Sunday, 27 September 2015

Time Flies, friends ride, work get in the way.

I keep doing the National Lottery, each week hoping for that win. You know the one. Not so big that everything goes into mad mode, but enough to change your life.
The thoughts of what your world, could or should do with your new found wealth. The fact is we will never win more than the occasional £2.50 that just covers the cost of the ticket you bought and even if one did, would all those dreams you have now disappear into the ether.

Achievable Dreams is a video by a motorcycle tour company (Globebusters) that will be happy to arrange a world tour for you. You can ride all or part of the big one if you have the cash to do so. £30-40k for a full monty rotation of the globe. And yes some guys find that without the lottery win and take part in a group trip under the pre-booked, pre-planned route by very capable teams with very different riders than yourself.

If you ride in groups on a regular basis,  you will know the issues that this brings. Different riding styles, abilities and characteristics brings its own problems, The route for the brave I think, but if that is your only way to live that dream, then its a good way in, I always thought that most of the riders who take this option are married and of a certain age, as the group thing offers a certain security and peace of mind for those left behind, as well as the riders,

The go it alone riders have the advantage but often not the restrictions of the wife, family and commitments of career. On a cheaper, smaller bike and with no 'companions' to worry about, the avid adventurer could take their time and go where they please. The advantages of finding somewhere to eat sleep and ride are expanded and the other persons feelings do not exist.

As many of my Facebook and actual friends have been and done their trips this year, I have once again been swamped with work (not a bad thing), and being seasonal, I have to get it whilst I can. Planning a trip around money, time, home life and work is always a hard one. This year I have a weeks grace, which with a weekend at each end equals 9 days. With the expense of the ferry from Hull to Holland, or Portsmouth to Santander, I could be in the Alps of Pyranees within a few days or the south coast of Spain or Morroco within easy reach.
being an island nation, we have been trapped by the sea forever and the costs of ferries have always been a barrier for many. The time benefits of taking the Santander of Bilbao ferry to Spain is a bone of contention when travelling by bike.
Motorcycles have one or two passengers who need a cabin for the 18 hour trip across the Bay of Biscay. the travelers will spend more money on food and drink, BUT the motorcycle that does not take up places in the hold that cars would use, are slotted into available spaces that have no other use.

The calculations divide between A) The 2-3 day road trip through France on a £40 ferry or tunnel ticket that gets you under or over the channel, followed by blasting through France with the associated tyre, chain and backside wear and tear, Hotels and French motorway boredom. or B) Sitting on a ferry for 18 hours with food, drink, a show or movie then a big breakfast before running the gauntlet of morning rush hour in Santander.
There is an argument that the costs are about the same, but the time may be the issue. Plus that old one about the ride is the ride and a part of the adventure.

The point of this post is simply, I need to do my trip before its to late. The snow is coming, the icy roads of the UK and extra layers are about to happen and another year is almost over,

If like me you plan it, make sure you do it. Life is to short and age is not a great advantage.

Thanks for watching Add your comments please.

PS facebook/harrystottlepoems is my alter ego urban poet. Take a peek,


New hat for the Goodwood Revival 2015
What a great event,

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A bit of book.

4 years later and I still have a book 1/3 written 1% finished. Here is a snippet.
May 2011. New York State. 

New York….it’s a state of mind.

