Thursday, 30 June 2011
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Sunday, 26 June 2011
At four o'clock this morning I was watching the sun rise over George White Superbikes in Swindon.
Strictly speaking I wasn't watching the sun rise because it was one of those pearl-cast misty mornings that doesn't come clear until about noon. But it was steadily getting lighter, the dawn chorus were giving it laldy and we were able to put the gas lamps out while arguing about whether there was a pop lyric for every hour of the day. (Andy and I had got 4am in the bag with Prefab Sprout, and 3am covered with the KLF, then Biker Paul trumped us both with "Rock Around The Clock," which covered all bases but left us in need of something new to talk about.)
These are the ways you pass the time while waiting for very road-weary bikers to roll up every twenty minutes or so to get their cards stamped, complain about the impossibility of finding the checkpoint, and ask how to get back out of town again.
For them, the absence of sunshine was probably a blessing. I've never done an all-nighter for the ACU English National Rally - when I was married it was always held at the same time as a Lib Dem training weekend in Peterborough, so I used to stop in the Great Northern Hotel for a few hours kip. When I was living in sin PB lived about half a mile from the Ely control point so I used to clock in there and go home for a few hours. Now I'm neither, and I still can't make it through the night - Chateau Belle Cher, Paul's camper van, was much comfier and warmer than the folding chair and I had a bit of a fading-from-view between midnight and 4am. But if I had been riding continuously since 2pm on the Saturday I think the last thing I would want was hot sun in my tired eyes and sweat creeping down my back. Not till I'd finished and was sitting down to a bacon sarnie and a mug of tea, at least.
I originally offered to help Paul out with the Control Point when I was working Sunday mornings and wouldn't have been able to do the full rally as a competitor. Now I'm back in the 9 to 5 and I could have signed up to do the miles, but I've done that a few times now and I've never done the stamping before. Sitting with tea, biscuits, pizza and good company while lots of lovely bikers come and talk to me - what's not to love?! (Though we were disappointed in the pizza, it came in a small Renault not on a step-thru)
Some riders said Thank You for being a control point, which was nice. Some took photos and said they were having a FB competition for the coolest checkpoint. I hope we won! Most just wanted to get their cards stamped and get on, though a few were grateful for a sit down and a cup of tea.
With almost perfect timing, the RBR contingent - Jim, Steve and Gordon - turned up within 5 minutes of each other - and in the only 5 minutes when I was on the phone. Fortunately Paul had brought enough biscuits to keep them distracted until I was able to come and say hello and to find out what happens when you accidentally hoover up a budgie.
Later in the evening some of Paul's friends turned up and one of them asked The Question....
"Where do I know you from? Have we met?"
Unfortunately there are only 2 answers to this (unless we actually have met, but that hardly ever happens.) The first is "you've seen me on the telly" and the other is "from the photo next to my column in The Road."* But I've yet to work out how to say either of these without sounding like an utter wanker. Suggestions on the back of a postcard please....
* Like the one above.
Tuesday, 21 June 2011
This is a photo of my own special crime from the Cambridgeshire County Council parking enforcement website.
I'm very sorry. But it's nearly a motorcycle and it was very very wet, so there weren't very many bikers wanting the rest of the space. And I was late for the Senna movie. But I'm still very sorry and I'm glad I didn't meet any of the militant parking enforcers they used to write about on cix who used to take wheels off cars until they were reduced to the appropriate number for the parking space in question.
Posted by Highwaylass at 12:30 PERMALINK
Friday, 17 June 2011
Well - I went to collect her this morning, and apart from the small matter of £2500 of cosmetic damage it appears that Ruby is going to be fine. Which is a big relief. The new GS is narrower, lighter, and more responsive, but my GS is comfortable and wide, has the bars in just the right place to fall under my hands and has a smooth bit where my shin rubs against one of the hoses. Though it seemed unlikely when she was new, we have come to fit each other. And hopefully will continue to do so for the next 36,000 miles.
Posted by Highwaylass at 23:05 PERMALINK
Thursday, 16 June 2011
I went to a poetry event last night. Now that I work in a bastion of intellectual elitism, I thought I'd better try and adopt some of the habits of my academic betters.
On a rather sultry evening, 5 student poets performed their compositions and Isabella Shaw was declared the winner by the extremely fabulous Benjamin Zephaniah.
Her winning poem, "Variations on the Westron Wind*," opens like this:
"The stones remember me
Ay, in the pale and deathless hour
Between the sun's setting forth and the sun's return
The shape of my long hand
The taste of my heart interred."
In the pale and deathless hour between the sun's setting forth this morning, and about 45 minutes later than intended on account of not being able to find the paper part of my driving licence, I went to Norwich and the lovely people at Lind lent me this younger, fitter, and healthier version of Ruby to use while they check her over for damage. She's taller, because after 36,000 miles Ruby's back end is saggier than Winifred Hathi's. The gearbox moves with a snick, not a kick. And she's had a bit of lipo around the front.
Younger, fitter - but better? Well, the thing is that after all those miles Ruby remembers not so much the shape of my long hand - though I seem to have worn the handgrips smooth - but the shape of my lard-arse. Which is not quite so poetic. But it does prove that Ruby is the most Important, the most Beautiful, the most Magical Saggy old GS in the whole wide world. And I hope that she's going to get a clean bill of health in the morning.
*The Westron Wind is a medieval fragment which is mostly about sex.
Friday, 3 June 2011
I was going to write an incredibly witty post about buying the wrong battery but that has been rendered profoundly inappopriate by today's news. In a very modern way I found out via Facebook that a former colleage and friend, Andrew Reeves, died suddenly this morning of a heart attack. He wasn't a biker, so I apologise for being off-topic. But he was incredibly kind. Mark Pack's tribute captures the quality of the man. I will miss him.