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Autumn 2010 

2 September

Great year's riding so far marred only by the English Tourist Lady from Hell who berated me at Oradour sur Glane for talking....oh and by Thud hitting a car head on. Bump on the head and a sprained thumb. That boy is luck personified

Realised that virtually ALL incidents that occur down here are due to the rider not giving himself enough space to see what he's doing, where he's going etc. SPACE OUT, MAN!

Very proud of the group I served Ox-tongue to, in a hot and sour sauce. They all pretended to love it.

I can now do a paella for 10 in 20 minutes flat

Had the Irish back again early on in the year. Love those guys!

3 Sept

Hmmmm......food for thought. FOUR of our stalwarts got stopped on the way home for speeding on the m'way, 80 kms outside Le Havre. Very, very large fine and an immediate 2-week ban which meant they had to hire a truck to carry them and their bikes to the port. I know that when you're late for the ferry the temptation is to gun it, but in this case not only did they miss their ferry but will remember the day for a long time to come. On m'ways, Route Nationales and/or any long straight, be VERY circumspect about winding it on. They ARE out to get you!

Further to the above, the only good news is that the ban does not apply anywhere other than France and there are no points on the license. How long is THAT going to last before Brussels decides to allow cross-border penalties?

Took the S1000RR out for a blat y'day. Found that it's not very comfortable :-) and in a bumpy bend the movement of the bike is transmitted via your wrist to the throttle, resulting in a rather unpleasant pogo-ing effect. Or is it just me?

4 Sept

Hmmmm......again...I'm developing a raste for this self-aggrandizement. Lunch with my surgein (yes, here in France we have a surgeon allocated to one when one is a motorcuclist). Andouilleyyes and chups (note to self: replace keys on keyboarf where letters are tubbed off) 

7 Sept

A complaint comes from the FOUR guilty parties, caught slightly over the speed limit last month. To whit:  "Not sure I like being held up as an example of some terrible crime against biking sanity on Tony's Blog...perhaps a caveat could be added..."D*** made us do it!!!" "J**** made us do it faster"   Warning: Don't change your destination or arrival time by a significant amount 5 minutes before you leave.    Warning: Control your urges to eat; all bodily functions are subordinate to completing twisties (when you're in a rush)    Warning: Never rely entirely on SatNav (even the latest and greatest can be wrong)    Warning: Long Distances require different planning techniques when using a limited size fuel tank (eg D*c*t* 1098 or 1198)"

14 Sept

An excellent weekend. Jimmy was down again for the 2nd time this year (his first visit coinciding with the Great Cyclist Cull) Really good riding. Fast but steady and with everybody giving themselves plenty of room.... the more I think about it, I think this is the key to safe riding......Dave bought himself a textile jacket from the local Triumph dealer with runes on it. Spent most of dinner mumbling in Elvish. 

21 Sept

Just back from London where we attended Tony & Suzanne's wedding bash (K1200S). Absolutely perfect: weather, people, food, dancing and the BRILLIANT idea of having the hotel situated 54 miles away from the venue! Classic! I threw some of the more obscure FLASH moves on the dance floor and attracted my usual tally of groupies. Violette just beginning to speak to me again. If you're in Knockholt go to the HARROW INN (no, I didn't make that up) Check it out on the Links page

This is the week we inaugurate the FLASH Facebook page. You'll be able to get your own back in pics and comments. Hang on!

8 October

Teetering on the edge of the last weekend of the year. Group due to arrive this pm and Ian (God bless him!) is turning up in his van and will spend the next 3 weeks with me repainting the outsides of the windows, No small task. Amazing what a biker will do for the promise of a beer. Dates for 2011 are up and, as usual, I'm locked in a titanic struggle with Violette for the use of the available weekends. Her plant and antique fairs do tend to get in the way of the important things in life......So tense are the negotiations that I've had to delay posting a couple of dates until Hilary Clinton gets here to act as arbiter.  Fat chance....

20 October

And a thought for Dave, who loved coming down here and who will be sorely missed by us and all of those of you who met him. 

30 October

Well, the painting's almost finished and Ian is departing Monday. Final dates for 2011 are up on the board. Get booking. 

House looks really great; sort of a cross between an expensive sanatorium and a Tyrolean Schloss-fahrtel. Totally knackered. :-)

Been thinking about my experience on the lad's S1000RR and it appears that the problem might be down to the tyres. He's got Pilot Power Pures fitted and BiKE mag said that they were awful on the S. Maybe that was it. Certainly everything I'd initially loved about it turned to dust when I tried it with those tyres on. 

October

Managed to squeeze in a visit to Lille to attend a Supertramp concert. All well and good, but the old sound was really all down to Roger and without him, although they're very tight, it just ain't the same

November

And so to hospital where I finally had the pin removed from my left tibia. It's been in there since 2005 and I've been meaning to have it out for a number of years now. My pet surgeon (see 4 Sept above) smuggled me out of the hospital and took me home for dinner and then slipped a bottle of wine in my cabinet the next day for post-op stimulation. Love it!

