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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScottDill, Jul 4, 2010.
keep going..keep going.
Nice report ..
See you soon
Yeah. Keep it coming.
Edit - Title should read "April 2007"
This ride report was written almost four years after the fact so hopefully things aren't too foggy. I still wanted to capture the story since it was my first European trip. So here is a VERY brief report. It was early spring and I had pretty good gear, so I loaded up the bike and headed North for a long weekend. I took the motorway most of the way to get through the bustle of England and headed for Stirling. Famous from the "Braveheart" legend, this is a nice city. It resembles a small Edinburgh. The picture below is where I parked the GS for the night as the hotel I found was right down that little pedestrian street.
I spent some time walking around the city and seeing the sights the next morning before I took off.
Stirling Castle for example....
I also rode around the area and stopped by the Wallace Monument.....FREEEEEDOOOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ...can't help it
I picked all of the back mountain roads that were absolutely designed to be ridden by a GS. They were remote and scenic. This a typical view of the Western Highlands
Of course I had to see Loch Ness and the road along the northern coast was quite the enjoyable ride
I made it as far North as Skye and passed by the castle of Eilean Donnan on the way. This is supposedly the most photographed castle in Scotland.......but it is still quite the site.
The bridge to Skye as seen from the mainland.
edit - title should read "June 2007"
In the spring and early summer of 2007 I had just started to meet some of the riders on UKGSER.COM so I combined a trip to the inaugural rally in Glen Cova called "Gathering of the Clans" with a trip to Ireland. I reserved my space at the Glen Cova Hotel Bunkhouse, made a couple of Ferry reservations and headed of for ten rained soaked days.......it rained EVERY DAY!!!! My bike was mildewed by the time I got back..... I skipped the Ring of Kerry and South-Western Ireland because I had done it in a car the year before Here is the almost obligatory breadcrumb trail of my trip from Richmond and back.
The Glen Cova inn was a great location and there was a good turn out...even ran into a few UKGSERs from the London area that I met at the monthly gathering at the Ace Cafe. This far north in late June it stays light light until almost 2300!
We had group ride in the rain on Saturday. Very wet and foggy in places, but we only had one crash....a R100GS whose forks merely got twisted.
Headed west along the Southern coast of Loch Ness this time. lovely scenery....Foyers Falls....
I took the ferry crossing from Troon to Larne and headed out through Northern Ireland . Here is a view from Torr Head.
Of course I had to stop at the Giants Causway.
Lovely view from Glenn Gash Pass. I really liked Donegal.
Near Dublin I had to geek out and visit the ancient burial sites of Bru Na Boinne. Below is the New Grange site which predates the Egyptian pyramids.
Here is the other major site in the area - Knowth.
I crossed over from Dublin to Holyhead on the way home and made a stop at Bryn Celli Ddu, which is also 5000 years old.
I closed out the trip by joining the UKGSER annual rally at Andover known as the "Hograost". Went out with Steptoe on Saturday to the Salisbury plains which are chalky and slippery when wet. This was my first off-roading experience on the big GS (on Tourances no less!!!!). It wet my appetite, but taught me that I had a LOT to learn. I signed up for Simon Pavey's off-road school in Wales shortly afterwards.
Hail fellow Uly rider who rented a BMW in the UK! We've traveled the same roads over there...and to think, when I went in 2005, the Uly was just about to be released.
Great photos and good memories...
Great ride reports Scott
BYOB in WV and the new "Pyg" - June 2011
Ever since last years BYOB, I had been looking forward to the reprise. Of the crew that went down last year, only Gerry and I were left. Pete is still recovering from his trip with me last month to the Dragon and Mike had to bail due to other commitments. No worries though, Gerry and I would make a good trip and meet up with some friends down there for the local rides. I then threw a monkey wrench into the works and decided to buy a 2006 BMW 1150 GS Adventure down south and ride it home, stopping at the BYOB on the way....leaving Gerry on his own...sorry bud. We still met up in WV and a couple great rides....~1000 miles!
