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Old 07-24-2012, 12:38 PM   #46
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Day 3 - Sunday the 15th - Holy Island & entering Scotland!

Waking up at the Squires camp site I noticed that it had gotten quite warm in my tent... and as I exited my tent my suspicions were correct: sun! Gary and Hazel had already been out to run a few miles - I gotta say I admired their discipline whilst being on a motorcycle-camping trip. I had myself a good breakfast in the pub (for a good price, I must say), worked out my new hi-tech nav-system for on the road, said goodbye to my neighbors before mounting the beast amidst a sea of bikers, and riding on.

Eventually, I came across a traffic jam. This presented me with a problem - normally when there's traffic in the Netherlands, I filter through without a moment's pause. But this time ofcourse, I had two aluminium boxes mounted to either side of my bike, making it alot wider. Would it even be possible to fit the beast through the gaps this time around? I quickly decided the best way to find out is to try, put on my hazards and went for it. And it went as smoothly as always - I just stuck to the golden rule of not going through a gap I doubted was big enough to fit through, and all was well.

That well in fact, that when the going got pretty narrow and another biker on a sporttourer (wthout panniers, mind you) was waiting in line behind a car, I just passed him as I filtered through, as if I was to say 'Go on then, there's plenty of room!'. He agreed so it seemed, because when I looked into my mirrors a bit later, he had joined the biker convoy I was leading through the traffic jam.



Eventually I made it into Scarborough, where I filled up both the bike and myself and also checked tire pressure. Just took some time to relax, before setting off to Whitby... and the roads leading upto Whitby (situated in a national park) were a small taste of what awaited me later on in the trip. Hill after hill, turn after turn, and biker after biker. I chose to check out the centre of the beautiful town, but after spending a few minutes in traffic with a painful clutch-hand, I took a turn into a suburb and asked at a house whether I could go to the bathroom. No problem!



I worked my way through Middlesbrough and Newcastle, and then the first real destination of the day beckoned. Holy Island. It's one of the few places on Earth only accessible by a tidal road, so I just had to pay it a visit. As you approach the junction on the A1, you can see the island in the distance in the sea. Turned off the A1, and a small country road eventually brought me to the road submerged by seawater when tide is in. As I rode over the bottom of what normally would be the North Sea, I was overcome by the power of the moment, and found myself cheering inside my helmet. I didn't stay on the island for long though, knowing I still had a long way to go. Just made a few shots with the Drift, gathered my thoughts again, and headed back. A truly beautiful place, which you should really visit if you're in the neighborhood.



After Holy Island, the border with Scotland was so close I could smell it... so I gunned it, and eventually I was standing beside a huge sign beside the road welcoming me into Haggis-land. This was the second powerful moment of the day... and the weather was very nice as well!



(I swear I have no idea how that sticker got there)

For the rest of the day, I just wanted to get to Edinburgh, going 70mph for most of the time. At one point I was reminded why to be vigilant though, as a group of cars in front of me suddenly braked - the cause being that a few gardenchairs had dislodged themselves from the roof of one of the cars, and were now lying in the middle of the road. I thankfully saw everything in time, braked, carefully steered around it and powered on.



I was relieved to eventually make it to Edinburgh, but doing over 600 miles in 2 days had taken its toll on me. As I filled up at a petrolstation inside of Edinburgh, I didn't feel like looking for the camp site and setting up my tent.



Luckily, the fuel-stop was sided by a hotel... so I informed whether they had a room available, and checked in. I had enjoyed myself as I'd hoped, and tomorrow, I would ride further North, through Cairngorns National Park to John O'Groats. But it would also be the day of the crash...
Further pics are ofcourse at the project's FB page. In the site's report is a vid of the tidal road of Holy Island, riding from the village across the sea-floor towards the shore.

Enjoy, and see you tomorrow!
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:27 AM   #47
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Day 4 - Monday the 16th - through Cairngorms National Park, toward John O'Groats!

Waking up in Edinburgh, I was glad I had chosen to stay in a hotel for the night. I could get everything in sync again, and prepare myself for the final push towards the North. The route today would take me from Edinburgh to Perth, through the Cairngorms National Park past Inverness to John O'Groats, at the very top of the British isle.

Yesterday, I'd spoken to the lovely hotel receptionist Natalie, who didn't know something to write on the flag - we agreed she'd think about it, to write her piece the next morning - and so she did, in Gaelic no less! I said my goodbyes soon after, and powered on. In no time I was at Forth Bridge - another awesome piece of engineering.



We haven't got bridges like these in Holland. And this was my second one on this tour.



Going past Perth, I found myself slightly diverted from my original route - no matter though; I turned off (at one of those periless junctions that all of those A roads have in Britain) and a small country road eventually brought me in the heart of Cairngorms National Park. The fun had started - I experienced that most of these swooping 60mph mountain roads are basically one giant playground for motorists, filling you with awe with its scenery on one moment only to scare you with some unforeseen tight turns the next.

It was one of these turns that got the better of me. Just after a stop in the nice small town of Tomintoul (where I met a bunch of other international riders - more flag signing!), one turn jumped me when I wasn't expecting it. The road made a sudden 20% drop, a sharp right turn followed by a sharp left - I managed to keep the beast upright after the first turn (albeit slightly going offroad), but the sharp left came too soon. I shot across the road, into a muddy ditch.



Just 29 seconds before the crash, everything being as fun as ever...



...and then this. "You moron," I thought, "now it's all over". The very nice man driving behind me with his family stopped immediately, and helped me get the 450 pound bike upright. All the people passing by stopped as well, and with a crew of 7 we pulled the Alp out of the ditch. I tried to start the bike, and after some hesitation (the bike had been on its side, ofcourse, and the bike relies on gravity to fuel the engine) it fired, as if the beast was saying "YOU CALL THIS A CRASH? ONWARD, YOU PUSSY!".



At the top of the mud trail is the place where I went off. The man driving behind me offered to stay behind me, so if anything would be wrong with the bike, he could take me to a garage.



But after some miles of looking, feeling and listening, I couldn't find anything out of the ordinary... so I pulled our convoy over, thanked the man wholeheartedly and let him continue on his way. Thankfully Jeremy Clarkson, not all Audis are driven by cocks ;) I had a walk around on the bike, checked switches and lights, but apart from my left pannier rack being bent inward rendering the left pannier stuck and my frontwheel taking some Scottish soil with it as a souvenir, the bike was fine. Let's hear a hurray for Japanese reliability!



As I continued, I was glad I had tightened all spokes in the wheel before departure, making the wheels as strong as possible. They probably would've looked alot worse if I hadn't done that. Also, the crash bars at the front also saved me alot of damage as well... gotta love'em ;) Anways, time to continue, on to John O'Groats!



Yet more moutainous roads... this time at the coast!



Mind you, I was still shaken up over the crash. If the muddy ditch had been a brick wall, rock face or something else immovable, I probably wouldn't have been riding where I was. Only when I arrived at my destination had my thoughts calmed down a bit, and could I continue to enioy my trip again.



I probably haven't ever been as glad to make it somewhere as I was when I rolled into John O'Groats. The day had been a testament to the nature of the Scottish people, and the perseverance that got me there in the first place. I had done a massive stretch of road today, but setting up camp hasn't ever been as easy as it was in John O'Groats.

Tomorrow, I would go across the very North of Scotland, toward Durness, and then back South toward Loch Ness and Kinlochleven. Little did I know that I had yet to encounter the Scottish terror of the midges, and that scenery-wise, the best had yet to come...
Mind you, Cairngorms got pretty close - a clip of one of the many wonderful views is on the site. Further pics are ofcourse on the FB page.
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Old 07-26-2012, 08:09 AM   #48
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Day 5 - Tuesday the 17th - through Durness toward Loch Ness and Kinlochleven

I have to say I felt pretty relaxed, waking up at the edge of the Atlantic after 9 hours of complete comatose stasis. And yet again (opposite to what I was expecting) the weather was kind to me. I cleaned up camp, let my neighbors and the people who ran the camp site sign the flag, and set off in a westerly direction.



But as the roads rolled into the mountainsides, my luck with the weather just sort of... ran out.



Still, a few raindrops don't get the better of me... and the scenery just kept on improving.



By this point the single carriageway had dumbed down to a single track road, with passing places every 100 metres. This didn't seem to matter a whole lot thought, as I would go miles and miles without seeing another soul or house...



...let alone petrol stations. I filled up just outside John O'Groats, but after that... well, just read my tripmeter (the lower counter) to see how many kilometres it took me to come across another petrolstation. The one after that was even further.



