1) First round trip distance 983kms, Sat 11th Oct 0700hrs-Mon 13th Oct 1030hrs. Manila-Baguio City-Bontoc-Banaue Rice Terraces and back.
2) Trip home (including wrong ways!) 891kms, Tues 14th Oct 1130hrs- Thurs 16th Oct 1200hrs. Manila-Batangas Port (Luzon island)-Ferry-Calapan (Mindoro island)-Puerta Gallera (wrong turning!)-Roxas (Mindoro island)- Ferry- Caticlan (Panay island)-Dumangas Port (Panay island)-Ferry- Bacalod City (Negros island)- San Carlos City-Dumaguete City (Negros island).
Actually, the whole point of this ‘little’ escapade was to put on enough klicks on the new bike, to get the 1000km service done in the Manila dealers, before leaving for home. (Thereby, saving a mechanic having to fly down to where I live in central Philippines, at my expense, I know, typically Aberdonian, okay enough already!)
Even though my wife wasn’t willing to join me on this ‘jaunt’, (which turned out to be quite lucky I think), she also expressed, in no uncertain terms, that she believed that I was a completely witless moron who was just asking for trouble etc etc!
Thus, with her usual, subtle observations still ringing in my ears, “Bye @rsehole, enjoy yourself and don’t bother calling me if you break down”, I boarded the morning Philippines Airlines flight from Dumaguete to Manila, blissfully ignorant of the trials and tribulations that would confront me over the next week!
Arriving into the “Big Smoke” around 10:30 am, impatiently waiting in a taxi (whose airconditioning had decided to give up the ghost, almost as soon as I had entered it), I was immediately confronted with the traffic gridlock, which is Manila.
Getting to the dealer, Access Plus, around 12 noon, I handed over the G-2 throttle cam and the Stiebel Nautilus to be fitted asap. “When do you need the bike then?”, asked the maintenance superviser, “Tomorrow morning, please” I replied. After he stopped laughing and picked himself up off the floor, the immortal words “Yea right sir!”, were the only things offered. Looking around I could see why too, there were more Ducati’s in pieces sitting around, than after a first qualifying lap at a WSB championship round . “With a lot of luck, maybe tomorrow night sir, we’ll just text you” and with that I left the showroom, fairly despondent.
Stumbling into a local biker hostelry, the Handlebar, in Makati the CBD of Manila, a friend of mine from home, introduced me to the president of the Mad Dog's MC. Commenting on the fact I hoped to be leaving on my trip by early Saturday morning, he invited me to ride with them out of Manila up the North Luzon Expressway, so at least I could start out in the right direction!
Having 'quaffed a few ales', I stumbled out of the hostelry elated, the night was young, too many glittering lights for an old country boy like me to ignore, not to mention, way, way too much to drink and the prospect of:-
Waking up the next afternoon, I had already received a text from the dealer, “Come at 5:30pm please, all will be revealed”. And it was:-
Deciding discretion being the better part of valour, I had an easy night ahead of the journey. Got up at 5:30 the next morning, packed the bike and headed off to meet the Mad Dogs MC at a Shell station on the main circular road, EDSA. Despite looking distinctly out of place amongst the Harley lads, I was given a warm welcome, but told to stay at the back, so as not to embarass them! (Who? Moi?)
Well, off we set in formation at 7:00am, through packed Manila traffic, albeit a Saturday morning, at speeds a fraction under 120kph. "They trying to lose me, the b@stards!", was my first thought, but no, this is what was normal apparently. (I didn't even know, Harleys could do that sort of speed and not blow something up.) Out of Manila and onto the North Luzon Expressway, for about 20kms, as we pulled into a service area to meet up with a few of their lads living on the north side, my heart sank. All was not well with the KTM, one of the Akro's was not roaring as usual and there was a strange metallic tinkle from the front. Parking the bike, I stepped round the front and all was revealed.......
One of the retaining nuts on the front exhaust manifold retaining ring had come loose and exited stage left somewhere down the expressway. The front pipe had come loose and moved despite the other nut still hanging in there (just). Letting the bike cool down abit, I tried to push the exhaust back and reset the retaining ring, no go. The Mad Dogs MC members, stood quietly by, sadly shaking their heads, I'm sure someone actually said "Should have bought a Harley mate!".
A frantic text message and a call to the owner of the dealership, resulted in a pair of sleepy eyed mechanics turning up an hour later and 'doing their thing'.
They replaced almost every other nut on the bike they could, with self tightening ones too, obviously having had enough of getting out of bed early on a Saturday morning to help this witless foreigner. Slipping them a huge UKP2.00 tip for their troubles, they slipped off quietly, like 'rats from a sinking ship'! Even the Mad Dogs had given up on me and left.
(To be continued.....)