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International women’s ride day

International women’s ride day, (yes there is one) which is to promote more women to riding. Let’s face it retail bike shops should love this, we spend big!

9 enthusiastic ladies met at The Bike Shed for breakfast, before setting of on a journey which would take us backwards and forwards forwards and backward across 17 London bridges & tunnels.

The route had already been set & tested by Charlotte Barnes who’d led some ladies on a previous ride from the VC HQ… their day was the first brilliant hot sunshine of the year, everyone was buoyant.

We used GPX Bicycle app, which apparently is actually for bicycles. In this case it work just fine.

In the morning the sun was in and out, blood freezing when in! Baking hot when out & naturally I was dresses inappropriately for both.

Rotherhide tunnel was the 1st crossing, smoky dirty but enabled the obligatory revin… goooood noise !

Westminster bridge was heaving with tourists, Due to Beg Ben of course & the TWEED cycle race was also taking place across it. Victorian attire and lots of penny farthings. Whilst sat in traffic here the sun was blasting hot.

We lost 1/2 the crew just after Blackfriars due to the immense number of traffic lights and roundabouts and the tight turn the first crew had to make at the other side.. being mid marker with my yellow starry helmet, it was my job to spot them whilst we waited down an ally .. I waved like crazy! They missed me … aahhhr

Miraculously by Battersea we’d all regrouped, it was like seeing the family again.phew..

Whilst in Hammersmith the heavens opened with hail stones the size of frigging golf balls, which were hitting us like bullets, we pushed our way forward to get under the picturesque flyover! Then out the other side the sun was out again.

With the final bridge KEW done .. 3 1/2 hours in , 27miles rode 16 crossings (1 was closed) …we visited the The Ship at Mortlake. Getting off those seats was like a lovely stroke to the face aaahhh!!!

We then proceeded to demolish well earned food of substance. Chips pies lasagne etc. We the all said our good byes in heavy rain and misted visors & headed home with big smiles, and & then more hail!

Learner Friendly Ride with an instructor

Learner Friendly Ride with an instructor.
High Beach Tea Hut to Heybridge Basin Essex.

After the success of my first ride out as host to Southend on Sea last month, I decided to visit my instructor Chris Reed of Stadium Rider Training LTD to tell him about the adventures I’ve been having on my 125cc Mutt Motorcycle and all the new biker friends I’ve been making on the rides.

I told him about The Weekly Ride who are trying to build a biker community and have recently lunched a website where you can find or create rides with likeminded people in your area, which he and his wife thought was a fantastic idea and he himself was quite interested in joining in on my next ride.

I decided to meet at the High Beach Tea Hut for coffee and head out taking the scenic route to Haybridge Basin where there is a couple of busy pubs and a cafe that overlook the river Blackwater. This would be about a two hour ride with a midway stop and around 50 miles each way, I never planned the ride to go straight there so to make it more adventurous I looped around the reservoir at West Hanningfield which was beautiful.

The evening before the ride I checked the weather for the next day it was going to be wet. I checked in to see who was coming along for the ride, there was only two that had booked, Tony a fellow Mutt owner who I know and have rode with a few times before and a new guy Chris who had only taken the CTB test four weeks ago and had treated himself to a brand new Mondial HD.

On the morning of the ride we all meet up as planed minus Tony, he had had a few issues with his bike and decided to spend the day getting it up and running again ready for the following days work.

It was now time to leave and Chris the instructor took the lead on his Honda CBX 500, he was going to be riding advance lines for us to follow and said he knew a really nice route which would give us a bit of experience on a variety of different roads from country lanes with sweeping bends and single track hump back bridges where the river streams pass beneath, beautiful picturesque villages and not forgetting the detour around the West Hanningfield Reservoir.

Before we left the tea hut we decided to skip the midway stop and head straight for HeyBridge making this the first 50 mile non stop journey for learner Chris and myself, luckily for me I have a super soft seat, unfortunately I can’t say the same for John Wayne (I mean learner Chris) it took him a while to adjust to walking again after 1:45 minutes in the saddle.

Haybridge Basin was a hive of activity quite busy and buzzing with life, fellow bikers, visiting yachtsmen, and not forgetting the locals who enjoy coming out and watching the locking in and out of boats plus the weather forecast was wrong and not a drop of rain.