The bike was located in the sticks of South Carolina only 3 hours from Jacksonville, my home town. So Greg - the seller - agreed to bring it down to Jax and I could just fly in there and spend a few days with my Mother before I headed north. A two birds, one stone sort of thing. Greg's a great guy, into his bikes and very energetic. After a test ride and a once-over on everything he new about it, we had spent about an hour in the 95 degree parking lot. We decided to wrap things up with a few pictures to commemorate the event. Of course....the keys were in the truck when he closed the locked doors to make a better picture. That's just the situation when it's easy to do.....but we were already baked, so not a great time. Here we are before he closed the truck doors.
With 20,083 miles on the ODO, the bike was pretty much perfect and just broken in. When I got to my Mom's, I did find two issues, however. In an effort to do me a favor, Greg changed the oil the night before he trucked it down. He hadn't ridden it much in the past year and when he drained the oil cold , a bunch of it didn't get out. It was about a quart overfilled. Then, after I changed the oil, it wouldn't start. Turns out the battery was dead, wouldn't hold a charge and this was masked by his religious use of a battery tender. I was able to get an OEM style battery at a local Battery+ store and it has been flawless since. I did a morning run down to Saint Augustine. This is one of my favorite places, were I used to hang out when growing up. Everything checked out great.
The locals up here call her a "Pyg" because she is a big girl, but as a Southerner, she kind of reminds me of Traveler, but with a gut See the resemblance?????
The trip home was to be through the Appalachians, stopping at the BYOB and then on to Buffalo, where I left my truck for my flight to Jax. This allowed me to truck across the border and though Canada instead of further relying on my questionable registration and insurance. A trip of 2200 miles by bike with another 100 or so in the truck. A perfect opportunity to get to know the new beast. Below are the tracks recorded by my Zumo.
To beat the heat, I left "bright" and early on Wednesday morning from my Mom's place.
I boogied through the flatlands of North Florida and South Georgia using a little bit of Interstate and a lot of back roads. I found a wooded area in central Georgia to pull off for an early lunch of the sandwich my mother had packed....awe....
I then headed North into the roads that I know so well in North Georgia and North Carolina. I skipped 129, but took War Woman and 28 into Franklin where I was getting a bit peckish so stopped by the Motor Company Grill for a chili dog. For some reason I craved chili dogs during the whole trip. Must be a vitamin deficiency from living in Canada . The Motor Company is a great place to stop if your in the Franklin area. Slow service, but great food and biker friendly...even if you're not dressed like a pirate.
I then spent the next three hours backtracking through various mountain roads to get to Maggie Valley and see my Uncle Richard . Unfortunately my Aunt was out of town....but always a good place to visit in riding season. I explored some dirt roads in the area and really had a great time.
Early Thursday Morning, I headed "North" on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a VERY indirect route. It is also, a wonderful road if you catch it mid week and avoid the traffic. I have ridden the complete parkway in the past, but you really can't get tired of this. I made it into Marlinton around 1700,-shortly after Gerry arrived. Of course, he already had a beer in his hand . gsweave, deerlsayer and others (Oilhead riders all) pointed out that my front looked low...and they were right. Oversight on my part for some reason, but the handling sure picked up after correcting that.
On Friday morning, Gerry and I hooked up with a local on a Wee-strom - "hillbillyrider" - who showed us some great roads in the area. All well groomed gravel and twisty mountain roads off the beaten path. Before lunch we rode by the New River Gorge and took the old bridge down deep in the gorge. Gerry took this shot of our guide and me.
The new bridge, is WAY up there
By the time we got back to the motor lodge that evening, the place was full. I think Gerry counted around 85 bikes.
Dyno showed up before dark and we made some loose plans to get up early and head towards Burke's Garden, south of Tazewell, Virginia. We would take some back roads as we found them. We started on the the "backest" of back roads that ended up being a ridge road "paved" with baby heads. The rain had washed the dirt way so that the exposed rocks were quite pronounced. It was a road, nothing extreme, just rough. Gerry felt at home, but Dave and I were wishing for our DR650s. Here's Dave and Gerry coming down a gravelly section the ridge road.
