A foreign country explored

Yesterday, taking advantage of the heat, it being a Saturday, having a spotlessly clean motorbike, and having nothing else to do, I went abroad.

A453, A42, M42, M5, M50.

Yes, I went to Wales.

I left the house at 6am, and arrived in Abergavenny at 9am.

The Blorenge (rhymes with orange)

The Blorenge (rhymes with orange)

I had a hot chocolate and very healthy bacon sandwich, whilst sitting outside the Get Together in St John’s Square.

Putting picnic benches outside there is a great idea; gives the area a very cosmopolitan feel, and enabled me to sit where I could keep an eye on the ZX10R.

Needless to say the local bureaucrats don’t like that idea and are working hard to stop someone from having a success.

Kind of shoots down the ’embrace café culture’ policy of a former Prime Minister.

The fun police strike

The fun police strike

Anyway.

Nicely refreshed I went up the Blorenge (rhymes with orange), and just chilled out. Walked about a bit. Lay down in the long grass and read a bit.

May have accidentally dozed a bit.

Keeper's Pond

Keeper’s Pond

After that break I went down through Blaenavon and up the mountain opposite, Coedcae, to Forgeside, where I went to junior school.

I left it in better condition!

I left it in better condition!

Then I dropped back into Blaenavon, and took the Garn Road through Garn-yr-ew, Brynmawr, into Merthyr Tydfil, through Nant-ddu, and down off the mountain into Brecon, below.

I walked around Brecon a bit, but didn’t hang around because the town was heavingly full of people and far too hot to be in close proximity of many strangers.

I bailed out of Brecon, turned left at Llangorse and headed, generally, north-north east.

I stopped at a country pub about halfway between Hereford and Worcester for some much-needed refreshment.

Ahhhhhh

Ahhhhhh

And then back home.

When I had started the trip I was considering staying out overnight.

Frankly I should have.

The round-trip came in at 427 miles. And that was a bit too much. The heat of the day didn’t help either.

I would definitely do that run again.

And I would extend the road-miles, maybe aim for the west coast of Wales.

And I would stay out overnight. I wasn’t as sharp, towards the end of the day as I should have been, despite frequent stops.

But it was a great run out, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

What did you get up to?

Nice out

The ZX10R has had her recall work.

ZX10-R

ZX10-R

I’m grateful to the good folk of Leicester Kawasaki for turning round the gearbox rebuild, and annual service, in four hours.

She does feel a little different now.

The gearbox, always a wet dream, is still as easy to navigate, but there’s something else.

The gearing is heavier (in either direction)  but it isn’t clumsy.

And the relationship between gearbox, clutch, and throttle is closer; more coordinated.

The gearing ‘heaviness’ adds even greater positivity to the travels through the box.

And there’s more ‘bite’ on engagement.

I don’t believe the ZX10R’s top-end performance has been altered, but the journey to that eye-watering top-end has been significantly enhanced.

It’s just such a shame a product recall needed to be issued to achieve these things.

Also, thank you to Leicester Kawasaki for the full detailing and valet.

Two wheels on my wagon

That’s an odd word.

Wagon.

Or is it ‘waggon’?

Maybe it’s either.

Or neither

Or both

Anyway.

Despite a significant hiatus in the blogging, rumours (as Twain M said) of my demise have been greatly exaggerated (as you can see by the very way these words are forming on your phone, tablet, laptop, PC, external monitor, or Smart TV).

(get a move on, it’s time you set the scene. Ed)

I am in bed at the shockingly early time of 8.30pm.

It is Saturday.

The Eurovision is on t’telly.

The Beast (as I have affectionately named the ZX10R) has still not had her her gearbox rebuild.

But she’s been called in, and will be done a week today.

Yay! Booyah! And \o/ and other down with the kids expressions of joy.

I’ll be glad to get her done, especially as I am commuting to work on her.

The change from being an employed to a self-employed person meant, in my case, the company car went back.

My very recently received tax statement told me that I paid over £5k/year extra tax, just for the pleasure of having that car.

That’s £12,500 extra tax I handed over to HMRC, while I was in that job

If I’d realised the magnitude of that cash penalty I believe I’d have decided to leave that job much sooner!

Anyway.

Spring is upon us and commuting on The Beast is smile-making fun.

And soon (too soon) it’ll be Summer, and the commuting will be similar, fun wise.

But Autumn is lurking in the unsuspecting future, and that calls for an alternative form of transport.

I’m quite taken with the Mercedes-Benz E class, 220i.

Good quality used models are as cheap as chips, and there are many in the used car market.

