Hard Nuts Chunky Tread Winter Meet

After a successful ride up to Stoke, the next event in my riding agenda was a winter meet hosted by Pete Johnson and Chunky Tread Motorcycle Adventure Club. Despite only having a couple of hours to ride, I still didn’t manage to reach destination before nightfall and while bouncing along the last bit of road, a composition of mud and gravel, a thought struck me: I’m on my way to meet a bunch of complete strangers in the middle of nowhere outside Manchester. One of the amazing things with motorcycling.

Since leaving Spain, I have always regretted never making it to Los Pinguinios, the winter meet outside Valladolid. It always seemed too cold for me. Therefore, it felt like quite a victory to make it to this event, although admittedly the weather was quite mild.

This was a small and intimate meet where the focus was on having a good time, exchanging experiences and having a few drinks together. Being a foreigner, I was treated to a local specialty as welcome dinner: chips, gravy and mushy peas – something that I had not yet tried after a shade over 2 years in the UK. Some things are worth waiting for! The weekend continued in the same spirit, at a small meet I find it easier to get talking to people and I learned a lot from talking to Ren, who is an experienced 125 rider. He and his girlfriend Sharon run Bikes and Travels and, with its vast information on this topic, it gives a good insight into the small cc world.

Manchester specialty, chips, mushy pies and gravy - yummy scrummy!
Manchester specialty, chips, mushy peas and gravy – yummy scrummy!

During Saturday we did a short ride out to see the surroundings and check out a few shops which catered for all needs involved with motorbiking and camping. Thanks to Ren for leading our group of mall and large bikes. It was great fun to push the CG to its limits over the moors outside Manchester while the big bikes patiently stayed put behind. Always nice to ride with civilized people!

Small and big bikes out and about
Small and big bikes out and about

As mentioned plenty of times previously, I come from a “big bike” culture where a small bike is considered to be a 650 or 750 (often seen as beginners bikes in Sweden) and I have frequently been told that my Monster 600’s were too small to travel on and that my 650 Versys was to weak to take a pillion – yet I managed very well to do these things. I can only conclude that bikers in Sweden have a lot to learn and that money can be spent in more productive ways than on purchase and insurance of a massive cc bike – for example on petrol 🙂 and travelling.

On the topic of travelling, there were plenty of tales to be told during the weekend. One very unusual story was that of Pete himself and his Road to Manchester: being from Manchester England he set out on a quest to visit 33 places called Manchester in the USA, all being former settlements and named  after the first Manchester – some no more than a couple of houses along the road and others full grown cities. I found it an amusing idea, although it wouldn’t work for me – my home town Karlstad has only one namesake in the USA. So, fortunately for me, I have another working concept: the WIMA rallies always point my direction of travel. Pete won the Bennetts’ biker’s dream and got his journey funded, but only after working hard researching and preparing the adventure so no credit should be taken from his effort. It is all documented on United States of A Manchester – an interesting read I must say.

The musical xmas challenge - it was even sillier than it looks like
The musical Xmas challenge – it was even sillier than it looks like

I was also delighted to meet Bernard and his famous Bertha – the bike that took him and his late wife Cathy around the world. The astonishing detail of this tale being the fact that she was blind. Upon my return yesterday, I started reading their book “Touching the World” – an amazing and inspiring story, first chapter describing their climb of Machu Picchu, something many would think impossible for a blind person. In addition, her ways of describing the world amazed me, being so vivid and colourful. To find out more, please visit World Tour or get the book.

Bernard and Bertha
Bernard and Bertha

I’ll stop here, concluding that I had a fabulous weekend! Now Koneko needs a good clean before being stored away for winter and if we cannot bring her to Spain we would sadly have to sell her. She has really proved her potentials this weekend but import rules are rather complicated and that is the reality we will be dealing with while relocating.


The MCN Motorcycle Show, ExCel Centre, London

Biking has been off for quite some time and without access to my bike I feel cut off from the motorcycle world. When in London I was supposed to contact the local WIMA girls and I had plans to go to the ACE café but all this felt meaningless without my bike. Sure, I have been busy studying and I have been running more often and a lot further than I probably would if I had my bike; I have filled my time so to speak. And honestly, even in Madrid, I didn’t actually ride that much in the winter. The difference was that I had access to my bike, I would pass it every day, use it for commuting a few times a week and I could ride it for leisure if there was a warmish afternoon. Now the bike is inevitably stored away until spring and I do not know when I can bring it out.

