There and Back Again - Southern England and Ireland on 2 V-Stroms.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Don T, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    My girlfriend an I have traveled around Europe on motorcycles almost every summer since we met 16 years ago.
    I have always done most of the planning (taking into account her ideas and wishes) both before and during our travels together.

    Riding and planning together involves some compromises to make both parties happy - in our case the main issue have always been, how much time we should spend riding compared to time out of the saddle to explore the places we visit (I never get tired of riding).


    Earlier this year I did a 2 weeks/9.000km solo ride to Morocco, where I didn't have to make any compromises and thus got my desire for long days in the saddle saturated (for a time) - the result was, that my girlfriend and I agreed to let her decide everything and do all the planning for this years summer vacation :eek1

    She quickly decided that the destination should be Ireland - one of the few places in Europe we still hadn't visited on 2 wheels.

    The 25th of June we took off on a journey that in many ways was different from any of our earlier motorcycle trips together - a journey with happy reunions, unexpected issues, new friends, great riding, challenges, breathtaking scenery and a bit infidelity...

    Stay tuned.
    #1
  2. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    First stop on our way to Ireland was in Dudeldorf/Germany to say hello to Jim (fellow inmate jbar28), that I got to know on my ride around Morocco 2 month earlier.
    It was great to see him again and meet his wife Sandy - and to introduce Katrine for the guy I had shared some of my Moroccan adventures with.

    After a pleasant evening in good company, a good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast Katrine and I was ready to continue our journey.

    Jim giving me advice on an interesting route through the Ardennes:
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    There was only 450km from Jim's house to Calais where we had an evening reservation for the Eurotunnel (connect Calais in France with Folkestone in England), which allowed us to take scenic routes for most of the day.

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    Riding the small roads we still made good time and ended up arriving at the train station in Calais almost 2 hours before schedule.
    Instead of spending 2 hours waiting for the train for which we had booked tickets, we were waved directly aboard a train that was just about to depart.

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    25 minutes later we disembarked in Folkestone and headed for a hotel in the center of town - taking it easy while getting use to the left-hand traffic.

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    The hotel we had booked prior to leaving home, turned out to be a time warp from the 70s - but it was a nice place, and the owner told us to park the bikes in the garden, where he judged they would be safer than in the street.

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    After having checked in and parked the bikes we headed for the nearest pub to get a few pints - When in Rome... :freaky

    #2
  3. IslandMonkey

    IslandMonkey Been here awhile

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    So far so good. Looking forward to reading of your adventures in the British/Irish isles.
    #3
  4. Eyore

    Eyore Been here awhile

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    Good stuff, going to enjoy this :clap
    #4
  5. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Thanks for the feedback guys.

    I have a lot of stuff going on at the moment, but I'll add new chapters to the story whenever I can find the time.
    #5
  6. Irish John

    Irish John Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Lawrence, KS but I'd rather be in Ireland
    Waiting not so patiently..
    #6
  7. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    A little flashback:

    About a week before departure I was servicing my bike to make sure it was ready for the trip. When I adjusted the chain, I noticed that the axle nut ran tighter than normal when I loosened it. It turned out that the threads was damaged and both axel and nut needed to be replaced. When I tried to order the parts from the local dealer, they told me, that the axle was on back order from the Danish importer, and expected delivery time was 2-3 weeks - not good!

    In a situation like this the www can be a real life saver.

    After sending out requests to several dealers around Europe, I finally got a positive response from Sam at Pro-Bike in Berkshire just west of London, who promised to get me the parts in time for me to replace them before departure. She was a real pleasure to do business with and I received the parts as promised. In her last email to me, she told me, that I was welcome to pop in for a coffee if I ever happened to be in the neighborhood.


    Back to the RR...

    The next morning we packed the bikes before enjoying the first full English breakfast of the trip.

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    We then hit the highway to get around London in the direction of Holyhead where we were to catch a ferry to Dublin the next day. It turned out that Berkshire was on the route and around noon we parked our bikes in front of Pro-Bike and popped in to say hello to Sam and get the promised cup of coffee. Sam was surprised (to say the least) when she found out who we were – it was not every day that customers living 1000 miles from the shop dropped by to say hello.


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    After a cup of coffee and a good chat with Sam and some of the other sales people working at Pro-Bike we continued our Journey towards Ireland.

