Monday, November 21, 2011

Bikes, Brides, Blow-Downs and Breakdowns

After a year and a half of it being off the road due to a slipping clutch I couldn't justify spending money on to replace, last Friday I collected my wonderful BMW R1100RT motorcycle from my work colleague who had kindly offered to use it as his autumn/winter project and who'd been busy fixing it up in his spare time.  With not only a new clutch, but a full service, new brake pads and pins, various minor repairs and two new tyres it sailed through the MOT without a hitch, so on Saturday morning I took advantage of the unseasonably mild and dry weather and went for a ride up through Argyll to Inveraray and back.  Fantastic fun!

On Saturday evening with Glasgow Chamber Choir I sang in the Old World, New World concert in St Bride's Church in Hyndland, with glorious music by Victoria, Villa-Lobos, Casals, de Padilla, and Guererro.  Lately most of the GCC concerts have featured music which has been a bit more modern in style than my first choice would be, so when for various personal reasons before the new term started in September I was considering whether I would leave the choir, perhaps temporarily perhaps permanently, the largely 17th century choice for this concert swung it towards me staying, for the moment at least.  Suffice to say that the concert on Saturday, and repeated again on Sunday in the historic Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh (the church in which Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall were married in July this year), contained some of the best sounds I've heard the choir make (as well as one or two slightly less enjoyable arse-tightening moments!).

Before heading to Edinburgh on Sunday though, Ruth and I went to Motherwell to watch the demolition of Glencairn Tower, where I used to live a long time ago with my parents.  We've both been meaning to catch a "live" blow-down of a tower block for the past few years but never managed to hear about one in time until now, and it didn't disappoint albeit it was over in just a few seconds.  The images below weren't taken by me, but are "official" press ones which I've seen on several news websites so I've reproduced them here on the basis that they're of public interest, and the photographers will have been reimbursed by the mainstream media.  In particular I think the third one, with the controlled buckling of the walls so apparent, is very striking.  In the top picture our old house can be seen three floors from the top and roughly near the centre of the left half.  In fact the large white banner is covering the window of my old bedroom!

So, taking the bike to work this morning I jumped at the chance to deliver a couple of pieces of mail which needed hand-delivery, one to Edinburgh and one to Kirkcaldy, but after already noticing oil leaking from one of the front forks when I was on the way to Edinburgh, the clutch cable snapped as I approached a set of lights at a very busy junction in the city centre.  Fortunately I managed to bring the bike to a halt safely without hitting anything or dropping it, and made the call to the RAC.  To cut a long story short (3 hour wait) a recovery truck eventually took me and the dead bike back to Glasgow and dropped it off at the garage who'd done the MOT, where it's now sitting waiting for the replacement parts to arrive, for the mechanic to fix it, and for me to shell out another £160!  Hopefully though this will be the last such sudden expenditure for a while and I can get back to using the bike as much as is reasonably practical and safe over the winter.


  1. How can you be separated from your beautiful bike for so long?

    It's a force of nature not just a piece of machinery. I bet it blew down the old block in Motherwell when it revv'd up.

    And it's broken down again. How can it, it's a BMW. You don't sing as you ride do you? Maybe it can cope with your baritone voice competing with it low rumble?

  2. Marginalia, I was only separated from it inasmuch as I wasn't riding it - on a daily basis it was a mere 50 yards from my desk and clearly visible from my office window!

    It broke down again because of an old clutch cable competing with a new clutch, and I'm glad it did it in daylight in relatively decent weather in the centre of Edinburgh, rather than in the dark and pissing rain of the middle of nowhere!

    I do in fact sometimes sing to myself on the bike, either just on my own or to whatever's on the radio (it has a radio/cassette fitted, which can be heard up to just beyond 70mph) but not any baritone racket - I'm a tenor I'll have you know!