Setting the satnav once again I had changed my route slightly. The plan taken from my large US map included what looked like an interesting route that started in Kingston NY on the 23 to Norwich, then the 13 to Ithaca and finally the 95 that would end up in Manchester NY. Due to my lack of miles I chose the Freeway 90. Flatter, faster and a bit boring, but catching up is important today.
Just before the next exit from Highway 90, it was obvious that a change in the weather back to what I had encountered for the past four days,  loomed ahead, like riding into the night time.
Black skies, with the low slung fog like rainfall underneath was a few miles ahead towards today’s  target of Manchester number six. The next available exit signs indicated that this route to another small town New York was an off ramp only. From my limited experience of the USA, this meant no motels, no dry shelter, no fast food outlets and probably no way to get back on the freeway once I had added my one piece rain suit and entertained those passing by with my Charley Chaplin wrestling an octopus impressions.
Today started with rain but as I subtracted another few hundred miles off the nine thousand target to visit 33 towns called Manchester across the USA and Canada, the warm humid state of New York promised a change. It is the third week in May 2011, and spring has sprung late.
My thoughts were to abandon today’s ‘ a Manchester per day’ unwritten rule, but it was too late to change the course, the next opportunity to get off this twin lane road was at the opposite side of what was to become one of the worst rain storms I had ever seen, never mind ridden in.
As if by magic, the only bridge spanning the highway for miles was the gateway to hell. The rain hit as the temperature dropped instantly and what seemed like a solid wall of water filled with a million needles reduced my forward speed like falling headlong into a lake.
Within seconds visibility was down to a true zero and the cold rain was finding its way through to my neck, up my sleeve and somehow into my right boot. Nowhere to stop, the hard shoulder was about  four feet wide and the fact I couldn’t actually see it or any resemblance of a white line, didn’t help. Just crossing from my lane to the shoulder meant battling with a rumble strip with bumps the size of oil cans jutting up every two feet. As the only bike on the road, I was between a rock and a hard place. Another 120ft long, 70 ton Peterbilt truck, just behind me in the outside lane, was not affected by the rain or the driver even slightly concerned about my predicament. It seemed he had not bothered to switch off his cruise control and carried on at 75-80 MPH creating an even bigger wall of fog and a back-draft that reduced my visibility to the edge of the screen a foot and a half away, and no further. The jumbled air hits first as these gargantuan terrace houses on wheels cut through the rain and send you and your bike towards the oil can rumble strip to my right. Then without warning the sides suck you back as you change to trying to miss the six sets of wheels that want to squish you. Once past the back draft makes you think you are actually running off raod as the battering of water and wind is like the Baja 500 on a moped. All of this is happening with no real view in front and no idea where the next vehicle on my lane starts or finishes.
Choices, speed up into the void, or slow down to 25mph and hope that next car or truck sees me in front before it’s too late. Hazards on , all the lights I have on and just hope for the best.
The wide screen on the Honda Goldwing, famed for its protection from wind, rain and flying sheep, worked to a degree, but the area behind the screen has a strange vacuum effect that collects globules of water like a scene from Apollo 13. The water floats in a slow motion dance just in front of your chest (or head if you are shorter stature than I), then without warning gets too heavy to glide and hits me square in the face. Add this to the inability to close the visor as it steams up in a micro-second if I close off the airflow, and the needles that pierce my eyes and sting my nose if I glance ahead for more than a second, and the thought passed my mind.

“Which stupid arse thought this trip was a good idea”???  

Monday, 8 June 2015

Bernard Smith and Sam Manicom BMW R90/100's 

Haggs Bank bunkhouse is a small campsite and accomodation establishment on the road through Teeside that includes *Hartside Cafe. Through the small town of Alston the roads in the area are a mecca for all cyclists, bikers and Coast to Coast hikers. 

*The 1900+ feet above sea level Hartside Top Cafe, Alston CA9 3BW has some great views across the west after you climb the excellent switchbacks and hairpins. (Travel from Penrith)
This weekend saw a gathering of adventure bikers with a plethora of bikes and people of all sizes and shapes. Some took advantage of the bunkhouse rooms that offer 4-8 person bunk beds along with full kitchen facilities lounge and wash rooms.
The braver bikers chose to camp, some taking the dirt track ramps to the top fields where the view is better but the wind over the weekend was very hard on tents and their inhabitants.
I took a small and very inexpensive tent as it is light and easy to pitch. That was my first mistake.
The £15 tent bought for my nephew some years ago is 3 inches to short and 2ft to low to be comfortable for longer that a night.
My pitch in the trees was a good choice as the pines did their best to break up the high blasts that eventually ripped the rented marquee to pieces on Saturday.
The event was a part of the regular motorcycle adventure and off road season that allows stories to be told, trips discussed and presentations made for those who had been.
Sam Manicom did his talk on his trip around the world, whilst others with no books to sell just chatted about routes, gear and local tracks.
Saturday saw some go off on many ride outs whilst Bernard Smith and myself wandered 22 miles over the hills to Takoda to see old friend Paul Holroyd. 
The wind was gusting up to 50 MPH and travelling over single track tarmac roads that twist and turn over open moor land. It was a battle of skill and luck, with a bit of heave and hoe. On the way back i got a large nail in my rear tyre which spoiled the return over Hartside as i crept at 30 MPH.
Back home on Sunday afternoon, the tyre got me home despite the plugs that I used to block two holes I found.

