Lady love bits!

Sam and I have had a bit of a set back for our around the world motorbike trip… but nothing we cannot get past!  From a recent smear test… (why do they call it this?! They should make it sound more fluffy! Foof test. That’d be better!)… I had some results back flagging up some cellular changes.  Due to the level of change it is looking like I will have to have a minor op which despite being a day in-and-out experience will mean we cannot travel for 4-6 weeks after (it invalidates our travel health insurance)!  This then easily drifts past our leaving date of the 20th August 2012!

Despite this being a bit of a pain in the nether regions (excuse the pun), we’re glad it’s something that has been spotted now and can be easily resolved!  It just means a little bit of fudging with routes and leaving dates!

For all ladies out there may I big up foof checks once in a while in case things like this do crop up!  Please please make sure you or your partners make these appointments… as manky as they are it’s always an excuse for a glass/bottle of wine and some pampering afterwards and saves on any problems at a later date!

 

More news to come though people and a revised route too!  Keep watching this space and we’ll let you know as soon as we do!

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Finding something SUITable…

… A Mission Impossible?

Snowy iced mountain roads, sleeting showers, tropical climates, sinking dunes, dry heats of the desert, rocky roads, muddy mud mud, river crossings…. these are just a few of the terrains and weather systems we’re going to be facing on our charity RTW challenge.

How on Earth are we going to find motorcycle gear diverse and durable enough?!  Good question… and certainly one we found ourselves struggling to answer 6months ago!

Setting the bar…

Now, considering these suits will be our shell for over a year, with rarely a day going by without us donning them for lengthy and hard riding, it’s not only important they offer protection and adaptability but it’s incredibly vital they are stupendously comfortable.

Having had a colourful history in endurance riding and long term travelling on bikes, Sam’s experiences and knowledge proved to be both invaluable and an utter pain in the bum at the same time in our search.  With his expectations set high we tried on and reviewed countless suits but it seemed we just kept stumbling upon vital flaws or quality issues.

“The weather proofing isn’t good enough, the zip is sticky, you cannot remove the lining, the vents are all wrong”… are just a few of the phrases I would frequently hear.

Sneaky Encounter…

It was getting to a point where we considered making some major sacrifices to our standards when we had a lucky encounter with Rukka at the Birmingham Bike Show.  Having just been closed to the public, we were sneaking around stand to stand pretending to be stall workers when we happened to stumble upon the Rukka team.  An exchange of greetings and explanations of our trip ensued and Rukkas friendly representative introduced us to the Rukka Armas and Armiina Suit.

With a demonstration in full flow, Sam rambled off his extensive list of queries and expectations… all of which Rukkas Armas and Armiina suit had solutions for.  Exhausted of questions, a thorough inspection and trying-on session ensued.  It was then… Sam fell silent.  I knew we had found the suit of our travels.

Result!

Rukka Armas and Rukka Armiina AHOY:

Having spoken closely with TranAm and Rukka they have been kind enough to help us out with these fantastic suits.  Rather excitingly they arrived last week!

Clare Rukka Armiina YAY!

Sam Rukka Armas

We have managed to put together a couple of detailed previews of both the RUKKA Armas and RUKKA Armiina suit for you all to have a peak at here:

 


 

 


 

Once again a big thank you to both RUKKA and TranAm.  As a heads up there will be more photos in the gallery soon and in the gear section there will be full written previews too.  Keep watching and we will keep you posted!


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Sunny Days and Big Packages

What a stupendously sunny day it is!!  It’s the kind of weather we need with all this panic buying of petrol… if it all runs dry then at least we can ponder about in the sunny sunshine!

Sam and I have had an amazing day!  For starters, there was a knock knock knock at the door and we were greeted with this beast of a box:

Sam looking happy with his rather large package!

Inside we discovered some rather stunning Rukka Gear – both the Armas and Arminnas full kit.  This weekend we will be releasing a full preview of the gear with videos and pictures!  If you have anything specific you would like to ask about the gear, please do and we will make sure we cover it!

Not only has the above been super fantastic, but we have just found out good news about the X Lite 551 Helmets – they’re on their way in the next couple of weeks! Happy days!  We’ve also just had some lovely conversations with various biking organisations all really friendly and excited about our charity around the world motorcycle trip, it’s lovely to have such support and a wonderful response!

