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You Can't Ride Around With A Tiger On Your Bike One man-cub, one motorbike. And a tiger-striped poncho, just in case.

The Part Of The Trip Where I Put A Shopping Bag Down My Pants

UNITED KINGDOM | Wednesday, 19 October 2011 | Views [765]

A pretty castle I stopped at, not so much because it was pretty and I wanted to take a photo, but because I was damp and needed to dry off and check my phone for Tomtom GPS directions as to where the fuck I was in relation to wherever I was headed. Wonder if the fish & chip shop opposite the castle was still there back in the day. It'd be so handy for King Whatshisface on a Friday night, just order some fried yummies and stay home watching the telly.

A pretty castle I stopped at, not so much because it was pretty and I wanted to take a photo, but because I was damp and needed to dry off and check my phone for Tomtom GPS directions as to where the fuck I was in relation to wherever I was headed. Wonder if the fish & chip shop opposite the castle was still there back in the day. It'd be so handy for King Whatshisface on a Friday night, just order some fried yummies and stay home watching the telly.

This is the part of the trip where I put a shopping bag down my pants.

It started raining in the morning, I had just enough time to pack away my tent before the skies opened and God unloaded on my head. T'was as if the ocean had decided to reclaim the land via airdrop. I'm glad I made the decision to purchase a second helmet, a full-face helmet, as my goggles when wearing open-face skidlid tend to fog up when my balaclava gets wet and I can't see unless I take off the goggles, which necessitates me riding with one eye open for a few seconds to protect the other from getting stabbed with tiny needle-rain, then alternating. Winking and riding. How YOU doin? Today was full-face helmet day. Don't know why I bothered to have a shower as I knew I'd get soaked through anyway. Before leaving the campsite, I left my iPhone with the receptionists for half an hour to charge up a bit. Felt a damn fool when I returned and proceeded to check the Weather application. "The weather today?" said the reception chap, before turning his head an inch to peer out the window. "It's uhh... it's rainin' son.."

Ah. Right. Ta.

Where to go, where to go, I don't really know. When in doubt, ask. So I did, and he asked back what sort of stuff and things I like. Scottish things, said I. His suggestions included museums of tartan, a palace where the game of tennis was invented, and a whole bunch of castles. At this point my eyes had glazed over with boredom, he took note or this and promptly pointed me in the direction of Loch Ness, just out of the city of Inverness in northern Scotland. Heck yeah, monsters and fog and explosions and shit! He gave me one of those 'feckin tourists' looks, it's very similar to my 'bloody locals' gaze.

Off I rode, into the rain. Passing sign after sign promising black ice and water over the road, a serious problem were my bike not fitted with a training wheel. I have no problem riding in the rain, other than the cold and the wet and the bad visibility. It's kind of peaceful. Like swimming, except that I can't swim. I'll bet this is what it feels like to be a dolofin. Cruising through the water, wind in your hair, chasing tuners, yeah dolofins have it all.

Had I put more forward thought into it, I'd have bought myself some sort of wind deflector screen for the front of the bike. Didn't want it to detract from the whole retro look though. The retro look being a soggy marshmallow man riding a desert camo bike through a rainstorm. The first thing to get soaked is the crotchal region. All the rain comes in horizontally, hits the chest and face area and runs down south of the equator making it uncomfortable for all involved. This had happened once before, on my ride up to the lakes district in north-west England, so fearing a repeat I pulled over and used my initiative. By initiative, I mean plastic shopping bag shoved down the front of my pants. And it worked a treat. Waterproof groin protection. Keep out of reach of children. May cause suffocation.

Water always finds a way though, and two hours later I was fully soaked again, except now I had a bubble of water sloshing about in the plastic bag down my pants. At least it was heated. I say pants, but I mean trousers. UK-ers think pants means underwear, I think pants means trousers or jeans.

