Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lake Garda

We had a terrific run up to Bardolino on Lake Garda. This will be the last trip for a while as Delilah is going in for her 1000km service on 16th June, and we've now clocked up 950km. What a shame... The weather was gorgeous and the riding was perfect. Delilah's pretty comfy, even without the backrest. My new sunglasses held up quite well, but had begun to dig in the side of my head just above my ears a bit by the end of the day. My nose was fine, however. I think they'll be okay, and the nice thing is, they don't let the sun in over the top like my normal sunglasses, so I didn't end the day with a headache. We had a typical Italian day with pizza and a giant ice cream!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

But where is it?

I'm sure we have a green Michelin guide to Corsica we bought last year. I've spent 2 days looking for it. Did this book ever exist? Am I looking for something that is a figment of my imagination? I don't think so. I know what it looks like, how it feels (the pages are a bit flimsy), the dirty mark where we've flicked through it... It's driving me mad "knowing" this book is somewhere in the flat but isn't in any of the usual places. Send me book-finding vibes before I go bonkers!

Monday, May 25, 2009

26 days to go...

Counting down the days to the much anticipated Corsica trip. We spent a whole load more at the weekend getting bits and pieces together. More base layers (just because they're great), a lighter-weight jacket because we realised we'd roast to death in our 3 season jacket (obviously the missing season is summer...), lightweight canvas trousers, waterproofs, a first aid kit. The list is never-ending. This trip's going to end up costing more than a month's cruise round the Caribbean! The problem is we haven't got any of this stuff already, so it's the initial outlay that's so expensive! One thing I got that I didn't anticipate having to get was a new pair of sunglasses. Last weekend's jaunt up into the mountains with my regular sun specs had left me with such a painful nose and a headache that lasted for 3 days. I invested in a pair of these "Saar"by Baruffaldi. Initial tests feel very comfortable. I'll let you know if they're up to the job when I've been out in them.

Unfortunately "Delilah" is nearly due for her 1000km service, so we've got to ration our trips out. She's going in in the middle of June, and since we've already done a bit over 400km on her, it doesn't leave much room for commuting and trips.

We're still waiting to get the topcase and panniers. We should be ordering those at the beginning of June. I hope I can still hoik myself up on the back when they're on. Getting on's okay at the moment, but I do have trouble getting off. Any tips?

So, if someone had told me that I would be a biker chick one day, I wouldn't have believed them! I've always been a bit of a "petrol head" with an interest in cars, but never, never bikes. Too noisy, too dangerous, ridden by greasy people...

Just about everyone in Italy has a scooter of one dimension or another, and we were lucky in having a fairly big one that we used to nip about on. We did the odd longer trip, and it was fun, but we were a bit restricted on how far we could go because of the comfort factor. The engine wasn't huge and used to struggle with two a little bit.

The "madness" really started last year on holiday in Corsica when we saw how many people were there on scooters and motorbikes. The first pangs of envy started to creep in and we started tentatively talking about getting a Yamaha TMax, which is a sort of hybrid between a scooter and a motorbike. We visited a few showrooms but never went as far as a test-drive. Now, I don't really know how it all got started, but at some point, my other half, C expressed an up to now latent passion for motorbikes, the BMW R1200GS in particular. I wasn't really interested in all this boy talk and didn't pay much attention, until we went to the showroom for a look... Well, first of all there's the smell. I've always liked the smell of new cars, but new motorbikes smell even better. Then I came face to face with "The Beast". This GS machine was a work of art. A beautiful, big, shiny, powerful, metal beast that unleashed something deep inside...

So, away we went, talking about maybe getting one next year, and we'd see... These conversations became a daily occurrence, as did drive-bys of the showroom, until C decided to take a test drive. Could he be thinking of buying one sooner than next year? I think the test drive clinched the decision. Unfortunately the bloke in the showroom didn't seem that enthusiastic about selling us a bike, so we decided to try another dealer that had been recommended to us. After an hour talking to the salesman and his lovely elderly mother who also worked there ("that's a beautiful bike you're thinking of buying there, kids"), we'd come away with an offer to give us more for our trusty scooter than we ever could have imagined, and a financial deal that was obviously aimed at giving you no choice whatsoever on whether or not to buy the bike. It was a really good deal put together by BMW. Off we went to "think about it". A week later we were in the showroom signing the papers. A week after that and the bike was ready for collection.

And so arrived the lovely Delilah, over 200kg of heavenly beast! I let C go to work on her and build up confidence before insisting I hopped on the back. With our sparkly new biker gear, I finally got the opportunity to go "two-up" on a proper motorbike. I always enjoyed riding on the back of the scooter, but a motorbike gives you a certain kudos, and what with the other bikers lifting an acknowledging hand in greeting as they passed, there is nothing, nothing like it. I asked C what it was that made travelling by motorbike as opposed to car that more attractive. He voiced my own feelings on it. You're outside in the fresh air, you can see everything around you, the colours are brighter, it's open and you don't feel claustrophobic... so many things. It lifts my spirits being on the back of the bike. I love it. I never thought I would.

So, we're off to Corsica on her at the end of June, a dream fulfilled. We now have to decide what we can take in two panniers and a topcase! No support vehicle for us! Trips we have planned in the future are North Cape and Morocco, and we're currently debating whether to drive her up to the UK in August...