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Old 07-23-2018, 10:14 AM   #1
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Southern 100 2018 Trip

Way back in February at Motoproponent's Sausage Fest a plan was hatched that was just completed last week. Dr_SLO mentioned that he had to be in the UK for a conference in late June, and he asked me if I had any thoughts about riding over there. Oh boy, did I! I told him we should hit the Southern 100, the greatest motorcycle event most Americans have never heard of. So, we began planning in earnest, starting with booking the ferry from Heysham to Douglas. That would be our sign that we were committed.

We planned to be on the island for 3 days and 2 nights, just enough to catch the last evening of racing, and the final full day of championship racing. On either side of it we planned to do some riding in England, and maybe Scotland.

Four of us ended up going, and the plan was to meet up at a hotel in Yorkshire. The other guys had to rent bikes, and I was reunited with my bike that resides there. So we all flew into different places at different times with the plan to meet up in Keighley on July 7th, ride for a few days, then head to the island.

Because I keep my bike up north, and you can now get non-stop service, I've been flying into Manchester rather than Heathrow, and it is much more convenient. There is a train station at the airport where it's possible to catch an express train to York, near where the bike lives. If you've never been to York, correct that mistake. It's a lovely small city that contains many wonderful sites. It's got the largest Gothic cathedral north of the Alps. It also has more miles of historical walls than any other city in England.

When I arrived at my B&B on the afternoon of July 4th, my first order of business was to get out for a walk in the sunshine. It's been an extraordinarily hot and dry summer in the UK - good thing it's just a Chinese hoax - and with its northerly latitude, it stays light until quite late. Walking in the sun is the best way to get over jetlag, so I went out for a walk along the river Ouse, heading into the center of York.

With the sun sinking in the sky, the light was beautifully golden, making the old stone structures glow.

Rowers on the Ouse.


A goose armada heads up river.


Swans in a lock.


Ancient walls glowing in the evening sun.


I love the ancient city streets. York has 365 pubs, and there is always a place to grab a pint, and I was on a mission.


Similarly, the York Minster glowing in the evening sun.


I guess it's not really England unless there are Morris Dancers, however this group appeared to be too sober to be authentic

Actual motorcycle stuff to follow.
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Old 07-23-2018, 11:02 AM   #2
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I picked up my bike on the morning of July 5th, at the home of my friendly British bike mechanic, Paul. We had to have a side by side of a classic and a modern Triumph. The old one is meant to look like a real Thruxton, and while it's a good approximation, it's not truly the real thing. Looks great though.


Paul also puts on events in the UK, and has this one coming up in September, and I'm tempted to go back to see beach racing in the UK!


Once riding, it was plan to make my first stop in the village of Pately Bridge, the home of England's oldest sweet shop. I've posted pics of that in the past, and didn't take any new ones. This little place never disappoints, and there are great roads right on the edge of the village. Most weekends the little car park is brimmed with bikes. This was a weekday, so not as busy, but still interesting.

First, I was getting reacquainted with my beloved blue Versys. I've had so many adventures on this bike, it's almost beyond counting. Easily the best money I ever spent was shipping this bike to Europe and keeping it there.



Even though it was a weekday there were some interesting bikes. An old AJS twin, and two RD400's! These guys were from down in Essex, and were headed to ride the North Coast 500 in Scotland. Like me, they had stopped in for some sweets to sustain them on their journey.






Frankly, the rest of the day is a bit of a blur until I rocked up at my lodgings for the night down in the Peaks. As usual, everything takes longer than I expect, especially when I get myself repeatedly lost. Oh well, part of the adventure. The Peaks are a legendary motorcycle destination, but the downside of that is that they are absolutely infested with speed cameras. Not a problem for a bike with a California plate but it can get a bit crazed.
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:12 PM   #3
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The order of business for the next day was to try to find the village where my dad was stationed before heading to France in 1944. It's called Mobberly, and it was back close to Manchester, so I headed in that direction. With my usual crackerjack navigation skills I found the legendary Cat & Fiddle Pub on the pass of the same name.



Upon arriving in Mobberly I found that the road to the Village council offices was closed due to construction, so I wasn't able to confirm that it was the right spot, but I'm pretty sure it was. To commemorate the occasion I took some shots of the local church which would was ancient when my dad was a young man. It's a connection.


The next step was to plot my course to intercept Stefan down in Essex. This would take planning. Hey, it's only a half!


