Friday, July 22, 2016

Graham Lampkin goes 2 L N Back with his Royal Enfield,
but the electronic ignition finishes up its trip early

Graham Lampkin (center) hoped to ride off-road through Spain and France on his Royal Enfield.
Chris Nutter, left, would accompany him on a BSA, with Richard Higgins driving the van.
In 2014, Graham Lampkin rode from East Lancashire to the Shetland Islands and back, using as much off-road as possible, to raise money for Cancer Research. In 2016 he planned a longer trip, starting in Spain and riding back over the Pyrenees and up through France. Being something of a Royal Enfield fan, he built himself the Troglobike – a variety of 500cc Royal Enfield parts in a roughly green-lane-shaped — er— shape.

Then he set off, the goal again to ride off road or on the smallest roads possible, to aid Cancer Research. (You can still contribute to his campaign.)

This is his story:

First of two parts

With hindsight (a wonderful thing), the gods (which ever you believe in) were trying to tell us something.

Due to other pressures, I had very little time to prepare Troggy, but two weeks before the off I was riding it in the Yorkshire Dales Long Distance Trial, and consoled myself that would show up any weak points.

On the day Troggy started willingly to ride to scrutineering, passed fine and we started up again and rode back to the van. At set-off time, it started first kick to ride to the start and, five seconds later, stopped! No spark. I couldn’t manage to get it going so I came home.

In the workshop I still couldn’t find anything wrong, but after an hour or so of fiddling I remade an earth and the spark returned. Over the next couple of weeks the bike started easily and passed a couple of road tests. How much fun can a lad take?

Perhaps at this point I should explain that when I built the bike I fitted for reliability and neatness an electronic ignition system made by a well know firm. It has a CDI coil for ignition (self generating) and supplies 50w of power.

In January I emailed them to tell them of the impending trip, to offer them the opportunity to sponsor us and also asking them to have spares ready to send out should anything fail (by this time I had heard several scary stories of these units). I got no reply.

Various people and firms had really helped out in a practical and financial way. In particular Venhill and Regina even supplied cables and chain free of charge.

Six days before we were due to sail, the boat taking us to Santander broke down. The following day my van broke down. How much fun can a lad take?

We got around the boat problem by sailing to Caen and driving to Santander in the van (thanks and well done Chris). On the same sailing from Portsmouth was a van carrying the new Brough Superior "what it may have been today." Mmmm, a reported £47,000!!!

A resident of Accrington came over for a chat. He said he had recently been to a funeral and named the deceased: it was a guy I used to work with— spooky!

We arrived at the first night's digs in Spain on the Sunday. A rustic place, but it met our needs. We started to learn about the alternative eating habits in Spain – a late lunch snack and an evening meal picnic from a supermarket in Richard’s room.

Graham's home built Royal Enfield off-road machine begins the first day with a flat tire.
Monday morning we got the bikes out and Troggy was sulking again with a flat rear tire. Oh well, let’s fix it.

Chris and I donned riding gear and arranged to meet Richard later that day in the van. Slight navigation hitch to start with and we were off, bikes running well and our spirits rising.

After a while (36 miles) and before the first off-road section, Chris stopped me to amend our speed (this was the first time that we had actually ridden the two bikes together). When we tried to carry on, Troggy’s dummy really went flying — completely out of sight. No spark again.

Graham and his Royal Enfield (right) set off after lunch the first day.
They would not go much farther under power.
We freewheeled downhill to the village of Carrena, trying to bump start — not a sausage. An hour later, it restarted, but by this time Richard and the van had arrived so we decided to have lunch.

Before leaving Britain I had heard of similar symptoms with these electronic units failing to restart when the engine was hot but then restarting after cooling. So after lunch I set out again (first kick) with the van following. Through the village of Poo (coincidence only I assure you) the bike just cut out.

In the van with it in disgust and off to the digs for the next two nights. That night every conceivable effort was made to re-instate a spark, but to no avail.

The B&B was excellent — thanks Lisa and Mike — they provided an excellent meal each evening. I recommend Casa Gustavo if you’re in the Picos. It was recommended to me by Simon, the Spanish Biker ('cos he lives there!), who helped no end with planning the Spanish route. Spot on Simon.

Next: What now?

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