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Old 02-19-2015, 01:44 PM   #1
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Short tours and misadventures in Europe..

This thread will host occasional reports from a native Oregonian, living abroad, who returns to motorcycling after a break of about 30 years and thinks that touring around Europe and farther afield might be interesting. Eventually I plan to wander onto green lanes and explore Morocco or Tunisia, but I have a lot of destinations in mind first.

I work in London but live out of the city, with largish family commitments that limit time off (and absolutely require safe riding). I bought a used BMW and limited gear, and Im off on some early adventures.

I need a name for this bike-- so far, she's treating me well:





Meanwhile, its time for a quick report on a little 250 mile ride yesterday, off this island and onto another.
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Old 02-19-2015, 02:12 PM   #2
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Part I: A tour of the Isle of Wight (in one day)

As noted, my time is limited. I planned an overnight trip to the Isle of Wight, riding about 300 miles over two days, relaxing in a beach front hotel, but then it turned out I had only one day. No prob!

Well, some problems. To make the 100 miles from home to the 10:00 a.m. ferry at Lymington (southern coast of England), I needed to start at 7 a.m. Ferry tickets bought in advance, I woke to find it was -2 degrees C and frosty out. Fully bundled, I gingerly left the neighbourhood.

The ride to Lymington was bright with sun but colder than expected. I made the ferry with no problems, stopping off en route for another 10 liters of premium unleaded (currently about 1.15 a litre).

Isle of Wight ferries from Lymington to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight run about once an hour. The trip takes 40 minutes each way. My roundtrip ticket was 35.

Here's a typical Isle of Wight ferry:




Here's my bike on board. Gunning it up a steep metal ramp was fun, but it was so calm that no tie downs were needed. Drivers/riders aren't allowed to stay with the vehicles during passage:




Lymington is a haven for personal yachts, and a string of them followed us out of the narrow channel to the Solent:


It was a bright, sunny and calm crossing of the Solent to the Isle of Wight:



I was very happy to warm up in the lounge for part of the trip:


I arrived at Yarmouth just before 11:00 a.m., and it was a 15 minute ride out to the Needles, the farthest western point of the island. From there, I went to the southern point, then east, the center for lunch and then back to Yarmouth for the 3 p.m. ferry. Here's the route (about 50 miles of riding):



Part II will follow up with images from the ride.
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Old 02-20-2015, 11:06 AM   #3
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Part II: First half of Isle of Wight One Day Wonder Tour

Driving off the ferry was a snap, and my first destination dropped by pin into the Tom Tom app was The Needles:



The Needles are the most iconic point of the Isle of Wight on the extreme western edge. I took the photo above in a previous life when we owned a 34 foot sail boat and sailed the Solent and southern coast frequently. The boat was sold in order to buy a house, which in general is a better investment.

I'd like to claim that I rode out the Needles themselves and parked on the helo pad on top of the lighthouse, but instead I visited the park near the ridge above the Needles, where there's an interesting installation that is the long-forgotten foray of the UK into rocketry.



Very cool.

15 minutes later I was stopping again-- this time at Freshwater Bay. An Italian rider with pillion was already there, on a well-travelled Yamaha Tenere. They were doing a better job of zoning out of the view than I, so I didn't bother them.







Next stop-- the southern most part of the island. I dropped a pin at Niton and rode the A3055 Military Road for 13 miles down to the bottom of the island. Joking aside, I've rode and drove a lot of coast roads (on the Pacific Coast, the East Coast, and even the Caribbean). The old, empty A3005 on a sunny day with a good motorbike was maybe the finest I've ever experienced:



I'm not easily taken aback, but this road did it. First, I wanted to burn with speed because the road with smooth and fully empty, but then I slowed because the view and overall experience was so f amazing. That 13 mile road made the entire trip. (I'll do this entire trip again just for that road.)

Part way down the A3005 I had to stop at a wayside:



Not bad that this road and place exists about 3 hours by motorcycle from my driveway:



To conclude this part, some points:
  • The Isle of Wight (like Cornwall) can crawl with traffic in season. In fact, it may be un-rideable at high season. There's a reason I targeted this in February!
  • I wouldn't have done this trip in my car. The bike makes the journey experience completely different and worthwhile. I am not a fan of endless narrow roads in a car. On a bike, however...
  • The crew on the ferry were excellent. They were very caring about the bike, and all but said I had the perfect vehicle to enjoy the island.