What is going on in London! Looked like scenes from Sarajevo. Shame, shame, shame. I totally understand what the students are demonstrating about but who the hell are these other berserkers? Here come the water-cannon.........

14th December

Staples removed from my leg yesterday. Leaping about like a bunny wabbit. What it is to be normal again!  :-)

24th December

Well, jingle my bells.....what a disaster! Me mam's in hospital after falling down on an ice-covered pavement and breaking her hip. Joy! NOT what you want to happen when you're 60 years old! My daughter from my first (and, it has to be said, only) marriage is stuck at Heathrow at the Radison Hotel, getting into the festive mood on room service and the mini-bar. She "may" get out this pm. meanwhile the temperature here has plummeted to 9C and there's been a flurry of snow reported somewhere not far from here. I've sandbagged the tennis court and am prepared to fend off starving Brit tourists with my wasser-kanone. Happy Christmas to you all, Peeps!

Here we are in 2011

2nd February

Can't tear myself away from the tellybox. The goings-on in Egypt are mind-blowing. I've worked there for the past 30 years (Christ!) and have never seen anything like this. I was there when Sadat got killed and the aftermath of that was a walk in the park compared to this. Go Pharaohs! Mubarak has anounced he's leaving.....eventually....and this morning I hear that the government are feeding the media with the usual misinformation, warning of "violence" at the protests (well, they should know) and to look out for "foreigners" distributing leaflets critical of the government and aimed to sow confusion in the minds of our loyal, upright, patriotic citizens...... Where DOES he get off! They need to get shot of him asap; give him some leeway and you'll wake up with your hands tied behind your back and at the bottom of the Nile. 

Me mam's home btw and making life impossible for the NHS. George Osbourne would do well to take out a contract on her if he wants to plug a hole in the deficit. Pip pip, y'all!!

3rd February

God, Mubarak and his clique are dinosaurs. They think they can carry on doing things the same way they have since 1952. The guys in Tahrir Square are heroes. 

3rd March

And so to England. Stansted in March is lovely. Rented a Kia Ora. In orange. Sweet little thing. Got me mam onto an electric powered zimmer and got locked into the Great Boots £5.00 voucher scam. 

Mum: "I need some face cream" 

Boots Lady: "For wrinkles or moisturising? The wrinkle cream is very good and it only takes 4 weeks for a visible effect"

FLASH: "You don't have four weeks, mum"

9th March

Back home.....Spring has definitely sprung over here. Up to my neck in green shoots. News just in that William Hague planning a weekend break hereabouts. Local town hall has installed anti-aircraft guns on roof. 

Went to see my local GP for a check up. Told me not to start any long novels.

17th March

My GP has upgraded my status from "don't start any long novels" to "don't buy any LPs" (to anybody born after 1990, those are Long Playing vinyl "records")

Japan. Horrific. And these are not people used to scratching a living by digging for clams and climbing trees for fruit. These are the Tesco generation, just like us. How long would we survive if our town was wiped off the map inside 10 minutes and then we got hit by a blizzard while Windscale was going into meltdown just next door?

Libya. I understand that nobody wants to get involved. You're not going to get anybody thanking you and once in, how do you get out? But in the interim these poor devils are being massacred by Gaddafi and his psychopathic chums. This is one of those times when we'll look back and say "Why didn't we do anything?" Rwanda, anybody? OK, so ask the Egyptians. Let them be the policeman of the M.East. 

27th April

Oh dear.....remiss or what! Well here I am again and far from banging on about world politics, diplomacy, economic meltdown and whatever it is the boys in Parliament get up to, I've decided to talk about biking for a bit.

The first two weekends are now history and we have welcomed and said farewell to 20 stalwarts so far. The weather has been totally AWESOME! So to those of you who decided to wait until later in the season when the weather "would be better" na-na-na-na-na. Riding has been of a standard never formerly reached and everybody just seems to get better and better. Smoother, more aware of hazards, courteous, relaxed and happy. And coincidentally faster overall too. The hunched, tense, breath-holding, tank and bar gripping, blood-shot eyed biking behemoth is heading the same way as the sparrow. NEW BIKER MAN COMETH and he is named Arsene McMuffin, wears bespoke leathers, talks quietly, drinks in moderation, opens doors to his superiors and has a rather fetching forelock that he tugs whenever I happen to be in the vicinity. What a delight.

The rest of you, noses still buried in the centrefold of Performance Bikes or Plumber's Digest are however solidly represented by our resident A&E guinea pig...take a bow Tom Tsunami. Tom laughs in the face of Fear, tweaks the nose of Terror, gives a wedgie to Horror and ties the shoelaces together of Forward Planning. He who lives by the famous three mammaries of the IAM "Observation, observation, oh sh*t..." is often seen overtaking that naughty van who's been indicating left for a while. 