Frankly, this is quite depressing but at the motorcycle show yesterday my mind shifted. Visiting the MCN Motorcycle Show marked the beginning of the season and I left feeling like a biker again. We listened to some very inspiring talks in the Adventure section of the show and I decided to work on my camping skills, which are quite insignificant. Nathan Millward shared his experience of travelling, on a postman motorbike, from Sidney to London over 9 months, he had no plan but just took things as they came, one problem at a time. When he told that during his two weeks riding through Russia he didn’t shower or change clothes, I could only admire him for his determination. His book is on my to-read-after-studies-are-finished-list.

"Sydney to London, The Long Ride Home" - Nathan Millward
“Sydney to London, The Long Ride Home” – Nathan Millward

Other inspiring talkers were Nick Sanders and Sam Manicom, representing two opposites within extreme travelling and motorcycling. Sanders is the record breaker on long distance journeys on time and holds a few world records. He is an intense speaker and great inspirer but he has a bit of a crazy air around him: after all, one has to be, to travel from the north to the south of the Americas 8 times, each time trying, but failing, to break the iron butt record – only to end up creating a “north to south to north again” iron butt record, just because he was one hour late to beat the existing record. It takes a special mind to b able to come up with that idea, re-focus and keep pushing. Manicom, on the other hand, seemed a most relaxed guy who started his 8 years travelling after being offered a promotion at a job he didn’t like. They have both written several books… I put them on my to-read list as well.

Although we spent most of our time listening and getting inspiration, we also did some shopping, gloves and jacket for Christopher, the union jack-buffs for me.  There is no plan for buying a new bike just yet but no harm in looking. The new Versys has been updated with vibration dampening for foot pegs and handlebars… I wonder how much difference that really makes, and the windshield can be altered between three positions which sounds great. I really need to do something with the windshield for next season to reduce the buzz. I nearly got custom made earplugs, but then I thought that I have a whole box of single-use ones with the best fit ever according to my own extensive ear plug test 2 years ago, I better finish those off first.

The new Versys - both specifications a looks are updated
The new Versys – both specifications and looks are updated

As usual, there were loads of absolutely amazing custom made bikes, and the more we study them the more little details and features could we find.

Custom made bikes - I could spend the whole afternoon just looking at these
Custom made bikes – I could spend the whole afternoon just looking at these

So, while customising never was something that interested me personally, I find it very interesting looking at the bikes and studying the details. It works the same way as with adventure travelling – I love to hear and read about it, but hey, riding for two weeks without shower and change of clothes, or chasing the record for transcontinental riding, that is nothing for me. So far, camping in the rain is the most adventurous I get, and that includes a hot shower, the cold shower-skills needs improvement.

Ride Ace to Ace
Ride Ace to Ace

So, while GlobeBusters’ talk was inspirational and surely it was interesting to hear about the liberating lack of traffic rules in China and that the pollution is so bad in Beijing that no bikes are allowed within the fourth ring road, I felt that it was not quite what I was after. Quite a fantastic feeling, being content with my student life, no promotions to avoid, no records to break and the only distance  to cover is the North Sea, my aspirations for riding this summer is England, and if I have time and money to spare I might venture up to Scotland!

Import: Lazy Cat is Swedish

I’ve been extremely busy with everything else but the blog lately. I went back to university and the studies take up almost all my time, the rest I use for running :). Those of you who have already found the page Ride & RUN know about my other passion in life. After leaving work my life is totally different. As I study internet based and can pretty much plan my studies myself, as long as I attend the seminars and lectures online, which is not more than once or twise a week. It is a life that agrees with me, I can sleep until I wake up, run in daylight and take days off in the middle of the week if I feel like it. And, best of all, I can be wherever I want, as long as I have high speed internet.

What do this have to do with motobikes? Not much, I must say. Unfortunately, my bike is stored away for the winter. Hovewer, I got a cancelled lecture this morning and decided to use the time to set up a import page, to share my expereinces of importing the Versys to Sweden, the trix and difficulties which might be of help if anyone decides to do the same.

Proof that it is possible to park 3 motobikes and one car in a single garage, providing you park according to order of usage
Proof that it is possible to park 3 motobikes and one car in a single garage, providing you park according to order of usage