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Monday, April 28, 2014

Day 8 - Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

I had a bad nights sleep due to the constant pain in my knee, but at least it had not got any worse - if that was possible.

I showered, went down the stairs on my arse as I couldn't do the stairs and had a brew.

It was obvious I was going no where today. So I checked in for another night and decided I would spend the day resting my leg.

Thankfully I had a room to myself, which was just as well as I had used all the pillows and an extra duvet as the previous night I was shivering!

This was just the shock setting in and the fact I was on the border line for hypothermia!

I dozed most of the morning, more brews and some Scottish short bread biscuits made me feel much better.

Plenty of pain killers and fluids had me hobbling around by late afternoon and I went out to check on "Lucille". I tried to climb on which I could just about manage which gave me the boost I needed.

Back inside as it was still howling a gale outside, an evening meal of lasagne once again and I settled down for the night and hopefully a better nights sleep.

My room, bottom bunk, no way I could of made it to the top one!

Hostel kitchen, well appointed, with free Scottish shortbread biscuits!!

View from my bedroom window looking out onto the Kyle of Tongue

View from the kitchen sink!

Yesterday I did think that the trip may of been over, but after a day of total rest which was an absolute requirement I felt well enough to think about getting on with it. Not that it was ever really an option to quit. But it was touch and go.

The journey continues............................

Day 7 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

I woke to the sound of rain hitting the tent, not a great way to start the day, I checked the weather forecast on my phone and they reckoned it would clear by 0900.

So not wanting to get wet before I started decided there was only one option, stay in my maggot, doze, plan my route and drink coffee.

The forecast for once was right and it did start to ease off, so gradually I managed to get packed up and ready for the off without getting wet.

Today was going to be a bit ambitious, but worst case scenario it would be either a camp site or wild camping. Best case I would make Tongue where I was expecting to stay in a hostel.

This for me was really where the journey starts with spectacular scenery or so I hoped!

As it was, I was not disappointed, but it did come at a cost!!

I headed off passing through Crainlarich and towards Tyndrum. I stopped at "The Green Welly Stop" which is a famous truck/cafe stop on the way into the Highlands. 

Coffee and a bacon sandwich and a chat with an American tourist over on holiday. He had completed in the "Iron Butt" back in the states, and thought I was mental! Just a bit of info for you the "Iron Butt" Rally is billed as the toughest rally in the world, 11,000 miles in just 11 days.

Now to hear that I was mad from a guy who had completed the "Iron Butt" was a serious compliment!

The wind had started to pick up, but it was dry. In exposed places and when you least expected it you would catch a gust of wind which does have the effect of your arse cheeks grabbing the saddle rather rapidly!

Heading towards Glencoe the wind was howling and to say I was all over the place was an understatement. Riding in these conditions no matter how amazing the scenery is, is just no fun!

I made it up through Glencoe and pulled into a layby, one of many as it was exhausting trying to keep the bike up right!

The next layby I pulled into, all though I was only going very slow, it was a gravely surface and with the combination as I later found out of 70mph gusts of wind had me off the bike and sprawling on the ground.

The problem being my left foot was trapped under my rear pannier and pointing in the opposite direction!

Clearly this is not correct and it did bring a tear to my eye along with some rather colourful language!

I really did not know that a foot was capable of bending that far round without snapping!

At this stage a couple of people had came to my aid and lifted the bike from me releasing my foot. I managed to get the bike on it's stand and surveyed the damage!

I had managed to bend my wing mirror and front axillary head lamp plus my left hand foot peg was at a slight angle. But thankfully that was it.

However after a very short space of time I realised that all was not well with my ankle and worse my knee. It had taken a right twisting and I really do not know how nothing popped or broke.

After being checked over by a couple who I had met and chatted with in a previous car park I saddled up and moved on. The wind was extreme and I had a job to hold it together as by this time my knee was throbbing.

