Mar 01

Bits & pieces

by in India

This past week or so has been a series of minor mishaps, (I’m saving major ones for later!). Just when I’m bopping along wondering why I ever thought this ride might be challenging the National highway suddenly breaks up completely causing traffic to grind to a halt. Trucks crawl along at only a few kms an hour trying to dodge the craters in the road, so manouvering the FN around them and the roadworks becomes even more tricky than usual. Despite only carrying what I need, which includes spare fuel & tyres, the bike is sorely overloaded. The stress this creates tends to break things and the list of broken parts is growing.

When I caught up with Lynne in Jodphur my first stop had to be an engineering shop to get the spokes fitted – a tricky job which required removing the back end. Of course I had my share of helpers who all claimed to know the best way to make this happen despite never working on a machine like this before. I’d like to just take the bike and myself off to some place quiet where I can work in peace but this hasn’t happened yet and probably never will. Better to accept that everyone has good intentions and just want to help. While I had the opportunity I got an upholsterer to fashion a padded seat and while it isn’t flash and certainly doesn’t fit the period of the bike, it will make riding a little more comfortable.

Having a few days to wash the pannier bags, all the gear and give myself a good scrub really makes a difference to how I feel when I set off again. I stock up with oil, tighten and check everything, then I’m set. Rakesh at Devi Bhawan Guest House pointed me in the right direction when I needed assistance and made the stay in Jodphur extra special. Once everything was sorted and all the sore bits were back to normal, it was time to head north to Bikaner on what I’d been assured was a great road, apart from a bit of sand. Well, it might have started out that way but before long I was wrestling to keep the bike upright.

Then the pannier bag straps broke and the bags fell, causing the bike to tip over. This broke the mirror and bent the crank pedal. A 15″ crescent spanner isn’t something I carry and didn’t imagine one would be easy to find as most garages only have a few very basic tools. Tired and feeling the effects of a tough day I crawled into a truck stop to the amazement of onlookers. I guess it must look a lot like someone from Mars landing in Mahajan. To my surprise, a guy in a mechanical workshop about 1 km further on had a Stilson and the crank pedal was soon back in shape and a new Indian mirror replaces my one until I can get some new glass fitted.

Highlights on this section have been getting a haircut and a shave in the middle of nowhere, the manager of Tata Trucks giving me a room to sleep next door to his workshop, enjoying a great meal of stuffed tomatoes, dhal & chappatis, and a coke for only 125 rupees (about 25c) and as usual, the friendliness of everyone. On the downside, the road for a good part of today’s journey has been crap. Dropping the bike is a pain and I’m pissed the Dry Rider gear bags didn’t hold up, but in all fairness, they are under a lot of stress and probably carrying more than the recommended 5 kgs each. I can’t afford not to carry gas even though they add so much weight.

I’ve been told I have about 15 kms of rough road still to do then it will be highway again – fingers crossed nothing got lost in the translation and I can look forward to a few days of relative comfort before I reach Amritsar and the Pakistan border! My authorization number arrived by email this week so I can pick up my Iranian visa in Lahore. That sure is a relief as I didn’t want to have to consider the alternatives.

Thomas, Geert, his dad, Jacques & RC Motorparts in Europe have all been incredibly generous by helping arrange tyres & tubes for me. I can’t wait to meet to give them a heartfelt thank you in person. Thank you too to everyone who comments on the blog – it’s heartening to know so many are enjoying the experience with me.

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12 Responses to “Bits & pieces”

  1. From Ross in Bali:

    Way to go Ronnie, you have lots of supporters in Bali cheering you on – especially your Grandchildren!!!

