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Dirty long weekend

4 days in Wales

Spring 2011

The idea started long ago in our heads…. But like most thing in life… it took time to mature…. several chitchat and lot of beers, before it became a gathering of friends and trail riding in probably one of the best area of this side of the “Channel”


So, we organised to hire a farm in the Brecon Beacons  area, with splendid views and the ten of us were all into the spirit to ride as much as possible.


This month of May was not too wet and we could see the blossom of the bluebells along our paths and equally this period was for us to notice the profusion of sheep’s offspring ……and trust me as a Chef, all these baby lambs in their waste and remote habitat were so cute…. It was not in my mind to stew any of them for dinner…

 Here we go, day one, the enthusiasm was plenty….. after a generous breakfast we meet our guide for the day and all relaxed to know that we will simply follow, not bothered with routes or map reading , just ride our vintage bikes along these fantastic trails…..


a little snack , while some have water into they Bing Bowl


  Yep!    That will be until we encounter our first big puddles………..and one of the 4 stroke lost sparks… 40 minutes after fiddling with this excessive amount of wires and connectors…it started again (thanks to the expertise of Nick in oddity of “Japanese iron”)



But of course, it was not the only puddle or river to cross in all mid Wales in that early morning, so I let you guess ………. more trouble ahead… 😦

Oh Yes…before I forget and be blamed for having hidden this matter to you ….the guide showed us how to go up a steep climb in third gear on his modern Suzuki… half of us did it … and for the enjoyment of the“pack” one rider did not make It to the top by nearly flipping the bike over and been save by the stretched and strong arm of our guide pulling my bike up to avoid damage…Yes, that will be me… been the embarrassed one!!!!

Picture coming soo……



The sun came out for a good 2 hours and that was most welcome even if the menacing skies did suggest keeping our waterproofs on for a bit longer….


We achieved only 81 miles run this day ….but that is fine we still have 2 more days to venture ourselves in the Welsh sceneries…

 No Steve, it will not help a little prayer

Our farmhouse was very comfortable; a large lounge with deep old-fashioned leather sofas was our meeting place…..where beers, discussions, laughter were flowing with lots of nostalgia.

One of us got the brilliant idea to bring along some old 70’s magazines…and here we go ….more stories… from I used to have a bike like that to … I have the same sunglasses as Steve McQueen or was it Malcom Smith …..cannot remember….

Look at these boots in an old cycle world magazine, $18.50 in 1979 whoaa, and we spend about 2 hours 30 minutes debating the 70’s, the Bultacos, the Italians, and nearly all the exotics bikes that we dreamed off…then the riders, the ISDT’s…and more….and more….

Some old tales were 35 years of biking, so an accumulated 3 century within the group  


Some were more expert, and must admit to have been lost a bit in the“what went wrong with the sump bolts etc… of the BSA’s” but to hear so much passion in all ….I think we were all feeling good, satisfying stuff nostalgia. 

We were all gone for a while in memory lane and that was precious moments.

Sorry to break up this discussion…..keep a bit for tomorrow…. I said … we are expected for dinner!


Next door to our farm was the main B&B setting with a 30 seats restaurant and a huge balcony with views to die for …


That is the stone viaduct straight in front of us, and we been blessed by the passage of the 4 times a day steam train…and all with an evening sunshine….what else can we ask!


So came the excellent food, all prepared in house by one of the two twin brothers and sometimes with the mum help….after all it’s a family affair this venue, and we quickly knew that they were genuine, all was great, few more laughter’s, lots of  drinks, and of course …..lots more of 70’s stuff mixed with very little of tomorrow preparations….. that was obviously very relaxed and no one did really care about the next day…


The next day!

It was the one with no particular plans, a bit of riding within the farm’s tracks as most of us brought a second bike….two of team did used they Trial bikes, very appropriate for a selected section, I tried my Husky 250 WR  to see what kind of progress was between my 1978 SWM and this beast of 1983… Gosh, I nearly was converted! Could not hide the grin on my face with such well suspended machine…could absorb most bumps and go very fast without kicking your “rear”…OK that was progress ….but I will be faithful to my original SWM RS.GS

 did not miss a beat, even after been drawn

Some riders did have few preparations/servicing on their machines after day one!

