburgh, and seeing as the bike was already half way there, I took it to Shorty to look after and transport for me, but he left it out in the snow. Tsk tsk tsk. Revenge will be mine, sayeth the Cubbie. At the show the following weekend, Cubbie was given a special award by none other than Eric Boocock, for being the "most ridden bike in the show". After the show, Cubbie was looked after by Kawa while he kindly fixed the oil leak. The end of March saw my second television appearance. Back in the summer of 2008, some of the VMCC and GCMCC guys took part in the filming of the BBC series, Britain’s Best Drives, which starred Richard "I don't believe it" Wilson. It was quite an insight seeing how these programmes are made, but I think we were all a little disappointed with the lack of motorcycle footage they actually used. Ah yes, then I managed another county, Banffshire this time, which took me far and wide from the sunny and warm lowlands to the wild and windswept ski slopes of the Lecht. Brrrr. Nearly got run over by a snowplough and arrested by a copper on top of the hill.
April, at last, some sunshine. Nipped down to Burton again for another meeting, ticked off more counties in one weekend than I thought possible, with the help of Bantam Cub Man on his Bantam Cub. Think it was 7 in total over two days, which took me to Edinburgh and beyond, nearly into Dunfermline by mistake, out to Knockhill, site of the famous Scottish race circuit, and then the pair of Cubs took off over to Argyll and goodness knows where. Somehow managed to get back to Doune (was it Doune or am I confused?) at the end of it all to visit the VMCC guys and girls. Although busy and hectic and fraught and tiring, that was one of the best Cubbies Counties trips of the whole challenge.
Lambing started some time around now, and it wasn't going too badly until I had to go to the Isle of Skye for 10 days for work purposes. Of course, as my departure neared, they stopped lambing, as if to wait until Mrs BC would be on her own. I was able to postpone, but only for so long....oh yes, stayed in the most, erm, ‘interesting’ place on my first night there. It was like one of those creepy hunting lodges you see in horror films, with stags heads and stuffed birds lining the stairs, and various pieces of Scottish weaponry on the walls everywhere. My room was, shall we say, minimalist. Actually, no, in fact, for the price, it was downright stingy! There was no heating on, the bathroom had a stone floor and the smallest electric heater you ever did see was positioned in the opposite corner so that no benefit was felt from it at all, where it was actually needed. And to cap it all, there was no mobile phone signal, and a gigantic Occulous Orridious appeared in the bath. The funniest bit was when I tried to sneak some chips up to my room, concealed within my luggage, and the very nice Proprietor insisted on helping with my bags. Needless to say, my chips got cold while I tried to fend him off, and I moved on the following day and found a common or garden B&B where they didn't mind my chips, and had central heating. Sadly we lost Nutty during lambing. She was a big hefty softie of a sheep, not a brain cell anywhere, but really quite a nice lass.
I nearly forgot, Cubbie had a Homecoming some time this year too, and it may well have been in April. I'd been meaning to pop in to see the previous owner for some time, but never seemed to have any spare time when passing his way. Until now. I called in on the off chance, and luckily Nick was at home. He was quite surprised to see and hear his old Tiger Cub and to find out about all the trips it has done in the three years I've had it on the road. He even took it for a spin around the block and relived his youth a bit - grin factor 100!
More lambs arrived and more plans were made for ticking off the final Counties, more of the day job was done and almost every weekend I went somewhere to do something to do with the VMCC. A big day for me was SUNDAY 24th MAY. That was the day that I completed 34 out of the 33 Scottish Counties. I know that sounds a bit backwards, but when I counted up, I really did find one extra. It all culminated with a camping trip north to Nairnshire, Ross-shire, Sutherland and Caithness, and to make it even better, a bunch of Grampian club members and friends came along with us. That was a cracking weekend, and even though we got a bit wet, and everyone had to travel at Cubbie speed (on their big fast and more modern bikes, serves them right, hehe!) the evenings in the pub, eating good nosh and having a laugh made up for it. If Geoff & Julie hadn't been there in their camper van things might not have been so enjoyable, for they provided shelter and hot refreshments when the inclement weather hit the weary riders upon our return to the campsite at Dornoch. Only just made it home mind you, as Cubbie thought enough is enough, and decided to loose all traces of compression somewhere near Inverness. I can't believe the bike could run in such a state. Stripping the engine down for inspection some time later revealed that the head gasket had been blowing merrily for probably quite a while, and an abundance of the usual sooty looking carbony stuff all over the place, but nothing that a blast with a wire wheel couldn’t sort.