The appearance of the fuelstops themselves also quieted down, going from the normal services back near Edinburgh, to a pump with a wooden door in a garage, till the only thing I came across was a station with 1 pump for Unleaded and 1 for Diesel, sided by a wooden shed. The guy running it just read the amount off the pump, and you had to give him the money. Still, great service (he did the pumping for me), so I couldn't let the flag go unsigned here as well!



After Durness, it was time to go back South again. I eventually entered a road (still, single track with passing places like the below pic) which was also used by logging trucks, so you can imagine my surprise when at one time you're casually ooh-ing and aah-ing at the scenery at a steady 60mph, only to get scared to death by a several tonne behemoth carrying someone's future furniture the next. It wasn't helping that it's so easy to get distracted around here.



Still though, after some thorough riding entertainment, I found myself riding past Inverness, to take a break beside the home of a monster. Loch Ness!



The roads siding the Loch were also a dream to ride, the only downside being that being a single carriageway in an area with alot of trees, blind hills and sharp turns, you can't really pass any slow traffic without defying death.



I also got pretty hung up about my rear tire - as the roads are pretty bad up North (and I like gunning it through them turns, heehee) the profile was going faster than I thought. I checked tire pressure again, and hoped for the best.

When I arrived in Kinlochleven, the first hotel/camp site at the side of the road seemed pretty appealing. They had everything I needed - food, a place to camp and internet, so I rode through the entrance still oblivious to the perils that laid behind it.
As I parked my motorcycle, I checked in, paid, after which I saw the entrance to the camp site - a small wooden bridge, totally impossible (and thus probably illegal) to cross with my beast. I got the impression that my decision to stay here was to become the biggest mistake of the trip so far.

And I wasn't wrong. As I brought the bike around and parked it near the bridge, I got my first taste of what would be (and which, at the time of writing this a week later, still is) the greatest terror Scotland bears within its realm. Midges. Up until now, I had always stayed at places where there was wind, so there'd be no midges. But this time, I was smart enough to stay in a valley between two of the highest mountains in Scotland... so there was no wind, be it for a weak breeze. No wonder then that within seconds of putting the bike on its side stand, the bastards were all around me.



Midges are basically mosquitos the size of a fruit fly, which don't attack you individually like the regular Dutch mosquito, but do it in swarms. In the first few minutes, you don't really mind too much... but when after 5 minutes you find yourself unable to think of the next step in setting up your tent because each time you stop walking you're surrounded by a swarm of pestering diabolical inventions, you tend to lose your normally Zen-like patience somewhat.

I eventually got so fed up, I picked up my half-finished tent from the beautiful side of the lake and dragged it to higher (thus slightly windier) ground. I put up the rest of the tent from inside, just to stay out of harm's reach... and it worked.

Then again, the midges had probably noticed I possessed the kryptonite to their existence: a Snickers bar.



No wonder then they were nowhere to be seen within the realms of my sleeping confinement.



But ofcourse, I surrendered to my one vice. I got hungry, and I ate the Snickers... enabling the Midges to deliver their wrath tenfold the next day. Probably the second biggest mistake of the entire trip, as I would soon find out... but more of that tomorrow, when I'm going further down towards the Lake District!
In the site's report is a clip of the road into Kinlochleven. Pics are once again on the FB page!
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:02 AM   #49
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Day 6 - Kinlochleven to the Lake District, passing through Glasgow

The next morning bode well from my point of view, since I heard the clattering of raindrops upon the blue veil of my tent. And rain usually means, no mosquitos!



Yet, something inside me told there was lurking something more sinister outside the safe walls of my tent, carefully laying out a trap for the moment I felt safe enough to venture outside again.

For precautional security purposes, I readied the heavy artillery.



What followed was... well... a war. Now being Snicker-less the midges saw their chance, and the very second I stepped outside the swarm double-timed their offensive. I still had to pull down my tent, and even though you can do that at a walking pace dampening the midges' offensive capabilities, I ofcourse had to put the rolled up tent in its sack.

Now, my tentsack is one of those few things in the world that is perfect. It's perfect in the way that it has the exact dimensions of the rolled up tent it contains. And by exact, I do mean exact - only when firmly squished to a near vacuum-state will the tent fit inside of it, making the task of putting the tent in somewhat time-consuming, though satisfying upon completion.