Dinners meanwhile just go from strength to strength and I am now having to take out injunctions to prevent motorcycling gourmet chefs and owners of top eateries and tottie hideouts in that London from stealing some of our best recipes. Take a bow Dr Horatio Harrington, owner of that well known Michael Winner caff, the Root of All Olives, just opposite Tony Blair's local chapel.

Have a great Spring, people. Sign up soon or be forced to tell your grandkids in years to come "Well, I should have gone, but I decided on a weekend break to Benidorm instead" 

I suppose you can always lie to them. HUGS!

12th May

Yup, riding is getting better without a doubt. Third weekend of the year under our collective belts and they've all been stunners. Weather has been as good as gold  (with a little help from my patented "Ride Round the Clouds" system) and the roads are promising to go down in legend as having some of the finest surfaces known to man. "Mad Dog" Chris has stayed on for the week to help me empty the fridge and to drink up all the bottles of wine "left over" by the last group. The selflessness of the man knows no bounds. The farmers are pretty much on their last gasp and threw all their remaining reserves of wide-wheels, lane-straddling, oil-dumping and mud-spreading at us over the weekend but failed to ruffle our goretex. Next weekend is on the 20th and they should all be back in their beds by then and we can look forward to some muck-free roads. Onwards!

25th May

Latest group was el hooto. Very good riding and totally majestic weather. Only lost three riders who all turned out to be Steve  :-) The Blackbird that refused to start in the morning also turned out to be Steve's.....bit of a pattern developing there. Alan, aboard his 1912 R80RT continues to set a blinding pace and wafts elegantly around the back roads, while his man follows on with the linen and hamper. Hardly any other problems apart from: Pat's lost passport, Amanda head-butting the pillar, Pat secretly dropping Amanda's bike on the grass (oops)

Lovely stuff  ;-)

15th June

I sit here, gazing pensively out onto the rolling meadows of the FLASH Domain and I'm thinking that, once you've factored out various regional wars, famine, nuclear meltdown, global warming, economic collapse of the Western economies, David Milliband's parliamentary ambitions and the rising price of moussaka... well, things ain't too bad. We became a grandfather on the 31st May and everything else pales into insignificance. Take a bow Lexie Rose. The jar for her first motorcycle fund is in the kitchen and is filling up rapidly. But what to get her? I've tried to steer my thoughts towards a bike but they're just not cool enough for the total babe that she is going to be. No, it's going to have to be a Vespa. One of those 1950 look-alikes. Open faced helmet, sunglasses, pedal-pushers and a tee-shirt (Armani). Zooming round the Trevi fountain at midday en route for a lunch with Giorgio. Love it!

21st June

Hello, Richard. This one's just for you  :-)

Well, wasn't that fun! The Lost Boys have been and gone and Trevor, my love child, has returned to his mum for another year (I really got this custody thing sussed). Lots of fun had by all and first-timer Will had his first taste of what it means to attend a FLASH weekend; in his case, mostly sitting on the floor scrubbing the leaking oil off his rear tyre. Barry managed to nadger his chain and Paul had a flat battery. Health and Safety guru Dave chose to turn a blind eye to his totally bald front tyre and ride home anyway, despite our protestations and midnight calls to the gendarmes. Patrick strummed away and we all sang like angels. What larks! David (the evil one) arrived just in time to go home and Steve had a t-o-t-a-l-l-y  u-n-e-v-e-n-t-f-u-l weekend. All survived the Road of Doom and now wear their trophies with pride. Great to see you again, Peeps!

 

14th July

Special blog for our boy Simon, out there somewhere fighting Somalian pirates

We're going to pay for this....the weather continues to be totally fantastic, as is the riding. On the weekend of the 24th June we had not one but SIX newbies out of a group of 13 and.....didn't they do well? Take a bow: Paul, Lorna, Paul. Jacqueline. Robin and Adam. Some superb riding from all, including Paul (Lorna) even though he would insist on wheelying past the girls' playground and lobbing bottles into the disposal bin instead of placing them in gently AS I'D INSISTED!!!!!!!!!!!  (a pill. quick...)  :-)  Got to love him though. Svetlana turned up again after a 4 year gap and is far far smoother than I remembered. If she could only overcome her reticence to overtake the boys she could make some REAL enemies (lol). Last weekend (8th July) saw some old faces, not least Nick, he of the ST4, who still trumpets its reliability, even when pushing it up the road. Ducati John was down again as was "Legs" and the Gorgeous Pouter, Sally. Great times. 

We are currently in the Melle Biennial Arts Festival and it really is very fine indeed. You can check it out HERE  The theme is "Living on Earth" and traces the lives of diplaced persons, immigrants and motorcyclists. Check it out (I don't think there's an English translation, but give it a go. It really is very impressive.