We made it into Burke's around 1400 for a late lunch at the general store. The road in is a very dragonesque paved path and the road out is an incredibly steep, meaning long switchbacks, gravel path...good fun all around. At the recommendation of some Harley riders at the general store, we took HWY 16 north out of VA and were NOT disappointed. Although my unofficial name for it is "gravel at the apex road". :-( We got back to the lodge around 2000 and almost missed the dinner. We were exhausted but had a good time with the rest of the ADV crew. The mayor of Marlinton even showed up to welcome us.....wonderful to be someplace where they appreciate the business.
Gerry blasted home on the interstate Sunday morning because he had a hot date or some such, but I had to wait until Monday to export my bike so Dave and I decided to meander north, taking the best roads we could find. I picked "Twisted Roads" brain and he had some great ideas. He'll be moving to the KW area soon, so I look forward to riding with him more. After a foggy ride up a single lane paved road right out of Marlinton, that seems to be so common in the area, we ended up at Seneca Rock and then took the gravel road up to the Dolly Sod's, which has a Northern Ontario flora feel to it. It was pretty, that's for sure.
...and the obligatory shot of the bikes:
...and the obligatory ADV salute:
We headed up to Old Town, Maryland to cross a private rickety wooden bridge that "Twisted Roads" also told us about. It's not that picturesque, but is a very cool way to get across the Potomac...costs a Quarter. We then took PA 26 north to State College and 144 (WOW!!) to Galeton were we split up. I was tired and stopped at the Oxyoke Inn, site of the last BYOB for repast before heading to Buffalo to load the bike in the truck and head home on Monday.
Monday morning, I sprinted North, loaded the bike up and began the export-import process. A good trip.........
I will be putting together a full ride report in the near future, but this is a quick summary with some pictures to post on ADV. Many members in the Canadian section are wondering about what their friends are up to and internet access has been poor at best for them to post. So here's a brief update and they will be adding their own soon enough. The rest of the crew returns in ~ 10 days.
I couldn't take the time off for the entire 6 weeks, so last October I signed up with Gary for the middle portion of the trip from Swakopmund through to Johannesburg. 21 days with 18 in Africa.
They had been on the road around 10 days when I arrived and had lost three bikes to road crashes already. One rider was airlifted home, but is now doing the well, while the other two have continued either on the the truck or on pillion. My first day of riding took us north on the salt road along the Skeleton Coast and then east though the Namibian desert. This experience changed my definition of "the middle of nowhere"
We had to separate by several hundred meters due to the dust we were kicking up so I missed the action, but Darrel, Harry and Shawn witnessed a group of Germans in a hatchback swerve in front of them and roll their car before landing back on the wheels. No one in our party was involved in the crash. Enrico, a firefighter in real life, was once again called into duty to render aid. A further reminder that the roads of Africa can take their toll if you are not careful.
We then spent a few days in Damaraland, Namibia at a fantastic campsite. During the day off, Harry and I decided to explore the local trails. Some of my favorite riding of the trip. Since the trails where tight and Rocky, and Harry was on a big GS, I was able to keep up with him.
We rode some fantastic gravel roads in this area. We had lunch at the Camel Inn before the few of us that wanted to run fast on the gravel split of from the bulk of the riders that took pavement. This is the entire entourage at lunch.
From there we entered Etosha National park and spent a couple of days there. We traveled through much of Namibia without seeing a lot of traffic, but when they do have a traffic jam, it is done in their own special style....
During the day off in Etosha we all climbed aboard safari trucks and drove through the park to visit the water holes and see the wild life. We saw tons of zebra, springbok, Kudu, Elephant, Lion, jackals...etc.... and I have lot's of great shots. Here, I'll just post one that I think is a great capture.
On our last night in Namibia we stayed in a camp along the Zambezi at the end of a long, long sandy road. On the other side of the Zambezi is Angola...There are lot's of beautiful sunsets in Africa.
