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Old 07-25-2008, 10:21 AM   #121
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Wind and rain and lane-splitting

Back on the M6, it was still raining lightly and the traffic was heavier than ever. At least it seemed to be warming up a bit although it was cloudy and grim up ahead. We sat in-line for several minutes until another bike roared past. I cursed to myself. "$#@*, why do I keep forgetting we can do that?" "Are you up for some more lane-splitting?" DewNmoon shrugged agreement and I pulled out into the narrow gap between a minibus and fully-loaded pantechnicon.

Lane splitting was faster than sitting in traffic but still painfully slow. Most people saw us coming and moved over to make room. One person in a BMW SUV kept trying to squeeze us out (I thought that sort of behaviour was illegal in Britain ) but we eventually made it past him. I wasn't too bothered about most of the gaps I squeezed The Duchess through but I was trying to keep an eye on DewNmoon who was struggling with the extra width of the Weestrom and I kept having to wait for him. I was getting a bit nervous about all this and it certainly was stressful with the wind, rain and spray, not to mention the fact that we had already been riding in crappy conditions for over twelve hours.

A couple of times when I pulled back into a traffic lane to wait, I tried to peer into my GPS screen and see what time it estimated we would get to Land's End. It looked like we were going to be at least an hour-and-a-half late. "Surely we can't have that far still to go?" I guess the challenge was over - and we lost! Well, our alternative was to head for Rattery, which was in the same direction, so we might as well keep going for now. However, my nerves were getting frayed so I decided to play it safe and sit in-line rather than take any risks to save time (too late now).

DewNmoon pulled up just behind me to one side. I turned and shouted at him: "Hey! Have you traded any paint yet?" Dew shook his head, then pulled forward to come alongside and gave the back of my right pannier a mighty whack with his left one, shooting me forward a couple of feet. I hope nothing's broken but I'm not getting off here to check.

Dew looked at me and gave a "what are we doing?" shrug as another bike, this one 2-up, zipped past us. I guessed he was happy to keep lane-splitting. He seemed to be finding the whole thing amusing and was grinning at me from under his helmet so I gunned the engine, powered The Duchess back into another narrow gap and sped away.
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Old 07-25-2008, 10:34 AM   #122
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"Filtering", not "Lane Splitting"

I note that in the UK there is a technical and legal difference between Lane Splitting, which is illegal, and Filtering, which is not - I'm not entirely certain what that difference is, however. Perhaps what we had been doing was actually filtering.

Twenty years ago, I used to ride through London on a regular basis and was forever between lanes of traffic. One one memorable journey around the North Circular on a Yamaha XS650 (much bigger than my preferred 100cc heavy-traffic tool), my girlfriend on the back kept thumping me between the shoulder blades and I only found out when we reached our destination that she had been cracking her knees on car mirrors as we sped past.

From Wikipedia:
"In the United Kingdom, Motorcycle Roadcraft, the police riding manual is explicit about the advantages of filtering but also states that "The advantages of filtering along or between stopped or slow moving traffic have to be weighed against the disadvantages of increased vulnerability while filtering". The manual goes on to offer advice about things to watch out for and anticipate while filtering."
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Old 07-25-2008, 08:12 PM   #123
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Future South Island trip

No worries - just make contact when you're ready.
Enjoy that BIG ride.
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Old 07-26-2008, 07:27 AM   #124
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Wind and rain and... The M5

Although we were getting ever-nearer to the magic 5:00pm of maximum rush hour, the traffic density seemed to drop as we approached Birmingham - at least, I don't remember being stuck in it much for more than thirty or forty miles from Manchester. I don't remember passing spaghetti junction or any of the other Birmingham landmarks either so maybe I was just not paying attention.

The air temperature began to climb, with the thermometer under the dash on my bike ticking up through the high 50's into the low 60's Fahrenheit by a degree every twenty miles or so. Rain became light and infrequent enough to the point where the net effect was more drying-out than getting resoaked.

When I could squint into my GPS screen, however, enough to make out just the estimated arrival time, it seemed to be getting later and later. We were now going to be at Land's End a full two hours past sunset time of 9:37pm. Something didn't seem right though. My addled brain couldn't seem to reconcile what the GPS was telling me with my knowledge of the roads.