Got the family down for a week, with little Lexie Rose, our newest addition creating havoc. Lovely. Have a great summer, peeps and remember! There are still slots available for the end of the year

Using the ever-popular and widely read FLASH Blog to promote products for ne'er-do-well capitalist asset-strippers and friends of footballers has always been anathema to me and something that I have always sworn never to stoop to. So go HERE and check out a wee company (that belongs to a chum) that's brand new and will awaken the reflective animal within you. Also if you need anywhere to keep your lippy you'll be in bum-bag heaven.

18th July

Told you so....it's now been raining since Saturday and looks like it's settled in for the rest of the week. No biking weekends planned now until the end of August so no harm done and the garden is loving it as we hadn't had a drop for months. Luckily the group we had down this weekend was made up entirely of worshippers of the god Tlaloc and they have returned home happily damp. 

Had a great afternoon yesterday. Went to visit the Jardins de Pomone  a garden containing nothing but rare fruit trees. Got a lot of ideas for the orchard and had a really great time. One for the diary. 

Took both the Red Dwarf and the Beast into my dealer in Cognac for some TLC last week  and while I was in the town I found some ultrasonic whistles that are designed to be fitted to the bodywork of a car, truck or bike. The idea is that they give a 500m warning to any animals who might decide to wander out onto the road. As I had three deer, one cat and an unidentified quadruped wander out in front of me two weeks ago, I felt that this might be a wise investment. 

22nd July

Weather continues damp. I sit by my window watching as the rain drops trickle down the pane in much the same way as Jim insinuates himself into a roadside ditch...Got the family down for the duration. Little Lexie Rose has been and gone and the cats have re-emerged from under the beds. What a star she is and destined for great things! You mark my words, you heard it here first, Lexie Rose will be a STAR! :-) 

The Celles sur Belle "Artenetra" music festival kicks off this week and, as tradition would have it, we will be up to our neck in musicians, staying here, eating my food and quaffing my mead. They'll be practising again out in the garden and I'll have to keep going out there to get them to shut up so I can concentrate on Countdown. Joy! 

The animal ultra-sound whistles are working a treat on the bikes to the point that I've now invested in an aerosol giraffe and elephant repellant. Seems to be working well. Not a sniff of either anywhere in the kitchen. 

Hope you're not too damp. Pip pip!

10th August

Watched a lady beside herself on the BBC news last night. Had just watched her neighbourhood descend into anarchy. "Feral rats" she called 'em. Spot on. Had lunch yesterday with some friends, and their daughter was there with her boyfriend. Squaddy. On leave from Afghan and about to go back. 22 years old and more worked up about these hoodies than with the Taliban. "What's the point" he said "of trying to built a "better life" for the Afghans, while all the time getting shot at by the Taliban, when the "better life" we're trying to bring them produces slime like this"

Family hols are over and we have a blessed few days on our own before the next ravening horde descends upon us  :-) Weather should be back to blissful by the time they get here. Have sorted the slight plumbing misfunction and the sewage treatment plant has stopped backwashing into the pool. Major advantage was it kept the hedgehogs out.....

31st August

Hurrah! I have been dissuaded from filling the pool in and using it to grow leeks! (geddit?) As most of the biking world is aware our pool is surrounded by trees; yew, lime and wisteria. These healthy children of Gaia drop rubbish in the pool from 1 Jan to 31 Dec. I spend 989 hours a year fishing them out by which time I'm too tired and frustrated to even contemplate going for a swim. But now I am the smug owner of a PoolGobbler which you will be able to admire when next you come. The pool is safe. 

The weekends continue at a fair old lick and have been blessed with stunning weather and even better roads. I saw my first gendarmes of the year, a sure sign that the days are drawing in  :-)

11th September

Feels funny writing that date. Amazing that we're ten years on from the Twin Towers. I was sitting right here, watching it on CNN on the morning of the 11th and I haven't really been able to watch any footage of it since. Bin Laden and Bush: if ever there were two creatures pre-destined to confront each other.....they must both have been over the moon. The madness that they've dragged along in their wake and now they're both consigned to history. Dick Cheney meanwhile writes his memoirs and lets us know that he was right all along; any sympathy that you might have had for the sick, deluded, mad old man, evaporates. All of that and with all of the economic troubles that lie ahead and the Republicans play chicken with the future of their nation. Scary stuff.......(shudder)

NOT however as scary as the Road of Doom!!!!! which is currently closed off for the filming of the eponymous movie, brought to you by FLASHPAN productions.

World of Cinema says: "Starring Ewan McGregor as "Tony" a lithe, athletic, devil-may-care adventurer who sets off with his trusty but chubby sidekick "Nicko Panza" (Charlie Boorman) to conquer the route of legend ,"The Road of Doom" will be showing as a 24 episode TV mini-series in the Spring of 2012. It relates their adventures as they struggle through gravel, leaves, wicker baskets, pheasants and blind crests to cover the hellish 30 kms that separate them from lunch. Not to be missed" 

Voilà!

