Braw day; new bike.
Sometimes there are days that are worth blogging about. Today was one of them. I headed out on Wednesday evening, off to Edinburgh, to get Smoggy serviced. I got permission from the boss (me) for an early pass so, I was off, intending to go via Comrie, Auchterarder, Glen Devon and Knockhill. As I rode over the moor from Comrie, the rain came down in sheets. The temperature when I left home was 23 degrees and muggy. Rain was guaranteed.
I stopped and closed the vents in my jacket, swapped my gloves from ‘grip’ to ‘waterproof’ – posh Motorrad gloves, which rock. It was nice to leave home with no thermal breeks on…. Only last Friday, I’d gone on an observed run and still needed that thermal comfort. A joy; only a t-shirt, no liner under my trousers, vents open, albeit for a short time.
I hot-footed it down to Edinburgh from Braco, had a lovely chill and a cracking supper at Celadon, our local Thai restaurant, a short stroll from the flat. Apparently there was thunder and lightning during the night; really?
Slept through the lot.
I headed off to Motorrad Dalkeith, armed with some fruit loaves. They deserved it, what a brilliant bunch of lads, and lass (Nadia). As usual, there was a lot of blether and too much coffee. Oh well, it is good. Seems rude not to.
I was given Flow, my name for Smoggy’s cousin. Why Flow? Registration plate is FLW… Well, most bikes name themselves. She told me what her name was. I know, I’m weird. Flow is a F750GS, so, the new version of the experienced Smoggy, in lovely black and red. Quite cute really. She’s got twin front discs and mean rear brake.
Ed and I had the bike when she was 200 miles young. Between the pair of us, we put over 200 miles on her, whilst Ed’s bike was in getting some ‘issues’ fixed. I was added to the insurance and it seemed rude not to have a go! The first time I used the back brake, I nearly fell off. It worked. Smoggy’s is a bit… erm…. Soggy. I had to plant both feet on the ground, I got such a shock.
I moaned to Tony, the service manager. A little bit of a bleed of Smoggy’s back brake and the difference was fantastic. I know, why didn’t I do it ages ago? Simple really; I don’t do maintenance very well. That’s why I pay someone! So, Flow had had a bit of experience since my last ride on her. Ed and I did the initial breaking in.
To plan my play day, I looked at my phone – Uk Map – best £7.99 app that money can buy, in my opinion. Down the A7 and took the Innerleithen turning. A joy, apart from a few sheep, I had the road to myself. I had touched on St Mary’s Loch briefly a while ago, but never visited the Glen Café. Great excuse. A coffee, blether and a wee slice of cake and I was on my way. I headed to Moffat and then the back roads. It was just braw. Yet again, I had the road to myself.
There was something that did occur to me as I rode those wonderful roads…. I told Tony I was heading to St Mary’s Loch, but no-one else. Oops. No phone signal. Very little traffic. Not a good move. Don’t get me wrong, everything was good. Just as well. Note to self, don’t be so bloody selfish in future. Before you go hooning around the back roads in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, tell someone where the hell you’re going!
I went through, Eskdalemuir, Eskdalemuir Forest, over Cross Hill via the B709. A bit of fog, but that gave me a chance to wipe the bugs off my visor with my visorcat – forgot to fill it before I left. Bad Fi. I headed back via Innerleithen again. I was bursting for a pee…. Laybys didn’t seem tempting and there weren’t any trees big enough to hide behind. Why should I have worried, the only thing that would have a chance to see my bare ass would have been a sheep. Don’t go there. Just don’t.
One thing you have to realise when you ride a motorbike. If you need a pee and don’t stop, it can have an effect on your concentration. At one point, I misjudged a corner. Not badly, however, the surface was bad and I went into it about 5mph too fast for comfort. Luckily, EDAM’s training over the years, going to East Fortune and understanding what happens when you ‘have to’ brake in a corner kept me in one piece. Front brake, bike stands up, positive steer, and recover. Should have told someone else where I was going…. Don’t tell my Mum. So, having recovered from my ‘oh, shit, you silly bint’ moment, I knew I had to do something quickly. Before I peed my pants.
Stopped for a pee in the world’s shittiest toilet. Gads. Too much detail? Yep. It was like something out of Trainspotting.