And… if that wasn’t enough we’ve had some fantastic press releases!  Our mugs can be found in the Mercury newspaper and the Wales Air Ambulance has just completed an article on our journey! Check out the clippings here:

Chasing Horizons Press Release Page

We’re now just confirming details on the bikes which is just crazy exciting but nerve racking too!  Once they have arrived in the next few weeks it’s due to go a bit loopy with an insane amount of training and events to attend!!

So keep watching people and we’ll be back with some updates this weekend including dashing photos and videos of the delightful Rukka kit!

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Wales Air Ambulance – March 2012

March 30, 2012 / Press / 0 Comments /

The Wales Air Ambulance has just completed a stupendous press release for our around the world motorcycle trip for charity!  Thanks Joe and the team! You’re all mega and we’re super happy to be supporting such a fantastic cause!!

 

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Module 2 Exam – Featuring Misery Guts and Jigs

March 20, 2012 / My category, Training / 0 Comments /

Today has been a funny one! Before even commencing our module 2 exams I was causing trouble and received a telling off by the examiners!  Whoopsy!  Granted though, they were being miserable… do read on to find out more!…

Wakey Wakey Rise and Shine…

Despite both being utterly zonked after our day of training yester and an evening of us nodding in and out of a sleepy slumber whilst snuggled together on the sofa… when we eventually crumbled into bed we experienced the most restless night in recent history.  The morning arrived too quickly and I found myself having to perform a thorough excavation of sleepy dust before I could squintily roll over and stir the beast that led purring a soft snore next to me.

Sam: “Ughmuhhphughno no..mehtime? Ughgettingup..mehguhfgflufflemmm…hug-sleep-moremm? Test? Hmmughgettingupmugh.”

This… is a standard morning response which is most always followed by what looks like an excruciating yet satisfying stretch, a fluffle of covers and then a poor attempt to sit up which inevitably results in flopping back down and wriggling under the duvet for five more minutes.  As you’re probably gathering, we’re slow starters!  Eventually though we dragged ourselves out of bed, threw on clothes, grazed on a toasted bagel and jumped in the car ready to head to the yard all pensive about the up and coming test.

Enroute we took time to test each other on the types of questions we could be asked prior to the examined ride. With Smart Trainings Module 2 Test Tip Sheet we soon discovered the questions were all fairly simple things; how to check the oil, how to use the horn, demonstrate how to test the front/back brakes, what affects the bike when carrying a pillion etc.  Briefly interrupting our question testing we stopped off at the local Petrol Station to grab wonga, when Sam spotted an immaculate and most stunning Porsche Speedster 356.  It was a beauty!  So gorgeous in fact, Sam couldn’t resist popping over and having a quick chat with the owner.  Despite being bike fanatics, there’s some cars out there that certainly melt our hearts, especially this one when it growled gently pulling off into the sunny morning traffic.  Gorgeous.

Back on the road, we were half way there when we had a bit of a panic upon spotting our instructor, Ianto, bop past us in the opposite direction on his bike.  Had we got the time wrong?!  Were we late?  Surely he would have rung if we were late?  Bugger blast and fiddlesticks!  Five minutes later and panic struck we rocked up at Smart Motorcycles Yard only to be greeted by Mark (current bobby instructor) who explained Ianto was just dropping a student down to the test centre and would be back in a minute… Phew!

Getting Lost…

Paperwork At The Ready

Waiting for Ianto, Paperwork at the Ready!

Surely enough, Ianto returned moments later and before we knew it  we were kitted up and on the bikes ready for a short ride about the estate as a warm up before heading to the test centre.  With Sam up front, Ianto in the middle and I at the rear, I found myself not nervous but incredibly focused on my actions.

