September to November 1997 - St Ives, Cornwall,
UK to Delhi, India
A journey made on two old (1983) 250cc Single Piston
Honda RS Four Strokes.
Gordon Mackie (65) from St. Ives
and Bob Chaplin (54) from Penzance, County of Cornwall, England. They
started the trip on 23rd Sept 1997 and returned to England by plane on
4th November 97. Distance travelled was 7500 miles to Delhi, partly because
of a long trip around the Turkish Coast. The bikes were Honda 250cc Single
Cylinder 4-stroke - best described as commuter type road bikes. Bob's
bike ended up with some 27,000 miles on the clock and Gordon's had about
34,000 miles, they think. St. Ives is a town on the little spit of land
on the lower left corner of England known as Cornwall, at the very end
of which is Lands End. (Gordon will probably be after my hide for that
description, but such is life...)
Their story, written by Gordon
I had owned my bike for five years, Bob bought his specially for the
journey. My machine complete with full protective fairing and windscreen
cost me £300 - Bob really splashed out and paid £350 for his!
"Young Bob" is 54 years young and I am 27 - though through some
mistake I find myself inhabiting a 64-year-old body.
The inspiration for the trip came from us reading Ted Simons book "Jupiter's
Travels" and if some day I meet the author at that moment when I
stretch out my hand I will decide whether to grasp his hand or his neck!!
I had been saying for some time, that if I had the right companion I
would like to tackle the journey along the Old Silk Road to the East.
I said it once too often and was overheard by Bob Chaplin, with whom I
had travelled to the Southern Ukraine in an old British Leyland bus loaded
with aid goods, and my bluff was called. We spent many happy hours in
Bike shops and Camping shops and eventually felt that we were ready for
the "Off". We were ready but the Iranian government was not
and refused Bob's application for a visa - dismayed but not admitting
defeat we contacted a travel specialist in London who had us use the services
of an Iranian gentleman to whom we paid £128 and magically the visa
was granted. We used the Internet to gather any up to date information
on travelling to the East and received a lot of help from an Australian
biker who was travelling West on the route we intended travelling East.
Since there was no certainty that the bikes would indeed manage the
whole trip we equipped ourselves very economically with the intention
of seeking the nearest airport if disaster struck and we had to abandon
what was not absolutely necessary. We bought ex British Army Haversacks
as pannier bags and spent £6 each on two large holdalls. I had my
£75 tent from previous trips and we had a small gas stove and one
saucepan. Two head torches, two sleeping bags, a selection of spares and
after the local doctors finished giving us the benefit of anti everything
it only remained to visit the local supermarket and select a few ready
meals for emergencies and buy a good stock of porridge as the ultimate
Tuesday 23rd September dawned and we were sitting on our bikes at the
Old Quayside pub in Lelant and being waved off by eleven grandchildren.
I personally felt that someone close to me should have stepped forward
and said "okay its been fun but lets call it off before its too late".
Failing this intervention Bob and I set off and it all felt a bit unreal
- as though we were just off on a camping weekend. The bikes felt very
heavy and it took some time to get used to the effect of the loads on the
handling. After the first 100 miles Bob said "only another 59 of these
to India" a slightly optimistic estimate, as events were to prove.
A tea and fuel stop just past Exeter showed that Bob's bike was using
slightly more fuel than mine due, we thought, to him having no fairing
or screen to reduce wind resistance - and I had thought of dumping mine
as an unnecessary burden! The bikes ran well and we stopped in Basingstoke
to visit Bob's mum - more tea and cakes very welcome. Fuelled again at
Fleet Services and we ran on in heavy traffic to the M.25 then a very heavy "slog" in
rush hour traffic up the A.23 to Crystal Palace Camp Site - Big Depression
- my bike is giving off a hammering and rattling sound due, Bob said, to
the engine Overheating!! - Overheating in London? - What price Lahore?!!
We put the tent up in quite expert fashion and went out for a meal at
Pizza Express - Bob's first ever pizza. After eating Bob picked a pub for
us to have a pint - he having more experience I thought. The pub was undoubtedly
the grottiest ever and Bob's standing as a pub picker is at zero. After
a good nights sleep we were up at 7am for hot showers and porridge. We
took an early bus into London to India House to collect our Indian visas
- a very efficient service saw us on our way back to Crystal Palace after
just one hour. We now had the "full set" i.e. Iran, Pakistan
and Indian visas - the Turkish visa we would get at the border.
We found it quite a struggle just to get out of London and the added worry
of perhaps losing one another added to the trauma of weaving through the
London traffic. We stopped for a rest beside one young guy who was rather
frantically painting a lamppost` and curious as to the need for such great
haste we were informed that he got £1.80 per lamppost - by my calculations
he should be in John O'Groats by Xmas!! My bike was back to running normally
and we agreed that my changing to low lead petrol the day before had caused