Saturday, 27 September 2014

Arrived Alive

I left home at around 8am and according to CoPilot, I should've arrived at 11:45am.  At 1pm, I turned into the car park of my hotel. Actually, I stopped for an hour to rest half way and made two fuel stops. So, a pretty accurate reading for time, CoPilot.

Have to say thanks much to Ross from On The Run Scooter Club for the invaluable advice and scenic route planning for the home to destination leg. It was a really nice journey.  As soon as I hit the coast about five miles from my hotel, I immediately regretted not having more time to enjoy the surrounds. Lesson learned: no less than two or three days minimum next time if it's a coastal trip; can still do overnighters for inland city breaks.

The other lesson: you can't be prepared enough. When I stopped to fuel up, I noticed my iPhone-cum-GPS not charging despite being plugged into the bike charger. That was worrying. I rely totally on the GPS to get around and I was hours away from home. In fact, I had no idea what town I was even in. Luckily, the station had iPhone chargers and I bought a replacement promptly. Then, further along, I noted that my windshield was coming apart. I pulled over to fix it and noted that a requisite part had fallen off. Sigh. I propped it so it rested on the dashboard... useless for shielding wind. If that wasn't enough, later on my indicator switch threatened to drop right off. Now that I could not tolerate. I stopped and had a good look at it, sent it some persuasive positive thoughts (I kid you not), and was very gentle handling it thereafter. Although it is a Peugeot brand bike, it was assembled in China. I will have to get it checked when I get back home.

Needless to say I loved the journey much... not so much the ride. The 125 struggled to keep 40mph upwards on the rolling English hillsides. I've not been overtaken by other cars as much as I was today.  Was kinda scary as some were too close for comfort. I had to keep my eye on the rear view mirrors more than normal so I'd not be taken for surprise. The noisy 125 permits little sound of vehicles sneaking up from behind.

My butt also suffered. It went near numb sometimes. I'd have to get up and twist a little at regular traffic light stops to get some feeling back. Kind of like a calypso dance ... wiggling with my waist and all. I'd glance at my mirrors to see the response behind and hey, I'd say car drivers were well entertained. Yeah, I like an audience.

Another point of note was feeling every single pebble I ran over. I am hoping bigger bikes have better shocks. Funny thing is, I don't recall all this being an issue on shorter one hour runs, but three hours in and yeah, it matters.

The heavy buzz from the engine also took its toll and caressed me so I was tired sooner than I wanted to be. After two hours non-stop, I had to take a one hour break to recover.

As I turned from the country roads into the main coastal road, it was laid out exactly like a motorway. Seriously. Four lanes each side, complete with exits. I panicked momentarily as I thought I had made a wrong turn. But this particular road was only a few miles long, and did not qualify as a motorway although it was just like one. It gave me first hand experience being on a motorway-like road and the bike wind-drift I had read much about. I totally understand now why 125 CBT-riders are not permitted on motorways. There is NO WAY we can keep up with that wind, let alone motorway traffic. Grateful for the experience.

Suffice it to say, yes, I'm getting that bigger bike. Sure thing. The 125 is a workhorse without doubt. It'd have kept going and going all day but not so much it's rider. My verdict is, it's an excellent commuter and for quick trips around town: it is not for long haul touring.

This gives me much clarity for what I will be looking for in the upgrade bike: bigger engine, rider comforts, good shocks, much storage, not-assembled-in-China, larger fuel tank, and finally, must be an automatic scooter. This describes the Suzuki Burgman 400 perfectly.  So, that's that then.

Warning: I may have different views or add more of the same after my ride back tomorrow. We'll see.

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