This month, we also celebrated SHED DAY! At least, the saga of The Shed had been going on for I don't know how long. But finally, it was up. Captain Bill, Kawa, Iain & Mary and Slick all came over to lend a hand. Thanks chaps and chappesses.
Deary me, June already, now, did anything special happen in June? Ah yes, well I went to the Ayr Classic Show, dished out the awards and wrote a report for Old Bike Mart. Went to the Loch Ness rally too, rode one of Sid Leitch's marvellous motorcycles, a Matchless Super Hawk that he built, shared buns and chips, or was it chips and buns with Sid and his chums under an umbrella somewhere in Fort Augustus while the rain absolutely dinged doon. The highlight of the day for many other people, was when Shorty tried to embarrass me with all sorts of birthday balloons proclaiming my age, and by circulating a rather cute picture of me taken when I was but a wee sprog. I was flattered.
Just as a special treat, I had to get up at 4am on my birthday to attend a Management Meeting at VMCC HQ - but what a surprise to be presented with a card and a cake complete with a singsong. Managed to get to Pat & Jim's Bracken Trundle near Oban this year, using Shorty's Suzuki, which he kindly leant me for a few months. Got a little wet along the way but had a good time. Next up was Cubbie's dratted MoT appointment. After the compression 'issue' was sorted, I decided to fit some new tappetty things which I'm told aren't called tappets but to me they are, and a new horn button had to be sourced, but after all the panic and fuss of 'are they too tight or too slack', the good wee bike came out with a PASS.
Cor blimey, it's a wonder I had time to breathe. July arrived as if from nowhere and it was time to head south to a little place called Northumberland, for their VMCC Gathering. T'was my first trip to this rally and I met some of the guys I've talked to on www.cubsite.com and made many a new acquaintance. Lucky Mary who was camping near to my tent, expressed an interest in having a ride on Cubbie, so on the Sunday morning, she got kitted up and had a very quick lesson in kick starting and throttle / clutch control. From what she said, I don't think she has much experience of riding bikes, but she fired Cubbie up after a few kicks, into first gear and shot off, away round the campsite. Nervous? Me? Nooooo I had every faith in her......which was rewarded by the sound of Cubbie pop-pop-poppping in between the caravans and tents as they approached, both in one piece.
Then it was Shorty's birthday and time for some revenge. I'd like to be able to say the Grampian Classic club held a special birthday BBQ for him, but we didn't, we had a 'small' celebration in his honour at our annual BBQ, seeing as the dates coincided. But sadly, Shorty had to duck out at the last minute. However, if you want to ‘see’ the sing song, and the cake we ate on his behalf, have a look at the video here - http://gorgeousbikerchick.blogspot.com/2009/07/happy-birthday-shorty.html
There was shearing to do too, the Stirling Castle VMCC BBQ to attend, the big ol' show at Glamis to go to (it rained, non-stop, mind you, that didn't stop us scoffing ice creams - heck, it was July!) and then the biggie at the end of the month, the Indian International Rally down at Traquair, near Peebles. And as if I would forget the other biggie - Mrs BC's birthday! She's a lucky girl, she got a' hoss for her pressie. We drove all the way down to the Scottish Borders to collect Crumble the Exmoor pony, who had been brought up from Yorkshire.
