Splodz Blogz | The Weekly Blog Episode 68

Happy Bank Holiday Monday folks! I decided to write my weekly blog this morning rather than yesterday seeing as the weekend is a little longer than normal here in England. I hope you’ve had a good week.

If you follow me on social media (here’s my Instagram), you’ll already know that what should have been the highlight of my week, was a more than a little unsuccessful. We had booked a guided trail ride with Moto Junkies, a new Shropshire-based company run by Steph Jeavons (who has ridden her 250cc Honda on all seven continents… quite the adventurer) and Tony Williams (a massively experienced enduro rider). I thought this would be the most excellent way to spend a Saturday. But alas, it was not to be.  

Let me tell you what happened…  

A Day as a Passenger

We’d booked on Moto Junkies’ inaugural Big Bike Trail ride for a couple of reasons. The first was because a guided trail ride sounded like an awful lot of fun, and the second was to get out on some trails we wouldn’t otherwise be able to ride in preparation for (hopefully) heading to Iceland later this year. We’re not new to off roading (read about my BMW Off Road Skills experience), but we’re not regulars on the trail and so need to take opportunities to remind ourselves what it feels like is very important.

We had a lovely ride in Shropshire on Friday afternoon, and another great ride in the morning to where we were meeting our guide and the rest of the group. I stopped on the petrol forecourt, added a bit of fuel to my tank, switched my ignition back on, and that was it, my bike decided it didn’t want to play anymore.

I had no power. Nothing. It was as if the cable had come off the battery, or the ignition switch had broken. So off came the battery cover, cables were wiggled, everything seemed in order. Could it be the side stand switch? Was it the earth cable? Maybe the battery had just died, which would be odd considering I’d been riding it without any sign of issue. I watched as our guides tried to bump start the bike a couple of times, but there was just nothing. My Saturday was going to be less about riding and more about waiting.

After years and years of faithful mechanical service, my bike chose that moment to play up. I admit that the Highly Sensitive Person in me (read Weekly Blog Episode 25 for more on that) went straight to the conclusion that Moto Junkies would assume I’d brought a bike that I’d not looked after, and probably didn’t know how to ride it anyway. But I think I’ve gotten over that silliness now.

In short, no trail ride for me. Or my husband, who graciously stopped with me and waited for breakdown so I wasn’t on my own and had some help with the logistics. We have breakdown cover through our bank account, and they sent out a motorbike specific service to come and get me. He was able to test the battery, which was showing fine, but when we jump started the bike from the van it was clear something was awry; the revs were all over the place, like a toddler having a tantrum. Initial diagnosis is therefore that the voltage regulator has gone, and as that isn’t something you can deal with outside Starbucks, my bike was rolled up into the truck and we headed to the garage.

I don’t know if you’ve ever broken down, but it is a logistics pain in the proverbial. We were away from home, and not only were my panniers and personal belongings in the caravan we were staying in, but my house keys were there too. After much deliberation around the different options, which were both many and limited, I chose to be recovered to the bike dealer back home, as that was where it was going to get fixed, travelling with my bike in the truck. My husband rode back to the caravan to get the house keys and then to the garage to pick me up. We rode home, picked up the car, and headed back to Shropshire to the caravan and our weekend away.

It could have been so much worse than a logistical nightmare and a bike out of action for a few days. I could have broken down miles into the ride on rural trails having to push my bike a long way to the nearest road. Or it could have died on the motorway on the way back home, which would be hugely dangerous. Even if it had been chucking it down while we waited for breakdown to arrive, that would have been really rather miserable.

But still, even with being fortunate in many ways, my Saturday was a very disappointing one. It felt – feels – like an incredibly unsuccessful weekend. I’m very sad that I didn’t get to ride the trails, and now have a large gap in my garage where my bike should be.

