Latest on the broken Motorbike

Latest update on the broken Motorcycle is that it is progressively getting unbroken. I patched it up with gaffer tape last week and took it out for a run on Friday night, but got to the petrol station at Dreghorn to find my left foot and lower leg covered in oil. Not the best in any situation, but it was pouring with rain and made things really slippery.

The bike was running fine though, but this had me thinking all sorts of crazy things about cracked cylinder head or other terrible things. So I laid a trail of oil on the way home and put the bike away in a rather dejected state. Then I did a bit of comedy trying to get my oily stuff off without getting oil on the carpet. Thank goodness it was dark when I got home 😉

I phoned up George the mechanic and arranged to see him on Tuesday evening, and let the folks know that I wouldn’t make the charity run I’d hoped to be on on Sunday. Tuesday night and George spent 10 minutes discovering that I had failed to mount the inner seal properly on the LHS valve cover I had fitted. It was effectively blowing oil out round the spark plug and making a right mess. So went back home and fitted the new seal I still had in its bag at home.

In the middle of the week I got a second hand fairing so I’m making contact with a chap who’s details were given to me and get him to spray the red fairing to blue to match the bike. So tonight I took 90 minutes to remove the existing front fairing in preparation for handing that over for the paint match and the new one to get sprayed.

Things are coming together, next thing once the bike is back together is to get my confidence back up on the bike.

It finally looks like I will be switching from Demon Internet

I’ve been a bit of a boring fart and stuck with the same Internet Service Provider since I first got a dialup account about a decade ago. Since then Demon Internet grew up, got bought by Thus, chucked away the infrastructure they had established. Got broadband, etc etc.

But their speeds haven’t been great and I was on their best consumer product with no way of buying my way out of it with them. Knowing folks with cable just rubs salt in the wounds of speed. And then I got a new server toy and downloaded loads and started getting emails from Demon saying I was running close to their FUP limits and look out.

That was the nudge to switch to a cheaper ISP who suggests they can give me up to 3 times the speed I do at the moment. Frankly, with ADSL technology being what it is I take this speed claim with a mild pinch of salt. But if they can give me the same speed and not threaten to disconnect me if I use it then I will be happy enough.

So I’ve boosted the infrastructure behind alistairl.com to switch from mail forwarding to mail hosting (sounds posh – I clicked an option on a web page) and I’m in the process of switching online accounts over to my personal domain. So that could be the end of goajl.demon.co.uk, and my dodgy website to go with it.

I’m going for a pro account with Be Unlimited, which compared to the £25 a month for 8Mb Broadband from Demon, is supposed to be £22 for 24Mb Broadband. Of course both speeds are a bit of a joke, but here goes.

 

Gaffer tape

I’m going to have a bit of fun over the weekend and tape the small broken bit of my bike together with some blue Gaffer tape I bought over the web. Roadies and the like no doubt know all about the wonderful qualities of the stuff but I have only just found the wonderful gaffertape.com and the multitude of tack levels and colours available. So I’ve got a couple of rolls in blue, the colour of my motorbike. I’m going to do a temporary tape up job to stop the indicator blowing away.

Fed up with congestion? Buy yourself out of the problem

I read an article about CAFE with interest, they are in the business of promoting personal fuel-efficient flight.

I think they are right that anyone who has the option of sitting in a queue of cars or up free in the air would choose the latter, but the point I think they miss is that the ground is so congested because there are so many people wanting to get somewhere, who all have the money to have their own vehicle. Over a hundred years or so ago a few people had cars and frankly the only thing to get in the way was pedestrians and horses. So no congestion because noone else could afford to have a car.

Roll forward a hundred and thirty years and all those early adopters will spend goodness knows how much to get flight, just as all us folks from council houses start aspiring to it. Roll forward 50 years and us plebs will all have planes too and we’ll all be flying in circles in a stack over the Pentlands while traffic control shows us a red light to stop at a junction.

 

Fell off my bike today :(

I was out for my Observer practical test and fell off my bike. I was getting along fine and I was down to Peebles and Galashiels and all of the way back up the A7, came up to the on-slip at Lasswade Junction on A720 for some reason a survival reaction kicked in as I made the turn and I put both brakes on and the bike went down on its left side with me.

Couple of holes in the bike – beside the LHS indicator, left hand valve cover. A few other scrapes on the bike too.

Scrapes to me are to my left boot, left arm, shoulder and knee got it too. Nothing really hurts on me apart from my right thumb, goodness knows what I was doing with that. So my kit looks a bit used – it took a while to spot the complete damage – there is a big black patch on my exhaust from where it melted through my left trouser leg.

