Friday, September 27, 2013

An Now For Something Completely Different.....

Now for something completely different..  I do not spend ALL my time riding motorcycles. I do work for a living too. My company is XKs Unlimited and not only do we supply Jaguar parts worldwide we restore all sorts of classic cars. Below is a 1962 Morgan +4 DHC we just restored from a pile of parts... To see  more of what we do go to www.xks.com








Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Few Last Thoughts..

Motorcycles on the way home and we are home...

Dear Family & Friends,

This is my final report for this trip and here are a few final thoughts and observations...
I have said many times where ever I travel I always see things that are done better and worse than the USA. It is a chance to learn..
Here are a few observations I have made during our travels..

-The French are very nice people.. As in any culture, treat them with respect and an open mind and I find all people to be friendly and interesting.

-The country side of France is BEAUTIFUL.  It looks much like northern California wine country Napa/ Sonoma. Now I know why they the California wine industry started there.

-Seven weeks walking around Europe is like 700 hours on a stair master.. There are stairs everywhere so no need to go to a gym..

-The infrastructure of Europe in general is so much better than ours it is embarrassing! The roads are smooth and well maintained. The cities are neat and clean.. There just seems to take more pride in where they live… Education, health care, and training seems to have more of a priority..  In Germany we talked politics with some locals and they said even the far right politicians feel that public health care is a priority
It is amazing what can be done when money is spent on your own country rather than wars…..

-Traffic in Italy is organized chaos! You have to be sharp to survive riding a motorcycle there! In the USA when I am riding if I come to an intersection even if I have the right a way I always look at the faces of cross traffic to make sure the driver sees me.. In Italy if the driver sees me I am not sure if he is going to allow me the right a way or is just taking aim at me…..

-Many places in Europe have smart toilets… Two buttons, a small flush for a #1 and a large flush for a #2.. A smart way to save water and still get a good flush when you need it…

-One day we were riding out in the country side in Europe and we came across a Gypsy camp… It was ramshackle tents, campers, and clapped out cars but right in the middle of the camp was a bright red brand new Ferrari! Which just shows no matter what your trade or occupation there is always some one who does it better than anyone else...

-Italians have so much style and passion..

-One thing that Europe and the UK desperately need is to standardize their shower controls… We have stayed in over 35 hotels and no two have the same controls!! How difficult is it to make a common set of control valves??? One place I could not only not figure out how to adjust the water flow and temp but when I was done I struggled to figure out how to turn it off!!

-Did I mention it rains a lot in Scotland??

-The Germans use way to many letters and syllables in their language… If a name has more than four syllables why not abbreviate it or rename it????

-Northern Englanders don't use enough syllables. They contract their words so much it is very hard to understand them!

-Women in Italy don't seem to like wearing bras… Very dangerous for motorcyclest..

-I like trying different foods but after 7 weeks I am longing for some good Mexican food or good BBQ!

-As far as I can tell there is no good reason for Haggis, Tatties, and neeps.

-If you have a chance to eat Black Pudding,,,,, don't(it is gelled blood sausage)… If you have a chance to eat Spotted Dick do it..(it is a delicious desert with currents)  You can't judge food by its name here.

-They drive very fast in Europe… 

-After 7 weeks on a motorcycle I am looking forward to driving a car!

-Funny how Europe is not gun crazy and it feels much safer??

-Toll freeways in Italy are a giant pain.. I can't believe it pays to build all the infrastructure to collect tolls and tickets every time you get on and off a highway… Why not just raise fuel tax a bit and be done with it??

-Switzerland is so perfect it does not seem real.

-I like talking politics and I am always asking questions about how different systems work where ever I go… No system is perfect (we are all human) but in Europe there is not the large sums of money involved..  In Switzerland the legislature meets twice a year, does not get paid and there is no retirement or health care benefits.. The politicians are expected to go home after they meet and hold a full time NON government job!!

-Germany is very nice.. Well organized and clean and the people are very nice.

-People all over the world are wonderful to meet. The friends we made on this trip are the best part of the adventure..

-In Europe you don't see to many Harley Davidson's or the dirty biker look… except in Germany.. There you see lots of Harleys and the men look and dress just like the "Dirty Bikers" in the USA. We talked to a couple and of course it was very funny to hear the German accent coming out of them..

-It is scary how much of the world learns about the USA from TV!! We should be more careful about what kind of junk we put out because so many people all over think this is reality!!

-In France one afternoon on the highways we were riding with the flow of traffic, about 85mph.. Suddenly we were passed by a guy on a sport bike so fast I couldn't even see what kind of bike it was.. He was weaving in and out of traffic and had to be doing 130mph+!! About 15 second later a policeman on a full dress police bike chasing him.. He could not go as fast, probably only doing about 115mph but he was passing and weaving through gaps at that speed that I wouldn't walk through!!

-It has been a great trip. Duane is a great guy to travel with. I don't think I have ever spent this much continuous time with anyone! In the evening we have had many interesting discussions. He is very intelligent and well read…  But I do have to say one last time…. he is directionally challenged!

-In the USA we have no concept of age.. Our country is barley 235 years old.  That is nothing, in Europe there are pubs we went to that were more than twice that old!

-Duane really really does not like riding in cities and traffic….!!

-Some one needs to inform the British that breakfast does not have to include beans….

-The words British Weather Report are an oxymoron.. There is no such thing…No one has any idea what the weather will be minute to minute.. It is either raining, going to rain, or just stopped raining.. Wait ten minutes and it will change.

-Europe and England are far more computerized than we are yet somehow take twice as long to do things like check into a hotel or pay a dinner bill. The fastest easiest check in we had was in a small town in Scotland where everything was done by hand in a ledger!

-Speaking of age I must be getting old.. Only 7 weeks riding a motorcycle and I am tired!

-Riding across London in the rain in traffic is actually fun…. in a perverse sort of way.

-Friends have asked me if I worry about riding a motorcycle so far in strange countries… I tell them it is not half as dangerous to my health as British food...

-Some of you may or may not know that my Blog is part of Google Adsense… Google actually pays me to advertise on my blog depending on how much traffic my blog generates.. Well I am now officially a paid writer… I made almost $20 in advertising from my Blog this trip, more than enough to buy one bottle of wine….. I am ready to become a professional traveler, all I have to do is learn how to travel on 75 cents a day….

-I have to send out a special thanks for my old friend Aubrey Finburgh who helped us with motorcycle logistics and let us use his house as a home base.. A great friend!!

-I have to let everyone know what a terrific wife I have that wold be so supportive of this crazy trip! Love you Bonnie!!

-Now it is time to start planning the next big adventure… ;)
Jason

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Goodwood, Ace Cafe Brighton Motorcycle Run, and Over Coming a life long fear...Ano