Part III will cover the rest of the island and the late ride home.
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Old 02-21-2015, 01:37 PM   #4
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Lunch on the Medina and the ride home

The next stage from Niton was to St. Helens on the east side of the islands. Riding there I enjoyed some exceptional country roads, including a short, sunny run along a ridgeline. Great farmland. I was running low on time so took no pics at St. Helens, but here's an image:



Source: http://www.holidays-in-the-isle-of-w...leofwight.html

I was short on time because I wanted to have a sit down lunch at the Folly Inn on the River Medina, which is in the center of the island:



I know the Folly Inn well because it has a visitors dock and visitors moorings on the river. It's common for sailors (as I was) to sail or motor up the river to tie up for dinner or an evening at the Folly.







A well-known fact about the Folly is that there is dancing on the tables on Saturday nights, and heel marks on the table tops to prove it.



I was hoping for a beef crew pot, but it was off the menu. I settled on pulled pork (but no beer, alas).



After lunch, it was time to ride back to Yarmouth for the three p.m. ferry back to Lymington. Once again, I had a great parking space at the bow:



Here's some views of Lymington as we pulled out:





As we approached the narrow channel to re-enter Lymington, the skpper of the ferry noted that the tides were exceptionally low that day (and time). To prove this, one of the yachts had run aground next to a marker post for the channel:



Back on shore, I had the little job of motorcycling home 100 miles. In the morning, it took just over two hours. Going home, because of massive backups on the M3 and M25 motorways, it took about 3 hours. Being stuck in such traffic was the most tiring part of the trip, and as I neared home the fatigue of such a long trip (nearly 12 hours straight) was being to take its toll.

On the other hand, it was a pretty good adventure for a single day of riding.
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Old 02-21-2015, 06:45 PM   #5
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Nice ride report and pics of an area of the UK I have not been to. Thanks for sharing...Dave
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Old 02-22-2015, 05:02 AM   #6
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Nice report. Thanks for sharing
I have only been to IoW once, for a rock concert in 1970, so can't remember anything.

UK may be small, but it can be incredibly varied.
Looks like you know your way around already.
Hope you do find time to get plenty of riding in.
Isn't traffic the biggest pia?

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Old 02-22-2015, 12:52 PM   #7
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Nice ride report and pics of an area of the UK I have not been to. Thanks for sharing...Dave
Thanks, Dave. I hope to visit Ontario again the the future. My wife and I drove through once and camped at some beautiful sites.

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Old 02-22-2015, 01:08 PM   #8
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UK may be small, but it can be incredibly varied.
Looks like you know your way around already.
Hope you do find time to get plenty of riding in.
Isn't traffic the biggest pia?

Nick
Thanks, and I agree about the UK being incredibly varied. I also like the history here (including that of motorcycles).

Yesterday the weather wasn't bad, so I did a 120 mile run that included a visit to Bletchley Park (http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/) the original site of the secret decoding operations during WWII. (Recently in the film The Imitation Game.)





They even had a very large model of a WWII U-boat used in the film Enigma.



What was cool was that up to 3,000 messages a day were delivered to Bletchley Park, many by motorcycle dispatch riders. There were several bikes and displays about them:







So, riding back from Bletchley Park, it was fun to think about the dispatch riders of that time (some or many were women), who rode up to 1200 miles a week on BSAs or Nortons, in all weather conditions, delivering dispatches.

As for traffic-- not even is it slow, but it is dangerous. Twice this week I had to brake as cars changed lanes into me on roundabouts (sorry mate I didn't see you-- SMIDSY).

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Old 02-23-2015, 01:18 AM   #9
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IOW looks like a great ride. I really must go south sometime. Thanks for that.
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:21 AM   #10
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Been to Bletchley Park many times. First time was when I heard it was going to be demolished to build a housing estate. The GPO had more or less abandoned it and most of it was in a real state.
The trust or what ever is doing a great job with very limited resources to get it fit enough to least not fall down.

My interest was aroused because my Dad was posted to a Y station at Beaumanor Hall, Woodhouse Eves between being evacuated from Dunkirk and being sent out to Burma. It was one of the few things he mentioned about the war.
It was from the Y stations that the Don R's (despatch riders) took the transcribed cyphers to Bletchley.
Google maps reckons 2 hours and 65 miles, but that is not on a side valve BSA with a top end of 45 mph. If you ever see a photo of a Don R you realise that ATGATT is a modern concept.

