What do you get if you cross 3 adventure bikes, three blokes desperate to do a trip who have managed to get a pass from the wife (love ya) and the week off work?
Correct! A trip to the north of Scotland and back in 5 days. 1965 miles for the record. It began with a magazine article by a motorcycle journo (Simon Hargreves - thanks Simon). Simon rode from Peterbough to Scotland (who wouldn't!) using a BMW k1300 and ranted about how good the roads were across the west coast in his editorial.
He was not wrong, we stuck to his route as closely as possible and I can honestly say that there is no need to go to the Alps or the Dolomites. Scotland has all the open roads you could ever want.
Finished work at Brands Hatch where I had been on duty giving lectures on road riding to race fans as part of the Think! stand team. I got on the KTM and rode the best part of 400 miles to Carlisle where I met the other two who had gone up earlier to see family on route. I was a bit of a trudge up the M1 and M6 but would turn out to be worth it. We stayed in a travel lodge thingy for 19 quid (for all 3 of us) and after a good nights sleep and a breakfast at Asda, we set off for the Isle of Skye.
It poured with rain all day. We didn't care though as the roads were great, the scenery fantastic and the trip over Glen Coe in the low cloud unforgettable (plus the Speed camera van in the middle of the mountains! I ask ya, there must have been a tea shop near by where he/she could have spent the afternoon). Once on the isle we settled down to a meal in Floddigary (good name), drank a dram or two and planed the next days ride.
Sun and scenery all day, brilliant!
Giles had his Garmin Zumo on overdrive (brilliant kit, even if a little expensive ) and we had to make use of the gallon can of petrol Lotty had carried with him as we almost ran out of fuel on the run up to Ullapool. GS adventure 1, KTM Adv 0.Modern adventure bikes ought to have a fuel range higher than 180 miles.
The day took us to the remote corners of northern Scotland and some of the most breathtaking landscapes. From the magnificent stags we saw on the hill keeping a watchful eye on us, to the sheep who just stared at us as if we were aliens, the landscape was aggressively awesome yet peaceful.
As our bikes travelled south for the first time in three days towards Rogart I felt I was intruding on the silence of the glens, load pipes do not save lives, but they do wind people up (don’t get me started). This may be why I suffered a puncture, the glens fighting back so to speak. Luckily I was able to draw in a few years of enduro racing experience and changed a tube in the tire and we were away. (I used to be a scout; always plan and prepare, you know it makes sense)
After a night in Rogarts best hostel, made up of disused railway carriages, £14 per night, we set off south towards Perth and Inverness. Ultimately, we crossed the cairngorms near Aviemore and as we dodged the snow gates we stopped for the obligatory “Bikers in the snow photo” (when I figure out how to upload them I will). Crossing the borders into the North of England was great, a complete change of mood. The insistent Highland terrain gave way to the cosseting north Yorkshire and Cumbrian dales, and we found a nice little B + B in Alston, the name of which will come to me in a mo.
385 miles to get home, what a trip, a little delayed at the start as Giles had a puncture this time, he was able to plug it as the GS Avd had tubeless tires - tire fixed in situ (Dear Mr KTM can I have tubeless rims on mine please!) much better than having to change the tube with the wheel removed.
Continuing on we entered into wonderful Emerdale country. Warm and friendly, the surroundings made for a very relaxing few hours. We paused for lunch in the village of Hawes at a bikers cafe - top stuff! Not sure about the bloke with the tassles and chains hanging from his Harley fat Boy but each to their own. A few tea/loo stops went by and we finaly hit the top of the M1 near leeds.
Home by 9pm followed by tea and cakes and then bed.
Three blokes out for the week, on their bikes. counted em all out, counted em all in. Biking is not about speed. It's about life, it's about friends riding together for pleasure and being part of the wider community.
Ride safe, keep it upright and respect others.
Just got back from a week racing a Moto Tour Rally in Belgium. Check out Liege Rally police on YouTube.