Friday, January 15, 2021

November rain.

 Back in November our area dropped to level 2 covid restrictions so HB and I decided to get away for a couple of nights. I was pretty desperate to get away on the bike so I took the K75 while HB kept nice and warm in her car. I serviced the K75 and treated as much of the bike as I could with ACF50 in an attempt to keep the damage from the salt at bay.

K75 to Applecross

We decided to posh things up. We'd booked the Applecross Inn and Tim's big cabin at Strontian. Covid restrictions, the lack of daylight and freezing temperatures meant I had to take the most direct route to Applecross. Usually I'd do my best to avoid the A9 between Perth and Inverness but this time I was so grateful to be able to get away on the bike I actually enjoyed it. It was however, freezing. It was wet for a fair chunk of the run too. I rode from East Lothian to Inverness in one go and by the time I got to the cafe in Tiso at Inverness I was properly shivering. I felt much better and warmer after I'd eaten half the food in the cafe and I set off once again.


K75 to Applecross

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Inverness to Applecross was a pleasant run. I was hoping for a nice sunset from the top of the Bealach Na Ba. Unfortunately the teaser at Tornapress was clouded out at the top. Still, it was a nice run over and it was great to get down into Applecross.

K75 at the bottom of the Bealach Na Ba, Tornapress.

K75 to Applecross

K75 to Applecross

K75 to Applecross

We had a quiet but good night in the Inn. It was good to catch up with Judy and the folk at Applecross. The weather was cold but sunny the following day making for a really nice run to Strontian. HB was a bit concerned about the icy conditions on the Bealach Na Ba but I never noticed it apart from a few frozen puddles.

K75 to Applecross
Judy Fish MBE loves the K75.

BMW K75s at the top of the Bealach Na Ba overlooking Skye and Raasay.

BMW K75s on the Bealach Na Ba overlooking Loch Kishorn

Eilean Donan

K75 and a cloud inversion over Loch Garry, Scotland.

It was a cold run down but I really enjoyed it. I even seen a few other bikes out and about. The salt on the roads may wreck your bike but the scenery makes up for it. We had another good night at Strontian, discussing plans and hopes for 2021. We're still hoping to have the Sunart Wildcat rally, although we'll be waiting till it's deemed safe to do so before we announce anything.

A cold K75s at Sunart Camping, Strontian.

A cold K75s at Sunart Camping, Strontian.

It was another freezing run home the next day. Once back the K75 got a good wash down and I warmed back up with a long shower. I had the Gopro so I'll knock up a YouTube video which I'll post up here later on.

Mike


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BMW K75s at the top of the Bealach Na Ba overlooking Skye and Raasay.

BMW K75s on the Bealach Na Ba overlooking Loch Kishorn

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Scottish Mike Rides Yer Bike - Episode One - BMW R18 First Edition - A ride and review.

 

BMW R18 First Edition

A couple of months back I got the chance to ride BMW's new R18. I also had the idea to make some bike review videos and so was born "Scottish Mike Rides Yer Bike". The rough idea is to ride a bike I've not had a shot on before and do a wee review of what I think. I don't want to just do brand new bikes either, it would be great to get some older machines on as well. The plan is to start the video by giving an idea of what I'll think the bike will be like. Have a quick look around the bike. Get some riding footage and some pre ride feedback then a summary at the end. I'm already realising other stuff I need to do. I definitely need to say a few things I don't like about a bike, which I find pretty hard at times. All bikes are good fun after all. So likes and dislikes will be added in. I'll add in a bit of information and a few specs on the bikes, the background of the bikes will be interesting too if I get the chance to ride some older machines. If you have any feedback at all let me know in the comments. Some folk clearly don't like the music I've used on the R18 video so I'll play about a bit. I'll try and speak a bit clearer and maybe even swear less. Maybe. 
Anyway, the video is below, check it out.



If you have a bike that you think would make an interesting video and you're kind enough to let me take it for a spin please get in touch. it'll really help me in making what will hopefully be an interesting and entertaining bunch of videos.

BMW R18 First Edition

BMW R18 First Edition

Big thanks to Joe and the team at Motorrad Central for giving me a shot of the R18 despite the mucky roads.



More soon,


Mike.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Happy New Year!

