The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
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So you've done it - got inspired, planned your trip, packed your stuff and you're on the road! This section is about staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. And crossing borders, war zones or oceans!
On the Road! is 5.5 hours of the tips and advice you need to cross borders, break down language barriers, overcome culture shock, ship the bike and deal with breakdowns and emergencies."Just makes me want to pack up and go!" See the trailer here!
Tire Changing!Grant demystifies the black art of Tire Changing and Repair to help you STAY on the road! "Very informative and practical." See the trailer here!
Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
"It has me all fired up to go out on my own adventure!" See the trailer here!
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Ride TalesAn easy way to post your ride reports, whether it's a weekend ride or around the world.
Please make the first words of the title WHERE the ride is.
See the announcement in the forum for details on posting.
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Cock-a-doodle-doo, cock-a-doodle-doo, cock-a-doodle....................... CLICK!
“2 o’clock already, it can’t be!” (My first Big Mistake, who starts a 4 day ride at 2 in the morning?).
Up, washed, teeth cleaned, grollies & long sleeve t-shirt on, short sleeve t-shirt in hand, I say bye to Jeannie then pop in and kiss the little ones bye, bye. See you on Monday Pobsey see you Monday Ben look after your Mum & Sister for me, neither stir as I had down stairs.
Within 15 minutes I’m riding out of the garage heading for another “LD adventure” with my best mate Ron. I’m still wondering which way to ride to London, M62 then M6 or M1 when I remember the RBLR 1000 last week end & how great the A1(M) was, decision made. It’s off across the M62 straight into a 50mph single lane “Great”..............
Tootling along the M62 with the steady flow of trucks gives me time to recap what had gone into getting this far. It also gave me time to adjust this bloody balloon I’m sat on. Too much air in the Air Hawk and I’m nearly 2” in the air and moving around as if not even connected to the bike. It feels strange. Letting air out helps a little but at this early stage I’m not overly impressed (an opinion which would take almost 3000km to change) but change it did.
The new ear plugs, which had arrived in the post with the Air Hawk the previous morning, felt very comfortable but at 28db they are just too loud (note to self, only use on short ride).
Pulling off the M25 towards Tilbury I hit reserve, well chuffed 260 miles to the tank. I filled up at Morrison’s before heading to meet Ron who was up and ready for the off. Big Hug (manly of cause), a coffee & guided tour of his new BMW GSA, finally a radio check, something we ended up doing, A LOT!
It’s not long before we’re heading to Dover. Chatting away checking we have both got the same route, Ron is running in KM’s I’m in Miles.
“Ron, Ron, my radio keeps clicking when you try & talk to me”
“Ron.................................!” Here we go!
We pull into the next services on the A2,
“I can’t hear you”
“I know, I’ll check the radio, it keeps clicking when you talk to me”
“This isn’t a great start we’re not even out the UK yet”
“It’ll be right, it’ll have to be”
Switching my radio off & back on fixes the problem.
We arrive at Dover docks 5 hours early for our 1pm ferry, so after paying again for the next ferry we were on the dock side looking for our first ride witness’s.
So the plan, to attend the RTE in Gibraltar, riding an SS2000km there & a BBG2500km on the way back. Well that was plan A which changed to plan B, a BBG2500, then plan C, back to an SS2000 then to plan D, a SS1600 & finally to plan D, the BB2500 which were eventually complete the following night. Who says you can’t change your mind on the hoof? They are lying, we are living proof.
A couple of lads arrive behind us on the dock side, brilliant our Start Witnesses. It’s not long before we’re chatting & as soon as they hear what we are doing they are more than happy to sign our forms. So started our “Multi-National” Start / End receipt collection. Paul is a Canadian from Medicine Hat in Canada, a place Ron & I have both spent time in whilst serving as chef’s in the Army, Rod is an Italian.
That's Paul our Canadian Start Witness behind the bikes.
The crossing consisted of a “Full English” with coffee and a very long chat with a bunch of riders heading to Assen for the racing. One thing becomes very apparent to us both as we chat with the other bikers. Everyone thinks we are mad!!! Riding to Gibraltar for dinner and a photo, “you must be bonkers!”