Down the other side of Glencoe and I pulled into the petrol station to refuel and assess the damage to my ankle and knee.

Things were not looking good, changing gear was agony, but what could I do but to continue.

Swallowing more than I should of pain killers, off I went again.

I stopped in Fort William car park, as the pain was severe. I really should of gone for medical attention, but me being me, decided against it.

Once again I  met up with the couple in their camper van who offered me a brew, I knew if I stopped I wouldn't get going again, so checked my route and headed off, following the A82 towards and past Loch Ness.

I pulled into Fort Augustus, and needed a break and fuel. A group of hardcore bikers on race bikes pulled in not long after me, and gave me a few dodgy looks. I think it was a mix of "are you for real" and "your soft in the head".

Eventually one of them came over for a chat, and that broke the ice, once one knew what I was doing they all came over and were a real friendly lot.

One of them had a C90 which he was very proud of as he was showing me his pictures of it, considering he was riding a Ducatti Panigale 1199 at the time, was a big deal! Everyone loves a C90!

My charity box on the front of my basket was once more being filled with change - brilliant!

With a very sore knee and ankle and after waving the lads off I was left to repack "Lucille" and I was away.

Their exit was nothing short of spectacular as they powered away, a bit of a contrast to my wobble as at low speed she is a bit unstable!

Riding along the shore of Loch Ness I saw no monster's, but with the wind still strong I must admit to keeping my eyes more on the road and my mirror than looking at the loch!

Above is actually Loch Lochy, which is just before Loch Ness.

This is Loch Ness. Onwards towards Drumnadrochit where I left the Loch behind me and headed towards Beauly and Muir Of Ord.

Now the road into Beauly was the first real test of gradient, a 15% gradient saw us down into 1st gear and some high revs which pulled us up and over the hill. "Lucille" performed exceptionally well - why do I doubt her?

A brief stretch on the A9 and then off and towards Bonar Bridge (where I nearly had another off due to high winds) and onto Lairg.

The final stretch of the road lay before me. Lairg to Tongue. Thankfully I had the foresight to book a hostel at Tounge, and I can tell you it was the best decision of the whole trip!

At this point with just over 40 miles to go, the weather changed for the worst, up till now I had only had to deal with the wind gusting at 70 mph, I now had rain and sleet to contend with, along with single track roads which were very exposed. It was a nightmare!

10mph, both legs out and still nearly blown off the road. When it did stop raining the sun would come out and it would be rainbows every where!

Up ahead you could see puddles on the road, a gust of wind and you could see the water picked up and hurled at you drenching you instantly.

It was some of the worst conditions I have ever been in, let alone rode I bike in! The last 40 miles took me the best part of 3 long and torturous hours!

I finally located the Hostel in Tongue which was right down by the waters edge and I have never been more relieved to arrive somewhere.

I was to put it mildly in "Shit State" I could hardly walk, I was cold, tired, wet, shivering and to be honest was bordering on being on the edge of hyperthermic!

The owners couldn't of been more welcoming and helpful. "Lucille" had a dry garage to stay in, I was led into a warm and comfortable room. I quickly changed and got as much hot fluid into myself as possible, along with some home made lasagne and garlic bread.

I didn't even do my checks on "Lucille" she could wait tonight.

Plenty of pain killers, and straight into bed. I had some deep freeze cream which I liberally applied, but I was in agony. My knee was swollen badly and so was my ankle. I did have my walking pole which I used as support. It was murder to put weight on my left leg. 

After speaking to Kiera she wanted me to go to hospital, but I wasn't sure I could make it, so I did find out there was a local doctor's surgery and I even considered checking out my travel insurance. I decided to see what the next day brought.

Was this the end of the trip?

The journey continues - or does it????...............................

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day 6 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

After getting directions for the tyre shop from the owners who thought I was slightly barking but emptied all their change into my collection tin on the front of "Lucille" I was off.

