Testing Adventure Screen and Sheep on Wheels Merino Base Layers

During the week I picked up, or rather was hand delivered, a tall R1200GS Adventure windscreen from Ebay. Unused and at nearly half the price I would have paid had I stuck with plan A and asked BMW to fit one at the next service. I was partly thinking of that long and possibly cold and rainy journey across northern Europe that I plan to take in September but also wanting to ‘adventurise’ bit by bit my ordinary 1200GS. My old 2007 white air/oil cooled Adventure had an idiosyncratic style that makes todays new GSs look a little mass-produced. The new model Adventure looks great – in my view – but is a Behemoth, huge, taller that the standard GS and heavier to boot. I had no intention of buying one when I traded in Belinda. Getting my wheels powder coated black would be a nice touch and a move in that direction but expensive I imagine.

Here’s a useful comparison:

adv vs r1200

Today after fitting the screen (thanks to one of the many instructional videos on YouTube I did it the easy way – very easy – and not the hard way which The Missenden Flyer shows) I dithered about which set of urban roads I should head down but chose to look at Gravesend. I wonder how it got that rather gloomy name. It is one of those Victorian towns on the Thames estuary that, I think, has a naval history. At least in my imagination it does.

Interestingly GPS took me north over Southwark bridge then close to the Tower of London and down through the Blackwall Tunnel getting on to the south side of the river again. Of course I took the wrong turn on the entrance and had to make a huge detour up the A13 (or was it the A12?). The A2 slithering East South East from London is unremarkable but at least moves quickly and doesn’t feel like driving through a city.

Gravesend is rather a dump. It has a small pier and a historic ‘quarter’ that reminded me strangely of how Bury St. Edmunds used to look about 20 years ago. By the river you look over to the docks at Tilbury on the north side of the Thames where the Empire Windrush brought future NHS workers from the West Indies in 1948 and where H’s parents left for Australia in 1961. I didn’t stay long.

So how was the taller screen? It is a bit like comparing two different marmalades. It was similar but I want to swap them back and try again. Then do it again. Once at 70 I had the feeling that I was having a more peaceful ride. So I have no regrets about this small not very rigorous experiment.

The merino base layers are good. The temperature hovered around 10 degrees so was not freezing but the air was very damp and rain started to hit the roof about ten minutes after I got home. Walking around Gravesend I was cold but once with everything zipped up and on the bike I was completely comfortable – just that slight chill at the top of my legs which must get the wind from underneath the windscreen. So another good purchase and cheaper than identical items made by other companies.

The gap in the picture below is the Blackwall Tunnel. The short red vertical line is my wrong turning.

gravesend-journey

EDZ Layering review

Capitalism seems to take things we always had, give them a new name, and sell them back to us at a high price. We always had cables connecting our hi-fi amplifier to our speakers. We found these stray strands of copper in the back of drawers or in the bottoms of empty boxes. Now they are ‘interconnects’ and they cost at least ten times as much. Or rather we get a ‘choice’: the ‘best quality’, the ‘good quality’ and the ‘perfectly adequate’  with appropriate prices, bearing no resemblance to the cost of making them but invented to give an illusion of giving us control of every detail of our sound system. We, as intended, go for the middle way. We don’t want to be cheap skates after all.

And now the embarrassingly old-mannish long underwear has been discovered, given an expensive twist, and sold back to us as ‘base layers’. It could be made of ‘technical fabric’, newspeak for unnamable man-made stuff or merino wool which is found, as it ever was, on the backs of merino sheep. My mum would definitely have encouraged me to dress in it and bought it for me at Christmas.  Only now I won’t need to roll my eyes because, at last, it has become cool.

So, today my eagerly awaited parcel from EDZ Layering arrived. The postman managed to squeeze it through the letter box. I’ve bought long johns (sorry – leggings, nice olive green – on special) and a long sleeved top (safe black – blue was on special but looked ghastly) made of Merino wool all for less than £100.  I had my possible motorcycle trip to Helsinki and back via the Baltics in September in mind. I don’t mind the distance but I am nervous about riding so late in the Summer, early in the Autumn. Every account I read of similar rides seem to feature the woes of riding in the rain and cold. I like to be prepared. Despite my distrust of capitalism and its triumphs of marketing over reality (my choice to buy a hardcore Suunto watch for example) I am being converted to the new religion of base layers, that can achieve the impossible of keeping you both cool and warm and ‘wick’ away your perspiration. (When did people first start talking about wicking sweat away?) My polyester EDZ outfit that I bought when I got my most recent set of leathers from Hideout Leather certainly have managed to perform that miracle, and feel extremely comfortable in the process. Let’s see how the next winter ride goes in the company of these toasty sheep. Feeling prepared has a big impact on morale and good morale is the key to enjoyable motorcycle – and other – expeditions. I’ll buy into base layers for now.

EDZ items

Trip to Biggin Hill, Biggles

I realised that I hadn’t taken the bike out since November (having a garage with electricity meaqns I can keep the battery on trickle charge) so despite a temperature between 3 and 5.5 degrees I headed off from my trusty garage-in-progress toward a location that one of the Visor Down discussion groups suggested was a good place to ride, before the simple request for nice routes degenerated a few comments later into the trading of insults. The route recommended was from Bromley down to Westerham in Kent. I didn’t make it all the way to Westerham but turned round just past Biggin Hill airport which always reminds me of Biggles stories. (It was handy to actually have a compass on the GPS to work out which direction it was trying to take me and then make my own decision.) The weather was dry with a beautiful sun but it was low in the sky so not always easy to ride, but helped with an ‘adventure’ peaked helmet. After Bromley things definitely got more interesting as the roads change from urban to suburban to rural quite quickly.

I will definitely go back down there. I’m slowly getting used to riding in (South) London and today was quite quiet as London goes. I’m amazed at how some people drive, whether black Range Rovers with personalised number plates (e.g. Nigel 1) that weave through the traffic lanes and sail through long-turned-red lights or kids in grey track suits on mopeds zipping onto the wrong side in dual carriage ways to make progress. Most people, the dark saloon professionals particularly, seem to drive with poise. Maybe they are trying to save fuel or maybe they are just not in any hurry. Its quite reassuring.

 

There are no high speeds in this trace of the ride. The ride was done without even thinking of 5th or 6th gear.  


Here’s the trace of my leaving and arrival, almost under the shadow of the Shard.
SE1 map