Author Archive

Well we’ve been back a few days and we’ve finally sorted the washing out. So it seems returning to normal now seems to be the order of the day…..

However before we all slip back into everyday life we’d just like to express our thanks to everyone who has supported us on our journey. We’ve all enjoyed the experience and the memories will remain with us for ever and most importantly of all we’ve done a little bit of work to raise awareness (and a bit of cash) for Everyman.

That being said we couldn’t have done it without you guys wishing us well from a far. Your messages kept us going on the journey so now sit back and enjoy (once we’ve sorted them all out) the pictures and videos…….

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PocketComms Fanned out with pouchNo speaky….

Not a video review this time, unusual for us I know, however I’ve just got hold of a really nice piece of kit that may well prove more valuable than mine and Matt’s (failed) Russian language (Svetlana please forgive us….) course we had planned to do for the trip – I finished having trouble speaking English let alone Russian.

It was a gift ‘to help you on your trip’ said the voice. It was a small pouch with a belt loop – a bit like an ammo pouch. Guns – I hope not? I dread to think where they think we’re going. Anyway looking at the pouch I wondered what it contained fearing the worst but I was pleasantly surprised…

It contained a small book, hinged in one corner. Between the covers were a number of pages of plastic paper featuring lots of little cartoon pictures of everyday and not so everyday things and events. It’s called a Pocket Comms book and the neat little hinge allows the pages to be fanned out to see many pictures at once. It’s been developed by an ex-army intelligence guy who came up with the idea whilst overseas and is based on pictures he used to use when communicating with locals. This developed into the book. Each page is double sided and the book contains hundreds of little cartoon drawings covering any number of situations that you might want to talk to someone about but would find it hard to because you both didn’t speak the same language. All the cartoons are grouped according into categories and each page edge is colour coded so red is used for emergency situations and so on. It’s a really clever idea and at about £8 for the basic book well worth the money. Looking at the website The Police have run a trial using it and there’s even a special Military spec one for the boys and girls overseas.

I’ve spent the morning thinking about things I might want to say and so far I’ve not found anything that I can’t use this book to say for me and I’m not a person of few words so I’m pretty impressed. There are similar things out there that have been more widely used and some of them are free, however in my opinion this really is a gem for the price, size and ease of use – yes you can print a pdf but to make is any good you’ll have to laminate it and all that takes time so why not just get one done for you? Of course the real test is taking it to Russia – although certain aspects of ‘youth culture’ means it may come in handy closer to home. However I think it will serve the 3 of us well on the trip and I’ll report on it’s usefulness upon our return.

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The Ady Smith school sounded like a really great way to spend the weekend. Not only was it going to be fun but I was also looking at it as further rider training and being able to relate some of things I learned on the weekend to my road riding.

Ady Smith runs a good school that puts the safety of those on the course at the top of the list. So after being kitted up in full protective clothing and introduced to the latest 2008 KTM off roaders we had a safety briefing and I felt very at ease.

The first part of the course was where we got used to the bikes on easy terrain. It was good to get the feel of how the bike behaved under power on slippery ground and in the corners. With not having fallen off I was feeling pretty upbeat and so on to a slower section where we learnt basic slow control and cornering.

The format was pretty much the same for the rest of the weekend. We had sessions of instruction followed by practice then a bit of time putting it all together. As the course continued continued we tackled more complex skills.

It all ended with a run around the enduro course where displayed the skills we learned from sliding the back end round bends, flat corners, riding through ruts and Jumps (yes jumps…) to name but a few. As we did this Ady and guys displayed a far higher level of skill and this added to the feel of the day. I can’t wait to try this again.

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Adventure Motorcycling CoverI was looking forward to having a look at this book when it came out. As practical ‘how to’ guides on adventure motorcycling are a bit few and far between so it’s nice to see another title for people to pick-up when they start planning or even dreaming about a long trip.

On first impressions the book is nicely presented. It’s a full colour hardback that’s typical of many recent Haynes titles. The look and feel makes you want to pick it up and thumb through it looking at the stunning pictures that are included. I found myself settling down with a cup of tea almost straight away and looking forward to a quiet afternoon dreaming about a long trip on a bike.

The book starts with a good introduction that highlights some of the pioneers of adventure motorcycling from the early days to more recent travelers like Grant Johnson and Ted Simon.

