Ride Report: Shetland 30th June 2010 until 4th July 2010. This is my first ride report so sorry if it's a bit sucky....... My Grandfather had died back in Shetland so I was organising going up for the funeral. Living near Oxford this meant a 1500 mile round trip. I could have flown, hitched a lift with my mother (although she was not returning at the same time as me) or take my bike. Being summer the bike won hands down, but which bike? I was planning to do a Lands End to John O'Groats trip with my son later in the year on my TDM900 and didn't want to wear out the tyre before this. The other option was my Fireblade which I had done 3 track days on so the tyres were shot, but only on the edges, so 1500 miles (ok some is by boat) on the motorway should wear the relatively untouched centre section of the tyres. Here's the route I took, 500 miles to Aberdeen, then overnight to Shetland and another 25 miles once in Shetland. I used my HTC Smart Phone with the Garmin Mobile Satellite Navigation application installed. I used a cheapo Chinese bluetooth headset with my helmet, more for speed camera warnings than for navigation as I've done this trip countless times before. I packed my tankbag which I really don't like using as it gets in the way. I strapped the tankbag to the pillion seat and also packed a set of handlebar ratchet straps for use on the ferry from Aberdeen to Shetland. I really don't like the way that ferry companies strap bikes down, usually just a chock on one of the wheels and a strap over the seat. Here's a link of a review I've done about the headset, http://www.carpe-tdm.net/ipb/index.php?showtopic=17066 I fill up with fuel and head off for Aberdeen at 6am, the ferry sails at 17:00 hrs and vehicles must be boarded by 16:00 hrs. This gave me 10 hours to do 500 miles, which is pretty comfortable. I had done this trip on my Kawasaki GPX750R about 10 years earlier and managed it in under 7 hours door to door, including 5 stops for fuel food and drink breaks. Of course there's a lot more speed cameras and such like these days. I try to keep things legal and so stick to 80 to 90 mph on the motorway, basically just keeping up with the faster traffic. It's so mind numbingly boring travelling by motorway but I've got a ferry to catch and that's that. I phone my mother who's travelling up at the same time with her husband Dave, and ask when they're stopping for lunch. We arrange to meet in Gretna Green but can't find what we're looking for, get hacked off and decide to hit the road again and stop at the next motorway service station. So for lunch I have an all day breakfast and a cup of tea, nice one! We finish up and agree to meet again on the ferry. The rest of the trip to Aberdeen is pretty uneventful and other than my hands falling asleep (I've got Carpel Tunnel Syndrome) the Fireblade is a pretty decent bike to do 500 miles on in a day. I arrive in Aberdeen first (of course!) and head straight to the ferry terminal. There is a big queue of cars already waiting by the gates to the car park for the ferry. It's June, it's hot, I'm wearing bike gear and getting hotter by the minute so I park my bike on the pavement and I enquire at reception what to do. I'm informed that I have to join the end of the queue and wait until they open the gate then present my reservation to the kiosk at the gate. The thought of waiting in a queue of cars in this heat is not one I relish so I decide to stay put and just wait until last. An employee of the ferry company inform me that I must move my bike as it's blocking the pedestrian access. As it looks like they're going to open the gate I enquire if I can push my bike through first, and I'm promptly informed that everyone else has been waiting for ages and that would be unfair etc. etc. I explain that's fine and I'll just wait where I am and wait until the last car goes through as I just ridden 500 miles and feel rather tired and hot etc. etc. so she says, oh go on then you go first, thank you. I push my Fireblade through the barrier and go back for my helmet, jacket etc. but I'm told I can't go back through the gate once I've entered, Jesus Christ on a bike! After a bit of reasoning I'm allowed to fetch my belongings. So after a 30 minute wait me and Jesus are informed we can get on the boat, as in right now! OK, OK mate, I need to put my helmet on etc. before I can ride on. Meanwhile Jesus Christ is pushing his motorbike, an eBay bargain which is a non runner he's bought for spares. I should explain, it's not actually the big JC it just looks like him lol! Anyway he can't ride on as the bikie doesn't run and he needs help with his bike and baggage. None is forthcoming, miserable staff loading the ferry don't want to know, so I resolve to load my bike on and go back to help the auld fella. So I load my bike on, strap it down and head back to the car park, only to be told in no uncertain terms that I CANNOT go back to help out. Anyway, the poor auld fella gets help in the end. The ferry to Shetland takes 14 hours, from 17:00 to 07:00 hrs. I don't have a cabin as they're expensive and I'm tight, so it's to the restaurant for tea, then the bar for a few brewskies and I kip on one of the sofas in the bar area, along with a quite a few other passengers. Night passes and after two bacon rolls and a cup of tea I'm ready to hit the road again. We pull in to Lerwick and the weather's not as nice as it was on the mainland, no surprise there as it rains like a LOT in Shetland! View from the ferry as we approach Lerwick, here we can see the Isle of Bressay, a bit overcast. View of Lerwick Another. And another. The route from Lerwick to Sumburgh (I used to live in Sumburgh and this is where my Grandparents lived) is about 25 miles. The route has changed a bit from when I last lived there, nearly fifteen years ago, but it's familiar straight away. I remind myself not to get too confident as many a biker has come a cropper in Shetland and I don't want to be a statistic. So about twenty minutes later I'm outside my Grandparents old house, it starts to sink in that they're both gone, memories from my childhood come flooding back and with a tear in my eye I park the bike up and stroll in to the house, the key being hidden where it always was...... I Well I catch up with family and friends, arrangements are made and the funeral takes place. My