I’ve often heard that the only reason women can bear to go through with childbirth a second time is that they sort of forget about the unbearable misery of the first time.

I’m fairly sure the same principle applies to motorcycle mechanic-ing.

The front end on my bike turns in weirdly so I ordered new head bearings from the States. They arrived last week and I rang my local bike garage to get them fitted. He said because of the backlog from lockdown it was going to be the end of May at the earliest.


I looked online to see how hard the job was. There was a video of a mechanic showing how to do it on a Kawasaki. He said you could buy a bunch of specialist tools, or you can do it without, then showed you how. It looked like an bit of an ordeal, but do-able. So on Sunday, forgetting past misery, I set to.

Everyone agreed it was a faff. To get to the job you have to strip the fairing off, take the front mudguard off, the front brakes, the front wheel, the handlebars, head thingy and risers, and the forks. Undo a bolt at the top of the stem, take out the two nuts and a washer then drop the stem. *Then* you start. Inside the headstock are two cups that the bearing sit in. Obviously these have to wedged in beyond any danger of movement. Which means extracting them is terrible job. Not to worry, said the video, inside the headstock are two grooves in the barrel so you can just place an old screwdriver in there and hit each side until it eventually drops out.

Nope. On the Kawasaki there are two grooves, on the Honda it a smooth barrel with zero purchase for hitting the bearing cups. Oh very dear. The bike stripped down to this and no way to proceed.

Luckily at some point in the past I had bought a toughened steel rod to bash stuff out with. What I had to do was beat and bend it into shape then grind it into a thin blade at the end using the angle grinder.

Not big or clever to look at, but that was the difference between me carrying on or being stopped dead. And blubbing like a girl. Then it was just a matter of hitting it with a hammer. Repeatedly. Again. And again. And again. Forever.

Eventually I got the cups out. I bashed the bearing off the stem, which was supposed to be the hardest job but was comparatively simple. Then just to beat new cups back in. Again on the Kwak it looked a simple job. On the Honda the brake pipes run under the headstock so there is no room to swing a hammer.

It took me all day. I started about 10.30, finished about 19.20. I’ve bought some fork oil and seals and I was going to do them while they were out of the frame but I was getting weak and tired and so, so cheesed off. I just wanted the job done. I took it for a test ride on Monday and everything seems to be working. That was a bonus. I wasn’t sure it was going to work. On my next days off I’ll do the forks.

Another mechanical fly in the honey smooth ointment of life was my pushbike. A while ago I bought a power meter.There is a built in power meter on my indoors bike trainer, but I’m not sure that’s reading right, which is why I wanted to fit the proper power meter. It just looks like a normal pedal arm with a round lump on the inside, about the size of 3 stacked 2ps. The lump is the clever bit that measures the strain on the pedal. I fitted it, turned the pedals and realised the fancy under-frame break arm was hitting my even fancier power meter. It was only a gentle hit, but if I was doing that thousands of times an hour it was soon going to smash my power meter off.

I went on to Twitter to ask the cyclist’s for advice as I couldn’t seem to google an answer. The answer, as ever, was expensive.

It’s a specialist brake that I’d never heard of. It is the very last word in brake technology, the ultimate rim brake, but the selling point for me is that it runs the cable through the centre so there is no arm sticking out to hit my power meter. I saw a shoddy one on eBay and bought that.

But the standard brake fits on the front of the bike, on one bolt. You need a special adapter to mount it on the two bolts of the underframe mount. Of course you do. So then I had to buy a new one, with all the mounting equipment, from the States. It arrived the other day and I’ve tried it. In principle it will mount now. So I can at least put the shabby brake under the back wheel where it’s out of sight and mount the pretty new one on the front where it’s visible.

I suppose I should say it’s not just about an accurate reading on the trainer. I could probably have lived with that. I certainly would have looked for a cheaper and easier option. But the training is all working towards a race. You build up so you know how much power you can sustain for the race distance. The power meter is the only way you can know you are hitting your target on race day. And having the best brakes you can get is never a bad thing. Especially if I’m planning on doing a hill triathlon.

Work has been good. After they asked me did I want a 14 hour shift and I said 10 hours is enough for me, they have been giving me shorter shifts. 8, 9 and 10 hours. That suits me. And I got 5 shifts last week, so all is well. I had one blip. It was a nightmare. They sent me to a drop I’d done before, I had the satnav on but I missed one turning. The satnav rerouted and took me a different way. At first I was fine with it because I’d been down that way before. Then suddenly it had me out in the sticks. Eh? I kept going, but it was smaller and smaller roads and the satnav kept trying to take me down single track roads. I kept refusing. It kept rerouting me. After me refusing to take a double deck (16′ 2″) trailer down a single lane road for the 4th time it started going mad. About half a mile ahead was a 13′ bridge! Oh no! I got out and ran to the bridge. Just before it was a road to a farm or something. I had *just* enough room to drive into it, but not enough room to swing around. I had to reverse blind back into the country lane. I got away with it without crashing and had to take the previous road. That lead me through a tiny village, then out onto a single lane road. I was proper panicking. My trailer was smacking into trees over the road, I couldn’t turn around, I didn’t know where I was and any moment I was expecting to meet someone coming the other way. Or a bridge. Or anything. I finally managed to pull up over a farmer’s drive. I got out and was shaking with the stress. The natives came out to gawp at the moron in the artic with a double deck trailer. They said I’d missed my turn. The farmer woman went down the road behind me to guide me as I backed down the single lane then reverse into an equally tiny single lane so I could do a three point turn. While I was pulled up I checked my satnav. The Royal Mail had given me the wrong postcode.