“Right come on let’s get a start receipt”
“OK, where to?”
“I’ll follow you” (something I was to do for the next 4 days). It was Ron’s ride as he had planned the route & is collecting sponsorship for Bliss ( www.Bliss.org.uk ).
Start receipt obtained from Mac Donald’s we head back to the bikes. Ron sparks up a tab! 10 minutes later we’re heading south for Bordeaux. The roads are clear and we make good progress, “God” how IAM does that sound. Riding together is so natural as if we do it every day, filtering the same, steady away, taking in the French country side. The Garmin says we have at least 4 hours in the bag, will it be enough?
“How many signs are there for Bordeaux?”
"It's that way"
I start counting but by 35 it’s quite apparent, the French just love putting up signs for Bordeaux.
“Ron, I fed up of France now”
“Yep, me too”
“How much further is it to the Spanish border?”
“About an hour”
“Sweet , can’t wait, fancy a coffee?”
“Yep, 25km do you?”
We pull in for a coffee and notice the “time in the bag”, (arrival time before 24 hour dead line) is slipping away fast, time for a rethink possibly. We chat for a while about my next ride the European End to End which I have planned for July. The outcome being, we are going to ride it together next year. I know this is the right thing to do as I’m missing everyone at home, Ben as already told Jeannie he is missing his Dad doesn’t want him to go away again. This is my third ride in 2 weeks & I felt it when I was packing the bike up on Thursday morning. Torn between knowing I would be missing Jeannie, Lilie Rose & Ben & honouring my commitment to ride with Ron. One thing is clear everyone in the Walton household will be over the moon with this decision.
Decision made we will ride the European End to End next year.
Crossing the border was quick and easy & then the ride took on a whole new aspect.
I’ve ridden bikes all over Europe for years & I always thought Germany had by far and away the best roads, services and some of the best views anywhere. That was all to change in the coming few days. Spain is “amazing” the roads are out of this world. It’s as if the person who drew up the road plan for the whole of Spain was a biker. Long smooth curves carved out of the mountain side, tunnels with smooth sweeping bends in them, road surfaces like nothing I have come across outside of Germany. This was turning into a “dream ride”.
Amazing Road although we rode down the mountain road, on the left which was even better, but still the same road (Ron tells me!)
One constant reminder the down side of having roads that resembled well prepared race tracks were the never ending, “S”shaped skid marks, especially in the corners. All of which ended as abruptly as they had started, with a very shiny new section of steel crash barrier. The following day I was almost to become a shiny new section.
Heading south over the mountains we rode straight into a torrential rain storm which soaked us to the bone so we pulled into the services at 2 in the morning. Rocket fuel coffee & a quite a few strange looks from anyone who was still awake we put our clobber back on and started back out. Neither of us was very happy at the point. Within 3 hours I gave Ron the shout.
“Listen mate, I’m chin strapped, just had a big blink”
“I know what you mean, what do you want to do?”
“Times against us for the SS2000, but to be honest, I need to get my head down”
“Sorted, I’ll pull over at the next services”
“One good thing, at least it’s stopped raining”
Have you ever had that gut wrenching feeling when you just know things aren’t going to plan? Well I just got it right there on Autovia del Norte on the E5.
It was then that I started to drift, only slightly but enough.
“Big Lad, You OK?”
“Yes, I’m stopping here”
“Good!” I’d been on the road 27 hours, I needed some shut eye.
We pulled over into a service area which turned out to be
B) Deserted, except for two other trucks &
C) Massive, with automatic switching football stadium flood lights all the way round.
It was like riding through the scene of the Matrix where all the lights come on as you pass them lighting your way, then switch off behind you just as fast.
We found a traffic island near one corner and pulled up at the side of it and got off. Doss bags out in a flash, the floor was already dry so with soaking wet clothes & boots still on I got in. Within a minute I was out of it. I woke to a glorious sunny day, bone dry and refreshed. Ron was having a tab and taking pictures of............. “me”.