    Posted on March 5, 2012 at 6:47 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Rosco, Thanks for your encouragement. Having been a traveller yourself you know it’s not fun every day but i keep making good forward progress and that’s the main thing. Hi Erinn & Ali, just to let you know your grandfather is getting better looking every day. Well, that’s what the dirty motorcycle mirror tells me! Love you all heaps. OBOAB

      Posted on March 5, 2012 at 7:37 am #
  2. From Di:

    I have to agree the other blokes, you are incredible, we all knew you were handy in the engineering department but sheer determination is what seems to be keeping you on the road. Keep going and good luck.

    Posted on March 3, 2012 at 5:18 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Di, Yes, it sure helps every day to be mechanically minded. I’ve had a few hiccups here and there but for the most part, the ride’s been great fun. I do enjoy the breaks from time to time as it’s pretty full on with the bike attracting so much attention. I think you’ll enjoy India Di, I know I have.
      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on March 5, 2012 at 1:12 am #
  3. From wal haylock:

    hi ron——–i can’t wait to get on the net each day and follow your progress——-obviously your engineering expertise as well as tough mind and body are needed to continue—and how.——–the 1910 motor will be great and will not need much work apart from al. pistons amongst other htings so it is the right motor for my 1911 frame.——–i’m off to n.z. on wednesday and will see carol lawry(mcdougall)and the lawry fn.——-i wish you god speed in the weeks ahead——-kind regards——-wal. cheers! you are amazing.

    Posted on March 2, 2012 at 11:20 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Wal, Sounds like you’re cornering the market on FN 4 motors! Give my regards to the Lawry family, Jim was a nice bloke who supported me a lot. He’s one of the people who helped me get the FN to where it is today. I think he would have enjoyed sharing the journey also. Hope to hear you’ve got yours running soon. Have a good trip to NZ. All the best, Ron

      Posted on March 5, 2012 at 12:55 am #
  4. From Carl-Erik Renquist:

    Try to incorporate the bike in more pictures, that way you have a theme or red line to follow later when you sort and boil down your impressions. I did a similar travel of a year and a half, and now I am sitting with albums of wievs, nice memories yes but I am missing something that ties them together. I didn’t understand that at the time and now in a later stage would very much like to have. I’m not telling to lessen the wiev pictures, they are important as well but include the bike in more pictures and you will see that the bike and what you incounter, people faces and the living quarters for you and them will be the lasting impressions of the travel in an album or presentation.

    Posted on March 2, 2012 at 9:30 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Carl-Erik. You make a good point and I’ll keep this in mind. It’s not always easy to take pictures of the bike as I have to unload all my gear to put the stand down or lean the bike against a tree and most times there aren’t any beside the road. Thanks though for your input – much appreciated. Ron

      Posted on March 5, 2012 at 12:39 am #
  5. From Thomas:

    Great news tt you keep on rolling. Wonderful photos on Flickr. Keep the rubber down.

    Posted on March 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Glad you like the photos Thomas. There’s so many great opportunities in India and I really enjoying the interaction with people when you show them their picture. I imagine Pakistan will be just as interesting.

      Posted on March 5, 2012 at 12:11 am #
  6. From Jacques Maertens:

    Hi Ron,

    You disserve more than a “medal” for that kind of a trip, I’ve followed years ago such a trips in motorcycles magazine with bikes( off roads) of maximum 3 to 5 years old and they got there a hard time .

    But you mange it to do that with a 100 year old FN Bike!!!! “Chapeau” that is French !

    I will send a mail to the FN factory to “Mister Sauvage” perhaps he could put a article in the internal FN magazine for the workers.

    I have taken contact to other magazines and clubs to put something about “the trip” in their club papers.

    FN greetings Jacques

    Posted on March 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Jacques, I appreciate you contacting all these people about the ride. Feel free to pass on the blog address to anyone who’s interested. Good to be stationary for a few days and catch up with maintenance. Having Lynne meet me along the way lifts my spirits and makes a nice change from constant talk about the bike. All’s going well and I’m really getting to understand the different noises she makes, (the FN, not Lynne, LOL)
      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on March 5, 2012 at 12:01 am #

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