 Mumbling to myself in my helmet: “Mirror Mirror, indicate, maneuver, change to correct gear, check again, life saver look, softly pull away…babble babble babble”

It turned out that I was, in fact, so focused on my riding that upon getting stuck behind a bimbly driver and hearing an instruction by Ianto to turn left… I did so… but neglected to consider that Sam and Ianto were a good couple of roads ahead.  Lost and laughing, I meandered up a small steep road only to be greeted by a tight cul-de-sac at the end.  Dropping into first I started into a U turn whilst simultaneously listening to Ianto on the radio stating “I bet she’s turned off before we did… the dozy Dora… Clare stay where you are I’ll come find you!”.  Half way into the turn, however, I realised the camber of the road was actually ridiculously steep and the bike wasn’t quite going to make the turn… ended up hesitating… felt the bike tipping and even though I tried to correct it I realised I couldn’t really save it so lowered it slowly and carefully to the ground.  Standing to the side of the bike, I looked down at it carefully laid up and felt like a right muppet!  Sams test was due in… ooh 20mins… and I was lost and could hear Ianto trying to find me whilst my bike was carefully laid on the floor, way too heavy for me to pick up (after two or three attempts I was left laughing by its side… thank goodness we’re getting lighter bikes and I have a few months more of physical training!) Before long though, Ianto was riding up the quiet small road and I waved him down.  Calling me a ditsy dope, he hopped off and together we lugged the bike up and headed off to catch up with Sam!

Being Reprimanded…

Fortunately, we had left with plenty of time and made the test centre with ten minutes to spare.  After a few minutes of chatting, Sam was greeted by a rather straight faced looking examiner.  Being the polite boy Sam is, he extended his hand for a friendly handshake but it was quickly snubbed and, pulling a Gromit-style-gulp-face, Sam followed the cold fronted examiner into a side room for his documents to be checked.  Waiting indoors with Ianto, we then watched the nervous boy being led outside and interrogated about the bike.  At this point, watching Sam was quite amusing!  I couldn’t hear the conversation but there was a moment where I could see he had been asked a question and Sam just stared at the examiner dumbfounded… opened his mouth… closed it… looked at the bike frowning… opened his mouth again… closed it… and then pointed at the front of it whilst bumbling out some words with a confused look.  I later found out that, despite years of riding and tinkering with bikes and being completely aware of all the possible questions and answers he could be posed at that moment in time, his mind momentarily went blank when asked how he would check the front brake fluid!  There’s exam nerves for you!

Sam Preparing

Sam preparing for his Module 2

A few minutes passed and Ianto and I watched as the examiner and Sam fumbled with radios… it looked like there was some kind of problem.  At this point I plonked out my phone and took a couple of photos which was noticed by another zombified expressioned examiner entering the building.

Examiner of Zombie Expression: *interrupting Ianto who was on the phone* “Is that girl filming?!”
Ianto: “I have no idea! Ask her!” *continues his rudely interrupted phone conversation*

The examiner took one look at me and walked straight past!  How odd I thought!  Once Ianto had finished his phone conversation I asked him what that was all about and he told me he had no idea and not to worry.  A further 5minutes ensued watching Sam and the other miserable examiner fumbling with the radio until eventually the examiner made way for the centre.  Ianto and I nodded as he walked past but quickly scooted out to ask Sam what was the dealio.  It turned out the radio was duffed up…  surely they check their equipment prior to heading out to a test I question? Hmmm.

Miserable Examiner Returning: “Ianto… mind if I have a word?”
Ianto: “Sure sure…”
Sam and I exchange concerned looks nervous the test may be cancelled…
Miserable Examiner: “Was she filming me earlier?”
Ianto: *perplexed* “Eh? I have no idea! Ask her!!”
Miserable Examiner: “Excuse me, were you filming me earlier?”
Me: “Erm I took a couple of pictures but that’s only because during Module 1 I was told I could take photos and videos… Is this a problem?”
Miserable Examiner: “Yes, it’s against DSA rules, delete them straight away”

With the examiner looming over me I apologised and immediately deleted all the photos but at the same time thought “actually mate, I was taking photos of Sam not you and there’s no need to be so rude about it!” God knows why he nor the other zombie examiner spoke to me in the first place!  Nervous I had set Sam off on a bad foot, I watched as they mounted their bikes and headed off on to the roads, radios fixed.