Hmmm, August, nearly time to think about packing the bike away for winter. AS IF! There was a club night visit to a local engineering firm, Ace Winches, where I got to drive a steam engine thingy, Captain Bill sampled Cubbie's rigid suspension set up and confirmed it ain't rigid no more (that'll save me a winter job in the shed, phew), and then there was the S&T at Crieff and the National in Blairgowrie, and the Plus1 in the middle up in Mintlaw, which actually made what is known as the Scottish Double, the Treble for the first time. I had a great time at all three events, although my role at each one differed this year. At the S&T I was privileged to be Andrew Rae's sidecar ballast, er, I mean passenger and Chief Navigator, and the following weekend at the National, I operated a checkpoint with da Boss, something that isn't as bad as it sounds and, ya know, if your club is struggling to find marshals for events, don't be afraid, go on and volunteer...anyway, my stint at the Plus1 in the middle of these two traditional regularity runs was as one of the organisers. Between us, Mrs BC, Captain Bill and I planned and plotted the route for the run, organised the venue, arranged the evening get-together, ach, ya know, I'll be modest, so we did it all, it's how things start and then people see that it can be done, and before you know it, helpers are abound. This year we have plans to make the Plus1 into a two day event, with a second run, which we might call Mick's Mystery Mile Muncher. Then again, we might not. We were incredibly lucky to have some very prominent members of the Vintage Motorcycle Club Committee present, including the Immediate Past President, Bette Barber who donated a wonderful trophy; Colin Bell, Harry Wiles and Geoff Brazendale. Thanks must go to their better halves too, for coming along and supporting us.
Then there was the Garioch show and Duff House (I think that was July? Someone will remind me no doubt) and a trip to the Black Isle agricultural show, which I'm sure you really want to hear about. But we did meet and chatted to some already known bikers and a not already known one, who helped us make a fairly swift exit from a very congested car park, saving us probably hours. Bikers Unite!
Hmmm, can't remember much about September. Did a bit of titivating to the shed, a lick of paint here and there, went to a rare breeds sale and ended up with a Soay sheep instead of a Pygmy goat, plus three Herdwick sheep, oh yes, there was the small matter of the Grampian Motorcycle Convention at Alford, to which we welcomed Robin of Wales. You'll never guess where he came from....yep, all the way from Wales just so he could buy Mrs BC a Scotch Egg, tee hee, t'was great to see ya Robbo. Sometime towards the end of the month, it was time for the UCAN Charity Fun Run. Mrs BC and I had both been working on the press side of things prior to the run, and we managed to double the number of entrants this year, which in turn upped the total amount of money raised, which goes towards research into the causes of urological cancers. The weather was great, the riders of both classic and modern machinery thoroughly enjoyed the day, and a good time was had by all, whilst helping organiser Chris Norton raise some cash for a good cause. Part of my duties as Press Hofficer was to set up a website, so nip over to www.ucanbikeride.co.uk and open the gallery for some pics.
Autumn started off with the 2nd Annual Haggis Run, an event organised by the NE Scottish section of the VMCC. The day was a little 'fresh', but most of the pre-registered riders turned up and enjoyed a hot cuppa and a snack before setting off on the ride north from Alford to Huntly for lunch. The route back took them up and over the Cabrach; boy I bet it was chilly up there! Well done to all who competed, and a bit of a bigger well done to all who completed. Seriously, we know it was cold, and we appreciated you turning up and taking part, but please, next year, please please wear something a bit warmer!
Then the blinking felt got ripped off of the shed roof during a bit of gusty weather, and everything inside got soaked. Then I nipped down to the Stirling Castle VMCC section for their AGM, stayed with Mr & Mrs Oram and was treated to a few visits to Mr O's biker pals during my stay. Met a guy with a couple of very nice Cubs and a man with a VERY tidy workshop. October must be AGM month for many clubs, and I also attended the NE Scottish one, plus the Central Scotland one. Really wanted to get to visit the Auld Reekie boys again before the end of the year but didn’t quite manage that – will have to pencil it in for the New Year. Ah, that reminds me, I promised the Highland section I would nip up in the winter and give them a talk. Will be in touch to arrange that, or if one of you reads this, drop me a line and we’ll sort it all out.
Now, I can nearly remember November without having to look it up in the archives. I went to Shetland in the middle of a gale, with Cubbie, on the ferry, it took 12 or more hours and was a tiddley bit rough, but we made it. Met all the VMCC members up there, gave a talk to them and the local classic club, was chauffeured around by Geordie and Joe for a couple of days and met so many lovely lovely people. People who invite you in to look at their bikes, people who make cups of cocoa and present you with jars of home made honey, people who are just generally nice and have time to talk. Was interviewed by Radio Shetland presenter and motoring journalist, Mike Grundon, oh yeah, and I met a man with a Terrier in his loft - and guess what, he was looking for a new home for it - and guess what - I've got it here in my shed now! Came home and suffered a nasty reaction to a combination of all the travelling I'd been doing, plus my piggy flu vaccination, and then had to head off to the AGM of the Clyde Valley VMCC section, followed by a trip to Burton for an HQ meeting.