We had our lunch in The Old Ship Inn which is a lovely public house best described as a friendly spit and sawdust pub, serving some very tasty grub that’s mostly traditional English fare.

Now that we had been feed and watered and learner Chris could stand upright and walk freely again it was time for the return trip, and we were all keen to do another 50 mile non stop ride back to The Kings Oak at High Beach, instructor Chris was only going to ride until we reached Brentwood leaving me the final ten miles or so to lead the ride to our final destination.

All in all we had ourselves a really nice day, weather held out and stayed dry and there was another 100 miles on the clock of experience. Instructor Chris says he enjoyed himself and would be more then happy to help out on another ride before the winter comes and learner Chris says he can’t wait till next time.

Poulson Creative Customs BBQ & Bike meet

I’d been meaning to check out Poulson Creative Customs since it opened in July so when they announced they were having a BBQ and Bike meet it seemed the perfect opportunity to post another ride on The Weekly Ride.

Our starting point was the Bungalow Diner just off the A12 in Marks Tey. It’s a popular venue for bikers and car enthusiasts and hosts regular meets.

The prospect of rain did understandably deplete our numbers but I’m pleased to say when I arrived Richard was stood beside his Kawasaki GT550 and after introducing ourselves and admiring each others bikes, we soon got down to business of ordering tea, coffee and bacon butties. Already the conversation was flowing I sensed we were in for a good day.

Setting off we were soon twisting our way through Copford and Hardy’s Green past recently harvested fields picking up the B1022 to Tiptree. From Tiptree we journey on through Great Totham and Heybridge. As we across over the River Chelmer we hear the unmistakeable thud of a couple of Harley’s approaching giving us a friendly thumbs up as they pass by. I wonder what the sound track of that encounter will be in years to come with the inevitable introduction of electric bikes. Something akin to a speeding milk float?

On reaching South Woodham Ferrers we take our bearing and head up the A130 before a short sprint along the A12 before turning off on the B1007 arriving at Poulson Creative Customs. There’s already an assortment of Triumph’s and Harley’s lined up and lovely V9 Guzzi. We’re immediately made to feel welcome by Stuart and his team of helpers who are busy manning the BBQ and refreshments. There’s plenty of merchandise to choose from and good advice on hand if you’re in the market for some custom modifications. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and I can see that this will soon become ride to destination for lots of bikers.

As Richard and I settle into the comfy chairs we’re joined by Robin, a local Weekly Rider who made contact through the site and made the short 3 mile trip on his gorgeous CCM Spitfire to say hi. Time simply flew by as we laughed and exchanged stories on what we; grown men, do or don’t tell our Mother’s about owning and riding motorcycles.

Before Richard and I head off we both have a moment of bike envy admiring Robin’s CCM Spitefire. The ride back includes a series of narrow lanes eventually weaving our way back through Tiptree and returning to the Bungalow Diner.

I’ve had the pleasure of making new friends and that’s what The Weekly Ride is all about. The day has been great and the weather has been kind to us too. You might not be able to rely on the weather forecast but you can certainly rely on a Guzzi and a Kawka for The Weekly Ride.


Learner Friendly Ride To The Seaside

So let’s start by saying I’am a Newbie to motorbike’s, I ride a 125cc Mutt Motorcycle and having only obtained my license in March this year I’ve decided to stick to riding a 125 for the time being as it suits my needs and I can get pretty much anywhere I want to just by choosing the right roads.

After going on a hand full of ride outs with various groups (one of which being the weekly ride), I decided to create my own ride out for learner riders just like me, with the hope that some more experienced riders might just fancy tagging along for the day, so us newbies can pick their brains, and develop our riding skills further. Gain confidence and make new friends along the way.

My wife is fed up with me moping around the house, making it look untidy, so she’s happy I’m out. So it’s a win win.

Not having hosted a ride out before I took the time to watch Eamonn’s ride guide video which is full of tips and advice. I decided to start my ride from the Tea hut at High Beach as it’s my closest place where bikers meet and as we have been having such gorgeous weather I thought let’s go to the seaside for some fresh fish and chips and chose Southend-on-Sea.

