Sunday, 29 March 2015

Trials biking from a female point of view

Trails biking from a female point of view....

Steve has a sherco 290, which in theory is more powerful than my KTM 250 ECX F, which off road can be a beast! The first time we had a play on the trials bike it seem possessed and took off. It is something I experienced again when riding it cold - if this little baby is not warm it likes to lurch forward and catch you off guard! Anyway after lots of tinkering by Steve the sherco is running better and I have plucked up more courage to ride her a bit more. 

Stick that ass out!
I'm not doing anything too technical yet and in some ways it reminds me of my bike test....all those tedious figure of 8's. Although riding a trials bike is not tedious, it's addictive and therapeutic. I have found you can lose hours just riding round in circles! Steve and I were out one night until sunset just taking it in turns to play on the bike. I'm looking forward to summer evenings of biking and BBQ's!

Foot down penalty!

Getting to grips with the downhill bank
I'm still getting used to the bike and using the rear brake is interesting as it is quite far forward on the sherco. I also feel like I am sticking my ass out - literally - as you can see from the photos! But I just need a bit more time on the bike and to work on my position. What is great to see is the hard work that Steve has put in has paid off. His riding has come on massively and he is riding the trials bike a lot better than when he first got it.

Steve showing me how it's done

I however am still progressing slowly and having been back on my KTM a couple of times I have definitely seen some benefits. Things such as changing gear while standing up on the pegs comes naturally now. In general I seem to be riding on the pegs more comfortably now. I have managed to master the art of kick starting but I am keen to learn some more tricks. However, I think I'll remember to wear my armour after clattering down the bank and winding myself!

It's all good fun and a highly recommended way to waste the best part of a day!

Haggs Bank Motomadness Weekend with Horizons Unlimited

Lucy & I arrived at Haggs Bank around 7ish on Friday night, we caught up with Danny and got a beer sorted then started to mingle...

GS Giants - Sponsors
Plans were hatched for the Saturday rides, with two road rides & three off road ones planned. The lads from Northumbria Trf all stepped up to lead these... The rest of the night was spent gossiping about bikes, standing around the fire, drinking beer & looking at the amazing starry sky!

Blurry image of the old mine shaft

Another blurry image of Haggs Bank at night..
Saturday dawned wet,  cold and miserable, but once the bacon butties were consumed,  the coffee pots empty, everybody was ready to ride. My group was a mixed bunch with two GS 800's, (Monkey & Macbean), Conan on a KLE 500,  Martyn on a KTM 990, a Honda Dominator 650, (I never found out his name!) & of course lucy's ktm & my DR.

The DR died in Alston, either a fuel, plug or battery issue, time will tell, so I left it in a layby, pinched lucy's ktm whilst she jumped on the back of Martyn's 990, which made him a happy fella! A long legged blonde wrapped around you always makes you smile!!

Spot the bikers!!

All the bikes seem to have varieties of road tyres which meant changing the route plans as the day went, especially with all the rain! So the classics followed, Haresceugh lane, where I went over the handlebars of the ktm in a comedy sketch moment to the amusement of all! R lane where our first road tyre off happened, the KLE taking a nose dive on wet grass, the coach road, Latrigg which had Monkey's GS spinning & the KLE down. Armathwaite saw us on a home run with a blast over Hartshead for the road bikes before finally heading back to Haggs Bank for a well earned shower & beer.

The results of Monkey's rooster tail!!

 There were loads of interesting bikes at the bunkhouse, including the Zombie Response vehicle... so in the daylight and after a day out, it was time to get some pics...

checker plate anyone?

Old classic BM...

Tricked up Rallye Raid bike

Lucy, Tony & I rescued the stranded DR,  then a night of burgers & hotdogs, live music & some good banter followed with everybody reliving their moments of the day!

Another great day out on bikes with some fab folk added to the list of biking mates!! Thanks to Danny & Cathy for sorting it all out for everybody...

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Spring Has Sprung!!

Another truly beautiful day in the Lakes today, blue skies, mostly dry lanes & a bit of fun out on the trails of Northern Lakeland.

Gaz, Lucy & I all managed to coincide a Saturday off with a beautiful weather, so with a lazy start, the odd bike problem & plenty of tea, we managed to get out in the sunshine & cover some miles. Gaz's bike was having carb problems today & sometimes would just cut out and/or not restart, mine was galloping away at some times & something was draining the battery whenever it's been left standing for a couple of days... But Lucy's KTM was running very sweetly after it's recent oil change & front inner tube...

We just had a day of classics, nothing technical, mostly to get some miles in before the Haggs Bank Moto Madness Weekend next weekend. Lucy was feeling a little nervous as she hadn't ridden her bike in quite awhile & Gaz & I have been playing on trials bikes for most of that time too, so blow the cobwebs out, get the big bikes out & go for a play.

Lots have changed since our last outing too, the unofficial motocross track has had a load of work on it, some of it really good, so we had a play here for half an hour before hitting the mountain lanes...

People have been dumping more of their rubbish along one if the lanes near Little Broughton, it's a proper eyesore, which I find really ironic given all the hullaballoo I keep hearing about as bikes & 4x4's are blamed for making a mess of the countryside! Definitely not so in this case...

The stark contrast to the mountain lanes was nowhere more apparent than on top of Latrigg, where the locals & tourists were out running, biking, walking & flying around the base of Skiddaw. We stopped for a snack & to enjoy the views... There is plenty of old snow still lingering in the shady places, which added nicely to the contrast of the daylight & we saw one of the Ospreys flying over the hills near Whinlatter, a grand sight on such a fine day...