But this morning, there was no time, no space... and no mercy. Because of the midges' relentless attack, I first forgot that my sleeping bag was still in the tent when I rolled it up, making the roll far too large to fit. I took it out, rolled it up again... after which I figured that I probably would not survive taking the time to squat down and put the tent in its bag. I thought not to bother, put the binders around the tentroll, strapped it on the bike, threw the sack in the topcase and fled the scene.

And when I say 'fled', I do mean 'fled'. It was ofcourse still raining, and backing up a fully-laden Transalp on loose gravel whilst midges rain terror from all sides, your three layers of clothing make your insides boil and the rain itself makes your visor fog up can only be described as nothing short of a nightmare.

Only when I had found a spot with wind did I take the time to put the tent in its sack again. This was in the southern end of (the very beautiful) Loch Lomond, over 60 miles away. Only then did I realise I had already paid for breakfast at the accommodation I had just gunned away from. My priorities, so it seemed, laid somewhere other than a filled stomach.



Nearing Glasgow a bit later, I thought it was wise to make amends with my stomach, and pulled in the parking lot of an M&S. I was running low on cash, so I asked the lady behind the counter where there was an ATM somewhere. "Are you from around here?" she asked. "No, I'm Dutch". "Yeah, I gathered from your accent that you weren't local". She pointed out one near a big nearby intersection, which seemed a bit complicated but, as she put it "You're braver than me since you're on a bike, so you'll probably find it".



And indeed, I found one soon after. Time for me to go through the city centre, and find the one thing I wanted to see in the Glaswegian realm...



...the stadium of the forlorn Rangers FC. A beautiful stadium I must say.



From there on in, it was time to say goodbye to Scotland. It had been (save the midges and uh.. one sharp turn) tremendously good to me, and if I have a say in the matter, I'll be sure to return one day. Those lands are a biker's dream.



Back into England then, where I noticed at a motorway services that (probably because of the plentiful rain and gunk on the road), my Scottoiler had temporarily stopped working. I cleaned it as well as I could (no easy feat as the unit was behind the panel blocked off by the stuck pannier), and lubricated the chain with some WD40. For the remainder of the trip, I kept a close eye on things... but later on, the system seemed to be back to normal.

Time for yet another bunch of beautiful biking roads lined with scandalously soothing scenery: welcome to the Lake district! Both left...



..and right the perfect place to sort out your chickenstrips. Yumyumyum.



And then you're in Ambleside! A small town in the middle of the park, where I asked directions to my camp site to push the final stretch. And this was harder as it seemed, since the map the Tourist Information shop supplied me with wasn't particularly helpful. And when I say 'not helpful', I mean 'this is the town, you have to take this road out towards it but then you have to take another turn which is not on the map nor will we tell you about it'-not helpful.



Needless to say, it took me some time to find my destination. Located at the side road of a side road of a B-Road. Or more like, located at the walkway at a car park at the side road of a side road of a B-road.



Still, that didn't matter to me. In fact, the remote-ness was quite welcoming, as this camp site in particular must be one of the most beautiful I've ever camped at.



My arms now resembled to countryside I camped in.



Still, I was ofcourse oblivious to what would still follow. I cooked up dinner, and went to sleep... this time, with no midges or mosquitos in sight. Whoo!

On the site's report is a clip of Cumbria at its finest, just having entered the Lake District. Tomorrow would be the shortest leg of the tour, going towards Liverpool and Wales into Snowdonia National Park!
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Old 07-27-2012, 12:14 PM   #50
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Old 07-28-2012, 12:59 AM   #51
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Keep em coming....

I am working this weekend so I need some more reading material to do work stuff with.
Any bruises/scars from the crash left to impress the ladies with?

Cheers

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Old 07-28-2012, 02:06 PM   #52
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Cheers guys I was perfectly OK after the crash. As one of the Scottish helpers said: 'At least you had a soft landing'. Sure as hell could've been alot worse.
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Day 7 - from Lake District through Liverpool, towards Wales!

Upon waking on Low Wray camp site, I felt as if there was something in my left eye. I tried to rub it out, but to no avail. I aso found it hard to open my left eye fully, so I took out my compass, and used the little mirror on it along with the flashlight of the Sonim to shed some light on the situation.

