It is fitting that as 67000 miles rolled by on the odometer that the VFR is luggaged up to bring me to the ferry in Rosslare tomorrow and then on to France. Those that know me know that I have a pretty special bond with my bike and its gear-driven cams (those that know me better will no doubt laugh at that part in particular!) and it gave me a lot of pleasure to see that figure ride on the odometer. This is a very mature bike, 17 years old now, but yet it seems it is in the spring of its years. Even fully loaded tonight with luggage it felt sprightly, never out of breath, and handled well. Yes the rear shock is probably at the end of its life, it needs a rebuild, but the front is very comfortable and confidence inspiring after its own rebuild and spring change. The engine is perfect, the torque of the vee combined with the revs of a four cylinder. It does it all. And I am relying on it to bring me to France, and back.
|The old one had become fairly squared off after about 6000 miles|
I've no doubt the bike will play its part but I've my own part to play of course so today, with substantial help from Eddie and Martin in the University College Cork Motorcycle Club, a new Metzeler Z8 was fitted to the rear wheel. Then began a wild goose chase to find somewhere that could actually balance a VFR rear wheel, the single sided swingarm hub within the wheel making a normal wheel balancer useless. This really ate into the day. Starting the job at about 12, it didn't end until about 5pm! And then of course I had to wash the bike when I got home to make sure it was nice and fresh for the trip and that I hadn't missed out on anything in my checks. I used Vulcanet wipes for this, a product that has really impressed me, notably because I got it as a present from my brother so I didn't have to spend my own money on it! Therefore there was no pool of water under the bike afterwards which kept all happy.
|Putting the tyre on the manual bead breaking machine. This was all tough work.|
In between these jobs I have managed to buy an AA glovebox road map of France. It was a nice size and has a flipboard ring to enable the pages be turned easily and will fit nicely into the map pocket of the tankbag which is good. I checked over my proposed route again, came up with an alternative, just in case, and printed this off of Google Maps too for good measure. In fact, once home I laid out everything on the table in the kitchen and found a lot of documents indeed. I've photocopied everything as well so there are two copies of each document that I am legally supposed to bring with the copies being stashed under the seat of the VFR and the originals staying in a folder in my tankbag. Here's a photo of the documents and books on the kitchen table. Some are maps of course but there are also four books which I am currently using for a chapter of the PhD so they have to come too!
|Some of the paper luggage|
With dinner now finished it really was time to get moving on the packing. I had said it yesterday that I would take ages doing it but actually I didn't. The problem lay in how late I started considering the issues with having the rear wheel balanced. Being gone for ten days meant it was time to whip out the panniers, soft ones, and use these for some clothes. The tankbag would carry my camera, a book for the ferry, my documents and some munchies. Always important. The panniers would contain the clothes for my stay in France and the topbox would have 3 books, a small folder of college stuff, and a plastic bag with a set of clothes for the ferry. The logic here is that once the bike was strapped down on the ferry I could just grab this bag from the topbox, along with my tankbag (where the toiletries are), and walk to my cabin. There'd be no messing with opening panniers and lookinAdd captiong for clothes and wasting time AND messing up how I had set it all up. Someone mentioned this idea on the Bikersoracle VFR forum and whoever it was they deserve the thanks. The result of it is that my topbox is fairly empty once that overnight bag for the ferry is removed but this is ok as the weight of the luggage is kept low in the panniers.
|The important items in the tankbag!|
|Fully loaded and ready!|
There was also the issue of a toolkit, the compulsory spare lightbulb kit, the multimeter, the disc-lock, and the photocopies of my documents. The VFR is not blessed with tons of underseat storage but I made the best use of what I had available. I used a sock as a tool bag, packing the essentials into this and wrapping it with a bungee cord. I also wrapped the bulb kit with a sock too and squeezed that in directly behind the rear lights, making use of that space. At this stage the bike is fully ready to go, the tank bag and panniers are packed and attached to the bike and it even got a small test run too. The viffer will clock up another few miles tomorrow on the road to Wexford to bring it well over the 67000 mark but, I am sure, they will be miles that it will brush off and make some fun of too. All I have to do it make sure that I play my part!