Round-and-Round and End-to-End (Swampland to the Highlands) - Lots of photos

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by slartidbartfast, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Here are a couple of pics from yesterday's ride. Rest assured, these are NOT the best. We will post those later but have a REALLY slow internet connection here so it will take a while to get the rest up.

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    This was one of the best day's riding I think I've ever had, despite getting a puncture... in the rain... Off to find some breakfast now but will post some more later.
    #21
  2. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    We're having too much fun riding and sightseeing to download any photos yet. We didn't arrive in Abersoch until about 10:00 pm and then headed for a nearby bar to relax the grins from our faces.

    Today (Thursday) we visited Caernarfon where DewNmoon spent a couple of hours pretending he was defending the castle - Climbing hair-raisingly steep spiral staircases up to the tops of the highest towers and shooting imaginary arrows at tourists.

    After that, we crossed the bridge over the Menai Strait to the Isle of Anglesey and visited the village with the longest place name in the British Isles.

    From there, Llanberis and the pass adjacent to Mount Snowdon amused us for an hour or so. We met and chatted with quite a few other bikers and stopped to take many more photographs. The easiest way to describe the weather is to indicate that we were quite comfortable with no liners in our jackets and I got a sunburned neck.

    It's now almost 9:30pm and we are preparing to ride again to go and watch the sunset over Cardigan Bay. DewNmoon is going to video from the pillion as he's been sipping Glenfiddich with his dinner.

    Feelin' good!!!!!

    Watch this spot...
    #22
  3. Juice Box

    Juice Box Got Ink?

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    Nice job guys!!!!!!!!!!!!
    #23
  4. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    I had some work to do and also spent some time on last-minute "enhancements" to The Duchess (sealing a weep from a stripped level plug on the final drive and securing the sheepskin seat cover.)

    Pausing for my father to snap a quick photo, we headed for Wales.
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    Apart from a fuel-stop at the top of Haldon Hill, we rode straight up the A38 and M5.
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    We made good time but it was a bit blustery. Crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales was an interesting experience as the wind was quite strong.
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    DewNmoon had expressed an interest in castles so I had set my GPS destination to Chepstow Castle. We pulled up under a shady tree for a picnic lunch.
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    After lunch, we had a quick look around Chepstow taking photos of the Castle and surrounding streets.
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    Despite visiting the area several times, I don't remember seeing any of the city before. Nearby, I once made a caving trip into Otter Hole, one of the most beautiful caves I have ever been in - The entrance is on the bank of the river Wye and a few thousand feet inside the cave, it is flooded by the tide twice a day, making visits interesting for multiple reasons. The Wye is tidal here and connected to the Severn estuary, which experiences the biggest tides in Britain - Up to thirty feet if I remember correctly. The tide was out but coming in fast when we were there.
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    From Chepstow, we headed up the beautiful Wye Valley toward Monmouth. Stopping briefly at the ruined and extraordinarily photogenic Tintern Abbey.
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    After Monmouth, the ride was a blur of quaint villages, green fields, rolling hills and mountains. The roads were fairly quiet and the weather near perfect. We didn't take many photos as we were just having too much fun!
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    We stopped a couple of times for fuel and to put on rain gear when the sky began to look threatening. Fortunately it was just a sprinkle and we were soon back on smooth, dry asphalt.
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    But something was going wrong... The Duchess began to shake her head on sweeping bends and wriggle a bit on textured surfaces or repairs. I was internally wondering if she had a hinge in the middle and what future improvements (shocks, etc.) might be able to improve things. I mentioned this to DewNmoon when we pulled up for gas just 45 miles from our destination and he casually said "Your back tire looks rather low."
    #24
  5. boboneleg

    boboneleg we can rebuild him.

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    Great report guys, Welcome to Britain looks like you've come during our summer...............
























    ...........all TWO days of it :rofl
    #25
  6. kejago

    kejago Kev. Haute Savoie, France

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    :lurk
    #26
  7. JayD

    JayD Been here awhile

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    :thumb:ricky :type
    #27
  8. mqo233

    mqo233 Been here awhile

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    just be carefull,,,,,,,,students are waiting for you guys when you get back that need to learn,,,,,,,,,,so come back in one piece

    James
    #28
  9. Oilybimmer

    Oilybimmer Long timer

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    Welcome to North Wales guys, I went over the Llanberis pass myself last weekend, I will keep my eyes open for you on the road. If you need anything just PM me
    Stewart
    #29
  10. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    No way to post photos so this is a quick update...