What I saw was the product of the over 150 midge bites I suffered back in Kinlochleven, the far majority of which was on my face. My eyelids were swollen, as well as my ears, turning me into the long lost brother of Shrek.



Still, despite a tiny bit of rain during the night the weather had cleared up beautifully when I stepped out.



I highly doubted though whether I would be able to continue in this state - morale reached a low point for the second time on the trip, and reluctantly I informed at the reception desk whether there was a physician nearby who could help me. The guys seemed indifferent at my mutilated face - they had probably seen this hundreds of times before and here there was once again one of these stupid foreigners thinking he had the black plague.

They gave me some antihistamines, and I was on my way. My face was so swollen I barely fit my helmet, but I took some of the medicine, and set off hoping I would be alright.



And I was, eventually. The rest of the roads in the Lake District gave me a brilliant parting gift, before turning onto the M6 and set off toward Liverpool. Things went pretty quickly from there on in, and after a stop at some Lancaster-services...



...it wasn't long before I was standing in front of Anfield Road, the stadium of Liverpool FC.



Time to get cracking towards Wales! Just over the border, I checked the oil level, and my timing was spot on - I had topped up the engine before leaving Holland, and now that I had done nearly 3000 km the engine had used roughly half a litre, requiring another refill. The weather was so-so (I could even see my breath), but yet again the scenery made well up for it.



(I just had to visit this particular town. I was glad though nobody from the homefront called me to ask me where I was...)



After this, I entered Snowdonia National Park, riding into yet another biking playground. Wheee!



Even the fuelpumps started to look a bit like those in Scotland!



And best of all, my face was back! Time for a party on arrival?



...but no, I was on medicine.



Around three o'clock I rode into Beddgelert, right in the heart of Snowdonia. I checked into my hotel, and I finally could take some time to just wander around town for a bit and be an annoying tourist for once.

Time to take on Wales fully, tomorrow!



Tomorrow, the rest of Snowdonia awaited, as well as Cardiff and parts of Southern England. It would be the last scenic bit of road of the tour before the liaison toward Harwich... but my supply this trip had been that plentiful, I didn't really mind.
On the site is a clip of the road into Beddgelert, for example. Enjoy
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Old 07-29-2012, 01:55 PM   #53
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Day 8 - From Beddgelert through Cardiff and Bath, towards Chiseldon

Waking up in Beddgelert my room pretty much resembled my face. A warzone!



Still, as the sun was still shining and the midge bites weren't bothering me as much as they had before, I felt good starting another day of riding through themes you usually only see in Windows desktops.



As I brought the beast around from the car park at the rear of my hotel to set off again, the hostess was awaiting me at the front of the hotel. She'd heard me telling about the flag the night before and also signed it, so this morning, she stopped me, and gave me the flag of Wales (which you can see in the palm of my right hand in the below pic). A very nice gesture - I'll be sure to return to the Saracen's Head one day if I'm in the area!



Snowdonia was... well... another playground, basically. Single carriageway, swooping through mountainsides and foresty valleys.



With alot of roadworks, sadly... but who wouldn't want to have a wait here?



I didn't mind, for sure. Perfect moment for a sip from the waterbottle.



I eventually also got two other bikers, touring through their own countryside. I stuck behind them for most of the way



until I had to pull into the next petrolstation, that is. Just up the road, I found them stopped at a cafetaria. I salute you! In this petrolstation I paid with pounds I'd gotten back in Glasgow - the Scottish pound bills got a few second looks from the cashier, which was pretty funny to see.



Going from there, I thought most of the scenery was now done for... little did I know though, Wales wanted to go out with a bang.



Enough to make you speechless, yet again.



But things went literally all downhill from there, sadly.



I even got into a traffic jam as I entered Cardiff! I wanted to refill my wallet again at an ATM, but as I entered the Welsh capital I quickly found this on my way: an unfilterable sludge of cars. This was all due to a road being blocked off further down the road. It took me alot of patience, clutch work and some more patience...



..but eventually I found a bank. turned out of the traffic, and zipped through the capital. Freedom!



And after a delicious sammich...



I rode into Southern England, with the beautiful city of Bath! Sadly though, the traffic wasn't as beautiful...



and after my dose in Cardiff, I took some solace at a petrol station. As I returned to my bike after paying, I saw that the Gods of Gasoline tried to comfort me as well. Pump no. 13, could this be a coincidence?



