This blog will be about the life and experiences of an active motorcycle courier in the UK who rides all over the UK and into western Europe. http://www.sdsamotorcyclecouriers.co.uk

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

One Hour Notice Same Day Delivery to Antwerp

Yes this is what occurred yesterday, at around 9:30 AM we received a request from a new client in east London who required a same day delivery to central Antwerp.

First step was to book the Eurotunnel crossings then get the paperwork done, within less than an hour I was on the road, didn’t think I would be using Eurotunnel’s services quite so soon after the last trip, last Friday!

Arrived at the clients address and got loaded up, a top box and one panniers worth, then I was on my way to Folkestone, about 30 miles out from Folkstone the heavens opened, seems to be a normal pattern for that part of the country! As always I turned off at Ashford to top the tank up at Sainsbury’s as the fuel is a lot cheaper over here – honest.

Arrived at the Eurotunnel terminal and enjoyed the rain (almost broke into a song - singing in the rain) as I stood there waiting to board. After a short while we boarded the train and off we went, but stopped after about half a mile for about ten minutes, why I don’t know, but eventually we got underway.

Disembarked at Calais at around 5pm European time and headed off towards Dunkirk, Gent and then Antwerp, turned off the E17 just after leaving the Kennedy Tunnel and soon found myself in down town Antwerp, good time for tram dodging!

I must admit, I did make a couple of wrong turns but eventually found the drop off address, buried in what can only be described as a rabbit warren but the delivery was made so job done.

Now to get myself out of Antwerp and back into familiar territory, the E17 approaching the Kennedy Tunnel.

The weather when I arrived earlier at Calais can only be described as perfect, nice and mild, dry and light wind, would this last, I know not! About 30 miles out of Calais the temperature dropped noticeably, and then came the familiar patter of light rain on the visor, soon to be replaced by the hammering of a horrendous downpour. Usually these downpours last for a few miles then tend to peter out, not this one, at least 25 miles of severe rain and very high wind, visibility severely impaired by the volume of water running off the visor. Hey I even got wet feet, I know my boots don’t leak, what had happened that the rain had risen up inside my waterproof suit trousers and then run down inside the boots – yuk.

Eventually I made the Eurotunnel at Calais after what I have to admit were some of the scariest riding conditions I have ever experienced.

On arrival at check in at Eurotunnel I was in no mood for anything going wrong but it did, the check in machine wouldn’t accept my debit card or my booking reference so I called for assistance, only to be informed that I had arrived a full 24 hours early for my reservation, what a plonker, in the rush in the morning to make the reservations I had accepted the default date for the return journey which is always the day after departure. I explained this to the voice on the help line and they laughed and amended my reservation free of charge, so thank you for that.

Now it was time for more standing in the rain waiting to board, after about 20 minutes we did board and this time had an uneventful crossing. So now the last leg of the journey, about 160 miles to go, with a planned stop at Stansted services on the M11 for a cuppa, which turned out to be hot soup and bacon toastie, yummy.

Eventually arrived home at about 1AM after having covered 602 miles, for some reason my bed felt especially good when I crawled into it.

All the best and safe riding

Dave

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Total Turn Indicator Failure

Do you believe in a coincidence?

On my recent trip to Holland I stopped just after I had crossed the French – Belgium border to use the loo at a service area. When I came back to the bike I noticed the right mirror pod was hanging by its retention strap, someone must have knocked it off!

On the ST1100 the mirror pod also houses the turn indicator and wiring, when the pod had been knocked off the wires had come our of the indicator bulb socket, so I reconnected them and refitted the POD and then tried the indicators, sadly no go.

I decided to proceed on my way to Tilburg in Holland and on arrival at the hotel gain access to the fuse box to see if the indicator circuit fuse had blown, hoping that the fuses were clearly marked.

The journey up to Tilburg went fine using hand signals, fortunately it was dry and on arrival at the hotel I was able to park directly under a light. So I checked in made my self a cuppa and then went back down to the bike to have a look at the fuse.

On the ST1100 to access the fuse box you need to remove the left pannier and seat and then remove the left side panel which isn’t too much of a problem as long as you have tools, fortunately I always carry a tool kit and I was soon looking at the fuse box, just next to the battery.