As per usual the recovery was complicated, so I ended up with another RAC membership but thankfully the bike is now home and I can get some bits bought to fix it.

It wasn’t much fun and I’m taking a pause and reconsidering training to be an Observer with the group – if I can’t follow an Associate and stay on my bike then it is a bit pointless. I’m supposed to ride my own ride.

Tested out my radios last weekend

It has been a bit of a busy week, hence I am a bit slow in posting this. My writing efforts have also been devoted to drafting up a magazine article, only a short news report but hopefully it will end up in print – more to follow.

The article was about a training event held by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) for their Senior Observers in Scotland. I managed to blag my way in to helping out on the day. I originally offered to make the tea but got a minor promotion to signing folks in and talking photographs. As it turned out, due to numbers I actually ended out on the road with a couple of the other attendees, both Senior Observers – one was also one of the Organisers of the day. If you haven’t read my earlier posts, an Observer is an unpaid volunteer who helps people along to their IAM Advanced test, Senior Observers are a step along from a so-called Qualified Observer and they have to go through extra testing outwith their local Groups.

Going back to last week, I ended out on the road on an Instructional run, and the examiner out with us had his radios along to connect us up for comms. This was an opportunity to give my bike to bike kit a test. I got my Autocom Kit 200 fitted recently at C&J Wilson in Uphall and this was great for my run down to Wetherby for providing tunes to listen to from my MP3 player. I’ve also got a bit of a setup working with TomTom Navigator 6 on my Orange SPV M600 phone. The Autocom kit comes with a hands-free lead to the standard 2.5mm (I think that is the size) socket on the phone. There is a wee bit of an issue with the bluetooth gps – all the stuff is chucked into the tail section of my R1100RS, and if the gps doesn’t hear anything on the bluetooth for a while it shuts down to save battery. Together with my MP3 players habit of stopping now and again, it can mean for silent running at stages. On the other hand, when it all works the GPS kicks in with directions from time to time, fading out the music temporarily, then the music fades back in. The lead to the MP3 and the lead to the phone both connect directly into the Autocom unit in the tail of the bike, using pretty standard small black leads with 3.5 and 2.5 mm connectors at each end. To help my wee MP3 player I also have a boostaroo inline amplifier to help me hear the music.

There are three other connectors on the Autocom, two go to the headsets for rider and pillion and are 7 pin DIN connectors – big beefy waterproofed things, coloured black and finally there is a grey 5 pin connector which can be used for bike to bike communications. Going in to that is a wee straight and coiled lead – one end has the grey five pin connector to fit into the wire in the tailpiece, then a coiled bit then finally a right angled single connector that fits into the side of one of my Motorola T5622 radios. I tried these a few weeks ago on an Observed run but my Senior Observer couldn’t hear anything so I gave up. In the meantime I ordered up a radio holder that will attach a radio to your arm or belt. They came with various bits of velcro so I attached these to the frame at the back of my bike which the top box fits in to and locks on.

I had the cabling, mounting and stuff for the radios and had the opportunity to try them out on the run. I quick change to channel and code on them – quite easy to do on the Motorola. Switch to scan, listen for the Examiners test signal and then set the channel and code to what was detected. First time I’ve done it and it worked fine. And the rest of the run was excellent from the comms perspective – the radio holder worked, I got good reception and could hear really well through the headset fitted for my Autocom in my BMW System 5 helmet. It wasn’t as easy for the other two guys – they had to wear the standard receive kit that folks doing their DSA tests will be familiar with – a wee bag with a strap to take the helmet and earpieces in the helmet. Unfortunately for them I believe they already had other radio kit fitted, which meant rather painful pressure on their ears. The two of them were a lot more experienced on the bikes than me, so I’m sure they coped. It was a brisk progressive ride which meant safe riding all the way but up at the applicable speed limit wherever safe – the weather was really good so the roads were dry and warm and we were really getting a move on. I think the briefing given to the examiners on the day mentioned applying police standards to riding, and those guys can shift along on their big ST1300s.

Radio reception was really good on our run up through Crieff and Lochearnhead, the only time the signal broke up was further South when the examiner was round headlands where the road disappeared round a hill. Trees and things didn’t create a problem with the signal – just the hard stuff like rocks etc. It was an excellent test of my radio, I don’t know how much was down to the Icoms that the examiner was using but reception and clarity was excellent. All I need to do now is contrive some way to check with me on transmit.