We crossed into Zambia which was quite amusing. Since we were temporarily importing our bikes using Carnets, we had to first pay for our visas, then our local third party insurance and then our carbon tax and then our local council tax....you get the idea. All this was done with a smile as they led you to a new room, building or trailer of course. A roadside cop tried to shake us down for more on the way to Livingstone, but Gary handled him pretty well.
One thing about Zambia is that the local currency, the Kwatcha, is valued at ~4700 to the dollar. I actually withdrew 1,000,000 Quatcha and spent it all on beer, fuel and women in the the three days I was in Livingstone This bought one beer....or I could have used 2 US Dollars
While in Livingstone, I joined Bev, Sue, Shawn and his family in renting a helicopter to view Victoria falls. The water is low this time of year, as you can tell.
The campground in Livingstone was infested with monkeys and a few rogue baboons. The monkeys were cute, but they got into EVERYTHING!
We then crossed into Botswana, which involved another African bureaucratic handoff in Zambia (and another "council tax"), a ferry crossing and then a triplicate road tax application that took ~20 minutes per bike in Botswana....20 bikes - one window....some waiting . Botswana is the land of the elephants and we spent two days camped near the Chobe National Park. We took another game drive that brought us exquisite wildlife in the morning and then a sunset cruise on the Chobe river through the park. You may recognize some of this crew.
Further into Botswana, we camped in Nata. A few of us were able to pull ourselves away from the pool to join Darrel in a run to the Botswanan salt pan. 160km of flat nothing sort of like Bonneville. The ride back at night was spooky with the warthogs, donkeys, cattle, etc. Did I mention that Africa had great sunsets???
We then crossed the border into South Africa and the African wilderness seemed to turn into what most of us felt resembled a civilized Europe...amazing what difference a border can make. We spent the night in Hartbeetspoort which has a coastline somewhat resembling Amalfi.....
....and where the bikers from the greater Johannesburg area gather every Sunday.
Here's a shot Cath took of me crossing the dam in Hartbeetspoort
Nice report Scott , looks like I missed a good BYOB
Adding Links to a couple rides done this summer
Northern Quebec, Trans-Taiga
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
OK - I'll try and pull this together over the next week or so.
Just before the end of the year, Harry (whom I went to Africa with in 2010) suggested a trip that he had been organizing with Darrell of GS Adventures (whom was also on the 2010 trip). This was to take all of the best unpaved roads that Darrell knew across South Africa and Lesotho.....a real riding trip. Harry and I had done the game drives and safari cruises on the last trip, but the other two who joined us (Chris and Paul) had never been there before so it probably didn't end up being the ideal trip for them.
We decided to rent bikes instead of sending our own this time so I ended up on an F800GS shod with Annakes and really had no complaints with the bike. We had 13 days of riding and stayed in lodges this time. Since no camping gear was needed, I just packed a Wolfman roll-top tail bag and a set of Aerostich tank panniers to carry my stuff. Both worked well.
We flew Turkish Airlines from Toronto, through Istanbul and Jo'berg on the way to Cape Town. We met Darrel and his wife Michelle at the Backpackers we had booked went out collect the bikes.
After a seafood dinner out at the port, we gathered at the pub to discuss tomorrows plan.
We take off the next morning right after breakfast for a great trip.
Day 1 - Along the Coast - 270 Miles (435km)
We started out easy and stuck to pavement for much of the first day, and ALL of the morning. This is a great idea after a torturous flight and climbing on an unfamiliar bike. In the morning , we hugged the coastal highway and made our way down to the Cape of Good Hope. The views along the way were spectacular.
Of course, we had to pose for the obligatory picture.
From there we made our way through typically aggressive South African traffic to the southern most point of Africa, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, Cape Agulhas. ................of course, we had to have another obligatory picture taken.
We stayed at nice clean B&B, right off the beach - The Cape Agulhas Guest House. I think they served us pork ribs for dinner, we had a few beers and went to bed early, still a little jet-lagged. Tomorrow the riding is set to get more interesting.
We got up to a full African fry-up and headed out on a mix of gravel and pavement for a mid morning stop a local landmark.
