Scotland’s North Coast 500 (NC500) – In 2 Days (Day 2/4)

Scotland's North Coast 500 : NC500 : Ride Report

Disclaimer : Having completed the Wild Atlantic Way in under a week I thought a reasonable time period to complete the North Coast 500 would be two days. However you will notice that this ride report actually covers four days – so what’s that about? Well it’s simply about travel. One day to get to the start and one day takes me home. So really it’s a four day trip to Scotland, during which I completed the NC500 in two.

Download the NC500 GPS File Here : http://www.tbni.blog/downloads/North-Coast-500.gpx

Day 2 : 30/07/2016 : Inverness – Scourie : Day 2 of the trip is actually Day 1 of the NC500 route and after the glorious day we had travelling over to Scotland I was so very hopeful for more of the same for the start of the actual NC500. However it was not to be. As any resident, or visitor, with experience of the United Kingdom, Ireland, British Isles, outlying islands will be all to aware – the weather is changeable – and it had changed. What was blue skies, fluffy white clouds and sunshine had been replaced by grey – and to make things that little bit worse all that grey was now wet – wet and grey.

We started off with the easy choice for breakfast – a nearby Morrison’s Supermarket for a fry. The grub was decent, but the tea was horrible. I blame the UHT milk, for goodness sake – surely a supermarket should be able to stretch to proper fresh milk for the tea? It took ages for the food as well which meant we weren’t getting on the road until just after 10:00 am. This late start would bite us later, so if you are planning on following a similar timescale get moving earlier. This is a pretty long day.

Read moreScotland’s North Coast 500 (NC500) – In 2 Days (Day 2/4)

2017 Motorcycle Live Review – MCL in a Day – from Northern Ireland

Motorcycle Live is probably the UK’s biggest Motorcycle Show and follows closely on the heels of the big European shows – as such it is normally the first opportunity that we in the UK get to look at all the goodies the manufacturers are planning on bring out in 2018.

That makes it a pretty exciting show for UK bike fans.

Coming from Northern Ireland though it is quite a trek to get to, and it means a really early start to get the most out of the day.

I have been going over for a good few years and I had pretty much perfected the routine of getting up early getting to Belfast for a 7.30 am flight – getting into Birmingham, getting fed and getting into the event for the doors opening at 10.00 am. The flights would have cost about £70 for the return fare – Motorcycle Live and a Programme is about £30 so all in it was about £100 for the day.

This year though I went a little different. I was able to pick up flights for £19.98 for the return with Ryanair – then the £30 for the show and programme meaning the full day was costing a mere £50 ish. The only trade off was the start time and travelling.

The flight was at 6.55 am so I had to get up at 3.00 am and head to Dublin Airport. That got me in at about 7.40 am. So 2 hours 20 minutes before the show starts. Then it was time for my best kept secret. Off the plane and up the stairs in the Airport for a Frankie and Benny’s breakfast. Every year everyone hurries off the plane and rushes to the adjoining NEC – I however go upstairs, sit down and enjoy a tasty breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs (the eggs by the way are outstanding). That was my plan this year as well although it now seems that this well kept secret has been rumbled – half the damn plane went! However the most important thing remains – the eggs were outstanding!

With breakfast eaten and thoroughly enjoyed it was still only 08.30 am. An hour and a half until the doors open, so bring a book, magazine, iPad or whatever to pass the time, or if like me you like a little flutter you could always check out the casino at the Genting Arena, about 5 minutes of a walk will take you to it from the NEC – so hop on the fun little monorail and zip over to the NEC and pass the time.

Before we even consider going any further here is the most important tip for the day :

Bring your Driving Licence.

I forgot mine!

Read more2017 Motorcycle Live Review – MCL in a Day – from Northern Ireland

Griffin Survivor Extreme : iPhone X Case – Unboxing and Review

Griifin Survivor Extreme iPhone X
Griifin Survivor Extreme iPhone X

Another iPhone and another chance for Griffin to produce a new version of their hugely popular, successful and extremely protective Survivor Case.

In fact the traditional Survivor Case is now actually a range of cases. There is a Survivor Extreme, Survivor Strong, Survivor Clear, Survivor Prime, Survivor Fit and coming soon there is a Survivor All-Terrain. With the exception of the latter the above list goes from most rugged to least. Least by the way does not mean none, the survivor fit is tested for a 2.1 metre drop so is certainly no slouch.

This review though focuses on the Griffin Survivor Extreme.

I managed to pick this up off Amazon at a bargain £21, the RRP being £47 on the Griffin website and Amazon are now selling it for closer to the £40 mark.

It arrived next day (thank you Prime) and I was excited to get at it. I have used a Griffin Survivor before, although I think it was about the era of my iPhone 5. I remember it as a proper rugged case, I had no issues whatsoever with it, it really is remembered fondly.

