Short tours and misadventures in Europe..

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by UKRider, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    Middlesex, United Kingdom
    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 I’m off on some early adventures.

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



    [​IMG]

    Meanwhile, it’s time for a quick report on a little 250 mile ride yesterday, off this island and onto another.
    UKRider
    #1
  2. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    Middlesex, United Kingdom
    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:


    [​IMG]

    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:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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

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

    [​IMG]

    I was very happy to warm up in the lounge for part of the trip:
    [​IMG]

    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):

    [​IMG]

    Part II will follow up with images from the ride.
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    #2
  3. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    Middlesex, United Kingdom
    Driving off the ferry was a snap, and my first destination dropped by pin into the Tom Tom app was The Needles:

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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:

    [​IMG]

    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:

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #3
  4. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    Middlesex, United Kingdom
    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:

    [​IMG]

    Source: http://www.holidays-in-the-isle-of-wight.co.uk/st-helens-isleofwight.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:

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    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:

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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:

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #4
  5. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    2,475
    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Nice ride report and pics of an area of the UK I have not been to. Thanks for sharing...Dave
    #5
  6. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    9,176
    Location:
    below the sea
    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?

    Nick
    #6
  7. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    Middlesex, United Kingdom
    Thanks, Dave. I hope to visit Ontario again the the future. My wife and I drove through once and camped at some beautiful sites.

    UKRider
    #7
  8. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2014
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    Middlesex, United Kingdom
    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.)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    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:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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).

    UKRider
    #8
  9. glenn2926

    glenn2926 Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    IOW looks like a great ride. I really must go south sometime. Thanks for that.
    #9
  10. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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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.
    #10
  11. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

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    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:

    <iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/BNNUYHhoDiU" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>

    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.

    UKRider
    #11
  12. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

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    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:

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    Bourton-on-the-Water

    [​IMG]

    Lunch stop:

    [​IMG]

    Quiche anyone?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #12
  13. oldmanb777

    oldmanb777 Just say NO to socialism! It's a bad drug!

    Joined:
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    :lurk

    I stay near the Marble Arch when in London. The previous place we stayed at was easy to get to the ACE Café. 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.
    #13
  14. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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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.
    #14
  15. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

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    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..

    UKRider
    #15
  16. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

    Joined:
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    Middlesex, United Kingdom
    I had a three stop ride yesterday of about 95 miles that was fun.

    First, for fun, I stopped by the KTM Centre and checked out the new KTM 1050 Adventure bike. My F700 will be my main bike for probably 50k miles (already pulling up on 6k), but I was curious about the 1050 given the reviews. I checked out the other KTMs before, but the 1190 was too large, the 990 not to my liking and discontined, and the 600 models a little small. I also didn't like all the cowling on the 990, and I wasn't interested in a big trailie being mainly a road rider at the moment.

    The 1050 changes the game a bit, having the 1190 frame but a 10mm lower seat, less power and fewer electronic aids. The price is also closer to something I might be able to afford (esp. if 1-2 years used).

    [​IMG]

    So, I didn't ride the bike, but sitting on it was a pleasure. It was a perfect size for my height, almost a little short in the seat, and I liked the balance and feel. The forward shield and instrument panel are larger and higher than my F700, but in a good way. The details of the bike were interesting-- strong and beefy in the frame and front fork assembly. It was a strong, no-nonsense bike-- and not overloaded with gear or complexity. I admire that.

    So, no rush to test ride, but its probably the best KTM I've been on and in a couple of years I might be thinking of it again. I almost hope it doesn't sell well, to reduce resale values.

    After that, I cruised to Sawbridgeworth and then back to the Ace Cafe for a breakfast burger with chips-- maybe the two eggs on top were a big much, but having lunch at 3:30 p.m. made me hungry. I did a 45 minute trainer ride on the bicycle at home afterwards to feel less guilty!

    [​IMG]

    UKRider
    #16
  17. cnflyboy

    cnflyboy n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
    5
    Location:
    New England
    Hi noob here; nice ride report, great pix thanks! looks like the best time of year to go, trafficwise!

    USA east coast here, experienced (40 yrs) road rider.

    hoping to do some biking UK/Ireland/continent this yea. can i ask couple dumb questions, please?

    You spent 3 hrs getting home in traffic ..yuk. can you not lane split/shoulder ride there? (not supposed to here, but...)

