Moto Diaries

GPS Sat Nav

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 12 December 2012 | 0 Comments

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GPS Navigation

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Adventure Bikers at the Ace Cafe

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 20 February 2012 | 0 Comments

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I ventured forth to London’s famous Ace Café today. 

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Choosing an Adventure Motorcycle

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 26 January 2012 | 1 Comments

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This winter the tarmac has been ripped up. It started with big trucks wearing a few holes when they delivered to the retirement home at the end of the lane; the remaining residents make it worse as they drive in and out in cars.
Me? I have a Moto Guzzi Stelvio adventure motorcycle – I stand on the pegs and weave the 3 metres of bad road.
Pathetic isn’t it? But I love it. 
I was going into central London today – brief visit, pick up some stuff, home again. But it meant I would have to traverse the 3 metres of holes. 
No question then; the round the world adventure bike was the steed of choice.
Next decision point, what to wear? Temperature was 5 centigrade but sunny. Could be the Belstaff technical textile jacket in lilac, or leathers. 
Strictly speaking, the apparel etiquette for adventure bikers is textile or wax. So I decided on leathers, with back patch.
I was happy. Leather ensemble, back patch, a Stelvio to negotiate the three metres of Dakar dirt and sunshine.
I rode the Stelvio up the reverse camber that joins to the lane, then stood on the pegs for the dirt, slower (I was doing 10mph) for the T junction, lean over, accelerate to make progress.
The biking Gods laughed. 
Red light on dashboard, speedometer drops to 0, “service required” starts flashing. Still moving, shall I, will I, won’t I? I didn’t. I turned around, limped back over the dirt, negotiated the camber and  parked on the drive.
I, of course, have two bikes. 
Smugly, I pulled my Victory Vegas out of the garage, fired up first time after a month’s hard standing, engaged the gear and rode. 
The Victory is a cruiser. One thousand five hundred cubic centilitres of American Iron that had powered me thirteen thousand miles across Europe to Asia with nary a blink.
Up the camber, over the dirt, the roar from the straight-through exhaust rattling the windows through the town. Perfect. I was wearing the correct clothes you see. Rock and roll bike, rock and roll leathers. Shades.
Onto the motorway, roll on the throttle, deep bass notes ringing out.
Waitagoddamminnit.
What’s this cold air creeping into my helmet? Why are my hands cold? Why is it so hard to go faster? 
Ahhh. No air cleaving windshield. No heated grips and hand shields. No effortless 140mph engine. In a short month I’ve been spoiled rotten by the sleek Stelvio. 
I froze as I rode into London, but the bad boy pipes played their song. The traffic split, letting me through. Later, in a café a woman said, “Nice jacket”.
But I’m back in my semi-rural lane, over the dirt but not playing Dakar. Victory parked, moving the Moto Guzzi with the service light flashing. 
Why isn’t the service light red? Why are there no automated messages? A glitch somewhere, a wink from a biking God?
Anyway, now I know. 
A Stelvio to take me around the planet.  A Victory down to the Ace café and when I’m being anti-social.
Which leaves me only to wonder whether wax or technical jackets are on trend and de rigueur for Round The Planet Bikers in 2012
Simple.

The lane that leads to my house is just minutes from the M25 motorway; riding it always puts me in a good mood because it is narrow and roofed by the branches of huge horse chestnut trees.  An English lane: an oasis of calm; we call it semi-rural.

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The most interesting man in the world on two wheels

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 18 January 2012 | 0 Comments

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From those fabulous guys who gave you the Victory Vegas - the most interesting man in the world on two wheels.

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Charley Boorman

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 18 January 2012 | 0 Comments

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I went to an Author's evening on Saturday.

