Sunday, 31 March 2013

Riding My Motorcycle in the Snow Part 3

In which I make it home, repair and reflect.

At the end of part two I had just been picked up. I missed an important bit out though. After I was dropped in Otley by a passing farmer and his wife, before I had breakfast, I had the presence of mind to call work and let them know I’d not be joining them that day. Then, I settled down to breakfast. Dunnie’s give you a lot of breakfast for just £2 or £3 but what you get is pretty dire. You get what you pay for and I couldn’t pay for breakfast in the kind of cafe that can brag about the butchers they use. For less than £3, you don’t feel sure what’s in the sausage never mind which high class family butcher it came from. For the first time in a very long time I found myself staring at bacon, sausage and egg unable to bring myself to eat it. Just for once, Dr Buckley would have approved of a lifestyle choice. And it was at just about that time that an email arrived making everything just a little less worthwhile.

Safely home and seemingly intact.
The email was to break a 25 year tradition. Our previous head, who had lead the school for a quarter of a century, didn’t drive. She never closed for snow and expected staff to get in if they could. Until then I had never failed either. Our new head, who I think comes under category c/d without the tyres (see this post), has a different mind. As the snow continued to fall, she closed the school, by email. My journey was now not only a failure but also unnecessary.

Spot the difference.
Good news soon followed. A man, tasked by the AA, called to let me know he was heading my way. I offered to get him a cup of tea if he picked me up on his way past and that was enough to get him to flout company policy. Another forty minutes and I was on my way back to the bike with a nice chap who had spent his morning jump starting cars or pulling them off drive ways. Mine was the first brake down as such. As usual, he was quick to tell me that he knew little or nothing about bikes. His car got down the hill to the bike with no problems even though the road was even worst now than it had been when I first came a cropper.

Within a minute of arriving at my stricken motorcycle I spotted the problem. I could have beaten myself senseless for not looking for it earlier. Back then I didn’t spot it because it was too dark. If I had looked for it though, I would have found it for sure. You see, I mentioned in my last post that the bike wouldn’t crank at all, just as though I had forgotten to pull the clutch in (required on a DL650). I didn’t mention that the bike fell on it’s left side. Nor had I mentioned that it was the clutch side of the handlebars I had to use to lift it. The problem was so obvious, I reckon many or most will now have guessed it. In broad daylight, the clutch interlock cable hanging below the clutch lever was plain to see. With it back in place, the bike started and ran instantly. The only remaining problem was the road, now totally impassable to anything without four wheel drive.

Alan's simple repair to the gear lever works great.
I’ve no idea how many of you will have ever been towed on a bike. It’s nothing like being towed in a car. Though perfectly possible, it's best done right, by two people who know what they are doing. Even then, it’s terrifying. The very nice man who came out to help me had never towed a bike and I had only ever done the towing. For both of us this was going to be a learning experience and neither of us would have chosen for that lesson to take place on snow.

We had to look the rope around the forks and back to the hitch leaving a little too short for comfort. As the rope took the strain and as my bike began to carry me but someone else in control, I’d never felt so uncomfortable. In seconds I was screaming, “Slow it down, I’m gonna have to paddle this thing.” The front wheel was dancing from side to side so I needed time to correct each shift. The driver obliged and we crawled to the top of the hill, my heart trying to beat its way though my sore rib cage, probably in a bid to find a more sensible owner. Several times I was sure I was going down. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
Alan's new pinion bolt
cover looks like
Suzuki put it there.

The main road, when we reached it, was far better. We could say our fair-wells and sign paperwork. Finally, about seven hours after I left, I was in a position to make my way home. He could get back to dragging people off their drives and I could start a very slow ride home, not the way I came though. The longer way. The one with fewer steep bits and more traffic. The way I should have come in the first place. My destination, G. W. Johnson’s Motorcycles in Harrogate, home of Alan Johnson.

