A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Travel StoriesBute And Kintyre 2019

Of Batteries and Glendaruel

Ride Date 17 May 2019

By Ren Withnell

I'm awake because I have something on my mind. Sharon's bike didn't go anywhere yesterday. Sharon has had her USB power bank thingy on charge under her seat. My bike hasn't been charging my power bank fully so I've had my power bank on charge under her seat too. I mean her bike battery isn't huge like a diesel car battery but there's way more then enough juice in it to charge a couple of little power banks.

The battery of Sharon's Kawasaki Z2550SL is under the rider's seat behind the tank
Yeah, plenty of juice in that lump of lead.

But then. Well my power bank is 10,000 mAh and so is hers. That's 20,000 mAh. That's, erm, 20 Amp hours. Mathematics and science. I... I... I bet her battery ain't anywhere near that. But that's 20Ah at 5v, the battery is 12v, it'll be fine. Actually when I think about it, no, no it doesn't work like that. Not at all. I wonder. Oh poop.

I cautiously start her bike. It coughs a little and sounds a little sluggish but it gets going. It's fine. Thank sweet mercy! Sharon would have torn me to shreds if I'd killed her beautiful beloved Envy. I relax as we dismantle the tent and load up the bikes. 

Ren's 500 is buried under it's load as Sharon straps her bags to the 250
Load 'em up 'n let's hit the road!

With both bikes fully laden we make to depart. Kerthunk, kerrrrrthunk, drrrrrrrrrrrr click. That, dear reader, is the sound of Sharon's motorcycle with a flat battery. And that other noise is the sound of disappointment and fear growing in me. Oh poop.

We offload the Z250SL and try in vain to bump start it. I, well, I'm hopeful but I know this is unlikely to work. Modern machines need good batteries not just for the starter but also for the fuel pump, injector and computer. I've been here before with the Fazer 600 and that was carburetted. 

Poop. Sharon asks various motor home occupants if they have jump leads. Nope. The campsite keeper? Nope. The cleaning lady? Nope. It looks like I'm taking my bike to Campbeltown aren't I.

Sharon's bags and Ren's tools spread across the grass at the campsite
Luggage off. Tools Out. No jump leads. Ren = very scared.

I am cross with myself. I should have known. The power banks may be smaller but then so are Lithium motorcycle batteries. They are more energy dense. Idiot. Fool. I am self loathing yet I notice I am remaining calm. No-one's died, there's nothing here that can't be fixed. I am an idiot but I'm not a bad person. I make a concious effort to keep my speed down and not rush. We have a surmountable issue right now, let me not make it into an insurmountable issue. 

The petrol station has a wall filled with petrol cans and no jump leads. The lady suggests "weerheenies" or something like that. "Doon the road, by the Clydesdale". I'm guessing I should be looking for something hopeful next to a Clydesdale bank? Ah, right, there's a hardware store next to the Clydesdale.

This is one of those Aladdin's Cave shops. They don't have much of everything but they do have everything. A chap leaves an aged lady in her comfortable chair and eases himself through the narrow passages. Around behind the hammers and axes, past the wood glue and G-clamps, in front of the engine oil and gloss paints and above the pick handles are 4 packets. 3 sets of jump leads at £14.99, one set at £9.99.

Panels off Sharon's bike, luggage and the box the jump leads came in
Sweet mercy, maybe I shall survive this day.

I triumphantly return to a despondent Sharon. I have to offload all my luggage to get to my battery then strip the rear seat cowls from the 250 but soon... kathunk kathunk brum brum brum! I send Sharon for a ride to Campbeltown and back to put in some charge. We keep the bike running as we rebuild the rear cowls. We keep the bike running as we load both bikes. 

As we finally actually depart the campsite I calm myself. There's brief moment of concern when we fill up in Campbeltown as Sharon needs the key to open the tank. The bike re-starts just fine. We pull on our waterproofs for the first time, the skies are distinctly grey. I don't care about the weather, I'm just thankful we're on the road.

Along with the mountain of camping kit there's now a set of jump leads on Ren's bike
More luggage and more jump leads for the collection at home.

The A83 is just as good a road heading north east. We do encounter some rain but it is light and intermittent. By the time we reach Tarbert the sun has come out again anyhow. We stop, Sharon's battery has had a good hour or 2 of charge so we should be fine. After this morning's buffoonery we still have time on our side so we treat ourselves to a proper cuppa and a sausage butty at Cafe Ca'Dora. Not cheap, but very nice. 

Calm still waters and boats at Tarbert Harbour
The tide is in, the sun is out and Tarbert looks lovely.

As we ride in the now glorious sun to Inverary I notice I'm doing it again. I'm trying too hard to enjoy myself, to soak in the surroundings and to make the utmost of this rare and splendid moment. Yes I know I'll be back in gritty Bolton in 3 days and back to work in 4. Yes I know it is beautiful with rare good weather. But stop TRYING to enjoy it and just enjoy it. That's better. I am here and it is good. I give a little extra squirt through this sweeping bend, whoosh!