Wakee, wakee, rise & shine. Hands off c**** on socks.
Well that was the SS2000 out the window; we both got an end receipt for a SS1600 at the next services from a Spanish lad. He was taking his mates with their Huskivaria Trials bike, back home. Ron & I had packed up outside a MacDonalds for breakfast but on seeing the car park decided to cross the road with our bikes and get a sandwich from the garage. We parked either side the lads’ trials bike and showed them our print out of where we were going and where we come from. Yes, same response in Spanish as in English “You’re mad, for lunch and picture, Bonkers” but he signed the form and after Ron had finished his “tab” we hit the road again.
The radios behaved themselves quite well on the rest of the ride down to Gibraltar, that is until we were 52 km short of the rock.
“Ron you need to stay left ahead” Meaning stay in the middle lane and we would be OK!
No response and we’re almost at the fork in the motorway.
“RON! LEFT, LEFT, LEFT”
Oh stuff it , I carried on left, Ron right. He’ll be right I thought, round the roundabout at the bottom and back up. I pulled in a rest area. I waited, giving the radio a shout every few minute but knowing it would be useless. Lid off, mobile out, I called him
“Ron where are you?”
“Where are you?” Not the response I wanted but knew I was going to get!
“I’m parked up on at the next rest area”
“Why didn’t you follow me?”
‘I’d committed to the bend’ plus I was fed up of doing fly by’s. This was about the third so far, the Garmin 660 showed its true colours with the ‘lane assist’ giving me loads of time to react to junctions where as Ron was using the 550. The refresh rate is nowhere near as fast and with no ‘lane assist’ he had done well to only miss a couple of unimportant junctions.
Zooming out on the Garmin showed me that Ron would re join the motorway 5 km ahead of me so I set off to hopefully meet him at the next junction or toll. As it happened we had a number of fraught mobile conversations, very fraught at my end as one thing the Garmin 660 does not do well is connect my mobile very well, or it could be the boom microphone in my helmet. Well, to cut a long story short, we rode the last and most important 50 km alone into Gibraltar. Ron thinking I was in front and me thinking he was ‘somewhere’. I filled up thinking I was in Gibraltar, Ron rang.
“Are you in Gib?”
“Yes, I...............” The phone went dead!
As it happened I wasn’t. I was in Cadiz a metropolis of narrow one way streets, four way junctions and T junctions where whoever arrived at them first had right away. Mad!!! Going through customs at Gibraltar is quite bazaar, it’s like riding back though Dover with all the police in UK uniforms on the other side. I asked if they had seen a guy on a BMW GSA ride through, “Maybe”. That helped, -not!
I arrived at the Lower Chair Lift in Gibraltar at 1745 hours, with 15 minutes to spare. Riding past I couldn’t see anyone but heard a bike horn, Phillipe. We shook hands and I explained Ron would be along shortly. We rode on the Europa Point, Phillipe leading the way, pullover slung around the shoulders like a local, cool as you like. All I could think about was “Where was Big Lad”.
As we rounded the last corner to the car park, low and behold there he was parked up. I was well chuffed,
“You Ok Big Lad?”
“Ron?” What’s up?”
“I’m pissed off”
Europa Point in Gibraltar was horrendous, the atmosphere was awful! Having known Ron so long I just left him to it.
“I’m knocking the ride on the head”
“Right, come and get you bike over on the picture”
June European RTE 2010
Needless to say pictures were taken, farewells said as Phillipe was staying overnight at the hotel or at least till the early hours of the next morning when he would ride back to Switzerland.
Africa (My favourite picture of the whole trip).
Lucky we had decided that a BB2500 Km was do-able and would regroup and plan the final destination in Gibraltar. Was this now going down the pan who knows.
Riding out of Gibraltar we stopped for fuel, I bought a couple of sandwiches, taking care to buy Ron’s favourites’, ham & cheese, I offered him one.
We rode round Cadiz three times looking for a cash machine eventually stopping at one on the second or third pass. I was getting really angry at this point which manifested itself as silence.