But we will see where my head is at when it comes to purchase time.

In the meantime I’ll keep commuting on The Beast (though I do need to find a way to tame her assertive behaviour, especially when filtering in heavy traffic).

Right, it’s taken half an hour to tap this out on my phone.

I’m off to watch Eurovision through the medium of The Twitter until I fall asleep. In about 18 minutes.

Total Recall

When we got back from Vietnam a small mountain of mail was neatly stacked (by the cat-sitter), awaiting attention.

In my pile was an automatic insurance renewal form (yeah, you can go whistle for that, baby, I’m off to comparethemarket.com!), and there was a High Priority letter from Kawasaki.

Unfortunately the letter was notification of a ‘potential’ safety problem (or a product recall notice, to put it another way) with the ZX10-R.

The fix, it seems, is for me to take the bike to my Kawasaki dealer, as soon as possible, so they can carry out the required work, in about 2-1/2 hours, and free of charge.

The letter, helpfully, lists the work that needs to be done:

  • replace 2nd gear output
  • replace 3rd gear output
  • replace 4th gear output, and
  • replace 2nd gear input

Now I’m no C21st motorbike mechanic, but to my eyes, this looks like a significant gearbox replacement/rebuild.

Yes? No? Yes?

Anyway, I rang my local Kawasaki dealer, spoke to the service department, gave them the bike registration number and the VIN/frame number.

The service department said they would now have to contact Kawasaki to get the work authorised, and they’d be in touch with me as soon as it was, and as soon as the parts had arrived.

I like my local Kawasaki dealer. They’re a friendly bunch who know their onions (to mix a metaphor).

And I appreciate the way that Kawasaki have dealt with this product recall.

But, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, there’s something missing here.

It’s all a bit academic really; because of the rubbish weather we’ve had for the last four months, the Ninja has hardly had any time out of the garage.

But there’s just something not quite right with this situation…

Race ya!

Everyone likes a race.

Motorbikeists are no exception.

Superbikeist motorbikeists are doubly no exception.

There are a few superbikes (and superbike owners) continually jockeying for prime bragging spot.

The Suzuki 1000 GSX-R. The BMW S1000RR. The Ducati 1199 Panigale. And the Kawasaki ZX10R.

These are the top five vying for prime bragging rights.

So if you lined up, five un-racetuned, street-legal, ordinary, everyday bikes – one of each of the above makes and models – and put professional riders on them…

Well, that would be the ultimate race, wouldn’t it?

But then you have to ask yourself where do you stop the race?

50mph?

70mph?

120mph?

What about 300kph?

That’s 186mph.

That would really be a race, wouldn’t it?

First to 300kph?

And the winner would surely have the ultimate bragging rights?

Well, someone’s staged just such a race…

And the winner is…

Well, I’m not going to spoil it for you.

Revolution!

Sam is away on business.

She’s supposed to be in Myanmar, before heading on to Vietnam, but Dubai airport was too busy to dock her arriving aircraft, so she missed her connecting flight.

Frankly, Emirates, it’s not much of a connection if the outbound flight won’t wait for passengers who are booked on it, when they’re sitting on another of your flights waiting to dock.

Anyway.

As a result of the Emirates/Dubai airport screw up, Sam has had to spend 24 hours in a Dubai hotel, at Emirates expense, and lose a working day of her itinerary.

Awesome.

Not.

But as you might expect, while the cat’s away the mice will play!

And oh boy has this mouse been playing?

Has he?

*sigh*

No.

This mouse is too diseased to do any playing.

Apart from a brief couple of laps around the village this evening, I haven’t even been up to taking the Ninja out this weekend.

Seriously.

It’s that bad.

There is the possibility that, tomorrow, after doing Prem (who is still called Prem and not yet named Bob), I shall pay a visit to the excellent chippy in the next village.

For some delicious potato-based foodstuff.

And perhaps some vomit Vimto.

If I’m well enough, obv.

But it is the Law of Sod that sayeth that a fine-weathered weekend with a free pass will be frittered away on illness.

Amen.

Anyway, what is this revolution of which you speak, I hear you ask?

It is me, my friends.

I am revolting.

In her absence I am shunning Sam’s instruction to use the dishwasher.

I AM WASHING THE DISHES BY HAND!

Revolution and rebellion are rife in this house.

Er.

Until she gets back,obv.

When being quiet means being busy

It’s been a bunch of time since I last bothered this little corner of t’internet, but…

I have been busy.

I could list everything that’s been going on, but that would be dull.