    It seems like there are (to me) confusing levels of mc licensing there. Looks like you wee compelled to get UK License (i assume hat's the reason for the L plate?). Would I be able to ride legally on my U.S. license?

    likely will rent a bike, but also considering buying one there, ride it , sell before return home. doable?

    thanks in advance, any info!

    cnflyboy
    #17
  18. UKRider

    UKRider Guy who rides...

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    Hi,

    Here are a few insights...

    Lane splitting is legal in the UK, subject to some conditions (like not doing more than 15 mph more than the other traffic, not using the left shoulder, etc.) However, before you think that will make all traffice a non-issue, remember that the roads, in general, are narrower here than in the US (or in France, etc.). I rarely filter, in part because my F700 bars are a bit wide and in many cases it is either too narrow or too dangerous to filter. Some filter all the time, but I personally prefer to avoid the risk almost always. In London alone, I believe there are around 2.5 fatal or permanently life changing motorcycle accidents a day. Ugh.

    If you have a US motorcycle endorsement on a full driving license, I believe you can ride here legally for up to 12 months. Still, I recommend reading up-- even knowing the real rules of entering and signaling in roudabouts is rather critical.

    Many people here would be happy to sell you a bike, but the big problem for you would likely be the registration, road tax and insurance requirements. I do not think its possible to get bike insurance on a US drivers license here (or is is majorly expensive) and it may also not be possible to register and tax a motorcycle as a visitor. There are probably websites that can answer this, but I already had a nightmare when buying a sailboat here, being prevented from registering it as a non-UK citizen, and having to do piles of paperwork to register it as a US boat with the US Coastguard. Never again.

    Renting bikes (with full insurance) is pretty straightforward here, even for a visitor. That might be the smarter route. Also, riding the UK can be a pain (traffic, motorways, tourists). You should be considering the continent as well, depending on your length of stay. It might work out that renting in France or Germany and then coming here is less expensive.

    Let me know how it goes-- I think everyone should tour in Europe if they get the chance.

    UKRider
    #18
  19. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    AS UKRider mentions, we have traffic. If you want to tour round, may I recommend NOT relying too much on satnav. You will be directed onto a small number of routes along with large numbers of others.
    All of us when in tourist mode have ideas of what we want to see, the stuff in brochures, travel shows, movies and the like. Just like lots of others. London isn't England any more than New York is the US. You get a better sense of what the country is like by avoiding tourist places if you can, or at least seeing them at less busy times.

    That of course is the joy of ADV. Many people with at least one thing in common, giving their perspective of loads of different countries. With pictures.

    Second the notion of riding in France. C'est Manifique!
    It is very easy, if not cheap to get there. They ride on the wrong side of the road, like you are used to. And their French is exquisit.

    If you go to Ireland, unless you have must see relations or lots of time, concentrate on the coastal strip. From Dublin, clockwise to Donegal, its all beautiful.
    Again the well known tourist places will be crowded and expensive. That leaves most to savour.
    Connemara is my favourite, wild and desolate, with places of conviviality not far away.
    #19
  20. nickguzzi

    nickguzzi Long timer

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    If you are looking for new areas to explore - go west!
    Both Dorset and Wiltshire have places to look at and marvel at.
    I have an acquaintance who lives in Cerne Abbas, home of the Big Man.
    Family holidays in Lyme Regis make me all nostalgic. Lyme was the place where fossil hunting was started by Mary Anning as more than just curio finds, and still carries on as more are washed out of the soft cliffs by sea action.
    Wiltshire has the well known Stonehenge, the even larger and more extensive rings and lines at Avebury, so massive you can't comprehend it with help (nice early manor house too, but need to book) and right by the old A4, the huge and totally man made Silbury Hill.
    Wiltshire also has its share of chalk carvings similar to the Cerne Giant and The Uffington White Horse.
    The Salisbury plain is much used by the military but does contain several "green lanes".
    Salisbury cathedral is one of the finest in the land, and the highest spire.
    The Ridgeway from south Oxon into Wilts is Britains oldest road, in use from at least bronze age times. It used to be a RUPP - road used as public path - but the govt stole most of them a few years ago to satisfy the landed lot and there are now regular closures.
    There are groups like the Trail Riders Fellowship which should be able to help you get off road leagally.
    #20