old mate Derek and his missus come down from Eshaness for tea and a few brewskies, this is a round trip of about 110 miles as we're at opposite ends of this little island! Derek was my best man when I got married in 1998. On my last day in Shetland I decide to take some time to myself and ride up to the Sumburgh Lighthouse and to the top of Compass Hill, which is very steep with switchbacks which snake up the hill. The road is breaking up and covered in gravel, not good on a Fireblade! View from my Grandparents place. You can just make out the ferry heading for Aberdeen. Seagul at the cliff from previous photo. This is at the Sumburgh Lighthouse. This is the fog horn, am I correct in thinking all the fog horns in the UK had unique sounds? The Lighthouse at Sumburgh is now unmanned and much of it looks in a state of disrepair but it was manned when I was a kid. In fact I used to stay there on occasion when getting babysat for, I even stayed there when it was foggy and the fog horn was going off! Believe it or not, after a while you didn't even notice the horn and I slept absolutely fine. Lungs for the fog horn. Close up of the Sumburgh Lighthouse. Me and the Fireblade at the top of Compass Hill. I used to love coming up here to just sit and soak up the view, on a nice day of course! I used to climb in this quarry when I was a kid. Loads of old air raid shelters in Shetland. And here's a WWII POW thank you to the people of Scatness. Before I know it, it's time to get back, as I need to update my mothers sat nav, say goodbye to everyone and head for the ferry home. On the way back I bump into Geordie Jacobson, he's a mad keen biker and has been all over on his bikes. We chat on a wee bit but I'm conscious of the time nad bid him farewell. I get back to my grandparents old place and pack up the bike and say goodbye yet again and head for the ferry. I arrive last and park my bike adjacent to the gate. I need to dig out my ticket to show the clerk, as I'm stood waiting to present my ticket I can hear somebody shouting at me...... It's a security guard, 'you can't leave baggage unattended!' I reply, 'but I'm not going anywhere, I'm just presenting my ticket here.' (stood about 15 feet from my bike.) 'You can't leave baggage!' 'I'm not leaving it, I'm stood right here!' 'Oi, you can't leave baggage unattended!' 'Whatever mate' I choose to ignore the imbecile and comment to the clerk checking my ticket that the security guard is a bit of a twat, she laughs, I get the impression she agrees! So I head back to my bike and put my helmet back on, put my ticket in my pocket and ride over to the grumpy twat of a security guard. Of course I make a meal of getting my ticket out and explain that's why I got off my bike in the first place etc. etc. It falls on deaf ears and he makes a point of informing me that any baggage left unattended will be removed. Knowing that I'll be sleeping in the bar I figure this git will be watching me later...... On board I get my trusty straps out and begin to strap down my bike, the dockers on board ask why I don't trust them. I reply that I'm just being anal and like to do things myself. Anyway I finish up and head up to left luggage, here I leave my bike gear and change in to flip flops and shorts. I grab my sleeping bag and a copy of MCN and head off for the bar. Sure enough once we're under way mr security guard spots me and checks back regularly. I just know that if I leave my sleeping bag while I go for a piss he'll have, frigging twat! Anyway I manage to avoid any bother with him and pass the night sleeping in the bar. Aberdeen! Again two bacon rolls and a cuppa tea to start the day, I know I won't be stopping for food on the way home so make the most of it now, 500 miles 'til I get home! Aberdeen. More Aberdeen. Big boat in Aberdeen covered in seaguls! Aberdeen Lighthouse. Hmm.... It's wet, not raining but drizzle, you know it's not wet enough for the waterproof over-suit but not dry. So I decide to get going and try to miss the traffic but after an hour I can feel the water seeping in, starting at the crotch! It's no good so I pull over and use a bus shelter for cover as I don my oversuit. I'm really disappointed with my Scott Leathers textile suit which I bought at the NEC bike show in 2009. It claims to be 100% waterproof but I think that it's like Goretex, only it lets rain in and no sweat out! I'm on the road again with my over-suit on and I'm glad I won't get any wetter... hmm so I thought! I press on and soon need fuel, getting off the bike at the petrol station in Dundee I know that I'm getting wetter argh! Sod it, the forecast said rain in Scotland but England dry! Nail it and get to England then! As I carry on I feel the water running down my legs, my feet are swimming in my boots. Urgh I hate this kind of riding, soaking wet with hundreds of miles to go argh! Then my bluetooth headset packs up, it full of water, waterproof my arse, cheap chinese crap! As a result I miss directions and the conditions are atrocious so I miss a turn and head the wrong way. So I'm going the wrong way soaking wet and the conditions are shocking. I know if I press on I'll pick up the correct road after Stirling, so carry on. True enough the forecast was correct, it stops raining when I get past Carlise. I had a loose plan to watch the BSB at Knockhill but the rain stopped much of the racing anyway, if you saw any of the BSB coverage from Knockhill you'll know what I'm talking about! Yes it really was that wet!! In the end most is cancelled! The combination of my textile suit with a waterproof over-suit results in boil-in-bag meal syndrome! Around Carlise the rain stops so I take off the over-suit and enjoy the warm dry air! I dry off on the way home. I must admit I was anxious to get out of the rain that I rode rather fast to get out of the rain, like 110 -120mph in the pissing rain. Every now and again the bike would drift across the road when I hit standing water. This was rather worrying but I hated the conditions so much I just wanted to get home ASAP. Stupid really as I was expecting speeding tickets when I got home and I hate to think what would of happened if I'd come off. So I get home tired, nearly dry and find my waterproof cover for my tank bag is shredded, not surprising I guess. Otherwise all is fine, no tickets and no mishaps thankfully.