Alan wasn’t busy. My snow caked Vstrom, it’s indicators hanging off, handlebar ends at a jaunty angle and gear change leaver partially absent went straight in. He went to work immediate, rummaging though a box of assorted indicators for bikes long since scrapped for one he could bodge on. The lighting repaired, he went to work drilling a hole through the remains of the gear change pedal, sticking a bolt through and covering it with the rubber part of a kick starter. The resulting repair so good I’ve forgotten it’s there. The bar end bolt was straightened and a new cover for the Swingarm Pinion was fashioned for a box of old rubber bits. Within the space of an hour, my bike was fully roadworthy again and I had been charged for half an hour’s labour if that.

That’s the thing about Alan. He puts things right and knows his customers. He knows my bike works for a living and that I couldn’t give two hoots what it looks like. For me he keeps it working. For other, he keeps them working and beautiful. My good friend Kev always says, “I take my bike to Alan because when I get it back, I know it’s right. Simple!” And he’s right.

I wonder what kind of bike
this item started its life on.
In the mean time Sandra is upstairs booking them in, finding parts for anything and everything and every so often, if you look like you’re in no rush to
be somewhere else, making a cup of tea, good and strong with a splash of milk. Just like Alan, she knows her clients, mostly by name. For goodness sakes, she knows my children by name and doesn’t seem to mind too much when they rearrange her displays for her. I’ve counted on them for the last 13 year and I hope they will still be there for me to count on for many more to come.

So, what did I learn from the whole experience? Darn it. I did say I would write this section and I kinda wish I hadn’t. Please don’t read anything I write as being a ‘Learned Opinion.’

Thanks to these, the bodywork survived
our little adventure and all they asked in
return was a lick of paint.
Ok, first up, the decision to ride is about more than just whether or not it is possible to make progress on a bike. What happens when conditions change? What happens if you brake down? Can you mitigate these concerns with a different route choice? I would have been fine if I had taken a different route.

Next up, the old scout motto, be prepared. A head torch (flashlight) would have prevented any need for recovery. Well, a head torch and a folding shovel. The first now lives under the seat. I’m waiting to find the perfect shovel.

Finally, reading this month’s Ride and recent editions of MCN, it seems my belief that the engine braking on the VStrom is good in the snow, isn’t. I thought it was giving me more control on descents but all others writing about the topic want less torque and no engine braking. Having not tried it, I don’t know. So what have I learned? I’ve learned that a little experience, like a little knowledge, is a dangerous thing.

Lessons learned. This time I turned around.
In future I’ll probably not ride into untreated snow again. Since I started this writing project I’ve had plenty of chances for a repeat and taken the car most times. With parent’s evening, an Easter production and diocesan inspection, I couldn’t risk down time so I usually drove. Then, on my way to work, up the same road that got me last time, I came upon snow and ice. I panicked a little, let the bike roll to a halt, got off and considered my options. That time I took the picture, walked the bike back to the black and found another way. It’s not the coming off I wanted to avoid. It was the cost of fixing and the embarrassment of putting others out. It’s not that I won’t ride if it’s snowing. I can't afford to drive nor can I stand not riding. I will probably head out in snow. I'll just be a bit less adventurous. No, that not fair. I’ll be a little more cautious.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Getting to the Right Bike - A History and Outlook

I have lots of work to do. Really! As well as parent's evening and all the extra work that comes with one of them, we've got inspectors in next week. There are displays, marking planning and a whole plethora of other jobs that need doing way more than this post which is why, not only am I doing it, but I'm plagiarizing from my own work. 

You see, in an attempt to avoid working on things that need to be down, I thought I'd quickly check up on some other blogs I follow. Texas Rambler was at the top of the list with What Do You Ride? Well, with a title like that, I had no chance of getting any work don for quite some time. You really should read it and while you're there, track back through some of his older stuff to. It's all good. This particular one was brief thoughts on what makes the right bike for an individual. He points out  people often go though three bikes before they find the one that's right for them. The comments so far agreed and detailed the bikes that led them to their most recent. Naturally, I had to leave a comment and much of the following is that comment re-posted. For all I know that may be a flagrant infringement of blog etiquette but as I haven't Googled it just yet, I'm claimed the defense of ignorance. Here goes.

