So it was with great excitement that I caught the train over to the other side of the estuary. Arriving pretty much as soon as the dealership opened at 9.30.
The deal was soon done on the bike, some clothing and a helmet. I was like a kid on Christmas morning and virtually bounced out of the showroom for the salesmen to show me round the various bells and whistles on the bike. I must admit I was too excited and it all went in one ear and out the other if I’m honest, I just wanted to get on and ride, but that’s what the owners manual and the internet are for isn’t it? I’ll work out what all the buttons do later, as long as the basic controls are understood then we’re good to go.
Finally time to swing my leg over and get going, hurrah! The Tiger is quite a big bike and with the luggage on and with my inflexibility it made for not a pretty site. I certainly don’t think I’ll be entering the qualifying for the next Olympics gymnastics competition, I think Louis Smith can sleep easy for now! But I was on, key turned and start button hit. The lovely low grumble of the Tigers engine beneath me felt and sounded fantastic.
I did think about plotting a nice back lane route back from deepest darkest Essex but not knowing the area at all I stuck with going for a potter around the glitsy streets of Southend first to get use to the bike a bit and then blast down the A13, round the M25 and onto the A2 and M2 to get onto more familiar territory.
That was the plan at least.
There were a couple of small glitches along the way. Firstly as I pottered around Southend I decided to stop on the sea front for a short while to calm my excitement down a little and to have a good look around to admire the bike without feeling self conscious having the salesman hanging onto my coat tails.
That’s when the first glitch to my plan struck and it was almost disastorous. As I stopped and put the side stand down I musn’t have kicked it quite far enough forwards, as I stepped off to the left the bike started to follow me as the stand folded itself back into it’s closed position. Fortunately I managed to adjust my stance quickly and just about managed to catch the bike before it toppled over. I’d forgotten how heavy a bike can be, this certainly gave me a reminder and my smile would’ve taken some finding if I’d have dropped it at my first stop!
So first disaster averted I decided to brave the A13 and get back to the right side of the water. I took it nice and steady after my long hiatus from riding, I’m sure a lot of the car drivers thought what the hell is this fella doing sticking around the speed limits and not filtering through queues but small steps while I build confidence and get to know how the bike behaves.
I reached the junction of the A13 & M25 and had to stop at the lights on the large roundabout. That’s when I had my second mishap. As the lights turned green I thought I’d get away nice and quickly to get out of the way of anyone trying to kill me but got it all wrong and stalled. Back into nuetral and start her up again then get going just slightly embarrased but no, my embarrasment was complete when I couldn’t get the bike going again, it seemed the battery was completely dead. Worse still I’d forgotten to put my phone on charge overnight and my phone was dead too. My smile was certainly elusive at this point. I fired up the sat nav to find out where the nearest civilisation was and found that I was about half a mile from Thurrock services. So I pushed the bike to the side of the road and parked it up ready to trudge to the services. A guy in a car stopped at the lights and asked what the problem was and as I explained he asked if I’d like a lift. A very nice man, a biker himself and said that similar had happened to him before. I think he was just trying to make me feel better but it was very good of him, and if by some off chance he reads this thanks mate, very good of you.
So my good samaritan dropped me at the services and I bought a mobile charging thing to bring my phone back to life and made a call to the dealer. They said they’d arrange for the AA to come get me and we’d get it sorted. I wandered back to the bike feeling frustrated and a little annoyed with both myself and the dealership for not keeping the better in decent condition.
I’d taken the sat nav off the bike and put it in my pocket and as I got back to the bike 10 minutes later I thought I’d give it another go to see if it would turn over this time. It just about did and I was up and running again. At that point the AA phoned me to say they’re on the way. So again with an element of embarrasment I told them that they were no longer needed and got on my way again.
I later tested it and it seems to affect the bike when the sat nav is on the bike as it starts, now that the battery has fully charged up it does start but it grumbles a little with the nav in place as to when it isn’t. Lesson learned for the future.
The rest of the ride back was uneventful and I made a little detour down to Faversham, just because I could, and back up the A2 to Rainham and stopped for a very healthy breakfast at the Tuck Inn before I completed a lap of the island and tucked the bike away into it’s new garage feeling a little more content.