Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Diary of a Haggis Hunter in Scotland: To infinity and beyond

Och Aye, Scotland and aye. By day 3 a couple of exciting things had happened, or were happening. First of all was a good dash of retail therapy was coming together in the form of comms.

I had decided before I left that I wasn’t taking my helmet with me. I was going to get the new dual sport I had been aching for, for quite some while - the NEXX XD-1.

Now awhile ago I wrote about the NEXX XD 1 and said that I wasn’t happy with the build quality and such, but upon revisiting it recently this year when they had finally arrived in Australia I was totally impressed by them. I don’t know for sure if anything had changed, or I had changed, but I definitely bought the wrong size back then.

So I had decided I was just taking my Raiden Jacket, my shorty BMW GS gloves, and my Alpine Star weatherproof gloves and that was all. I had stashed away some freelance money for the new lid, would wear it, and bring it home. Huzzah!

So I got myself all researched up and found the crew at Firecrest Moto was not only close to me but had a close out sale on some colours of the XD-1 and I could score one for £369 which equated to roughly $630 AUD which was more than $200 AUD cheaper than I could get one at home. FFS. That shit is unbelievable, but good news all round so I reckon by day 2 I convinced the other half that we needed to tootle on into Glasgow and check it out, unbeknownst to him my pockets were bulging with cash ready to go full retard.

And full retard I did. Not only did they have the size I wanted, but the Irish dude behind the counter was so clued up on size and fit he totally blew my mind, unlike any other moto-salesman has ever done before. He even spoke to NEXX in Portugal there and then for me to see if he could get the plain white design in XL - but alas it was not to be. So I took what he had and also ordered the Comms kit. 

Another quick call to Portugal as he didn’t have one in the shop and he arranged to have it ready for me the day BEFORE i got the XR so I could fiddle with it and install it blah blah.

I started window shopping, with folded pounds in my pocket itching to be flung at his face TAKE MY MONEY style and found the REV-IT  wet weather pants I had been dreaming about.

These are no miracle pants, they are £20 slip over  plastic jiggers, but its the kind of plastic that makes my mind boggle. Unlike any other plastic pant on the market they manage to stay MOSTLY waterproof while still allowing breathability. 

Not like the horrid full plastic pullovers I could find at home, they actually feel comfortable and do the job at hand, whilst having basic technology like velcro cinch style strapping at the boots so you can easily get em over a riding boot and snap em closed easily.

Then I found their cordoba pants.


And I got everything. I couldn’t help it. 
The guy didn’t even really have to give me the stronger-than-kevlar spiel, the stuff is top notch and looks like normal street wear. I really liked the lot - pants, shirt, overpants, helmet and comms. BAM £800 later and I’m walking on air back to the car with a grin on my face that would make the cheshire cat look lame. Over half convinced by the safety first spiel that I needed all of it, I almost got a pair of SIDI Canyon Gortex Motorcycle Boots to complete the full set but thought better of trying to take all of that back home on the plane.
Manual map recalibration
So I had new everything and was setup (the comms went into the built for it helmet - another story for later) with ease and I was ready to tackle the Highlands with my new spoke and wheel approach for day 3.

Having touched Arrochar on Day 1 and also getting some great tip-offs on great roads on Twitter I got the GPS on the trusty old phone set for the backroads to a place in the Highlands called Glencoe and set off at pace.

What a brilliant looking day! The sun was out, the roads were dry, everyone was at work or school and there were just the few odd bikers out and about sharing the joy with me. 

I was ripping the beemer as much as I felt comfortable with and zooming along the Lochs when I came upon a leather clad  R1 rider stopped at a set of lights. We took off together and I could see he wanted to get into it, and we did.

But then he pulled back, pulled over even and let me past. I power lifted past and let rip to give him the signal - nae bother san. 
Doesn't look very sunny but it got better

Then he was back on my tail and I was all like, wtf is going on? We pulled up at another town and he was all “I thought you were the plod san, the bike n all.” and I’m like, “Me? Nah mate, I’m from Australia!” and he’s like “too right? Fook aye, let’s rip!” and fucking DISAPPEARED in front of me no matter how hard I pushed. The guy was GONE in 60 seconds, seriously.

It gave me the goosers how fast he took off on those roads. We were well into the side roads along Loch Lommond and while it is a fantastic road, there are wet bits with trees that cover the road and brush on corners and shit that scared the bejeezus out of me…. but not R1 guy. He knew that bit of road like the scars on his knee sliders. Inspired, embiggened, I pushed on at my own pace admiring the incredible scenery and loving every minute of this spectacular life moment.
Awesome shortcuts recommended by locals chippy

I won’t lie about it, I broke every speed limit in existence on that day. I touched my toes on the big ole XR. I thought I saw god at some point and the roads and scenery in general as you head into Glencoe left me speechless, tingling from head to toe. I stopped for some of these happy snaps you see above and below but they don’t do it justice.
Aforementioned local chippy - 'Scoffers'
The roads I would like to our Great Alpine Way - the blacktop with the yellow lines around Scammer’s Lookout and up to Cabramurra - just sensational. Perfect grippy black tar, heated up by the summer sun, wide, flat - amazing. I touched the sky, I hit the rev limiter, I saw what the top end of an XR can really do and I was electrified.
If he's anywhere, he's here.
My skin was crawling trying to leave my skeleton behind. And if there is a God, this is where he lives. In between the sheets of clouds floating spectacularly on different levels, licking the tips of the mountain tops that seemed impossible high and so big that they were too wide to be taken in by my human eyes. It was a special moment in my life and I was so happy to be there having it all by my fucken self. I earned it.

I lapped it up. I was so happy I think I was crying in my helmet, laughing so hard I feared I had lost my mind yet didn’t care one bit.

I mounted my new best blue friend and tried to do my best power stand on the turnaround and did it all again in reverse. Spec-fucking-tacular.
Coming home via Loch Lommond's shores

Next up? Heading East.

Until then, carry on.

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