Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Certified IBA!

Certified that I have an Iron Butt! (no you did not misread that).

Got an email today from the IBA (Iron Butt Association - )

Hello Kurien.

I've just verified your ride and can confirm that it's all OK.  Well done and welcome to the IBA UK!

Your 'official' stats are 827miles in 22hrs 40mins.

IBA UK president, Philip Weston, will e-mail you shortly with regard to certification and payment and to allocate your IBA number.

I hope we shall be seeing you at some of our events.  we hold regular "Rides to Eat", both in the UK and in Europe, as well as rallies of varying lengths.  You can find out what's going on by looking on our website HERE, and on the UK forum HERE.

"Welcome to Insanity!"

Verifier, IBA UK

So now the wait starts to get my IBA number :) and do more rides. As they say - insanity is addictive :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Named the bike!

I have a blue BMW 1200 GS.  For over a year, tried many names including Bluey, Wasser, Ganges, Matilda, and many German names ... but nothing stuck.

On a recent flight, watched "Dances with Wolves" for the umpteenth time - and then the penny dropped - Tatanka. That is what I will call my bike.

Not so much that the bike is like a wild bufallo, but 'tatanka' was the first word spoken in the contact between Dunbar and the Indians. That initial word, then led to long lasting friendship.

That is what my motorcycle helps me to do - meet up with new people, and create long lasting friendships.  Even if you do not speak or understand the language, the motorcycle becomes the talking point and then leads to many more interesting conversations.

Here's wishing and praying for many more safe miles on Tatanka!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Iron Butt

Seriously considering this - - however, needs preparation. Thought prep started almost 6 months ago when my friend Jon MacGregor completed it. Now preparations start in earnest. Need to see if it will be this summer (2015) or next (2016). Will keep you posted.

The bike with the new engine is doing really well. Happy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Engine

Got a new engine on the GS - under warranty. The paint on the old engine was coming off at places and the only option that BMW had was to replace the old engine. Good for me! :) Now I have a brand new bike!

Have heard not so good stories about failed engine replacements but so far, really happy with the new engine. For a change, I can hear the exhaust sound over the engine sound. The gear shifts are really smooth (impossible and unheard of on a 1200 LC, some would say).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Page 154 - Kendal to Whitby

Knowing my love for motorcycle adventure travelling (and possibly bored with me talking about motorcycle touring all the time) some good friends gifted me the book - "Great Motorcycle Journeys of the World" - a book by Colette Coleman with a foreword by none other than Ted Simon himself.

If you have not seen this book, it is a good coffee table book - or for me, the book of my night time dreams. This gift was more like - stop talking, Go do it! Well, with 5 continents and 50 rides listed, rather than wait for a great day, the book inspired me to start with one small step at a time … and why not start with one closest to home? … our own backyard.

One of the great motorcycle journeys of the world - listed on Page 154 is - Kendal to Whitby. Yes, dear friends - after having completed it last week - I wholeheartedly agree - IT IS AN AWESOME RIDE and I am sure many people who have done it would agree.

 There are options on this ride. You can skip a few sections. However, if you want the Full Monty - then don't cut any corners. This is the Full Monty!

… and that is what I set out to do! The book recommends to give this ride at least two days. Well, if I had that time, would have stopped along the way to see the various beautiful sights - castles, old cottages, brewery's etc. My focus was ride … so ride did I.

Day 1 - Newbury to Kendal - uneventful

Started from Berkshire Saturday morning (25th Oct) and took a leisurely ride (without touching any motorways :) ) … and blessed with some good weather 

reached the lake district Saturday evening. Found a quiet site in Kendal at the camping and caravanning club site. Retired early - planned an early start.

For those in the region on Saturday, there were gusts of wind reaching 25 mph. Camped under a tree, on a windy day, all the noise kept me up until 1:00 AM. Well, ear plugs came in handy and slept well until 0700.

 Day 2 - Kendal to Whitby (Page 154) 

A quick breakfast and other essentials saw me on the road. What looked like a bad day

Turned out to be good by the time I started

And the beautiful countryside beckoned me

 An early morning start from Kendal, took the A684 and just outside of Kendal came across the Lambrigg wind farm.

Up until now did not have a clue about what was in store for me. But well, the A684 it was.