    The rest of the day we took the smaller roads and before long we entered Wales riding beautiful twisty roads surrounded by stunning scenery. The night before we had booked room at a B&B located in Brecon Beacons National Park. The place turned out to be a real gem - a tiny 700 years old church converted into a B&B with 2 guestrooms in the attic.

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    When bikers move in with all there stuff:

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    The host couple was a retired teacher and his wife who really knew how to make their guests feel welcome. We spend the evening doing a 1 hour hike to the nearest pub, to get a meal and a few pints – a nice way to build up an appetite.


    It was a really nice hike to the pub

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    Just as we left the B&B heading for the pub, an Israeli couple arrived to check in at the other room in the attic. We met them again at the pub, and we ended up having dinner together and afterwards they gave us a lift back to the B&B in their car.

    Dinner at the pub
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    #7
  8. Wal2

    Wal2 Been here awhile

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    Nice one Tonny, nice to see you enjoying the UK.....ive stayed at the Wycliffe in Folkstone a couple of times, but going the other way for me...UK to EU
    #8
  9. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Thanks Wal2.

    The UK is one of my favorite destinations when going on motorcycle vacations - the weather is not always the best, but it is amply offset by all the other good things the place has to offer.

    The next chapter of the RR will get posted soon...
    #9
  10. Eyore

    Eyore Been here awhile

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    Ireland
    Good, good:clap
    #10
  11. novaboy

    novaboy Been here awhile

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    Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada, eh
    Living in North America it's really nice to read the RR's from the UK and Europe. Thanks, looking forward to more
    #11
  12. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    When we fell asleep it was to the sound of rain drumming against the window - a sound which fortunately was gone when we woke up the next morning.

    This days riding started on some really nice roads going north through the Brecon Beacons National Park:



    The pace was leisurely, allowing us to enjoy the scenery and we often stopped to take pictures and soak up the atmosphere.


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    We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Caernarfon right next to the town’s impressiv castle.
    If you are in to castles, Wales is the place to go – with over 400 in all shapes and sizes scattered throughout the region.


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    Late in the afternoon we arrived at the port of Holyhead, where we were going to catch a ferry to Dublin.
    In the queue for the ferry we parked next to an Irish couple – Liam and Trish - who were on their way home from a 4-week motorcycle tour around Europe


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    When the bikes were secured on the car deck we went upstairs to share a table in the salon during the crossing. They came up with several good suggestions for places and routes we could explore during our stay in Ireland.
    Just before we disembarked in Dublin they invited us to stay at their place in Tralee if we came to that part of the country. We thanked them for the generous offer and exchanged phone numbers before we said goodbye to each other.


    One of the reasons for us going to Ireland was to visit Katrine’s brother who had moved to Dublin with his wife and kid a few months earlier. His wife is from Dublin and at the time of our visit they lived in her parents’ house.

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    We checked in at a B&B nearby and spend the weekend hanging out with the family and playing tourists around Dublin.


    The Jeanie Johnston:
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    From one of the many parks in Dublin:
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    Dublin has more pubs per capita than any other city in the world - and of course we had to visit some of them :freaky
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    The V-Stroms took a well earned rest for a couple of days in the back yard of the B&B:

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    #12
  13. rockydog

    rockydog just a guy

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    Enjoying this, thanks
    #13
  14. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Thanks for the positiv feedback :norton
    #14
  15. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Monday morning after having spend 3 days in Dublin, Katrine and I was eager to get back on the bikes and start to explore Ireland in earnest.
    The plan for the day was to head north into Northern Ireland and then follow the coast west to Galway, where we had booked a room for the night, but that plan was soon about to change.


    We had just left the city and hit the freeway when the engine on my bike suddenly died and the dash looked like this:
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    I pulled the clutch and was able to roll onto a lay-by, where I started to look for the cause.
    When I turned on the ignition the fuel pump didn't prime and the dash looked like above.
    It turned out that the fuse marked "fuel" was blown and when I replaced it with a spare, that one blew too. I then decided to call roadside assistance.


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    As you might have deduced from the picture, I was not thrilled with the situation.
    The V-Strom was only little over a year old with 20.000 miles on the clock and had been meticulously maintained, so I was really disappointed that it now left me stranded like this.


    After waiting 4 hours on a tow truck, I was picked up and transported to the Irish Suzuki importer (Priory Motorcycle) located nearby, while Katrine follow on her bike.

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    When we arrived at Priory Motorcycle they dropped everything to help me out and after 1 hour of troubleshooting, they discovered that there was a short circuit in the diagnostic wire at the back of the bike caused by rubbing against the supframe. The mechanic found that the problem was caused by the original routing of the wiring and would report the problem to Suzuki.