We refuel at Inverary. I don't really need to and Sharon's only half empty but it's always better to be full when the stations can be far apart. We park by the harbour wall only to find the Co-op we seek is back behind the petrol station we've just departed. It is a sweaty walk back there and a sweaty walk back to the bike. Ho well, at least we have tonight's meal. 

Sharon pretends to be apprehended by a plastic prison guard at Inverary Gaol
The law has finally caught up with the nefarious Madam Parker.

A wee bit more rain finds us as we make our way to Glendaruel, the campsite we checked out on our outbound leg. This doesn't cause the road and the scenery to be any less pleasurable though. You know the drill when it comes to Scotland. Magnificent, stunning, curvy, twisting, amazing, fun, flowing, blah blah blah. I may seem flippant but there are only so many ways I can describe the place. Fabulous.
The lady at Glendaruel is welcoming once again as well as alive with refreshing energy. There's a camper's kitchen, nothing outstanding yet incredibly useful, particularly as the plug sockets have charging points. There's a covered bench or two and all this is set against massive trees of all shapes and sizes. I'd say this is a jolly good campsite for the weary motorcyclist.

Outdoor table and bench set covered in cooking kit at Glendaruel Campsite
This is outside but under cover if it's raining.
A small but well equipped kitchen at the Glendaruel campsite
Nothing more than a simple kitchen, but so damn welcome!

And yet there is tonight an issue, one that has concerned me but not come to the surface until this evening. Midges. I rapidly decide this is due to damp conditions and trees, trees, are the key, trees are where you'll find midges. You will find them if there are no trees but not in the same number as here, here among the trees. 

I come prepared. The head net and the Smidge turn what could be an itchy disaster into a minor hindrance. I notice a few get past the head net and land on my face. I can feel them but the Smidge must work as they soon depart without biting. I receive only the occasional bite by the odd adventurous beastie, presumably the meanest, hungriest ones. Did you know only the female midges bite? Make of that what you will.

This is only a wee bit unpleasant as I rustle up tonight's culinary masterpiece - pasta with chilli con carne sauce but without the carne (meat). I expect my Michelin Stars will be in the post soon. Sharon on the other hand doesn't seem overly impressed.

We wander among the trees, the wee beasties don't seem to find you if you keep moving. There is a humongous redwood, straight and dizzyingly tall. A gnarled misshapen deciduous tree that looks like it belongs on the set of medieval drama. A thick dense wood has fallen trees left to rot just as nature intended. I am mildly appreciating this, Sharon is in hippy tree hugging heaven.

A huge tall straight tree at the campsite. Apparently it's a Redwood
Now that's what I call a tree.

Share your motorcycling adventure. Or trip. Or holiday. Click Here.  

Bute And Kintyre - But Why? Ren is trying to justify why he's not taking Sharon abroad to exotic places. He blames Brexit but we all know the real reason is because he's mean and miserly.
Getting Mentally And Physically Ready Before Sharon leaves for Scotland she's both excited and yet pensive? She's normally a chilled out traveller so what is different this time?
Ayr For The Third time Familiar roads to familiar places, theoretically, if Sharon can work out which way is up.
Air Head To Ayr Sharon is having one of those days. Still, she's keeping positive and her motorcycle upright.
Boating To Bute An easy and leisurely ride up the coast of Ayrshire and an evening on the Isle of Bute.
Breathtaking Bute Sharon would like a lazy, laid back and chilled day. Unfortunately she has brought a Ren with her. He's not so bad when he stops flapping.
The Beauty of Bute Is Bute a Beaut? It's a most peculiar day to find out though. There's no rain and a big yellow thing in the sky.
The Long Way To Machrihanish Using ferries to get from Bute to Machrihanish ought to be a most pleasant and easy ride. So how do Sharon and Ren manage to turn it into an epic exploit?
Exploring The Mull Of Kintyre A little look around The Mull Of Kintyre on two wheels and a short walk that Ren makes a big thing of.
Of Batteries and Glendaruel A bit of an issue this morning. Can Ren pull himself out the poop or will Sharon simply tear him limb from limb? Serves him right for being an idiot.
It's Time To Go Home It's the saddest part of any adventure, the return home. All good things must come to an end. Fear not Ren is more than man enough to cope...?

