This will be a short trip, but another “bucket list” one. I’m headed to London for the Cloud World Forum. A combination of work, a recognition award, and personal passion. It should be fun.
But London is an awfully long way to go. Especially for a two day conference.
So I’m going for the week, and renting a motorbike to spend the week-end discovering parts of the UK I haven’t discovered yet.
Let’s see: Peak District? Nope, done that. West Country? Over three times already. Lake district? Actually camped there before meeting Lucy. Then again with the family. (Ed: This is where Lucy learned the time-honoured skill of getting into a hammock in a sleeping bag.) Suffolk, Norfolk, the Broads? Sailed, rowed, cycled, and camped. Cotswolds? Done, done, done!
Of course not done on a motorbike, or if I’m honest, for over 15 years. But I want to go somewhere new. Somewhere where I’ve never been. Where the people, the roadsigns, and the novelties are just that. Novel. At least to me.
Hmm. Well, there is Wales, or the Scottish Highlands, i.e. north of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
With only a couple of days for the actual ride, should I keep it close? Three 200 mile days will see a lot of quiet country roads in Wales…
It turns out that a work colleague, with the similar role to my APJ remit in EMEA lives in Scotland. I reached out to see if we could catch up to talk shop at the conference. Unfortunately he won’t be in the London. He will, however, be in Scotland on the week-end. Done. Highlands it is.
In fact, if I’m heading all the way up north, why not go the whole hog? Why not ride to John O’Groats and traverse the country? Bottoms up, as it were. Why not indeed!
It’s certainly an aspirational, worthy goal. Similar to last year’s Top Down Tour. I mean how many people do you know who’ve been to John O’Groats, let alone on a Honda ST1300. I don’t know any.
So in just the last three days the plan has solidified. Thanks to AirBnB I’m booked in to stay with Ian in Dingwall (just north of Inverness) on Friday night. Weather and Traffic permitting I’ll push to the northernmost town on mainland UK on Saturday, then head to the delightfully named Broughty Ferry for Saturday night. Sunday the plan is to meander back down on the A Roads probably as far as Nottingham. Then a meeting on Monday, finally hand the bike back and head to Heathrow for the trek home.
Renting a bike has a dramatic impact on the luggage you take. Apart from clothes for a professional conference, there’s the bike gear: Helmet, Jacket, boots, gloves, and touring pants. And you have to get it all into a package that actually fits on a bike.
Yes, you can rent bike gear. But I’m funny about that. Like dive gear, if my life depends on it, I want to know that I’ve been the only person to use it. That everything is serviced, cared for, and hasn’t been dropped. That it fits, it’s comfortable, and I can operate it intuitively in an emergency. So I take my gear with me. Always have. Always will.
The Honda ST1300, like my Multistrada, is equipped with 2 x 35l hard panniers, and I’m going on a limb that the Ducati pannier liners will fit in the Honda. That takes care of the the standard clothing.
The bike gear goes in my trusty Overboard 60l Dry Bag that I can strap to the back of the bike. Of course when in the UK I’ll be wearing that.
Then computer, phone, eBook, chargers, & toiletries go in my day bag. When on the bike, the day bag will go inside the dry bag, or on my back, depending on the ride.
Finally I’m only allowed to check two bags in for the flight. An easily foldable holdall holds the two pannier bags, straps, and camera, for the flight. Sorted.
Why bike to the airport, rather than cab, or drive, or use public transport?
- A cab is $130 each way from my place to the airport. Parking the car works out at about $55 per day, and the train takes about 90 mins. The bike is simply the quickest and cheapest way to get to the airport. As I’ve mentioned before, Bike Parking is free at Sydney International. I get to save HP between $260 and $55o by biking.
- If it all fits on the bike in Sydney, easily, and stays dry, well, it will in the UK.
- Finally, seriously, when you have a chance to ride a Ducati with a Testastretta 2 1198cc v-twin with race proven 11o overlap, why would you choose anything else?
It turns out that Australia turned winter on over the week-end. So I left home, rugged up against the elements, riding to avoid storm warnings with 80+ km/h winds, and a promised 100+mm of rain. Good practice for the inevitable Wimbledon, Lake District, and Highland Weather I’m bound to experience this week.
As it turned out, I missed the storm. Or rather, it seems the storm totally missed Sydney. Gear worked well though.
So cheerio Australia, and g’day England. Let’s have some fun this week.