12th October

Such wailings! Such sadness! For the season is over. We made it through with nary a scratch (take a bow Dennis and Steve) and FIFTY PERCENT of those who did manage a scratch or two made it back again by the end of the year (take another bow, Dennis). Weather was phenomenal ALL year with probably only 50 minutes of rain over the entire season; that's over 11,700 kms or 280 hours on the road. Amazing. New bikes were brought down and run-in and I have to remark that there are more and more European bikes down here to the point that, not only did they outnumber their Japanese counterparts but, on certain weekends there was nothing BUT European bikes. Amazing. Eight years ago there would have been the occasional BMW tourer and perhaps a Triumph and a rare Ducati and that was it. Everything else would have been a Japanese sports bike. What an amazing change!! What larks!

A big "up" to all of you who made it down (yes, Jim, you know who you are). Have a great autumn/ winter and we'll see you again in the Spring. STAY UPRIGHT 

22nd October

That's it playmates! The 2012 dates are on the board! The 2011 season is over. Long Live the 2012 season! Get to your calendars!

24th October

Simoncelli. What a great shame.  Any one of us in that situation would have just slid off the road into the kitty-litter but did he, with his extraordinary skill, attempt to get the thing upright again and that's what killed him? Either that or he was just jammed under the bike and couldn't do anything as it slid back across the track. Horrible.

24th November

Well, the Great FLASH Christmas Luncheon came and went and great was the wassailing and general merriment. Food at the Dog House on the Kennington Rd is greatly recommended and somebody has kindly placed an Underground station a mere two minutes walk away from it. Very handy.

Twenty of our soft Southern Flashers turned up for what became an orgy of half-pints of shandy and those little cocktail sticks with cubes of cheddar and pineapple thereupon impaled. Pretty damn' sophisticated if I DO say so!! Thanks for making it y'all. I had a hoot!  

27th November

It had to happen. The French have got a film out again....Prepare now to be educated. France 's cinema industry is subsidised by the State which means that it churns out hundreds of worthy art-house flics that nobody wants to see (especially the French). If you've sat through anything by Rohmer then you'll know what I mean. The French therefore sit through the same Hollywood blockbusters that we're subjected to but, as they're allergic to subtitles (just like us) these films are all dubbed. Horror upon horror. From time to time however the industry will turn out a film that, although subsidised, ticks all the popular viewing boxes. Some of them (read "most") are truly barrel-scrapers of epic proportions. Check out "Bienvenu chez les Chtis" or anything made over the last 15 years with Gerard Depardieu. Mind-numbingly patronising and cinematically and critically awful. They normally parade one of these monsters once every year. This year it's the turn of "Intoucheables" which we went to see at 15h00 today and I'm pleased to report that......we couldn't get in. Yes they turned at least 50 people away and this is MELLE, where to make an audience of 50 you have to bus people in. We'll try again and I'll report back. Don't book any seats until I've given you the green light ("Le Rayon Vert" another movie-to-commit-suicide-by from our friend Rohmer...)

Pip pip, y'all!!

15th December

Christopher Hitchins has died. One of those people that spoke like Jack Sparrow fights. Every word a bullet and none wasted. No wonder that none of his sworn enemies would accept to debate with him. Funny, brutal and life-affirming. I miss him already. 

Christopher Hitchins on the late Rev Jerry Falwell:  "Give him an enema and you could bury him in a matchbox"

2012 ARRIVES............

27th January

Woah!!  What happened!? One minute it was November and suddenly we've been whirlwinded into 2012 on a tidal surge of pastry and stuffing. Memories of the Christmas period that I shall carry with me to the grave mostly feature wee little Lexie munching on a brace of squid tentacles. Anyway, it was all lovely and I'm socked-up for the next 12 months.

Just got back from a two week blat round Spain, two-up on the V50. Great larks and what a great place. Just the right time of the year to do it too (well, actually not...May would have been better, but the weather was still fantastic below the Sevilla Alicante line)

Slots are filling up nicely and the current exchange rate isn't hurting at all. Shades of yesteryear. Who knows, perhaps we'll see you Brits creeping back to buy up all the remaining hovels around here. Hope so!

BIG BIT OF NEWS FOR 2012

We can now offer RENTAL bikes. Hitched up with the local Triumph dealer (in town, 1km away) and you can now rent your bikes for the weekend at (what I believe to be) some very competitive rates. All bikes in the range are up for rental providing he has them in his demo fleet or in his recent-used park. Speed and Street Triples, Tigers, Sprints, 675s and any other exotica he might have lying around. I'm waiting for the final numbers but a 1000cc bike shouldn't cost much more than around €400 for the weekend which compares very favourably to riding your own bike down here. Go to the Index page and follow the link

See ya!

6th March

Weekends are filling up, get to your calendars gentlefolk! What else are you going to do with your year that can compare with 90 hours spent down here? 

