February 07, 2003

Touring Test

Ok, so the journey was only a little over 50 miles and it was only to Katrine's Dad's but we decided to treat the weekend away as if it were a long distance expedition. After-all wasting weekends is what we bought the Pan for.

Since I was picking Katrine up direct from work it was a proper test. A weekend's stuff plus all of Katrine's riding gear (less her jacket, which she wore to work, apparently it's been a bit cold lately). There is a theory that all you need to pack when touring is; clean pants and socks, tooth brush and passport (where applicable). We saved some space; we were only going to Wales, so no passport. First find a space for all the normal riding gear (including the armour from Katrine's jacket). As its winter there were several 'layers' to wedge in. Then as we didn't intend to spend all our time wearing biking gear there was some normal clothes to squeeze in too. Considering the amount of stuff I was left to pack, unsupervised I might add. I think the panniers coped very well. The only thing that wouldn't fit was Katrine's helmet so that was put in the rucksack and 'netted' to the rack/back seat. The rack isn't exactly very big, so I thought the helmet would be more secure on the seat. When Katrine had changed we discovered that Katrine's brief case it's the wrong shape to fit in a pannier. So we left that at her office, transferring the vital stuff into the now vacant rucksack, and scrunching it into a pannier, all in all very impressive.

So far we've not had the Pan fully loaded. I was curious to find out if I'd have the opportunity to 'adjust' the suspension. As I explained above the panniers were packed solid, but I still had no reason to mess with the suspension. As the roads were quite busy, and it snowed on the way we didn't get much chance to test the effect on 'interesting' Welsh road handling until the return journey.

As I mentioned, it snowed. Admittedly it was just blowing off the road so the risk of skidding on the evil stuff was reduced but, it was so heavy at times it was like fog. The fact that the Pan is so forgiving to my cowardice we were able to endure 20 minutes of arctic conditions without the need for any huskies. At one point the visibility was so bad I only dared go 25 miles an hour. After we'd got there it stopped snowing and started to rain. Next time I'm going to be late picking Katrine up (as usual) then it will be all gone before we set off!

Saturday was a different story altogether. Dry, calm, wonderful roads, we had a great day of bimbling about. Well worth the effort of the Friday night.

Sunday�s crosswinds on the way home didn�t pose any problems. I think I was trying too hard before. Let the bike move a bit rather than wrestling with it. No problem. The torrential rain was completely ignored! As was the suspension adjustment, I doubt I'll ever have to play with that, it was perfect, as ever.

After a great weekend I�m left with only one question. What was Mr Honda thinking when he put that tiny rack on the Pan European? I suppose I�ll have to buy a top box or a smaller rucksack.

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