A midweek blog & it’s not about me, it’s not about the traffic in Lima, it’s not about my mumbles. moans & groans, it doesn’t feature Victor Meldrew.
I won’t even mention Guinea Pigs!
What is it all about then?
My good mate & No.1 Bike Guru, Dave Hep.
Dave is a good mate, a down to earth biker with a lot of experience & a cracking Engineer too.
(He made me a modified back-rack for my C90, the Naysayers said it couldn’t be done, but he did it & it is strong enough to hang a house on!)
He’s also a tireless source of patience for me & my inane questions about all things two-wheeled. Cheers Muk
I need to first write a brief introduction about the bike in question though…
(In other words, the main story is in black, after my waffle!)
“The Honda CB500 is a first big motorcycle you’ll never want to sell. It’s huge fun because it’s so confidence-inspiring, meaning you can take it anywhere and it’ll make you feel you can push your limits. Very competent: commuters and couriers love Honda CB500s for their reliability and all-round, top-notch performance. In all aspects, the Honda CB500′s a winner”
That’s what MCN say in their review of the CB500 & the first line is the absolute truth.
I love my little Honda C90 SuperClunk. Simplicity, reliability, bombproof & just all-round-fun. They last forever & ever & cost very little to run/maintain.
November 2012 wasn’t a great month for me.
Recently back from Mongolia & still buzzing with ideas, but with no time off work/bra$$, any big plans simply weren’t happening. In addition, every week something happened, that generally wasn’t good.
- First week: Tarmac breakfast at 5:15am on the way to work. Rear wheel blow-out/puncture from a huge nail. Lost control & skidded down the road face first. Battered & bruised, gear trashed (but it did its job). I was a bit wiser for the tumble. The wee Clunk was bruised, but survived.
(Picked up by another fellow Engineer from work. Kev R. I still owe you mate!)
- Second week: Told I was going to be laid-off from work in one week. Oh dear
- Third week: No job. Jobhunting, with a black eye, in November. No joy!
- Fourth week: Clunk was stolen out of my garden, nooooo
Dave is also one of many bikers who have felt the pain of having their C90 stolen.
As there have been more SuperClunk Cubs produced than any other vehicle (2 or 4-wheeled) in the World, this also makes them one of the most popular to steal. Especially with young scrotes who steal them for their indestructible Mandarin orange sized engines to put in modified Pit Bikes!
I had kind of made my mind up to buy a slightly bigger bike for the winter commute to work (which was now a commute that didn’t need to be commuted!) My commute was either 21 miles down the motorway, or 26 miles on the back roads.
I’d be happy with the twisties, but in the bleak winter & against time, the M1 made more sense.
Keeping up with traffic is more of a priority in crappy winter conditions & that’s trickier on a slower bike.
I’d asked around, read the reviews, counted my piggy bank & everything pointed towards the CB500. I had a ride out on one at a local bike school & loved it.
In a nutshell the CB500 is a bombproof, reliable, long-lasting commuter bike, that you can ride right through winter (if you wish) & it would last. No frills, nothing superfluous, but everything you need.
It’s a fact that many bikers (or folk of my age, in their youth) have had dealings with the mighty C90.
I also found out that many folk had also ridden a CB500, whilst working up to bigger bikes.
Autumn can be a good time to buy a bike as often riders who don’t ride, want the space in their garage (& a new bike in the spring!) I looked at countless ads on fleabay, Auto Trader, MCN & finally found one, in Edinburgh. (Not exactly local & if the bike had been a duffer, it would have been very hard to go back on the train, my mind was made up).
On a cold, bleak & wet morning I met the seller at Edinburgh Airport. I’d asked him not to start it, so I could see it start cold & when I arrived it had been running for 15mins!
The rain was getting heavier, we were outside & I just thought “Buy it!”
So I parted with the readies & started the l-o-n-g ride home.
It was a long ride home too. A big storm blew up & the rain became torrential.
