Oggy Oggy Oggy! Cornwall here we come!

Once again, through the wonderful Touratech Travel Event earlier this year we have managed to make some fantastics friends with a superb and most inspiring couple Craig and Barbara.  Based in the heart of Cornwall they run the charity organisation Motorcycle Outreach and have much experience of adventure motorcycle travel having taken tours through all kinds of amazing places including West Africa and Canada.

With a weekend set aside from all the manic-ness we were quite relieved to jump on the bikes and make our way down to the scenic sights of Cornwall for a couple of days with them.  When we rocked up (numb bummed… once again those original KTM 690 Enduro R 2012 seats have to go!) we were warmly welcomed and topped up with tea and a stupendously home cooked b olognese!  The evening seemed to disappear in a blink of an eye with us all animatedly chatting about travel adventures on motorbikes, our route, spitfires, organ playing and all sorts!  Having discussed a busy planned ride out for the following day at 2am we decided to throw in the towel and head to bed for a good nights snooze!

In the morning we were awoken by a cockadoodledoo breaking the complete silence which had enveloped us beforehand… being in the middle of the countryside is just bliss!  After showering we were then treated to some rather tasty pastries for brekky and a tour of Barbara and Craig’s bike collection… a Matchless, Triumph Bonneville, BMW 650GS, BMW 1200 adventure are just naming a few of them!  The matchless caught Sam’s attention as it was his Grandad’s first ever bike which he bought for a handsome sum of £50 back in the day!  This actual bike was the one which made Barbara go weak in the knees and fall in love with motorcycling!  A stunning little model it is!

We then kitted up and made our way down to some local friends of Barbara and Craig’s who would be joining us for a ride out that day (Nicky, Phil and Andy).  Once they were all prepped we headed off to enjoy a coastal route of a rather stunning and beautiful Cornwall!  Unfortunately, Nicky’s bikes brakes decided to seize up within the first half hour meaning she had to hop onto the back of Phil’s BMW 1200GS and abandon the bike for rescuing at a later time!  On a good note though, we managed to dodge a huge rain cloud!  After weaving our way over hills, dipping down into valleys and whizzing past various Cornish tin mines, we stopped off at the beginning of a byway to take in the view and surrounds which were just truly beautiful!  Blue skies, rolling hills, Levant Tin mines, cliffs and beaches… what more could you wise for?!

Refreshed and relaxed we hop back on our bikes and take a short half mile ride over the cliffs along a gravel byway.  It then kicked back to an open road where we made our way down to a wee little cove to stop for a proper Cornish Pasty.  Oh good God.  I forgot how utterly om nommable these little delights are!!  Having being on a healthy stint for the past few weeks too Sam and I were in a little bit of sinful food heaven!

Back on the road we returned to Nicky’s bike which had managed to cool enough for the boys to loosen the brake pad bolts so she could slow ride it back home.  With Nicky, Phil and Andy back on track they headed home to prep some BBQ goodness leaving Sam, Barbara, Craig and I to take a wee trip down to St Ives.  Being a sunny summer weekend it was absolutely packed with tourists! With St Ives iconic close little fisherman cottages surrounding us our akrapovic exhausts on the KTM 690 Enduro R 2012’s made the whole place reverberate with loud growls, turning all the tourists and local heads!  Whoops!  Barm barm! Haha!  We then had a brief stop off at Hayle which is unbelievably stunning before making our way back for a cuppa!

The rest of the afternoon consisted of pulling out various maps and taking a look at our reroute.  With Craig and Barbara being so well travelled, particularly in Africa and Canada, their advice and guidance was phenomenally helpful!  From border tips, climate thoughts, medical kit guides and all sorts… they were just brimming with useful support which we cannot thank them enough for!

Route replanned and full of useful tips, we happily trundled down the lane to Nicky and Phil’s place for an evening BBQ which consisted of lots of laughs, chiminea’s, stories and hilarious company!  A big thank you for such a divine meal!

 

The following day we awesomely managed to catch Craig from Touratech as he arrived before we made our way home.  Relaxed and feeling much more organised we had the most superb weekend away and cannot thank Craig and Barbara enough for their support, friendship and awesome riding!  I have to say during the ride out I often found myself watching Barbara ride which turned out to be really quite a useful thing for me!  She naturally commands the bike and road, taking corners perfectly and gliding effortlessly around.  In a monkey-see monkey-do way I found myself imitating and learning, really quite helpful!  So thank you from me and once again from us both… we look forward to visiting again soon!

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Blood Bike Wales and SMT Visit

This weekend we had a quick trip to sunny Wales and were fortunate enough to bump into the fantastic Blood Bike Wales charity and visit our good friends at Smart Motorcycle Training (SMT) and their new shop in Swansea!