    Saturday, we made our way from N. Wales to the Lake District in the rain all the way. Just as we arrived, dripping wet, at Langdale Youth Hostel, the fire alarm went off and we had to stand around in the rain for another 30 minutes, waiting for the fire brigade. More to tell of course but not too many photos due to the weather.

    This morning, we headed out after breakfast, for Eskdale, crossing Wrynose and Hardknott passes. To say the weather was foul would be a great understatement. DewNmoon says it was a paved mountain goat trail and in the US would be considered suitable for off-road vehicles only. The road is very narrow with 20-30% grade most of the way. Most of the many hairpin turns (switchbacks for US viewers) had water pouring down them. Sheep were laughing at us as we made our way up the pass in the storm.

    Leaving the damp Lake District behind, we headed further north and the weather gradually improved. The roads along the shore of Loch Lomond were fabulous and mostly dry with occasional sprinkles. We are now in Oban (gateway to the isles) and planning to head for the Isle of Skye tomorrow. Will use DewNmoon for Nessie bait along the way. The weather forecast is for a nice day (but it's been wrong every day so far) :evil

    Will get more photos on-line just as soon as we possibly can - and we have some fabulous shots (and we're modest too :lol3 )
    #30
  11. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Well, we're back in Devon. The last few days have been exciting but we've had no internet connection and not enough time to do anything with it if there had been...

    Since leaving Oban, we've been around Skye, travelled the (supposedly) highest motorable road in Britain, ridden several hundred miles of single-track roads around the rugged and beautiful north west coast of Scotland (I will run out of expletives trying to describe it so the photos - when we post them - will have to speak for themselves.)

    Previous descriptions of riding in rain or blustery weather were woefully inadequate and we have certainly experienced some extreme riding conditions that possibly question our sanity rather than pulling into the nearest warm pub and calling it a day.

    Did we crash and trash our bikes on deadly sheep-poo-covered mountain trails?

    Did we succeed in our goal of the End-to-end ride?

    Watch this space....

    BTW: It ain't over yet - DewNmoon's rental still needs to be returned so we've a couple of hundred more miles to do still.
    #31
  12. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    OK - we left off at a petrol station somewhere in North Wales with DewNmoon telling me that my rear tire looked low.

    "Durn it! Why can't that happen to an old tire instead of a brand new one?" I lifted the seat to get my pressure gauge out just as it started to rain. Well the pressure gauge wouldn't cooperate - acting as if the battery was flat. Not that it was really necessary - the tire was obviously very low.

    We eventually located a tiny shiny spot, buried deep in the tread. A bit of digging about with a screwdriver and pliers and we extracted what looked like a two-inch length of stout wire. It had gone at an angle and cut across two tread blocks. The rain intensified as I retrieved my tire plugging kit and compressor.

    Getting the plug in was a real struggle
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    At last! Now I wonder if this thing is safe to drive on? Certainly no chance of getting a new tire out here right now. It could certainly upset our plans to be stuck with a flat, unrepairable tire in a remote area.
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    We headed out into the rain, taking it easy on the corners. The weather didn't let up but the road continued to delight and the Duchess remained steady in the corners.

    [More on the tire later...]
    #32
  13. dentedvw

    dentedvw Where did I put that

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    Looks a bit like a pretzel stick.
    For what it's worth, they last okay in most cases, but when you need four of them to fill the hole, it's worth calling it a day. :1drink

    Keeping an eye on this one, looks like a good time!
    #33
  14. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    The last few miles toward our destination on the Lleyn Peninsula were peppered with showers. It began to look as if we'd arrive in Abersoch rather soggy. We continued to enjoy the route however, as we made our way along the coast and past the causeway carrying the narrow gauge Ffestiniog steam railway to Porthmadog.

    Rounding a corner, we came across a stunning vista of the Criccieth Castle, illuminated by the setting sun. We pulled up on the side of the road and frantically dug our cameras out from where we had stashed them away from the rain.
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    After a few minutes of oohing and aahing over the shutter buttons, we decided to move on. As DewNmoon turned to remount, he called exitedly for me to look behind. The rain and sun had conspired to provide us with another visual treat.
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    #34
  15. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    "Hey, maybe the rain wasn't so bad after all!"

    "Look what it did for us..."

    After a short while, we both looked at each other...

