I was always a petrolhead! I counted down the years, months and days to get my provisional driving licence at 17. That was in February, six weeks later (April Fools day) I shed the ‘L’ plates and the world was my oyster. Well, within reason and context of a teenager still at school!
I worked part-time jobs weekends and nights to save for a car. Forecourt attendant, fencing contractor, shop deliveries and even DJ at a club. My first car followed a few months later, a Ford Anglia 1200, family helped out too. The car gave me the freedom I so craved. My pals and I would travel to clubs in Edinburgh, Falkirk and Stirling, we’d have days out and do the casinos! Fun days, windows open and pop music blaring.
This was also the era of the muscle cars, Dad had a V6 Ford Zodiac, it was great for drifting! I learned so much about engines and mechanicals, much through mistakes; like pressing the hydraulic brake pedal when the brake drums were off, or not labelling plug leads after removal from the V6! Memorable cars thereafter included a Triumph Stag and MGB Roadster.
It was a few years later before I found two wheels coupled to an internal combustion engine, a Honda 250 Dream. I passed my test on that bike and moved almost immediately to a BMW R100RT; the one with the big fairing, Krauser panniers and that sumptuous wine coloured air brushed paint finish.
My last blog was about memories in the north west Highlands with the children; I was also there as a child when Mum and Dad hired caravans. They were holidaying at Clashnessie with my siblings the year I bought the R100RT, I took the chance to ride the bike and meet them towards the end of their holiday. That was my first venture by motorcycle to that part of the country, I was to return on many occasions thereafter.
Next up was a Honda CB750F2, a cracking sports tourer with an upper fairing and smart graphics.
Then along came a Honda CBR1000, it was part of a double act with my other half at the time picking up a Honda CBR600.
I then had an inclination for a custom ride and traded the CBR1000 in for a Yamaha Virago 1100; that didn’t last too long and was traded in for a CBR1000 (yes, same one) lol! Children came along and ‘need-to-be-an-adult’ took over so motorbikes disappeared for 15-years!
And that brings us to where the previous ‘A Brief Reflection’ blog ended!
I returned to motorbikes in 2009 with the purchase of a used Ducati ST2. I loved that bike, the engine, the noise from the dry clutch, the grunt, the handling. It was a capable sports tourer and the following year I returned to Scourie; to the campsite with the great caravan pitch and the sunset. It was different now of course!
A few years later I had a bit of a nostalgia moment; sold the Ducati and bought a grand old BMW R100RT Limited Edition.
It was of course a journey back in time, it needed tlc and although the best of intentions were there, career challenges and starting a business seemed to absorb all my attention. The bike was sold to a chap in Edinburgh who restores and shows classic bikes, good result that was.
Adventure continued to call and chip away at me so after a visit to Victor Devine, Honda in Glasgow I bought a used BMW G650GS.
A single cylinder thumper and another great bike. It took me through the Netherlands to Hamburg in December 2013. I’m a year around biker, that trip seemed to collide with snow storms on the Autobahn near Bremen and a significant North Sea storm during the ferry trip back to Newcastle.
I decided an early night in the cabin was the tonic for sea-sickness, in went earplugs to keep out the noise of crashing waves and popping rivets! The following day I realised I would never have heard any abandon ship signal! The smell of disinfectant and wet patches on the carpets was testament to how rough the night had been!
Whilst the G650GS was good, it did lack power when laden and attempting to sustain trunk road speeds. Along came a Suzuki V-Strom 1000 from Mickey Oates in Glasgow in 2014.
A cracking torquey and very competent V-twin, that carried me back to my spiritual home in the NW. It wasn’t a GS though and I always wanted to be a GS biker so in 2016 the Suzuki was traded in for a new BMW F800GS Adventure from Douglas Park at East Kilbride.
I now had a thoroughbred adventure tourer, a tried and tested engine with all the power needed, a range of over 300-miles, the ability to find wild camp sites and carry all the gear I needed to avoid people and shops for many days at a time!
I’d stopped working in 2015 to focus on supporting my parents as Mum had been diagnosed with dementia the previous Autumn. That rightly curtailed my travel ambitions and continued to do so until Mum passed away last October.
So, what have I been up to with the F800GS; wild camping Ardnamurchan, over the Bealach-Na-Ba (Pass of the Cattle), winter wild camping Torridon, 2018 Overland Event Oxford, touring Wales, ride-outs with like-minded bikers.
The time is now right to do much more, the two young men from the caravan will graduate next year and family obligations are at a minimum. I’m off to Wales on the bike next week to climb Snowdon (on foot) in support of Alzheimers Society then camp for a week to the north of the country. The following week I move to the Beacons for the Horizons Unlimited HUBBUK2019 4-day event then in August its back to Oxford for the Overland Event. Come September a group of us are off to the Isle of Skye for a long weekend.
The spirit that craved freedom through buying the Ford Anglia many decades ago remains. Motorcycle travel adventures support that spirit and bring about an escape that only bikers understand.