I was taking the back roads and was probably about half way home, riding into the southwest of England and going past Glastonbury Tor when I noticed some vibration coming from the front wheel. I was concerned but couldn't see anything obvious so I kept going.
The vibration was getting worse the closer I got to my parents place. Once I got home I mentioned it to my father who, luckily had been a mechanic and knew his way around a bike. We dropped the front wheel off the bike and took a look at it and the front wheel bearings were toast. My parents lived in North Devon so the possibility of getting a new bearing that weekend were slim to none. So given that we could not get a bearings that weekend, we had to order a set, but it was going to be a week or two before they would arrive. This left me with a problem; how do I get home again?
Getting Back Home
At the time my father was riding a Suzuki GS250T. He used to to commute to work and back so no more than a few miles a day. He said, take the Suzuki. OK, it will be a little slower than the FZR but if the weather holds it will be a slow and fun ride back home along the backroads.
The weather did not hold. I left my parents place on a gloomy Sunday afternoon and as I rode the Suzuki up onto Exmoor, it started to rain and the temperature started to drop. It didn't take long for the rain to turn to sleet and then to snow and it just got colder. The suzuki was so underpowered that getting up hills was a nightmare of 5th to 4th to 3rd just to crawl up, being passed by everything else on the road.
Coming down the other side of Exmoor was better for the bike, but for me, the weather was getting colder. I was freezing. I had the option of taking the motorway or backroads once I got off the moors, and I because of the poor performance from the Suzuki, I opted for the backroads. What should have been a 3 hour ride home ended up being over 5 hours of snow and freezing conditions.
To keep warm I had put on every piece of clothing I had with me which was no where near enough, as I only had my warm weather gear and was just not equipped for snow. By the time I got home, my extremities were so cold I could not feel them and I was shivering. This was not good.
The best thing to do in this situation is run a warm bath, strip off all the cold layers and soak for a while to bring your body temperature back up to close to normal. This is exactly what I did, and that warm bath felt so good.
A couple of days later I took at look at the Suzuki to see why the performance was so poor. Well, i guess someone wasn't paying attention to his chain and sprockets because the rear sprocket was warn so badly I am honestly surprised that little bike made it up any of the hills at all, and the chain was also badly worn.
New sprockets and a new chain saw the bike up and running again, and a couple of weeks later, the new bearings for the FZR arrived and I was back up and running again on my bike. But that dear reader is the worse trip that I have experienced on a bike so far.