I didn't start out on bikes from and early age as many did. Other than my brother on the other side of the Atlantic, non of my family were into bikes. Until my mate Andy let me have a 'Quick bezz about' on his little CB125Dream, I'd never even considered it. That 'bezz' went further than Andy planned though. I absolutely loved it and from that moment on, I was hooked. Soon after, I went to Kosovo, came back with money and got my licence. My first bike was a CB100n which I wish I'd kept for nostalgic reasons. I used that to ride the 35 miles from barracks to my girl friend's place three or four days a week. The 35 miles back, in the dark with 6v head lights was good fun.

Then I went up to a Kawasaki GT550 shaft drive naked bike. Again, a fantastic bike that took me all over Germany. My girlfriend and I took it around the UK camping. Without protection, I do remember it being a cold place to be and something about my luck meant it was always raining in Northern Europe when I was in a rush to get back to camp. Still, I'd have that back for nostalgic reasons (and for the shaft drive). I only sold it because when I left the Army, I assumed I wouldn't be able to afford it. On that point, I was sadly wrong though not by much.

Following that there was a CG125 (my girl friend's really but I rode it more), 
an ER5,
a Hyosung GT250
and a YBR250. All soulless machines which wouldn't be required in richer times for nostalgic reasons. Well, maybe the CG. I do seem to have a soft spot for super reliable, woefully under powered bikes that cost almost nothing to run.

Now the same girlfriend who had me traipsing across Yorkshire is my wife. She has a YBR125 which I ride more than she does. I've got a DL650 VStrom which is the best bike I've ever owned (except the chain drive). I love it so much, I ride the 125 instead most days. Don't ask me to explain, just know that our roads are awful and the YBR125 gets >100mpgUK. My wife loves riding pillion on the Wee as well. That's been on two small tours already. I might even splash out on some hard luggage so we can sell the children and go on a longer tour eventually. It's stable, tall but not crazy tall, comfortable, cheep enough to run, well protected and the engine is a peach. Just now, the Wee is the perfect bike for Ang & I as well as a lovely treat for the commute now and then.

Like Texas Rambler, I occasionally get folk asking me about what bike they should get for their first. My answer is always pretty simple. 'I don't know and neither do you. The only thing I am pretty sure about is that you won't have it for long so don't spend too much money on it.' Any bike in a pinch is better than no bike after all. I've fond memories trips I've made on each and every bike I've owned, soulless or otherwise. However, the one machine I got really good value for money from was that little CB100n.‭ ‬I paid‭ ‬£50‭ ‬for it and can't remember buying anything but new oil every‭ ‬1000‭ ‬miles or so for two years.‭ ‬

Every time I've splashed out on something with warranty remaining,‭ ‬I've gotten rid of it within‭ ‬18‭ ‬months or so and been hit hard by depreciation.‭ ‬I bought Wee four years old with‭ ‬13k on the clock so hopefully I've found the right balance.‭ ‬Mind you,‭ ‬a year on,‭ ‬it is still my favourite bike ever and I can't see me getting rid of that until it's time to retire and buy an RT.

In conclusion,‭ ‬I don't imagine there is ever a perfect bike for any one person.‭ ‬It will doubtless depend on‭;

  • Means‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬not great but not terrible‭)
  • Build‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬average with a bit of extra gut‭)
  • Purpose‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬rural commuting,‭ ‬two up or solo rideouts and short tours.‭)
  • Aspirations‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬get out and ride to and through places,‭ ‬speed not an issue‭)
  • Other stuff.‭ (‬for me,‭ ‬two cylinders in a V do something special to a bike‭)
Those factors will change with time.‭ ‬And the best bike I've ever owned,‭ ‬God willing,‭ ‬won't be one day.‭

Friday, 15 March 2013

Riding My Motorbike in the Snow Part 2

In which it goes more wrong. 