Cor blimey, are we nearly there yet?
The winter months can be a little lacking in motorcycling activity, so this month saw the introduction of a New Feature. I have decided to call it "Graham B's Top Tips". This is for two reasons. One, it is written by a world wide published technical author, Graham B, and it is all about his Top Tips. So there. The first one about looking after your bike in winter went down well, and I have part 2 lined up in the wings... If you’re a regular reader you’ll know that animals are a big part of our lives here at Cubbie Towers. Unfortunately, when you have animals, there are always sad times to endure. Within the space of a week or so, we lost both Ringo the rescue collie, whom we'd had for just about two years, and then poor old blind Golly went off her food and started going downhill. What made it even worse was that we had to make the decision to have them both put to sleep. They picked a good time to go, though, missing all the severe weather we had over the so-called holidays.
Being December, it was time for all the Xmas evenings out, starting with the Grumpy Classic one, followed by the UCAN committee festive bash in the very nice Loch Kinord Hotel, somewhere near Ballater, and the local Rare Breeds club for Mrs BC, and what turned out to be a rather strange evening out for both of us, in a local pub/restaurant - we were there purely for research purposes for the Plus1, but the evening wasn't quite what we expected.
Anyway, that takes us up to about now. We were stuck in for three weeks and yesterday was my first day back at work. We managed to get someone to snow plough our unadopted road for us, but still couldn’t get the little van out because of all the slush and ice, so had to be towed backwards by a tractor power, down the hill, a distance of a mile. Bits of the van kept bashing and cracking on the thick icy ruts made by those with a 4x4, and many a time the overflowing ditch and shrubbery loomed too close for comfort, but we survived, well, the van had to have a new bit of exhaust but that was about all. So I was able to get back to work yesterday, but the van will reside at the bottom of the hill for a while. Oh yes, then there was the internet / phone saga, whereby the Man from BT logged his call out to us as ‘unable to get through due to deep snow’, well we could have told him that, we also could have told him that he didn’t need to come here and test our phone (as they like to do so that they can blame the customers equipment) he just needed to go to the exchange in the village and fix the fault where water and snow got into the connections.
Luckily the weather was good for most of the time, and the snow, while it stopped us from going anywhere, wasn't as deep as we've seen it in previous years....
But then it kept on falling and falling, with a thaw and a freeze every few days, making any snow on the roofs possibly three times as heavy as that amount would normally be.
Well, not a lot more to say about 2009, apart from thank you for your continued interest and support. This blog would be nothing without YOU. I love your comments (most of them) and I hope you’ll continue to leave them. It’s almost like Christmas morning every day when I click on the blog to see what you’ve left me. For those who just can’t seem to get the hang of it, I’ll have to write a tutorial for you at some point!
So what are your plans and resolutions for 2010????
Thursday, 7 January 2010
**EDIT. Well it's Sunday today, I think, and the internet and phone are both off now, so you'll get no piccies for a while because it'll cost me a fortune to upload them using my Dongle thingy on the laptop. But talking of pics, don't forget to be on the lookout for suitable shots for the photo comp - details below and in the side bar - and guess what, looks like OLD BIKE MART might find a little something to donate as a prize....more on that later....Better go, don't want to run out of Dongle.
Sunday, 3 January 2010
1. Each entrant can submit up to 6 pics.
2. The deadline is whenever I say it is, depending on how many submissions there are.
3. The decision of the HEAD JUDGE, Phil Mather, is final, as in Final.
4. THE PHOTO/S MUST BE YOURS. No nicking them from websites.
5. The photo/s must have been taken in the winter of 2009/2010.
6. You can submit photos at anytime, either one by one or 6 in one go. I might be persuaded to let you change which pics you enter if you send me chocolate. Drat, no I won't, I'm off choc this year.
Oh, and the most important part, the prize is a wonderful and very limited edition GBC BLOG TEE SHIRT, and I might throw in a little something else that I haven't got yet but might have soon. Then again, in the interest of honesty, I might not.
All clear? Send your not-too-large-ish files to comp AT aultan.com but do remember to change the AT to @ otherwise your mail won't get far.