Happy New Year! Today I learnt how to grease my chain (thank you YouTube!). After riding over 25,000 miles on a combination of Honda Transalp, Suzuki GSX-R 750 and an Aprilia RSV1000R I have found that I have been incorrectly greasing my chain. I’ve been spraying the grease on the outside of the chain but the centrifugal force (do you like that?) just flings the grease off the chain, what I should have been doing was spraying the grease onto the inside of the chain. This way the centrifugal force forces the grease into the joints of the chain. So, with this in mind I decided to remove the rear wheel and take a look at the front and rear sprockets. I replaced the sprockets only about 2500 miles ago with third party ones and wear was clearly visible. Luckily I had a brand new set here consisting of genuine Honda sprockets and a heavy duty Honda chain so I have fitted them. From now on I’m sticking to genuine Honda parts. The chain was a complete nightmare as I needed to join the two ends, there are tools available specifically for this purpose but needless to say I didn’t have any of them so I just smashed the living daylights out of the link until it fitted together perfectly. Once I had joined the two ends of the chain together I realised that I should have removed a link as now it’s at maximum adjustment. When I realised that I would need to break the chain and re-join it I thought “be patient Richard”. My next thought was that I would rather pay an expert to do it properly, this task has now been added to my list of items for Honda to deal with!
Whilst the back wheel was off I decided to remove the rear swing arm and I’m glad I did. The bearings were surrounded by grit and dirt so everything was cleaned and greased, I also replaced the rear brake pads as they had been in there for quite some time and were getting a little worn. It’s all back together and now the backend is completely ready for my trip. I know I just made it sound like putting the rear end back together was easy as I’m such a professional but the reality was not quite as simple! It took me about half an hour to get the rear axle back through the swing arm and the wheel, however trying to align the axle was a complete nightmare. When I finally got it through I just sat back and smiled, it wasn’t that bad. Then I realised that I had forgotten to include the rear brake calliper. Bollocks! After spending the next two hours getting the axle out and replacing it with the calliper in place I made a decision to go more, which in turn would make the job easier and certainly faster! I’ve learnt from that mistake!
It’s now only 19 days until I leave Buxted for Morocco. My preparations are coming along nicely but I’ve had a few last minute changes to equipment. It’s very important to me to have a record of this trip and I can’t think of a better way than to write a blog on my way around (hence this blog). My original plan was to take a little netbook with me but they’re just too slow. I played with one in PC World and within 10 minutes (about the time it took to load Firefox) I’d developed a nasty case of Tourettes.
My iPad was out of the question as typing on them is not something I would bestow on any living creature. You’re okay as long as you don’t make any mistakes but the moment you need to go back and correct something you’re doomed to a life of misery. So there I was moaning about iPads saying if they only had keyboards they would be perfect for my trip, it was then that I found out that you can get keyboards for iPads. I bought mine with a nice leather case for protection then got stumped by photographs. As a test I took some photographs on my Nikon D300 and wanted to get one of them rotated, cropped and resized and put on my blog. My conclusion: If you actually want to do something properly get a computer, if all you want to do is walk around looking like a complete wanker then get an iPad.
So, it looks like I’m taking my rather large HP Elitebook 8530p with me to Morocco. The Elitebook is a fantastic laptop that is designed to take a real hammering. Mine’s got 8GB of memory and a 240GB SSD hard drive so is incredibly fast but the trouble is the battery only last about 4 hours. To get around this I’ve bought another 2 batteries and a 12v charger for the bike. Now I’ve got to wire in a charging point into my left pannier that is able to cope with a draw of 90 watts. I’ve got all the cables and connectors I need so will set about getting this done tomorrow.
I’ve been worrying about getting all my paperwork ready for quite some time now but never got round to sorting it out. Earlier today I compiled it all into a waterproof folder. It contains my passport, bike logbook, bike insurance (Europe), bike MOT, Newhaven to Dieppe ferry ticket, D16 TER Morocco entry form (in English, French and Arabic) and 50 police checkpoint documents for the Western Sahara.
The bike has had a lot of work done to it in the last two weeks. I’ve changed the oil and filter, coolant, air filter, chain and sprockets, headlight bulb, brake pads front and back and replaced the spark plugs. Then it went to Everest Motorcycles in Framfield for the valve clearance to be checked, carbs synced, new tyres and inner tubes fitted front and back (with slime), grease the cables and to remove a link from the chain. With the exception of the wiring I have to do to power the laptop the bike is pretty much ready. Once I’ve completed the wiring I’ll drain my laptop battery and do a little test run and see what happens.
Anyway, it’s now twenty past nine so I’m late for bed. Night!
Only day 2. It feels like I’ve been on the road for at least a month. I’m smelly, my back is okay but my backside is sore, and my bags and panniers are already a complete mess. I thought I would be feeling new to all this for at least a week but already I feel like a seasoned traveller. My French flows out like a native (as long as all there is to be said is hello), I’m completely fluent on driving on the right and I’ve learnt some demon “how to cut everyone up at a roundabout” moves from the locals.
Anyway, yesterday I forgot to add the mileage to my blog so here it is:
- Day 1: 161 miles
- Day 2: 332 miles
I’m in a camp site just outside a small town called Montricoux which is about 20 miles south of Cahors. So, with 100 miles under my belt tomorrow I’ll be in the Pyranees heading into Spain.
Last night at about 2am I was woken up by a MASSIVE clap of thunder. It was absolutely hammering it down and the sky was alive with lightning. I love storms so just lay there listening to it for a couple of hours, though I came to the conclusion that they are best experienced with company. When you’re alone in a strange country a storm just makes you feel more alone.
Both the camp sites that I have stayed in so far have been very nice but completely dead. It feels like everything is deliberately going out of its way to make me feel lonely. Perhaps I should have bought my ted! ;-)
Yesterday is was not that warm so the mosquitos left me alone however at this camp site much further south the weather is very humid and hot and I seem to have had an encounter with a team of nyphomaniac mosquitoes. I know the ladies from Priory of Our Lady are reading my blog so I will refrain from divulging all the details but suffice to say that a mosquito bite on the old boy that screams ‘scratch me!’ is not good.