In my last blog post I told of how I decided to make my way up a moor on an unploughed moor road. If you haven’t read it and intend to read this, you really ought to read that first so give me a click. If you are like minded, it may mitigate the lunacy of what I will cover below.

You see, one Monday morning, a little after 5am atop a moor, I arrived at my turning. Adrenaline was still pumping following the rubber-side-up moment I’d had a few hundred meters previously. The road descended gently and should have been less of a challenge than where I’d come from though the snow was all fresh, no tracks to follow. Thinking back, from where I was, it was probably the best available route to ride back down off the moor anyway. I’m pretty sure that’s not what my prehistoric brain was thinking though. That just wanted to fight through and finish the job.

Things started just fine. The V-twin motor on the Vstrom allows you to make a pretty slow descent just letting it tick over. The front wheel seemed to meet plenty of resistance with the snow as well and that helped me control speed. It helped that the road was straight.

Then I came to a dreaded snow drift and ground to a halt, stalling the bike. Somehow, I also managed to slip as I put my foot down. Once again, I found myself lying in the road feeling an utter twit. In a strange way, it mattered less that time though. I was beginning to accept that falling off was not going to do much more damage than we had already sustained, especially as they were both dead slow or stationary drops.

The problem was, having again heaved the stricken bike to its feet, this time, it didn’t start. Crumbs! (I actually said something else but, you know how it is.) In fact, it was behaving like a Suzuki VStrom or SV does if you don’t pull the clutch to start it. Quite possibly it’s a Suzuki thing. 

I was going nowhere without help and that’s what I pay the AA for. However, before I called them, I wanted to be sure I wasn’t missing something. My former life as a Armoured Vehicle Mechanic (not an especially good one) had taught me that too many break downs are driver error. One particularly memorable event saw me called out in the wee small hours, driving a rover blacked out through rough and muddy ground (wasn’t much cop with that either) to a non-starter. In that case it was a Challenger (i). Exhausted and cold, I climbed into the drivers compartment, removed his helmet from the gear selectors, placed it in neutral, pushed the started and woke up the neighbourhood.

When I climbed out of the compartment the driver asked, “What was wrong with it?” As I recall, I didn’t say anything. Just threw his helmet at him and drove off. He knew just as well as I do, Chally won’t start in gear. Then again, I’ve since learnt you make mistakes in the cold dark hours.

(Another similar event was a Chally with no drive. When you removed some or all of the gash that the driver was carefully storing under the handbrake leaver, it went surprisingly well.)

Not wanting to count myself amongst the cavalrymen I’d come to disrespect, I began to run though the checks. Am I pulling the clutch in? Yep. Check for neutral. Yep, that’s there.  Kill switch? That’s fine. What then? Seat off, I checked the various cables. In the cold light of dawn, I couldn’t see anything that should stop it cranking so I’d little choice but to call for recovery.

At that point I felt like a thoughtless moron. Thanks to my little adventure, some poor patrol driver was being dispatched up a moor in the snow, no doubt pulling him away from many other category B (see previous post) people who just need a quick tug off their drive and a boost. Poor chap was doubtless going to have a busy day as it was. There was however, nothing to be done but make the call and get the bike to somewhere a bit safer.

Did I mention there were two falls? This final one is a real doozy. You see, the Wee’s v-twin motor makes descents a doddle. It’s brakes, which are pretty much just brakes, they aren’t so easy in the snow. When I had the bright idea of sitting on the bike to coast it a bit further down the hill to a gate I didn’t consider that I hadn’t an engine to coast with. I’m pretty fortunate that that was the last misjudgement of the day.