Ianto and I then hopped on our bikes for a quick pootle around the back streets and thirty minutes later, we arrived back at the test centre to be greeted by a smiling Sam!  He had passed!  During his ride he had found that nerves did get the better of him causing him to be slightly over cautious at give ways and also riding the bike at 60mph on a dual carriageway as opposed to 70mph.  When he returned he was faced with the following conversation:

Examiner: *in a condescending manner* “So. Do you know the difference between a give way and stop line?”
Sam: “Erm… yes… the stop you have to stop at and the give way you can continue should the road be clear?”
Examiner: “Right. So why did you stop at the give way when it was clear?”
Sam: “Erm… I guess it’s partly to do with nerves and also not knowing where I was… I thought it would be better to stop, check and make sure it was safe as opposed to riding straight through…”
Examiner: “Hmmm” *knowing Sam was watching hovers his pen over the fail box…. presses pen down without marking… pauses… lifts pen back up…. then swipes it through the adjacent pass box*

What. A. Muppet.  Having passed, Sam was super happy not to have to say “See you next Tuesday” (the next test date to retake the exam) but at the same time a little sad he missed out on the opportunity of this remark too!  Celebrations gave way and not caring the examiner was watching we all looked like planks and performed a little jig laughing and jumping!  After the happy happy joy joy moment I then realised that the pressure was now on for me to pass…

My Turn with Mister Misery…

Hello!

Mister Misery... Meet Jolly Clare! Mu ha ha!

After what seemed like a century of waiting, the miserable examiner emerged and drearily introduced himself.  “Right you bugger,” I thought “I’m gonna make you smile whether you like it or not and what’s more… I’m going to enjoy this ride even if it’s an exam and have to put up with your droneyness!”.  With Ianto and Sam rolling their eyes at me, I threw on a winning smile and bounded into the gloomy office behind Mister Misery and proceeded to make light conversation whilst my documents were filled out.  Unsuccessful in the smiling department, I was then taken out to the bike.

Examiner: “Right Clare, can you tell me what would be affected should you carry a pillion passenger on your bike?”
Me: “Ahahaha! I answered this earlier to Ianto when talking about a weighty passenger but couldn’t think of the word suspension… kept saying suspense… he laughed at me… I am poop with words I am… Ha! Suspense! Hahaha! What a muppet I am… Heh… ahem… yes erm… sorry what did you ask?!”
Examiner: *brief glimpse of a smile but then upon realisation of showing emotion snapped back to his sombre death gaze and repeated the question*

The blighter had smiled!  That… made me happy!  After answering his question I hopped on the bike and proceeded to listen carefully to his instructions, riding out of the test centre steadily.  Granted, I can be a bit cheeky off the bike… but as soon as I’m riding I kind of zone into bike-mode and am very focused.  Hopefully this is a good sign!  The whole ride went particularly smoothly with only one memorable mistake which found me cursing.  My stupid numb left thumb had caused me to haplessly fumble with the indicator which I struggled to turn off leaving it blinking a few car lengths into a turn.  At the time I knew it would result in at least a minor, perhaps even a major, but I did my best to ignore it and carried on as normal.  After a bimble about a village, along a dual carriageway, over a bridge and round a school, I returned unsure as to whether I had met the mark.  During the ride I had been concentrating so much I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be but what I found rather off putting was having the miserable examiner *right* up my bum throughout it all.  That had made me uncomfortable.  I discovered later also that, rumour has it, the same examiner rear ended a student only a few months ago.  This… does not surprise me.

Dismounting at the test centre I suddenly realised what I had just done and followed the examiner into the box room, nodding at a concerned looking Sam and Ianto on the way past.  Trying best to read the miserable sods face, I plonked myself down and after a long pause…

Me: “So… can I ask if I have passed or not?”
Examiner: “You can ask.”
Me: “ARGHRGHRGHGH YOU ABSOLUTE SMARMY KNOB”… okay okay I didn’t say that but it’s exactly what I thought! What I actually said… “Heh okay… erm… did I pass?”
Examiner: *pauses and without looking up from the form and completely devoid of emotion* “….. yep”
Me: “AHAHA. Ahem. Haha! Yay! Go me!” *beams* 

The documentation was completed, I politely thanked Mister Misery, about turned and joined Sam and Ianto with a big big grin!  After much dancing and hugging celebrations, we hopped on our bikes and with great relief made our way back to the yard!

And… that was that!  We are now fully fledged bike riders! What a relief!  We really wouldn’t have been able to have achieved what we have without the great help from Ianto and Chris at Smart Motorcycle Training in Swansea.  They have been an absolute joy to train with, constantly making us laugh yet imparting their wealth of knowledge with enthusiasm and creativity.  Thank you guys so much – your efforts have meant the world to us both!

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