 2020 is over! We're back in lockdown here in Scotland but with a possible vaccine on the horizon I'm getting hopeful for some good biking in 2021. Clearly, I didn't use 2020 for productive blogging, but I was lucky enough to get away on the bike when it was deemed safe to do so. I also done a fair bit of work to the bikes with the C90 receiving some much needed TLC and the K75 getting a new final drive seal, rear disk and a service. The C90 became my go to bike during lockdown. It's was the ideal thing for tootling a couple of miles to the next village to get shopping. I even added a new rack to the back and bought panniers for it. There may possibly be a trip in the C90 yet.....

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IMG_20200119_160223Jake advises on the K75 back end.

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The K was used for any time it was necessary to go further afield. I was pretty chuffed that my repairs had worked and there was no longer a wee dribble of oil on the rear wheel. 

My XR600 had an issue with the exhaust always coming loose. It was jetted to run an old Supertrapp can but the link pipe had rotted away. I got a new one made up by Harrison Performance who done a great job. I can't recommend them enough. It's currently pretty cold here so I attempted to do some snow riding on the XR. Unfortunately the whole place had turned into one big ice cube! I was nearly on my arse on multiple occasions. There was zero grip. None. Even the rough bits were as if they had been polished, the bike just slid around sideways!

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As I said, I was pretty lucky to get away over 2020. I've put this wee video together of the Gopro footage I got over the year.

 


For obvious reasons we had to postpone the Sunart Wildcat Rally but luckily most folk are still keen to attend when we can do it. I've also got an idea for a "Small and Old" charity run with the idea being we do a camping trip around Scotland on bikes either below 125cc, over 20 years old or ideally both. The cost would be either £120 with £100 going to charity and £20 covering the cost of t shirts and stuff, or just proof that you've raised a minimum of £100 for a charity of your choice and £20 to cover t shirts etc. I'd book campsites for everyone but folk will need to cover the costs themselves. I'd try and get us a good deal of course. What's your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments if you think it's a good/bad idea. I'll also add it to my Passing Places Tours site once I know where we stand with the Covid situation. I've still got a couple of runs to write up as well and a new YouTube idea where I roadtest bikes. I'll post it up soon. 


Stay safe everyone and Happy New Year!

Mike


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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Between Lockdowns - An old bike run.

Coronavirus was still very much kicking about. There was talks about Lockdown type guidelines coming back into force and the weather forecast was looking fucked. Aidan and I were still positive, as was Andrea. Bike trip!

The plan was pretty simple. Three nights camping with an extra night for me staying with Aidan and Jess at the start of the trip. We'd decided to take our rolling projects rather than our usual touring... sorry, Adventure Bikes. I'd picked up my BMW K75s a while back and had been fixing through the issues which a BMW that's been sitting around doing nothing throws up. Aidan however had just got his bike a week before, a Suzuki DR350 which he'd procured from Joe. Joe is usually seen in these pages driving a BMW car through the Alps on our Europe tours. A rolling project usually isn't short of issues but the DR was legal and roadworthy and we had all assured each other it was reliable when Aidan bought it, hadn't we?

The weekend before the trip, the weather forecast was looking fucking horrific for our panned route. As the week went on however things began to improve. Portmahomack, my proposed first night destination on the East Coast, was looking great! Positive vibes a flowin', I packed all the things necessary for the trip on to Mikey Sunter (the name I had given the K75) which was in my parent's garage (I was in the middle of flitting) and got my shit together to set off. When you're used to packing an Africa Twin with stacks of space then you're used to having plenty space for a few luxury items. It's not just that, top loading panniers are always much easier than suitcase style stuff or soft bags when you're camping. There was a genuine panic when I thought I wouldn't be able to fit my Boombox on the back.


Panic averted, I set off with my Boombox secured to the K75. I'd also rigged up a charging system to keep my spare Gopro batteries sorted. A nice but wet run took me to Oban where I refuelled the bike and filled myself with a chippy. Aidan's place was just a half hour or so away where it was beers and hot tub o'clock.