I spent an evening at home planing my route using only B roads and single carriageways, and avoiding any major A roads not to mention the fast and furious Motorways where L plates are forbidden. I pre-installed all the necessary waypoints in to my new navigator and started to feel more and more comfortable about being the host for the first time.

Now it was time to commit myself and post my ride on the website to see if there was any interest in my event or was I going alone, then bing, bing, bing I got 3 riders who were waiting for just the very thing and I now had a ride organised.

So with excitement I waited for Saturday to arrive, I had arranged to meet up at 11:00am for coffee but decided to get there a little earlier so I could look out for the bikes as they arrive and all I knew I was looking for was two other Mutt riders who I had not met before and an AJS with a very loud exhaust.

One by one the bikes turned up including a guy on a Suzuki sports bike (we now had our sweeper) and we had some coffee and a chat about our bikes and experiences, discussed the day ahead of us and of course the route, then a friend of mine made a surprise appearance also on a Mutt and it was now time to ride.

We departed High Beach and started to head towards Theydon Bois, when my new navigator ever so politely ask me to perform a u-turn, so in return I politely ignored her and carried on as I knew the local roads and thought she would re-route the trip, but no such luck I had missed a waypoint and now unless I returned to it I would have to find my own way. I winged it for a bit then started to get a little lost, by this time we had been riding for almost an hour, luckily for me in the distance I spotted a pub and thought time for some lemonade and a chance to sort out the navigation errors.

The Bell and Chimes pub at Rettington Common was most welcoming to our loud pipes and the landlord even came out to admire the bikes. Once we had made ourself comfortable I confessed that I had been lost for the last 20 minutes and that Rettington Common was not on my route, but no one cared, after all we were riding some lovely roads and found a very nice pub.

Once back on the road and with my navigator back in business we were on route for our destination and some lunch. The country roads were becoming more and more urban and once we passed through Rayleigh it was time to head south for the coast, a nice sea breeze was most welcome as it was a very hot day especially with all the bikers gear on, we rode down the main strip and many heads were turning to admire our bikes and other bikers were giving us the nod.

We parked ourselves up at the Ye Olde Fish and Chip shop, while enjoying the fish and chips we had just rode fifty miles for we got chatting some more and realised that none of us were in any rush to go home, so back on the bikes for a short ride to the quieter East Beech for ice cream and some relaxation in the sun. After 30 minutes had past I came to the conclusion that sunbathing in Kevlar jeans was not going to improve the colour of my legs, and on that note it’s time to start the return journey.

Taking the same route out of Southend-on-Sea and into Rayleigh we made our way to a beautiful little place called Ramsden Heath where on my last ride we found a lovely pub called The White Horse and one I wanted to visit again, so more lemonade and more admirers, well it’s hard to arrive anywhere un-noticed with three Mutts roaring away and an even louder AJS.

Now that our final leg of the ride dawned upon us, my friend Kevo asked to lead the way back to High Beach, green country lanes all the way and he picked the roads with the most twists and turns. The last time we rode this route he would leave me behind on the bends and my little Mutt would have to work extra hard on the straights to keep up with him, but this time I promise myself I would keep up, I think the words “last one back to the Kings Oak buys a round” was enough for me to do my best and taking he’s advice form the last time we rode together I did just that, I was right behind him all the way and my Mutt did everything I asked of her.

The King Oak pub High Beach was our final destination so no more lemonade for me, and I celebrated my first ride out as host with a nice cold beer, chatted some more with the new friends I had made and then said our farewells upon heading off home.

I know I had a really good day, I left home at 10:00 that morning and never returned until 8:20 not once did I look at my watch, and that made my ride out “Timeless”

There’s two things I will do differently next time.

1, Phone my wife and let her know I’ll be home later then planed.
2, Never miss a Waypoint.

Andrew James

Colchester to Burnham-on-Crouch.

Now that the website is up and running I wanted do my bit and create a local ride. I chose The Cabin Dairy in Burnham-on-Crouch as my destination as it’s a popular stop for bikers and the roads from Colchester are perfect for a Sunday jaunt and a welcome change from my daily commute of A and M roads.

Arriving at the meeting point it occurred to me that the landlady of The Leather Bottle might not welcome the unmistakable sound of the Guzzi’s v twin at 9am on a Sunday morning (note 1 change meeting point). I heard the rumble of bikes approaching I wasn’t surprised to see a convoy of BMW GS’s snake off into the distance. We set off at 9am as planned and was immediately greeted with a friendly nod by a gentleman on his vintage BSA.

As we made my way through Layer-de-la-Haye on the B1026 the dog walkers, joggers and cyclists were already out in force making the most of the fine weather. With Layer-de-la-Haye disappearing in my mirrors I took advantage of the first opportunity to twist the throttle as the road sweeps down from the Parish church across Abberton Reservoir. The smooth surface and the sweeping left turn was too tempting not to open up the Guzzi albeit for a brief blast. My apologies to the twitchers for disturbing their quiet observations who cared not that my pipes are still stock.

I’m soon reminded that the sharp bends can catch out the unsuspecting rider as I pass a Range Rover, bonnet first in a ditch nuzzling a telephone pole now leaning at 65 degrees. Someone is going to have some explaining to do this morning.

On through Goldhanger and into Heybridge negotiating a couple of roundabouts I let her rip over the River Chelmer. There’s now a steady stream of bikers coming towards us from the opposite direction all nodding as we pass in acknowledgement of our shared passion. Picking up the B1010 we’re fast approaching a blind decent. As you hit the summit your stomach does a little jump and the pulse quickens. Turning left at the bottom of the hill on to Lower Burnham Rd we’re soon through the series of tight turns that draws bikers to Burnham-on-Crouch. With the River Crouch on my right my destination comes into view.

The tables outsides are already full of leather clad men and women enjoying a hearty breakfast (note 2 arrive early). The conversations are all about whether Dovi can beat Lorenzo and which bike here would you like take home if you had a choice. Mine would be the lovely Yamaha Enduro or perhaps the Guzzi cafe racer.

Inside the staff dressed in their crew tee shirts are busy with orders. I plump for the Fully Monty breakfast which arrives with a large mug of hot tea. “How come you’ve got a mug” pipes up ones of the locals looking disappointedly at her cup and saucer, which is the cue for further friendly banter from adjoining tables.

Wandering around outside trying to walk off the excesses of breakfast I come across a couple in their twilight years dressed in their finest Glastonbury attire, who inform me that they are learning to ‘live without’. “We’ve sold everything and are living in a transit van” proudly announces Heidi. Her partner Stephen immediately confesses to having sold his Bonnie sometime ago but I sense he’s still a biker at heart. Eager to learn more I listen to their plan to make their way up the east coast, eventually reaching Scotland before chasing the sun south across Europe.

After one final recky of the bikes assembled I head off back to Colchester passing a low loader with a rather bent Ranger Rover successfully excavated from the ditch. How will they manage the school run on Monday without their Chelsea Tractor I wonder?




Kent – the garden of England

So it started how all great plans start with a suggestion from Damon that the weather looked good on Sunday and who was up for a ride? Needing no second invitation I was straight on it and knowing that my better half was otherwise engaged and her Fireblade would be free for the day I was there!

The meeting point was the Hollyville Cafe on the old A20 just past Brands Hatch, eager to get out of London I arrived early and was greeted by the sight of around 20 classic British bikes ranging from Norton’s to a smattering of beautiful BSA’s.

The cafe is a proper old school bike meeting place, bacon butties and mugs of instant coffee, the air was rich with conversations of carb settings, I felt like a right rebel on my 20 year old Blade, which of course was classed as one of those modern Japanese things, and caught the odd old boy giving it an admiring sideways glance.

Next to arrive was our host for the day Damon, on his Guzzi V70, he took one look at the blade and confessed to his sins, like me is a mid 40’s trying to reform power ranger, and at home has a mint condition zxr750H1, my current dream bike.

Then we come to Fred who introduced himself by handing me a small section of rubber tube, which he then explained was off a vintage velocette and shaped in such a way to avoid melting on the exhaust, Fred is of indeterminable age, I later found out he is 90 at his next birthday, he was on a motomorini equipped with a road book, and even though I was on a bike with considerably more horsepower and better handling, and being half his age, I struggled to match his pace through the lanes.

The rest of the guzzi crew arrived in the shape of Paul, Jules and Phil and after bacon sandwiches, the pasta and a side of rice crew set off. I could tell that his was going to be a quick ride, Damon hasn’t quite shaken his power ranger riding style off and those Guzzi’s are certainly quicker than they look, the blade was a good choice. The route started with some nice wide ‘A’ roads and we where quickly into some back lane scratching, Guzzi Paul was chomping at the bit and flew past me and our leader Damon completely missing a junction so we pulled in and waited for him to realise. We waited and waited and waited, watered some plants, discussed gopro camera angles and eventually Paul returned with a big grin “some great roads down there fellas”

Back on route I hung at the back and followed Fred for a bit, learning some tips, he is able to carry phenomenal corner speed on the morinini and has a riding style as smooth as Lorenzo.

Our Journey took us through some fantastic Kent roads to the Peacock in Goudhurst, an archetypal English country pub,  where snacks and low alcohol ale where consumed over a varied discussion, covering all aspects of motorcycles and engines, with Fred entertaining us with stories of overflowing petrol tanks and how it is essential to ride as fast as you can so the wind blows the fire out, and secret barns full of vintage Italian sports cars.

After lunch Phil decided he was going to visit some friends locally, Damon and Fred headed back home and myself Paul and Jules decided we would head down to the Custom Cafe in Bexhill, well their is an old saying “two’s company, three’s a race” and this was most definitely the case as the afternoon was very much a blur, Paul is new to the area so after showing hime the sights of Battle and Bexhill we pulled in at the Custom Cafe, and consumed much coffee and home made cake, whilst soaking up the american roadhouse atmosphere, complete with a couple of a rat rods in the car park.

The route back to London was finalised and after a quick fuel stop, and locating Paul again after he gave chase to a zzr1400, we made our way back, en route farewells where made as we headed to our different points of the compass, and after spending the day together we had the solitude of those few last miles to home, contemplating the carefree hours spent enjoying the miracle of motorcycles, and english summer days spent with new friends bonded by a common interest.


Bank holiday ride out

So this weeks ride was an early start! Another bank holiday weekend, meant for me, a busy weekend and an early start was my only way of getting in my weekly fix.

We meet at the Bike Shed and as it was early, breakfast was definitely on the menu! I knew it would be a small turn out, as not many had said they could make it, but for me it doesn’t matter if it’s just me and one other. In the end it was five of us that rode out. As I said breakfast and coffee’s were consumed, there was no real rush so the conversation flowed. One of the guys had come up from Kent, a fair old trip and I was surprised he fancied going out again, but he had a lovely Triumph and I would be riding that as much as I can if it was mine. It was also nice to see Fabio who I had meet on another Weekly Ride and it was great to meet the other new faces.

We discussed routes, someone had to be back at the Bike Shed at Midday, I had been doing a bit of research, the last few I had been on we had gone East, so I wanted a change as much as anything. We spoke about various ideas then we settled on heading North. We thought we could head out of town on the A10 and basically turn left at Enfield out into the country side and heading towards Potters Bar.

The weather was dry and the sun was doing its best, but there was a definite chill in the air. We rode out together whipping through Hoxton, Dalston, Stoke and into the heart of Harringey. I know that area well, so we dipped off the A10 and went around the houses to avoid the busy part of the A10 at Tottenham. I must say though that the traffic in and around London was very quiet, I suppose most sensible people are enjoying their Saturday mornings with a cup of tea and a the paper on the sofa!

After our little detour we continued along the A10 until we got to Enfield and then we just simply turned left. I was leading and I cant help but get a bit nervous that people are enjoying the ride and the route we had taken. With a brief look at the area on Google back at the Bike Shed, my general plan was that if I keep heading North West we would eventually hit those leafy green roads we all dream about it. Heading in one direction is not as easy as you think as the roads didn’t seem to bending to my will, but we started to feel the cleaner air, see the shades of green and the speed limit increased so we had made it.

We also agreed that it would be a good idea to stop somewhere for a drink, as I mentioned it was a bit chilly so something hot was on my mind. As we were now in the countryside and the speeds were ramped up a bit, that chilliness turned into cold (I had definitely under layered!) and the two cups of tea I had drunk back at the shed were playing heavy on my bladder (my bike is a bit of a bone shaker which never helps when a call of nature is needed). Then out of nowhere a little country pub popped up on the horizon.

