And another quick entry…
The specialist had not-so-good news and better news (Lyn thinks they’re both variations of ‘bad’ but I guess it depends on your perspective). The pain in my arm (see previous entry) was being caused by the silastic implant that had replaced my smashed radial head twenty-two years ago. I appear to have broken it whilst saving the GSA from toppling over when we were both sitting on it in March this year. I thought it was a pulled muscle but understand now why it’s been so painful. The not-so-good news is that I will need an operation to remove the implant and will be out of action as far as bikes are concerned for several weeks afterwards. The better news was that he didn’t think I could damage it any more by continuing to ride. I didn’t actually tell the specialist I was intending to do a Saddlesore (SS1000: 1000 miles in 24 hours) but I had one planned and extrapolated from what he said that it would be fine 🙂.
People who know us may be a bit surprised we have a Harley-Davidson as it’s not really our sort of bike. The one we have is highly modified with better looks than performance or comfort and originally belonged to my younger brother, Steve, who was a talented bike customiser and trike builder; I’d always fancied owning one of his creations. We bought the bike from him in 2007, 6 months before he died of prostate cancer, and have only really ridden it on his birthdays and a few other minor outings – enough to realise that it is not a long-distance bike.
The problem is that while we both really like how the bike looks and sounds, it’s just not at all comfortable and the vibration is something else! I don’t want to substantially alter the way the bike looks but we have made a few minor changes such as fitting a Mustang seat which helps. About a week before we were due to set off I fitted some vibration-damping footpegs and Grizzly’s Custom Bikes fitted a set of weights to the bars, both of which have improved ride comfort. (After indifferent and expensive service at a local Harley dealership I was very pleased to find Grizzly’s nearby. Lyndon, the owner, knows the history of this bike and how I feel about it and has gone out of his way over the years to be helpful, providing assistance above and beyond what I could reasonably expect.)
So why do a Saddlesore on it?
At the beginning of the year I decided that each of our modern bikes ought to have done at least one IBA ride so the Super Glide and Yamaha FJ1200 that are rarely ridden were going to have to earn their keep, starting with the Harley. Kevin, my brother-in-law, who also has a Harley had said he’d join me for his first IBA ride. It sounded like a grin for both of us and as Lyn wasn’t too keen I planned to ride it while she was away on business so she didn’t feel obliged to sit on the back.
I confess I wasn’t really looking forward to it. There was an empty space where Lyn should be and it was going to be a bit of an emotional ride because I was on Steve’s bike and planning to pretty much duplicate the route I did for the Saddlesore I rode in December 2007 to raise funds for the hospice in which he died. Add that to the discomfort of my arm and a question mark over how comfortable the bike would be over 1000 miles and it didn’t really seem a sensible proposition. Still, you can’t go through life just being sensible can you.
I usually plan the fuel stops for IBA rides but had no idea of the range of the Harley as I’d never ridden it far enough to empty the tank in one go! Kevin told me his bike would do 140 miles between refills which I thought was ridiculously low. When I had to put our Harley on to reserve after 135 miles during the range test I understood the issue; fuel stops no more than 140 miles apart it was then.
The route was planned, the bike was as ready as it was going to be and, while being reasonably confident I would have no problems completing an SS1000, I wasn’t at all sure I could do one on this bike. Time to find out.
It was pouring with rain the evening before the ride. Kevin and Lin, my sister, live in Hastings so I headed over there arriving rather wet and bedraggled – guess who didn’t do his suit up properly – with a filthy bike. After a nice meal in a local pub and a restless night (I never sleep well when I have to get up early the next day for a ride) I went downstairs just after 04:00 to find Kevin already there with a cup of tea waiting for me.
We left at 04:40, a few minutes apart to minimise noise in the narrow street, and half a mile later I juddered to a halt. The bike wouldn’t start on the starter but I was at the top of a hill so I attempted to bump it. Nothing. Great. I was really puzzled as the bike had always started on the button first time, every time. Then a memory surfaced of Kevin telling me he’d turned my petrol off. I never turn my petrol off and most of our bikes don’t even have that facility but it had seemed a reasonable thing to do at the time. Petrol back on, bike running and I was off again. By this time Kevin had caught up and we headed for our starting point at a nearby 24-hour petrol station.
There’s not a lot to say about a 1000 mile ride on motorways so I won’t. The route was straightforward: Hastings to the M25 heading for Bristol, a leisurely breakfast at Leigh Delamere services on the M4, turn right up the M5, turn right at Glasgow, right again at Dunbar having been round the outskirts of Edinburgh and arrive back in Hastings.
It was dry with some early morning chilly mist. We managed to clear the M25 before the rush hour really started, did some spirited filtering on the M6 and again coming over the Dartford Crossing where they had shut all but one lane over the bridge.
Our journey was nearly complete when we arrived back at the start/finish petrol station just before 23:00 having ridden about 1030 miles. It was ridden as planned except I substituted the services at Bishop’s Stortford for our planned last fuel stop at Thurrock Services on the grounds I knew the services at Thurrock were a fair bit off the motorway; I now know the ones at Bishop’s Stortford are as well!
Lin made us a very welcome cup of tea when we got back which was coupled with some rather nice lemon cake from a local bakery. I then left for home arriving about an hour later and slept like a log.
My arm is in a different position on the Harley compared to our other bikes and wasn’t too painful except when I forgot to top up the painkillers and I’m surprised to say I quite enjoyed the ride. I confess I often find these rides monotonous when ridden in the UK but I like having achieved them. I’ve no idea why I enjoyed this one, perhaps because I was on a bike I don’t normally ride that proved not to be quite as uncomfortable as I thought it was going to be, perhaps because I had Kevin’s company on another bike…[shrugs] no idea but I did enjoy it. I’m pleased to say Kevin did as well.
Well done on completing your first IBA ride Kevin, subject to verification of course, which reminds me I’d better get on with submitting the paperwork.
The ride has now been verified (thanks Mike) which I’m rather pleased about as I’d have had to have an embarrassing conversation with Kevin if I’d screwed up the planning or paper work!