Before Leaving HomeRobert Wicks has divided his book into 3 parts, Before Leaving Home, On The Road and finally Typical Adventures. It’s nice and straight forward and each section contains a good level of detail on the sort of things you need to consider prior to the off and when you’re on the road.

Each section contains small packets of useful information interspaced with inspiring photography from around the world. It’s a nice mix that’s easy to take in and isn’t heavy going at all and it’s all rounded off nicely with 3 ‘typical adventures’ which describe 3 different trips from a short two week jaunt to a mammoth 3 year adventure. There’s also a nice section that points you in the direction for finding further information.

And this is the thing with the Haynes Adventure Motorcycling book. You can find quite a bit of information about planning a trip but without the depth you might need that you’d find in other titles on the subject. And this is the crux of the matter. Whilst it’s a great introduction for people starting out in the planning of a bike trip it’s not going to be enough for anyone looking for a bit more depth.

When you look at the photo’s the other thing you notice is that it makes a lot of use of supported trips on the latest machines. To me and many others the idea of doing a trip like this on the latest kit is a dream but the reality is that any bike will do and it would have been nice to see some of the more everyday types of bikes featured too rather than just the photo credits looking more like advert.

Set up for bikeThinking about whom this book is designed for it’s great for those who aspire to do a long distance trip by motorbike and provides a useful starting point for when you start the planning process. However it doesn’t have the depth of information you might need and instead points in the direction of where you might find the additional information elsewhere

So on whole a nice looking book that I found to be a great read and certainly made me wish for my departure date to be a lot closer than it is. As Ted Simon says in his forward if you read this book it will sharpen your appetite to discover the road ahead.

Happy travels!

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The Longest DayWell as if a 5,000 mile trip to Russia wasn’t enough for me I’ve signed up for a special day out in June!

I’m going to use it as a bit of ‘light’ training…

Myself and some friends from www.xrv.org.uk will be attempting to ride from John O’Groats to Lands End on 21st June 2008 – the longest day of the year. It’s approx 870 miles in total depending on the route. All in a day starting at about 4:30 am and finishing outside the Lands End Hotel – hopefully before midnight….

Why on earth would I want to subject myself, and in particular my rear end, to 850 miles plus in the saddle in one day? Well as I said it’s good practice for Russia but more importantly it’s to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Macmillan work to support people with cancer and their families. They provide doctors, nurses and other specialists in hospitals and help families and loved ones cope with caring for someone with cancer.

Our Russia trip is raising the profile of Everyman a group fighting male type cancers and this trip is helping a group dedicated to helping people cope with disease.

Here’s a link to our Just Giving Page …. I’m looking forward to doing this run and I’ll be thinking of The Old Man on the way

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I’ve been lying low for a bit and the other two have been out and about on their bikes so all in all a busy period where not much has changed as far as my Africa Twin is concerned. I’ll say sorry in advance as this bike has turned into an obsession.

I’ve spent the entire summer spending every weekend at college which has meant only being able to look and think about the work required on the bike. Until now that is…

So the panels have gone off to the paint shop, new fork internals have been ordered and are on the way and I have one remaining part to find and it’s the front brake master cylinder. The cost of replacement parts has shocked me. At a rough guess if I’d looked to replace all the parts with new Honda OEM stuff I’d have spent more than the trip itself will cost me (and probably us a group too).

Thankfully I have been inundated with help from all quarters. From free parts to tip offs about parts for sale I’ve got the lot bar the one outstanding. It’s out there somewhere (it’s probably on German ebay – everything else is…) and I will find it.

Going to take my front wheel to be sorted at college – new term has started and hopefully this will save me at least £40.

So stay tuned for photos and more details of the rebuild. At this rate I’ll be finished in time for winter – nice!

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Well as you all know the Russian Bear will have to wait. I have a bike to rebuild once my body is rebuilt (thankfully unlike bikes there’ll never be bits left over when it’s fully back together) and to be honest I’m more or less there. With the trip on hold for a bit Matt and Stace are off on their travels leaving me with a garage full of bike bits…Thanks guys!

Stace is off to Cornwall and France for a bit of R&R he’s off soon and no doubt will have some breathtaking pictures upon his return. Having learnt much from the prep for this trip he found he didn’t have to worry about the Cornish leg and the Foreign Office assured him that Cornwall was indeed part of the UK and the terror threat was low(ish).