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The sun was shining as we set off the following day after a few minor adjustment's to Aidan's DR and I repacked my kit on the K75. Aidan had a minor brown moment as we came back into Oban but turning the fuel tap to reserve (remember that?) confirmed he was just low on fuel. Fifteen minutes later we stopped again, it had started spitting so Aidan needed to get his one piece suit on. We had a good run up the east side of Loch Ness managing to avoid the worst of the rain. There's some great bits of road that run that way and they're often much quieter and have arguably better scenery than the A82 on the west side.

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We arrived at sunny Portmahomack and found the campsite a real old school place ran by the church! I was slightly concerned I'd burst into flames or something but the minister was a sound guy who loved bikes. The site is pretty basic but has everything you'd need and is right beside the beach. We got some beers and stuff from the local shop and chilled out on the campsite to wait for Andrea who arrived a couple of hours later to the distinct sound of his Harley. We had a good evening in Portmahomack, it's a place I'll definitely visit again once the covid situation is better.

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 We had planned to ride over to camp near Gairloch the following day but the weather there was absolute shite. The rain and wind was so strong some of the roads we'd need to use were closed. A quick google threw up a few options and we ended up going for a Wigwam near Kinloss which was just down the road. I booked it over the phone and we were sorted. Even if it all turned to shit weather wise we'd have somewhere warm and dry that evening so instead of riding straight there we opted to head for a spin up to Lairg. Andrea and I were enjoying the run but Aidan was being battered about the place something stupid on the lightweight DR. Being the awesome navigator I am I missed the turn off for Alness after Bonar Bridge, totally fucking up the route I had in mind and bringing up out right back at Tain where we'd had breakfast that morning. Aidan and Andrea seemed oblivious to my navigational fuck up and we carried on down the road.

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We arrived at the Wigwam place (which shall remain nameless) to find it seemingly bereft off all staff. Eventually someone appeared asking "Who booked online?"
"Nobody, I booked over the phone." says I.
"Yes, but did you get an email? You must have got an email."
"I got the paypal link, is that what you mean? I paid via paypal while I was on the phone."
"Yes, well you've not read your e mail!"

At this stage I was wondering what the fuck was wrong with this guy. I humoured him and reread the email. Sure enough it says that the keys are in an envelope with a welcome pack in a box by reception. 
Keys in had I ask "Which wigwam is ours?
"You've not read your welcome pack!"
Now I'm thinking "this guy's a fucking idiot." There's a wee map in the envelope. i now know where the wigwam is.
"Right mate, can you open the gate so we can get up to the wigwam?"
Nothing in return but a blank expression. I jump on the bike.
"How do we get to the wigwam?"
"You've not read your welcome pack..."
"You could just fucking tell us."
"There's no vehicles allowed on the site."
"Fuck this, we'll go somewhere else."

At this stage Aidan took over with his more diplomatic approach. The guy accepted that having the bikes at the other side of the site to where we were staying wasn't the most practical option and thankfully that was the last we seen of him. I've since given the site some feedback so I'm not going to name and shame on here. Apart from this guy the site was great but the last thing you want after a long day on the bike is an arsehole like that.

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We visited Findhorn the next day for breakfast. I was expecting it to be a hippy commune but instead we found quite a normal looking village and a pretty decent cafe. Andrea was heading home and Aidan and I were supposed to be heading to Glencoe to go camping but the rain washed that plan away. We opted to go back to Aidan's instead. What followed was one of the wettest runs I've had on a bike in years, we were both soaked!

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All in all it was an enjoyable trip despite the weather and fuckwitery. I discovered the K needed new brake pads which upon changing looked the the first new pads it had seen in years! The sun even came out for my ride home.

The epic feature length film of the trip is below.



More soon.


Mike

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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Escaping Lockdown

After what felt like ages there was an announcement from the government that tourism was allowed in Scotland from the 15th July! A quick plan was cobbled together involving wild camping, a couple of campsites that were able to open to taking tents, and a night or two staying with friends. There was a lot of apprehension surrounding our trip. We’d all seen folk blatantly flaunting the “rules” around Covid 19, bending them to suit themselves. Unfortunately motorcyclists and cyclists, two activities I love doing, were among the worst groups for said flaunting with a few selfish individuals of the opinion that the requests made of everyone didn’t apply to them. We hoped that the behaviour of this small minority wouldn't have a negative impact on our trip.
Aidan and I decided to head off to a wild camping spot we know about. We had decided that if there were lots of folk in the area then we’d need to carry on and find somewhere else. Turns out that our chosen location was indeed pretty popular with most of the spots already containing a tent. Luckily it was a bit quieter along the road and we found a place to pitch away for other folk and any buildings or houses. If you recognise the area, please keep it to yourself, I’ll go into why this has become quite important later in this post.