I tried desperately to prevent the build-up of speed that had me travelling faster than I had for miles but it was no use. The gateway past and speed built up. I prayed that I could just keep it upright until the dip in the road, perhaps 200m ahead.

It didn’t happen though. A snow drift and incompetence saw me sliding beside the bike as I’ve done so many times before but usually with a cheep plastic sledge. I’d hit the ground hard this time. The grinding noises as the bike ploughed through soft, pristine snow to the significantly more abrasive black top, they hurt to. This was just getting silly. I lifted it back up one last time, carefully pushed it to the side of the road and removed my helmet, beaten by the snow. As I did so, for the first time since the the car in the ditch, I saw another vehicle. The Landrover cruised to a halt. “Are you waiting for the AA?” I explained that I was and the bike wouldn’t start. “Well, I’ve just seen him back in the village. He can’t get through, even with chains on.”

Well that was great and frankly, fair enough. Sure I’d got the bike there but a Transit was another thing all together. It didn’t make much difference anyway. Having ridden two particularly unreliable bike the last few years, I’ve learnt that all too often the first thing they say when they arrive is, “I don’t know anything about bikes. You’ll have to wait for a recovery truck.” One of them wasn’t likely to get up there for perhaps a day. My predicament was starting to look really quite bad. A phone call to the AA confirmed that they would be sending a local firm and their 4x4 vehicle me. No ETA.

There I was, stuck on a hill. Having food, coffee and excellent cloths for the conditions, I was safe at least. For about 45 minutes I kept myself busy check twitter, listening to and audio book and building a snow man. Eventually the AA rang me with an ETA a mere two and a half hours away. “You won’t mind if I hitch a ride to Otley then I guess.”
“Yes, the driver will call you when he’s ten minutes away,” came the obviously stock reply.
That wasn‘t going to work but I need a cooked breakfast and a cuppa. “It’s gonna take me longer than that to hitch a ride back again. Can’t you ask him to pick me up on his way through Otley?”
Another stock reply. “That would be against our policy but I will ask him to call you as soon as he is on his way.” I figured that would work.

It did to. Within minutes of the call I was sitting in the back of a farmers pick-up forcing the dog to share with his wife. They kindly dropped me off at Dunnies in Otley, home of 30p tea and breakfast for less than 3 quid. It wasn’t anything like two and a half hours before the local 4x4 recovery driver called. The bribe of a cup of tea was enough to get picked up from the cafe. Thus fed, watered and with adrenaline at an all time low, things were moving. Unsurprisingly, the guy didn’t, “know anything about bikes.” Turned out that wouldn’t matter. All we need was a rope and some daylight.

That’s enough story for one night though. It’s not the end of the story though. In part three I’ll get to the mechanical bits. I’ll get to;
  • The little, tiny, easily identified (in daylight) fault
  • Being towed
  • My awesome mechanic Alan at G.W. Johnson’s
  • What I should learn from it all.
  • Other stuff maybe.

Thanks for reading my post. Please leave a comment if you have time, just to let me know you were here and what you think, warts and all.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Riding My Motorbike in the Snow Part 1

Snow. It’s magical. Whereas the world usually changes imperceptibly slowly from season to season, snow takes the dreariest winter vista and transforms it within the space of a few hours, creating a winter wonderland (sorry, couldn’t quite come up with a more effective and less well travelled metaphor). When it falls, children abandon their electronic baby sitters to venture out, to  build and throw and slide. Snow men are born of imagination and never far away, children of all ages race down icy slopes with reckless abandon, mostly out of control. And why not?

I think, for a lot of people, the white stuff loses it’s magic quality as they get older. For those who need to get to work, finding your transport is snuggled beneath a thick white blanket of snow is not so magical. It’s more of a curse. They then fit broadly into a few categories:
A) Many rightly stay at home.
B) Others rightly should.
C) A few skilful drivers get stuck behind or struck by those in category B.
D) The final category includes all of the above but they benefit from extra driven wheels, fancy diffs and sometimes even clever electronics. Very occasionally, they even have the tyres for it.