The ride up north to Inverness was gorgeous regardless of the weather, in fact it gave me a more authentic feel of what Scotland really is, although I was completely numb from the cold. The countryside soon gave way to bracken-coated hills with hundreds of tiny streams of running water splashing down in a cascade of dripping wetness and gurgling down moistly like a mass of two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms combined to form water that went PSSHHHH SHHHHHHHHHPLASHHH down the hill and it pooled into big running puddles of rain-induced fluid and hang-on-leeme-just-go-toilet flushhhhhed into rivers that flowed down the valley and yeah water water everywhere let's all haf a drink. Hills and rain and rivers, with the road winding through the valleys, constantly going up, up, up, into the highlands. They're called the highlands because they're high lands and because the Scots are really imaginative with their names. I forget how long the ride took, it was long enough that I could sing The Shins song 'New Slang' hundreds of times over. I never get tired of it, it's my mantra for happiness and fashion and anger and shit. But yes, a memorable ride, mist-shrouded hills and rain-slicked bendy roads with steep drops to my left, warm dry people in fast-moving cars overtaking to my right, probably eating toasty cheese sammiches and listening to good tunes on the radio and having some great conversations because they weren't traveling alone and they were probably rich and successful and super pretty but I couldn't see because my FUCKING HELMET VISOR KEPT FOGGING UP THIS IS SHIT I'M COLD AND WET AND IT'S SUMMER IN AUSTRALIoh nononono bike is slowing down, losing power, what the heck?! Riding uphill with a tourbus on my ass, the Urals engine revs started dropping rapidly. I'd ran out of fuel before on a few motorcycles so immediately held the clutch in and killed the power and indicated left to pull over. Luck had it that there was a rest stop only a hundred meters up the road, so I pushed the bike out of the way of traffic, took about three minutes to cuss and scream and dance about, not so much because I was angry, but moreso to get the blood flowing to my limbs and the feeling back in my hands. I can imagine a few passing motorists FaceBook status updates:

WTF soggy marshmallow motorbikeman doing TaiBo on side of the road in rain, LOL!!!

Just passed a freak prancing around in what looked to be some sort of soggy marshmallow suit on the side of the road. LOL! Had a nice bike though. Feckin' tourists. LOL!

I hoped it was something as simple as an empty tank because anything even remotely mechanical and I'd be screwed. The bike has a jerry can strapped to the sidecar, and I'd filled it up at the last petrol station I'd stopped at this morning. Having covered only 160kms since last refueling, and with the bike supposedly being capable of hitting 200kms before running dry, I was kind of worried it may be suffering from something other than no fuel. But having ridden most of the trip uphill, and having opened up the throttle to reach 50-55mph instead of the usual 45mph I preferred to sit on, I was correct in assuming it had burned through enough to run dry. I topped up the tank, which proved difficult due to having nothing to use as a funnel, and the high winds spilling a quarter of the petrol over the tank and my clothes, but knew what I'd given it would be enough to make it the last 50 kilometers to Inverness. I used the kick-start on the side of the bike to get the engine firing, about twenty pumps and I was back in business. Was glad for the opportunity to stop actually, I needed to don an extra pair of gloves and empty my crotch bag. I mean, the wet shopping bag down my pants. It was very uncomfortable.

One thing about riding the Ural, it gets very uncomfortable after about two hours in the saddle, my posture ain't great and the seat is pretty uncomfortable. I always tell myself I'll pull over at the next rest stop to stretch, but when I reach it, I think "nawww, the next one, it's only about five miles down the road," and I carry on this way until I've reached my destination, tired and sore and stiff as a corpse, but at least I'm five minutes early.

Inverness, city of cathedrals! It's early afternoon as I pull in to a petrol station to refuel the bike and my bread/cheese supplies, and check my bearings to find a YHA to crash at. Really should stop using the term 'crash' instead of 'stop' or 'sleep' or 'stay' as my bike has no wood to touch. Touch wood. Tap tap.

Not interested in exploring Inverness today, I just want to dry off and warm up and sleep. Nyny xo


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