Beaumanor is an educational establishment now and I was able to weedle my way into the cellars. There was still a slight wiff of WD (War Dept) about it.

Sorry about the traffic. There are just so many idiots, especially around towns. Stay away, and into the countryside. Especially at rush hour, they get demented then.
Whenever I go abroad, the worst 300 miles out of maybe 4000, is always the trip to and from the ferry in England.
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Old 02-28-2015, 09:57 AM   #11
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Timeshift Documentary

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickguzzi View Post
My interest was aroused because my Dad was posted to a Y station at Beaumanor Hall, Woodhouse Eves between being evacuated from Dunkirk and being sent out to Burma. It was one of the few things he mentioned about the war.
It was from the Y stations that the Don R's (despatch riders) took the transcribed cyphers to Bletchley.
Google maps reckons 2 hours and 65 miles, but that is not on a side valve BSA with a top end of 45 mph. If you ever see a photo of a Don R you realise that ATGATT is a modern concept.
Nick, thanks for the story. Like you describe, I always think that BSAs of that era must have been a real challenge to do long miles on, but then the dispatch riders were doing up to 1200 miles a week in all weathers. The info at Bletchley had a surprising list of qualifications for a Don R, as well as an interesting list of "rights" with the arm band on. (Such as commandeering petrol from any military vehicle.) Supposedly, the messenger style bag was worn in a way so that their side arm could be pulled at any time.

I believe the best documentary about British bikes that I've seen so far is this one:



There's a good section about the dispatch riders.

Also, I like the motocycle historian's comments at 10:55 about T.E. Lawrence and why he owned and rode seven Brough Superior motorcylces: "On a motorcycle, you can put the world to rights."

Meanwhile, I need to think of a day destination for tomorrow if the weather holds. I'm tempted by the Cottwolds, or maybe Oxford or Cambridge.

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Old 03-01-2015, 02:10 PM   #12
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First tour of the Cottswolds

I opted for the Cottswolds today. Just got back from 230 mile run and visited four villages:

Bibury
Upper Slaughter
Lower Slaughter
Bourton-on-the-Water

Here are some pics from the one-day tour:

Upper Slaughter:



There's a ford, which I was tempted to cross:



Bourton-on-the-Water



Lunch stop:



Quiche anyone?







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Old 03-01-2015, 06:24 PM   #13
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I stay near the Marble Arch when in London. The previous place we stayed at was easy to get to the ACE Caf. That was kinda fun if they had something goin on. Some nice riding to be had in the UK. Last times I was in Scotland I rented for a day. That was really great as well.
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Old 03-02-2015, 10:51 AM   #14
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If you should venture up to the Cotwolds again, th best fish and chip shop I have ever been to is in Morton in Marsh. The Mermaid Fish bar on the Highstreet.

There are many other places to visit in the Cotswolds, and some very nice riding if you can resist the urge to go too fast as there may be a tractor round the corner.

Hidcote, extremely famous for its gardens. The present ones were designed by an American.
Cotswold farm park, is home of the rare breeds survival trust. Rare breeds save from extinction. Also a nursery for you and family to have a pet.
Chipping Camden, famous for being the home of the prime minister, Jeremy Clarkson and the various hangers-on of the "Camden set". Pretty village though.

Enjoying seeing familiar places through different eyes, thanks.
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Old 03-15-2015, 01:49 AM   #15
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If you should venture up to the Cotwolds again, th best fish and chip shop I have ever been to is in Morton in Marsh. The Mermaid Fish bar on the Highstreet.

There are many other places to visit in the Cotswolds, and some very nice riding if you can resist the urge to go too fast as there may be a tractor round the corner.

Hidcote, extremely famous for its gardens. The present ones were designed by an American.
Cotswold farm park, is home of the rare breeds survival trust. Rare breeds save from extinction. Also a nursery for you and family to have a pet.
Chipping Camden, famous for being the home of the prime minister, Jeremy Clarkson and the various hangers-on of the "Camden set". Pretty village though.

Enjoying seeing familiar places through different eyes, thanks.
Thanks for the great recommendations. I plan to return for another day of riding in the next few weeks, and I really look forward to it. I will post pics..

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