Being an incredibly gorgeously sunny weekend this inevitably attracted many people down to the little cafe on Swansea bay – Verdis – where Blood Bike Wales had decided to shack up for the day!  We popped on down to say hey to the team who had us cracked up from the word go – such a wonderful group of people and fantastic charity!  The small world that is Wales meant they all knew who Sam and I were having spoken about us before with one of their close affiliates and one of our main charities the Wales Air Ambulance!

We spent a good hour with them chatting away learning about their good work and exchanging services stories as well as chinwagging with the public too (big hello to the Celtaidd Mcc boys!)  With a busy day ahead we said our goodbyes to then find our way to the wonderful SMT Clothing and Accessories shop so we can talk to our old trainer and friend Chris!

Having not really seen the store all completed and shiny new both Sam and I were wowerfied!  It really does look quite something and is very well stocked for riders of all categories.  I did manage to find some rather bizarre looking items though (see below.. still  have no idea what it is for and won’t be repeating what Chris or Sam suggested it was!)

Once again, it’s always a laugh to see Chris and have time out and a cuppa (and posh caramel biscuit!  Very what what!) and nice to see such a superb set up in sunny Wales for us bikers!  If you’re a biker and local and haven’t yet popped along – get your butt down there!  It’s awesome!

All in all a lovely day meeting old friends and making new ones!  We look forward to seeing everyone again before we’re off!

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Green and Water Laning with Matt and Liz

Today we had a bimble out with our friends Matt and Liz – another couple we have been fortunate enough to meet who too are looking to do a around the world motorcycle trip in 2013!  Like me, Liz is a newbie rider and has only just recently passed her Module 2 and like Sam, Matt is a more proficient rider with years of experience riding on and off road!  So all in all we make up quite a good riding group!

Roman Roads AHOY!

Being Mastermind of local byways, we let Matt lead the way up to the Gloucestershire and Wiltshire border where he introduced us to a Roman road he took Liz the week prior.  Gritty and potholed we had much fun bouncing along… for me this gave me the opportunity to practice my core skills I learned at the Wheeldon Off-Road training centre a few weeks prior!  Straight legged, bull dog posed and leaning in and out of corners I was loving it!

Gravel Hill… Whhheeee *splat*

A good few miles into it we approach a fallen tree where beyond lay a shadowed slope hidden by the forage of shrubs.  Liz had mentioned a few times she wasn’t particularly keen on this section but courageously leading the way she wound her way passed the tree and disappeared down the hill.  I then follow up not really knowing what to expect… only to find myself on a steep but relatively short gravelly descent.  Upon heading round the corner I spot that Liz has managed to tumble off and is slowly standing up… without thinking I brake… jerkily… on the front and guess what?!  You got it… WHOOSH, front end goes and I’m hugging a bush!

Laughing I jump up and jog on down to Liz to check she’s dandy and help her up with the bike!  As her first off there’s a celebratory high five all round!  Matt joins us and I trundle back up to recover Hobbes who has a minor injury of a slightly kinked back brake!  Nothing new there ;)  Sam and I tug him back up and I hop on all good again.  Liz then manages to make a smart recovery and slowly and carefully disappears around the corner, followed by me equally as slow and cautiously.  At the bottom we’re joined seconds later by Matt and Sam who cane it down (show off’s ;)) and whizz through a nearby puddle!  Good times!

Swimming Lessons

Off we go again and then a mile later slow up as Matt approaches a river crossing which has burst it’s banks.  To the side there’s a wee hump back bridge but dismounting Matt wanders a third of the way across the river to judge whether or not it’s bike-able.  At knee depth it’s not looking too bad and he wades back, hops on his bike and gives it a go. A third of the way through, Matt’s going strong but alas! as he enters half way Matt goes from being at knee depth to fully submerged!  Cracked up, Liz, Sam and I applaud from the side and decide perhaps the bridge is a better option! Lesson learned?  Walk the full length before attempting! Sam wades on in and helps yank the bike back to dry land where they proceed to drain it as much as possible.

Attempting to kick start it, the bike was not having it and the boys decide the only way it will work would be to empty the engine via the spark plug… which was hidden under the front fork and had been untouched for years!  After a good hour of us attempting to unscrew the awkwardly angled and sized spark plug Matt decides to wheel the bike back to the road and call for recovery.  Being in the middle of no where, Sam rides off to pick up some tow rope from a local shop and when he returns Matt’s bike is attached to Stimpy and towed to the local pub so we can stay warm and snug whilst waiting!

