Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Life before "Bullitt"

I'd like to have seen Steve McQueen's famous car chase deal with this little street of San Francisco - allegedly shot 4 days before the massive quake, April 18th, 1906

Saturday, 23 April 2011

What old bikers/ex cops talk about (occasionally)

Had an email from my old biker pal today. We were cops together, have ridden in America together (where I nudged him off in a very low (walking) speed shunt at a junction in Monterey - pure accident, I insisted) and we share the jolly pleasures of motorcycling. He's ridden from here to Morocco and south into the African boonies, up to the bit in the road where armed men demand bribes to allow you to carry on - he turned for home at that point - pussy. 

I hate seeing the things I love being abused on public roads and pissing people off. We occasionally swap yarns, as we now live 250 miles apart. Thought I'd share:

Hi Hogday,
Out on the bike yesterday afternoon.  Stopped at ******* (you know the café!)  Some eejut on a GSXR1000 Looked at my bike then asked me if I ever fell off it!  I told him I had dropped every bike I had ever owned except for the Hondas (don’t ask me why – luck of the draw I suppose).

Next question – when did you drop this one then.  Reply – dropped it twice.  Once taking it off the main-stand having just put 8 gallons of fuel in it.  Forecourt was at a slope so over it went.  Couldn’t you just hold it up, he asked.  Obviously never felt the weight of 8 gallons of fluid – especially with a BMW attached to it.  Next time at a junction.  Woman in front starts to pull out, then stalls.  I slam on the brakes and stop about a foot behind her, just getting my foot down in time.  Bloke behind me in a transit van (red, not white) can’t stop so goes up my outside with wheels locked and gives the offside pannier a little nudge with the van as he slides past.  Down I go on the nearside, very slowly but down nonetheless.  Woman in front starts her engine and drives off, leaving me on the deck and the van sideways across the road.  Helpfully he stays in the van and stares at me because he knows this will help me pick the bike up.  Driver behind him gets out and does help me to pick the bike up.  Damage?  Scratch the nearside crash bar.  Nothing else.

"Have you ever fell off that bike", I ask.

He says ‘Haven’t had it long.  I got it when my Fireblade was written off.’  "How did that happen", I ask.  ‘Motorway slip road,’ he says.  ‘I was having a real positive ride.  I was doing about 140 into the slip road when the traffic lights at the roundabout suddenly went to red.  I tried to stop but the road surface was too rippled by the lorries so I got thrown off and the bike smashed into the back of a car.  I was bloody furious.’

He smiled as he looked at my bike.  ‘I wonder if I’ll want a battle bus like that when I get old.’
‘You won’t’ I reply.
‘You never know, lot’s of old boys like them.’

‘You misunderstand me,’ I say.  ‘What I mean is, you won’t get old.’

He was still looking puzzled when he rode off.

My Reply:
Hi Mate. That made I larrf!
There was a fatal rta half a mile up the road from here on Tuesday afternoon. Curiously, I had been out on the Hog, nearby, at about that time but something clicked in my noggin and i chose to approach home from a back road, so I missed all the fun, although I did see the air ambo's swoop in and out. The road in question  is a 60 limit, undulating and with generally sweeping bends, a couple of which give you no road vis beyond about 50 yards until you pass the apex. If you ride this road at the legal limit (60) you wouldn't spill your Jim Beam on the rocks, let alone get out of shape. I've driven a friend down it, at 60, I was dropping him off at a local council meeting about all the bikes and cars going through the farmers hedges. He'd previously asked me my opinion on the agenda item that was urging a `re-engineering` of the road.  I'd even set the cruise control at 60 to make a point! I then asked him what he thought was dangerous about what we'd just done - there was nothing. I suggested that it was hardly an engineering problem but rather more of a  law enforcement one. I told him that in my opinion there is only one safe overtake spot on the entire 3 mile stretch for a well positioned and set up car, which happens to be on a downhill stretch through a long `S` bend. Yet some ex biker, ex alive person managed to prang with a car in broad daylight at 3pm on a weekday. Judging from the eye-witness report to me later that evening, across a garden fence, the bike was half its size, the rider stuck in the hedge/tree and the car totalled. Mustn't be too judgmental though as I haven't seen the AI report ;)
I wondered if it was the bloke/girl on a Suzuki Bandit that careered up my nearside into a roundabout at the end of said stretch of road last week. Left lane is painted Left turn only, supplemented by a road sign showing, in big black play-school-drawings-for-dummies that the left is left and the right lane is for right or straight on. I'm on the Hog, I roll into the roundabout then signal left as I'm heading straight on. The bandit on the Bandit accelerates past me on the nearside and then continues in a `threepenny bit` wobble turn right around the front of me, just at the point when you roll upright to power out. I had rolled off the gas because my imaginary friend had whispered in my ear that there was a dick about. He was right. I just had time to notice its brand new jacket and brand new boots as it flashed across my bows. No sweat because I'd spotted the antics in time. Another love-child of direct access speeds blindly towards the next world? Or maybe he was just a ***t.
Spent yesterday evening in the garden, sipping a cold vino Rose and listening to the distant howling of Suzuki's, Honda's and Kwaks of the day's, thus-far, survivors who were trying to make it home.
Cheers for now Mate.

I hate it when someone decent meets their maker before their "3 score and 10" although in my case I hope improvements to our diet and healthy living makes this at least `4 score and 20`. I dealt with a lot of death on the roads in my time. I nearly always felt a pang of sorrow for the bereaved, at the very least, especially when it could have all been avoided, but those sort of clocks can't be turned back.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Back to my reality

Its remarkable what a mere 6 days away can do for you, if you get the right place with the right company. My first trip to the Costa del Sol was not a bad experience at all. For starters, when we arrived it was 10 degrees warmer than the UK and got better as the days went by. The Spanish drivers are not the mad charging bull baiters I was led to believe, at least not in the relative mildness of  24C sunshine. Our 45 minute drive from Malaga airport to Nerja made driving on a typical British motorway seem like driving whilst surrounded by Barbarian Hordes.

The food was great (if you avoided places advertising "full English breakfasts served here"), the drinks were pretty cheap, the local wine delicious and the locals exceedingly friendly. We ate out in open air restaurants up in the surrounding villages, with stunning open terraces overlooking an azure blue Meditereanean Sea. Didn't see a single submarine launched cruise missile burst out of the Med, so I presumed they were all well out, beyond our horizon. We went to the local cultural centre and saw a top Flamenco artiste and her 8 piece supporting band of musicians. This was not your mass produced tourist affair as it was attended almost entirely by the indigenous and it was utterly stunning.

I found myself feeling relatively relaxed about being surrounded by other humans and this feeling remained until the moment we stepped off our returning aircraft into the arrivals area of our local airport, where once again our ears were assaulted by the squabbling, `effing and cussing of your returning lobster coloured, larded-up Brit tourist family. I hate myself for being so judgmental, but that really was how it hit me.

                                                                            Cat of the Sierra Nevada's                 
 Hell of a Paella pan.
                              Best table in the place
Nerja cats getting fed

People are very fit in this town
                                                                                 A stoop to be proud of

 A nice walk down to the coffe bar for croissants. Not a `Full English Breakfast` in sight
Pampaneira, where the air is thin and the tourists not quite so