5 minutes down the road and I pull in to the garage. Unfortunately they were unable to help but they did give me directions to another dealer at the bottom of town who could do bike tyres.

I wasn't expecting miracles, but there wasn't even a chance that this guy was willing to help. However he did say that there was a place 8 miles away at Denholm that may be able to help.

Now this was in the opposite direction, but as I viewed the whole trip as an adventure, thought why not try them. Off I rode, and after a short ride I pulled into Thos. B Oliver's Garage at Denholm.

Every now and again you come across folk that are so amazingly helpful and brilliant that you cannot praise them enough. This is one of those occasions!

I got off "Lucille" and walked up to the office where I met Wendy the owner who had taken the business over from her father. 

I explained the situation to her and what I was doing and she soon had things under control and things set in motion.

I stripped my bike of gear to much amusement from the lads in the workshop who were all really friendly and interested in what I was doing. I think it helped that they were a bike dealer as well and the guys all rode bikes.

A brew soon appeared for me and "Lucille" was soon minus her back wheel!

My tyre was looking pretty thin in the centre so it was a wise move to have it replaced. I carried two spares, a front and rear tyre. This did leave me without a spare rear tyre so I asked Wendy if it was possible and how long would it take to get a spare factored in. 

She said it would only take an hour and that she would get it organised, brilliant. Little did I know that she sent her 80 year old mother off in her car to get it for me!

My tyre had obviously been getting rather warm as the inside of the tyre had bubbled and stuck itself to the inner tube.

I was also carrying 4 heavy duty inner tubes so with my cheapo Chinese tyre and a new inner tube all was replaced.

Now since Darlington I could here a bit of rubbing on the chain guard, which on examination I found out to be the chain, which was now slacker than a whores knicker elastic. So with the wheel having to come off, on refitting it would be an easy task to tighten it up.

But on closer examination it was found that the chain was pretty much worn out, and looking a bit shabby, so my spares policy once more paid off. I was carrying a heavy duty chain, which we linked to the old one, pulled it through and joined it up. Job done in seconds.

I should of really changed it before I left, but I went on the basis of it it ain't broke don't touch it!

It didn't take too much longer to get the back wheel fitted and the bike loaded up.

My tyre arrived courtesy of Wendy's Mum and it was just a case of settling the bill.

This is when I felt very humbled. Wendy would not let me pay for a thing, I tried to pay for it all, then just labour, then just for the tyre, but she was having none of it.

I have read many motorcycle adventures over the last 12 months and have heard of these sort of things happening, but I really didn't expect anything like this to happen to me!

I did manage to get one of their stickers put on my wind shield and a photograph of everyone.

I cannot say a big enough thank you to Wendy and her lads who helped me out, they had no need to or cause to, they just did and that as I said before is very humbling indeed!

Leaving here I knew the bike was in tip top order, and it certainly felt better to ride, but it did take most of the morning to sort so I had to get a few miles behind me.

Heading for Selkirk on the A7 before turning onto the A72 and Peebles. Following the A721, past Carstairs and the Mental Institution where I refuelled but did not hang around!

On towards Carluke, through Airdrie and up towards Cumbernauld. I used to live not far from here and the roads were all familiar. 

I stopped at Burger King in Cumbernauld and had a big meal as I was starving and it was the first real break of the day and it was nearly 1700.

From here I only lived 10 minutes away and curiosity did get the better of me and so I headed off to get a glimpse of my old house.

Went to cut through the old lane but they had blocked the road and so I could not get to it, but could see it in the distance snuggled up against the hill side. It would of been an hours ride to get back to it so decided to let it stay in the past where it belongs.

However I did manage to get a picture from streetview maps, it was set in a wonderful location.

Onwards once more, through Denny and towards Stirling, where I spent a lot of time teaching folk to drive. I did enjoy living up there, but where I am now is better, it's warmer and dryer for a start!

A quick pit stop in Sainsbury's for fuel and grub and it was off again. It was starting to get late, but it takes a while longer to get dark up there so with a bit more light I started looking for a camp site.