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Moto Guzzi Stelvio

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 21 December 2011 | 0 Comments

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Moto Guzzi Stelvio Adventure motorcycle

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Opticians - solving problems, not just flogging product

Posted by on 25 June 2011 | 0 Comments

opticians stainesWalking into Bank wearing optical shades like a first class poseur.
Remove shades, take out indoor glasses. Arm falls off.
Not my RSI ridden flesh and blood arm, the spectacle arm. 
No problem: Boots, from whence I purchased said spectacles is a few hundred metres hence.  
Poseur shades back on (shame the sun has disappeared)
Into Boots feeling my way because it is dark in the store and I have to wear shades
“Good Day young man. These have broken, can you repair please? I am leaving the country in 7 days for 2 ½ months and need new glasses by then”
Furtive conversation ensues between young man and female shift manager. 
“Sorry Sir, the arm is broken. There is nothing we can do with them.” 
“I know the arm is broken. That is why I brought them to you. For repair.”
“Sir, they are out of guarantee.”
“Out of Guarantee? Good God, do you know how much these cost?”
“Yes sir. It says here £240.”
“So I paid £240 fifteen months ago and I have to throw them away?”
“Well yes sir. “
Scuffling is heard. There is hand around my neck. Aaaah! It is my hand. It is stopping me from attacking staff.
I left the store.
In the High Street the Optical Shop had a laboratory on site.
Angela, one of the managers was charming. “So you need these varifocal lenses with a week? I’ll see if we can do it.” Three minutes later “Yes we can”. 
“There is an alternative.” she said. “We could take your existing lenses and put them into a new frame.”
Twenty minutes later, smart new frame, perfect fit, £75. 
Problem solving, not selling me new kit for the sake of it. Great people, great store http://www.opticalshop.info/
I’ll be back to get my new prescription glasses in the Autumn.

Walking into Bank wearing optical shades like a first class poseur.

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What to take on a motorcycle journey

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 13 June 2011 | 3 Comments

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What to take on a long distance motorcycle journey.
When I plan my journeys I spend a lot of time on Google maps. Finally I print maybe one or two views which show a route of 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Good overview, not much detail.
Google maps are fantastic tools: unfortunately they require web access and  the internet is not always available or free when you’re out in the boonies.
So to supplement Google maps  it’s likely that 20% of the space and weight in my bags is taken up by electronics.
There’s a laptop - essential for up to the moment reports on the road, the laptop charging kit - also comprising an inverter to convert DC (motorcycle battery) power to AC - and several different cables for phones and cameras to be charged whilst moving,  (Sat Navs eat power). 
Last year I experienced a lot of pain when using ear bud headsets connected directly to the phone – using the buds up to 14 hours a day I should have expected it; so the Bluetooth helmet upgrade is designed to obviate the ear buds and take care of GPS and sound.
Thus even my helmet needs charging kit as the Bluetooth GPS system uses the headphones built in to the helmet itself.
So what works?
Well, over 50mph I cannot hear opera. Over 70mph I cannot hear rock n’roll. This setup gives me automatic speed data.
GPS? My Ndrive system sulks in silence most of the time because I refuse to follow absurd instructions.
My advice on what to pack? A map.
And one of these for making coffee http://aerobie.com/products/aeropress.htm

When I plan my journeys I spend a lot of time on Google maps. Finally I print maybe one or two views which show a route of 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Good overview, not much detail.

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Ten hours in a thunderstorm.

Posted by Derek Mansfield on 13 June 2011 | 1 Comments

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I was staying in Zatoka, http://www.zatoka-ua.org/2009-05-05-12-38-50.html a spit of land 80 kms east of Odessa that stretches across a natural bay in the Black Sea.
On Saturday, Zadoka had a tropical downpour.  Three hours of thunder, lightning and rain that the left the streets knee-deep in flood water and impassable for everything but 4x4s. 
I carefully checked the weather for the ride back to Kiev on Sunday. Leave Zatoka between 0800 and 11.00 in sunshine, arrive Kiev 14.00 to 17.00 in sunshine.
No problem, except it was 12.00 when I got moving. And being exceptionally clever and cool, I had left the wet weather gear in Kiev.
For the next 10 hours I was stuck between two tropical storm fronts moving north at approximately the same speed as me.  Solid rain, gales, cold and distinctly disturbing lightning.
Although the journey was only 560 kms (350 miles) because I had no wet weather kit and wore a half helmet and shades the ride was  tougher than my first 1000 mile Iron Butt. http://www.ironbutt.com
So cool is ok, stupid is not. In future I will pack wet weather gear regardless.

I was staying in Zatoka, a spit of land 80 kms east of Odessa that stretches across a natural bay in the Black Sea.

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