Monday, 28 September 2015

The Lakes on big bikes...

A mate of mine John, called me to show him and his mate around the Lakes for a day. They were riding a three day tour from Chester to the Lakes via Leyburn.

John was on his KTM 950 and his mate was on a BMW F650 dakar, so not exactly small bikes, also this was Gary's first ever off road trip... A true baptism of fire with Mr Dixon!!!

We met up in Windermere, where the boys were staying and after a couple of chats a route was hatched... On tarmac to Ambleside, up The Struggle, along Ullswater and onto the Coach Road, followed by Latrigg and Keswick for some fuel... Then down into Grasmere, consisting and south Lakes...

The big bikes handled the Coach Road well and both the guys really enjoyed the trip, as neither lads had done it before... Latrigg had a swarm of walkers as usual, but as it was such a fine day, the views were spectacular so most folk out were chatty and happy...

From Keswick, we headed down to Grasmere where the lanes get a bit tougher and rockier, so a quick nip into Little Langdale, then over to Hodge Close saw the BM on the deck twice...

We missed out some of the more seriously technical lanes here as Gary wasn't really upto them just yet, and I found one of the lanes has had a rock step filled in and banked up... wonder whose done that?? Hey hey, the lane is so good and the views fab it doesn't really matter...

From Hodge we headed south towards Ulverston and all the lanes down there, none of which are super technical although after 3 days of lanes both boys were getting pretty tired. Lunch was in a great little cafe in Hawkshead.. The Sun Cottage... Highly recommended!

John & I rode up High Nibthwaite which was a first for both of us, it has several rock steps on it and with the weight and line choice found us hauling the 950 up a couple of sections... it has to be said though, John's skill as a rally rider showed out on this both on the up and the down...

Well worth the trip for the views as well as the riding...

The final lanes of the day were very pretty before a tarmac blast back to the ferry at Sawrey to round off a great day out... Gary's mum had prepped us a feast when we got back too, cake, biscuits, cheese, tea, coffee, fruit... the list goes on... ace stuff!

Another great day out on two wheels meeting some really genuine folk and having a laugh...

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Solo ride out in Northumberland

So it turns out last night, I suddenly had a free day for the Sunday... bonus... a few quick FB posts and texts found nobody around to play with so I decided to venture out alone for once...

I'm leading a couple of ride outs for the camping weekend the Northumbria TRF lads are running in October and there were a few lanes I fancied doing, so today became a bit of a recce!

Lucy went for a wander along some of Hadrian's Wall and visited the Vindolanda Roman Museum, which left me free to mooch at my own pace and take lots of pics too... bonus!

My route took me north from Vindolanda, then back south via a little ford called the Ash, where the farmer and his wife are apparently very unfriendly... the 'Road Blocked' sign at the gate gave the game away, so I dutifully stuck to the trail, switched off my bike etc all in an effort to keep the peace!

I was very surprised to find the footbridge near the ford had chains across it... isn't that illegal??

The ford was a rocky little beggar, with a bomb hole in it, which apparently the farmer has dug out with his JCB!! Life really is too short for this kind of mentality in my opinion... Surprise, surprise there was no blockage either!

Bogged down - the first time!
Bogged down - the second time
My next lane crossed moorland, peaty, boggy & rutted in places, a place where the trail disappears for awhile and then re-appears, the drainage ditches are deep and if the weather is bad it could be a very harsh place to be. 

I got the bike bogged down in the peat twice, both time dropping into a hidden hole, it took some time to get the 400 back out each time and I was sweating a lot by the time I'd done it... mostly by throwing the bike on it's side and dragging it sideways... mmm very stylish!!

A bit of a bog fest at the northern end

En-route I met Mick, one of the TRF lads who was doing a run out today for some of the new boys... the three of them all looked like they were having fun, unfortunately my timings didn't work out otherwise it would have been good to meet another bunch of folks with a passion for bikes! Still a good gossip was had by all before we each headed off in opposite directions.

Err , where is the trail??
Next up was Bellingham to see if the petrol garage was open, it was so a top up and a good chat with the nice lady confirmed that the Garage would be open on Sundays now and that the weekend of the TRF Camp there would be a marathon running through Kielder Forest, all good info.

Bellingham fuel, now open on Sundays apparently.

Park Benches in Bellingham

One of the many things I love about trail riding is the sense of history you get as you pass through a landscape. All of the trails and villages are ancient things, they've seen more folk pass by than most of us ever will in our lifetimes, the bench I sat on to eat my lunch was the one dedicated to PC Carroll, I've never met him or heard of him yet here I am writing about him! I'll be there again in a few weeks, so time to ask about him then I think...

A fabulous old coaching bridge...

How cool is this lane??

Re-opened Lane paperwork...

Re-opened lanes are the best!
Causeway over the lake, ace...

Err is it alright to breathe??

Re-opened in 2010, ace stuff!
My final lane of the day was a beaut, some small rock steps on very slippy limestone and then a blast up to the road before a final run back to Vindolanda and a roast dinner in Carlisle!

not quite... maybe next time!

Another fab day out playing like a kid with his toys in the mud and river!! 

Enough said!!


Saturday, 5 September 2015

Sun, Fun, a KTM 400 & a Serow 225

Lucy was off running a mountain flora workshop today for the Association of Mountaineering Instructors in Langdale, so I took the opportunity to get the KTM 400 out on the trails and give it a good blast!

I've spent nearly two weeks working on this 400 now, sorting the carbs and the fact that it has sat for nearly 3 years has left it with loads of little problems that I keep just dealing with as they come up. So today was payback, get on it and ride the thing... ace stuff...

That RFS engine is magic, I can totally see why everybody says good things about them, loads of power in the light body of the KTM and all very gentle, yet a bit of a monster if you're not paying attention!

I rode plenty of lanes local to me, ones I know well, as I was conscious I was alone too, something I do rarely for some reason... it was really relaxing to just pootle and play on this bike...

The suspension is set up really hard on it, so I've had a play at softening it down some to suit my riding style and make the bike a little more responsive, not got it sorted yet, it's a bit bouncy at the moment, nearly caught me out a couple of times!

As the bike is destined for some friends of mine I called by to show them it's now running and catch up on the gossip, Richard decided to join me for the afternoon on their little Serow as I was heading to Langdale to meet up with Lucy and the guys on the course as I know a few of them.

Once Richard had warmed the Serow up, we were off, first up the Coach Road, a first for Richard and then down the side of Thirlmere and into Grasmere with its tourists and wiggly lanes, before catching the byway that runs through the bottom of Langdale and into the Stickle Barn pub for a drink and a gossip!

We sat and chatted loads to old friends, then Lucy turned up with her group and we chatted some more! Time marched on and at 5pm it was home time, a return blast up the Coach Road saw Richard have two offs on the rough uphill and then some fun in the puddles before a final road session back to his house...

The day ended with the 400 having more fuel issues, the reserve tap doesn't work, I found this out half way home as it was getting dark! I could see enough fuel to get me to a fuel station but the tap wouldn't let it run because it is so heavily corroded and gummed up inside. I managed to fill the float bowl with fuel a few times and creep some more but in the end I had to call for help.

Lucy turned up with the van and once loaded it was back home in the dark for a beer!!

New petcock ordered now!!!