Now being in Scotland they are more relaxed with wild camping, and this was part of the plan, but if a camp site cropped up I would take advantage of a proper loo and a shower.

Somewhere between Lochearnhead and Crainlarich I came across a camp site. This is a bit vague as I cannot remember the name of the site!

I pulled in and the reception as to be expected was closed as it was gone 1900. There was a phone with a direct line to the owners so as I picked it up the owner came to the door and we sorted out a price and where to go, which was anywhere and off I went to start my routine.

I had just managed to get set up when it started to rain, thankfully I was dry and so was all my gear. Snuggled in my maggot (sleeping bag) it was time for some grub. I had packed a few emergency rations, none of which looked to appetising. Mind you I did have a burger king earlier but by this time it was dark, raining and I was a bit chilly, so there was only one thing for it.

I can assure you that when tired and cold these taste wonderful! Along with a brew and a phone call back to Kiera who had been in constant touch with me these last few days and had also said that she would be at Lands End to meet me meant I slept a very happy and contented man.

The Journey continues.......

Day 5 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

Up bright and early after a good nights sleep, packed and away by just after 0830hrs so not too shabby a start.

Back on the A16 and headed for Grimsby, and yes it was a bit grim as you have to go right through the middle of the place to get onto the A180 and my next hurdle - the Humber Bridge!

The Humber Bridge is the 7th longest single span bridge in the world and it was with some trepidation that I approached it.

Thankfully the wind had died down and the crossing was smooth with some spectacular views to either side. Not that I had much chance of looking around trying to keep "Lucille" on the straight and narrow.

Once crossed it was straight on and heading for York. The miles today flew by with many stops for fuel, but as soon as the tank was brimmed it was straight off with no time to spare.

"Lucille" was performing well, but my back tyre was wearing fast which I was a little surprised at as it was a new Continental tyre fitted just before I had bought the bike. With so little mileage on it I was a little concerned over it's wear rate.

Not being even half way a number of tyres was looking a possibility. Continental being a good make I didn't hold out too much hope for my mega cheap Chinese tyres I was carrying as spares. Yes those are spares on the back of the bike and not a paddling pool as some have hinted at!

I decided that as soon as I could and definitely before I hit the Highlands I would get a new tyre fitted.

But in the mean time, onwards!!

Around York and onto the A19 at Thirsk I branched off and took the A168 to Northallerton and straight on to Darlington.

Being an old drinking haunt from my early Army days, I must say I remembered nothing of the place as I passed through it.

The A68 is a long road and this was the road that took me through the Northumberland National Park.

Once more many memories came flooding back of my basic training in the Army as we spent some considerable time on the moors of Otterburn. I passed the sign for the camp and swiftly kept on going with a slight shudder at the horrors we had had to endure!

It always seemed to be cold and wet when I was last there, a number of things stick in my mind. One was being one of the few who remained OK after several days of heavy freezing rain. The others were dropping like flies with hypothermia, myself and Mark Renshaw were happy as Larry and brewing up as most of the others were being carted off to the medical centre!

I also remember in the middle of January swimming out to a canoe which was 40ft out in Kielder Lake, bobbing under it and swimming back. I should mention that the first few feet in we had to walk bare footed through ice!!!!

Character building stuff, which is exactly why I've probably ended up riding 3000 miles on a Honda C90!

The Scottish border represented a major milestone in the journey, and you could of predicted that it was wet and windy as I crossed it.

There was no one around at all to take my picture so had to do it myself, I managed to get most of us in! Getting the bike up on to the wet grassy bank was fun, not!

It was getting late in the day and it had been a bit of a monstrous day mileage wise at well over 200 miles and as I hadn't eaten properly all day and was feeling a bit jaded decided that it was time to find a camp site.