15th March

Out on the bikes for the first (pleasant) rides of the year. Blew the cobwebs off the K last Thursday with a follow-up blast on the Red Dwarf on Friday. Roads are looking good! The new Akrapovic on the K makes bouncing the needle off the rev-limiter a tad addictive.  Such larks! 

10th April

And they're off! Great first weekend of the year with no rain, dry roads and a very fine bunch of riders indeed. Events, dear boy? Events! Diego's bike wouldn't start on the first morning, John arrived with a puncture, Chris' Tuono wouldn't start on the Monday and Russell nadgered his rear tyre totally by Tuesday morning. All in all a resounding and incident free weekend (all these non-incidents having been solved with our usual aplomb). Highlights have to be the Road Where Things Don't Happen ALL The Time (Vendée),  Javerdat road, the entire stretch between the Montbron coffee stop and lunch at Cognac. And the bit where Diego decided to go grass-tracking. Stirring stuff. 

Pleased to report that my spidey-sense antennae were working well and saved us from the no-indicators-but-turning-left-anyway tractor from hell on no fewer than TWO occasions (so, that'll be two occasions, then). 

MICHAEL BARRYMORE After exhaustive  research into the man and his life and a self-imposed telethon of his Youtube clips, I have been led to the conclusion that the man is best left alone with his private agony. There is nothing that I can do or say that can possibly make life any worse for MB than it already is. RIP, Micky

12th May

2nd weekend under our belt and what a hooto it was. All veterans of FLASH weekends passim and not a dry eye among them as I told my story of the dead cows on the Road of Doom for the very first time.......

I've had my K1200R Sport for two years now and those who know me will know that I've been complaining about the handling since day 1.
First it turned out that the rear shock on my brand-new 2000 mile motorcycle was shot and so it was changed under warranty. The new shock coincided with a change of tyres and I fitted Dunlop Roadsmarts as I'd read good things.
Handling still wasn't as good as I'd expected and so I fitted some new dog-bones to jack the rear end up a bit and started looking at replacement shocks
Problem was that I'd bought the bike based on a ride on an ESA version. The one I bought didn't have ESA but I thought that it didn't matter as I felt quite capable of adjusting the suspension. Horror! There is NO adjustment on the non-ESA front end!
Snookered, I thought. I've bought a pup.
Anyway I've persevered with the beast and have fitted umpteen pairs of Roadsmarts to it until two weeks ago when I thought I'd give the new Michelin PR3s a go

Stupid....stupid...stupid...

What the PR3s made me realise is that the Roadsmarts were causing the bike to understeer horrendously. I'd have to compensate with some massive counter-steering on every bend with a corresponding accelerated wear on the front tyre due to its being steered round corners in "crab" mode. That's now all gone. Steering is light, sensitive and precise. The front-end chatter has gone and the rear is planted. The bike now leans in at the slightest nudge on the bars, without any resistance or "dropping in". It just rolls to exactly where you want it and holds there, corners on rails and is totally confidence inspiring. It's the bike I thought I'd bought 2 years ago. Also the trepidation that comes with not quite knowing what the bloody thing was going to do mid bend has gone.

So, from having battled with this thing for 2 years and seriously considered spending a grand on new shocks (with no real guarantee that it would solve the problem) a simple change of tyres has totally transformed the bike.

100% recommended. It's a hoot and for the first time it corners as well (if not better... certainly faster) than my 1998 R1100GS

I told you....stupid 

Happy bunny...... Michelin Pilot Road 3s? Cannot recommend them enough.



PS There's a viral thread going the rounds that comes from an R6 (?) forum and that tells the tale of a set of PR3s self-destructing. I've looked for more of the same sort of info and there isn't any. Also the story stinks for a good few reasons. I think the guy is a Walter Mitty troll

Pip pip, people!

09th July

Well! A decade is a long time in the wonderful world of FLASHiness and so, apparently is two months. Apologies for all those of you who check my blog every morning as part of their waking ritual. It's trus that i have been remiss in updating same and my ONLY excuse is that I've been a bit more prolific over there on that new-fangled FLASH Facebook page. The young whippersnapper. If you want to have a hoot go and check it out on: FLASH Tours FaceBook Page  It's not bad, if I do say so myself.

Anyway, what's been going on? Some superlative riding and even more inventive weather-management on my part have meant that the weekends have been pretty damn fine. The Michelin Pilot Road 3s that I've been using on the K have now racked up over 3000 kms (the Roadsmarts were managing 2500 before being binned) and look like they have at least half as much again in them. The sweet little things. 

Weekends what we have had since my last post? A surprising FOUR! Where does the time go? Lots of FLASH friends and regulars, all scarred and limping and a multitude of new rosy-cheeked innocents wide-eyed and gob-smacked at the wonder that is here. All returned home safe with one exception: wheel in your gurney, Simon! who decided to begin a new career as a hood-ornament. He is fortunately fine and is wittering on about coming back next year as he hadn't collected his commemorative tee-shirt. What some people will do to get their name up on this page. 