The previous owner had really gone to town with gadgets: Krypton lights (think he thought he was Superman), LED strips front & back. Scottoiler (good) & heated grips (very good, I’ll confess I’m a wuss with crap circulation in my paws, these were ace!)
However, the bike seemed to lack any poke. Hmmm…
The A66 was flooded & then the Kryptonite must have got too wet as the lights started playing up. Pitch black, 6pm, side wind, pouring down. Stopping at every single café to warm-up/dry-out. It was taking forever, but I finally got home around 9pm. (Having set off from Edinboghorror at 1pm!)
A simple journey had become a bit of an epic.
The next day I checked the bike over (it had stopped raining) & discovered that the heated grips were ever so slightly loose, so every time i gave it some revs, inside the grip it was slowly sliding back, hence me getting slower & slower & slower, d’oh!
Getting it in the shed was another story. Always measure spaces first!
I loved that bike & went all over on it.
It was Lina’s first time on 2-wheels & she loved it too.
We had an awesome week touring up in the Scottish Highlands, getting your usual May mix of rain, wind, snow & sunshine. As Lina is so diddy & light, she was a perfect pillion, I didn’t even know she was there (but did keep checking!)
For longer distances though, 2-up with gear, it was a bit cramped.
But, greed & bad judgement got the better of me!
A bigger bike, I thought.
Why, oh why?
I sold the trusty blue one (for £5 profit too, first time I’ve ever made any brass on anything, ever!)
It was a mistake & an ill-fated decision. MCN were right!
People love bikes for different reasons.
I’ve got biker mates, mates who are bikers, mates I’ve made through bikes & if there is a wider, more diverse range of people sharing one passion, I’ve yet to find one.
I love bikes as they can take you places & you can experience so much on the journey.
On the road, if it’s cold-you feel it, if somebody is having a BBQ-you smell it, simple things.
You are not wrapped up in a metal cocoon, with air conditioning.
You pull up somewhere & you can start up a conversation with a random stranger. You experience the ride.
You put your lid back on & you’re off & away, as anonymous as you like.
I’m not into speed myself (hence riding a C90), but that is a big draw for many bikers.
A CB500 is not a bike that one would generally associate with speed either.
Dave (& all other bikers who have done one) told me a long time back that the best way to learn to ride properly is on a track day. There are no taxis pulling out on you, no potholes, no unmarked crossroads, no absent-minded pedestrians, no JCBs & no speed traps (!)
You can learn to ride & more importantly, how to react.
A track day is a huge buzz I’m told. (I’ve been round Cadwell as a passenger in a car & that was pretty hairy, so on a bike it’d be even more so).
Now a (BIG) step-up from a Track day, would be racing.
That is where Dave (& Mark’s) story comes in (enough of my blah-blah-blah, until Monday morning Mongoliando.com blog that is!)
Mark is Dave’s mate & a top lad too. This is their story.
I take my hat off to you Chaps
THUNDERSPORT 500s 2015 SEASONS REVIEW :-
Well, how awesome has this years racing been?! I know I slightly over use the word ‘awesome’ all the time, I’m easily impressed, but racing in the 500s warrants its use in all its entirety.
What an experience!
I knew it would be good, but didn’t expect it to be that good and to think the idea was sparked with one of those little ad things at the side of your Facebook timeline.
Without a doubt one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. Right from day one and all through the year, the support from the Thundersport GB folk and other CB lads have been amazing. There are some top lads and lasses in the paddock and there’s a family atmosphere that I was made to feel part of. A HUGE thanks to them for all the encouragement, help and info that I needed through the year.
After my initial naive thoughts of ‘How hard could racing a 52bhp commuter be?’ I have honestly found competing at each event to be physically and mentally draining. I found it difficult and I feel a massive sense of pride that I have completed, one race short of a full season and progressing from Novice to Clubman level before the year was out. Not a bad achievement if I do say so myself, with the last round at Cadwell being the icing on the cake when I took 2nd place in the ‘nugget race’ and went home with some silverware, how awesome is that! Looking back, I’m gutted I didn’t make it to Brands for the first race of the year, but still feel I’ve accomplished what I set out to do, (apart from the not getting lapped part? Lol).
