I was on the bike at the end of last week and it was a beautiful sunny glorious day and as I still hadn't sorted the headlight on the FireBlade, I was on the 1098s. En route up the M3 it fired a fairing bolt into the wilderness and tried to shed a few more. Cable tie to the rescue, but thread lock me thinks.
The route back was pretty good and I had an almost perfect run on the A272 between Billingshurst and Petworth which is probably one of my favourite sections of road. The only problem was the sun was quickly setting and I found myself riding at night with dark visor. Never a good thing and I was pretty much just using the lights of the cars around me to see where the hell I was going. When I got back, I realised just how bloody hard the Ducati is to ride. Not hard in the actual operation, but more in terms of commitment. It just wants to be thrashed and pulling it around corners at a fair lick is draining. When I got home, after about two and half hours or so, my hands and shoulders were crying out for mercy. Saying that the last time I rode it any real distance was the Italy trip in 2014.
Onto today - as I'd sorted out the headlight yesterday, a nice new Philips Moto Vision bulb courtesy of ebay, I was able to take the FireBlade to a conference I was attending in Central London. I really wasn't looking forward to to the journey, especially as it was at The Oval, just south of the Vauxhall one way system. I left the house just after 05:30, but that still meant I was riding in Central London during the height of the morning peak. Lovely.
When I left my job in Central London at the very start of 2015, I felt that my city riding was good. I was able to navigate through the city, happily sliding in and out of traffic, making good progress along the way. Now, ten months later, I clearly have no idea. I was missing opportunities and was generally nervous about being in town. It was bloody pandemonium and I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that I don't have to do it very often.
I was able to get away at around 1530 and just headed south down the A3. The fuel light came on just before Guildford I think, could have been near Wisley, anyway, I knew there was a Shell garage at Liphook so I planned on stopping there. On the way there, I pulled up behind a mini-bus full of school kids. From the back window I saw this smiling face and his hand waving. So, I waved back. Then his mates waved too, so, again, I waved. I could see smiles and laughter and all because some silly fool on a yellow motorbike waved back. Future bikers? I hope so.
So I get to the petrol station, visor up and try to fill up. Now, I'm sat on a nice bike, wearing good quality kit, with a rucksack and a tailpack on the bike. "could the man a pump number 7 remove his helmet!" What? No 'please' by the way. My internal voice starts......"What on earth makes you think I'm going to ride off without paying? I'm trying to fill up with your standard boring petrol, not the expensive stuff. Judging by what I'm wearing, I'm clearly a serious rider and as you recorded my number plate when I rode in, Its highly unlikely that I'm a thief, so, just start the bloody pump!" As I look over, I get that pathetic animation from the lady showing me to take off my helmet. That did it! At that point instinct took over. I closed the fuel cap, flicked her the bird (childish I know - but still funny in my eyes), and rode off. If you don't want my business, the BP down by Loomies can have my money instead. I've been there many many times. The petrol was cheaper anyway and they've never asked me to remove my lid and the staff have always smiled at me. I will say, it is very rare that I get asked to remove my helmet, which is probably the reason for my reaction.
Its very strange. I know its not company policy for Shell to have riders remove their helmets. The team at Burley services on the A31 are great for example. There's one lady in there who always smiles and genuinely greets you when you want to pay. Lid off? Nope, never. Do I go back? Yes. Always when I take the bike to work. Will I go back to Liphook Services. Nope, never, not even in the car. Funny that.