So, my thoughts on the bike? The brakes are awesome. I wish I had stopped and adjusted the suspension though. It was a bit bouncy castle. I was having fun though. Flow was a bitty quiet though. Smoggy has a real deep-throated growl with the occasional cracking, popping farts thrown in for good measure. Such a chatty boy. Quirky, with a big personality. I even managed a stall on Flow. Yep. Idiot. No-one around though to hold up. Easy to do with a quiet, non-farting, non-growly bike. It was an educational day.
The best part? Being on unfamiliar roads and being able to ride to the conditions, the view, read the bends, look at the tree lines, search for large bushes big enough to have a pee behind…. and still ride progressively with a great big whacking grin on my face. All the training, and continual practice is so worth it. Yes, when I go out I try things out, constantly ‘chasing the rabbit’ and trying to be better at corners. Every day should be a school day. Isn’t it great when riding a bike becomes your ultimate therapy.
I saw more sheep than people. I dodged more lambs than I passed cars. It was, frankly, a nightmare when I rejoined the main road after Innerleithen. I found a fabulous wee tea room just outside Eddleston. I was about to eat an arm. Just as I was about to chomp on my left one, after all, I could do without my left arm….. I saw The Scots Pine Tea Room, just off the road on the right hand side. It’s quirky, lots of gravel in the car park, big stuff though, not wee chuckies. The inside is like a ‘Twin Peaks’ time warp. It’s cosy, friendly but, just oddly old fashioned. The ‘Log Lady’ is a very knowledgeable baker and reminded me of my late Nana. Passionate about baking. I eavesdropped whilst she told two other girls what was what on the cake table…. nom nom. I’d finished my coronation chicken sandwich; it was much more tasty than my left arm. I was getting waves of tiredness, totally pooped. Only one thing for it, caffeine and millionaire shortbread. I asked for a double espresso. ‘Nana’ said no problem and seemed verging on apologetic when she served it. I was worried; would this ‘Ma & Pa’ Tea Room have decent coffee?
OMG. OMG. Brodie’s coffee. Just astoundingly good. That, a slice of millionaire’s shortbread, I was well and truly fired up for the short ride to collect Smoggy. Great food. Just stop there, you’ll be pleased you did. Plan your journey around a snack there. It looks like a wee bungalow from the roadside, even when you get off the road, you wonder where it is.
So, I have to say, after that caffeine injection, the coffee at Dalkeith was a bit watery, however, it’s still great coffee and even better craic. This was it. I’d had a great afternoon. What I left with, was a great bike with great brakes, the most amazing improved suspension, responsive forks, great grip, and a snortingly great personality. Smoggy has had his front forks fettled. It was just what was needed. I left the garage with a new, transformed bike. I had spent my money that I got from writing the article for Advanced Driving magazine on a lovely shiny Ohlins shock which I realise are just the dog’s whatsit. It was only riding Flow for the day that made me truly understand my 59,000 mile love affair that I have with Smoggy. He’s great. ‘He is the one’. Flow was, however, the best value £9.08 I have spent hooning around the countryside, covering about 160 miles, it confirmed (not that I needed confirmation) that Smoggy’s just fabulous. Irreplaceable.
There were intermittent crazy showers on the way home. We trudged through them. I caught up behind a group of 4 fairly good riders at one point. There was one though, riding third, that I think was the weakest link. I sat there riding behind, watching things going on, screaming, ‘CRACK OPEN THE THROTTLE, MAN!’ as he just managed to pull in as an on-coming car approached. I don’t do much shouting in my helmet, thankfully. They stopped in Callander, after missing numerous passing opportunities of a lorry that was driving at 40mph. FFS. I couldn’t get passed to show them the way. How frustrating. I couldn’t wait to get on the twisties. It was good, a bit of traffic, however, I got a good feel for the new front end.
It got messy. My reserve light came on (not a problem)….Just I was riding past Auchessen, the heavens opened. It was like someone was firing an automatic air rifle at me. FUCKIN’ OW!!!! I screamed in my helmet for the second time today. It was agony! I suppose, I should be thankful, it’s normally a battering from midgies! As many of my biker friends know, sometimes when it’s really wet, the temperatures lower and you just need to get home, you feel like you have peed your pants. I had that tonight. I was standing up on my pegs, shaking my ample arse, riding through Crianlarich, compiling a letter to Klim in my head, complaining about having a soggy arse. It was OK; it was just cold, wet soggy bum, but without the leakage.
On that note. I’ll stop.
What a brilliant day.