Soggy Riding

After having the chain adjusted at FWR in Kennington (Free as promised on the phone, they’re lovely, go buy stuff from them) I pointed the bike Westwards towards Cornwall and opened the throttle. The weather was soggy but nothing major that got through any of my clothing. I negotiated the A4 out to the 316 and eventually onto the M3. My brother had told me how uncomfortable this weekend would be, 600 miles in a day and a half, he always takes the car if he’s heading too far now.

This being the first “long” trip on this, and indeed any, bike I had printed out the route for the first leg to Kingsbridge in Devon (despite knowing the way) so I could plan petrol stations and breaks. I figured it would take a while to get out of town so the first one was at Fleet, just 40miles in, then another on the A303 for fuel, followed by another just after Exeter for more petrol.

As I hit the A316, my back started to Spasm, painfully; I thought that was it, turn around and go right home. I persevered and it went away after a few minutes; never to return again. It took just over an hour to get from Southwark to Fleet, pretty much as expected. Pulled up and had a stretch, then got right back on.

It started to drizzle a bit at this point, and this pretty much set the tone for the rest of the ride down. I was impressed with the bike on the M3, and made full use of the fairing, partly because I was tucking in to take the weight off my wrists, and it allowed me to stretch out my back; but also because it kept the worst of the weather off. Although without the airflow through the lower vents on the helmet, my visor and glasses soon began to mist up; though this was easily resolved by peeking over the top every now and again.

By this stage I had settled into the groove, the restricted engine seems to like a steady 6k rpm, which in 6th gear was between 85 and 90mph (indicated), this speed was also perfectly comfortable without too much windblast, even when sat up. I really do like having a screen.

I pulled off onto the A303, my favourite road, ever. It disappointed me this time though, instead of a steady stream of long sweeping curves and great vista it was full of Caravans and traffic heading South West for the weekend, and completely ground to a halt in places. I’d been worried because it’s Glastonbury weekend and thought that all the middle class kids would be heading down there to rough it with the hippies, but I saw very little evidence of this. I suppose the moral is don’t head South West on a Friday afternoon in the summer.

Pretty soon I decided to get out of this for a moment, and pulled into Solstice services, just past Stonehenge (as you’d probably already worked out). I rolled into the car park and put the stand down with the bike in gear. It cut out, as it’s designed to do. However, it wouldn’t start again. The starter button didn’t do anything, it didn’t even turn the engine over, just a loud silence. I checked the electrics, everything else worked, the horn was loud, all lights were fine. I checked the kill switch, I even double checked the immobiliser (having learnt my lesson last time). Still nothing. I began to worry at this stage. I’d had the foresight to bring my breakdown number this time, but really didn’t want to have to use it. I began to form the idea that water had worked into the ignition system. A quick phone call to the lovely spidermonkey at BAT revealed the same opinion, so I went and bought some WD40 from the petrol station. On a whim I tried firing her up again before using the WD40, spluttered into life first time. I gave it a few squirts in anything that looked like a connection or switch anyway just to be on the safe side. I then rode back over to the petrol station to fill up. This had all taken about 45 minutes by this stage and I was losing time, I had a deadline to arrive in Kingsbridge to meet my Uncle for a drink. So headed off again.

The journey continued much as before, though the slower I was going the more stress it put on my poor wrists, so I was keen to get back up to speed, the 303 denied me this though, and it turned into a procession of vehicles, with the odd opportunity to blast by a few. The rain hadn’t let up, though neither had my waterproofs, so the only real problem was vision. The Maxxis Rear Tyre was supreme, once it’s up to temperature it’ll cope with anything I chose to throw at it, even in the wet.

Another quick splash and dash and I was on the A30, which was much clearer and I made good time to Exeter. I’d decided to avoid the Exeter services, as I don’t think I’ve ever actually passed them, I’ve always stopped, so I waited for the A38 at Kenwood before my final fuel stop. I was surprised at the economy, I was getting 60 - 70mpg at speed, presumably because it was low revs and constant, rather than the stop start usual to my daily ride in London.

Soon I was on the twisty, high hedged B roads of South Devon for the last 15 miles into Kingsbridge. The sun came out and it was instantly how riding was meant to be. Fun, fast, grippy and exhilarating.

I arrived just before 7, a total of five and a half hours after setting out, not great time for 213 miles on fast roads. No real discomfort despite the heavy backpack and hunched up position, I did need to stretch the knee out quite often, much to the probable bemusement of other motorists as a bike passed them with the rider apparently ****ing his leg.

The next morning saw me up at 6 and ready to head off further west, first to Saltash, then on to Liskeard. Again, awesome fun between Kingsbridge and the A38, then onto the fast flowing Devon Expressway all the way to Plymouth and the Tamar Bridge. I wish I could have stopped and had a closer look at Brunell’s railway bridge alongside, but I had a meeting with the Mayor of Saltash at 9, and I wasn’t going to be late. Saltash is immediately the otherside of the river to Plymouth and I was soon parked up at my destination.

