In the Bleak Mid Winter – Out and About on a YZF600R Thundercat

Late January 2024 and it’s beginning to feel like it has been raining forever. The sky is grey, and world is dark and dank. The UK is just recovering from being battered by a series of named storms and everyone is skint after Christmas. We are all waiting for pay day as if it is US7th cavalry coming over the hill to rescue us.

Stir Crazy

Like many of us I have not ridden my bike for a couple of months, and I am now getting a little ‘stir-crazy’ to say the least of it, Right now all the usual suspect keyboard warriors will bleat on about how they ride all year around and are ‘real bikers’. That’s lovely; you crack on! I’ll leave that rather pointless debate to others.

More importantly I awoke on Sunday morning to be greeted by what I think is called sunshine and temperatures nudging towards double-digits. The recent rain at least had the benefit of washing away much of the salt that been spread on our roads too! Time to get the bike out!

First Outing

Before I knew it, having rescued the poor old thing from behind/under a pile of detritus I was on the bike and heading out for the first time in 2024. Man, it felt so, so good! Liking catching up with an old mate you have not seen in years. My venerable 1998 Yamaha Thundercat was purring along sweetly. I was a little concerned that stale fuel (3 months old) would give rise to issues with the fuel system and poor running. However, sticking to E5 seems to have staved that off.

A thirty mile wander around my corner of Worcestershire/Shropshire border country was great. I didn’t go mad. The state of our pothole strewn roads saw to that. I had to resort to the ‘council-line’ around many corners to avoid the worst of the craters and pot-holes.

Popping In

But it still felt good to be out. The weak winter sunshine gently illuminating on the charming and quintessentially English landscape that serves as my backdrop today.

I popped in a local classic car meeting; there were a few other bikes and scooters there too. From there I made my way over to The Danery. This is a pub aiming to be a go-to place for local petrol heads of both two and four wheeled allegiance. Check it out on the A448 just outside Bridgnorth.

My trusty 1998 Yamaha YZF600R Thundercat. I have owned this bike for 24 years!

Good variety at the car meet

Ducati S2R800 reminding of my much missed 1000cc example

Meaty Triumph 1050 Speed Triple

CCM Spitfire

Scooters arrived as a pack. Cool Ford Consul custom 

Tidy AJS

The Danery

Foodstop Cafe

I finished off my little mini-adventure by calling in that well known local biker haunt, The Foodstop Café at Quatt, again on the A448. I was amused to note there were dozens of bikes outside. Obviously, many others had the same idea as me! I drove past last weekend in the car, and it was all but deserted as the rain poured down from a leaden sky.

Thundercat at The Foodstop Cafe. It’s the Law

As is usually the case there was a great variety of bikes to look at. In effect a free bike show! Goldwing, TZR250, MZ, BSA Bantams, Busa’s R1s etc. Superb to see. However, the downside of this is a big queue for drinks and a buttie. I was on a bit of a timescale so couldn’t wait sadly. Just means I will have to come back all the sooners!

Superbike Selection

Two takes on the lightweight two stroke…MZ Saxon and TZR250

Behemoth Honda GL1800 Goldwing


Pretty little Bantam

The Suzuki TL1000S. Rotary damper…

Royal Enfield 500 EFI

I rounded off the ride with an enjoyable 11 miles squirt home. Even my favourite sequence of bends was clear of both traffic and pot-holes. The Thundercat ran remarkably well considering it’s period of inactivity and I was pleased my bike gear still fitted. Well at least as well as it did last year…

That’s it then: 2024 kicked off! Here’s to more fun miles for all of us over the spring and summer!

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly