I was getting the itchy feet again. Mikey Sunter had new tyres fitted and was serviced and ready to go. Egor had also got himself a new bike, a near enough brand new Suzuki VStrom 1000 and was champing at the bit to get away on the bike. HB and I had contemplated going away ourselves but I think the cold forecast put her off a bit. I started looking at possible destinations to give us a good run for a night away. Cannich looked ideal, it’s a nice run over Rannoch Moor and up the side of Loch Ness and I was hoping that our late October timing would minimalise the number of fuckwits on the road. There was a camping pod available at Cannich campsite which I quickly booked up. Snake and Other Mike were coming along too. They were amassing extra hardcore points by camping properly in their tents with the pod being a warm safety net if they found it too cold.
Packing Mikey Sunter was a bit of a trip down memory lane. The old BMW clamshell panniers are basically plastic suitcases that attach to the bike. They’re not waterproof in any way so everything has to be wrapped in plastic bags to keep it dry. The weather forecast was for cold and changeable so I ended up wearing most of my clothes with my camera kit and a few bits and bobs in the panniers. Mikey Sunter got a good spraying down with Scottoiler FS365 to keep the impact of any salt and other road shite to a minimum and I was ready.
Leaving East Lothian we quickly negotiated our way around the usual Edinburgh bypass pish and up the motorway to Stirling. The A84/A85/A82 route is one I try to avoid in the summer. The scenery is awesome but it's always heaving with some of the worst driving you’ll come across in Scotland. Unfortunately Police Scotland seem to have the attitude if they’re slow, they’re safe and do nothing about people driving like they’ve had ten pints of Stella. Luckily there was far less fuckwittery present, with only two or three attempts on our lives by brand new hire car holidaymakers. The only other hazard we had to deal with was a fuel spillage that went from Callander to Crianlarich keeping us on our toes along the side of Loch Lubnaig. We'd stopped briefly in Callander for fuel but by the time we were at Tyndrum we were all needing a heat and some food. The Real Food cafe gave us both and fuelled up we headed up onto Rannoch Moor. The scenery at this time of year really does hit you like a boot to the baws. The clear air showing off the snow capped hills and the ever changing weather giving a crazy contrasting background. Through Glencoe and around Fort William it was its' usual wet, but once up the side of Loch Lochy things improved once more, but it was fucking freezing!! Even with six layers I was beginning to feel it, so another break was had for a coffee and a sweetie in Fort Augustus. I had told Snake, who was riding down from Caithness, that we would be at Cannich for around three but it was already past four! As we carried on to Drumnadrochit I had visions of us turning up to find a very pissed up Snake.
We rolled into Cannich campsite and found our pod. Beside it was pitched Snake's tent but there was no sign of the man himself or his bike. The heater was on in the pod though at it was toasty! We got the bikes unloaded. It was taking some time to get used to Mikey Sunter's panniers. I'm a bit spoiled by the huge top loading boxes I have on the Africa Twin meaning there's always room for shopping and everything is easy to get to. If I open up Mikey Sunter's clam shell boxes half my shit falls out onto the road, a nightmare if you're trying to load up on beers and snacks or stop and get your camera out for a quick photo. I was mid way through emptying all my shit out for a run to the shop when I heard a small capacity engine approaching. It was Snake!
Snake has loads of bikes. His weapon of choice this time was his Italjet Torpedo, a 125cc twist and go scooter. Luckily he wasn't steaming either, instead he'd had a wee explore and had headed up towards Glen Affric. We spent the night our usual way, eating, drinking and talking shite about bikes and bike trips. A visit to the local pub helped us all get warmed up too.
Snake headed off to join a classic bike run at Dingwall the following morning while we headed to the cafe on the campsite for breakfast. We followed the route back down the road to Spean Bridge where we turned off to head cross country to Dalwhinnie, a great road with more nice views and snowy hills, stopping here and there for a photo or two. It was on one of these stops that I noticed a wee bit of oil dripping from Mikey Sunter. Fuck! I might have to phone the AA. It was only a tiny wee leak that seemed to stop after a while so we put it down to all the water maybe washing some excess grease or something off a part of the bike.
Where I noticed the oil.
I stopped a few times and luckily there was no more drips. We got some food at Dalwhinnie and fuel for the bikes at Ballinluig before saying our goodbyes. It wasn't till I got home that Mikey Sunter decided to leave another dribble on the road. I drained the gearbox oil to find this shit!!
Luckily it's not as bad as it seems. A wee bit of water had gotten into the gearbox, probably through the clutch rod boot. The boot had been inspected now and looks fine, as is all the vents and breathers. The clutch however was needing adjusted quite badly. The boot relies on the clutch being adjusted to get a proper seal, the clip was also a bit loose. I've refilled the gearbox with clean oil and there's been no drips so far. I'll hopefully take it for a longer run soon and see how it's holding up.
Apart from that Mikey Sunter handled its first trip with ease. It's an enjoyable bike to ride and can carry enough stuff for plenty time away. I just need to get a tank bag for the camera stuff. I also tried to turn my hand to "vlogging", you can see the finished effort below. I might just stick to photography.
Anyway, where to next?