The best laid plans or something like that... I figured I hop on the M6 motorway to the M1 to the M25 to meet up with Stefan at the bike hire spot. However, the M6 had other ideas. Endless construction, and the lanes too narrow to split in many places had my jetlagged ass out there for hours. After a couple of hours of grinding through the crap I stopped to text Stefan that I would not make it there before they closed. Since he had to come back north, we decided to meet at his mom's place in the Midlands.

In the meantime, a few snaps.

I love the ancient churches.


The area around the peaks had lots of motorcycle specific signage, including this.


In the end we met up at Stefan's mom's place, and planned the next day's events.
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:18 PM   #4
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Old 07-23-2018, 11:39 PM   #5
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Looks like an awesome trip!
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Old 07-24-2018, 06:09 AM   #6
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Nice write-up, York is awesome. The vikings called it Jarvik and there's tours of the subterranean settlement.

Nice to see the RD-400s, too!
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Old 07-24-2018, 09:48 AM   #7
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Very cool, love that part of the UK.

Was it cheaper to ship a bike to the UK than buy one there?

Don't they require a UK plate???
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Old 07-24-2018, 06:57 PM   #8
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Very cool, love that part of the UK.

Was it cheaper to ship a bike to the UK than buy one there?

Don't they require a UK plate???
Buying one there is contingent on being able to insure it there which is contingent on being a legal resident with an address. I am not. Hence, shipping a bike for my personal travels was my best option. Because the bike is not formally imported, and I cannot sell it, I can have the CA plate. If I got a UK plate on it, we would be back to the first sentence. I insure it using EU Green Card insurance.
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:44 PM   #9
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Stefan and I headed north the next day, a Saturday, and our path would take us back through the Peaks. The Peaks on a Saturday can be a bit mad with tourists. Stefan rose to the challenge of putting the navigation plan into his phone, and we headed off. Our objective was to be in our hotel in Keighley in time to see England play in the quarter finals of the World Cup.

I have some video of the day, but I haven't gone through it yet. There is only one photo of the day, and I'll get to that later.

One thing about the Peaks is that the most famous pass - Snake Pass - is closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays. It's the local racer road, so they close it. :-(

Our first stop of the day was the town of Bakewell. Twice. The second time we headed into Bakewell, I yelled at Stefan that I wanted a Bakewell tart, so we cruised around town looking for a place to park. It was carnival weekend, so it was a mob scene. Once we found a place to park, I looked behind the bikes, and there was the bakery famous for them. Score! Better to be lucky than good.

Tart tossed in the topbox, we proceeded north towards Yorkshire. I can't tell you much about the route beyond that I was having a good time following Stefan as we wound our way up the country. As we passed through Keighley we decided we needed fuel, so we pulled over to consult the phone. Where did we pull over? Right across the street from the hotel! Luck comes through again. We got checked in, changed out of our riding gear, and headed to the pub down the block for some footie.

The pub was packed! It was also hot. Damn hot. Not much AC in the UK, so our only choice was to drink. That and wash down a Bakewell tart.


We weren't there long, and Kevin showed up, and Aaron messaged us that he was bored with the game and that he was heading our way. Tomorrow we begin riding with the full group.
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Old 07-24-2018, 08:08 PM   #10
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The next day was a beautiful summer Sunday, and we were scheduled to meet up with my local riding buddy, Stuart Flack. If you've read prior Euro ride reports, Stuart has played a big role. He came on the first EuroBARF in the Alps, and I've ridden with him several times in the UK as well. To say that Stuart is fast and smooth is to elevate one's entire concept of what it means to be fast and smooth. One of the best riders I've ever met.

When Stuart asked me where I wanted to ride, my answer was, "Lakes!", as in the Lake District, the home of England's most wild and dramatic scenery, and also home to my favorite road in England, the one that goes over Wrynose and Hardknott Passes.

Two things stand out here. First, Hardknott Pass is the most technically challenging paved road I've ever ridden, including the Alps. It's steep (>30% grade), narrow, and very bumpy. The second is that Stuart said he was bringing his daughter, Callie along, and she had just passed her A1 test two months prior. Let's just say I had my doubts, but deferred to Stuart's judgment.

The way to the Lakes was going across Yorkshire and into Cumbria on the A59, and it was jam-packed with traffic. The English don't get blase about good weather, so if the sun is out, so are they. The road was solid. Amongst other things, it was solid with Harleys. Whatever else HD management may have screwed up, their marketing to the UK is not among their mistakes. There were effing Harleys everywhere!

