So we left London on Saturday 28th of May, headed up to see my parents in Boston Lincs. We got the bike loaded up and left, I took it pretty easy sitting around the 70 - 75 mph mark the whole way and with no traffic we made good time.
The bike looks pretty mad with all the stuff on as it’s a bike tall bike anyway, so with panniers and a top box plus all the extra bits its looks huge. Saying this it still handles pretty well, even though over 80 mph I get fairly bad wobbles from the front, also on left hand corners sometimes I notice a slight wobble when coming out the corner. So I’m going to mention this to KTM and get then fiddle with my front suspension, I was also thinking about dropping my forks through about 5mm as this will push the weight forward a bit. If anyone has any ideas then drop me an email!!
Sunday morning we left about 10am after a hearty breakfast (as always!) and headed towards the Peak District. We went through Bakewell and had a bakewell tart. Well, I had a tart, Cat didn’t like the look of them so she has carrot cake. We noticed a small sign saying classic motorcycle exhibition, so we decided to go in and check it out. It was great, there were about 50 bikes in total, some old Nortons, BSA's, a few of the first TT winners and lots of bike related memorabilia - we met the owner who amazingly owned all the bikes apart from 15 of them, and even more incredible they all worked and some of the 50-yr-old bikes were still able to go on the road each day!!!!!
We then started to look for a place to stay and chose Eden Tree House campsite in Castleton, for the sole reason that it was next to a pub :-) We then visited Speedwell Cavern, and old mining site, and queued up for over an hour to get inside. The people behind us were playing I Spy and Cat kept guessing the answers. It was very interesting as most of it was filled with water, so we had to get in boats in order to explore it. After the cavern we went for a small ride and on the way back to the campsite noticed a small beer festival at a pub, so we dropped the bike off and walked 2 miles back to it, so we deserved our big dinner!
That night it rained hard and we woke to everything getting wet. We chatted for a bit and tried to work out the best plan of action which we both agreed under normal circumstances would be to sit tight until the rained passed but as we only had 3 days to get to the TT and we wanted to do more exploring we decided to pack up and get moving rain or not. So we got the bike loaded, and in itself it was a great test for our packing system, as the only thing that stayed really wet was the tent.
We crossed into the Yorkshire dales, and came to a small but beautiful town called Grassington and decided we would stay in a B&B or pub to dry the tent out. We found an old pub right on the square that had a room, was pretty cheap and included breakfast. So we got the bike unloaded and dried our tent by hanging it between the light fittings and curtain rails, with a hair dryer.
The sun was out and the little village was quite busy, but we didn’t do a lot as it was about 7pm by the time we got ourselves sorted. We had a quick look around some of the shops in the square then had some food (the yummiest fish pie ever!) and went to sleep.
In the morning we went for a long walk through the fields and along the river. It was totally quiet as it was about 7am but the sun was shining and it was such a nice day. There were loads of baby lambs, baby rabbits, ducks with chicks it was just really nice, not to mention it was set with this beautiful river around this lovely town and gorgeous old mill.
We spent some time looking for fish in the river and Cat decided to have a couple of moments of madness - after trying to stroke a sheep she crapped herself as it baaa’d at her when she got too close, much to my laughter! And then she decided to run up the hillside and back!! Was very funny!!
Anyway, we had to get moving again, so the previous night we had text our ever faithful friends the Jetstreams (Chris and Julie) and they gave us a good route out and over to the Lake District.
We got on the road and straight away it was looking good and we headed over some amazingly beautiful roads that were wide enough for just one car. We reached the lakes and after a drive around Windemere Lake we settled on a B&B above a pub in Bowness. Really pretty town with cobblestone streets. We had a few cocktails and beers and a yummy pasta dinner.
Next day we planned a route (this was the first map we had to buy) which took us to the north over the Kirkstone Pass, passed some more lakes and streams, and down the western/coastal side of the district. We visited Muncaster Castle which is apparently a very haunted castle, but we didn’t see any ghosts. The original family still live there, and they have really gorgeous gardens, and an owl sanctuary.
Blackpool was our stop for dinner but we were sorely disappointed. The lights/decorations in the town were pretty and it really is a big rollercoaster, but the fish and chips was RUBBISH! Poor service too. Blackpool was a bit pants, so we didn’t hang around for long, and drove on to Liverpool and the ferry.
We got a bit of bike madness on the way to Liverpool - the autocom had broken so we couldn’t speak to each other, and james’ phone died so he couldn’t even listen to music. But we made it. We arrived about 8pm, and there were loads of other bikers there already, even though the ferry didn’t leave until 3am!
We met a biker who had just arrived from New Zealand, following pretty much the same route as us, and he told us his stories and gave us some great tips. He scared us off Pakistan – said it’s ALL under police escort, driving 18 hour days, can’t even stop for water, and your escorts are all amped up with fingers on the trigger, so you can tell the danger is pretty imminent.
So we’ve discussed the option of freighting the bike from Dubai to Nepal and carrying on from there, which will probably even work out better, weather-wise, since Nepal was always going to be a “maybe” depending on the time of year we got to India.
Well what can I say, the TT is literally madness. We arrived in Liverpool at about 9pm, our ferry was not until about 3am and there were already about 30 bikes in front of us, so we queued up and waited. I was looking round the other bikes, and Cat was bored, trying to get me to go for a walk/coffee, then I noticed a BMW F650 GS with a New Zealand number plate: on closer inspection he had ridden over here covering almost the exact same trip we are about to do. So when he came back to the bike we chatted for a good 2 hours, he gave us plenty of tips on places to stay and things to see and also said Pakistan was VERY dangerous and worth avoiding if possible.
