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  #1  
Old 23 Jan 2011
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My 1st trip but hopefully not my last

I don't know how I managed it but I went right up until the age of 58 (4 years ago) without having a driving licence. At that time my middle daughter, Her partner and 2 children moved to New Milton which is in the New Forest, Although only a little over 40 miles away it was a nightmare to get to by public transport involving a bus, A ferry boat, 2 trains and a car and quite a lot of expense.


I decided that it was about time to get myself a set of wheels and as I don’t travel well in cars and I was used to 2 wheels having spent the best part of 50 years riding bicycles (and hating every minute of it) a motorbike seemed the obvious solution so I did the CBT, bought a Honda CG125 and set about getting some practice in before doing the test.


In the first 5 weeks I visited my daughter several times which was excellent experience but short lived as she then moved back to Gosport.


After a year or so I sat the test which I passed and bought a 1995 Honda CB250 Nighthawk which I rode for the 2 years my licence was restricted. I then bought a Honda CB500 which, in March last year I traded in for a brand spanking new BMW F650 GS which actually has an 800(798cc) engine.


I've been going to Benalmadena on the Costa del sol twice a year for about 7 years but for the last 3 years or so I’ve sat on the plane looking down at mile after mile of open road and thinking how I’d like to be down there travelling home under my own steam.


Last year I went out in May and was held up by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud and coming back it was touch and go whether they closed Spanish air space or not. In October I went out again and was delayed going out by French air traffic controllers. It was on the way back from this trip that I decided that in 2011, as I’d have my first big bike I’ll ride there and back. I’ll only get one trip this year as I’ll have to take 4 weeks holiday for the round trip (I’ll be staying for 2 weeks)this was further reinforced recently when I booked a flight online for my uncle from Southampton to Malaga return and what was an £80 flight ended up as £220 once taxes and charges were added.


Sitting in a nice comfy leather, reclining seat on an air conditioned Flybe flight to Southampton with every conceivable need being eagerly attended to by one of the Flybe flight attendants it seemed like a brilliant idea but on a freezing cold Saturday afternoon in January on the South coast it doesn't seem like such a good idea, Especially if i'm foolish enough to remind myself that it's only 13 weeks until I leave and I don't have a clue where to begin planning.


No matter how daunting the thought of all the preparation may be it has to be done because this trip is a trial run for when I retire in a couple of years time and it'll give me a lot of (hopefully)good experience. I don't know where to begin planning this trip but with the help of this board and others like it i'll hopefully get it sorted and behind me and i'll have an idea what to do the next year and on into my retirement. I have a deserved reputation for being a worrier and have been told on many occasions that I think too much which is probably true but it's also true that when the time comes and a situation arises I have a very cool head.
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Old 23 Jan 2011
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Hello and . I'm sure you find lots of useful information on trip planing and preparing on this site.

Good luck,
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"Hey, ...I'm just ridin' shotgun"
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Old 23 Jan 2011
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Welcome to the Forum and welcome too to be a rider

Here for the trip planning and stuff, and maybe join the F650 Forum BMW F650 Forums for the 'bike-specific' stuff
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Old 24 Jan 2011
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Welcome Culpepper, that Spanish trip does't look too bad even in the cold of January.

34 years ago I rode from Darlington to Malaga in the 1st week of January - freezing rain on the A1(M) and snow on the ground in France and Spain, but I look back on it with very fond memories and wouldn't hesitate in doing it again right now.

... but of course you'll be doing it in mid April - weather and road conditions will be an absolute breeze then.
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Old 24 Jan 2011
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Welcome Culpepper.

I treated myslef to a F650 twin a couple of years ago and although there have been several minor issues, overall I am very pleased with it, particulalrly the fuel consumption, which was of real benefit on a trip to Turkey last year.

