The weather is picking up (mostly), restrictions have eased and we’ve all been getting out on the bikes again, trying to make up for time lost in lockdown. Things are definitely looking like they’re on the up and some normality is returning. I’ve managed to get out over the last few weekends, shorter ride outs around Essex and Kent; I’ve led an ELAM ride, socially distanced and in sub-groups of 6; and caught up with riding buddies again.
My age was called out on the vaccine Bingo and I’ve now got myself the first dose of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine. My wife had both doses of the Pfizer vaccine a couple of months ago as she works in the NHS. All very reassuring and with so many getting vaccinated, it does raise hopes for a summer of biking, touring, commuting and life as we remember. Obviously, no trips abroad are on the cards, not even any work excursions to the US I can tie in with a motorcycle rental. However, plans are underway for some exploration of Scotland, both to get away on bikes and to scout out potential relocation areas.
29th March: Stage 2 easing of lockdown restrictions – ride out time! Yeah, baby, we’re back in action.
We’ve spent days leading up giving the bikes a thorough clean and POWDERS check. Oil, lube, grease, cleaning fluids, sprays and air all slavishly applied. After so long parked up and with so much anticipation leading up to this first post-lockdown ride out, we didn’t want any niggles spoiling plans.
On the day, everything lined up with celestial gravitas; a workday clear of client meetings I could book off, an unusually warm spell of weather and Mary’s birthday. This was going to be a perfect ride out.
It was that time of year again, another 12 months passed and my Yamaha FZ6 was due a motorcycle MOT check. The past MOT extension for the Covid lockdown now passed and not reinstated for this second UK lockdown, it was necessary to pop the bike to the local test station to get the bike checked over. All very mundane and trivial, bike passed swimmingly with no advisories. But, your motorcycle MOT check time is like an anniversary or a birthday for a bike and a time to look back at the miles ridden.
In the last 12 months, I’ve only managed to do 5k miles on the FZ6, not much at all really and indicative of this year. With no regularly commuting since the first March lockdown, there’s only been a handful of leisure rides and a brief tour around Wales. It’s all been too much work and not much play, quite depressing really.
Time does fly, it seems like only yesterday that I started this journey. 8 years ago I finally heeded my better half’s advice, got myself a motorcycle license, bought my first motorcycle, hit the road and I haven’t looked back since. At the same time, I kicked off this blog to document the adventure in the vague hope others might find it somewhat interesting and perhaps learn the odd thing as I progressed. Fast forward to today, 8 years later and it’s been one hell of a ride!
There’s been biking adventures all over the globe, track days, advancing riding, innumerable group rides and lots of tinkering with bikes. Not forgetting riding together with Mary and the kids, seeing them grow up in the pillion seat. This blog has also grown from strength to strength with many great collaborations over the years. Of course, there was the odd mishap and crash, but you dust yourself off and learn from your mistakes.
Recently my news feed threw up some articles extolling the advantages of an e-bike and what struck me was how they were exactly the reasons we all love and ride motorcycles. Hardly newsworthy and of no surprise to bikers. The articles described how the electric motor assistance on an e-bike provides the following so-called advantages:
Ability to cover longer ranges than a normal bicycle without getting worn out
Avoid breaking a sweat and arriving at work in damp Lyrca
Carry some luggage without the strain on pedalling
Save money compared to public transport or car
Stay fit by still pedalling some
Get fresh air, enjoy the outdoors and stay healthy and stress-free
Cut through traffic with ease with a small e-bike
Discover and explore more out of town on days off
Yeah, everything us motorbikers have been taking advantage of for decades, except a motorcycle takes things much further. You can cover much longer distances, carry more luggage, carry a pillion, cut through city traffic with greater speed and explore way more on days off. So, what are the true benefits of electric bikes compared to a motorcycle? Why not just get a motorcycle instead? Read on to find out.
