Riding with friends: twenty GBMCC riders from three regions converged near Gatwick for a ride to Rye on routes over the Sussex Weald and Ashdown Forest.
More than twenty GBMCC riders converged on Pease Pottage services near Gatwick and Crawley. One of the first days this season promising to be warm enough for summer kit so lots of other riders also on their first ride in this year’s new kit. We moved on in four groups graded according to speed etc, riding through villages on the Sussex Weald, each looking calendar-picture-perfect with a lots of trees, village green (some with cricket being played in Whites), a pond and maybe a police car lurking to check speeds. Good to ride with a GBMCC group again, riders had come in from all over the South-East: Maidenhead, Southampton and Folkestone etc; the nearest had a ride of less than five minutes to the meeting-point.
A mid-morning coffee stop at a farm cafe then onwards to the fishing port of Rye, replete with brick-faced cottages and a handy fish and chip shop selling the local catch. I enjoyed a salad of crab meat, succulent white meat covering a good portion of red meat, all fresh and tasty.
Onwards from the Cinque Port of Rye to the Isle of Oxney, now no longer surrounded by sea. We had a sniff of the Kent and East Sussex heritage railway as the gates of an old-style level crossing were closed against us by a level crossing guardian in heritage uniform while the steam train chugged through. I enjoyed riding again the roads around the Isle of Oxney which became favourites when close friends moved out of Peckham to a house in Wittersham.
A final stop at Bodiam Castle, built in 1385 to defend the area from the threat of French invasion. Fond farewells after tea (or cream tea or ice-cream) as the groups split for the rides back home.
Encouraging to really enjoy a ride in South-East England even on a Sunday and despite the traffic. Great to revisit locations where I worked on LWT dramas The Charmer and Mapp & Lucia.
On my new textile suit, yes it works. The tex look is different on the bike to leathers but maintains CE protection and is good with an upright riding position like the Fazer. The air temperature today was 15°C, up and down a bit; that worked with a short-sleeve T-shirt underneath and using the jacket’s built-in liner. The pockets make things like wallet and pocket camera readily available.
On the Fazer, it’s a while since I rode a big Yamaha. This one did everything I asked it to do and revved up when needed. It’s not particularly light and the turning circle isn’t wonderful for manoeuvring. The feel of the clutch and the way the bike takes off from a start and even the engine noise are very reminiscent of the bikes I rode in the Eighties, Yamaha FJ750 and XJ900.
Thanks to Ian, who led the group I was with, also Henry, John, Klaus and Tim who organised the run for GBMCC.