Good quotation

Just read a great article in this month’s Bike magazine about the psychology of motorcyclists, with particular reference to those (usually sports bikers) killed in accidents.

In a section of the article which touches on the bike industry’s attempt to rid itself of the image of promoting danger, there is a great quotation from the early 1990s, when a top HRC man described the RC30 race rep as ‘a little bit over the border of harmonisation with society’.

Wales trip

Two of my work colleagues (Chris and Ross) and I just got back from a motorbike trip to Wales. It’s been a fun weekend and we managed to cover 500 miles.

We left straight from work on Friday afternoon and headed down from Coventry to Wales via the A and B roads of Worcester and Herefordshire (past Hergest Ridge). We arrived at Llandindrod Wells shortly after 20:00 on Friday evening and checked straight into the guest house Ross had managed to book over the phone, before heading into Llandindrod Wells itself for an evening meal and a quick drink or two.

On Saturday morning we had a leisurely start, before heading off towards Aberystwyth on the A483, A470, then A44. The weather was great and the route was quite a fun one for the bikes, with a mixture of smooth and challenging curves in the road. Several other bikers were out in force – particularly the race bike crowd.

At Aberystwyth we stopped on the sea front and had an ice cream before getting back on the bikes and heading to Machynlleth (the ancient capital of Wales) on the A487. We stopped for lunch there and arranged accommodation in the area for the evening, then had a quick walk around the town and a pub rest before heading off further up the A487 to the Tyn-Y-Groes hotel in Ganllwyd, near Dolgellau for our evening meal. Once we’d filled ourselves beyond the comfort zone, we headed back down the A487 and slightly along the A493 to the Penmaendyfi Bed & Breakfast in Cwrt, Pennal, near Machynlleth.

Sunday morning was overcast and rainy as we set off on the A493 coastal road, which hugs the coast of Gwynedd up to Porthmadog, but the weather cleared up after an hour or so and the rain held off for most of the rest of the day. On the way up to Porthmadog, we stopped off late in the morning at Harlech for a quick coffee and look at the castle, albeit from the outside, before continuing up to Porthmadog for a refuel and sandwich stop.

Once we left Porthmadog on Sunday afternoon, we headed north on the A498 through Beddgelert and picked up the A5 at Capel Curig. Once on the A5, we carried on heading east, back into England, before hitting a massive queue of traffic around Telford. Thank God we were on motorbikes, as this allowed us to filter through the traffic, which was queued back on both sides of the road.

We arrived back at around 18:00 after a 500 mile round trip. The weekend seemed to last longer than just a weekend – probably due to the stops we took and the changing scenery. All the bikes behaved well, and Chris’ Suzuki 125 cruiser performed very well for a 125 and kept up the pace. My bike (a 1996 Yamaha Diversion XJ600S) was fully loaded with my GIVI top box and side panniers, but wasn’t adversely affected by the extra weight. Ross seemed to enjoy his new Honda CBF1000, which runs extremely smoothly and seems to hug the road.

The weekend gave us a real chance to fully test our Autocom noise-cancelling intercom systems, and aside from the fact that the speakers that come with the Autocom were absolutely unbearable for Ross and me (Chris seemed to have no problem with them in the model of helmet he has) and we ended up cutting them out, the intercom worked really well and was extremely useful.

A fun time was had by all and we’ve just got to work out where the next expedition will take us.

Clooney the diplomat

So George Clooney has spoken out about the situation in Darfur and tried to ‘shame’ the UN Security Council into action.

Whilst I applaud the sentiment behind his plea, what the hell gives George Clooney the right to address the UN Security Council? Is he the best person to be doing this? I must have missed something, because the last I knew, the guy was an actor.

As I watched his plea, I couldn’t help but think about the film ‘Team America’, which takes a swipe at actors who speak up over political issues, and George Clooney in particular. In this instance, no-one can deny that Clooney’s heart is in the right place and he does mean well, but where are the people who actually have a little more knowledge on the subject? These people do exist. Politicians generally have a particular issue on which they are pretty clued-up – more so than Clooney could ever be, given his acting demands. If Clooney left the acting world to pursue a career in politics, I’d have a bit more time for the guy, but for the moment, his appearance is as significant as those pop and rock stars who opposed the Iraq war – completely irrelevant.

Entertainers should stick to entertaining – sure, vent off if you like, but an audience with the UN Security Council?

Kill Clouseau – The First Gig

Yesterday evening, BAiT’s spin-off covers band, Kill Clouseau, comprising Declan, Chris, Nick, and I from BAiT played our first gig at BAiT’s old regular haunt, the Radford Semele Sports and Social Club, just outside Leamington Spa.

The place hasn’t changed since BAiT last played there on New Year’s Eve, 2002, on the occasion of Dan’s last gig with BAiT.

We did a really good job, even if I do say so myself, and were very well received by members of the audience, many of whom remembered BAiT very well and I think had developed a soft spot for us.

It’s great to just be able to play some live music again in front of an audience. I don’t really care that it’s not original stuff – that’s why BAiT exists – to cater for our artistic whims, but the reality is that it’s a criminal waste to be a musician and to hardly be playing live at all. Kill Clouseau looks like it is going to provide a lot of fun for us all based on yesterday, will improve our stage craft, musicianship, and frankly I’d be telling porky-pies if I said that the pocket money doesn’t come in handy.

Having finally got to bed at 03:00, I didn’t wake up until around 10:30 this morning. Had a message from Ross, asking if I wanted to pop over so that he could play with the electrics on our motorbikes to add provision for the powering of various devices from the bike itself. He ended up putting three bullet sockets on my bike, so that I can now power the Autocom, the Kenwood TK3201 transceiver, and my MP3 player. Great job done there, I have to say. Makes me a little frustrated that I don’t know more about electronics. Must buy me a book…