Once over the border I turned off the A68 and headed for Hawick on the A6088 through Bonchester Bridge, for those of you not in the know it is pronounced Hoik, and not as you would expect, so to impress the locals use the correct pronunciation! 

This was my first proper taste of narrow A roads with some fantastic views, but I knew that this was just a taster of what was in store for me.

As I got closer to Hawick I noticed a brown sign with the camp site symbol on it, but decided to push on. Got into Hawick itself and decided that I needed fuel, Once I had stopped and sorted out "Lucille" I decided to retrace my steps to the camp site a few miles back down the road.

I pulled into Riverside Caravan Park, reception was closed, but there was a number to call, spoke to the owners who just said, pitch up and settle up in the morning.

The site itself has seen a major refurbishment not only of the grounds but of the shower and loo block, talk about plush!

After going through my routine of setting up camp and a steaming hot shower which was very welcome after a long day, I decided that the very next morning I would take time to sort out my rear tyre. So far the roads had been dry but it was starting to look a bit like a slick racing tyre and I didn't fancy knee down Barry Sheen style riding.

The next morning I woke to frosty view, living on the South Coast and after having a very mild if not a tad wet winter it was a little bit of a surprise!

After settling up with the owners and a chat, they gave me directions to a local tyre guy who hopefully will help with my tyre issue!

The journey continues............

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Day 4 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

I should at this point clarify why I have just ridden through Dover on my way to John O'Groats after setting off from Lands End in case you were wondering!

The simple fact is that the journey from end to end going the shortest possible route, even just on A roads is a bit of a challenge, but me being me wanted to push the boundaries a little which is why I decided to make it a back to back challenge. Lands End to John O'Groats and back to Lands End.

However, it still sounded just a little bit too easy, so to spice it up and make it a real challenge I decided to add in the other corners of the UK. Being Dover and Durness which is the most North Westerly point of the British Isles.

Now this was a challenge! Especially as I was riding a 27 year old Honda C90!

And this was how I found myself yesterday travelling through Dover. The first leg of the journey completed!

Setting off from Margate with a thick head courtesy of "Diggers" was not the best way to start the day, but it had to be done.

Out of Margate and onto the A299 and followed that till I hit the A2. Now this next section is the part of the journey that I was most concerned about. Heavy traffic, multi lane dual carriageways and a Honda C90 do not mix!

I had a fuel stop along the A2 and this is where I was snapped by a member of the Lambretta Club UK. Who posted the pics on facebook wanting to know who this idiot was! It took only a matter of hours for it to be confirmed that it was indeed my good self! The power of facebook - scarey!

I then decided as I was getting closer to the end of the A2 to have a final check of the map at the next service station as my next stop would be the other side of the Thames after going through the Dartford tunnel.

I decided to brim the tank once more as I was stopped and as I was doing this I spotted the Highways Agency Enforcement Officers. So I decided to chance my arm and wandered over with my map for a chat.

After a bit of light hearted banter where I said it would may be an idea for them to escort me through the tunnel as it was either that or potentially have a massive tail back, a possible accident, or worst case scenario scooping me into bags. After a few looks at each other and a bit of head scratching they thought an escort a rather good idea!

We set off with them following me, now the A2 goes into 5 lanes, flat out I'm doing 45mph which is nothing when you have cars passing you at 80mph plus! I was in the nearside lane and at one point I had to get over into lane 3. Without the boys behind me and with the speed of the traffic this would of been impossible. They moved lanes and I moved in front of them and so on till I was in lane 3 - phew!

Through the tunnel out the other side, off at the first junction a wave goodbye and off I go through Grays and heading for Brentwood. So a big thank you to the lads for helping me out. 

To be honest apart from the last stretch of the A2 it was not half as bad as I thought it would be. Onwards through Chipping Ongar where I picked up B roads through Great Dunmow and headed for Haverhill.

Continuing on through Bury St Edmunds, Thetford Forest, and up towards Kings Lynn. Picking up the A17 towards Boston and then the A16 I finally decided to find a campsite to stay the night.