Griffin Survivor Range iPhone 5
Griffin Survivor Range iPhone 5

Look at that range – it was a great case and I remember correctly – it was the case I got for my iPhone 5 on release day :

http://tbni.blog/2012/09/22/griffin-survivor-iphone-5-unboxing-and-initial-thoughts-and-reviews/

In fact after a little searching I was even rocking one of these on my iPhone 4 :

http://tbni.blog/2012/08/23/griffin-survivor-iphone-44s-case-thoughts-and-photos/

But times have changed – we are now at the iPhone X, my needs haven’t really changed though – I still need a good rugged case and when I seen this Griffin Survivor Survivor Extreme (especially at the price I paid) I thought my problems were solved.

Read moreGriffin Survivor Extreme : iPhone X Case – Unboxing and Review

iPhone X : A Week Later

iPhone X - 3rd November 2017
iPhone X – 3rd November 2017

Rather than do an unboxing video or solo gallery of the new iPhone X I have decided to combine a gallery with my initial thoughts and a very short term review.

I have had the iPhone X a week, having been lucky enough to get one on release day (3rd November 2017), and I’ll be straight up – I am impressed.

I’ll also be honest – it is damned expensive!  A 256 GB model will set you back £1149 and if you want AppleCare it’s another £199 – so thats £1348 for a phone with 2 years piece of mind!  If you dont want piece of mind just throw your eyes over this repair price list – it may (or may not) sway your decision on AppleCare.  Personally I get AppleCare on all my Apple devices – (something I have never actually had reason to use) whether you do or not is obviously a personal choice however at these prices some sort of insurance seems like a no-brainer.

iPhone X Screen and Repairs Pricing
iPhone X Screen and Repairs Pricing

Full details on AppleCare – what it covers, and what it doesn’t and how much you pay can be found here : https://support.apple.com/en-gb/iphone/repair/service/pricing

Read moreiPhone X : A Week Later

Quick Review : TI Ballpoint – Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus

I have reviewed a few pens on this site and pens are one of my frequent searches on crowd funding sites.  So when you couple a pen with Titanium, I am instantly interested.

This was however an eBay find, but I believe it started its life on Kickstarter as a Titanium pen that accepts 35 refills without any modification.  A plug and play pen : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/klinkokids/ti-ballpoint-pen-stylus-refill-friendly-titanium-p

TI Ballpint Pen Accepts over 35 Refills
TI Ballpint Pen Accepts over 35 Refills

It was well funded back in 2014 – looking $10,000 and ending up with over $38,500.

If you got in early enough you could have picked up the early bird at $59.  They currently sell for about $75 on their website.

I picked mine up for an absolute bargain price of £15 – brand new and unused on eBay!  Result!

Read moreQuick Review : TI Ballpoint – Solid Titanium Pen + Stylus

Review : Tech21 Impact Clear Rear Case for Apple iPad Pro 10.5

Disclosure : I purchased this case direct from the Apple Store for £59.95 (GBP), the review is my own as are my thoughts on the product. 

With that said let me say I am a huge fan of Tech21 and the gear they put out.  I have a Tech21 case on both my iPad Mini (2nd Gen) and my iPhone 7 Plus – both are still in perfect condition and their Tech21 cases have kept them looking effectively unused.  It was then a no brainer for me that I would use a Tech21 case for my iPad Pro 10.5.

Off I trotted to the Apple Store in Belfast and picked up the Tech 21 Impact Clear (Rear) Case – costing a whopping £59.95 (GBP).

Prior to this I was using a : MoKo Case for iPad Pro 10.5http://amzn.eu/3umECES (NOT AN AFFILIATE LINK).

The Moko Case was great – a bargain in fact, however it wasn’t Smart Keyboard compatible.  I had purchased a Smart Keyboard so needed a case that would work with it.

So along came the Tech21 Impact Clear (Rear) Case :

Tech21 Impact Clear (Rear) Case
Tech21 Impact Clear (Rear) Case

Read moreReview : Tech21 Impact Clear Rear Case for Apple iPad Pro 10.5

Lush! Classical 2017 : Saturday 7th October 2017

Lush! Classical 2017 : Belfast, SSE Arena, Northern Ireland, Saturday 7th October 2017
Lush! Classical 2017 : Belfast, SSE Arena, Northern Ireland, Saturday 7th October 2017

The Place : Belfast, Northern Ireland

The Date : Saturday 7th October 2017

The Stadium : SSE Arena

The Event : Lush! Classical 2017

Lush! Classical 2017 : Belfast, SSE Arena, Northern Ireland, Saturday 7th October 2017
Lush! Classical 2017 : Belfast, SSE Arena, Northern Ireland, Saturday 7th October 2017

Following on from the huge success of the first ever (and 20th birthday celebration of Lush!) Lush! Classical – this year things got bigger, louder and longer!  With the capacity raising from 5000 to 10,000 people – every seat in the house being sold and the Ulster Orchestra increasing their set size to 90 minutes the result was outstanding.