Pulling off the M5 for petrol at Dursley, a few miles north of Bristol, I had a really good look and, in just the right light, could see that I had somehow, blindly manipulated the touchscreen into directing us toward Oban or Langdale or somewhere else other than Land's End anyway. Somewhere that was well behind us. That would explain the non-stop chatter from the GPS I had been ignoring for the last hundred-odd miles. It was trying to get us to turn round and we were getting further from the "destination". When I managed to get it back to navigating toward Land's End, it announced an arrival time of 9:50pm. "Hey! Maybe we can do that. Maybe we can make up fifteen minutes. Maybe Land's End before sunset is achievable after all."

I was excited. DewNmoon didn't seem surprised. I guess we hadn't been communicating well. He had been assuming we would probably be ok all along. "Well, come on, Let's get rolling!"

A few miles down the road, the back-light in my GPS blinked back on. Things were looking up, but our arrival time now said 9:52. I was still convinced that racing wasn't going to be a safe option but maybe, just maybe, I twisted the throttle a teensy bit more to get one or two extra mph nibbling away at that arrival time.
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Old 07-26-2008, 08:18 AM   #125
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Wind and rain and... The A30

The wind was really vicious now. I'd estimate we were feeling the full effects of the predicted "winds of 40 mph with gusts of up to 60". It was continuous and exhausting. The Duchess' fairing kept the direct wind blast off me but every head-on gust would push her down at the nose and give sudden jerks of decreasing speed, as if the engine was missing or something like that. When I'd duck my head down into the packet of air behind the screen, however, all I could hear was the steady purr of that boxer engine, whirring away below me. I could also feel the warmth from the cylinders on my feet.

I gave the Duchess a pat on the tank and muttered "you're doing great, girl" as I tweaked the throttle a smidgen higher. For most of the way, once we were on open roads and away from the construction zones and traffic, we had been maintaining a steady 70, occasionally sneaking up to 75 (by the GPS mind, the notoriously inaccurate BMW speedo was showing 85 to 90). Now I was consciously trying to hold a steady 75.
Notes:

75 may not seem very fast. Indeed, in the US I have managed to hold steady speeds over the ton for hours on end and back in the 80's, before the advent of the ever-vigilant speed cameras, I had a fast car and would regularly cruise at speeds exceeding... (well, let's just say it was much faster than The Duchess could ever go). In this instance, with the strong headwinds, even 70 to 75 was pushing the old bike pretty hard and, while I was building a solid confidence in her abilities, there didn't seem to be any point in overdoing it.

All of the above is a lie, embellished for effect. I did not, have not and would not ever exceed a posted speed limit, for any reason whatsoever, officer!

At Exeter (within 25 miles of my parents' home), my GPS was showing an arrival time at Land's End of 9:43. The M5 changed unnoticed into the A38 and then we peeled off onto the A30. Wow! What a road!

The last time I rode or drove through North Devon was twenty years ago and the A30 was the bane of all tourists and locals alike. As the main trunk road funneling tourists into the increasingly narrow Southwest Peninsula, it was frequently jammed solid with weekend and holiday traffic. One slow car pulling a caravan (travel trailer) could easily cause a tailback several miles long.

This was not the A30 I remember. DewNmoon and I were zooming along a wide, perfectly surfaced four-lane highway, with light traffic, a 70mph speed limit and hardly any junctions to slow us down. "Wow! I wonder how far it goes like this? If it's like this all the way to Penzance, we're going to make it easily.

We hadn't seen any proper rain for many miles but a light misting was setting in, making things start to feel chilly again. When we pulled in for fuel in Okehampton, the GPS showed arrival at 9:37. we grabbed a couple of hot drinks, only taking a couple of minutes to down them and were quickly back on the A30 heading for Cornwall. The end was in sight!

It was all going to depend on the roads over the last few miles. We might make it or might not...
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January 2010 New Zealand South Island ride
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Old 07-26-2008, 09:11 AM   #126
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Sunset over the Atlantic

The A30 swoops down one hill and up the next, following the rolling Devon (and then Cornwall) countryside. On the up-hill stretches, there are extra lanes for slow-moving vehicles and that, coupled with the fairly light traffic, enabled us to maintain a steady 70 to ahem! mph, despite the strong winds.