Thankfully Moto Junkies were very gracious and not only did there team pile on to help try and get my bike running again (the biker community is great!), but they also immediately said we can rebook our trail ride for a future date so we don’t miss out. The only thing left is to wait until the garage can take a proper look at my bike, diagnose the problem, and fix it so I can ride it again. Oh and of course hope that it doesn’t break the bank…

The moral of this story? That even looked-after bikes go wrong? That sometimes stuff just breaks? That decent breakdown cover is worth every penny (I was impressed with ours)? Nah, it’s always carry your house keys even if you are away from home and not going anywhere near your house that day! If I’d have had my house keys in my pocket, the logistics would have been much less difficult to organise. Ho hum.

Exploring Shrewsbury

In order to salvage something of the weekend off the bikes, we spent Sunday wandering around the streets and lanes of Shrewsbury. I’ve been a handful of times before (read 36 Hours in Original Shrewsbury and Finding Greenspaces in Shrewsbury), and it never fails to draw me in. It’s such a charming town with beautiful river walks, higgledy piggledy streets, very old buildings, and a huge amount of history.

We walked six miles or so, taking our time at a very leisurely page, and could have easily walked double that to really explore every nook and cranny of this charming town. We were fortunate that the weather was reasonably kind, so we could wander without getting wet or cold. I didn’t take a single photograph for a change, not because it wasn’t photogenic, but because we were just enjoying the simple pleasure of walking around without an aim or a plan, seeing where we ended up rather than being worried about looking for anything specific.

We had brunch in Stop Café Bar, which has a lovely (outdoor) courtyard located within Shrewsbury’s Museum and Art Gallery in the Music Hall. Finding a quiet spot for outdoor dining isn’t all that easy at the moment, but this one is a gem as it’s not obvious from the outside – you have to go into the museum entrance to see it. I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a good coffee and some food when you are in Shrewsbury, this isn’t our first visit. Of course we also paid a visit to our new favourite doughnut shop, Planet Doughnut, and to Roly’s Fudge, for some Bank Holiday weekend treats. Yes, we eat our emotions, no doubt about that.

Shropshire is fast becoming one of my favourite places to explore, and while we didn’t get on the trails we’d hoped, it was good to do a bit of urban wandering instead. Where are your favourite places in Shropshire for walks with history and charm? Maybe we can go there for a wander when we get our Moto Junkies trail rebooked.

It’s National Walking Month

Did you know that it is National Walking Month? Set up by Living Streets, an organisation dedicated to encouraging us all to default to walking for short journeys (one mile/20 minutes). The idea is that, throughout May, we each see how many car journeys we can replace with a short walk – whether that be commuting, getting to School, going to the local shop, visiting a friend or a pub garden, or any other number of things.

There’s lots of resources for National Walking Month on the Living Streets website, including ideas to help you find time for more walks, research on the benefits of walking, a CO2 tracker, and a chance to win some outdoor clothing vouchers. Share your walks using #WalkThisMay to join in.

In preparation for this month, I contributed to a list of 50 lesser-known walks here in Great Britain over on the Ordnance Survey GetOutside blog, which should keep you busy if you’re lacking in route inspiration this month. There are parks, hillside views, coastal trails and city walks complete with short descriptions and maps. My contribution is one of the walks I talked about recently, back in Weekly Blog Episode 65 – I’ll get a proper blog post up on it very soon.

I hope whatever you get up to this coming week that you have a good one. With the exception of being off work today, it’s looking like a pretty bog standard one here. Oh, with the exception that I am getting my Covid vaccination (first dose) on Tuesday, which I am feeling rather good about. Honestly, who’d have thought this needle-nervous-nelly would be excited for an injection?! While I’m fully aware that the pandemic isn’t over until it’s over for everyone, getting my first dose of the vaccination feels like an excellent step towards life feeling a little more how I would like it to feel. Here’s to a good week…

As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. Let me know what your favourite thing about the last seven days has been, and don’t forget to get your One Hour Outside today… whatever day you happen to be reading this on!

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