Gibraltar to Malaga was a very short, but felt like a long silent ride with the odd “Yes I’m fine” & “Ok” thrown in. Stopping at Malaga services to check mileage, something Ron & I differ massively about, Ron likes to know to the .00000th of the mile. Me I’m happy with adding 100 mile every 1000 rider. I left him to it.
“We need another 250 km to be 100% of verification”
“Do you want to call your mate? He lives round here doesn’t he?”
“No and yes, in that order”. God I can be a SH** when I’m hacked off.
“Right I’ll lead and when where 100km over the 2500km we can call it a day”
“That sounds go to me but I don’t want to be riding till midnight”
“No we should be there by 2300, Granada here we come”
Sure enough, after what felt like forever which in fact was only 1hour & 43 minutes we pulled up at the services just North of Granada in a place called Diezma.
Obtaining the receipt was easy, pay for the fuel. The End Witness proved to be a lot more interesting.
As ever I just asked anyone who dare look at me for more than 30 seconds, the cashier, “No comprende”, guy filling up the same, group of Rumanian’s returning to their now fully fuelled camper, “A little”
A little is all I needed and before they could change their mind or take another step, the poor sod had a pen in his hand and was signing the form. Job done! Or was it.......... what do you mean you do not have a phone number. Thank you anyway.
“Ron we need another signature, he doesn’t have a mobile or phone”
“There’s a hotel here, shall we get a room?”
“Bl**dy good idea, maybe someone will speak English”
The night manager using the international sign for sleep, Hands together, head laying on them at a jaunty angle did the trick.
“Yes, 1 room, 2 beds, Ok” Why does everyone on the planet understand OK?
Taken the following morning, not bad for 30 Euros a night.
Room booked, End Witness signed, It was time for a shower and a , John Smiths came out my saddle bag. “Be Prepared” the Boy Scout in me coming out. Washed showered and Ron changed into shorts and t-shirt, me in clean grollies, t-shirt and bike trousers, spot who’s the Bigger Boy Scout! It was off to the bar.
2 s, 2 bags of Haribo’s, 2 packets of salted almonds (I wonder if your other packet ever did fall out of the machine Ron?) a plan hatched for in the morning. SS2000 in 24 hours and it was off to bed.
No prizes for guessing what I was about to sort out.
Mates again, separate beds mind .....................................
“Ron you awake”
“It’s half ten”
“WHAT! Sh**, what times breakfast finish”
“9.00am so we’ve missed it and we won’t be setting off at 10.00am either”
Just then there was a knock at the door, I grabbed my trousers off the floor and hobbled over, forgetting to put them on.
“Olla................. er, oh!, er .......”
The maid legged it off down the corridor very red faced.
“Think we best get a move on Big Lad”
“No sweat, need a shower though”
Showered, dressed and packed in a matter of 15 minutes we headed down to the bar, as it was last night. Today in the full light of day it had turned into a glass fronted semi-circular cafe which looked like a different place altogether.
“Told you we could have come down these stairs last night”
“Or right smart arse, coffee and a Palma ham beget?”
“Sounds good to me”
We stood at the bar discussing the ride ahead, SS2000km in 24 hours. All we need is a start witness which as ever took a bit of doing, barman – no, lady all in white sat outside at side of the bikes – no, gift shop attendant – “a little” ............. ‘come on’ form signed, thank you Cristina.
“You all sorted there”
“Yes think so, yes good to go”
So we walked over to the petrol station and bought a couple of bottles of water for our start receipts as we had filled up the previous night for the end receipts. Stowing the bottles between the Givi rack and my rear seat, as I had been doing for the last couple of days. Ron borrows my pen which I have velcrode to the bike frame (my best farkle so far, two sided stick Velcro, one on pen one on frame, job’s a gooden). Something he has been doing since Dover, writes the start mileage on the back and that’s us ready for the off.
Nope wrong, Ron sparks up a tab!!!
I wondered over to the other side of the car park to get a good photo shot of the mountains.
