Third Worse Bike Trip
Before you ask the number one and two worst bike trips were the ones I and/or the bike did not come back in one piece. As this weekend was a bank holiday weekend and only one day (Saturday 24 May 2008) was forecast to have good weather I planned a quick day trip across the Brecon Beacons in south Wales to the coast and back. After two hours of boring motorway riding trying to keep my speed down and spot the cameras I had finally got to the real twisty, scenic bits of the A40.
As I entered Bwlch there was an almighty bang and my bike kicked sideways a bit. I thought I had just hit a stone and I thought the bike felt alright after rocking it from side to side. When I hit the national speed limit sign I accelerated and tipped it into a left turn, the only problem was the bike did not want to turn and when I forced it down it felt very wobbly. I slowed down and pulled off in a farms' driveway and immediately saw the rear wheel was flat. A biker who was following some distance behind me also stopped and asked if I needed any help, not wanting to ruin his day as well I said no its ok I'll call the AA. It was only after he rode off that I noticed I had no mobile reception, so I walked about a mile back to the Welsh Venison Center and used their landline to call the AA. I had to wait about one and half hours for the AA patrol to arrive. At least I had broken down on a great corner to watch the hundred odd bikers, from mad Ducati guys to a group of Hell's Angels bikers, ride by!
Waiting for the AA, note beautiful road and scenery in background
While waiting I had a look at the back tyre to see if I could spot what had caused the puncture. Moving the bike was very difficult but eventually I noticed a shiny 5mm bolt sticking out of the tyre. I was also glad to see that apart from a small dent the hugger had survived as well, the Suzuki hugger must be made out of very tough plastic.
I guess that's why I have a flat then!
Eventually the AA patrolman arrived and said he thought that he might be able to repair it with a plug. I was very interested to see how this was done, thinking that perhaps it would be a good idea for me to carry my own puncture repair kit. It took the two of us using a great deal of force to pull the bolt out of the tyre, and it turned out that it was actually a clutch adjuster from a Vauxhall according to the patrolman. The adjuster was about 4 inches long and most of it including a big metal bit was buried in the tyre. As the adjuster had made a 3/4 inch hole in my tyre there was little hope that it could be pluged but he gave it a go anyway. I think he did this more for my benefit than anything else.
Clutch adjuster, it was buried all the way to the shiny bit on the left!
He then said well lets discuss our options. Option one was that he could arrange for me to be recovered a distance of 10 miles for free on my existing policy. I asked whether there was a bike tyre shop within 10 miles and he said no, so I said ok what's are the other options. Option two was to pay for an upgrade in my membership (£80) and pay for the extra millage over the free fifty mile recovery this offered (£40). So I said well there isn't really any option is there? He laughed and then organised the upgrade and recovery vehicle before leaving me to another two and half hour wait by the roadside.
The AA, about to leave me to another two and half hour wait!
After about two hours a BMW did a U-turn and pulled up, the couple asked if I needed any help and gave me a two litre bottle of water. They were amazed that I was still there as they had passed me in the same spot three hours earlier. It turned out that they were also South African and they also lived in Bath! What are the chances of that? About half an hour after they left George arrived with his recovery van and after a big struggle the two of us managed to get the bike into the back of the van. George was a really interesting character, like me he was also born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe but had left in the early sixties after his father had died in service on the railways. He had worked briefly as an engineer before deciding that sitting in an office all day wasn't for him so he joined up with the RAF for 22 years. After a period of working for the MOD in Scotland he decided to chuck it all in for a small holding in Wales and he did odd jobs like recovering broken down bikers to supplement his income.
So now I have a bike with a flat back tyre parked in Bath and have to organise new tyres and recovery to a bike shop. All up the day out is going to cost about £400 making it the third worse bike trip I have had.
Well it just goes from bad to worse, I'm not sure if its because the bike has a jinx or because its just my awful bad luck from last year i.e broken arms, broken cars, lost jobs has just continued into this year. I had the bike recovered to George White to get a new tyre and a service. I went to pick up the bike last Saturday and although I was still suffering from a nasty cold decided to go for an icecream. In England the only place to eat icecream is the seaside so I rode down to Christchurch and then rode back on the B3081 which turned out to be a great ride. When I got back to Bath I was tired and sore after 200 miles of riding but felt great as my faith had been restored. Then while I was admiring my bike as it cooled I thought hey something is missing, the number plate had fallen off somewhere since the last fill up. So I had to go through getting a new plate, drilling holes in it (thanks Tez and Val) and mounting it.
So yesterday plate remounted, sun shining, Shell tanker drivers on strike so in theory should be empty roads (and petrol stations?) I thought what the hell I'll go for a ride, I got a few miles out of Bath before I had yet another crash or more accurately a "fender bender". It was at the A39/A368 intersection, I had filtered up alongside a car at a red light and when I pulled away the front of my left hand exhaust must have just caught on the wheel arch / bumper of their car. I managed to pull their bumper off the mountings on the right hand side and scratch the paint quite badly. My bike has a scratch running the length of the pipe that may come out with a bit of rubbing compound. Fortunately they build bikes tougher than cars and fortunately I did not fall off. When we hit I initially thought that they had driven into the back of me so I was quite rude to them, which I am quite ashamed of. Its been a while since my temper has got the better of me. While I was trying to compose myself and calm down for the ride back home she came out of her car again and put her arm around me and said 'don't worry insurance will deal with it'. This made me even more embarassed, I have since appologized a few times for ruining their day out as well. My confidence has taken a massive dent over the last few weeks though, every time I seem to go out it ends badly. On the way back I was begining to think that maybe I should chuck this biking lark in, but for what? It's the only thing I really enjoy and the only thing I am vaguely fit enough to do. Maybe I should downsize again to a smaller / less powerful bike like a F650GS or Triumph Bonneville. Perhaps I'm just missing time in the saddle.