The Snooty Fox

The pub was actually quite a funny wee place… quite posh and what what (“The Snooty Fox” says it all really ;)) so us rocking up covered in mud on noisy bikes and squeaky rally boots made a few people turn their heads!  Unfortunately they had just stopped serving food so cuppa tea’s and plenty of crisps ensued along with chatter and chin wagging!

An hour later Matt’s bike was picked up with Liz’s too and we part and leave behind a great afternoon of off roading fun and joy!

Video to come of this adventure (mind, carefully edited as Sam neglected to switch off his head cam when he disappeared behind a bush for a quick whizz!! Glad we watched it along – completely X rated!!) and more trips ahead which we cannot wait for!  Thanks again to Matt and Liz for a fab afternoon!

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Slick and Sliding in Devon

Whilst at the Touratech Travel Event this year we had the absolute pleasure to meet some awesome people, one of them being Mr Jon of Devon!  He too is planning a round the world motorcycle trip with his mate Andrew so naturally we’ve all met together a number of times to compare notes and discuss tactics!  As opposed to looping like we North to South are they are heading East to West on their affectionately named JABA Mundus adventure!

Today we decided to take a wee trip down to meet up with Jon for some green laning malarky.  Having checked all the routes at the weekend Jon assured us despite being a little over grown they weren’t too bad… later we discover they had bushed out some more and were now resembling Borneo!

Bursting with energy we popped on down and rocked up only to find that both our heat guards for the exhausts were lolling to the side with missing screws!!  To be fair this wasn’t really a surprise as we have noticed screws and bolts on the KTM 690 Enduro 2012’s have a tendency to sneak out when we’re not looking! KTM obviously haven’t discovered the little gem that loctite!

Jon soon dug out some replacements and before long we were all off tootling along some stunning little country roads on our 2 x KTM 690 Enduro Rs and Jon riding his KTM 990 Adventure Dakar.  Our first turn we take is a short little stint, quite overgrown and with a thick rut down the middle.  Being a bit wimpy I wasn’t giving Hobbes enough beans so I managed to jump the front out once and hug a bush… but in reassurance so did Sam ;) We then weave back on to some roads and then dip onto a muddy section. Like last week we were still riding on the original tyres meaning Sam and I were squirming about all over the place whilst Jon glided by with his nice set up of MEFO Super Explorers at the rear and Pirelli MT21 at the front.  We need to get this sorted!!  I kicked a tree (it jumped in my way) and then swooped sideways down the path only to be greeted by a laughing Jon and Sam at our flinging around bike riding!  With some sense about us this time we let down the tyres a fair bit.  Sam found this riding experience quite new to him as he was used to his 990 which wasn’t so frantic and more fluid… our KTM 690 Enduros were kicking out like nutters!  Awesome fun (if a little aieeeeee for me!)

Further up we ride through another dense lane with fronds thwacking us in the helmet and pulling at us as we bumped round it.  This one was a right bugger as it had a deep rut all along and again… not really giving Hobbes the proper blat it required I had a tendency to pop the front wheel out and flop into the ferns!  After a couple of pick ups I was tiring but still smiling and laughing, grateful I had superb company as Sam and Jon to help encourage me along the way!

We then attempt another similar lane and this time I try and bean it a bit more and have more success!  I do, however, wimp off through some mud and despite holding it together, I plonk back down to change gear (still a n00b like that) and due to slowing end up throwing the front out of the rut into the ferns again!  Knackered, I survey the bike, attempt to pick it up but this time I’m out of energy and waaaay hot.  Whipping the helmet off I take a breather and am then greeted by Jon who had trundled back to help me up!

We all pause at the end of the lane and agree that the lanes are pretty darn hard especially for me and to prevent it going from fun to a chore for me (I was the one flopping off the bike!) we would do some country roads riding for a bit!   Chilled out we whizz around some roads – super gorgeous area!

After a few miles we stop off at a ramblers section and eye up a lane nearby.  We take the turn and end up on a lovely off road lane with dips and puddles and much easier riding for me!  A few gates on we end up losing our direction a bit and find ourselves in fog riding over lots of loose rock over what I believe to be moors!  All was going swimmingly, we all were having a great time and then bump bump bump BUMP WHAM *thunk* WHEeeeeEEeee… I manage to hit a huuuge rock and do a tremendous off!  Poor Sam had a heart attack as he was behind and watched in horror as I tumbled through the air and slammed to the ground!  He ran up to me and having stumbled to my feet was trying to get me to sit back down again… on a gorse bush.  Bless him!  I was fine though… just a bruised knee!

Bike back up and me a little nervous now (shame as I was bumbling along for ages without a worry in the world getting used to the back end kicking out and bouncing through rocks!) we continue and wind down a huuuge hill before being back on the road!  Lush ride, no idea where we were!