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    He then repaired and relocated the wire, replaced the fuses and 1 hour later the bike was fit for fight and I was ready to hit the road.

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    The mechanic who save my day (and our vacation):
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    As the bike was still under warranty they didn't charge me for the work, so in the end the entire incident only cost me 6 hours, a lot of swearing and a missed opportunity to visit Northern Ireland this time around as it was now mid afternoon and we had to head directly for Galway in order not to arrive too late in the day.

    After a long and troublesome day we finally arrived at our B&B in Galway, where we were accommodated in a big and really nice room with a view over the bay, before heading for the local pub to get dinner and the mandatory pint of beer.


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    #15
  16. b1pig

    b1pig Long timer

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    looks like a great time to me. :clap
    #16
  17. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    We had booked 2 nights at the B&B as Katrine wanted to spend a whole day exploring the area west of Galway.
    The rain was pouring down, when we left the B&B in the morning - not the best weather for motorcycle riding, but after the stay in Dublin and the shortened stage the day before, we enjoyed riding despite the wet conditions.


    We follow the coast west for a while before taking a more inland route NW heading for the first destination of the day - Connemara National Park.

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    When we arrived at Connemara it was still raining heavily and combined with fog/low clouds, we really didn't feel like parking the bikes and go for a hike in the park, as originally intended when we took off in the morning.
    Instead we stayed in the saddles and follow the road around the park to Kylemore Abbey in the hoped of finding a place out of the rain where we could get lunch and something warm to drink.
    When we arrived at Kylemore Abbey the rain had subsided and we decided to use the opportunity to stretch our legs and take a closer look at the Abbey and the park surrounding it.


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    After a good long walk we had build up an appetite and stopped by the parks Tea-house to get something to eat.


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    Some time later and with full bellies we got back to the bikes just as the rain started to pick up again.
    As we had had enough of riding in the rain for one day, we headed back to the B&B in Galway to get a warm bath and change into some dry clothes before spending the rest of the day exploring the city on foot.


    Not surprisingly our tour of the city ended at a pub for a late dinner and a pint of beer.

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    #17
  18. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    We did have a great time and it just got better and better as the journey progressed - just wait and see!
    #18
  19. Falcon86

    Falcon86 I just work here.

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    Awesome so far, looking forward to the rest of it.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    :clap
    #19
  20. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Later in the evening when we got back to the B&B I contacted Liam (who we met on the ferry to Dublin) to ask him if the offer for an overnight stay in Tralee was still valid - it was and he invited us for dinner the next day.

    When we got up in the morning the weather was much better than the previous day, so the spirit was high when we packed the bikes after yet another hearty breakfast.

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    After leaving Galway we followed the small roads south, alternately along the coast and inland.


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    In the late morning we took a break at the Cliffs of Moher before continuing south.

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    It was still early in the afternoon when we stopped at a gas station in Tralee, so we decided to do a bit more riding before visiting Liam and Trish.
    We headed for Dingle via the Connor Pass from which there should be great views of the area (one of the routes Liam and Trish had recommended). The weather was nice when we left Tralee but as we started to climb the pass we headed in to the low hanging clouds and when we reached the top the visibility was down to a few meters, making the riding somewhat interesting - so much for the great views, but the rolling clouds/fog provided a dramatic atmosphere while riding along the narrow road carved into the mountain side.
    After a quick stop in Dingle on the other side of the pass, we took another route back to Tralee where we got a good view of the clouds rolling down the mountains we had just passed.


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    Soon we arrived at Liam and Trish's house where we got a warm welcome and it was great to see them again.


    When we last saw them in Dublin, they were riding a BMW R1200RT that was a bit worse for wear as Liam had been rear ended by a car near London the day before. The bike was still ridable but Trish sitting on the back had to hold on to one of the panniers to hold it in place and the bike had some dents and scratches.
    Liam who had been riding solo at the time of the accident had escaped with some bumps and bruises.
    Now a few days later he was still pretty sore and one leg was quite swollen earning him a sick leave.
    Besides the RT that was at the BMW dealer to get fixed Liam had a K1200LT and a R1150GSA parked in his garage – the last one was his favorite bike with +100.000 miles on the clock.


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    We spend a really nice evening with our new friends and (surprise!) ended up at the local pub drinking Guinness and whiskey until late in the night. :freaky
    #20