Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Post 4 - Such a far away dream (or is it?)

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts detailing my preparation for a trip to France on my VFR. This one is 
less personal than post 3 but I think it contains some interesting observations on the idea of an adventure, or a dream, and the control of that. And some comments on a soft rear shock.

I messaged a fellow VFR rider who I count as a friend a few hours ago to let him know that I would be having something to eat in Rosslare before catching the ferry after that on Sunday. Hitting 'send' and thinking of what I had just typed out seemed to bring the trip all the closer and remind me of the things I should do before I can say that I am fully ready. I know I could just forget that and not worry but then I did say in the first post of this series that I would do my best to over-complicate things! Still, today wasn't a bad day by any means in that my new tyre has been dispatched and I bought a 10mm hose joiner as well. This might seem like a strange acquisition but the fuel pumps on mid-nineties Japanese bikes are often a little unreliable. While I changed the points on mine in September I am ever wary of it jamming up and when it does jam up it jams up in such a way that the pump is closed so fuel cannot even flow by force of gravity. My worst nightmare would be to have to post up a story of how my fuel pump failed causing me to miss the ferry so a 10mm hose joiner was a must to carry under the seat. If the worst was to happen all I would have to do is use the joiner to bypass the fuel pump and, as long as the tank was kept over halfway full, I could ride on. The thing is though, at this point in time, I have no tool kit with which to dismantle bits and pieces at the roadside. Well I do but it would be much too large to fit to the back of the bike! Or under the seat! Like the tyre and hose joiner though it is something I am working on and I even managed to type out a short list on my phone last night of what documents would need to be photocopied before Sunday. The organisation then, is slowly taking shape.

Shiny in the sun after washing, polishing, and waxing the day before. 17 years old and 67000 miles.

Some people will never have to organise and prepare this much for a holiday in their lives and while this is not really a holiday as such (as work will be coming with me) it still applies. When we think of a holiday we think of a plane taking us to a sunny beach, all we need is a beach towel, passport and bank card and maybe some sun cream. You don't become intimately involved in preparing the aircraft yourself, you don't decide on the route (just the destinations on offer), you don't tend to consult with locals to ask for their opinions (although sites such as Tripadvisor are changing this to a certain extent I suppose). With the preparation for this trip I have become involved on all of these levels and use this blog to express my thoughts on it all. I have, and still am, preparing the bike, planning my route and consulting with various people, including readers of the blog, on what I do when in France etc. It's a gratifying experience really because it empowers me and shows me that, in a world where control is increasingly taken away from the end-user, that I still have a good deal of control over my own little dream trip. Yes, as I have said before, this is not a round-the-world adventure, I probably will not have to hike across tundra to find water (!), but it is a big adventure for me. 

The reasons these thoughts came to mind today was because I happened to talk to a couple of people briefly and mentioned I was taking the bike to France. They seemed amazed and it coupled nicely with my theory that there are many many people out there who dream of having a bike, and the freedom that supposedly comes with one, someday but, for whatever reasons, have put it off and may never get one. The overburdened fathers in the B&Q carpark on a Sunday morning who crane their necks at the sound of an approaching motorbike are the type of people I am talking about in this instance. Many would love a bike and the freedom it can bring but many will never make the time for it, busy as they are. That's not to say I am not busy, I am, but I have no kids to worry about! Instead a lot of these people will go to the travel agent and sign up for a package holiday which will allow them to relax but which, in the process, takes away a lot of the control they would otherwise have over their break. One is not better than the other but there are virtues to taking control of your own little break and one of those virtues is in the preparation such as the ordering of a new tyre, the cleaning of the machine, the ordering of a fuel hose joiner "just in case". In a sense it also stretches out the break because it forces you to think a little more about it and, for me anyway, I envision things ahead and that just makes the anticipation all the better. Overall though it proves that you can be independent and that you can make your own pathway.

To wrap all of this up I think it might be wise to note that to do this properly a list will soon be needed and so, tomorrow's post might just include a list of things I need to do as of yet. We'll see what comes into my mind...

 By the way, today's post was actually going to be about the suspension set-up of the bike in preparation for the trip but that might just have to wait for another day. As I was riding home from university through the city I was noticing, and have been noticing a lot lately, the back end of the bike is getting pretty soft. It's become worse since putting 10wt fork oil in the front and installing Progressive Suspension springs in place of the OEM ones. Now the front does not dive as much and is very controlled and I think it might be showing up a tired rear shock. With the weight of some luggage going to France it might be time to play around with preload and damping settings. I can add it to the list!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

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