The picture above is of Sam and Bernard's BMW R 100's they used to go around the world. Humbling to see these two old timers that combine simple engineering with robust reputations together in one place.
Nice to see their bikes also.
next stop

Overland Event 18th June Great Missenden.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Good old Boris is at it again.

Boris the Lord Mayor of London has introduced another stealth tax for bikers in the capital
£12.50 a day for old bikes that have a higher emissions. Higher than WHAT ?

I am working in London Weds Thurs this week and yes I do live in Manchester so under normal small job policy, I would take a chance and drive my 257,000 mile 1998 Toyota van there and back at 55 mph, as any faster and its scary.
But no the LEZ (London Emissions Zone) charge old van owners £100 a day.
YES £100 to drive into Greater London, on top of all then other taxes like higher road tax cos its 2.0 ltrs, Insurance tax, highest fuel prices and tax in Europe.
On top of that IF I was going into central london, I would have to pay another Congestion charge.... so adding £225 to my work costs for two days.

When I get to my destination, I am working in a shop on a main road in Islington where there is two parking spots with a 1 hour maximum parking zone. For just £5.00 an hour.
So if I get there and one of then spots is actually free, I will have to find another spot, then another, then another for the average 12 hour day. adding £60 to my day. £120 added.

So how do all these charges decrease the air pollution and free the roads for the rich drivers and buses and taxi's. They don't. The capital is still solid traffic all day.

Why or how does anyone work in the capital. I am there to do a job that I can, I need and I am the only person in the UK that can do it. Yes I charge extra for all the above, but not one of these stealth taxes does any good to the voting public. They all just add our ££'s to London Government departments.
Charges added to this 2 day job
Van hire ( a modern van with LEZ compliant engine) £125
Parking                                                                           £120
Carbon offset. 70-80 MPH for 250 miles  More than my van
Stress priceless.
So it costs me extra, therefore the customer extra, they pay higher tax and the exchequer get richer.


When I hear today that the once free to ride central London roads on an old bike will be changed
 and a new TAX for high emission bikes of £12.50 a day has been approved.
In who's tax inventing brain was the concept that a 1 or 2 cylinder bike of any age blows out higher carbon dioxide than a V8 Rolls Royce, a 5 ltrs Rangerover, a million mile Black cab or the best one a bloody great big London bus.

Lets get this right.

If you are in a low paid job or trade and need transport, and live in the LEZ zone, you can't buy that old van. Add to that if you want to take advantage of the easy way to get across London and get an old bike, forget it.

This of course shouldn't bother me as I live up'th North. BUT what London does the rest of the country follows.
Manchester has a mini version of the M25 (M60). They are currently spending millions of squids converting it into a 'Smart' motorway. Why ??? because they can then legally fit stealth tax cameras and get all the money back in speeding fines, they actually make money whilst hiding under the banner of safer, less congested roads.
Worked for the M25.... NOT. Its one big car park.

Gentlemen and ladies of the ABR. IF and when those with the clout get to the point where a bike road block demonstration is held in London, go, take part, even better start a demo in every city in the country. We the biking community have a massive and powerful membership/number/brother hood and could show any government that like the FRENCH we care, we can show these office bound tax collectors that just inventing new ways to fleece the public is not on.

The power under you pants is not powerless to vote with your pals.

Thursday, 5 March 2015


I found this app of Moving map, but then lost the link. But its out there to make your own using Google or other maps. Its a bit rough for a first go....

Friday night at the Warrington MCC club I will be doing my bit to entertain by offering a talk on Road2Manchester.

121 slides, 10 video clips and a bit of a laugh maybe....

See facebook/warrington motrcycle club for details.

Sunday, 22 February 2015


Last year I got a few adventure bikers together and under the name Chunky Tread Motorcycle Adventure Club, we stood at the 3rd manchester bike show 
This year I have doubled the size of the stand , and now with 12 x 6 mtrs to fill, we are once again putting a team of bikes and their intrepid riders together.

The show is the ONLY  major Manchester show this year, but there will be lots of club events covering all genres and models.

This weekend was the CHILLI DAY at the Adventure Bike Warehouse in Agecroft. The gang and in particular Gary , built a couple of tanks of Chilli under Girly and Manly.

I got chance to try out the Gloves that SIIMA  sent me to test

Gloves, how many pairs does any self respecting biker need.
Answer:  One more than you already have.