10,000 clubbers were fully entertained – and not by a DJ, but by an orchestra who were busting out Classic Dance track after Classic Dance track – it was amazing!

If you weren’t there, why not?  If you were no doubt you’ll be there next year too!

Well done to the Ulster Orchestra and Lush!

Loved it!

This video in no way does the event justice, however it will hopefully give you a little taster of what an amazing event it was!  If you where there then hopefully it will be a reminder of the night – See you in 2018!

Lush! Classical 2017 : Belfast, SSE Arena, Northern Ireland, Saturday 7th October 2017
Lush! Classical 2017 : Belfast, SSE Arena, Northern Ireland, Saturday 7th October 2017

 

Iron Butt Association : Circuit of Ireland

According to Wikipedia : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Butt_Association

The Iron Butt Association (IBA) is a US-based organization dedicated to endurance motorcycle riding with a claim of over 60,000 members worldwide who tout themselves as the “World’s Toughest Riders.” One of its more popular slogans is “The World Is Our Playground.”

The IBA does have membership in a traditional sense. There are monthly newsletters sent to subscribed members. There are no mandatory yearly dues, although members can voluntarily pay an annual fee to become a premiere member. Premiere members receive occasional news and information from the IBA staff, early notice of some events, additional chances to enter some events, discounted entry fees for some events, and access to special areas of the web-based discussion board.

The IBA is a loose-knit organization with only one way to earn membership: ride one of the several rides the IBA certifies.

All that sounds pretty accurate. You can check out the official IBA Websites here :

Iron Butt Association Web Page : http://www.ironbutt.com

Iron Butt Association UK Web Page : https://www.ironbutt.co.uk/w3/index.php

Iron Butt Association Ireland Web Page : http://www.ibaireland.org

It was this bit that got me : ‘with only one way to earn membership : ride one of the several rides the IBA Certifies.’

 

Read moreIron Butt Association : Circuit of Ireland

Alpine Hearing Protection : MotoSafe : Review

I think pretty much every motorcyclist now accepts that hearing protection is an essential piece of kit.

For years it was a very neglected part of motorcycle safety, however now we are well aware of the dangers of prolonged exposure to loud noises. In fact some reports state that a mere 30 minutes of exposure to motorcycle engine noise is dangerous enough to potentially cause long term damage to a person’s ears.

Being honest though I came a little late to the hearing protection idea.

However since starting using hearing protection I have been using or rather trying out a lot of different options, from disposables to a pretty expensive custom fitted set of ear plugs and struggled to find my ideal set. I found the disposables pretty good – however they tended to work their way out of my ear over a pretty short period of time. Comfort wise I found them spot on, but there isn’t much point in wearing something that doesn’t stay in your ear.

Then take the custom made ear plugs. I got these in work so didn’t personally fork out for them – thankfully. I have no doubt they offer top class protection however they are so uncomfortable that they actually verge on painful – and that pain comes quickly, maybe after an hour or two my ears and head are thumping.

Then I have tried numerous reusable options -which all have a similar look to this reviewed product :

Read moreAlpine Hearing Protection : MotoSafe : Review

2017 MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix : Saturday Race Session Results and Timings

When the Roads Close : Ulster Grand Prix and Dundrod 150 Road Races

For full and detailed qualifying times check out :

Wednesday 9th August 2017 Practice and Qualifying Sessions :

https://tbni.blog/2017/08/11/2017-mce-insurance-ulster-grand-prix-qualifying-session-wednesday-9th-august-2017/

Thursday 10th August 2017 Practice and Qualifying Sessions :

https://tbni.blog/2017/08/11/2017-mce-insurance-ulster-grand-prix-qualifying-session-dundrod-150-races-thursday-10th-august-2017/

Thos previous 2 days of qualifying have brought us to the 2017 Ulster Grand Prix Saturday Race Day and here’s how that panned out.

The schedule was as follows :

Ulster Grand Prix Race Schedule 2017
Ulster Grand Prix Race Schedule 2017

It really was an epic day’s racing the highlights for me were two fold.  Firstly – Bruce Anstey taking a Superbike win and secondly – Davy Morgan taking the lightweight win on his 250 Honda!  Epic.   Make sure to check out my galleries from every qualifying session and each race!  Lat year I was disappointed in the Ulster Grand Prix for many reasons, however that is all in the past, the 2017 UGP Saturday Race Day was – simply – outstanding.

Bruce Anstey wanted his overlap record back and he got it with a 3.18:249 lap – that’s an average speed of 134.396 mph.  However that record only sttod for a lap then Dean Harrison came in with a blingingly quick 134.614 mph lap that took 3.17:928 minutes complete and also took the overall lap record.

Another absolutely noteworthy rider is Peter Hickman – his first outing on the roads and already a Superbike win (and a couple of others) already under his belt

Check out my Facebook Page for a few videos – every race is featured :

https://www.facebook.com/tbnicouk/

But without further ado here are the results for each race :

Read more2017 MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix : Saturday Race Session Results and Timings