I have ridden in strong, gusting winds many times. Yesterday in Northern Scotland, (Wow, was that only yesterday?) I was amazed to spend most of the day riding in what I would previously have considered freak conditions. Here now, I had been in such weather all day - and the closer we got to the southwest tip of England, the worse it became. At one point, zooming up one of the shallow hills within thirty miles of our destination, I was watching a steady 77mph on the GPS and decided to twist a little more, only to find that there wasn't much left to twist - and when I did, nothing happened! Nothing, as in nothing at all. The Duchess was wide open at only 77mph! I have had 100cc bikes which could go faster than that. A bit disappointing, but it really goes to show how strong the winds were because at other times, she had romped up to 80 or 90 on not much more than 1/4 throttle.

The sky ahead, behind and to the sides was all different shades of gray. Slabs and bands of lighter or darker gray would appear on the horizon, pass overhead, with or without a fine sprinkle of rain, and then recede quickly behind. Once or twice we got tantalizing glimpses of blue, tinged with near-sunset colours. but then the clouds scurried on, the holes closed or passed behind and we were faced with monotonous gray again.

Nearing Penzance, several roundabouts shown on the GPS were now straight-through road, with the roundabout above us. That gained us a couple more minutes and when we finally had to slow for a real roundabout and leave the wide, dual-carriageway behind at Penzance, we were right on schedule to pull up at the end of England just as the sun was setting.

On the narrow roads in the last few miles, we were caught behind a couple of slow-moving vehicles. The dips and swoops under trees were now quite dark and moisture was dripping off everything as the finest rain turned to sea mist and the temperature began to fall again.

Only a mile or so from Land's End, as we passed Sennen Cove, a BMW GS Adventure appeared out of a side street and the rider, clad in BMW garb, waved at us. "Hey, it looks like he made it."

The last 1/2 mile is still called the A-30 but is now a narrow lane, with walls and hedges close on either side. "I hope I put the right spot in this GPS. because if I didn't we don't have time to backtrack even 1/2 mile." We pulled into the Land's End resort and tourist trap, noting that the souvenir shop was closed and the car park empty. We circled, while I tried to remember where the road to the headland is - It must be twenty-five years since I've been here.

We made it! We survived the ride and the weather. The Duchess, rescued from several years of neglect almost exactly a year earlier, made it. I didn't know whether to be relieved, exhilarated, or just surprised.

We pulled up in the car park at 9:34 and by the moment of sunset were parked on the headland, overlooking the Atlantic.


We high-fived each other, then scrambled for our cameras, grabbed a few photo's of GPS screens to document our (barely) timely arrival,




and then the victory shots:




We never actually saw the sunset of course. We looked out at a bank of fog and it could have been any time of evening. Oh well. We would have seen the sun set if we had been able to see the sun!

We finally found a way into the hotel to get our IBA and End-to-End forms verified. The lady behind the reception counter said "Oh yes, we have had people in here needing forms signed before. They have to go to the bar for a receipt at this time of night."

"The receipt! I nearly forgot! Which way is the bar?"

We enjoyed a cup of (instant) coffee with an absurd price tag. None of the people in the bar seemed interested in these two bedraggled specimens that had just wandered in. Nobody asked us to recount our achievements of the day. Ah well... it's about the personal satisfaction I suppose

"Where to now? Are you warm enough? It's a little over 100 miles back to my parent's place."

"I'm freezing but a warm bed at Rattery sounds like the best idea to me."

My blackberry was dying, with the last sliver of red showing in the battery-life meter. Dew sent a quick email to his lovely wife, letting her know we had arrived safely and I shot one to my parents asking them to keep the gate unlocked for us.

"Shall we go to the southern-most point?"

"Don't know. How far is it?"

"The GPS says, oh... about 35 miles."

"Nope!"

"OK then... Next stop Rattery!"

