17 July 2017

Third Sunday?

Then it must be Meldrews' Sunday.

Usually we meet at the Blue & White Café at Smeeth on the A20.  We have been meeting there practically since it re-opened with Superbike racer Leon Camier's mum at the helm. But it is getting busier and busier on a Sunday morning, not with bikers, who seem to have started to to back to the Airport Cafe, but with "normals" and their kids.

Biker life has always been a little adult and we aren't the axe chucking mob, just blokes of an age that like to have a breakfast and chew the fat in an adult way without feeling that some bullethead might be offended on behalf of his kids or his delicate wife.  It's not that we use the f-word all that often, but like any group, we have people that are drawn together for their love of bike and biking from across the spectrum. We have all shades of political views but it rarely comes up as a subject.

So this Sunday we tried the County Members pub in Lympne Village.  Lympne has a claim to fame as it it is actually named after Portus Lemanis, one of the first ports that the Romans used when they invaded from Gaul (now France) in about AD66. There are still Roman remains, of buildings etc, on the hillside below the modern village.

Over the past two millenia the silting up on the English side of the channel has seen the sea move away. Instead of being at the foot of the cliff, it is now about a mile to a mile and a half away across what we now call Romney Marsh.

The ruins are in the domain of Lympne Castle.  The Saxons had a fort up here in the 4th Century.

Lympne Castle is also one of the homes of the Aspinall Foundation. The two zoos at Lympne and Howlett's near Canterbury are conservation and breeding centres for endangered species, mainly focusing on gorilla and rhino.

So after that digression.  

We had a bumper turnout with nine of us including one member's son on the back of a scooter.  Start them young and in all the proper gear. 

Breakfast was very good, not too expensive and relaxed.  We pushed three tables together and could all chat. No rush and breakfast runs until 11am. Then they prepare for pub opening hours and the lunch crowd arrives.

From here we split up. Most of us decided to head over to Robinson's Foundry as there was an Indian open day.  Others went home.

The ride to Canterbury was lively.  I like to be an old and alive biker so tend to ride a bit more sedately.  The adventure bike group (GS, KTM something and V-Strom 1000)  flashed past. I held back and like the tortoise and hare, I was behind them in the shopping traffic in the city centre.

Parking up with loads of Harley's and a few Indians and the occasional Victory across the road meant we were near the dyno that was testing bikes for £19 for two runs.  I decided not to bother. Pepé is okay as he is. Just a big cuddly tourer.

After a tea and a look at the high price tags on the Indians I headed for home.

Another nice ride out and I still haven't cracked 6000 miles! I need a bigger challenge.


2 July 2017

AMRR 2017 Part Two

I was up on time and after breakfast I finally got away a little earlier than the planned 9am start.

As I was already fuelled up I decided to make my first stop just before the Dartford Tunnel. The traffic was running unusually smoothly. Maintaining 70mph was hampered as north of the tunnel I caught the back end of a rolling road block. The overhead info boards said there were animals on the road.

This lasted until almost to the M11. I chose stay in the left most lane of four for most of the way. Despite costing a £1m a mile to build so few seem to want to use it. Maybe the common term "slow lane" makes them feel inadequate?

It was about 1030am when I pulled into Birchanger Services. The car park was full and there were a few bikes dotted about. I didn't recognise anyone. Jean Sans-Amis again.

By the time I'd got a coffee it was nearly 1100am.  I usually reckon 25 minutes to the rendezvous. With holiday traffic it was nearer 40 when I pulled into Cambridge Services behind the police out riders and a support 4WD. They do a great job marshalling us through the city to the cemetery.  Such a shame on similar runs that Kent Police can't copy their Cambridgeshire colleagues.

I had time for a chat with a guy with a Suzuki M1800. It's a nice looking bike but maybe too futuristic for me. A walk around the packed parking area revealed a whole load of bikes from race-reps to customs.  And a fair few Rockets. I took a few photos of the assembly and they are all on my Flickr photostream.

Then we were off. The bugler played Reveille and we mounted up and gave it a bit of throttle. The "norms" at the services were applauding and taking  photos and videos.  We left at 1230pm.

As I was right at the back of the third column I somehow managed to get behind the stinkwheels; scooters by any other name. The smell of two-stroke, and after the run, the taste of it on my lips was terrible. I should have brought a drink to clear my throat of it.

As we crossed over the bridge over the A14 we could see to our left that the road was closed by a police car, and to the right the column of bikes stretching two by two into the distance.  I have no idea how many bikes and stinkers there were on the day.

We headed it the city. Cambridge is one of the two biggest and more elite of the university cities along with Oxford. So many colleges and so many tourists. I hope the spectacle was recorded by them.

Once at the cemetery we parked up. The overflow car park is not too comfortable being 10 x 8 inch cobble stones with grass growing between them.  And it slopes away from the monument.
Once settled everyone set off for the service.

This doesn't take long. Once we had sung both our national anthems and taken the Lord's Prayer we were off.

With 165 miles to ride home I went quickly. The ride home was done only with a stop at Ashford Tesco  to fuel up. The odometer showed 181.9 miles with "miles to empty" down to 55. A return of 49 mpg (UK gallon). No bad for legal limit cruising and 11 miles at 20 mph or less!

I seems a long way to go for half an hour.  But it is a show of respect to our fallen allies. Those men and women who may have a cross planted here or their name on the wall of the missing.

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More Photos:

AMRR 2017



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