    "Rainbow... Castle... Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

    We jumped back on the bikes and raced into Criccieth. We shot into a near-empty car park and leapt off the bikes once again, cameras in-hand, much to the surprise of a couple who were just leaving, heads down, blissfully unaware of what they were missing.
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    If you look carefully, you'll see this was actually a double-rainbowA full double arch from one side to the other, with the colors in the second rainbow reversed from the other. Mother nature and our Welsh forebears came together to give us a beautiful show this evening.
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    #35
  16. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    We arrived at our accommodation in Abersoch just as the light was beginning to fade. Highly satisfied with our first day 'on the road', we walked the few hundred yards into town where we were unable to find any food but settled in a trendy watering hole to rinse the (already damp) road dust from our throats.
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    Spread out across the bar table, the map eagerly beckoned with numerous possibilities for places to explore in the area the next day.
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    #36
  17. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    Trying to keep things in chronological order so waiting for DewNmoon to post his comments. As this was his first time in Britain, he had some unique perspectives on stuff that seems commonplace to me, so it's interesting to me to understand what things caught his eye and maybe why.

    Anyhow, while waiting, I thought I'd throw in a few tidbits about my ride.

    Here she is almost exactly a year ago when I first brought her to her new home (my parents' place in Devon.) Notice the humongous driving lamps! There had been a bit of scrub down and some grunge scraping going on already at this point but not a whole lot more.
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    I bought The Duchess on fleaBay for the princely sum of, IIRC, six hundred quid (that's Pounds Sterling to the Brit-speak uninitiated). The bloke who sold her had never had her running and had in turn acquired her from a mate who'd not ridden her for four or five years. She was last taxed in February 2002 and a sticker under the seat noted the last shop service was done by Mick Barr in 1996 with less than 3000 miles having passed under her wheels since.
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    I carefully checked her over and got the old girl running a couple of days after purchase. After that, every visit to my parents from my home in Louisiana brought another box of bits and another day or two of tinkering. Going back to my notes, here's a list of some stuff I fixed or adjusted:
    • Carbs were dry with some evidence of rusty sediment but no fuel gunge. Blasted through carb drillings/jets/passageways with some shots of carb cleaner. Replaced several O-rings and float bowl gaskets.
    • Petrol was old and stinky but there were no big rust flakes or gelatinous residue in the tank. Drained tank and flushed with a pint or two of fresh fuel.
    • Eventually added fuel filters as I was seeing a tiny bit of sediment accumulating in the carbs and would hate to get stranded somewhere over a speck of dirt.
    • Fuel lines are partly perished - leaked initially but stopped after a while. Should have changed them then and there but didn't and it later caused me some grief.
    • Tank cap could not lock. When I eventually got it locked, it would not unlock - had me worried for a while but I eventually got it freed up.
    • Battery was completely flat and unserviceable. I was given a supposedly good spare which was no good and had the wrong terminals so would not have been any use anyway.
    • Front brake master cylinder had leaked gunge all over as had the seal for the reservoir. I cleaned up the seal area and reinstalled the reservoir with a new O-ring.
    • The master cylinder bore was corroded - I cleaned it up with some grinding paste and a rag on a stick.
    • Master cylinder seals were completely worn out - can't buy them separately from piston so I bought a new piston (ouch!).
    • Brake caliper pistons binding and with evidence of some internal corrosion. Just cleaned this all up a bit and she seems to be okay (getting better with miles in fact)
    • Took ages to bleed and flush the brake system - from what came out, it might also need hoses soon - I haven't flushed it a second time yet so we'll see.
    • Rear brake pivot leaking both inside and out - the rear brakes were badly worn and contaminated with oil. Replaced O-ring seals and installed new brake shoes that came with the bike.
    • Bought a couple of sidestand springs as it had none but then found out there are other small pieces required to fit them. Eventually got that all sorted.
    • New battery was bigger than the one which came out. Someone had modified the hold down for a slightly shorter battery - I had to 'unmodify' it so it would fit.
    • Front brake light switch was not working - eventually got it to work reliably it will probably need replacing eventually.
    • Replaced gear shift rubber which was split. Stripped, cleaned and adjusted a lot of other things.
    • Noticed no power above 1/2 throttle. Bike would not go over 80 on flat or 70 up hill. Found carb diaphragms perished and torn. Replaced these and made some rough carb adjustments. The bike runs and idles fine but occasionally misses just off idle and burbles and pops on the overrun so I expect the idle mixture is a teeny bit lean.
    • The speedo drive seal was completely perished and split and there were strong signs it had let water past into the transmission. I replaced it and put silicone sealer round it and grease under it to keep water out in future.
    • Checked the valves after about 200 miles. They were spot-on on one side and a tad tight on the other- no real worries there but I reset both sides to .005 inlet and .008 exhaust anyway (manual states .004/.008 for this model IIRC)
    • Replaced plugs although the old ones were not too bad
    • I was wondering whether the airhead charging system could handle an upgraded 55/80W headlamp bulb (it probably can't when used in conjunction with heated grips and vest) but found that someone had already installed a 100/130W. I'm amazed that the switch, wiring or bulb socket didn't get cooked. The voltage drop must have been significant as the new stock 55/60W bulb seems brighter and whiter than the monster one did.
    • Both driving lights had rattled on their rivets and were very loose. They also had moisture inside so needed to be replaced (MOT tester did not notice). I removed them as I decided the alternator could not provide for an additional 110W of lights anyway. They were replaced with some LED daytime running lamps which consume next to no current and are on all the time.
    • Changed all fluids and engine oil filter.
    • The level plug on the final drive is stripped and was leaking oil. This was fixed in-situ by cleaning the threads carefully with carb cleaner and reinserting the bolt with a light coating of epoxy on the threads. I put a bit of silicone on top just for good measure and it seems to be holding up. Will just have to measure FD oil when I change it instead of filling till it dribbles out.
    • Hollow vent bolt/ground wire connection on the transmission is cross-threaded. I put it back in carefully and am trying to pretend it's not there. If I need to remove it again, I'll probably have to find a way to fix it.
    • The clock quit almost immediately but I found a new pattern replacement for under $30
    • The centrestand was bent and wouldn't fold up completely - as I got more used to the handling, I started grinding it on the corners but took it off and got it straightened
    • I threw away several extra keys with unknown function before I discovered that the luggage DOES have locks (they're hidden under little flaps) Fortunately I was able to order a new one.
    • Added two cigar-lighter power outlets in the fairing - one to power my GPS and one to run a compressor or other accessories. DewNmoon used it almost every day to recharge his Ipod.
    • Also added a SAE socket to plug in my heated jacket.
    • Cleaned up some wiring, adding a digital voltage/temp monitor under the dash and some other bits and pieces.
    • Added a brake-flasher LED thingy and several reflective stickers. The blue reflective tape I found REALLY stands out well.
    • Was going to make do with the old, somewhat hard tires as they seemed ok but then got a nail in the back one while riding my daughter around. Put on new Avon Roadrunners just 300-miles or so before leaving on the trip. Who'd have thought I'd get another flat the first day.