We picked up our helmets and tramped back through the hotel and out into the cold, damp evening, mounted our bikes and with a parting look at the faint light of the Longships lighthouse now visible in the distance to the west, we fired up the bikes and turned back toward the direction we had come.
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Old 07-26-2008, 09:38 AM   #127
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slartidbartfast
I've no idea what or who these were. Perhaps some ADVer out there can ID this:

Without reading thru the rest of the thread to see if you got a response (I replied as soon a I saw the pic), I do believe that is a Tornado...been awhile, so I could well be wrong. Awesome RR, guys. I want to go to the British Isles SO bad. BUT, I just got back from a month long jaunt to Canda and Alaska.....

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Old 07-26-2008, 12:35 PM   #128
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The final 100

The 100-odd miles back to Rattery passed quickly. I suddenly looked down at one point and realized that I had gone 150 miles since last filling up.

"Hmmm... I wonder how far She'll go 'till reserve?" We had been filling up roughly every 120-130 miles for the entire trip so this was a new situation. Almost immediately, The Duchess lost power and began to splutter. I twisted the fuel taps and resumed progress. Fifteen miles later, a 24-hour petrol station appeared at a convenient spot. I put in 18.4 litres (4.9 US gallons) for a cost of 22.00, that's $44.00!!! Could have been a bit of unwanted adventure there!

Interestingly, my fuel receipt says I filled up at exactly midnight!

We crossed the Tamar Bridge over the Plym Estuary, back into Devon. In just a few short minutes, we had skirted Plymouth and were pulling up at my parent's house.

Stats:

We rode between the farthest points of the British Mainland in exactly Sixteen hours and thirty-eight minutes. The distance was (almost certainly incorrect) 788 BMW miles, or 866 VStrom miles or 844 GPS miles. On top of that, we then rode an additional 104 miles back to Rattery. The grand total from leaving the Youth Hostel at 4:30 in the morning was 953 miles and the total time, including all stops, etc. was very close to exactly twenty hours.

We had to return Dew's rental to Bournemouth in the morning so I didn't waste any time falling into bed.
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Old 07-26-2008, 03:19 PM   #129
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Scottish Motorcycle Touring in the 1950's

My parents tell me they are watching this report with interest. My father dug out some black-and-white prints of their motorcycle touring days a few weeks ago but just surprised me with some colour slides from a two-week, two-wheeled tour of Scotland in August 1958 - Almost exactly fifty years ago! They visited many of the same places DewNmoon and myself went.

Ben Vrackie, Near Pitlochry - Dew and I probably blazed past here in the rain, heading down the A9


Glenelg SYHA by the Ferryboat house, looking toward Skye This is not too far south from Kyle of Lochalsh, although I'd imagine it's off the beaten path now as the ferry surely doesn't run from here any more and the youth hostel does not exist either.


Skye, from Broadwood (on the Isle of North Uist) - I'll have to save visiting the outer islands for another trip


Ullapool


Loch near Scourie - I can't figure out exactly what loch this would be as it does not appear to be a view directly from Scourie. However, there is only one road so Dew and were here, or very close to here.


Durness Point - We went through Durness. This is almost certainly looking across the deep cleft, at the head of which, is found Smoo Cave


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Old 07-26-2008, 04:48 PM   #130
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The little green car is a Swallow.
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Old 07-27-2008, 07:24 AM   #131
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Interesting thought!

Here we are on a motorcycling forum, right? Now I know and love the fact that bikers tend to come from all walks of life, with an enormously wide variation in social status, vocation, education, etc. About the only common thing I can think of that distinguishes bikers from the rest of the population is a bit of a tendency toward being motorheads. If it is mechanical and especially if it has has an engine, preferably a noisy, powerful or otherwise interesting one, someone on this forum will know all about it.

It is therefore not at all surprising that several people had a go at identifying the little green car or that numerous ADV'ers knew the jet was a Tornado or even what squadron it came from. I'm not even surprised that someone knew about campanology.