Royal Mail.



That was the most stress I’ve ever had as a driver. Over the course of 10 or so years driving I’ve had one low bridge, once on a single track, lost quite a bit, a few blind reverses out into the road. To have them all happen, one after the other, was just a nightmare. At one point (when I saw the low bridge ahead on a tiny country round) I stopped, took my glasses off, and literally had my head in my hands. Character forming.

I’ve been hanging on with this blog until we get a resolution to yet more stress. Outside our house we have two parking spots, and a bit of road so our neighbours can drive past. The neighbour straight across from us sometimes parks on the road bit instead of their parking spot. Usually it’s for better access while they clean the car or whatever. It made it a pain trying to get into the parking spot when Luke’s car was outside. Yesterday they parked it there then forgot about it. Wendy realised after dark that it was her mate’s birthday and the mate wouldn’t get a card in time unless she ran it around. She hopped in the car (without paying enough attention) did the usual reverse/ turn to back out of our spot and … BANG! Smacked in the door of the neighbours car. The Mini once again got off with a scrape. Wendy is still not right with her stress, that was horrible for her. She had to knock the neighbour up to tell her. She was really good about it, but Wendy was nearly crying. In fairness, it’s that neighbour who’s kid scraped loads of patterns into the paintwork of our car with a stone. She’s probably a bit relieved to have got rid of the guilt. Anyway, Wendy had a bad night. They exchanged insurance details this morning and Wendy called it in. That should have been the end of the matter, but the insurance asked “is the car in MOT?” Wendy said yes. Just to be sure she went on the government website. The MOT ran out in November. The don’t automatically send reminders anymore and oddly the garage hadn’t sent us one either. Wendy’s booked it in at the earliest possible date, which is on Friday, but now she’s got to ring the insurance back in the morning. Worst case is they say “no MOT invalidates your insurance policy”. I’ve done some looking online and I don’t think that will happen. I certainly hope it won’t. But until she rings them we don’t know.

Luckily Lisa knew exactly who to blame.

I’ll update this tomorrow, with the result, before I post.

Oh sweet relief! The insurance have said it doesn’t affect the policy! That would have been awful. We’d have had to get the neighbour’s car into a proper dealer and pay full dealer prices for a new door and wing. Wendy would have had her insurance cancelled, and have had to get new insurance, to ticking the boxes “Have you had an accident? Have you ever had an insurance policy cancelled?”.

Also the doctors have finally got back to Wendy and agreed to double her dose. Hopefully that will sort her stress out.

Something else has happened since writing the stuff above. I’ve been getting gritty, itchy eyes recently. I thought I had something in them but it kept happening. I asked Wendy to have a look and my eyes are swollen with red lines on them. Suddenly it dawned on me. The grow light for the propagator! I’ve given myself welding flash. I looked up welding flash and sure enough, all the symptoms, causes “strong ultra violet light”, welding, tanning lights, etc. D’oh! It’s like sunburn to the eyes. Can cause infection, cataracts and blindness. At least I now know that the UV plant light works.

And work have rung me up and asked if I wanted a shift tomorrow, but as there’s no work in Warrington can I travel to Chorley? I said OK, then looked at the shift. 45 minute ride each way and a 12 hour shift. Meh. It pays the bills.

The only other thing is my gardening phase.

I’ve bought a some plug plants

And some seeds.

The cactus dahlia have all started sprouting in the cold frame, and I’ve got the seeds for the grannies bonnet and Himalayan blue (and white) poppies on the go. All of which are supposed to be shade tolerant so I thought they’d brighten up the top of the garden under the window this summer. Then I watched a video. The poppies take 4 to 5 years to flower! OK, maybe not this summer.

That’s about it.

Here’s some twitter stuff then I’m out of here.

I had a binge on demotivational posters. I don’t know why but they crack me up.

Then there was some random amazing pottery.

A twitter chum was moaning she couldn’t do her 20 mile run due to injury so I took up the slack. This was 15 miles in. Not too bad. Slow, but not too much foot damage.

Duolingo trolled me

Salt. Wounds. Duolingo.

Some Dinos

And random twitter.