    Other bits and pieces I either discovered on the trip or probably should do but haven't got around to include:
    • The forks have rather a lot of stiction and dive rather badly. The handling doesn't seem to suffer much but it could be more comfortable I'm sure. Probably should change the fork oil (heaven knows how old it is) and loosen things off to see if there is any twist which can be worked out.
    • A bit if head-shake when hands-off at 30-40mph seems to be not uncommon for these bikes and this one does it. I'll check the steering head bearings one day.
    • Rear shock is weak when solo and really weak when two-up. My solution for the time being will be not to carry a heavy passenger if I can avoid doing so but I will keep my eye open for a cost-effective replacement shock.
    • Will have to lubricate gearbox input/clutch splines. Supposedly this should be done ~ every 20,000 miles and I don't know when or if it has ever been done. I didn't do it yet, however, on the grounds that the clutch is light, she shifts well, and I heard good things about Mick Barr so hope he might have done it. I gather it is a much simpler task than on my oilhead GS so no good excuses really.
    • Voltmeter and tach lights don't work.
    • The seal under the screen is perished - water blows up under screen and makes bubbles. A small amount of water also gets in around the headlamp and I noticed condensation inside the speedo a couple of times. I will probably try to fix these things with a little silicone sealant intially.
    • There's an annoying rattle at certain rpm that appears to be from the pattern stainless silencers which ring when tapped as if there are components touching inside. Probably expensive to replace so I may just live with it.
    • More electrical contact cleaning wouldn't hurt and I might add a ground harness.

    I'm sure there's some other things I either did and forgot about or should do and haven't realized it yet but those are the major ones. Not as much work as it sounds actually - I probably spent more time looking at/thinking about/fiddling with the wiring than anything else.

    When I changed the fluids, the engine oil didn't look to bad. The filter cover had a gasket which should not have been there but apparently no harm done. Trans (gearbox), shaft and FD oils all came out different colors, including the trans oil being the color of peanut butter. At a second change a 100 miles later, the trans oil was still milky. I put a good synth oil in and hope that the trip I just took got things hot enough to drive out any residual moisture. No aparrent ill effects noted so far so the corrosion inhibitors in the oil may have done their thing. Here's what came out of the tranny the second time around:
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    The Duchess is not fast by most big bike standards but seems to cruise happily at up to 90 without feeling too strained although the rpm is up pretty high at that speeed. She is just purring in the 65-75 range) - fuel consumption a bit higher than I had expected but aparrently the early mono RT's had low compression engines and just don't do that well. (More on fuel consumption later.)