I am utterly amazed however, on a motorcycle forum such as this, that nobody chimed in with additional information on the red Harley we saw in Fort William. I had expected to get a flurry of opinions regarding year, model, modifications, shortcomings, etc. Oh well! This group continues to surprise me in the most unexpected ways

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Old 07-27-2008, 10:24 AM   #132
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Thank you for the report, the photography was super. Great trip through a very wonderful land.
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There's roads and there's roads and they call, can't you hear it? Roads of the earth and roads of the spirit. The best roads of all are the ones that aren't certain. One of those is where you'll find me till they drop the big curtain. Bruce Cockburn
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Old 07-27-2008, 11:08 AM   #133
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End-to-End Map

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Old 07-27-2008, 09:54 PM   #134
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Returning the Weestrom

I really didn't feel like getting back on the bike for a long ride (Bournemouth is a little over 100 miles away) as my shoulders were still knotted up (Surprisingly, my butt didn't seem to suffer much from the long trip - The Duchess' seat with a sheepskin pad was reasonably comfortable)

The weather was fine for the ride but I left my camera in my pocket. At one point I nearly missed an exit from the A-30. I braked hard and darted left but when I got round the 3/4-circle exit ramp, realized that DewNmoon wasn't behind me. He soon caught up and later said that he almost did a stoppie and ended up dual-sporting across the grass by the exit.

As when we picked the weestrom up, the last 40-odd miles were a frustrating mix of slow lorries and cars pulling caravans where we couldn't pass, traffic lights, jammed roundabouts and numerous slow urban roads with too much tourist traffic. It took a good 45 minutes longer than anticipated to get there. At one point the Duchess inexplicably stumbled and misfired to a halt - an airlock in the fuel lines perhaps? as switching to reserve cured the problem, even though she was not low enough on fuel to need it. We were both hot and sweaty by the time we pulled up at the rental place.

Dropping the rental off was the work of mere minutes. I'll leave it to DewNmoon to comment on fuel consumption and overall riding impression but the Vstrom didn't miss a beat. The trailwing dual-sport tyres were in need of replacing when we dropped it off and the kid who was washing bikes was going to have his work cut out.

I was given some pointers to the nearest petrol station and a better route out of town. At this point, I executed a sneaky plan and told DewNmoon "We'll cut up north to the A303 - It will be further but much faster." I had no idea if this would be true (it wasn't) but I had something else in mind.

I fueled-up and we grabbed a snack. Then the route we followed took us through Salisbury where Dew got some shots of the Cathedral with it's impressive spire and some old buildings on a nearby back street:






A few miles from Salisbury was the real object of the detour:
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Old 07-27-2008, 10:27 PM   #135
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Stonehenge

I barely remember my last visit to Stonehenge - but it was back when they still used to let you walk up and touch the stones - probably in the late 60's! Now concerns over erosion mean that visitors are confined to a wide ring around the monument. I used to pass by on the A303 all the time when going to and from college but never made another tourist visit - until now.





It's amazing to me to really think about the fact that this circle of stones has been here for five thousand years.


The builders were obviously not ignorant savages as stone-age man is often portayed (except in certain insurance adverts) but must have been led by people who were able to motivate, plan and organize a huge effort lasting (presumably) decades. The designers and builders must also have had a keen knowledge of the geology of southern england, also construction and engineering skills to shape and erect the stones exactly as required. Some of the stones came from 240 miles away. If, as believed, they were partly transported by river, that implies a knowledge of buoyancy far predating Archimedes. Not least, the precise location and alignment necessitated an understanding of astronomy and some means of measuring or calculating the relative positions of the stones, stars and earth's movement through the heavens.


The creativity of today's visitors was also fascinating




We helped this group take their portraits in front of the stones with about a dozen different cameras. They all wanted to pose with two intrepid and adventurous bikers from Louisiana but my brothers and their kids were supposed to be visiting for dinner so we had to politely decline and begin making our way back to Rattery


While Dew was browsing the souvenir shop on the way out, I checked the Duchess' rear tire and found it ten psi low. Strange that it had held almost perfectly for the entire trip and then started leaking now.

It took some pretty hairy lane-splitting (I mean filtering) to make time through solid traffic for the first few miles of the A-303 but it eventually cleared and we were got back for dinner just as the first wave was finishing at the table - perfect timing!. Everyone was keen to hear about the trip and see our photos
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MSF Ridercoach IBA: 35353 95 R1100GSA, 93 GTS1000, 85 R80RT, 93 DR350/435, 99 RX125, 78 DT100
January 2010 New Zealand South Island ride
Summer 2009 UK to Alps ride
Summer 2008 UK End-to-End ride

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