Jon then takes us along to a little country pub where we indulge on a cuppa and convo by the fire!

All in all an awesome day!  We all had a chat about my riding and although, once again, we were knocking through some pretty technical lanes and I was coping, I need to get back to the basics and perfect the core skills before I end up getting frustrated with hugging the ground (as beautiful as it is!).  So our aim is to get some lighter trails under my belt and then build up from there!

Cheers Jon for the fun times and for helping me pick up Hobbes!  We both loved it and are looking forward to some more action soon!

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Hill of DOOM

July 1, 2012 / My category, Training / 0 Comments /

Having had the pants news of delaying the trip a few months due to the potential of an op, my knee being a complete bugger, lack of sleep and an insane amount of work I was feeling a wee bit crushed.  We therefore figured with our off road training skills we had gained the week prior, it would be a mega idea to try out our new skills with some light green laning as a cheer me up!  Searching about on the local maps we discover a mile long byway not too far off our favourite picnic spot.  With the sunshining after a rainy night we kit up and hop on the bikes excited…

Rain rain go away…

All was beautiful and sunny until about 5 mins from the lane when it started to bucket down.  “Meh, it’ll pass” we figured… and although it calmed as we approached it was still drizzling. There was evidence it had been raining most of the day in Blagdon too as we sploshed through mini road rivers and passed half drowned, muddy huddled groups of long faced Duke of Edinburgh’s students.  This didn’t deter us though, I mean common, what’s a bit of rain!?…

What’s around the corner…

We arrive and can see a steady incline sweeping round the corner with a couple of shallow ruts either side and some loose rock and mud… easy!  With Sam in front we start making our way along the path… and up… and up… and then round a corner where the small ruts suddenly dip into mini trenches with flowing rain and mud pouring over large smooth rocks and a slidey muddy mound in the centre.  The slight incline sneaked away and before we knew it we faced a steep slope of doom.  Behind, I watched in horror Sam’s back end flying out left, right and centre as he struggled up and up.   With the original tyres on we discovered quickly they were really not appropriate and were giving us both a heck of an ice rink style fight.  For some foolish reason it never crossed our minds to let them down a bit.  Hindsight eh?!

Hesitant and nervous I try to follow up behind the never ending hill and after a couple of falls, I struggle back up and am starting to doubt myself and am feeling super gutted.  I try again, wheel spin out of a rut then 100 yards later the front end washes out and the bike slams down heavy on my leg.  At this point, Sam had managed to ride up around a corner with the momentum so was out of site.  Slipping up trying to get the bike up I end up getting upset and feel useless.  Sam stumbles and slides down to me and a bit broken I am grumpy.  We pull the bike up and have to bend the back brake back round.  I try again but fail.

Half way up…

Now, when you’re half way up a steep, slidy, muddy incline of doom the best choice you have is to continue up… down would have been a death trap!  Sam asks what I would prefer to do and all upset I say I have no choice.  Spotting how washed I was feeling (mentally I was pooped that day as it was) he suggests he rides Hobbes up.  Gutted I let him jump on and on the way up I help tug Hobbes out of wheel spin ruts.

Let there be light!!

Eventually we reach a point where it smooths out and I manage to hop back on.  Sam cheers me up by letting me know he managed to drop his bike too and that the hill was incredibly difficult… he was proud and impressed with what I did achieve.

We get to the end of the lane and choose to head to a local pub to reflect and chill.  Starving but with it past kitchen hours we chill out at the bar, nomming crisps, head to toe in mud!

I’ll be back…

So yes.  I felt pretty naff at the beginning of the day and really mentally I didn’t feel I was “there” to take on something so tough.  It really wasn’t like me to get as frustrated and upset as I did which I’m guessing was all the strain of everything else coming through… normally I just laugh and let it wash over me!  Sam has reminded me again and again I did supremely well considering but in the back of my head I do feel a bit defeated by the Hill of Doom.

I can laugh now looking back even though I really did struggle.  I think part of my upset was because I thought “jeez if I can’t handle this what will I be like on the trip?”.  Thing is… practice makes perfect.  I had a hard day and what I did was impressive!  I will be back in the future once we have the tyres sorted and I have managed to put a bit more practice in.  I will not be defeated!  Oh no!  Mister Hill of Doom, I will manage you and your muddy rocky ruts of goo!  Oh yes! Watch this space people… ;)

Big thank you to Sam for helping me so much that day and the week before and after when things just seemed to be falling apart a bit!  He picked me up and glued me back together and I am now running about happy as Larry once again! HUZZAH!

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