Lots of  lubricants been used and electrical check up was primordial for the next ride. 

Double click to enlarge pictures

We did a shorter trail this afternoon and wanted to return to base early and spend a bit of time consulting the maps and getting our next day planed with a slice of the original route of the 1983 ISDT event, mixed with an interesting stop near the Claerwen Reservoir.



Then came Thursday, our last day in those fantastic surroundings

We indeed (with the precious guidance of Nick) found the famous lanes, the reservoir, the dam, the Strata Florida routes, even an old farm ….Ho yes I remember this farm….. 

Steve & Nick did have a moment of melancholy…as both were 30 years ago at the same place…that must have been a great feeling!


That day was a memorable day…we came across lots of puddles, deep ones (I did filled up my boots few times and the mud,the sticky one that need extra strength just to keep the rear wheel turning and the bike moving forward ….that is if you do not get stuck as I did…Yes Philippe again! We all got some situations that were just to the limit of falling/losing it at low speed, river crossing with a bit too much splashes, carburettors full of water, spark plug failing, pushing the bikes, sweating in our waterproofs, waiting for others, helping,  but still smiling ……camaraderie was superb, bless this day!

Thank you all!!!!




Been busy, but it will work out!!!!

Hello friends and  vinduro riders

YES! this month of April kept me very busy 🙂

What we achieved is to purchase many more vinduro bikes, most are SWMs

a  1981 125cc TF1, a 1982 175cc TF3, a 1982 250cc TF3, a 1979 49cc Mini Cross, a 1980 Moto Villa 250cc Six days and a 1983 Husky 250 WR

That of course is lots of work to be done, probably until Spring /Summer 2012

My trip to France & Italy did as well procured lots of parts, lots of spares for SWM, nearly 200kg of bits & pieces in boxes, plus some frames, tanks, wheels, forks etc…

But really the aim of this news letter is to let you now that this blog will be transferred to the appropriate website by the 01st June

I hope gently but surely to display some new and second hands parts for SWM and few other European machines…

That will be most of all to clear my garage & workshop as I run out of space 

As well just on the turn of this month of May, I sold 2 of my restored vinduro bikes to a Spanish collector ….like what!?

so, the Can-am MX6B and the CCM Armstrong are gone to Cataluña and will be for a while displayed in a kind of private museum/warehouse before been probably sold again ???? 

I must admit to be a bit sorry to see the Armstrong (an English bike!) to leave UK, as it was a rare one, sold only for one year in 1982 and about a couple of hundreds only built before it all became Canadian

I did try to sell it at Telford show, not luck even if lots of good comments were “floating in the air” ….That how I realised the importance of Continental website, from the day it was advertized, I had questions and curious emails, but sold a week after… 🙂

I would not like to offend my fellow riders or potential buyers in UK, but the expectation of what should be a great bike ready to be used with no expenses for a long while…….was a bit frustating for me overhere.

I will not change my agenda and restore the SWM’s properly, not concourse at all, but will be with most new parts and UK road legal…

and like My KTM, like my futur Husky 250 and others, it cannot be cheap

I had many calls, emails from friends (Yes few of you may read this and smile as you are involved!) and they bought a £1500 vinduro bike…used it for 1-2 meetings and spent another £1500 to bring it to what it should be and most of all reliable…

we must all of us be a bit mad with these vintage machines…

but again, one life, live it!

Do not forget…..

www.oldknobblies.com  soon!

with the lastest news of our Wales experience and some interesting restorations from abroad


Bye for now, Philippe.


are you sure we did not miss a turn, that does not look like Wales???

A Welsh Recipe

  OK, let’s wear the “whites” and even if you do not share the skills of a Chef, at least I hope you will try my recipe.