This is where it all got a bit complicated! Using UK Campsites, I managed to find one reasonably close to where I was near, East Kirkby in Lincolnshire. I phoned up spoke to a lady who gave me directions and within 20 minutes I was pulling up at what I thought was the campsite.

A lady came out who had the biggest mass of bedraggled dreadlocked hair I had ever seen! It even had what appeared to be a cushion in it! I told her I had just phoned up which she said "oh you must of spoke to my sister" and I thought no more of it. I was shown where roughly to pitch and the loo's/showers etc and left to get on with it.

I had decided on a routine for pitching camp and the first thing to do was to get a brew on, the second was to put the tent up, then sort kit and before I relax refuel and check the oil on "Lucille" This worked well the whole trip and I kept to it.

The picture with the view from the tent, I was making a brew first thing in the morning. I was away reasonably sharpish after a good nights sleep.

Soon after pulling away, I received a text message from the camp site owners saying sorry we were not there to see you when you arrived last night! Work that one out as I couldn't!!!

The journey continues..........

Day 3 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

Now, I am back from the trip, and will be writing up my eventful and amazing journey over the next couple of days. So I may well be skipping between past and present tense which may confuse!!!!!............

The weather is a critical factor in this trip as I discovered yesterday after nearly being blown off.

Constant checking of the forecast and it was not looking good, in fact it looked even worse for the whole day. However, the rest of the week looked good.

So I came to a rather dramatic decision to stay put and not risk coming off in the wind and rain which was absolutely howling outside.

I did doubt my decision as there were a couple of bright spells, but the rain soon returned and this early on in the trip and with some of the worst roads to travel I really didn't want to risk an accident.

So I had a relaxing day, and thought of nothing but two things! Firstly with my map book as my constant companion the trip itself and the route, which was open to change as I rode along. But secondly, a couple of weeks earlier I had been blessed with meeting someone who has been such a strong supporter of mine during the trip and managed to bring me such happiness that I am totally smitten!

Anyway back to the journey.

Next morning was not an early start due to various distractions! However managed to get away around 0800hrs and headed in to Lymington to see the lads and lasses at work. I pulled in to much mickey taking and it was pointed out that my rear tyre did look a little flat!

Not really surprising due to the weight that was on the bike! Mind you I would like to point out that the bike was not and I do repeat not overloaded. It is designed to carry a pillion passenger and I was quite capable of picking up and carrying my bags but I wouldn't of wanted to pick up and carry a person.

Down to the nearest garage to the air line, where I discovered my tyre down to 20psi. It should of been at 40psi! Now with the panniers on it wasn't easy to attach the air line. The valve had to be at 9 o'clock and I had to lay on the deck to attach it!

My destination for tonight was Margate and an old Army mate Diggers, more about him later.

Off through Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst, Ashurst and into Southampton, where I nearly got lost but managed to make my way through and out on the A27 through Fareham and on to Chichester.

A quick break and refuel at Chichester and off again following the A27. Now my original plan was to take the A259 but this is all stop start and I wanted to get some miles under my belt and as the journey had been easy so far decided to stay on the A27.

Skirting around Worthing, Brighton, and Eastbourne I finally hit the sea at Hastings. Pulled up on the sea front for fuel and a drink.

My kit was off the bike and I was busy refuelling so I didn't see the police car pull up behind me and give me a quick blast of the sirens. After checking to make sure my pants were not full the boys in blue got out and started to chat rather enthusiastically about my bike and what I was doing and how I was getting on.

Before I knew it one of them was on the bike and positioning it for a photo shoot!

It turned out the guy on the bike owns one and was in awe of my journey! So much so that his mate had to remind him that they had better get going as they were late for a court hearing!!!

Onwards towards now on the A259 towards Folkestone and Dover. At Dover I pulled into a garage for grub and fuel, with just a short stint to finish the day up to Margate.