It was clearly marked on the fuse box lid that the stop light and indicators shared the same 10amp fuse, so I switched on the ignition and depressed the foot brake, the stop lamp lit up which proved that the fuse was ok, at this point something inside told me to physically check the fuse anyway just in case some previous owner had reconfigured the wiring, a last ditch hope really – the fuse was fine. So I reassembled everything and gave up and resigned myself to the fact that the return journey next morning to UK would be done with hand signals.

Later I spoke to my wife, Shalini on the phone and explained what had happened and that I though the flasher unit had most probably given up, but what a coincidence that it should give up the ghost at the same time as the mirror pod was knocked off.

The trip back to UK, some 360 miles or so was uneventful, although my left shoulder was really painful after putting my arm out into the air flow to make turn signals (remember I broke my left collar bone last year), but main things was we got home safe and sound.

If I say it was like riding naked not having indicators I am sure you will know what I mean.

Later that afternoon I rang A1 Honda in Stamford, my local Honda dealer and explained what had occurred and they requested me to take the bike into them first thing Saturday morning which I did.

It turns out the fault was a broken wire, this wire was on the left side of the bike and not physically connected to the mirror pod, so the fact that the mirror pod was knocked off could not had had any effect on the wire, so there is the coincidence, but now the indicators are fully functional again and riding is a whole lot safer.

At this point I would like to express my special thanks to the team at A1 Honda, on numerous occasions now they have fitted the bike in for repair at very short notice and have always done an excellent job at a very reasonable price, in fact this is twice this year they have done short notice repairs for me, the first incidence was about a month ago when I realised that my fork seals had popped, think this must have occurred as a result of a meeting with a pot hole in the road.

The guys at A1 Honda fully understand how crucial it is to have the bike in tip top order when you are a courier and having their backup is real a real comfort.

If you live in the South Lincolnshire area I would really recommend you either talk or go and visit the team at A1 Honda for all things to do with Honda motorcycles, you can find them on Broad Street in Stamford or on the web at:

http://www.a1honda.co.uk/

All the best and safe riding

Dave

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Will be returning from the Wirral to Stamford

I will be in the Heswall area of the Wirral tomorrow 22 March around 2:30pm and could offer a delivery along my return route to Stamford. My primary return route is marked in blue however, I could divert via Wolverhampton or Birmingham on my way back if required or alternatively take the M62 which would take me through the Manchester and Leeds areas along the route.

I have placed a route map below, if I can help you can contact me through the details shown on my web site: http://www.sdsamotorcyclecouriers.co.uk




Best regards

Dave

Holland again next week

I will be riding over to Tilburg in Holland again this week on the 25th March 2010, I will be empty and could carry out a delivery if anyone requires at any of the major towns along the route between Calais and Tilburg, Calais, Dunkirk, Brugge, Gent, Antwerp, Breda or Tilburg. Alternatively a deliivery could be made anywhere between Peterborough and Folkstone as long as the delivery allows me to make my crossing on Eurotunnel at 14:20.

Collection could be made along the route between Peterborough and Folkstone on my way to the Channel Tunnel.

I can carry small packages, documents or anything else that can fit on a motorcycle, for details of dimensions please follow this link:

Package dimensions

I have placed a route map below:



Best regards

Dave

Can anyone help?

Hi,

the collector box on my ST1100 is just showing signs of sarting to expire on me, this is a known fault on the ST1100 as it's made of mild steel and is very exposed to the elements.

So before it goes it would be good to source a good used set of (perferably Motad) down pipes with collector box in stainless steel.

So if anyone has or knows of any in a good used condition I would be very keen to hear from them in the near future.

This one of the few known guranteed failures on the ST1100, the others are the silencers will rot and so does the rear swing arm, sadly Mr Honda decided to make them out of mild steel.

I my humble opinion it would be great if Mr Honda would start production of this great motorcycle again, who knows we can live in hope!

All the best and safe riding

Dave

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Fuel Prices in Holland

We moan and complain about our fuel prices over here in the UK, well spare a thought for those in Holland. I was over there last week and had to fill up in Tilburg ready for the trip back to the UK the next morning, I was astounded, the unleaded over there worked out to £1.41 per litre, scary!

I need a bigger fuel tank on the Pan which will give me a range of about 400 miles, trouble is I don't know where it would fit on the bike.

There is one upside to prices over the other side of the channel though, the tobacco is nice and cheap, 49 Euro for 10 50 gram Samson about half price compared to here.

All the best and ride safe

Dave