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I should have added that I plan to go via Ancona in Italy in 2 days with 1 night's stop in Switzerland (probably Basel) and take the overnight ferry across to Igoumenitsa in Greece. This will mean a couple of 500 mile days on motorways through France, Switzerland and Italy. Once in Igoumenitsa it is a 200/250 mile ride to Thessalonika which is where I am headed.
Doc - you make a good point. The reason I am thinking of doing this route is that I don't have a huge amount of time. In addition I have minimal experience on a bike let alone touring so I thought it would be better to stick to the main roads for my first tour. I am planning to surprise my family who will be holidaying near Thessalonika and stay with them for a couple of days. I will probably take a bit of a detour through the Alps on my way back depending on how things are going. I guess all I am asking is, is this a stupid thing to do for someone with minimal experience?
Really it would be a bit stupid even for an experienced rider, how many days in your week? If you want to surprise your family, assuming they would appreciate the surprise, I would go by plane. I watched a youtube clip today by an experienced rider who said that a 300mile max per day is really enough. Is overland travelling all about racing there and back then telling your mates at the pub, yes I've done that one,? I think not.
Just checked London (you don't say where in the SE you're leaving from/returning to) to Thesaloniki on google maps. The shortest distance is 1664 miles. So return, lets say 3500miles. In 7 days... 500 miles a day. Every day. And you say you're a novice rider. Is this a wind-up?
Different people have different ideas of what a m/c trip is all about. Very very few would come up with the same idea as you.
As suggested, do some loops of the M25, or even M4 - M5 - M6 -M1 - M25 to break things up a bit. Or fly and rent a bike there.
Oh yeh, the "night boat" from Italy to Greece: I recall it took 36 hours when I took it. That was a while ago. Maybe ships travel 3x as fast these days.
Thinking of going from South East UK to Greece and back in a week this summer. Will be sticking to motorways where possible. Is this too much for a newbie?
Cheaper to fly to Greece, rent a scooter, surprise your family, relax for a few days and fly back.
On the other hand, if you are young and need some stress in your life and don't mind riding all day every day on the freeways have at it. I've done crazier things that make me smile when I think about it.
You don't say what kind of bike you will be driving. If it is a sport bike, it would be incredibly uncomfortable. If it is something like a BMW R1200GSA, with an upright riding position, it would just be uncomfortable .
Driving 500miles/day wouldn't be any fun and to do that you would have to be on motorway almost all the time. Driving a bike on a motorway isn't much fun. No scenery, lots of traffic, stress, pollution, noise and buffeting if you are going fast, etc. Mentally very tiring, etc.
I am planning a novice trip to Norway soon, but don't want long slogs up motorways, apart from the first day from Northern Germany to Christiansand on the Norwegian south coast. Last year I drove to Oslo in a motor home and it was mentally quite tiring, so we had 2 nights there to recover.
Flying out and renting does sound much more sensible and enjoyable. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
I think people have given you the right advice, fly and rent. I've done 750 mile days but only because it felt right on the day, I'd never plan to do more than 350 and would be more comfortable with less than 250.
You'd probably (<--note the deliberate choice of the word "probably") survive the experience, but you wouldn't have much fun doing it. I did a ride like that a couple of months after getting my first bike--it had eight or ten thousand miles on it when I left. I was in no shape to do much of anything when it was over, and I had a couple of days when I was so tired that if anything had gone wrong--an animal or bit of trash in the road, a flat tire or error of judgment--I'd have gone down. Is this surprise visit worth risking your life for?
It gets easier if you've got more experience....but still, most people would choose not to bother. There's a reason for that.
Thanks for all the responses - very helpful (well most of them ). Based on the feedback and some doubts I was having (which is why I posted initially) I have decided to do something more modest for my first tour. Haven't decided what to do yet but possibly a run over to northern France once I have got some UK miles under my belt which brings me to another question - how much experience do you think is necessary before anyone should attempt a ride over to the continent?
Generally speaking, if you have to ask, you need more experience. Confidence and mental focus are equally important to having the physical skills to ride a motorcycle.
You gain confidence by riding. I remember in my youth when a 500 mile ride seemed like a big deal. And it was to me. I was new to riding and a bit unsure of taking such a long ride.
I had so much fun and it was so exciting I couldn't seem to stop going on longer and longer rides. So I guess my advice is to stop now while you can. I'm just kidding of course.
What was the question? Oh yes. My advice is to take your seven day vacation and head wherever your heart desires. Try not to stress yourself out. Look at it as training for longer rides. If you make it over to the continent remember to keep your left shoulder next to the center line of the road at all times and counter clockwise around the roundabouts. Being from the US I was given the opposite advice when first riding in the UK and keeping my right shoulder and throttle hand next to the center of the road and taking the roundabouts clockwise was the advice that saved me, especially when making left and right turns when I was most apt to get confused.
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