Being based in East London, Essex is right on my doorstep and where I head for the majority of my ride outs. Essex may not have epic hills and deep valleys, but it offers many great twisty roads, rolling farmland, postcard villages of thatched cottages and some great coastlines to explore. Here I have rounded up some of the best motorcycle roads Essex has to offer, from the infamous Burnham Bends, the Clacton coast and of course the biker Mecca that is Finchingfield. You will not be disappointed by these routes:
Covid-19 has drastically changed everyone’s life, putting all of us under two to three months of lockdown. The impact and fear of this virus is mostly decreasing and the global lockdown is finally opening up. Wider travel and international border crossings are starting to resume once again, allowing visits to see family, friends or undertake new adventures. But this doesn’t mean that it’s safe to go out there without any precautions, below are five tips on how to stay safe from the Covid 19 virus when travelling.
Like many of you, recent the Covid19 lockdown has completely changed my usual way of life and biking. Thankfully, I’ve still maintained my main job as a software engineer, albeit now all working remote from home. I haven’t commuted into central London since the middle of March and only recently had chance to enjoy time on my bike on a few recent weekends when the weather has been reasonable.
Yep, I seemed to have become a weekend fair weather rider…
I used to be one to ride all the time, an all weather biker, commuting to into London rain or shine, but now I’m desk bound at home Monday-Friday. If anything, I’m putting in more hours now than I used to as I work the time I would have previously spent commuting. Weekends are now my only chance to get out on the bike, where I’m choosing to ride for enjoyment and thus I want to ride out into the sunny countryside. A weekend blast in the rain just ain’t quite as much fun.
It’s anybody’s guess when we’ll all return to normality and start commuting back into the office. Somehow, I don’t think normality will be quite what it used to be though. Like many forward thinking tech companies, my employer always had options for flexible and remote working. However, like many companies they are now planning for many of its staff to work remote far more, using shared ‘hot’ desks and reducing office space in central London. After the success of remote working these last few months, there’s no argument for not continuing to offer such an option.
So what does this mean for biking? With less emphasis on commuting, I’m seriously questioning my current choice of Yamaha FZ6 as a pure commuter hack. Why am I putting my priorities into a basic commuter bike? Why don’t I get a fun weekend bike than can commute upon occasion? Longer term, I also can’t help but question even living in the London suburbs. If I can work remote, why not live remote?! Once the advantage of a short commute is eroded, what else does the East London suburbia have to offer? Why not live rural, escape the crowds, find nicer roads, beautiful scenery and cheaper motorcycle insurance?
These last few months have definitely been a time of questioning, challenging prior assumptions, re-evaluating life choices and priorities. We maybe getting closer to normality, but it’s clear it won’t be the normal we’ve been used to in years past.
When your riders have hundreds, if not thousands, of destinations or clients to visit, planning routes manually is a time-intensive and inefficient solution.
In many industries, driver wages and fuel costs alone make up 59.8% of the total operational cost per mile. So even small improvements to your driver’s routes can not only help you deliver packages or serve your clients faster, but can have a significant impact on your profit margin
In this guide, we’ll give you a complete breakdown of what route optimization is and how it can benefit your business. We’ll examine real-world examples and provide use-cases for your industry.
We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
What is Route Optimisation?
Route optimisation is the process of improving routes and schedules for any type of delivery or service call. It helps businesses maximize completed orders while keeping the number of riders and bikes to a minimum.
Route optimization is relevant to your company, whether you offer direct-to-consumer deliveries, business-to-business despatching or are in a service industry where your technicians visit client homes or businesses.
Routing your riders and technicians can be a costly and frustrating process, but with the right tool it can be automated — saving you time, money, and improving customer satisfaction.
This is a route I rode in May 2019, back then I could not have imagined what is happening now one year on. I find myself now looking back at the freedom we had to ride where ever we liked. Enjoy my reminiscing and stick this route on your to-do list for when lockdown restrictions are eased.
This route offers a short loop taking in some of the best roads Wales can offer, beginning and finishing in Newtown (because I was staying with family in Welshpool, the next town north, and using this as my base). All in its about 130 miles and about 3.5 – 4 hours of riding time, factor in a couple of coffee and food stops and you have a chilled out day on the bike.