Time to leave Bath, the quickest way possible. It was casting over anyway.



Outside of Bath though, things were looking up again!



Much to my enjoyment, ofcourse. I noticed I'd taken a bit of a detour, so I figured out a route towards Chiseldon, and got cracking.



This eventually led me onto the B3098... yet another surprisingly beautiful riding road, the last thing I had expected in these parts. Warp speed, captain!



Damn, those hyperspace thingies work well.



Things went so well in fact that eventually, my beast thought it was time to quote Inglourious Basterds...



...as our blitzkrieg through the South had finally brought us to our destination - the lovely town of Chiseldon! I sought refuge at the very nice Rossendale B&B, where my hosts Anne and Geoff took great care of me.



And even better care of the beast. Nighty-night!



Tomorrow the final report, of both the liaison from Chiseldon towards Harwich, and the ferry back home. It'll be finished off by the musical compilation I've had in production for a while now, showing lots of unseen footage and the best bits from the things you have already seen... all accompanied by an awesome soundtrack, ofcourse.
For now, you'll have to do with the bit of road between Beddgelert and Cardiff, posted in the site's report
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Old 07-30-2012, 01:43 PM   #54
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Day 9 - From Chiseldon back to Harwich, onto the ferry back home!



Waking up in Chiseldon, I knew today wouldn't really bring anything special to the mix other than the return to the place where I had set off just over a week earlier. Hostess Anne had read the usual poetic addition to my personal data, and before long we talked about the wide variety of writers we liked - quite nice departure from the normal scheme of things.



Yet another addition was made to the flag, after which I set off back to Harwich. And it went surprisingly quickly - thanks to my decision to leave London as it was (after a week of full-on touring, I didn't feel much for anymore insane traffic) I found myself riding on the last road to Harwich within 2 and a half hours. Hencforth, the only thing I saw of the Olympics can be narrowed down to this:



As I rode on the A120 toward Harwich, I was overcome by the realization that I was just a few miles away from finishing my multi-mile tour. Getting closer and closer, I found myself willing the beast onward, hoping the tires would remain OK for just a bit longer.



But just as it had been for the entire trip, there were no problems at all, and when I then suddenly crossed the same round-about I had turned upon on Friday the 13th just after leaving the ferry, the penny dropped. I was there. It had taken me just over a week, over 2000 miles, over a million midges and a crash, but I was there....and subsequently I had to do everything I could to keep the beast in a straight line. Before screaming my lungs out, I was absolutely lost for words.

Everything from that moment on felt as a victory lap. Just taking a breather on a beach parking lot wrapping my head around what I had just done, a lifeguard rolled up in his car, asking where I was going. Instead, I told him where I'd come from. 'Well done man', he said, after which he signed the flag, as well as helping me to take this picture. 'Can I ride my bike onto this hill?' - 'Hell, you can ride on the beach if you want!'



I sought to get myself a sticker of Great Britain for on the panniers, after which I rode to the same accommodation I'd stayed at a week beforehand. Time to set up camp, for the last time.

Eventually I was joined by three German bikers on their way to Scotland, as well as two Dutch ones on their way to Wales. The final night was spent in the Castle Inn's pub, exchanging stories before it was time to hit the sack.



The next morning I took my time to pack up, said goodbye, and checked in at the port.

As I'd stopped to wait in line for the second time to board, I noticed one of my gloves was missing from the dash (I take them off when going through check-in so I can grab my passport more easily). I looked underneath my bike, but I didn't see it anywhere. Reluctantly I chose to walk back to where I'd come from, but before I did, I saw a small kid running into my direction from way back in another line. 'Mister, your glove!' he shouted, returning it to me. He ran back almost immediately, so I followed him back, bringing his family some of the project stickers as a way of saying thanks.



Before long I was joined by Wilfried and his son, who had just come from a meeting in Lowestoft, coming all the way from Hamburg, Germany. We talked bikes a little bit, before it was time to board. and as bikers are first to board (and I was the first biker) I was the very first on deck. And when I say that felt pretty awesome, that's because it was pretty awesome. Wheee!

Time to go back home after this adventure. It had learned me alot (more about that later) Upon arrival, I folded the flag up in the official triangular manner, and made a case for it using the roadbook I used during trip.