 … and then it started … the twists and turns. Just another pic of the beautiful countryside … where I stopped to catch a breath

and then before reaching Sedbergh saw an awesome series of twists and turns on the road assured me that I will never be able to square my tyre :). So no photographs until I stopped at Sedbergh.

Another set of cracking, footrest scraping turns :) - saw me reach Garsdale. This is the Garsdale Viaduct. 

And the bridge on the same line

The next point along the A684 was Hawes. Another interesting town with a character. The towns are interesting … but so are the roads. I was blessed with awesome weather and the fall weather brought out the beauty of this part of the world.

 Stopped along the way to admire the beauty of the countryside once again.

 Bainbridge was the next town on the stretch.

There was something about Bainbridge. Something wonderful which this picture cannot explain.

Crossed river Bain and continued on the A684. Another awesome set of twists and turns took me through Aysgarth.

The signboards looked interesting. Took the left turn at the Aysgarth crossing to check if I can see the falls from the road. Did not want to get off to go and see the falls. Well, could not so turned back and continued on the A684. Do I need to say this again? … but I will - another set of cracking roads and reached Layburn.

On the suggested route in the "Great Motorcycle Journeys of the World" at Leyburn, you leave the A684 and continue on A6108 to Masham. Photographs? Nay mate. You need to keep both hands on the bar and your eyes on the roads! At Masham, came a deciding moment - do I continue to Ripon on the A6108 (the shortcut) or, as the book recommends, turn right on to the small Fearby Road, heading into Healey and beyond? NO SHORTCUTS! At Masham took Fearby Road down to the Leighton Reservoir. A very scenic and romantic place indeed.

My attempt at a scenic photo.

 The bridge crosses the Leighton reservoir at the far end.

Further ahead, climbed up to Pott bank. Another scenic ride.

The vast empty expanse and the open area was breath-taking indeed.

I need to take a better camera next time to capture those rays of sun breaking through the clouds and shining on the Yorkshire countryside.

 Further down I then descend into Lofthouse.

Then it was past Gouthwaite reservoir ...

... into Pateley Bridge. From Pateley Bridge took the B6265, past Fellbeck … all the way into Ripon. From Ripon took the A61 into Thirsk. Again, sorry no pics. You need to keep your hands on the bar and eyes on the road. A quick stop to look at the Thirsk Cathedral from the outside. (Well that is the only place where I could stop and take a pic of the Cathedral.)

From Thirsk, it was the A19 and the A172 into Stokesley. Interesting but fast smooth flowing curvy roads. None of the footpeg scraping turns I encountered earlier. This is a quick pic of the Stokesley town centre.

Well, from Stokesley, turned onto the B1257. The first sign I see is this.

Pic courtesy Google Maps

 … and you know ! Yes, that is the road that I want to ride. Now starts another leg of the awesome ride … true fall colours B1257 - right through the North York Moors

 … all the way down to Helmsley. Again, eyes on the road and hands on the handlebar type of road! no pics again. This is the Helmsley town centre.

A quick coffee at Thomas Bakers (I am sure many of you know this place. There were many bikers parked here having coffee from Thomas Bakers). From Helmsley to Pickering, took the A170. A fairly uneventful part of the ride. At Pickering,

… took a left on the A169 on toward Whitby. The A169, also called the Blue Bank Road gets into Sleights. Just before Sleights you have the Hole of Horcum.

 Again, beautiful countryside and awesome views all the way. This road is a fast one, but then speed limits are in place :) and when out on a long journey, it is best to obey rules. A quick pic at the Hole of Horcum

And off to Whitby. On the way was the descend into Sleights with the sand runoff road on the steep descend. This may have been needed in the days of weak brakes, but do we need this now? An interesting bit of road there. From Sleights, it was all the way into Whitby. The cobbled streets of Whitby (Church Street) on the south side.

The Eskmouth Pier Road - North side.

 Another processed pic of Whitby looking beautiful.

 The ruins of the Abbey. Can you see Dracula there?

Completed the awesome ride. It was worth every minute of the day, every rotation of the wheel and every beat of the engine and the heart! Checked into the YHA at Whitby and dropped myself into bed - a satisfied bunny! a satisfying day indeed. A pic next day morning.

 It has been a pleasure taking in the beautiful Yorkshire roads and the beauty of the countryside. A hello to many riders I met along the way.