   I simplified the methods for insuring 99% of chances that it will work out fine. Follow these easy steps and you we will all feel privileged to have created something special  


A kind of medley of “Spring Welsh experience with a twist”

That will not be too exotic, too fancy or too sophisticated…

No! …. Simply very satisfying and memorable



  • 10 or 11 mature riders (need to be in age of having concerns with their hairs…if any, and passed they Heart MOT)
  • Half dozen of 2 strokes bikes
  • A squeeze of Japanese badges (that will spice up the overall dish)
  • A farm and wild land (to keep this experience traditional, down to hearth!)
  • 250ml of rain (preferably a week!)
  • 1/3 of a local supermarket stock of beers
  • 100 km of guided trails (a day!)
  • Few length of ruts and equally quantity of deep puddles
  • 20 opportunities to loose one a team member
  • 7 hours of sunshine (that will be for the entire recipe)
  • 1 guide (optional)
  • a good doze of nonsense and organized chaos
  • an even better doze of humour and camaraderie


Firstly search for a great retreat, in the middle of nowhere… surrounded by miles after miles of trails and  splendid sceneries ……that will be one of the main ingredients

The second most important asset of this dish is the riders… if you can, stretch a bit by choosing a mix & match of shapes and sizes and level of riding ……. even better add a bit of Canadian and a French to bring a bit of “je ne sais quoi” to the dish.

 Gently place the above in a charming farm to marinate for the first night….mind not too overflow with beer or the next day the recipe will collapse

 Take the bikes out of they packaging, scrutinise the Japanese ones, making sure they are not too ripe (you do not want a four strokes to spoil the broth?) have a bit of giggle and combine with the optional guide….you will have a great day!

 Mind, that is only part of the dish, you now need not too over cook this day with too many riders lost, an excess of breaking, and must at any cost ovoid falling off on the rocky stuff.

Then repeat 3 more times, for good measures!

 Pour gently a bit of rain (do not pour too quickly, some have trail tyres!), then that where the fun starts…. Or should?

 If you are lucky enough to source for some nice Welsh sun (a rare commodity, but worth having it) stir it after the rain, that will work out better!

 You may encounter few struggles with few riders, which will be a too hasty/speedy, or others that simply would not bound properly with the dough…

Just let it rest for few minutes, knock down all (the fiery and the over sluggish) then the mix must bounce back to a supple amicable feeling…

 Lastly, use your 50/50 quantities of organised chaos and good humour. 

Bake all the above for 4 days….and enjoy the result!

Chef tips:

Take some pictures along the preparation, always sweetener the company, and remember, the rides and the machines were your selling point

If for any reasons it turns out to be slightly flavourless as it was planned…blame the Welsh…


Bikes, spanners and frying pans…

As journeys are being experienced, breakfast consummed , bicycles ridden , underground upgraded……..and we may all live and move towards our destination with/without reaching our goals. For me, I do it on a motorbike, all geared up to allow me to reach my destination, climbing onboard a  German badge. Sometimes when I look back , pushing 230 kg of machinery on two wheels (or one!)… I wonder do other feel  the enjoyment  going A to B ?  ahah,  even though nowadays, we  have to take it as a luxury,  such pleasure and choice  is not commodity any longer, so lets enjoy and spread happiness.

Chinese, Thai,  Mexican, Italian, French, Lebanese… we are so lucky to have such an array of  cuisines, flavours, smells and experiences…That would be similar with motorbikes … not just bolts, rubber and iron… They can represent an era, a full & fantastic mix of characters, styles, machine designs and yet  mechanically different.

70’s and 80’s is my favourite era, my “cup of tea”                              oops! been French that will be” cup of coffee”!

One day a week and  for so many years now,  a great deal of  hours spent by spannering, polishing, sand blasting, painting and sourcing the four corners of Europe for parts …….so these beauties could be revived, their sounds heard once again and gosh what effect and feeling does one receives when after filling its carburetor for the first time, switching or pulling its starter and adjusting the air screw, ready for the first kick…the rest is all music to my ears…

Here is my recent restoration … a 400 KTM GS6 Penton ….1977 so the last of the Penton series…  a kind of desirable “old granny” of the vinduro world….to be treated with respect!

Beside the urban rush & madness been a Londoner… restoring a motorbike is therapeutic!