    She has a nice quiet engine. The timing chain makes a little bit of noise at tickover when hot but I'm assuming that's normal and it probably still has many thousands of miles left in it. It's not too hard to change anyway.

    Overall, The Duchess rides, steers and handles ok. She feels lighter than 500 pounds dry compared to my oilhead GS which is 'only' 580 pounds. She's very compact compared to my GS, with my feet tucked up close under the carbs. She is quite comfortable apart from a bit of back-pressure behind the fairing and noise at top-of-helmet level (which my home-made screen add-on helped but did not eliminate) but whether I can manage consecutive long days on it easily will have to wait until later.
    #37
  18. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    I selected the R80RT because I wanted a bike to keep in Britain for occasional use that was likely to be affordable, reliable, easy to maintain, suitable for long-distance touring, and which would not deteriorate too badly if left parked for long periods. I pretty quickly narrowed the selection down to an older big trailie or a BMW airhead or K-bike.

    Finding a KLR-650 or somesuch that had not been too badly beaten up proved to be a challenge. They hold their value pretty well if they're not obviously trashed. The various Honda V-twin dualsport things are even more of a crapshoot in the lower price range. Then I'd still have to find luggage to put on it and it still might struggle on really long days or if asked to carry a passenger.

    A K-75 of some description would probably have done the job well and K100's seem to be readily available in good condition and often with luggage. However, if they do need major work, it seems as though it's often difficult and expensive.

    That left only airheads, which are arguably not quite as rock-solid reliable as the K-bikes and not as fast or (again arguably) quite as comfortable or solid-handling. They do usually come in touring guise with hard bags, etc. included and can often be found in the hands of enthusiasts who will have taken good care of them and may have bags of receipts, etc. to prove it.

    I bid on a couple of really clean, running airheads that sneaked out of the "bargain priced" range such that I probably could have found one for similar price at a dealer. When The Duchess came along, I wasn't sure about her condition but the price was right. A chat with the previous owner confirmed that she had had previous owners who were more or less in the "loving enthusiast category" and so she became mine.

    A somewhat eventful trip with my brother and a borrowed trailer to collect her and the rest I've described already.
    #38
  19. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    I'm having fun with this so no apologies for deviating from the trip report.

    As I heard it, one of the previous owners of this particular R80RT was a retired postman and used to save his pennies for one big trip to The Isle of Man every year. There is an IOM sticker on the screen and I intend to keep it as part of the bike's heritage until such time as I replace the screen (if I do).
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    The Duchess of Hamilton is a strange name for a bike and not one that I picked myself but it is fitting and I like it. My oilhead 1100 GS has been in my possession for four or five years and yet has stubbornly resisted acquiring a name. I've toyed with numerous possible epithets but never found one that fitted.

    When I got this bike, she came with a peculiar plate affixed to the handlebar pad.
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    The previous owner and the one before him had no idea but I had my suspicions and a little research turned up the facts:

    There are a Duke and Duchess of Hamilton (as in British peerage) but that's not right...
    The Duchess of Hamilton is a Coronation Class steam locomotive No 46229. It is one of only three remaining from the class - widely held as the most powerful and amongst the fastest steam passenger locomotives in Britain. She has worn various liveries, including for a long time the handsome maroon with gold pin-stripes which I'm sure led to the comparison with a certain BMW touring bike. I'm leaving the nameplate in place, of course.
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    Owned by the National Railway Museum, The (original) Duchess of Hamilton is currently being returned to her original form with fully streamlined coachwork, which will leave her as the only such locomotive in existence.

    We had several close encounters with steam railways during our trip so this is doubly significant.
    #39
  20. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Life is for good friends and great adventures Supporter

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    A beautiful morning beckoned. This was to be the only day we planned to return to the same spot at the end of the day so we did not need to pack up, merely get on our bikes and leave.
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    I checked my tire pressures as well as I could using the gauge on the pump as my hand-held pressure gauge was still not cooperating. I had to add just a tiny amount to the rear. ...and we were off in search of breakfast.

    We found a few cafes in Pwllheli and settled on one that had suitable parking nearby and seemed to have attracted the locals. DewNmoon expressed amazement at having baked beans for breakfast. I tried to prompt him to try black pudding without success.
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    ... I'm still waiting for DewNmoon to chip in with his observations. It was fun for me to experience familiar things through the eyes of a new visitor. We listened in on this group of local ladies who were chatting away in Welsh.
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    Then, as the day continued to warm up, we jumped back on the bikes and headed for Caernarfon, keeping an eye out for anywhere that might have a pressure gauge for sale or that might repair motorcycle tires.
    #40