I must say, I previously feared whether I was really fit for doing this, but after the first day I was getting into the rhythm pretty quickly. I'm very much looking forward toward next year, when the final journey to Greece awaits. Most probably, I will depart on the same date as this year, taking 4 weeks for the entire trip.

Let me just leave you with the Good and the Bad (G, B... get it? Oh, nevermind.)

The Good:

+The weather
+Cairngorms National Park
+Loch Lomond National Park
+Lake District National Park
+Snowdonia National Park
+Northern Scotland
+That all of these places are biking playgrounds with amazing scenery
+Scottish people
+My crashbars. They saved me from some expensive damage...
+The reception (and send-off) I got from Saracen's Head
+Natalie, the receptionist at Premier Inn, Edinburgh East. She even helped with carrying one of the panniers up (even though she first said she couldn't leave her desk - ha!)
+Pulling the bike out of the ditch with 7 people. At that moment I didn't really find it all that totally-awesome, but in hindsight it was one of those Paris-Dakar moments I'll never forget.
+The bike firing up after the crash. IT LIIIIIIIIIIVESSS!
+The bike being fine in general after the crash. It truly amazed me. Thank god for Japanese engineering.
+Having a watch on my handlebar.
+Having a compass in my tank bag. Saved me a few times.
+The way everyone responded to the trip and the project.
+Riding back into Harwich



The Bad

-Seeing the 'Welcome to Suffolk' sign three times in 1 afternoon, all on separate locations. I swear, somewhere around Cambridgeshire is a second Bermuda triangle.
-Midges
-Dropping my bike at two camp sites (just a piece of advice - if your bike is sitting directly straight upon the sidestand, don't stand behind it like an ass but move it, because it *will* fall over.)
-Crashing in Scotland
-Severe downpour on my way toward the Lake District. Thanks to the spray from the cars in front as well as my fogged up visor, I couldn't see more than just a vague dark blob in front of me which I clinged on to, praying no-one would be half-witted enough to make any sudden moves.
-Midges
-Junctions in Britain. Seriously, what is up with not-building a proper onramp or offramp to a services, so you don't have to do 70 to 15mph in 4 feet (or the opposite, even)?
-Trying to move a 450+ pound fully-laden motorcycle on loose gravel, whilst three (and when I say three I mean four, as the winter-lining in my biking-coat technically is also a layer) layers of clothing make my insides boil, an entire death squadron of midges blitzes me from all sides and the rain makes my visor fog up (which, ofcourse, I can't open to de-fog because it'll let the frigging midges inside)
-After the subsequent escape, realize I'd already paid for my breakfast at the camp site.
-My compass going into 'F*ck-you'-mode (i.e. pointing in all possible directions), when I was looking for the proper exit somewhere in the Lake District.
-Waking up as Shrek in the Lake District
-Soft ground in Harwich, the second time I got there. My side-stand just sort of...disappeared into the ground entirely, forcing me to lay the bike down.

Pieces of advice:

>If you're going to camp in Scotland in summer and there isn't any wind, move somewhere else.
>Really, just move. I don't care if there's an armada of Swedish sunbathing models staying there - it isn't worth it.
>Okay, maybe that's a bad example.
>Just because you're allowed to go 60mph everywhere, doesn't mean you can or should.
>Don't ride more than 200 miles on a day. Not only does it drain you if you do (one time, my left leg even fell asleep on the bike), it also eats away at the time you have at each destination - this trip, riding usually started at 10am, and stopped at 6 pm.
>Be patient with the way Northerners speak English.
Finally, here's the compilation of some of the best footage I shot whilst being on the road. I put it on the GB2012 index page as well. Enjoy!
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Old 08-04-2012, 01:56 PM   #55
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The coming days, I'm posting some unseen footage that didn't make the compilation!

Usually the camera takes pictures to safe battery time and memory, but that doesn't mean that I can't shoot at all. These bits of footage are things I shot after pulling over, and letting the camera run for a while. Bear in mind then, that while shooting I'm also seeing all of this for the first time... and am probably as amazed as you are.

Today, a bit of the road towards Durness, part of which was used in the compilation. Going up the hill, I figured there must be some sight at the other side of it.