The on track action has been nothing short of epic and very intense! The rush of adrenaline is unbelievably addictive, as soon as you’ve stopped blabbing uncontrollably about your track action, (and recovered physically in my case) you want to get straight back out again for another hit. The waiting around for the next race is agonizing. It can only be described as an addiction and I suppose just like any other, it will take over your life and leave you ruined if you let it! The fear though, is just as intense and I don’t think there has been one single time this year where I have lined up on a grid and thought, ‘what the fook am I doing here!!’. The first race at Donnington nearly had me pull off down the pit lane before I’d even started. I can honestly say that lining up on a 40 strong grid with 39 psychopathic CB riders is THE most scariest thing I have ever done, to the point where I was nearly physically sick!! And that feeling only ever so slightly ebbed at each event through the year. Miraculously, the fear instantly disappears when the red lights come on?! Race face time
I’ll be honest, I consider myself to be a fast road rider, a lot slower these days, but still quite handy. So I have been a little disappointed with my speed on track and surprisingly, my lack of improvement through the season. Racing has opened my eyes. I used to think ‘those club racing guys are just playing at it’ but fook me was I wrong!! Do I know different now?!! My respect for these guys has increased exponentially as we’ve progressed through the year and witnessed them race, crash, win and lose at every round. They’re possessed! And there is some proper talent in that paddock, static as well as up and coming! It is worth a ride out to one of these rounds next year and see for yourself! (ThundersportGB has got to be the slickest run club of them all?)
I would like to blame me being slow on my difficulty in getting to grips with racing a bike that is basically designed to deliver pizzas. I would like to blame me being slow on my physical condition and fitness, that stopped me moving around freely on the bike and lasting no longer than 2 laps before I was knackered. I would like to blame me being slow on my tight, Yorkshireman’s arse for trying not to spend too much on sorting the bike properly. But the only thing I can blame, the only reason I have found that is responsible for my lowly grid positions is; a serious lack of any sizable gonads!!
If parents want to show their kids examples of dedication, commitment, skill, courage, determination etc. then forget about farty, immature, money obsessed football players, take them to a Thundersport weekend and watch what goes on, not only on the track but in the paddock as well!! It’s a mammoth effort for some just to get there, never mind race full weekend.
I’ve been asked numerous times whether I will be competing again next year and as of now, I feel I have got away lightly with the antics of this year and I am of the thinking I’m satisfied with what I’ve achieved. It was never going to be a career, (20 years ago maybe? Oh what could have been?) But I was in it for the laugh and craic, both have been awesome!
I know my partner in crime, my racing shadow, Maverick to me Goose, (enough of the bromance!) Mark Robinson would agree with most of the above as well and to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have made the full season without him, so a massive thanks to you muk! It’s been a scream!! Thanks also to friends and family that made the effort to come to a few rounds and support me, it was very much appreciated, (and needed in some cases) and also thanks for the messages of support on here.
But there’s one person for whom no superlatives could describe and that’s my wife Sue, who agreed to my crazed idea in the first place. It’s cost us a lot of time and money and I know she’s found it difficult on a couple of occasions when my number has disappeared off the timing sheets, but she’s supported me 100%. Her eyes only glaze over after about an hour of me babbling on about the weekends racing, in fact that’s dropped to about 10 minutes now Mahoosive thanks love for letting me live the dream
I can now grow old and bore my grandkids, people in the old folks home and anyone else unlucky enough to sit beside me, with tales of when I used to be a pukker motorcycle racer. Hopefully by then the dementia will have conveniently changed some of my finishing positions to race wins
So what else can I tick off my bucket list in 2016 that could possible match racing? Snowboarding down an active volcano maybe?? (In-between the odd race )
!!! CHEERS ALL !!! :-)
Monday morning Mongoliando.com blog right here on Monday morning…