Matt seems to have drawn the short straw again though. As with Russia he seems to have engaged mouth before brain and a throw away remark now seems to be sending him somewhere warm and sandy. I suspect when he mentioned he wanted to go to Morocco to Mrs Cashmore and later to Stace and I he at least hoped for some worry over his plan…Not so!

Indeed ‘Ooooo great idea’ was one of Catherine’s comments and ‘How soon can you leave’ was mine… Joking aside this is a big trip for the Big Boyo. He’s taking on a monster run down through France and Spain and then dipping his toe in the sands of Africa (who needs to be a journo to write this stuff….) is a big undertaking – especially for the solo rider.

However it’s also a fantastic oppurtunity to test some of the bits we’re planning for Journey To Russia. So hats off to Matt and like us you can follow progress at journeytomorocco.com

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Patrick's very broken ankleWent to the hospital for another check-up and the cast is off. I am officially ‘partially weight bearing’ with the target of full weight bearing in 6 weeks. I’m in a leg support but it’s a million miles away from a fibre glass cast.

Foot looked pretty grim when it came out of plaster. A bath and a rub with a towel removed some of the horror but the shreds of skin still take a bit of getting used to but it will be fine in no time I’m sure.

I’ve already seen my physio and have some exercises to do. I do feel like a new born lamb though – it’s quite tender to walk on so I need to do the exercises and be positive. Doctors are being cagey about the likihood of making the trip date – I still have along way to go.

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I’ve been looking for spares since my accident. Some are harder to find than others and let’s be honest as this is a Honda new ones aren’t cheap so ‘previously enjoyed’ spares are the order of the day.

One part that’s been particulary vexing for me has been the front fairing spur – without being to technical it holds the front fairing and the intruments to the front of the bike and a new honda one is about £200.

Afterweeks of looking on Ebay (UK and Germany) I bit the bullet and ordered a ‘discounted’ one from a well known Honda parts specialist.

 Now I know you know where this is going but not two days after placing my order (non returnable & money upfront) I was tralwing on ebay.de and low and behold not one but TWO of the dam things are listed and both shipping to the UK.

I hate the internet.

 

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2007_06032General0012It’s been a few weeks since my accident so I thought it would be nice to give a little update of how I’m healing. I’m still in plaster and my next appointment is 28th June and until then I’m non-weight bearing. It seems a long time but I suppose they are keen for the plate and screws to bed in as best they can and for the ligaments to begin healing on my ankle.

The garage is a hive of activity (photos to follow) I have a little fold up chair to sit on and I’m removing bits off the bike. It’s a slow process as I’m keen to keep everything together so I don’t lose any bolts. The front is quite badly beaten up – still gives me the shivers looking at how twisted it all is.

Removing the front fairing spar is proving difficult – the multitude of wires to the instruments and trip computer doesn’t help – but I’m marking these as a I go so hopefully it will be a breeze when it comes to putting it back together again (famous last words…).

There is a pile of broken parts on one side of the garage and in time this will include the forks, the afore mentioned spar, instruments, fairing panels, front mudguard and a mirror. In addition and depending upon whether I can bend things back into shape it may also include the headlights, footpeg, pillion footpegs and pannier racks and possibly the yokes. The fuel tank is a bit bent out of shape too and looking at it in detail was very nearly holed by the brush guards being forced into it when I crashed.

2007_06032General0011It’s not all doom and gloom though as I have been very fortunate in being able to secure some parts. Previous ebay adventures mean I have most of the fairings I need and 2 (yes I know…) fuel tanks so those pointless just in case purchases were in fact a great buy in the end and don’t tell me you’ve never done it!

A very good friend of mine on www.XRV.org.uk let me have a set of fork legs for nothing and I sourced a spare set of Yokes just in case. I had to buy the faring spar but used a discount supplier and saved about £40 off the Honda price.

The front wheel has gone off to be put back into shape so fingers crossed it can be done with the existing components. If it needs a rebuild I’m not sure I could resist the temptation to have both hubs and rims annodised and rebuilt with stainless steel spokes – at times the lure of fitting cheap or gawdy tat to my bike worries me. Colour coded bolts on a say a gixxer makes me sick but it seems anything goes when it comes to my AT.

So fingers crossed.

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