Eventually we made it to Windermere (more crazy crowds) and Ambleside (slightly less crowded, and the Harleys started to thin out) before getting up and over Wrynose (which involved herding a clueless cager into a pull out) and to the base of Hardknott where we found one of my favorite road signs in England.


This is a good place to highlight the bike Stuart was riding. Stuart and I were both disciples of the late, great Colin Barlow, of whom I have written extensively on BARF. Colin was the closest thing to a real live Ogri that ever lived. He was a rider's rider. His most legendary bike was on old R65 BMW with 980cc dual plugged, heavily breathed upon airhead motor, and frame upgrades, and over 700K miles on the clock. When Colin died, Stuart inherited it, and it did my heart good to see and hear it again.


I followed Callie up and over Hardknott to sweep in case she had any difficulty. I had told her that after Hardknott that everything else would be easy. Neither of us need have worried. She handled it like a pro, and after crossing the summit we pulled over by the ruins of a Roman fort to take some pics.

Here you can see the road we've just descended, plus both Stuart and Callie messing about with their phones.


What follows are some shots of the fort.






To be continued.
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Old 07-25-2018, 09:29 PM   #11
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Old 07-26-2018, 03:08 PM   #12
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The roads seemed to have cleared out a bit when we had gone over the passes, so our hope was that the west side of the Lakes wouldn't be as mobbed as the east side had been. With that in mind, I suggested to Stuart that we have lunch at the same place he'd introduced to me back in 2013, the pub at Waswater Head.

The road in showed that however they got there, loads of folks had found their way up around Waswater to go swimming and escape the heat. The pub was very crowded, but the setting was too sublime to miss.






There is a great sign inside the pub that says, "No WiFi. Talk to each other." Oh, the humanity!

We sat outside, and enjoyed the warm day and the good company in a gorgeous setting.

After a languorous lunch, we headed back east, this time taking in a new-to-me pass. My customary pass to get back has been Honister Pass, but this time Stuart suggested we try Kirkstone Pass instead. Any pass that has an approach road called "The Struggle" must be good!



Looking back down the hill towards the Lakes.


No more pictures from the day. It was a gorgeous day and like every trip I've made to the Lakes with Stuart it ended with a very rapid crossing of the top of England. Despite that, we still didn't make it back to Keighley before the kitchen in our local pub closed for Sunday night. We had to walk into town to get dinner, capping off a great day.

Tomorrow, The Dales.
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Old 07-26-2018, 03:45 PM   #13
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The Dales are one of my favorite places to ride. While there are A and B roads that are huge fun, it's the unclassified roads that are where the real fun can be found.

We started the day by visiting a town with a great name - not all that uncommon in England, but this is one of my favorites, Giggleswick. As a place name, it's right up there with Dripping Bottom and Nether Wallop. We had to get a photo at the sign.



As it turns out, Giggleswick is named for a saint. This led to an obvious question. Since being canonized requires a miracle, the question is, what was Giggleswick's miracle. Exhaustive research led to only one conclusion, Saint Giggleswick discovered nitrous oxide.



I love the views.



So did the other guys.



Every time I ride this area, I like to get a picture of the Ribblehead Viaduct. It's a stunning bit of 19th century engineering.



We took this opportunity to get hot drinks and ice cream cones with a Flake. Try it.

The rest of the day took an unexpected turn with some *ahem* equipment problems, so we were delayed quite a bit on the outskirts of Hawes. Hawes is a great motorcycle town deep in the Dales, so it wasn't the worst place in the world to get stuck. Just below the house where we were being hosted by the delightful Stephanie and Martin, we found this beautiful stream, and hung out in the cool shade until issues began to be resolved.



Once a plan was in place to address our technical challenges, Stefan and I took off to go chase more goat trails across the tops. I don't have many photos from the day. Here's one of the fog chasing us down.



Stefan enjoying the view after hopping off his R6 TE (that's Touring Edition).



I've got loads of video from the day waiting for me to review, edit and upload it. Stay tuned.

Stefan I bit off a little more than we could chew, and ended up getting back too late for dinner at the pub yet again! That's a measure of just how much fun we were having. Despite the issues, this may have been my favorite day of the trip.



To be continued.
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Old 07-27-2018, 07:44 AM   #14
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Beer and Motorcycles!!!! Looks like an fantastic time!!!
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Old 07-27-2018, 12:04 PM   #15
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