Do not get paranoid over the planning of your trip, machine roadworthy, passport, insurance, ferry ticket and off you go. If you have yet to book your ferry, have a look at LD Lines from Pompey to Le Havre, their prices tend to be less than the competition. Looking forward to your ride report!
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Old 24 Jan 2011
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Hello Culpepper and welcome to the HUBB.

I've read your post a couple of times and I'd say that the trip you've got planned sounds great. The bike you've got is a really good choice and you'll have had it long enough to know its good and bad points by the time you leave. Thirteen weeks in the future would put your departure date somewhere around the start of May so things should start warming up by then - particularly in Spain.

If, as you say, you're the worrier type then you're naturally going to focus in on all the things that could go wrong. That's understandable. There are quite a few things that could turn the journey from a pleasure into a nightmare - breakdowns, weather etc, but that's in the nature of what you're trying to do. If you read through many of the posts on this site you'll see that loads of people have the same concerns - the first time you do anything like this it's a journey into the unknown.

The natural response is to try and plan out the uncertainties - choose a route, break it down into manageable chunks (ride this far, have coffee break in this town, stop for lunch here etc). That's good as each step looks like it's something you can do easily. The problem comes when you get behind schedule or something unexpected happens - and it will. Stress is part of the baggage you'll be taking with you and it can easily weigh you down when things go wrong - even relatively minor things. You need to be aware of its effect, particularly as you're doing the trip alone. If you find yourself just wanting to keep going rather than stopping to look at the scenery for example, that's "got to get there" syndrome. It's stress based and pretty universal (although different from the "mad cattle" syndrome that's increasingly found at airports when Easy Jet (or other airline of your choice) tell you that your flight's canceled and the next one's in four days).

Lastly on the subject of stress, I've found that there's an additional dimension to it as you get older. Not only have you got the usual amount caused by what you're trying to do but there is an age related element caused by a voice in your head saying this is so undignified - at my age I should have known better. I'm only a few years younger than you and in 2009 found myself at the top of Mt Fuji in Japan with my 19yr old son and without any money or tickets back to Toyko (don't ask how this happened!). The only way out was by "charity" and the prospect of doing this was a little humiliating. I really shouldn't have let it happen. It didn't phase my son though, it's the sort of thing teenagers do and something I did on a number of my early bike trips. Doing it when you're approaching 60 however just makes it look like your path through life hasn't been all that it might have been.

How far have you got with your planning? Have you got a route worked out? Are you going down through France or are you taking the ferry to Spain? Hotels or camping? Going down through France will take you about four days each way or about three day via Santander / Bilbao (including the ferry). It looks like you've got a week each way so enough time for a few detours!

Last couple of points, I see you're in New Milton. My in-laws are in Milford on Sea, just a few miles away and we're down that way every now and then so I know NM well. I also see that you posted over on the ABR site and got loads of replies. They must get up before us!
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Old 24 Jan 2011
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UK- Spain

Hi

I read with interest that this is a first big trip. For a lot of the guys in here who are going round the world and more might say, what you worrying about. But this is a long way and as a first big trip would be exciting in any case. I suppose its like a pilots first solo, ask a pilot and he'll tell you every detail of his first solo regardless of whether he flies a 747 or A380.

It's see your off to Benalmedina. In 2008 I took my UK bike from Scotland through french alps, Italy, Monaco etc across to the same place. We have a friend who has holiday apartment there. My wife flew from Manchester and we met there for a few days before I buggered off to Morocco which is only a few hours away. Coming back I drove Malaga to Bilbao and ferry back to Southampton.

I was talking to Ted Simon last year and one thing he said which has stuck in my mind. I think I can quote him roughly, " if there one thing I learned in all my travels around the world, the most important one was, not to worry. It will always work out, someone will always help, or things will turn out just right" or words like that. My memory is not too good. But anyway, he said to me (Im planning a Perth to Perth trip) dont worry.


Enough of my ranting garbage. Hope you have a blast.

Are you driving all the way there and all the way back?

Regards
Steven
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