Ronnies is a bar that is only open when Ronnie is there...which is most of time....I think. It just means there are no guaranteed hours. It was open, but too early for us to drink....imagine that. From there we kept working our way north past ranches and through beautiful landscape. We would see the occasional ostrich, warthog or kudu but not the massive wildlife like in Botswana or even Namibia. Darrell, Harry and I tended to ride a bit faster, while Chris and Paul (though excellent riders) preferred to sniff the flowers....so there wa
s a little waiting around here and there.
As we headed north, we took mostly gravel roads and found some to be fantastically smooth and fast so that you could run at 120kmh+ side-by-side. Unfortunately at one point, when were well spread out, Harry was feeling out the performance of the R1200GSA he was on and managed to slide it off road, dinging one of the headers pretty bad. Otherwise no harm done. Great area to ride at speed.
I managed to catch a shot of Darrell coming up at speed.
Mid afternoon we make it up the Swartberg pass
Lot's of views like this on the trip.
...and we began our decent into Hell. There is a little valley that is only accessible by a 43km single lane dirt road hugging the side of the mountain. The area is called "Die Hel" in Afrikaans. Its not particularly difficult but there are may blind corners that would send you plummeting if you didn't make them. Make sure the ABS is off, or you are very comfortable with its function. On the 800, I found that it could be trusted, if not to stop, to allow you to make the corner even if you're a little hot. Since it was late
afternoon, we took the ~2 hour ride with sun in our eyes, wearing dusty face shields and sun glasses, visibility was limited at times. It really made you stay on edge for the whole section.
The locals claim that since its so inconvenient to get down there, its populated by a bunch of inbreds....that may be true. Despite the cabin being empty, and them expected a group on motorcycles, they didn't have the name right so weren't sure if the reservation
was really for us. We let Darrell sort that and we had a well deserved beer before heading out to the cabin.
We made it to the cabin, just a ways down a little path, but Paul had trouble parking......wasn't the beer, but he was tired, as were
The Cabin had three rooms. Two singles and a double, so after a high stakes rock-paper-scissors tournament, Harry and I were declared victors and had the private rooms. Since we arrived so late, the kitchen was closed so they agreed to prepare the food and bring it to the cabin when ready. That suited us fine as it gave us time to
clean up and relax a bit. I can't remember what they fed us, but I don't remember any0ne complaining either. The cabin was lit by candles only and we slept with the place wide open. Everyone really enjoyed the place....we're easy to amuse.
Time to quit dickin around and show us the whole trip
...OK...this is going to take more than a week to complete....
After another African fry-up we head out on our own for the 40km ride back out of Die Hel. Everything seemed much easier in the morning and since it was generally uphill, the precipitous drops weren't so intimidating. Still great views though.
Finally got to the end...or beginning as it were....
We had a morning break in Prince Albert.
We continued easterly along some twisty pavement and more ultra high speed gravel roads that allowed more side-by-side running up front on our way to Bavviaans. The lodge where were supposed to stay that evening was a bit remote so we stopped at a shop towards the end of the day to stock up on critical supplies.
We also noticed this sign out front. Apparently the dogs aren't really socialized with humans but are so with the sheep they protect. They are used to prevent farmers for shooting leopards. Of course...that also means leopards are around......
Finally we get to the lodge. Darrell was really quiet about it and looked a bit nervous as he led us down a little foot path into the woods from where we parked the bikes. It turns out that he had reserved a cave for us.
There were sleeping pallets that you could move around, a fire pit, propane lanterns and stove, running water and even a toilet across the small ravine with it's own geyser for a hot shower.
Darrell was relieved when he realized that we really dug the place. From past experience, some people are put off by rustic lodging apparently.
The owners came by shortly after we arrived and brought fresh bedding and tons of food for us to cook for both dinner and breakfast. Unlike the last trip, we had way too much to eat. I think there were 4 or 5 types of meats alone
We rode by several troops of baboons on the way in, but we were assured that they wouldn't bother us since they sleep up in trees at night........to avoid getting eaten by leopards.......We all slept well though.