On reaching Margate I made my way to the train station and gave "Diggers" a call, he gave me directions to his place and within 5 minutes I was shaking the hand of a bloke that I had last seen in 1987.

We were at 21 Signal Regiment 2 Squadron based in Osnabruck. 2 Squadron was infamous for being full of misfits and lunatics, not too sure how I managed to get posted there but I fitted in well!

"Diggers" and I shared a room, and so many memories came flooding back we were in tears laughing. We also agreed that some of our stories when told to civvies were either frowned upon or disbelieved as being too far fetched, but we know they were all true and we had a right laugh remembering them!

We had a cracking evening down his local with a few too many beers, when we got back that evening to his place he pulled out an old battered shoe box with all his memories in. One of which was a letter I had sent him a year after he had got out back around 1988.

To say I was touched to the core that he had this letter after all this time was an understatement. 

One thing this proved to me that no matter how long it is between speaking or seeing each other. Those who served together are friends for life, no matter what goes on in-between!

Above is our barracks in Osnabruck, where we lived was the big building of the two on the left, 4th floor, it was bleak in the winter!!!! In the garages to the rear there were still German Eagles from the WW2 as it has been a barracks for many years.

The next morning I was feeling slightly worse for wear!

The journey continues.............

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 2 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

Day 2 of the Challenge but really Day 3 overall - confused!?

On checking the weather it was all looking a bit grim for day 2 (Monday) so I went to bed not looking forward to what was in store for me when I woke.

Checking the weather again and listening to it coming down outside I knew all was not well!

After yesterday, and a couple of dodgy moments I decided after a bit of soul searching that it would be foolish to attempt to ride today.

The next leg is the worst, with the busiest roads of the whole journey, so with the forecast set to be dry for the rest of the week I didn't think that riding a heavily laden bike in monsoon conditions was a really sensible thing to do. It is an accident waiting to happen!

I do have 3 days spare for emergencies. I count this as an emergency, I don't mind the rain, in fact the only thing to get wet over the last few days were my legs. The rest remained dry or just a bit damp. But there are just too many idiots on the road, and there is no need to risk injury when I don't need to.

So today is being spent, sorting kit, updating this blog and seeing Kiera, a rather lovely and welcomed distraction!!!

I aim to be in Margate tomorrow evening, not a massive push but far enough and staying with an old Army mate "Diggers" the last time we were together was in 1985 where for 18 months we shared a room in Osnabruck! So it will be a quiet night and lights out by 2100 - Yeh right!

Till later.............

Day 1 Lands End - John O'Groats - Lands End On A Honda C90

Leaving Breage with the tank filled, I set off to Lands End, around a 30 minute trip.

Being Sunday morning and at just after 0700 hrs the roads were very quiet and it didn't take me long to get to Lands End.

I travelled light with no panniers, just a spare fuel can. 

On arrival the place was deserted, but there was a sign saying that if you needed help with verification then to go to the hotel reception.

A couple of photographs first:

Into the hotel, where I signed the book for all end to enders, then reception gave me the necessary paperwork and stamped it to make it all official. I have to collect 6 business/company stamps between here and John O'Groats to get my certificate of completion.

Back in the saddle and back to Breage where Sharon had cooked breakfast!

Finally getting away at around 1030 complete with a sticker added to my screen by Tom, a lemon, a pair of rubber gloves and a thermometer! Now if Ginger Toby was involved there could be a possible comedy connection, but as he wasn't I'll leave it at that!

I decided on a more direct route back, as the weather was against me. So back up the A394/A39/A390 Through Truro and St Austel.

It was just passed St Austell that I had a bit of a moment on the bike. It was very windy with some serious gusts of wind that made me wobble, but on an exposed bit of road I had a cross wind that nearly took the wheels out from underneath me.

It was a good job I was wearing proper motorbike boots, my right foot instinctively shot out and hit tarmac, twice! how I managed to stay on is a miracle. I now have a centre ridge in my seat where the cheeks of my arse gripped it so hard!