Reader's Comments

Borsuk said :-
First time I came home after getting my Himalayan I started it as I was checking everything, pumping up the tyres etc and preparing it for use. I let her run for 5 mins to warm up intending to ride her back to my own house from my mates place. He brought out a cuppa so I switched the engine off while we had the brew and a biscuit or forty. Tea break over I went to restart and of course nothing but a clunk. Basically after sitting for a month she had one good start left in her and that was it, idling with the dipped beam on meant the power generated is getting used as fast as it is made. I walk back to my house, get the charger, plug her in and leave overnight. Next day started first time. Since then I have always left her with one of those 12v solar panels plugged into her to keep her topped up, it seems to do the business, I also have one of those backup battery sized jump start kits just in case I do something silly when out and about. I could disconnect the battery every time but its a palaver to get to and get all the wires reconnected. The charger is a smart one so I run it through a check cycle every leave. This time when I get home it will be 5 months since she was last run so I`ll get to see if the solar charger has managed to keep her alive for this long.
23/06/2019 22:19:21 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I don't have leccy in my shed, but I do have a small 12v battery connected to a couple of LEDs. They're not bright enough to work on the bikes, they're just there so I can see what I'm doing if I'm putting the bike away at night. That battery is kept "topped up" with one of them 12v solar panels and it works a treat, even in the deepest darkest depths of winter. I'm sure the battery will appreciate the tiny but essential dribble of electrons to keep it warm at night.

These modern gel acid batteries are way better than the old ones and last longer. The modern charging systems are very effective too. However, they need to be as if the battery is not 100% tip top spickety span then the modern bike won't want to play.
24/06/2019 08:53:13 UTC
Pocketpete said :-
Looks more like a Douglas fir rather than redwood......

24/06/2019 13:35:32 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Oh lordy, what would I know! Look it's very big and I was told it was a redwood. Did you know there is a redwood in Horsham, daan saaf? Well that's probably a Douglas Fir too but I was told it was a redwood.
25/06/2019 09:03:50 UTC
Bill said :-
Hi Ren do you have a charging plug such as optimate on your bike? I made a cable to plug into mine with two crocodile clips. The idea being if battery does die to save dismantle to access the battery plug in and connect to another bike, 10 mins with the other bike running charges your battery enough to start. If you and Sharons bike had plugs you could go bike to bike without any work. You can use a smaller cable than jump leads as it's only charging not starting load, so easy to store.
09/07/2019 10:03:35 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I don't have any plugs like that as such - but - we do both have cigarette lighter sockets for charging the power banks. I could create a simple lighter to lighter lead so if we face the same situation we could trickle some charge that way. Hmmm... got me thinking. Cheers Bill.
10/07/2019 08:50:50 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Firstly, my electrical knowledge is pants, ney super pants.
But, have you thought about something like this.
10/07/2019 09:43:05 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
It's more stuff to carry - you've seen my load!

The way I see it is 2 optionns.

1. As per Bill's advice a small, relatively thin wired connector between the 2 batteries. Be it XYZ or ABC plugs the idea is to give 10-50 mins of charge from the working bike to the defunct one. This, typically, should be just enough to get it going.

2. Get a power pack that can jump start - as per your link Upt' but without the other accessories. This has enough "ooomph" for a jump start and can ALSO be used as a typical power pack. As per the link...

Still thinking see. Bit thick see.
10/07/2019 16:59:38 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I would agree Ed, a power pack to run your IT and then as a just in case makes a lot of sense.
I haven't got one myself but I am very low tech once rolling through choice. But of course with staying in B and B's etc it's easier to find a plug when you need one. Even so the thought of Er'Indoors pushing the ST to bump start it makes me wonder a little more. But she used to bump start Jumbo's so I should be OK.
10/07/2019 17:43:47 UTC
Borsuk said :-
Ren. A generic jump start battery pack off ebay is much cheaper. I have one for each car and one for the boys bike. The three of them were about a tenner dearer than the Honda one.
10/07/2019 22:11:46 UTC
Bill said :-
Two of these and join them, £3 and no weight
11/07/2019 09:32:39 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Bill, you're not related to my wife are ya.
I'll just put them in as well, they don't weigh anything......but of course with the other 100 things that weigh nothing, they weigh a blummin Tonne. Or a Ton.
Considering a Scotland ride next week Bill, the West Coast is calling. Now what does the weatherman say, pfffft, what do they know.
11/07/2019 15:10:53 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Just one more thing, one more, won't take up any more room...

11/07/2019 19:55:54 UTC
Bill said :-
You guys just need the right luggage fittings on your bikes to accomodate these few extra items, or Ren you could wear less makeup
11/07/2019 20:54:42 UTC
Upt'North said :-
He needs all the help he can get, now where are his hair straighteners.
12/07/2019 09:37:58 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I say that 3 (4?) wheel add-on seems very well made. I'm not convinced about the additional wheels' swingarm pivot though, it appears to be nuts, bolts and washers. Other than that I think it's a cracking idea. Not so sure if Sharon will let me make one for her Kwakker though, even if it would mean she could carry more kit.

Regarding hair straighteners Upt'. Fear not, Sharon and I share hers, saving on unnecessary baggage.
12/07/2019 13:58:38 UTC

Post Your Comment Posts/Links Rules



Add a RELEVANT link (not required)

Upload an image (not required) -

No uploaded image
Real Person Number
Please enter the above number below

Home Travel StoriesBute And Kintyre 2019

Admin -- -- Service Records Ren's Nerding Blog