Siima the Cyprus based manufacturer asked me to take a look at their new SUPREME rider gloves and report back on my thoughts. Nice and flattering to be asked. Thanks Guys.

Firstly, I am probably not alone in finding it hard to buy what should be simple riding essentials.
I say essential because here in the UK, even summer riding requires gloves for both safety and the cooler 'heat' of the average English summer. In winter we need warm and dry whilst keeping 'feel' of the controls. In summer months it can rain, it can get into the 80'f range. Yes even that hot !

When I rode from the north east of the USA in the rain, and got to Georgia in the south, the temperature went from 6F to 118F. (47c). But I kept my gloves on. Habit mainly, but its a fact that no matter how slow or fast you fall off, you will almost always go hands first on to the tarmac,

So the SIIMA gloves arrived and I was instantly impressed with the stitching. Not something I normally look at to closely, but being white against the black leather, the instant thought was 'nice work'.
They can be instantly classed as summer gloves (here), and the most important features are all there. Knuckle protection.... Checked and great
Carpel Tunnel area padding..... checked and there.
Palm grip...... check and good
Finger vents. A nice touch and add to the overall sporty design,

Then comes the big question, fit !

They are new so I expect the XL label to be more like a L size. I say this because many motorcycle gear manufacturers use different size charts. Being a UK 3XL in most clothing sizes, I find Italian gear has to be 5XL to fit me. In the USA I am 2XL (which is why I like American gear). 
My collection of summer and winter gear includes all of the above.
The SIIMA Supreme gloves are XL and to be honest they are tight across the opening. Once past the CUFF and the double velcro the fit is snug but actually very comfortable. The BIG WINNER for me is the finger ends.... no lumpy stitching and a perfect fit. No baggy bits to cause switch misses, even on the thumb. I know they will 'give' with wear. 
On the bike they do what they are supposed to. Its cold and wet today and this is not the weather they are designed for, but I have my winter gloves with me just in case.
The ride today is only 25 minutes each way, so i have time to try switches, flick the indicators and extra lights etc. All easy and precise with plenty of feel until the snow starts to numb my finger tips.
All in all a good grip, feel and look. 

What would I change.
The entry gap around the cuff has to be windproof , but it's  narrow so once I had ridden in the snow and rain to the Adventure Bike Warehouse, the damp leather made them hard to put on again. (This is only because it was minus degrees, wet and cold today). This could also happen when you are hot and sweaty after a good old blast down the lanes. Heated grips on full was the order of the day on the way home and as the gloves sit on the radiator drying, I can look forward to spring and warmer days.

The outer wrist pad and badge, could be enhanced with a reflective patch. it is white, but when riding most bikes, your hands are on the outer limits of the bike, and a good spot for some extra (CAN YOU SEE ME YET) reflection. We sometime ride in the dark in the UK, normally October to March .

I will persevere with the gloves when I ride again in the warm weather. Its too cold and damp to use the sporty Supreme gloves and if I had to put them into a catagory, I would say Sports Tourer, Summer and Weekend blaster.

Thanks to SIIMA for their samples, and having looked again at the web site my only regret is , it's a shame it wasn't their cool looking jacket I was testing. 

later guys and come along to the Manchester Bike Show and see the gloves on our stand,



Sunday, 1 February 2015

2015 and beyond

Can I start this blog entry with a THANKS FOR ARRIVING HERE 
It would seem that the majority of the visitors here are from the United States of America rather than Amanchester. 

My trip avross the USA to discover if the Manchesters that spread ever thinner as you travel west, have any bearing on the city of my birth.
Full details can be found between May and June 20, 2011 in the column to the right.

I still have over 30,000 words of a book about my journey, sat in various laptops, and promise to finish it one day. Meanwhile .......................

Next Month (March), the Chunky tread MAC (Facebook/ChunkyTreadMac} will show at the Manchester Bike Show.

As from last Thursday I am out of work again.

I have had no chance to ride my bike as the weather has been freezing cold, snowing and colder than a cold thing in a cold place.

I must also appologise for the many many messages on this blog, I found , today !!!! ny three years late, but thanks for your comments and questions, and in particular, those who offered beds, beer and BBQ's whilst I was over there.

One day..... maybe.

February already, and if the weather is better tomorrow, i might get the beemer out.