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Old 16 May 2014
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Join Date: Feb 2001
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Motorcycle Hire

At last year's HU Meeting at Donnington I was fortunate to be successful in the auction with my bid for two day's motorcycle hire, with the proceeds going to the Prostate Cancer charity. Months went by as other projects intervened and then the long wet winter was upon us. Anyway earlier this week I rode my R100GS-Paris Dakar down to Okehampton in Devon and collected a Triumph Tiger 1050 for a couple of days. I'd last ridden one about five years ago when staying at a motorcycle-only hotel in Austria and I remember what a terrific bike she was. Well what a beast! I think the bike was in need of a tune up as the throttle almost worked like an on-off switch, a bit disconcerting on bumpy roundabouts and when riding in town. During the afternoon of Day 1 I rode from Crediton to Tiverton to Minehead on the North Devon Coast - what a road. With little traffic, the narrow road was mile upon mile of bends and on the Tiger it felt like part of the IoM TT circuit. Then it was westwards climbing the impressive Porlock Hill To Barnstable which was in the grip of utter gridlock, then eventually on to Bideford and back to Okehampton, and the YHA I was staying in.

The following day I rode to Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in the UK, at the turn of the last century, and now undergoing a £17million restoration by the National Trust. Almost the entire building is covered with scaffolding and tarpaulins as craftsmen beavered away at removing granite block, carefully numbering each one. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the owner had gone against the designers wishes in some areas and as a result years later, rain had penetrated to roof and windows causing steel girders to corrode and burst the concrete. A fascinating place and beautiful gardens.

I then bimbled across Dartmoor to Princetown on almost deserted roads, then back to Ashburton before stopping for a at the New Inn at Widdicombe. When heading back to 'base', I came across a large traffic jam near Chagford when about four artics had come together in the narrow roads, so I found a side road and headed across country in roughly a north eastly direction on roads barely 8ft wide with either mud or gravel down the middle. Not ideal conditions for the Tiger nor it's aging rider! After what seemed like an eternity, a main road was found and I was able to return to Okehampton, hand over the Tiger and collect my old girl. I could have had her for another half day but I was concerned at losing either my life or my license! It was hard work keeping up concentration on such a feisty bike and narrow lanes were not the ideal conditions. I'd liken the bike to a thoroughbred racehorse, always eager to shoot off like a banshee, and terrific on dual carriageways. A sportsbike really rather than the pretend adventure bike she appears to be.

A grateful thank though to Chris of Motorcycles2Hire of Okehampton(www.motorcycle2hire.co.uk) who has a small fleet of motorcycles for hire and which can be seen on his website.

My YHA accommodation? Well it was my first experience of hostelling as I shall be staying in them during my Round Baltic Trip next month, but it was pretty basic (no, even more basic than that) so I am hoping for bestter standards in Scandinavia ;-)
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