We’re now two weeks into the COVID19 U.K. wide lockdown with no definite date for when the restrictions will be relaxed. The weather has changed and it’s been glorious, typical really, great weather but banned from riding!
My Kawasaki Versys 1000 has never been so shiny and the CRF250 Rally is raring to go on an adventure. The bikes have spent the last month in the workshop/garage and so I got them out over the last weekend to warm them up and let them breath.
Hopefully in a few weeks time I’ll be able to get them back out onto the road again and get a few miles in.
Since the trip to Mongolia and back looks like it’s not going to be possible this year I’ve been wondering if I could do some sort of mini adventure around the U.K. once the lockdown is over. I’ll keep mulling this idea over and see if it comes to anything.
A few of us in the HUBB Facebook group have been talking about meeting up for a weekend of camping and trail riding so that’s something to look forward to.
In the meantime, I’ll just carry on doing all the jobs I’ve been putting off for ages … almost at the end of the list!
I’m very fortunate in that I have a very well equipped workshop with some tools on the shelves that are almost as old as I am.
Some time back I bought a larger side stand foot for the CRF250 Rally however, when I came to fit it I found that it had been badly machined and wasn’t going to work in it’s OEM state. At the time I had a lot going on work wise and so it got put to one side for another day.
Today that day came! In the first week of the CoronaVirus lock down here in the U.K. I’ve been going round doing lots of little jobs that I’ve been putting off for ages. Today it was the turn of the side stand foot.
When the foot originally arrived the fixing holes hadn’t been threaded properly and so the supplied screws didn’t fit at all. I guess I shouldn’t of expected anything better as it was from China via eBay.
So, after much offering up and pontificating I decided to drill out the existing holes, rethread them for a larger more suitable bolt and get it fitted properly.
One of the things that I have on the shelf is a tap and die set, not something that gets used a lot but, over the years it’s come in handy quite a few times.
I drilled the holes out to 4.2mm and needed a 5mm tap to thread the holes. Since the foot is made of alluminium threading the holes was fairly easy.
Before putting the thread in I checked to see what spare bolts I had. In the spare bolts jar I found 3 x M5 0.8 allen bolts, perfect for the job. I soon had the holes tapped and checked everything lined up.
There’s a certain pleasure to be had from doing these simple but, enjoyable jobs using skills that a were learnt back in your teenage years. Adding a little thread lock to each bolt the foot was soon fitted and tested.
With the new suspension the bike sits much taller than it did on stock suspension which means that the bike now leans over quite a bit more when on the side stand. With the new foot added it makes the side stand slightly longer overall and thus stands the bike up a little.
Hopefully now it won’t sink too much in the sand and mud like it used too!
Once the lockdown is over, I’ll get the bike out and give it a proper test to see how it performs in the wet and slippery stuff.
This morning I have taken the decision to delay the trip until 2021 at the earliest due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the fact that I can no longer get travel insurance due to the FCO advising against all travel internationally.
I had already bought travel insurance that was due to start on May 1st 2020 however, since the FCO now advise against all travel that insurance would be useless and provide no cover whatsoever as it clearly states that if the FCO advise against travel it would become invalid.
Based on this I have had to cancel the insurance policy and get a refund thus making it impossible to travel.
This is probably not a bad thing looking at how the Coronavirus is panning out globally at the moment.
To say it’s frustrating is an understatement as I will now lose the £538.00 spent on getting my Russian visa as they are currently refusing to extend the visa for next year. Hopefully this stance will change but, it’s highly unlikely.
So until then it’s a case of continuing with the social lockdown that is currently in place in the UK and staying healthy.
As I’m writing this article I’m watching the update emails come in from the FCO website detailing border closures and states of emergency being declared by most of the countries I need to transit through in order to get to my goal of visiting Mongolia.
So far, Czechia and Slovakia have closed their borders to UK citizens. Georgia and Azerbaijan have put in place tight controls on people entering the country if they’ve come from the UK or via Germany including no access at all during March/April.
Mongolia has closed it’s borders with Russia completely meaning there is currently no way in or out of Mongolia as the borders with China are also closed. If you do manage to get into Mongolia currently there are strict travel restrictions in place to stop the spread of infection since Mongolia currently doesn’t have a single case of infection.
The ‘stans are also now starting to limit access to their region of Central Asia.
As time goes on, more and countries will declare states of emergency and close borders. President Macron of France is considering this at the moment which, if it happens will mean the only way out of the UK to the EU mainland will be via Hoek Van Holland, which is also currently under threat.
So what does this mean for my trip?
Well, at the moment there is no point in me going anywhere as I can only get as far as Germany and then I’m stuck. Each time I look for an alternative route the country I am looking to transit via closes their border or limits access to those that are not from the UK or other infected countries.
I am now looking at leaving the UK at the beginning of May instead of April, I’m hoping this will allow time for the peak infection to pass and for countries to relax travel restrictions such that I will be able to transit my way to Mongolia and back.
This has meant that I’ve needed to move the commencement date of my travel/medical insurance which I’ve been able to do with ease and am now looking to move my ferry crossing with Stena Line.
After almost 2 years of planning and preparing for this trip this is deeply annoying and indeed frustrating to say the least. I just want to get on and go now, everything is ready.
If it turns out that I cannot go in May then it will mean I will have to cancel the trip for this year as the weather window will no longer be viable for such a trip. Lets hope it doesn’t come to this!