I’ve grown used to the constant rhythm of when the FN is running smoothly. If the sounds change ever so slightly and I find myself adjusting the throttle and air lever, I know that there is contamination in the carburetor jet. If the engine doesn’t respond and hiccups instead, I know the inlet valve springs are collapsing. I can gauge how much lubrication the engine is getting by the amount of oil specks that cover my right boot. The oil from the clutch ends up on my left boot within the first 5 or 6 kms in the morning depending on how much clutch usage.
When I apply the back brakes using the pedals this puts load on the brake pawl, which is basically a ratchet for the pedaling device. Constant usage of the brakes riding through towns, wears out the pawl so I carry a spare then get the old one welded at the next opportunity. It can be pretty scary to apply the brake in city traffic which is always horrendous and find that nothing happens. So most times I try to use the engine decompressor to slow the engine. The noise I fear the most though is the big bang of the back tyre!
Despite all the interest from passersby, it’s a lonely journey at times and I often find myself talking to the bike that I’ve aptly named Effie. She and I chatter away coaxing one another to go a little further before the next rest stop. Every time we take a break I drain the oil from the distributor that seeps through from the camshaft spindle in the timing case. I do this because there’s no proper seal. There used to be one and it worked very well but didn’t last. It’s necessary to make sure I turn off the oil and disengage the rear brake in case someone should move the bike backwards and lock up the rear wheel.
Come the end of the day I dismantle and adjust all inlet valve springs. This has been a real learning curve given rides in Australia were very short in comparison. Because of the amount of luggage strapped on and the difficulty in putting down the rear stand I usually leave everything intact and park the FN against a post.
The other necessary job before hitting the sack is to drain and clean the carburetor jet, then before taking off the next morning check I have 45psi in the back tyre. In this way I know we stand a good chance of having a trouble free day. There’s no guarantee but it gives me peace of mind. I like to wipe over the bike each night not only to give her a clean but it also ensures I’m aware of anything that might be working loose I’m sure Effie enjoys the attention! LOL
And so how do I take care of myself? Well I’ve working on that. In the beginning (was it only just over one month ago?) I skipped meals during the day, but I’ve now got into a much better routine – a good breakfast, at least fruit during the day, camp up before I get exhausted, have a shower whenever possible and a good meal. There’s times when this all goes out the window, because life on the road is unpredictable, but I’ve learned that taking care of my body’s needs makes a real difference in how I see the journey.
Riding after dark is something we all say we won’t do, and invariably end up doing anyway, usually because something’s gone wrong during the day. Years ago I used to take the risk, pushing myself beyond tired, but a rope pulled across the road in the dark one time in Bolivia soon showed there’s things we can never predict. With no set agenda I’m taking it one day at a time and loving it. That way I can really enjoy the music.