20 minutes later we start our engines, Hay Ho the joys LD of riding. My face gives my thoughts way, well it does where Ron’s concerned, everyone else just thinks I’m a stroppy git.
“What’s up with you man, we’ve got 24 hours”
I fancy Alacate for lunch but it turns out its not on our route we are due to hang a right 20km before we get anywhere near it towards Valencia. That’s where ‘fate’ kicked in and Ron did a fly buy on the junction, cheers Zumo 550 your a star. Lunch over looking Alacante was fantastic, temperature was 88 degrees F.
Topping up my tan on a deadline
We chatted about what had gone wrong yesterday with the SS2000 or BBG2500 and how we had lost so much time by just enjoying the ride. It’s at this point Ron points out I’m as much to blame. Being stripped off to the waist topping up my tan didn’t put me in a very good position to argue. Ron’s IBA Wrist Tan which he picked up over the last couple of days looks well.
IBA Touring Tan
We got back under way after a good half hour break ‘and a tab or two’ and headed to Tarragona along some more of Spain’s amazing dual carriage way motorways. This is when I almost became ‘a section of new barrier’
Just for a change I had taken the lead and was riding round a really nice smooth right hand bend positioned 2 foot to the left of the central broken line. Speed was 120kmh just shy of 80 mph which is the limit on the motorways. Overtaking a couple of slower cars, banked over thinking what a great angle when.....................
Whoooooooooooooosh, a black Golf GTi overtakes me on the outside missing me by all of a foot. The side draft pushed the bike deeper towards the road. The car on my right hit the brakes straight away but all I could do was wind on some more power to stop my right peg or pannier hitting the deck. The bike lifted unfortunately the ‘Red Mist’ didn’t.
I was behind the Golf, two girls in the back two young lads in the front, I pulled alongside, needless to say the 120km limit was the last thing on my mind. I glared at the two in the front (totally forgetting they could not see me for my black visor). The girls were jabbering but the driver was ‘Snow White’. He topped out so I just pulled ahead and back into the fast lane. I was ripping.
“Ray, leave it, you listening, leave it”
“I’ll ...................... him”
“Leave it, I can see he’s got the message he’s all over the place”
The voice of reason had spoken, I pulled over and backed off the power. Not a happy man I dropped back in behind Ron.
“Cheers Big Lad”
“Not a problem, you OK?”
“I will be”
We passed the Golf at our normal cruising speed of 115km just a few miles up the road. He will think twice about spooking someone with a UK registration plate in the future, well at least I hope so.
The only traffic of the whole trip was 70km short of Barcellona, filtering was a breeze but filling up was an absolute pain. So many cars and having to take your cash card into the filling station before they will switch on the pump if very time consuming.
As is waiting for Ron to finish his tab! But he know I enjoy the breaks too.
Heading due north to the French Boarder we just get into our rhythm and cracked out the miles, the sea on our right the mountains on our left, beautiful. It was then that I realised how comfortable the Air Hawk really was and what’s more I had not thought about it all day. The heat was still causing my inside legs to chafe at the very top, Ron suffered in much the same way. However, Ron decided to ‘aerate’ his parts at one fill up by wandering around his bike with his trousers down round his knees. No sorry I did not take a photo!
Riding through France during the night was very enjoyable as the roads were clear except for the odd 100 trucks or so. We made good time, tolls where a breeze, toll sign, back off left glove off, stop ticket out, wallet on top of ticket on tank, ticket to attendant, cash, stow wallet, glove on, pull over to left to wait or catch up, “All good” go.
There's a storm on the horizon
5 in the morning we filled up with fuel, had a coffee, one of us had a tab and as we were just about to remount and head out I hear Ron cursing!
“Can’t find my keys”
“What keys, you bike keys?”
“No my top box key, house key, Jo’s house key, the lot, gone”
My stomach turned, what were we going to do, go back and look for them, the last time Ron had seen them was at our evening meal stop just south of the French boarder.
