Tuesday, 9 March 2010

2010 AGM Jollys

It seemed like a good idea at the time (don’t they all?). The forecast was favourable and I had time on the Friday to extricate the battery from the bowels of Bertram the BMW for the yearly charge so the decision was made to go to the club AGM on two wheels. As the GLW had a big job on that weekend, it had the added advantage of leaving her the car to trundle around in whilst I was away so was bound to earn me a good few brownie points.

Late Friday afternoon, I approach Bertram BMW’s Bike Barn with the required tools to start the dismantling process. Opening the cover revealed a not very pretty sight. It seems that the GLW’s little feathered friends that she feeds so caringly drop off for a rest on the Bike Barn for a little rest and a quick ‘lightening of the load’ before attempting to fly any distance. This has two consequences: 1) the cover of the Bike Barn has a strangely pungent, slimy coating and 2) some of that coating seems to have leached through the cover and managed to coat the majority of the BMW within. Strange clumps of white mould were sprouting over most the tank and fairing and everything was slippery to the touch – what joy! First things first though – out with the battery.

For a race that prides itself on logic and practicality, how come the German designers of my RT hide the battery in the least accessible area of the bike? To remove the battery you a) remove both seats, the left pannier and left side panel, b) remove the left wing mirror / indicator pod, c) remove the entire left hand fairing panel (held on with what seems like 93 hex head screws of four differing lengths), d) remove the air filter trumpet and top, e) undo the negative battery connection, f) wiggle the battery around until it slides out of it’s carrier sufficiently for you to get to the positive terminal, and finally g) balance the battery on your knee against the frame rail as you need both hands to remove the connection. The work of but a moment, you would think! Still, battery removed and safely hooked up to the charger in the shed and not much more I can do at that stage. The real fun will start on Saturday.

I finally get a couple of hours in between grating carrots and slicing cucumbers for the Pig Roast the GLW is catering for and set to. Amazingly, putting the battery back only takes 40 minutes, at least ten of which is spent trying to remember which hex screw goes where plus trying to ‘persuade’ the fairing to go back on. A quick check of oil levels, in with the key, and hey presto the beast lives! Settling down to a regular tickover steam gently rises from Bertram’s damp bowels filling the air with a slightly unpleasant mix of WD40, semi-synthetic oil and essence of bird poo. Perhaps it could be marketed as the ultimate men’s aftershave?

Next stage – de-kakking the bike. First, a quick hose down with a soft brush removed most of the fungus and left a slightly greasy smeared look to the paintwork and screen. Attack two came in the form of Fairy Liquid (yes I know you shouldn’t use as it leaves residue that turns cable outers into liquorice or some such) and the soft cloth and I could finally see through the screen and recognise the colour of the paintwork. Lastly a quick hose down followed by a quick rub down with a wash leather and Bertram was almost ready to meet his public.

Sunday dawned with the nice smiley person on the tele promising a dry but overcast day so quick check of the tyre pressures and I was almost ready to go. A quick trip with the GLW to pick up all the dishes and bowls from the Pig Roast (seems to have been a roaring success – no fatalities other than the pig!) and I was ready to get togged up. Ten minutes later I’m on the road and frantically trying to remember which foot does what and get used to the disparity in weight between the BSA and the BMW. Still by the time I’d stopped for fuel and fed out into the traffic on the A127 it all suddenly felt natural once more and I soon dropped into my comfort zone as the boring slog out of Southend gave me a chance to make sure everything was working as expected. It was then I remembered that I’d not packed my overtrousers – still, the forecast was definite, no rain could possibly blight my day. Down onto the A130 and at last the traffic opened up giving me the chance to ‘make good progress’ and Bertram continued to impress me with it’s ability to eat the miles while I sit in a cocoon of still air. A slight contretemps with some spotty oik in a Peugot at the A12 junction (lane markings appear to mean nothing to some drivers!) but apart from that, quite a serene journey to Marks Tey. I must admit to particularly enjoying riding through the roadworks at Witham well above the 50mph limit despite the average speed cameras – the joys of having no front number plate!

Once at Marks Tey the serious business started. Much mingling with familiar faces and humming and haaing over various bikes and pieces ensued (no purchases made other than new numbers and front plate for the BSA, although I was tempted by a particularly well spec’d BSA 441!) before getting outside a bacon buttie and a mug of strong black coffee. For people watchers, I guess the star turn was Dave Bickers who turned up to see what was going on. I toyed with offering him a few tips but he seemed rather busy so I went and had another bacon buttie.

On to the main event, the AGM. Our Beloved Chairman, Raymondo, started proceedings promptly 17 minutes late (surely a record?) and everything went remarkably smoothly. My pet subjects of the Clubman class and the Newsletter prompted a fair amount of debate but everything got sorted in the end, not necessarily to my advantage but at least it prompted debate. No-one threw a hissy fit and everyone appeared happy with the outcomes so I started getting ready to leave. It’s at this stage that I look out of the window and notice the rain!

There’s something deeply unpleasant about sitting on a wet seat, knowing that sooner or later it’s going to seep through your jeans and bring an unwelcome chill to the family jewels. Still, I had no alternative but to press on so in with the ear plugs and hit the road. The fairing that I had cursed long and loud when changing the battery comes into it’s own when raining, provided you stay above 55mph with the screen in the highest position you stay remarkably dry so with that simple aim in mind I feed onto the A12.

What happens to car drivers minds’ when it rains? They resolutely refuse to switch on headlights and sit in the outside lane doing 50mph. When we get to the roadworks, they slow to 40mph and weave about to such an extent that I can’t safely filter so I’m starting to get a distinctly cold, wet, crotch. Not a happy bunny and in my building frustration I become convinced that all the smug car drivers are plotting against me. Eventually a couple of them wake up and I able to ‘make good progress’ but the damage is done it now feels like I have two ice cubes in my pants. The rest of the journey home is remarkably uneventful and ten minutes after arriving home I’m sitting in a warm bath and feeling is returning to my groin. Bliss!

Not much about scrambling, I know, but it gives me a chance to have a rant! It’s also nearly a month since the AGM – I drafted the majority of this blog and then forgot about it. Better late then never I guess!

Roll on the new season.

No comments: