Sunday, 9 October 2016

Beginning to learn to ride again.....

Saturday 8th October 2016

Frustrated after weeks on sick following surgery to my wrist I needed to ride!!! I had surgery on my left wrist two weeks ago and of course riding was impossible. Mixed with the pain before surgery meant I hadn't ridden properly in ages.

Anyway, stitches out on the 7th and after speaking to physio the advise was - "if it hurts stop doing it!" So a return to two wheels called,

I need to build up my long distance riding experience once again, so embarked on my longest ride since buying the bike.

I'd intended to include the motorcycle mecca of the St.Just - St.Ives road but my wrist was in agony by the time I turned home. Anyway, my route....



Helford Passage

Helford Passage

Helford Passage

River Helford

Helford River

Riding through the woods at Gweek



Goonhilly Downs

Pasty time at the Lizard. Tip for fellow travelers - the pasties down there are big, but that's the only good point. The service was slow, the pasties microwaved so much they were tastelss and way too expensive

Lizard Point

Lizard Point

Lizard Point

Lizard Point

Lizard Point

Lizard Point

Lizard Point

Twitchers at Lizard Point

Lizard Point


Porthleven - looking towards the Kinsey Mines

Looking west towards Kinsey







Logan's Rock and Porthcurno



Brilliant day. BUT

Mental note to self. Need to rest wrist. Just had wrist surgery and 24 hours later my wrist still feels like it needs to be chopped off!!!

All text and images that appear on this Blog (and other blogs / websites associated with Claire Stocker) are owned under copyright by Claire Stocker 2016

So, why a motorbike?

Why a motorbike? It's a fair enough question. After all, I'm a middle aged woman who no doubt would ordinarily prefer the benefits of a comfortable car and possibly would rather sleep in a hotel room rather than roughing it by camping. But then, I'm not your average woman!

My personal history is well documented elsewhere. While I hide nothing I'm also tired about talking about it, so forgive me if I breeze over it. I'd rather talk in this posts about motorbikes.

Like a lot of my friends as we grew up we were obsessed with getting our driving licences, getting our first cars and gaining our independence, But I was also fascinated by motorbikes as well! I started riding bikes later than many of my friends - money was a huge factor - and in turn passed my car licence later as well. But I was proud of myself at the time that I paid my own way to get both motorbike licence and car licence at near enough the same time. To do this I worked way too many part-time hours behind a garage kiosk when I should have been studying for my A levels, but that alas is another story......

My first bike - Suzuki GP100. A real pig of a bike, I was conned! But I was only 17!!

My second bike, a big improvement! Suzuki GS125. I passed my test on this bike and developed my wander-lust as well! Found myself at Land's End one day when I was due home for a family meal! Happy days - I was 18

Anyway, at the age of 19 I passed my bike licence in the February 1988 (just before my Dad died, I was so pleased he saw me do that) and passed my car licence a couple of months later. I was at the tender age of 19 and that year was a year of so many changes, many I would rather not put in print after all these years!

My third, and until recently my best bike. Suzuki GSX550EF, seen here with my business partner's car a Renault 17TS (when was the last time you saw one of them on the road??)

Together at the young age of 19 (both of us) we started a courier business in Cornwall - MERCURY COURIERS. Please excuse the red noses - it was for Red Nose Day 1989 from memory!!

Mercury Couriers was a mixed time for me. For a start at times it put a friendship with Neil - that had started at the age of 11 - to the test totally; although fortunately 30 odd years later we remain close friends. It also taught me possibly I wasn't cut out for business no matter how skilled I thought I was on a bike.

Nevertheless I traveled miles while we had the business. I also took to riding to London and back to see my brother who was then living in Wimbledon. It was a great time - I was unstoppable, at least until I hit the back of a stationary car.

On the old A39 that passed through Carnon Downs there was an infamous junction. More than one accident happened there (including my step-father twice; neither were his fault either). However, this accident was my fault totally; I assumed the car in front had pulled away, I looked down the road, saw my gap and pulled away. However, that car in front had decided otherwise and I had no space to stop - I just remember pulling on the brakes (to no avail) and thinking calmly "oh no". I'd never been so calm oddly and even as I was thrown over my handlebars and onto the roof of this stationary car I was strangely calm.

As said, it was utterly my fault. I'd failed to see the road conditions properly and the accident shook me. I was lucky, not only was I able to walk away, amazingly the bike was able to be rode away, the only damage was to the front mud guard from memory. But I was shaken badly and I began to drive far more ignoring the bike. I eventually left Mercury Couriers and got into a relationship. Despite this person advising me not to sell the bike, I did and it went to a friend who was a policeman in the London Met. I lost contact with it then but about ten years ago it appeared in eBay on the midlands. I was tempted.....

But by then I was married and had children. I was in a marriage where my partner had an irrational fear of many things, including motorbikes. I tried to resume my riding but my efforts were short-lived.

First bike after getting married. Yamaha VT250

It was soon clear my partner would only be happy(ish) if I rode just to commute to work and back, pleasure riding was nagged away.

Similar to my bike when I did my nurse training. I never took to this bike and so never took a photo of my own Suzuki GS500.

Often called mid first mid-life crisis, I bought this bike when I turned 40. A Chinese bike - A Kymco I think 250 - another pig of a bike. Sure it had the looks and was fairly new, but the petrol tank needed replacing, the chrome was cheap and rusted quickly and the thing broke down so often!

At the age of 43 my marriage collapsed thank goodness and of course life changed totally. I had to rent for the first time in two decades and had to find a place for my children who were then at college still. We found a lovely pace close to a river, I down-sized my previously huge car for a little hatchback and thoughts of bike ownership were forgotten. Until this year anyway.

I have a really good friend - Steve - also a school friend and my only close friend as mad about bikes as I am. Despite his love of bikes he'd finally got around to passing his bike test in 2016 and he began badgering me to buy a bike once again. To be honest, I couldn't afford one but after my car broke down and was off the road for a week I realised how isolated I was where I live. It was apparent I needed another form of transport.

 After a quick search of local dealers and waiting for a loan application I finally settled for my latest bike, I say settled, I fell for it! The bike was parked at the back of a crowded show room yet even Steve agreed that bike was the only one that was the one to buy. Odd how you gell with a machine instantly isn't it?

Kawasaki ER-6F. 650cc. My latest! 

I've been held back by recent surgery sadly, as such my mileage on this bike still remains low. But I've began to regain my confidence and my love of riding for sheer pleasure! Finally freedom I'd missed since I was 19!

So, to answer the opening question - why use a bike - why not? I've always wanted to do an end-to-end adventure from Land's End to John O'Groats by any means, a bike seems the ultimate in freedom!!

Life after all, is for living.........

At Perranporth

Riding through the woods at Gweek

Pasty time at the Lizard

All text and images that appear on this Blog (and other blogs / websites associated with Claire Stocker) are owned under copyright by Claire Stocker 2016

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Plans Change.....

Sadly, plans change don't they?

I was all go for my spring adventure then I go and change jobs don't I? The resulting change in pay packet dates meant a lot of the capital saved for the trip had to be used to live off and the trip was postponed.

Anyway, fast forward a few months and the trip still burns a fire within me! Again, circumstances change and currently I'm laid off work following an operation for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. (Just three days ago as well!!!)

So I've been re-evaluating myself and the trip, and provisionally the trip is still on! Of course I need to book the time off admittedly, but I can plan.....

I'm planning for either spring 2017 or the Autumn of 2017. More than likely the latter for various reasons.

Another change is the mode of transport. I still have the old Rover, my faithful main mode of transport, but now I intend to return to a dream of my youth. When I was 19 - 21 years old I had a GSX550EF motorbike. Loved it and while I ran a business on it (a courier business) and traveled much of southern England on it, I never went further north than Bristol on it. Back then before responsibility really set it, mortgages, rent, children etc became a reality, I dreamed of touring the country on it. Of course in those days it involved meeting a big Scots man in the Highlands which sadly never came to pass, but of course maybe some dreams do come true!! So, to relive my adolescence ambition and to keep my daft reputation intact I have bought a motorbike!!!

Please meet Kevin the Kawasaki! 

At Falmouth

At Falmouth with my friend Steve's bike

Posing at home

Chasing Molly at home

Another home pose

At the showroom

So I need to buy a fair few bits for Kevin before he's ready for the trip. Also I need to regain my strength as having a hand wrapped in bandages isn't the best thing for riding a bike safely is it? So I won't be riding my lovely bike for another three weeks at least.

He'll be fitted with light panniers, I need a new tent and sleeping bag as well. Already got the bike mounted camera ready for the journey!

The Route

The Route remains remarkably similar. I've adjusted a few bits and will continue to do so over the following year of planning. But basically:

Day One:

Lands End - West-country - Cheddar Gorge - Wye Valley - Brecon Beacons - St,Davids - 400ish miles

Day Two: St.Davids - Snowdonia - 150ish miles

Day Three: Snowdonia - Lake District - 200ish miles

Day Four: Lake District - Carlisle - over the Borders (via A68) - Loch Lomond - 200ish miles

Day Five - Six: Route undecided, but Loch Lomond to John O'Groats - via Skye and watching northern lights hopefully!  

Day Seven: Across the highlands and Loch Ness, down into England to Berwick-upon-Tweed

Day Eight: Berwick-upon-Tweed - Holy Isle - Angel of the North - Lincoln

Day Nine: Lincoln - Dorking

Day Ten: Dorking  - home via Portland Bill and Dartmoor

Although written ten days the mileage is huge. So I'll give myself a couple of extra days just in case. The total mileage when I first estimated was 2500, but on working it out last night it's actually closer to 3000 miles! Yikes!!!!

So, a lot of planning ahead. Any tips and advice gratefully received. 

Claire x