If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Autumn Journey

At the end of this month, a younger cousin of mine is getting married. The wedding and reception are going to be in the Newcastle area, and of course I will be there. The wedding and reception are in the same hotel, so I have booked in for the night before and the night after as well. I don't see my family often, so there will be plenty of catching-up to do, and I foresee some alcoholic consumption as well.

So, how to get there? Well, the obvious answer is the car. Warm, dry, comfortable, Radio 4 when I got bored, and plenty of CDs for when The Archers or a 'radio drama' comes on, plenty of room for luggage, hook over the back door for the suit. Satnav, hands-free phone, drink and snax on the passenger seat.

And boring.

So I'm going on the bike. It's a long time since I did a long journey at this time of year on two wheels. I ride year-round, but from October to March it's generally only commuting and errands, with the occasional fun run. This will be 340 miles each way of mixed A-roads and some of the busiest motorways in the UK. On a Friday. And with less then ten hours of daylight to play with. It will be cold, although not midwinter cold, and the possibility of rain is quite high.

On the positive side, I have got all the kit to keep me warm and dry ("Up to a point, Lord Copper") and the bike is easily capable of the journey. I have two decent-sized hard cases to carry all my stuff, and an Ortlieb dry-bag if I can't get my suit in the cases. I can rig up a power lead to run the satnav (useful for route-finding at the far end, plus planning fuel stops and so on) and the Ride Logger iPhone app. I can't mount the TomTom like I did on the Pan, as the Bonnie has no fairing, but it can live in the tankbag and I will consult it when stationary.

And the hotel has dedicated motorcycle parking. In fact, when I read that on their website, it's what made me decide to go on the bike in the first place. It would seem rude not to.

I am also planning to call in on an elderly relative in Richmond that I haven't seen for a long time, and on one of the legs, depending on time, I plan to take the pretty route across the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland. That's a landscape that I don't see enough of.

I'm looking forward to it. If your life doesn't bring you much adventure sometimes, you have to make your own.


  1. Good luck on the journey Richard.
    I can't handle motorways any longer ( wimp ) after nearly getting wiped dout a few years back.
    My longer trips are now planned to avoid motorways or even the busier dual carriageways at rush hour.
    Gorgeous scenery you have to look forward to.

  2. Thanks Don. If I had more time, I would plan a route avoiding motorways too, but my reason is because a) they are boring and b) they square off your back tyre. But I have, realistically, to get there in a day (and back again similarly), and I know the cross-country routes too well. They take twice as long, and aren't necessarily any more pleasant. For heavily populated areas, the motorway is often the least stressful of the alternatives. The main problem is getting round the Liverpool/Manchester conurbation, where the M6 is the only sensible route. But I think I have a plan that will give me good roads for most of the journey.

    I will be taking a camera, for sure.

  3. I'm not a particularly big fan of motorways, but sometimes fast and dull is a good option. Or, at least, a pragmatic one. Sadly, there's a lot of traffic around, here in the South - sometimes there's no point at all in trying for the more interesting local roads, might as well take the big routes to get beyond it.

    On the satnav front, having been through a number of alternatives before arriving at universal Ram mountings, I have some spares! Have a look at http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Waterproof-bike-case-mount-Garmin-nuvi-205w-s55w-/390252190682?pt=UK_CE_GPS_Accessories_Software_ET&hash=item5adcd7dbda (was fitted to my Versys and went to and around Italy without any problems) and http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/GIVI-S850-UNIVERSAL-WATERPROOF-BIKE-GPS-SAT-NAV-HOLDER-/380245504183?pt=UK_Motorcycle_Parts&hash=item588865f0b7 (never used as it was too bulky to fit in either bike's cockpit).

    If you want to give either or both of 'em a try, let me know and I'll chuck them in the post.

  4. I can't use a ram mount, as the Tomtom is car-only and doesn't have the ram socket, just that little thin slot that the windscreen sucker uses. I superglued a nylon webbing strap to the back to act as a catcher if it vibrated off the Honda, but in fact it never did. The Givi one looks ideal for my needs. You have mail. Very kind.

  5. Ram mounts aren't a particularly cheap way to go, it must be admitted. I have an Aqua Box (TM) for the satnav, as it's a standard non-waterproof Garmin with just a clip mounting.

    I think the Ram system worked out at around £90 all in (including mount points on both bikes), but even adding in the cost of the satnav, it came in a good deal cheaper than the eye-watering £500+ (at the time) for a "proper" bike satnav like the Zumo 660.

    Mind you, had I come across the TomTom Rider range when I was setting it all up, I might have gone for one of those instead. The Urban Europe model at about £250 looks to be pretty good value for anyone starting from scratch.

  6. I'd have a Zumo if I could afford it, but they are way too expensive. I've had Garmin GPS for walking and on the boat, and they were faultless. However, I'm not 100% keen on the satnav software. Tomtom is more user-friendly for me. (When my first Tomtom was back at the factory for repair for the nth time, I bought a cheap Garmin to tide me over, but was not impressed.) If I were starting from scratch, I would probably go for the TomTom Rider - not only ease of use, but also it has a mount and Bluetooth headset in the bundle. I don't think the Zumo has the headset.

    Anyway, someone is sending me a case so I can use my car Tomtom, so I don't need to worry about it jsut yet :)

  7. Excellent! Go for it!

    It's the same reason why, when asked to go to Munich on business and faced with the choice of a quick airline ticket, a comfy 5-series diesel, or an open-topped 911 with hard suspension, I ignored everyone's raised eyebrows and went in the 911. And loved it.

  8. I would have done exactly the same. If you can combine work with a bit of fun, why not? I once did something similar - a work trip took me to Sussex (about 300 miles) on mileage expenses, so I decided to take my recently-restored Series Land Rover on its first Big Trip. It didn't end well, don't ask. The Ring sounds like a hoot.


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