Prepping for Scotland

We’re getting ready for our Scottish tour and are looking over our bikes, Lazy Cat and Koneko. Having made the vow to learn to do more things on my own, I started off with changing the brake pads as prescribed by the garage in London. Having taken the pads, out I noticed that it wasn’t necessary to change them yet. My riding style is rather smooth and I don’t brake much so the pads are good for a bit longer – I wish I had checked first before ordering new pads but nevermind, now I have them for when I need them.


Checking the breakpads.
Checking the brakepads.

We then also checked the air pressure on both bikes. In Sweden, I noticed that Lazy Cat had low pressure in the rear, only 1.9 bar instead of 2.5 plus some extra for luggage, this was surprising. I don’t know how the pressure had dropped that much since the tyre was put on, but of course, I should have checked earlier. Now my new tyre is beginning to go square, which is upsetting. Now I checked it again and made a promise to monitor the tyres better in the future. An even larger surprise was that Christopher’s bike, Koneko, had high tyre pressure in the front tyre and very low in the rear. Quite puzzling but luckily we could sort it out easily using Christopher’s dad’s compressor.

New promise, check tyre preassure often
New promise, check tyre pressure often

Another thing we sorted out was an old crack in Koneko’s mudguard which was glued but seemed a bit weak, so Christopher decided to fortify it. In addition, we also adjusted the clutch on Koneko and tightened the chain on Lazy Cat. Loosening the wheel nut proved to be difficult and it became a family project to get it loosened. The key that came with the bike was bent in the process. A long pipe was brought out to give enough levering power to finally loosen it and, with the help of my central stand substitute, I could then tighten the chain without problem.

Adjusting the clutch on Koneko
Adjusting the clutch on Koneko

As an extra feature, Koneko is now provided with a power socket with the help of Christopher’s dad who is a wizard in electronics and electrics. Now we can hopefully charge all our devices better, bearing in mind that Christopher is bringing his big DSLR camera and I need my laptop for my online university course. We also have a power pack, which will make charging my phone in public places unnecessary and I know that many of my friends will appreciate this.

Lastly, I like to mention and give a special thanks to the guys on the Kawasaki Versys forum who have provided very useful information and, among other things, gave me the idea for the central stand substitute.



I run, therefore I am

For the last couple of years my running shoes have accompanied me on all my travels and I have done some amazing runs in different countries. At the end of the day, I find it quite nice to lace up my shoes and head out for a run, it loosens up my body and relaxes my mind. This summer I have run in England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Sweden.

Happy finisher of the Penrith Parkrun
Happy finisher of the Penrith Parkrun

One of the highlights of my running season was the Penrith parkrun in north Wales where I, despite some troubles with my right foot, managed to complete on a – for me – average 5k time. Start and finish is inside the castle, very spectacular and the people were super friendly and slightly excited having a guest on a Swedish registered motorbike 🙂

Towards the finish line/ castle entry
Towards the finish line/castle entry

Following this, I gave my foot some rest and it seemed the problem disappeared so I slowly begun running again. I had no problems with my foot for a couple of weeks and I could run 10k or an hour without problem so I thought it was game on again. Our predicament due to the Brexit means that we are staying longer in the UK than we originally intended and to take advantage of our difficulties I started planning for a new Fundraising Marathon-challenge for my 40th birthday. I signed up for the Beachy Head Marathon, which is a recurring running event for my friends from the Sudbury Court Running Club and I felt that it would be lovely to join paths with them again. Ironically, the same day I signed up, my foot problems suddenly returned and I had to walk back from my run. This time, I blamed the asphalt and put myself on another week of rest and then slowly re-started my training. I had now promised myself to only run on trails and gravel roads – at my parents’ house in Sweden there are many good possibilities for this sort of running and I was enjoying myself immensely running different routes in the forest. Then again, during a fast paced 6k run the pain suddenly returned.  Following some reading up on the internet I prescribed myself with a month of no running, suspecting a stress fracture in a small bone in my foot. Of course, it would have been better to have seen a doctor but I didn’t have enough time left in Sweden to be able to get an appointment so this will have to do for now. Sadly, my foot has not improved as much as I had hoped and even alternative training is complicated. Therefore, today I made the decision to change my application from full marathon to the 10k. This was not an easy decision, I’m a very stubborn person and I always want to follow up all my decisions and reach my goals. However, I feel that persistence is not leading anywhere now and I have to see reason and not push my body further than it can recover. The planning for the fundraising birthday-event is still underway and if I can get fit for a 10k in my current situation it would indeed be a great achievement and I have to be pleased with that. Sometimes it is harder not to run than actually running.

Costal running at the end of a rainy day
Coastal running at the end of a rainy day

Back on the island

I made it back to England. I’ve done this trip between Sweden and England twice this year and I must say it isn’t the most exciting of routes. I had my mind set on a freight ferry to take me across the Atlantic but, since it was fully booked until end of September, I had to come up with an alternative plan. Making plans late is a problem, especially when everyone else is making plans early, which is the custom in Sweden. Therefore, the Gothenburg – Kiel ferry was ridiculously expensive so I settled for the Gothenburg – Fredrikshavn ferry instead, even though it gave me one more day of riding I still saved money on it.

I tried to see the ride to England as a journey rather than a commute to get there, and with this change of mind frame I started feeling better about it. With this new outlook, I was to embark on a 1700km holiday and this must indeed be seen as a good thing. Plus, I was to stay with Fokje from WIMA Netherlands again. So after an early morning ferry and a ride through Denmark, I stayed in a campsite in northern Germany, before heading west to Groningen. Fokje and I had a lovely evening reminiscing about old holidays and WIMA rallies. As a bonus, she offered to accompany me on my way to Hook of Holland. Being guided on the back roads by a local is indeed one of the best presents a biker can get. We stayed off the main roads and rode the little back roads through villages and along the canals, small roads that I would never have found on my own. We rode through the Hoge Veluwe National Park and, as we were just in time to see the heather in bloom, the fields were purple – an amazing sight.  There were plenty of signs saying: “Let op, drempeln”, Fokje continued unaffected by the speed bumps, I had to “let op” a little bit with my fully loaded bike but not much. This reminded me of my commute to work in Madrid, where I had to down shift to first gear on my Ducati when passing speed bumps, but with the Kawa the ride was much smoother. Well, I don’t think that one should need to slow down when keeping the speed limit. The villages had cobblestoned streets, a rather smooth surface that just reminded you to keep your speed down a bit, not at all as the horrible cobblestone roads I came across in the countryside of eastern Germany. The houses we passed were tidy and the gardens well-manicured. I imagine the neighbour pressure can be quite high in areas like this, resulting in impeccable gardens, something not so common in the Swedish countryside. As we were in a bicycle country, I saw quite some different features along the bicycle lanes as well. As, for example, a nursery teacher with a container full of children in the front of her bike, I counted 8 heads! She must have strong legs.

WIMA friendship
WIMA friendship

We had a fantastic day riding and for the first time since Hungary it was summer weather with a temperature peaking at 35 degrees. What a contrast to my Tulip tour in May, when I was riding through hail, sleet and snow to Hook of Holland! Now I arrived tired, sweaty and happy at the ferry, again a contrast to the following day in England with grey and damp weather. When travelling one needs to be prepared for everything. Now preparations for Scotland are underway, the bikes need some fixing, but more about that later.