Anyway, the real message is that I have hopefully turned a corner (or two) and should be on the cusp of being significantly not busier not busy.

This means that I will have more time for annoying people and, now the clocks have changed, annoying even more people.

And enjoying the ZX10-R, obv.

Speaking of the Ninja, she had her first annual service last weekend.

And, being a whole one year old, an insurance renewal.

My (still fully comp) premium has dropped significantly and, for good measure, I got cover for my leathers thrown in.

So that’s all bloody marvellous.

Oh yes, and I’m idly considering buying a horse.

Blogathon 10/17: Speed Thrills

Kawasaki, my motorbike manufacturer of choice, have a new bike out, any day now.

It’s the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja H2 Carbon.

2017 Ninja H2 Carbon

2017 Ninja H2 Carbon

It’s broadly similar to my 2016 Kawasaki ZX10R Ninja, but it’s broadly similar on steroids.

As near as I can make out the second biggest change is that the quickshifter will now quickshift downwards, as well as up.

The new bike also has a remodeled exhaust, but it still has to comply with the arse-end regulations.

This means most people will, as I did, fit an aftermarket tail tidy to balance the deadly-looking front end with a razor sharp back end.

The Ninja H2 Carbon is somewhat quicker than mine, but at the top end of the gearbox, with the EMS on full power, at 200mph, mine is plenty quick enough.

For me, obv.

With the EMS on mid power, the new bike does have, for timid riders, a better mid-range.

But as I was saying to a Honda owner the other day, people who say the 2016 ZX10R Ninja has lacklustre midrange aren’t leaving it in first gear until it hits 100mph, and then changing in to second gear.

I’m not joking, if you do that, your 0-150mph will remove your inner organs.

But maybe there are people out there who lack the cojones to ride a 207bhp supersports bike on full throttle?

The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja H2 Carbon comes in at £6,000 more than I paid for mine which, compared to the other supersports unveilings over the last two weeks, is still ridiculously cheap.

So what does the Ninja H2 Carbon’s 310bhp give you, for that extra £6k?

This is the biggest change.

It has a top speed of over 249mph.

I wonder what my insurance would be?

Mine, by the way, will be exactly one year out of the factory old, next month.

Blogathon 07/17: Whoops!

Fast

Fast

 

We’ve all done it, right?

Pushed things just a little too quickly to get somewhere?

Been a little bit too keen to get home?

Desperately needed a wee, so tried just a little too hard on the road?

It’s easy to do; an easy mistake to make.

Especially on a motorbike.

Especially on a 20-year old motorbike.

Some people will undoubtedly get judgemental about this.

But not me.

Because we’ve all pushed, just a little too hard.

Now and then.

And anyone who says they haven’t, isn’t telling the truth.

The End of the Road?

Some uncomfortable truths

 

You are dying.

In memoriam

In memoriam

I am dying.

Your nearest and dearest are dying.

We are all dying.

Since the day we were born (some might say ‘since the day we were conceived’) we have all started out on our final journey.

For some of us the mortality end-game comes along a lot sooner than for others.

This year – 2016 – has seen a large number of departures from the field of popular culture.

The fields of TV, film, music, literature, and even pop-academia has seen many notable checkouts from this mortal coil.

Yet it is a sad fact that this unfortunate trend will continue in 2017.

When radio and television popularised itself in the 1960s, and drew in to focus the publicly-driven worlds of social and pop culture, the media was programming us (us being the population of the early 21st Century), for an upward, and steeply increasing, bell-curve of widespread, heart-felt losses.

I predict that 2017 will see far more checkouts from the world of popular culture.

And 2018 many more again.

We don’t know when we’re gong to checkout.

But a brush with the checkout desk changes us.

I have been told that I have become more self-centred.

I offer this without comment.

I acknowledge that I have become more emotional, in a ‘heart on my sleeve’ kind of way.

And I now look at things (people, situations, events) in much greater detail than previously.

This isn’t unusual, apparently.

A significant number of heart attack survivors report heightened, post-event, emotional and critical states.

I have no idea what 2017 is going to bring.

There are plans.

But plans are subject to change.

And I can’t share all of the plans here because secret.

But I can say that I plan on being here all through 2017.

And 2018.

And that I plan on being here far, far in to the future.

I have people to love.

And people to annoy.

And fast motorbikes to ride.

And many, many other plans.

So I’m going to be here.

A little emotional around the edges, maybe.

But I’m still going to be inhabiting this mortal coil.

And loving people.

And annoying others.

So yes, as this post started out saying.

Some uncomfortable truths.

Get used to them.

I’ll see you around.