Waved goodbye to the latest batch this morning and a special mention for Mark who last came down here 5 years ago and who has been "far away" defending Watford against the threat of Somali pirates ever since. He has apparently been 100% successful. Great to see him again and I'm pleased to report that he hasn't got any slower. Big up to Steve (hello Big Guy!) who gave a helping hand to Dennis, who contrived to drop his bike (again) and strained his groinal interface. Steve's adroit application of cold compresses, coupled with regular massaging meant that he was able to ride home unaided. Dennis, contrite and stoic, has sworn to return in September and that he "won't drop my bike next time" This is coming to be a familiar refrain. A mention for Issy a FLASH virgin who had never ridden in France before. I think she had a good time. I like to think so! It's true that Mme FLASH can be a bit intimidating on first encounter. Well done Issy. Throw away the rule book, you don't need it anymore.

Hugs to you all, wee denizens!! 

17th July

Got a full page spread in the local quality broadsheet. Knocked Francois Hollande off the front page banner headline and have been named "The Man and Woman of Melle" for the 33rd year running. What it is to be Majestic (thank you, Dani)

See, here! FLASH's Motorcycle Magnificence

8th August

Here we are, back again.


FLASH Tours, its management, road-warriors, groundsmen, technicians, marshalls, cordon-bleue chefs, cocktail waitresses, repatriation and medical staff, counsellors and that shouty bloke who has been termed the "Rudolph Valentino of the Motorcycling World" are happy to announce the resumption of "normal" service at Chateau FLASH.


Our silence, hitherto unheard of (nice...), has been due to the celebration of Monsieur and Madame FLASH's latest wedding anniversary. Great were the preparations and our hand-picked guests did not disappoint.


Dancing bears, roasting chestnuts, beach volleyball, a DISCO BALL! music from all decades apart from the last two, champagne à go-go, food from the finest kitchens of Europe, SCRAMBLED EGGS! bright afternoon sunshine, a perfect evening by the Ha-ha with garlands of fairy lights and a cathedral of our floodlit 800 year-old yew trees, as we danced the night away to the strains of Mantovani and Boney M. What larks!

(if you were NOT among the happy few 1800 guests who made it to Melle don't feel bad, it's only because you were probably singled out as a) a very poor conversationalist/first-aider or b) cursed with poor positioning and forward observation skills, a possible deadly combination when navigating the last few bars of "The Winner Takes It All" while introducing your partner to the reverse counter-steering technique favoured by Ginger Rogers in "Dancing Backwards in High Heels")

30th August

Well! Just when you thought that these weekends just couldn't get any better than that one a while back, when we had all those really nice and indescribably skilful riders down, the latest group goes and trumps it all and raises the bar to new heights, a new zenith, apex, summit....something so up there and sharp that you can't sit down for long without your eyes beginning to water...
SUPER weekend with two newbies and a couple of old friends who I hadn't seen down here for 4 years or so.
Toby was back and kept me on my toes with his constant comparisons with Starbucks and complaints that he felt he was going too slow. The fact that he was the only one to be nicked for speeding on the way home was nicely ironic and would appear to offer up a case for the existence of The Supreme Being.


Weather was wonderful apart from a thrashing downpour on Saturday morning which forced me to turn tail and scurry back the way we'd come and end up doing a completely different circuit altogether. Flexible, me.


Take a bow guys and rest assured that I had a GREAT weekend. Send the pics and vids and I'll post them up. Pip pip, y'all

 

(special mention to Evil Mark for his creative marking)

 

30th September

Well! Just when you thought that nobody was ever going to throw themselves at that particular corner of a foreign field ever again, along comes "Evil" Dave.....
Totally great weekend with Slow Chris bringing along a newby, mate of "Peleton" Jimmy... take a bow "Nice" Dave.
Some really very pleasant riding with both Ducati John and "Split Rad" Jason turning up for some of the last free slots of the year (that's it! there aren't any more!) and Chopper Nige popping in on the Sunday morning for two days of biking excellence.
Evil Dave and Lippy Lyn were here for what must now be their 10th trip and it was on Day 1 that he managed to add a field to his trophy collection. His ZX10 emerged relatively unscathed but Dave was a wee bit bent and has now been issued with a Startrooper suit of bodyarmour and a plane ticket home. All well and Lyn spent the weekend mopping his fevered brow and bringing him bowls of chicken broth.
Thanks peeps, I had a hoot and it's always a pleasure watching Slow Chris putting on his gloves for what seems like hours on end.......