An hour or so later and it was raining. Hard. I pulled the gear back on, heart a bit heavy. I knew that however wet I got now was likely to last all the way until I got back to London in the evening. As I hit the A38 again for the short hop to Liskeard it became torrential, rivers running across the road and my right Frank Thomas Aquasprint (guaranteed bone dry) full of water. The left one was ok though, i’ll change them. It got so bad that I couldn’t see anything, I had no choice but to pull over, but with no shelter for miles around it just made me wetter. At least I wasn’t riding blind anymore. A brief respite in the deluge and I was back on the bike, desperate to cover the last three miles before it started again.

Upon arrival I was drenched, but not inside the gear too much. I can’t praise Richa Monsoon trousers enough, even my cheap Spada jacket held up, and only let in a little water through the zip. My wallet in the pocket was not so fortunate though, and everything had to hit the radiators for a while. I was very disappointed with the boots though. The right one must be faulty, as the left held up fine. My crap summer gloves are still wet.

I spent a few hours in Liskeard before heading back down the A38 towards Kingsbridge. It rained solidly, again until the turn off for Kingsbridge, which has it’s own weather. It’s on a peninsula hanging off the bottom of Devon so is often missed by the main weather systems and bright and sunny when all else is drenched.

When I got to my uncle’s couldn’t face riding straight off, so I mooched for an hour or so before heading off at Quarter to Six.

When I left it was glorious sunshine and I stopped at a place called California Cross for a fill up. I then hit the road, determined not to pull over until the bike was in need of more fuel.

This riding was great, the roads were dry and riding towards London on a Saturday afternoon is a much better idea than heading South West on a Friday afternoon, there was barely any other traffic.

As the bike went further and further on the one tank I whooped inside the helmet - at the first sign with London less than 100 miles away; as I passed Stonehenge, all little milestones that the bike just ate up, frugally sipping at it’s go go juice.

2 hours later and I was nearing the M3. I’d averaged 70mph, including the 20 minutes of slow twisty roads to get out of Kingsbridge and the villages along the A303. The fuel light still hadn’t come on. I’d done 145miles on the tank and began to worry that the light wasn’t working. I was also desperate for a pee and a stretch after two solid hours in the saddle. When I filled up, the bike only took 12 litres to full, I had enough for at least another 40 miles. My bladder had let me down before the petrol ran out. I’d managed 65mpg, running on magic seemingly, from hard and fast riding, and home was only 70 miles away now. I was looking at the possibility of being home within 4 hours of setting off. I’d not ached during this whole part of the trip, bar the knee which is a special case and always aches. I seemed to lose the groove on the second part, and the aches set in, a niggle here, an ouchie there; nothing serious though.

It started to rain when I hit the M3, but as before, just some light drizzle, before I knew it I was on the M25. Riding along in puzzlement as each of the flashing overheard signs lit up to display “Animals in Road -Slow”, all the way from Junction 13 to Junction 6. I didn’t see a herd of wild Boars or even a horse, so I guess they were faulty. I was soon on the also-traffic-free A25 heading to Westerham, Biggin Hill and home. It had only taken me three and three quarter hours to cover the 220 miles.

The bike was filthy, the exhaust encrusted in a layer of grime so thick that you could see it around the end of the pipe; and the rear tyre was squared off from 600 miles of hard riding. I just couldn’t be bothered to wash it though. I was sore and tired; I resolved to find a jet wash in the morning and treat it to a full rub down and spa treatment.

I’ve covered 1200 miles in 2 weeks since buying the bike. I might have to back off some so I don’t have to fork out for new tyres every month. The Chain and Sprockets already need doing! My brothers warning about the discomfort was unfounded. The SV didn’t give me sore buttocks or anything making me wish I as somewhere else the whole weekend, his TT must have seat made of steel. I’d rather have been on the bike, though maybe in the dry.

Sounds like a good run mate… get the SV1000, 6h gear, 6k revs… much faster than 85 - 90mph

oh oli you do write cracking detailed reports, you remember even the smallest of details. You went back towards my fave part of the southwest, i love Kingsbride area and Newton Abbot. I did the trip to Newton Abbot about a month ago on the fazer, left at 6pm got to NA for 9.25pm, 3 hrs 25 mins, usually cruising at a speed of 100mph. even at this speed the fuel econ was pretty good, i love the last A38 stretch towards Exeter and Newton. I often stop at Kentford services for fuel.

I am hoping to get back there in the next week or two to seee my mate, i always like that journey, ive done it so many times now, i know what parts of the road to avoid.

very good write up

Nice one, so I guess you like the new bike then…

Ah, one day, hen I’m not on a 33hp licence.

How do you know u cant read

Give me a shout next time you’re heading down mate, if you can handle losing 10 or 20miles an hour off the cruise, I love it down there. It’s the mother land.

Oli you always do such fantastic write up’s you have a great way with words, keep em coming matey - you should do some reporting for LB


Stop it.

(carry on)