Well, out of everyone that expressed an interest in coming, about half of them turned up:
- woz couldn't make it as he'd just shelled out on his new house and couldn't afford to rent/buy a bike.
- jessie_pup, jebuscrust and ytaya couldn't make it as their bikes were not in a fit state for the ride and couldn't be fixed in time / afford it.
- kissycat1000's dad and his girlfriend made it as far as the services just beyond Swindon on the M4. More about that later.
- Vicar Alex (on his Virago trike!) and Kat and Billie decided at the last minute to not go as rain threatened. I sent this last lot a text back saying "You're crap and your mums dress you funny. Weather's great here!". I later got an email from Billie saying that in addition she'd hurt her hand on Thursday night and she couldn't operate the clutch properly - sorry to hear that!
In the end we had:
- dylan on his Honda VFR750 with his girlfriend ghostpaw pillioning who had never actually been on a bike before in her life - way to get introduced!
- stuartl on his Yamaha Thundercat YZF600R who actually arrived before us due to philanderings on our part.
- Sarah, of course, on her BMW 1050RT with her husband Tony pillioning, as it was their house we all met up at.
- And last but not least kissycat1000 pillioning with me on my Triumph Trophy 900.
Well there was the risk of the weather being bad, as the forcast was for sunshine and showers. We only got a very few spots on the ride, the roads were pretty much dry. This did put off some people however.
Another unfortunate thing to happen was of course the alarm locking out kissycat1000's dad from his bike and him and his girlfriend having to be recovered even before he got to the ride-out. I felt bad because we were already half an hour later meeting them than we planned.
We were half an hour later because I had tremendous troubles getting hold of a torx key as I explained in my earlier post - after trying 2 DIY stores unsuccessfully on Friday night I got up at 07:45 and failed again at a car store and eventually found a specialist tools place, which only had 1 which was nearly not found! I ended up having to drive home and ride out again on the bike to make sure the tool was the right size as they didn't have a set of them as I was anticipating to buy. I got back and finally started work on the bike at 09:45, 45 minutes before we were due to set off! It wasn't too much trouble afterwards to change the rear brake pads and then we were pretty much ready to go.
Still, as it turned out, the weather held off for the ride, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Sarah gave us a talk and suggested a couple of ways to ride in a group, the simple method of keeping an eye on the person behind you and stopping if they have disappeared, or the more complicated "drop-off" system. This is where the second person in the lead stops at a safe place after turning off the current route to indicate to the following people where to go, and joins again at the back of the bunch. This has the advantage that people get to experience all positions in the ride, because the people at the back usually have to work like stink to keep up, as all acceleration/braking is exaggerated due to the accumulated reaction times of everyone in front of them. We opted for the simpler keeping an eye on someone as there were only four bikes in total.
We went for food in the local pub first by general concensus as we were all pretty hungry. The food was good and we worried about feeling a little sleepy for the ride, but the ride itself soon changed all of that ;)
Sarah's route took us through some narrow country lanes, with a couple of hazards to watch out for, including: gravel, horses and finally a double-apex corner at the bottom of a hill. We also went on faster roads and dual carriageways and through picturesque villages. It was good to pick up on Sarah's experience as an ex traffic Police motorcyclist and observe the way she rode including road positioning and communicating intention to other road users. She was the person who I pillioned with before I decided I could ride and ride safely enough to satisfy myself that I wouldn't be a danger.
The ride went as planned, in comfort, safety and to everyone's enjoyment. Success!
After the ride we all went around to stuartl's house, minus Sarah and Tony, to see his humble abode, which he wrote about here. Afterwards we were feeling pretty knackered and rode back, some of it through rain which wasn't too bad thankfully and dried out before we got back home, but not before making us pretty cold as the night air tends to at high speeds, even with leathers on. Poor kissycat1000 didn't have leather trousers on and it took ages for her legs to warm back up again afterwards. Her version of events is here.
On Sunday despite kissycat1000 having to go home early we managed a flying visit to the Grand Reopening of Fowlers in Bristol. I didn't expect it to be much of an affair, but as we were arriving there were traffic jams and bikes rode up either side of us to get to the front of the traffic lights! I started to get excited and rueing kissycat1000's decision to go in the car because she'd just washed her hair ;). Lots of gorgeous leather-clad bikers, lots of sexy bikes, but alas we had to disappear to get some lunch at the pub with everyone before kissycat1000 had to rush home! At lunch, Alex (friend of chocojon and ghostpaw) actually sat and spoke to me properly for the first time since I've known him - which was a pleasant surprise.
dylan, ghostpaw and I all went (back in my case) to the reopening to see the spectacle - it wasn't so impressive as when I went earlier in the day but we did get to see a couple of small compact trail bikes jumping over upturned skips and an old escort. The tricks those guys were doing on the bikes were quite phenominal!
For the future: One small thing I hadn't planned for was what to do if the weather was bad. Some people decided for themselves what to do, which was all fair enough, but some sort of system for deciding last-minute what to do might be a bit more appropriate. I'll think about that before next time.
I think that's going to be it for this summer. A shame, but I will have to organise another ride-out which everyone can get to, especially if their bikes are well-maintained and they have enough money (*hint*)!
If dylan and others would like to leave a link to their version of events or just add comments please feel free - this will help when I send people to this post who aren't LJers or whatnot :)