We dived into the car park and parked up, we all agreed a warm drink and a toilet break was a good idea. We went over to the pub but it was closed, but the landlord saw us and said we could come in and use the facilities but they would only start serving in 10-15 minutes. It was a nice pub inside and out and we parked ourselves by the fireplace, ordered our hot beverages when the time was right and the conversation flowed. There was talk about clothes and fashion (motorcycle gear obviously), how often you wash your bike trousers and some of the strange customs and rules of living in Sweden.

We were conscious of time so we decided to head back towards the Shed, we had a little bit more of a blast around the lanes and again following my nose headed East to try and pick up the A10 again, we ended up going through Cockfosters, Southgate and Palmers Green, not exactly the way I wanted to go but it was all good. Then we blasted back down the A10. A nice ride out with nice people, which is what this is all about for me.




A blast out around the countryside

It was a sunny and fresh Saturday, starting in London and ending at the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub next to the Roman Walls in the heart of St Albans.

I had arranged to meet with a friend and someone I had met through The Weekly Ride, at the Bikeshed and join other weekly ‘rideouters’ on whatever route had been planned this week.

Bikeshed is never empty, with groups sitting outside under the arches, chatting, eating, drinking, and smoking.

Having caught up with Miguel we then commenced the infamous ‘search for fellow weekly riders’ hoping to see obvious tell-tale signs of potential riders (non-alcoholic drinks, discussions of routes, the obvious itch to ride).  Anxious to set off and realising that Miguel and I may be the two members for today, we planned to sit and have a quick drink then head out. Sitting there we got chatting to a few other people who had decided to come along.

As none of us had been there before and as it didn’t seem so far away, we chose to ride to St Albans, not knowing what we would find or what the ride would entail. Having not led a ride before, I was grateful to be leading only a few other riders, all of whom were keen and able.

So we dipped a knee in the breeze and headed north deciding to stick to the A roads hoping to enjoy the sites  on route to St Albans. As there was only a few of us we were able to stay together through the tight roads and hazards of high streets and residential areas between Haringay and Barnet. Progress was slow but steady, as we all got the chance to practice our brakes and observations, chatting at red lights as we passed through these many small towns. We eventually reached the A1(M) toward Welham Green and south Hatfield where we were able to twist our wrists and enjoy a little speed we were all secretly itching for before turning off towards St Albans.

We arrived in St Albans and scooted to the Roman Walls located by the water. Heading down under the ancient arches and over the cobbled streets of the old parts of town, we pulled up right (as if planned) by the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub and enjoyed a well-earned pint and a bowl of chips in the large beer garden, sharing our stories about our bikes, VW camper-vans, life, and work.

Due to time constraints, and wanting a change from the stop-start A roads we had endured on the way in to St Albans, we decided to take the M1 back towards the Bikeshed. Heading south, we stared down a beautifully barren M1 devoid of four wheeled obstacles. Gliding from lane to lane creating long shadows from the setting sun, we took turns to shoot into the right hand lane, dip our heads, and scare ourselves at the power of our engines.

One of the guys took a turn off early and headed home to west London. Being instructed by the sat nav we reluctantly left the M1 and back onto the A roads. Needless to say, we were back into London before we knew it, slowly working our way to the Bikeshed.

Once there we had a quick bite, discussed the route, and parted ways, looking forward to the next one.


After a long winter break

My first ride out after a what felt like a long cold wet winter was a huge success. To be honest it was still winter, it was just less cold and not wet!

Through the Weekly Ride, I went out with a few of my friends who I regularly ride with and who could make it, it seems people like me were itching to get out and ride, so a lot of us turned out. We were heading out to the Hertfordshire countryside and agreed our destination would be a place called the Aquadrome in Rickmansworth. There is a lovely little café, surrounded by lakes and green spaces and a large car park which is always handy.

Hertfordshire has lots of leafy (well they would be in the summer time), twisty roads, so we enjoyed the journey there and the journey back.

There was a large variety of bikes, a couple of learners also, the ride out was at a decent pace, but not going too crazy. It was lovely to catch up with my biker friends and meet a few new people, who hopefully I will see again on more rides.