 

25h October

So that's it then........season is over and time to look back and take stock. First a big up to Simon, Diego, Dennis and Dave (Evil) for stepping into the limelight when things were getting just a wee bit boring and thereby spicing things up a bit. They are all either totally fine or well on the mend, so no long term harm done. Thanks again guys, but no real need; I could have done my George Osborne impersonation. See you all next year (Dave (Evil) is already booked in)

And for EVERYONE who came down, what can I say? You're all the gift that keeps on giving. I may not have said this before but, although I'm really not adverse to you all having a good time...the MAIN THING is that I have one too. Well done all, you succeeded admirably n your mission. The weekends just flowed thye one into the other and the riding just seemed to get better and tighter, the evening's entertainment funnier and gastronomicalier. The improvements just seemed to build and build through the year until we arrived at the last weekend of the season, the one just gone.

Trepidation? A tad. It's usually the last weekend where you decide to throw me into my retrenchments with the most bizarre curve-balls you can muster. Scorched peacocks, exploding lighters, smashed windows and umpteen bruised fetlocks are just a smattering of the weird and marvelous challenges that you've dreamt up for me over the years. 

But this particular weekend was.....

1) the latest in the year I'd ever done, due to the visitors being unable to reach an agreement on any other date 

2) made up entirely of newbies 

3) subject to the worst weather build-up in the preceding week that I have ever seen.

The weather was so bad that their ferry from Eire was cancelled and they arrived a full 24 hours behind schedule in the pouring rain. The idea of running a group, never before exposed to the challenges of a FLASH Tour, through  the Devil's Corkscrew, the Road of Doom and the Twin Bends of Beelzebub while all the time the farmers were out strewing the roads with mud and hydraulic fluid was a trifle worrying....

NOT TO WORRY!!! Sunday dawned grey but dry and remained so for the rest of the day. Monday, ditto. Tuesday was brilliant; sunny and warm, as was Wednesday. Four of the lads stayed on for an extra day as their rejigged ferry wasn't until Thursday, which gave us an extra day's riding.

They were all GREAT! Not only exceptional riders (as I have grown to expect of those from the Verdant Island) but there were at least 5 musicians among them and as the strains of Mustang Sally roared out into the autumnal air of a Melle night, they were pathetically grateful for my vibrant organ. 

For them and for all of you who beat a path to our door in 2012...

Thanks a lot guys.

I had a hoot

20h December

Just a quick line before the End of the World tomorrow, the 21st December (Mayan calendar). Just to say thank you to all of you and that I've had a ball..... and should the Mayans turn out to be right I'll see you on the other side. Have a Great Christmas otherwise and REMEMBER!!! "Ho ho ho to little Tiny Tim  and God (or replace with your favourite deity) Bless every one of us!"

30th December

Just possibly the last post of the year (I may not have the wherewithal tomorrow). Well it would appear that the Mayans were wrong, except of course fhe 28,926 souls whose time on earth came to an end on the 21st.. God speed guys, see you on the other side. For the rest of you, keep up the good work and I'll see you down here later on in the year. Pip pip, y'all!!!!!!

2013 BEGINS HERE

15th March

And you all thought it had kicked off on the 1st January (shakes head pityingly)

MAJOR refurbishments at the Chateau. All looking rather swish.Hopefully the hole by the side of the pool will be filled in by the time it gets warm enough to swim....First group of the season will be here next month all atwitch with excitement. Looking forward to it. Pip pip, people!!!

26th August 2013

Yes...I know...the second blog post in 2013. Shame on me! In my defence I HAVE been busy on the FLASH Facebook page over here:

 http://www.facebook.com/FlashTours              

That's where you'll get your fix. Aloha!

29th September 2013

Hello Peeps

Well, we're approaching the end of 2013 and only one weekend left on the board. It's been a strange year what with me losing my mum and with you lot keeping me busy and taking my mind off things by constantly finding new curve balls to throw into the mix. Just to run through a few of them:

1) April: RUSSELL of all people comes a cropper on Day 1 and then 2 days later is unceremoniously punted off his bike while stationary, by one of OURS! You couldn't make it up...

2) May: Team Wobbly's first visit of the year and it rains off and on for the whole weekend. ALEX stands out with his Private Fraser impersonation: "We're doomed!"  We get our 1st visit from Team DIAVEL, who, as I write this have already booked their weekend for next year.

3) June: and a new FLASH record for an off; the first 5 minutes of the first day. No lasting harm done but please everybody, don't do it again! 

4) July: Amanda's Avengers turn up and show us how it's done. All good and Rick's made it through the weekend without requiring two sets of rear brake-pads.

5) August: and what's this? TWO weekends with nothing to show but undisturbed hedgerows and peacefully sleeping dormice. Thank you Good Peeps, a very pleasant month indeed

6) September: some very nice riding indeed early on and then STEVE unfortunately has a wall leap out at him when least expected. All good and an opportunity to come again to get more than one day's riding in...The second weekend taken up by the Team Wobbly 2nd-eleven who make up for their superlative riding by having TWO machines blow-up or disintegrate during the weekend. Both remain here and their riders will be back to collect them soon. Sounds suspiciously like a ploy to me...

More news as it comes in....