Dear Family & Friends,

We are definitely on the home stretch now.. No broken motorcycles or bodies so I think it has been a tremendous success.....
Sunday morning we woke up at the beautiful B&B we stayed at near Goodwood. Blue sky and no clouds in sight..
The Goodwood Revival is an amazing event. It is the one event that even if you are not a dedicated car guy you are going to have fun. With the fancy dress and pageantry there is something for everyone.. My only criticism is it is getting to popular and the crowds are really overwhelming. You must go at least once...
Any ways today it does not matter because we rode to Brighton for the Ace Cafe Brighton Run.. The Ace Cafe for you that are not into motorcycles is the quintessential biker hang out in London. It was originally a truck stop cafe in the 1930s and slowly became a major hang out for motorcyclist.. The term Cafe Racer for motorcycles was started here because in the 1950s young motorcyclist would race from cafe to cafe and listen to that new fandangled music called Rock & Roll....
Eventually the Ace Cafe closed down and was abandoned. Then about 15 years ago a couple name Mark & Linda Wilsmore bought the place, restored it, brought in rock and roll music and started holding motorcycle and car events there almost every night and it has become a major power house with a world wide following. If you are a gear head I highly recommend a visit there the next time you are in London. Go to their website and you can see the events that are on and pick one that is your interest.... British bike night, Cafe Racer night, Porsche night, Hot Rod night. etc. Anything with a motor and wheels they have an event for. Food and music too.
Any ways the owners are friends of mine and when Linda heard we were going to be in England this weekend she invited us to attend their event. It is a ride from the Ace Cafe in North London to Brighton. They would have motorcycles and music. I figured maybe a hundred motorcycles would make the event? Was I ever wrong. This is similar to our Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. They must have had 10,000+ motorcycles there of every description! And just as many motorcyclist of every description... from young go fast bikers, to American style chopper riders, to classic motorcycle enthusiast.. A bit of everything. There were many motorcyclist at least 40 years past their prime ( like me) all dressed up in  black leathers and their hair greased back reliving their glory days. They had hundreds of vendors selling all sorts of wears and great rock and roll music.
I had a fun visit with Linda and some of her friends and got to see lots of attractions. Of course our motorcycles garnered lots of attention, not because they are anything special, but with California plates and stickers from all the places we have been it was a natural conversation starter.
I also got to meet Steve Mclaughlin, an American championship motorcycle racer from the 1970s. He was quite friendly and we had a long talk.
For those of you not interested in motorcycles  (really??) Brighton is a terrific Victorian sea side town on the very south coast of England. It has a very old fashion amusement pier, a classic Victorian promenade along the beach and classic Victorian era architecture.. It is well worth a visit...
After visiting Brighton it was time to head home... The easy way would be to ride north a bit and hop on the M25 freeway that goes completely AROUND  London and then to my friend Aubrey's home in North London... like I said that would be the easy way..
I have been coming to England regularly for business and pleasure for 35+ years and I have driven all over the country but I have NEVER driven into downtown London. The traffic is horrendous and the streets are so complicated I figured once in I would be lost and never found... doomed to roam London endlessly for all eternity. Since it was our last day riding I challenged Duane to do the impossible.. Ride directly north from Brighton and traverse the complete length of London from south to north on surface streets on our motorcycles.. For some reason it sounded like a good idea......
So off we went. At times the traffic did not disappoint and was really really bad but by now our lane splitting abilities were third degree black belt so we made some great moves to avoid the traffic. And of course this is England so by mid day the beautiful sun shine had turned to dark clouds and it started to rain off and on but undaunted we rode on! The only close call I had was when lane splitting between a big truck and a car I misjudged how wide my motorcycle was with the big side bags and got wedged between them!! My only fear was when the light turned green the truck would move and drag me along so with some judicious pushing and pulling I was able to free my bike before the traffic moved..
Still it was a great ride. I LOVE London, it is so vibrant and exciting that even on my motorcycle I felt the excitement and enjoyed it.. Crossing the Thames River, riding past Buckingham Palace, riding through Piccadilly Circus was thrilling. When we got to Leicester Square it was early afternoon so  we headed up to China town for a quick lunch. We wound up on a pedestrian street where no vehicles are allowed and could not go back so what else could we do? We stopped and had lunch.. well I did. Did I mention Duane HATES big cities and traffic?? By this time he was fit to be tied and would not eat or talk to me so he went outside and went for a walk and calmed down...Never the less it did not stop me from enjoying my lunch...
After lunch we got back on our motorcycles just as two policeman walked by. I explained I was a lost foreigner and I knew I was not supposed to be here and he was very nice. He just smiled, told me to go slow and showed me how to get out from there.
From there it was a relatively easy ride to North London and my friends house. We arrived with BIG smiles on our faces. We had conquered London and have completed our total journey. Tomorrow we arrange to ship the bikes home so we are done riding!! Safe and sound.
After we rested up we WALKED to the local pub for a generous amount of wine and a good dinner to celebrate our accomplishment.
Jason



Another costume event.. The British enjoy dressing up.. He probably has not really dressed like this in 40 years?






More American culture??




Motorcycles and motorcyclist as far as the eye can see..



This ride was similar to our bucking bull ride but with a motorcycle.. I guess some people enjoy being tossed off a motorcycle... Glad I didn't..





OK this is cheating.. It is a rig to teach you how to wheelie with no chance of falling over backwards. In my day we learned it the hard way...we fell a lot..

These three riders rode all the way from Germany... but not as far as we came..


Beautiful Victorian era arches..


Proof I was there..

Mark & Linda Wilsmore, owners of the Ace Cafe and very nice people too












I wish we could have stopped more in London to take photos of our motorcycles to show we were there but at least I have proof we made it to China Town in central London.. Not to many other motorcycles there, maybe they are a bit smarter than us??


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