“My passport and ticket are in the top box”
“I’m going to have to bust it open”
“Hold on let’s see if my key fits before you start breaking open a £300 Givi Topbox”
Ron tried prizing it open, no chance.
“Let me have a go”, so screwdriver in hand I........................................
Putting his passport and ticket in his pocket, texting Jo to drop him a key off at home we hit the road for the final leg of our trip. Top box relocked and with a bit of gaffer tape for good measure. (I’m pleased to say the box is in perfect working order and the spare key in Ron’s flat worked a treat on his return).
So the route north was Diezma, Alacante, Valencia, Tarragona, Versailles, Les Cheres, Chateuvilla, my favourite ‘Aire De Champ Roland’ and finally Calais Ferry Terminal.
Just as we thought everything was in the bag we arrived at Calais Ferry Terminal with 50 minutes to spare knowing we would have to pay to get on the next ferry at 1230 as we were booked on the 6.00pm one.
Typical, we missed the turning, then I turned up the wrong junction on the next roundabout, Ron carried on and after a quick scoot round town I joined him at the terminal, 43 minutes to spare.
The queue for the passport control was mad with about 80 bikers heading home after the Assen Race weekend, 38 minutes. We were starting to flap, we still had no end receipt. (top tip get one at the service station into Calais, especially when you have 220 km in the bag over 2000km).
A bit of queue jumping and were at the front ready to pay.
“Sorry this is the coach terminal and I have to sort the coaches out first”
“We are on a timed ride we NEED a receipt”
“Sorry park over there and I’ll be with you in a minute”
I looked back there were 3 bloody coaches! 32 minutes.
“Ron lets go to the ticket office”
“She said wait here”
“LOOK at all that lot!”
I went back and asked if it would be quicker to walk over and get a ticket from the office, “Yes” was the reply “but you need too take your bikes with you out of the terminal”
We turned round and rode the way had come in, flagged down by a very friendly officer who pointed us the other way and to a closed gate, 29 minutes.
The gate took forever to open, Ron dived round me and straight to the ticket office, parked up jumped off and started legging it round the building.
“S*** I’ve forgot something” and had to leg it back to his bike, 25minutes.
The office was empty, Ron to one vendor me to the other. Tick tock, tick tock
“HOW LONG to get a ticket”
“We’ve done it”
“Not till that tickets in my hand we’ve not”
“Cheers Big Lad always the optimist”
“Ye Ha, we’ve done it” we both shouted at each other as the receipt was handed over. 2241km in 23hours 38 minutes, Job Done!
There were so many people on the dock that the End Witness was not a problem at all, a big thank you to Mr Rowe from Cheshire for that.
The rest was just plain sailing, Full English and then we both just fell fast asleep were we sat only waking when they announced, “please re-join your vehicles”
This was just one corner, every coner was the same, full!
Our farewells were said at Maidstone services, Manley hugs exchanged and we both went our separate ways, well once we had ridden through the Dartford Tunnel together.
It also gave me time to adjust this bloody balloon I’m sat on. Too much air in the Air Hawk and I’m nearly 2” in the air and moving around as if not even connected to the bike. It feels strange. Letting air out helps a little but at this early stage I’m not overly impressed (an opinion which would take almost 3000km to change) but change it did..........
To fix the problems with height and the moving around, the AIRHAWK should only be filled so that the lowest part of your bottom is about 1/2 inch high. You can find proper inflation instructions at How to Adjust Your AIRHAWK Motorcycle Seat Cushion - The ROHO Store. If you have any more questions feel free to call customer service at (800) 851-3449. Hopefully that helps and that you are enjoying your AIRHAWK.
Cheers Danielle but I got the setting just right during the first 36 hours and had a great ride back from Spain to UK. Never even noticed it was on the bike once it was adjusted correctly, as you say half an inch full is spot on.
We rode 3700 miles in 4 days and I arrived back as fresh as I had left. It was a great improvment on the 2000 miles in 48 hours the previous week when I suffered from pressure sores by the end of the ride, not pleasant.
Thanks for the advice and number, very much appreciated.
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