Saturday, 24 July 2010

500 miles from Norfolk... the start before the start!

Safely back in Glasgow, some 11 hours after leaving Dereham, deep in the Norfolk flat-beer zone (Woodforde's Wherry, absolutely delicious). I stayed with the Allansons last night, Rob collecting me from Norwich airport after an astonishingly quick (50 minutes) flight from Aberdeen. Quicker than the one to Shetland.

This morning, it was off to Dave Wicks Motorcycles, where my much-anticipated Moto Guzzi Bellagio was waiting. A factory demonstrator that had been used mostly for posing models on (it's Italian), it is the most beautiful motorcycle in the known universe, with the possible exception of the Moto Guzzi 1100 Sport. I got an amazing deal on it, back when the Barnard Challenge was a Guzzi-only zone. Only for us to switch to Triumph for insurance purposes. Oh well.

I had also neglected to tell my wife about said purchase (fully tax-writeable-offable, holds its value, rare, cheap, honest) but then had to phone her to get some insurance details. I took my verbal punishment like a man. A man who had already signed the registration document.

Around 10.30, Rob, aboard his trusty Hyosung, and I headed off for Hinckley in Leicestershire to collect the official Barnard bikes, Triumph Street Triples. All Norfolk seemed to be on the roads, which in this neck of the flatlands are pretty minor. The Guzzi, a wondrous cross between a cruiser and streetfighter, was a revelation: great thumpy sound, sweet gearchange, easy handling, really comfortable. The weather was hot, too. Still, we made it to Hinckley where Paul, the Man Who, had been expecting us yesterday. Oops.

The Hyosung and Bellagio were carefully stored away for future collection, and the Street Triples rolled out. Rob's a lurid lime green and mine (an R, which stands for Ridiculous) in sober matt grey. With lurid orange lettering. These are not bikes for shrinking violets.

They hold hardly any luggage, but we'd expected that. Each weighs about as much as a mountain bike, only with a jet engine. They are insanely fast (basically stripped-down 675cc Daytonas) and yet, after a while on the motorway, they become quite comfy; they're surprisingly effective long distance tools.

Unfaired bikes are sore on the wrists, though. By the time Rob peeled off for Manchester to visit his in-laws, I was feeling the handlebar burn. Still, I made it through the filthy weather of the Lake District, left the holiday traffic behind at Penrith and was in Glasgow by 8.30pm. The aroma of various foods was overwhelming ( did you know that on a bike, each motorway service area smells, as you pass, of burnt fat?).

To the Student Pit of Depravity (flat) and then, once dry and luggageless, to a Place of Security And Safety for the Triumph. One theft of a Triumph from outside Mag's flat is quite enough!

Glasgow now until Monday night.

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