I'll leave it to you to decide whether I made the right call

*Clickmeh!*
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Old 08-05-2012, 07:37 AM   #56
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Second bit of extra footage, riding from Kinlochleven towards Clainlarich and the Loch Lomond National Park, right from the heart of Scotland!
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Old 08-06-2012, 01:27 PM   #57
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Part number three, now with some classic "you-can-go-60-but-you-shouldn't" road from the heart of the Lake District in Northern England

Tomorrow the last bit of bonus footage!
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Old 08-07-2012, 07:23 AM   #58
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And lastly, here's another one of them 'go-60-if-you-dare'-roads, this time leading further and further into the Snowdonia National Park, Wales.

I hope you've enjoyed all the GB stuff... I'm going to try to make the RR for Greece at least as entertaining as this one
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:53 AM   #59
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And so it begins...

...the final stretch of preparation for 2013!

Ofcourse, coming back from Britain the Alp needed some TLC - first off all, (almost the first thing I did upon arrival back, actually) the damage on the pannier needed to be checked and sorted out. Took the rack off, pannier off, and only the left panel was scratched somewhat. Just this week the rack's been welded, and I'll probably take the entire rack off altogether to respray it.

The bike got a well deserved bath last week and is now on its way to be serviced and get some fresh new rubber. I even needed to do some repairs on the camera - the battery retainerclip had broken off on the last day in the UK, but thanks to good service from the guys at Drift it's now sorted

The Nolan was replaced as well, with a Shoei Neotec - in Britain, the Nolan took a bit more abuse than it could handle, making replacement necessary. I'll make sure to let this one last a bit longer, since the damn thing wasn't particularly cheap (mind you, its quality is a real improvement from what I'm used to... so I guess it's worth it).

Furthermore, I've put some more order into the chaos of my route for the trip to Greece - the way down still includes Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Italy as before, but the way back up will now go over the Balkan, through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and possibly Liechtenstein (Strangely enough I found out that Google Maps has yet to acknowledge the existence of roads in Bosnia - planning a route through it is impossible). Total length has become somewhat smaller - it's around 7000km (about 4400 miles) now.



I went with this route back because not only do many people I spoke with recommend this route back, but it also gives me unlimited time to spend in Greece; I noticed during the tour of Britain that there was always a certain pressure of getting somewhere on the date I had planned, as I knew there was another ferry waiting for me a few days on. This, in turn, made staying somewhere for longer than a night impossible... so instead of having to deal with this once again, I'm leaving the ferry back to Italy for what it is and take the road less traveled by.

Added bonus to this is that with this route, it's likely I'll do 13 countries (ta-daaaaa!) instead of 8... but ofcourse, it all depends on how immaculate my navigation is en-route. Day of departure is once again July 13th, and I plan to make it to Brindisi by the 22nd. Same timeframe as the GB-tour, less miles.

The pre-trip checklist is also taking shape. The previous one eventually spread over two sheets - I wonder how big this one will get?

Stil hot off the presses!
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:39 AM   #60
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Sightseeing

Last week I visited a Serbian colleague of my father, who talked me through the various spots of interest in the Balkan area. Knowing that he spends his holidays in the area during Summer, he was even kind enough to step up as an on-the-spot 'fixer' should the need arise - something I cannot thank him enough for... so thanks again Dragan!



The only issue with the Balkan is that after talking through the area, there are far more areas of interest than I seem to have time for. Just like with the trip through Britain, choices will need to be made. I also need to take the issue of exhaustion into consideration, as by the time I'm leaving Greece I will have done about 4000km already. This probably means that instead of taking the other possible route through Macedonia and Serbia, I'm taking the shorter route back through Albania, saving time yet still giving myself time to enjoy what's all around me.

Thanks to the welding expertise of Bert Vos the rack on the beast is now straightened out, and the coming days I'll be stripping it of its old paint and respray it as the old coat is chipping all over. I guess the people at Hepco & Becker don't really know their paint all too well ;)



The left pannier needed some work as well - it ofcourse took the brunt of the blow back in Scotland, and back home, it became apparent the mounts wouldn't move all that easily anymore. This week, I first hammered out some of the dents and then took the mountingsystem apart. Lubed it up, filed off some excess aluminium which was blocking up the system, and now it's working like a dream again.



Behind the scenes I'm also working on some ideas for extra fund-raising next year, but I'll keep those to myself for the time being (don't you just love them teasers!) I'll leave you with some extra piece of wisdom on mounting a helmetcam. The images speak for themselves...

http://vimeo.com/48887875
Keep on rollin'!
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