Wild camping somewhere in Scotland

Night photography around the campfire

We got up early (for us) the next day packed up, tidied up and set off heading for Glenshee. As always, we prefer the Glenshee/Braemar/Lecht/Tomintoul route over the A9 between Perth and Inverness. It’s a great run and it was good to see so many bikes out with folk enjoying getting out for a run in the good weather.
We carried on north, riding on what they now call the NC500. I’ve heard lots of folk advising avoiding the east side of the route, which suits me, I'll have the roads to myself! The run from Golspie up to Wick is a cracker. Caithness has so much to offer, especially if you’re a visitor to Scotland or haven’t travelled around the country much. The open, barren landscape, cliffs and sea stacks give a good contrast to the hill and beaches of the west. There’s also loads of historical sites and wee harbours to visit if that’s your thing. I stopped in to visit family while property magnate Aidan went to look at a house for sale before eventually finding my way to Ferg’s place. It was pretty easy to spot which house was his…..

Dinosaur riding a BMW R100R
That'll be Ferg's place then,

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K KREW!

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A run across the north coast took us to our next destination, Altandhu. I'd not been over the top of the mainland for a while, I really enjoyed the solo run I took, stopping for photos and wee bits of video here and there. It seemed much shorter than I remembered for some reason and was surprisingly quiet with only a few other cars and motorhomes kicking about. I was surprised not to see more bikes. One of the only other bikes I saw had been clipped by another tourist, a situation which is unfortunately becoming more common, especially on our single track roads. So if you find yourself on a single track road (even some A class roads are single track) then take care!

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When riding the north coast (anticlockwise) you are presented with an option just after Kylesku. The quicker option is to carry on the main road, riding the fast sweepers past Loch Assynt. Option two is to take a left onto the tight, nadgery single track roads through the villages of Drumbeg, Lochinver and Inverkirkaig, riding through what is arguably some of the best scenery we have here in Scotland. I was wanting to get to the site at Altandhu and get my tent pitched so I opted for the faster run. At Altandhu we found the site to be really busy. We managed to get a wee corner away from the masses and had a good night dodging between the busy pub and the quieter campsite. 

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We split into two groups the following day with some folk heading to Strontian for the next couple of nights and the rest of us heading for another secret wild camping spot. I had a great run down to Gairloch with Aidan and Bob where we met up with everyone else at Ian's house. Ian has a great knowledge of the area and had offered to show us a few places to wild camp. If you recognise any of the wild camping spots please keep them to yourself and especially don't band it about online. There was a big problem in Scotland with manky bastards leaving shite and rubbish all over the shop after "wild camping." These arseholes could ruin it for everyone so the less places the cunts can find out about the better. Of course we all took our rubbish away with us and didn't have a fire anywhere it could cause damage or burn anything down.

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Big thanks to Ian.

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I rode down to Strontian the following day with Bob and Ferg. Once again we had good weather and surprisingly quiet roads. We took the best route, via Gairlochy, Glenfinnan, Lochailort and Salen. It's a really nice run. In Strontian we managed to have our usual visit to the Strontian Hotel. They had set up a big tent with open sides for socially distanced eating and drinking. We were all pretty happy with the measures they'd taken to try and keep everyone safe.

Looking down to Loch Maree with Bob and Ferg riding up the road.
Can you see Bob and Ferg?

Africa Twin looking down to Loch Maree.

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The Winton Massif walking through Strontian

It was great to get away. At the time of writing this new Covid regulations have recently came into play here in Scotland. Up to six people from a maximum of two households can meet up anywhere, indoors and out. Obviously this will have a negative impact on bike trips but we need to do what we can to stop the spread of the virus. But fear not! You'll not be bored. I made a feature length film of our trip! Grab a beer and check it out!




More soon hopefully, once again I'm well behind in writing my blog.

Mike