 My next ride is on Page 146. :)

Sunday, June 08, 2014

A dream come true

A dream come true. Well, this had been in waiting for a long time ... but preparations started earnestly in Dec. My Christmas present (to myself) was good riding gear ... fit for touring. Helmet (with pin-lock for anti-fogging, and a flip front)- a Shoei Neotec, Held Quattrotempi gear ... and for the winters, a Gerbing heated Glove and of course, Boots. All set, the only thing required now was a Bike ... and (not to forget a license).

Went to NOG (North Oxford BMW Garage), to look at a used bike they had. Well, my luck, just before I reached there, that bike had been sold. Now I can say - my Good luck, for the same kind of price, was able to pick up a new model 2013 BMW TE in Blue. The TE is the high-spec model with cruise control and also the GPS Nav holder + the NAV wheel (now I can say - a pretty useless thing!).

Well, here is the babe. Enjoy

PS: Don't say I did not warn you - my Blog header, does say - ..."and motorcycling thrown in ... " for good measure.

Well, I am telling you about this late ... because, now things have started happening :) ... I will explain in further posts. 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Raspberry Pi

If you don't know what the Raspberry Pi (RPi) is - read it up here

The RPi is indeed an excellent and exciting development in the computing field. To me it seems that, many of the references to RPi, take a very narrow view of what the RPi actually is and what it can do. IMO, this can limit the authors' and the readers' understanding of RPi in the context of the extended journey of learning with the RPi.

To understand the profound impact RPi can have on computing, we need to understand the different meanings the word computer can take as well as the role the RPi it can play in nurturing a step by step exploration and understanding of computing.

For many, a 'computer' is a device that has a keyboard, a monitor, a CPU, a mouse and an operating system (mostly Windows). Within this context, you can use the computer to play games, browse the internet, connect with friends over email, IM and FB,

The RPi partially falls into this category.  You can connect a keyboard, a mouse and a monitor to the RPi, it has an OS with a GUI and it can be used to play games and write simple programs. If connected to the network (cable/WiFi), it can also be used to browse the Internet. Using sites may be dependent on the capability of the installed browser. .

My watch is also a computer. It can tell me the atmospheric pressure, altutide, my location using the GPS and change the time based on the country I am in. This is also a computer.  The washer-dryer at home can also be classified as a computing device (it does a lot of work!). I have another computer with me - sitting on my desktop, a small car which can be controlled from your smartphone. This is also a computing device - albeit a very small one.

The RPi, is also not any ordinary computer.  It is a computing device with phenomenal power and flexibility.

For the 9-11 year old, it is a device on which he/she can work on Scratch - one of the favourite tools used by kids to create 'cool'  programs. This child can also watch videos on it.  The device with all the circuits visible - also lends itself to the 'cool' factor of using something and being able to see what it is made up of - unlike a computer or a PS3 or an XBOX.

For the 12 to 15 year old, it a device on which he she/can use to program using languages such as Python and create applications that solve some real-world problems.

It is beyond this domain that the RPi 'computer' takes on a totally different meaning. It becomes a computing device/a computing board which can do things as per your command and wish. Attach external devices such as motors, sensors, cameras and suddenly this simple 'computer' can be transformed into a programmable toy. Just like the Lego Mindstorms ( I could never afford one!), this board can also interface with different devices,  - which can transform my commands and wishes into actionable. It will not be long before someone creates a robot out of this and we have an RPi robot contest ... and other events associated with the RPi. This will only be limited by people's imagination (and of course the processing power and the accessories available/developed for the RPi).

It has a slice for everyone, for the cool one, for the nerdy one, for the simple one, and that is what makes the RPi different. and most importantly - at £30 - it is mighty affordable. I already have an old monitor, keyboard and mouse lying around the house (I am sure may people have that), and that makes it very affordable.

The delivery date for my RPi is 30/04 - a long wait ... but I am sure that, in the meanwhile, we should hear a lot of information from the people who recieve the first and the second lot of RPi's

It may not be right to compare it to the BBC Micro/Spectrum etc. They spawned a different generation of programmers at a different  time - with its own constraints. Now, this is a different time and the RPi, provides the right tool for this new generation of learners - for those who want to but were not allowed to tinker with the home computer for fear of breaking a £400 'computer'.

Here's a +1 for the new computing revolution.

PS: Some of this is unvalidated information and is based on available news. I will have to wait till 30/04 for my piece of the pie - to satiate my hunger!