Not me. I come under a different heading. You see, I still get excited when the white stuff begins to fall, more excited than my own children as it happens. I don’t know why I do. It makes no sense at all really, being a motorcyclist with a big hill between me and where I need to be. If you had to stick me in one of the above though, it would most certainly be B). My bike has the scars to prove it.

You see, I am obsessed with adventure one way or another. I also have a mortgage, children, a job, a wife and all the usual mundane commitments of being mid 30s and a teacher. For me, adventure is pretty hard to come by so when the snow fell a little bit, earlier in the year, I rode to work. The main road was cleared so why not. The moor road turned out to not be clear having perhaps 2cm of snow but I figured I may as well have a go. What’s the point of fitting the bike with dual sport tyres if you aren’t ever going to use them. That went well. As a matter of fact, it went without a hitch. Not so much as a slip or twitch of the rear. I was straight up the steep, snowy hill and back down the other side. Repeat a few more times. Arrive at work. Easy!

The next time, same thing but more snow and a bit of wind. I was off on an adventure, excited and intrepid. Before long I would be feeling like a right Charlie.

It was not yet 5am as I set off up the A59. Within the first mile, police were holding the road as a car was hauled out of the ditch by a recovery truck. I didn’t think better of it and motored on, carefully, slowly. The other option was after all, the far longer main road route. When I reached my turn off, steep at about 20% I was unsurprised to find it unploughed. A single set of car tracks told of a single other vehicle having braved the route since the snow fell that night. Again, I didn’t turn back. Riding in the car tracks, I made the ascent easily. The first steep descent, even with the tight bend right at the bottom, suggested I was going to be fine. All very affirming. Crack on.

It was beautiful too. Calm, with a silence that seemed able to penetrate the throb of the exhaust (that sentence describes it best but don’t ask me to explain it). There was even a wonderful few seconds when the owl I have seen dart across the road many times before chose to glide along beside me before pealing off between the trees that skirted the road. It seemed to me at the time that it did that because of the snow. Now I wonder if it was just the slow and quiet progress I was making, perhaps a little over a jogging pace. In that moment I had absolutely done the right thing. This was absolutely worth the risk of a low speed drop, the only type possible at the speeds I could reach.

Within minutes of sharing a few seconds with the owl, I was off the bike. It wasn’t down but we weren’t getting up that hill. Category C folk will have noted when I mentioned a bit of wind before. With wind comes snow drifts, especially on higher exposed ground. Manageable on the flat but trying to climb through one changes everything. The car tracks I was using were gone and the only option was to dissmount and kick a path through. Tough work when you’re wearing all your gear. I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. For some reason though, I literally ploughed on. By the top of my ride, I was already exhausted, physically and mentally. And all the while, I’d been riding on snow with grit underneath.

The first time I fell was just plain stupid. Embarrassingly dumb. I had this coffee in my box and was thinking, ‘I’m tired and should take a break.’ There’s this layby on the top road and I figured that would be the place to stop and drink the coffee. Being category B or there about though, I hadn’t figured that the world would look so different or the slight slopes on slight bends would be such a game changer. As I was passing the layby I wanted to be in, I noticed I was doing so. I didn’t notice the slight down hill slope and gentle left curve. The moment I shut the throttle down, things got real.

There I was, lying in the road. Looking back, I’m not sure what I was thinking though there would doubtless have been expletives. I do remember thinking I was in real peril as someone could come along at any moment and my bike in the road would cause an accident. Fortunately, there was sufficient adrenaline and grip for me to lift Hamish up. As it turned out though, no one else would pass along that road for nearly an hour and that was a gritter truck. Immediately, I could see the front left indicator was gone and the bar end weight was bent. With hindsight I can also see the RDR (rider) was also shot. In the pre dawn cold light of night, I didn’t spot that and couldn’t really do anything about it anyway.