There were several other moments similar to this, but this was the worst.

Stopping just before Liskeard for fuel, no super unleaded again, I was a tad nervous about the Tamar bridge and cross winds! It's a bit high.

Through the tunnel and out onto the bridge, and yes bloody windy, now I'm not sure if the large 4x4 that pulled up level with me was a biker or not or it was just coincidence, but he kept level with me all the way, shielding me from the wind. I reckon he must of been a biker to do that as I was down to 20mph!

The elevated section going through Plymouth was also not fun!

Straight up the A38 to Exeter, picking up the A30 to Honiton then on the A35. East of Bridport was also interesting as not only was the wind bad, but it was raining, foggy and there was diesel all over the road! Nice!

Stopped at Winterbourne Abbas for fuel, yet again no super unleaded, but they were also struggling on the diesel, so a poor show all round here!

Home stretch as I was spending the night back home in my shoebox, Dorchester, Bere Regis through Bournemouth and back to Hordle which is just out side of Lymington.

A total of 253.9 miles ridden, my biggest day on Lucille ever! To be honest it was ok, would of been easier if not for the weather so a 300 plus day would be easily achievable.

As I travelling back the last 20 miles the heavens opened, so I had some serious amounts of wet gear to dry out.

The weather for Monday not looking good, so keeping options open.

Till later........

Departure Day 5th April 2014 Honda C90 Corner to Corner Challenge

It was a bit of a rush towards the end, with the final oil change being done on Friday evening.

All packed late Friday night and with only a couple of hours sleep due to being distracted (Ms WF) I woke a little later than I was expecting to.

Loaded up and this is when I realised that she was feeling heavy. Ditched 5 litres of fuel which meant the front end was a little easier to deal with and off we went with no fanfares or ticker tape, just me, a C90 and enough spare parts to overhaul a fleet of bikes!

The route was to take me down through Bournemouth/Poole towards Dorchester and Bridport.

Just outside of Bridport up on the hills in thick fog I had my first of many fuel stops.

Of course, you have to remember where the fuel tank is on a Honda C90, yep under the bloody seat. So off come the camo panniers, the blue bag and tent and tyres!

It's like a formula 1 pit stop, but a bit slower, and funny when I pull into a garage and use the pumps to fill up. I'm not very popular! I do however now unpack by the side then roll the bike over to the pump.

She holds 4.5 litres which is a gallon, and even with all that gear on board and me she is still managing to do nearly 70mpg - amazing for a 27 year old bike!

Onwards where I branched off towards Lyme Regis and straight for Exeter. Managed to find my way through Exeter with no real drama's and headed out towards Moretonhampstead on Dartmoor.

This is when the weather turned for the worse, it lashed it down, and Princetown lived up to it's name of being bloody grim, it was that foggy you couldn't see the prison, in fact you had a job to see the other side of the road!

I didn't stop but kept on plodding on. Through Tavistock and eventually another fuel stop at Liskeard. A massive Morrison's but with no super unleaded. Nothing but the best for my girl Lucille. So brimmed up with unleaded and went into ask why they didn't have any. Apparently very few garages do! Cornwall!!!

On to St Austell, then Truro and to Helston. My friends Sharon and Tomas live just outside of Helston in a little village called Breage. My rest stop for the night.

After several massive mugs of tea and a shower, we set off to see their new house which is in the process of being gutted and rebuilt at Praa Sans. Now if there is ever an idyllic spot in which to live, then this is it!

Looking forward to seeing it fully completed, and then spending some weekends down there.

Just 2 minutes from their house see's them on the beach and a fabulous bar which is where we ate that evening.

A few beers, then back to theirs for a couple more and a G and T with home grown lemons!

So after a long first day in the saddle I went to bed, happy to be in one piece after a days riding a heavy laden, under powered, 27 year old, Honda C90!

Till later.............................