When we were finally moved onto the ferry we noticed how many bikes there were, hundreds, the big KTM just about fitted in and they tied them down with ropes, I have never seen so many bikes in one space so packed together!!
Once we arrived in the island it was about 5am and not a lot was open so we decided to just go and explore: the island was beautiful and it’s the first thing we noticed. We didn’t really know where we were going but we could tell when we were on the TT course and when we weren’t by the crash barriers (or as they’re better known to us, bales of hay!!)
We eventually found ourselves going across the mountain course where it was one way and has no speed limit. We weren’t hammering it but we did have a bit of fun, it was quite funny to see the guy on the yellow 959 fireblade’s face as I come past him will a pillion and full luggage!!
We came down the other side of the course and decided to get some breakfast at a local caff, before heading to our hotel who luckily let us check in early for a sleep.
Later that day we got up and went up to the start/finish straight and pits. The great thing about the TT is that it’s all so open and you can walk around all the garages. We got to see lots of the bikes including Guy Martin’s, and of course I took a special interest in all the different fireblades and even got lucky and was showed around one of the Padgetts Honda bikes after I asked one of the guys a few questions about the exhaust hanger he had as I had not seen one like that before. It was great atmosphere, everyone was so friendly, a lot of the riders were signing stuff and some of the teams even had BBQs out and were just sitting around chatting.
We decided to go back to the hotel and then head for a couple of beers before going to watch the evening practice. The first bar we came to was called Sam’s – very “blokey” as Cat called it! We planned to have one drink then move on but we met these 3 ozzy guys, really nice blokes – House, Gordon, and Nick (I think) they come over to the TT a fair bit and we started talking bikes, telling jokes and generally got on with them really well. They also told us about volunteering as Marshalls so we decided this was something which we wanted to do! We then headed up to the grandstand and soaked up the atmosphere, there was a lot of people there even for a practice and Cat decided to play guess the speeds, and was actually pretty good at it.
After the racing we walked along the Douglas promenade and to the Bushys tent, we grabbed a beer but it was pretty clear that it was not our scene, some people were totally hammered and pushing past you as they could hardly stand, then they started to do a wet T-shirt comp and as good as they are it was just far to messy and we weren’t enjoying ourselves, so we called it a night and head back to the hotel.
Friday we got up and went to meet a friend of mine Mian from London bikers. He had some bad luck - stuck the con rod through the bottom of his engine on his ZX9r, so he was a little stranded! We had some lunch and a couple of drinks before heading back early-ish as we had wanted to watch the racing at Creg ny Baa.
Creg ny Baa is a great place to watch the racing as it’s on a corner, and it has a pub onsite and 2 grandstands which for about £2 you can buy a ticket for. It was our first chance to see the bikes on the actually course and soak up some of the real atmosphere. We got a taxi up there so as we sat in the sun we had a few drinks and generally really enjoyed ourselves.
That evening we met with 2 of our other LB mates Mike and Carol at the Charlie Boreman talk. We were a little disappointed in it as they promised to talk about bits which we had not seen on the DVD’s, but it just seemed to cover old ground and I think it was a bit of a money spinner for Charlie.
At the end of it Cat felt really ill - we had been drinking for a few hours but she really did feel pretty sick and it didn’t seem to be the alcohol so we headed back to the hotel which was a shame as we were looking forward to a big night with Mike and Carol!
Saturday was the first day of racing – we watched some of it from the grandstand (going for Guy Martin, but he retired in the 5th lap), and then moved on to Creg ny Baa for the second race. It was a pretty long day – James had a snooze in the afternoon and then we went for a wander through town and had some fish and chips. The fish and chips was what we wanted from Blackpool! I think we ate it about 3 times in the week, it was that good.
Sunday we rode down to Peel on the west coast to meet Mike and Carol for lunch and to check out the festivities. One thing we enjoyed was a guy making wooden statues/ornaments with a chainsaw. We investigated the Peel Castle as well, then went for another blast around the course and mountain road. Completely forgot about the free marshalls dinner we were invited to!
So Monday we marshalled at Braddan Bridge, which was awesome fun! Unfortunately it was also the same day that one of the riders died in an accident, but we learnt so much about the TT and met some great people. Since we were newbies, our job was to stick in the background, and if needed, we would be called forward with the fire extinguisher (James) and the brush (Cat). No incidences on our corner thankfully – and the church ladies were lovely – free tea for the marshalls!
We had a lazy day on Tuesday, no racing. But the evening had the RAF Red Arrows air display over the bay, and then the motorbike stunts from the White Helmets (professional army team) and the Purple Helmets (bunch of old men in long brown trenchcoats without purple helmets). Both were really clever, but the old men were funny – the penultimate stunt being Wheelie Bin Racing!
It was raining on Wednesday which was a shame, as we had met Mike and Carol at their friend Denise’s house in Crosby, right on the course, at the point where the bikes go past at about 190mph! We were able to see a couple of bikes go past, and had a great lunch, but then they called off the races and postponed them to the next day.
Bugger as the next day was our ferry home, so the best we could do was listen on the radio. We did some last minute souvenir shopping, and bumped into our original aussie mates from the first day.
We had planned to meet up with some more LBers in Wales on Friday, but then found out James’ card had been cloned in London, and along with still having so much to get organised at home, we decided to pull out of that trip and head straight home.
So if you were tracking us on Spot, you would have seen us blast straight from Liverpool to London! (if you want to follow our future trips, save this link: http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0zp4SER0v5ZY48M5sUD3iaUkb9n7toUdA - it will be active from Monday 27 June)
Few more changes made to the bike, Garmin 660 bought, got rid of the back box and replaced it with a heavy duty bag for clothing, couple more bits of kit bought, and we’ll be ready to roll next Sunday!
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