The bike, having cut out exactly as it was designed to do, restarted. I should thank the previous owner who had fitted engine bars to it, preventing far worst. Satisfied the bike was still ridable, I mounted up, started up and attempted to motor on, the coffee long since forgotten about.

A quick word count tells me this post is getting too long. The clock tells me it’s bed time. Common sense says this post may be better as a two parter so there I shall leave it. However, I must share this video I found on All I can say is, wow! I wish I had their tyres. 

If you can, please leave a comment to let me know you were here, where you're coming from and what you think. 



Coming up in the next post:

  • More being an idiot
  • Two more falls
  • Breaking down on a snowy hill
  • The kindness of strangers
  • Being towed
  • What made the whole thing even worst
  • Who made the bike right (though he deserves a post of his own)
  • What I should learn
  • Other stuff probably

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Motorcycle Abstinence and a Plea for Comments

(Preamble: I’m making an unashamed plea for comments here. I need your input on something so please read it to the end and comment if at all possible. It would also be awesome if you would let other potential readers know about it. THANKS, John)

I have made two conscious decisions in the past week or so. I may have mentioned one in my last blog post but I’m not sure. Like the overwhelming majority of the world, I haven’t read it. The first was to blog more, perhaps once a fortnight. The second I know I didn’t mention. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned anything to do with being Christian before so there’s no way I would have mentioned Lent and Abstinence. It will probably be a while before I mention it again as well.

Being Catholic and teaching in a Catholic school, you would think I’d be good at it. Most of the non-catholic staff at school assume I am to. Unfortunately it’s really not the case. I’m pretty sure I genuflect on the wrong knee when I remember to do it at all. I haven’t been to confession in, um... That right, I was a teenager and a priest tricked me into it when I had a heart to heart with him one day. I happily support state sponsored gay marriage as distinct from church sponsored. Frankly, it’s none of my business and I don’t remember Jesus saying anything about it anyway.

So, what does this have to do with motorcycles. That’s the Lent bit. I’m meant to give something up for Lent and give the difference to charity. For many that’s alcohol or chocolate. Not being a drinker, alcohol is a non starter. I also consume very little chocolate. Either of these options would mean two or three quid over the four weeks of Lent. Previously I’ve tried to give up coffee which would work well if I was a good and strong willed Catholic. This time I’m going to do something much more clever with serious financial benefits. I’m giving up wasting fuel.

The implications of this are abstinence that only a motorcyclist will understand.
  • Riding the YBR125 (110mpg UK) rather than the WeeStrom (60mpg) or the cage (40mpg)
  • Short shifting every time with any vehicle (how to make a slow car slower)
  • Walking if at all possible.
  • Putting a jumper on and making everyone else do the same.
  • Worst of all NO RIDEOUTS!
In effect, use the most fuel efficient vehicle I can for the journey and likewise the route and style of riding. Most of the time that means riding Angie’s YBR125 and not at full throttle. With the children it means going very easy on the car and on the very very odd occasion it means riding the WeeStrom while suppressing the irrepressible urge to let her rip past long lines of slow moving traffic.

The benefit, with a bit of ‘Reccy Mech Maths’ is around £10 a week for a charity. The environmental benefits I’m nowhere near qualified to calculate. I am left with one problem: where to put the money? Obviously there’s CAFOD. Obvious answer. Why not Yorkshire Air Ambulance though? In an attempt to get someone, just for once, to leave a comment on my blog, Your suggestions for where to put the money would be kindly received.
Meanwhile, I managed to benefit from a little loophole in my abstinence plan. You see, I’ve got to go to work. My route is probably one of the best commutes in Yorkshire. I’ve got to ride the VStrom. My wife has taken her YBR125 to work and the car is too thirsty. So though I now have to add to the long list of sins I’m saving up for my next confession by having a gentle bimble over the moor on the best bike I’ve ever owned. I just pray I don’t get stuck behind any Sunday Drivers on the way back.