Once past the Coach Road, we headed over little Mell & Great Mell fells, before Gaz's XT started to become more unreliable which prompted a fast trip home, via Caldbeck & the boggy old forest lane that leads to Wigton, more great views of the Solway followed before Gaz split off from us to head home. Lucy & I took in a couple more lanes before a blast back home to sort out the usual life stuff & drink tea!!

A lovely first day out in the spring, magic stuff... let the summer begin...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Nepal: A little ride...

Whilst working in Nepal in 2011, I had a week between jobs, so decided to hire a bike & go for a ride...

Boudinath Stupa - Kathmandu

Pushupatinath Temple - Hindu death ceremony

Pushupatinath local resident

Sadhu in Kathmandu Temple

Pushupatinth Temple
Only bike available for hire easily over there are the smaller bikes, so I went for a wander round Thamel to find someone who did not seem to dodgy & a bike that sounded/looked OK... after a bit of mooching, I found a place & hired a bike. A Baja Pulsar 150cc beast!!

Riding around Nepal has some interesting issues, smog, mad drivers, (who got their license with a bribe rather than a test), rain, pot holes, police checks oh & a shortage of petrol!!

I left Katmandhu, (KTM), with a full tank of fuel, so dodging the buses, pedestrians & heavily laden bikes I made my way out of the city... luckily the signs are in Nepali with the English underneath, at least on some signs anyway... A few goes up & down several roads, retracing my steps & eventually get to the edge of KTM where I encounter the first police road block. Once the police realise I'm a tourist, I'm waved through the queue & on my way again though, unlike the Nepali's who will have everything checked & probably still have a 'fine' to pay!

The Prithvi Highway heads down a huge green valley alongside the Trisuli river, (which is a favourite with rafting companies) to Pokhara. En route the road crosses it back & forth so you get some great views, added to by the odd bus or truck that slid off the road into it!! Oops...

Pokhara is a really pretty place right on the Lake with great views of the Himalayas behind, the town is over shadowed by Machupuchari, (Fish Tail Peak), which is a sacred mountain in Nepali religion. It's also pretty quiet & peaceful after KTM!

As I arrived, the heavens opened in way Nepal rain does, it was bouncing higher than the bus shelter that I was hiding in & visibility was down to zero, (you just have to wait it out & then head off again). I had plans to have lunch in Pokhara, but as fate would have it, I met a guy standing in the rain & we ended up talking, as you do. He invited me to stay with his family, which as I was now soaked seemed a good idea, plus I'd get to chat to his family, great stuff...



Once we got to his house, he introduced his family, then put me up in their prayer room, with the bike parked in the back yard behind a huge gate. We ate some food, had a chat & as it was now nearly 9pm it was bedtime in Nepal.

During the night I woke up to the sound of the back gate being opened, I heard voices & a bit of movement, but figured it was just someone coming back, I found out about 2 hours into the next day that in fact, my bike had had half of it's petrol drained out! As the family would not accept any money for me staying or the food I ate, I just marked this up as payment... However it impacted upon my ride as I was about to launch over one of the higher road passes in Nepal before dropping to the Indian border. 

I had already left Pokhara when I checked the tank, so I had to return to try to find fuel, no luck, the only place to get petrol was in a garage near Katmandu! Bugger... so off I set retracing my steps along the Prithvi Highway, I found the garage about half way along, a huge queue of bikes... 

Once filled up I spent a bit of time with the fairly unreliable road map & decided to head to the Indian border anyway but via the main road instead of the mountain pass I'd looked at before. So off I set... top speed 40kph & very scary it was too!


En route, I took a couple of detours, one up a dirt track that stopped at a ford, this was before I had any knowledge of how to cross a ford & how to sort the problems with water in the carbs etc, so I just turned back & headed the 30 km back down the road!

I slept by the side of the road for a night, woke up cold & damp, so rode to the nearest roadside shack for some hot milk with a bit of coffee powder in to warm back up!

I was a bit fed up of riding the Baja, which had a saddle like a razor blade, really bad brakes & had probably never seen a service in its poor & hard life, so after looking at the map, I found a road that went up!

In Nepal, everything is up or down, this was up, about 3000m & looked twisty, god knows whether it would have tarmac on it but off I set as it was the most direct route back to KTM.

It turned out to be ace, loads of spectacular views of the Himalayas, the super green colours of the terracing where the locals grew their food. I climbed & climbed, eventually passing a Buddhist Monastery & a really expensive hotel, before traversing for awhile to climb some more.

It was starting to get dark now, I'd ridden all day on a little pasty I found at a shack & a bag of sweets, my concentration was dropping, just then I came round a hairpin bend to find a lorry on my side of the road with the driver nodding off... I woke up fast, managed to dodge the truck, which clipped the top of my helmet with his mirror & narrowly avoided dropping off the edge of the road!! Feck, I was shaking with adrenalin, so pulled up to catch my breathe. I was alert again now!!!

Once I'd settled down I set off again, only to find the best bit of road on the trip... hairpin after hairpin with goodish  tarmac... fab, I played at being on a GSXR 1000 instead of the little Baja right to the end of the climb.

The ride back down was in the dark, with lights like a KTM EXCF, so utterly shite, the lightning from the storm over KTM lit the road up better, so I cruised steadily down, clicking the bike out of gear to save my disappearing fuel!

Once back in KTM, I found my little hotel in Thamel, got the bike into a locked parking place & slept for 12 hours solid!

What an adventure, I'd wanted to ride in Asia for a long time, this was my first play, so some more to come I reckon... I'd recommend it to anyone, even with the scary drivers over there!!

The Baja did the job, it was a wreck & in Britain it would be scrapped, but in Nepal, it is the perfect little thing, it'll go anywhere & take all the shite abuse & fuel & just keep running, I quite liked it, but I hated the seat with a vengeance by the time I got back... great stuff!