Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Best turned out bike on the road

Yesterday found us down near Brighton fitting the new panniers, they are made by Metal Mule, and are beautifully finished an extremely strong and practical for my needs. Paul and his colleagues were fantastic in helping me set it up and in fact are going to refine the Top box fittings furthermore over the next week. 

It is apparently the first time the boxes have been fitted to a Royal Enfield, and Paul has taken particular interest in this venture, and sees more and more overlanders electing to use more classic bikes to add greater dimensions to people's journeys.

You may notice that there is a sticker on the back of the top box of the logo. I have had many printed both of this size and smaller, 2 inch diameter to stick around the world as I go. A quick plug for AA Labels, who have been both excellent in turnaround and in quality. Whilst I did plan to get some stickers for the boxes, it was my flatmate Paddy ClanWilliam who suggested getting the smaller labels for the trip. Paddy is a veteran overland motorcyclists of some 10 significant journeys, here is a link to his more recent one . With all his knowledge and experience he is an excellent friend to have in the house whilst preparing.
 This is a photograph of him cracking open a bottle of fizz when I first got Batty home.

700 mile test run

Before Batty and I leave, the plan is to have covered about 2000 miles on trials. I left on Saturday morning for my cousins Charlie, Sarah  and Arthur who live near the Humber in Lincolnshire, it is normally a 200 mile run, but with the satnav set to avoid motorways etc it turned out to be more like 250. With a vicious headwind, it proved to be quite a test for Batty's 10 hp engine, which is good for 50 mph on the flat, but sometimes this was down to 40 mph. About seven hours we arrived having wiggled up through  the  Fens and enjoyed seeing a lot of the country which motorways deny you.

Charlie, Sarah  and Arthur had laid on a bit of a gathering of Lincolnshire pals and it was lovely to see  them all before going. Some great photos were taken but alas, l managed to delete them as I downloaded images from both the camera and my phone at the same time. So annoying……but a lesson learnt. Found them.....

The trial continued the next day, having changed oil with Charlie at the 300 mile mark,  dropping in on pals, Mark Watkinson (of logo artwork fame) and and Dan and Henrietta Black before heading to Ely  where I stayed in a local pub  and was a tourist for a few hours.

The strong winds did not give up and the next day I eventually got home at about nine o'clock in the evening having stopped to see Giles and Ali on the way south.

Batty was fantastic and very comfortable to ride, although I'm sure I will get a lot more saddle fit, I don't think many bikes offer the comfort of that big seat and the general riding position. Although weary after long days, I was not stiff of limb or swore of ass.

After consultation with Henry of price part, my concerns about only doing about 80 or 90 miles a gallon on vegetable oil are not founded, and I am assured that it is a matter of adjustment before we see the mileage up to the 150 mpg territory.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Princess

Prince William isn't the only chap with a new Princess, yesterday I met for the first time my new bride for this journey. Batty is everything a man could want in a companion; Not too fast but will always gets there, beautifully proportioned and built for comfort, loyal and reliable, and unlike Kate Middleton she will always obey (well that's my understanding anyway).

The first ride had a bit of an abortive start, in that the battery turned out to be duff and after 20 miles would not start having filled up with a gallon of vegetable oil. Back at Henry's garage he quickly resolved the problem and had me off again after an hour.

Henry had set the bike up with diesel oil, so my first few miles were on that forbidden fuel. However now she is full of vegetable oil and running very sweetly. Luckily for me I was able to purloin 20 L of oil from Galapagos, which is one of my favourite hostelries in Battersea High Street. Elaine and Steve, who run it, have been very supportive and were very generous in allowing me the oil at cost price,   about £1.10 p per litre.

Here is a video made by Peter Gray. He brilliantly drove me down to collect the bike. As you can hear got terribly excited about the bike and is threatening to get one himself.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Travel Safety Training

Had a very useful day, largely surrounded by late teen and early twenty year old lasses and a few chaps, learning how to travel safe, spot and avoid dangers, keep well and generally how to look after yourself.

It was run by Objective Travel Safety and Charlie and Eleanor where our excellent trainers

Whilst largely common sense, it was a day full of top tips and would recommend it to travelers of all ages.

Monday, April 18, 2011

First Pictures of Batty

Here's Batty.....

MOT'd and ready to be registered, which should be a matter of days now.

After that the top box and panniers need to be added and some crash bars.

Please note the rather generous and comfortable seat...for those who have mentioned piles and the like.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carbon Offsetting

As a rough calculation it looks like the flights that I will need to take for both air freighting the bike and myself have a carbon footprint of 5 1/2 metric tons. Offsetting is a precarious business and the legitimacy, let alone accuracy, is a difficult thing to rely on. As it happens we have been sharing the same building at work with Jane Burston who has a company called Carbon Retirement.

By acquiring carbon credits from industries that are choosing not to use their carbon allowance, one is in effect encouraging industry to use less carbon, because it pays them not to use their allowence.

 Here is a film that explains it a little clearer.

 I am delighted that Jane has developed this great scheme and know it will be very successful for all concerned.

The Birth of Batty

 I don't know why this name has stuck with me, but I guess she had part of her conception in Battersea, which combined with her owners ambitions seem to rather gel together.

Anyway a couple of days ago I went to see Henry who is building her and found this beautiful thing on the cusp of life. All she needs is a couple of wheels, a seat or two and a fuel tank. Henry is looking forward to finishing her this week, and then it is a matter of registration and MOT.


On advice from my pal Bernard Yeoh, who seems to be right up to the minute with all things camera, I have plumped for this Olympus which I can drop from great heights, take underwater to 30 foot, not worry about dust and sand etc. It also takes video.

What is certain is that the camera is a lot better, and will hopefully cover up some rather elementary mistakes that this snapper will undoubtedly make.

Tomorrow, I am off to the Apple Store to see a demonstration and hope to learn a bit about the iMovie software, with probably over ambitions to make the odd video.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The end of the last day in the office...sabbatical starts tomorrow

Rather odd feeling...especially when we have been flat out, not only with business, but also with new websites, final build on new offices (which we are probably not going to rush into whilst I am away), upgrading our management software and planning the next years advertising spend.

I had been planning to write a long letter to all my colleagues today, but there will be a lot more to say in a week or so's time.

Anyway, I am off the phone system, and will put an auto reply on the email in the morning.

Goodbye everyday life for the last 26 years, and hello the vegibike adventure....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tickets Booked

Last week I booked the ferry that will take us to Santander from Plymouth on the 29th May. Brilliantly I am joining Henry Price, who is building the bike (see the bike tab) and a couple of his pals for part of their run to a Royal Enfield Rally just south of Paris.
I am so pleased about this as it will not only be fun, it will also be a great learning few days on all matters Royal Enfield, and much else I shouldn't wonder. Their inclusion of me is much appreciated.

Friday, March 25, 2011


At last I am dressed properly, and I mean by that, I have a logo for the trip.
I am very very grateful to both Alex Ashworth of Manifest for his inspiring and completely pertinent design, and to Mark Watkinson for the great illustration of some chap on a rather unique motorcycle.

I have known them both for over 25 years and their support and kindness helping me to brand the trip is hugely appreciated. Alex is a dear and rock solid friend, who has also helped the agency gets to the top of the game with extraordinary communications, be it the website, the newsletters, our logo, or our printed material. Mark was the first illustrator who joined me at the agency in 1985. He has consistently produced fantastic work in a very professional, charming and fun way.

The logo will adorn the motorbike on the panniers and the top box, and I intend to get loads of  stick on badges to mark my trail.