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VERY ROUGH INCOMPLETE DRAFT - PICS WILL FOLLOW WHEN I AM DONE

The Longest Day 2010
Team XRV
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This was an annual event that I had been looking forward to with some gusto after having done the 2009 event. With so many things in life you kind of loose touch with people but that is not to say you do not want to get in touch. One of the myriad of reasons that I love the biking community is that it is such that you can and do have your own life and can meet people again, at times it can be years later and the friendship is non the weaker for it. In fact it can be enhanced with tales of adventure that people have been doing and how they made modifications to their bikes. What comedy of disasters had befallen them in the time spent on the road. Some made far more modifications than others and there are those that love to farkle, as it is known in the bike world, until every square inch of space on the bike has something supplementary affixed.

Overlanders especially are prone to this sort of adaptation of machine and meeting the team from XRV never disappoints in amazement of what lights, gadgets and gizmos had been bolted, glued and plasti-tied to machines. The list is almost infinite of the labour saving devices that can be bought or made by some gifted fervent biker and his/her tool shed.


I’d set off in the crisp warm morning of the glorious weather that was gracing England at the time but I had been warned of some showers ahead during the day. I would be meeting up with some in the North of the lands at a biker haven called Squires Café. We had planned and I say planned in the loosest of terms as it was all done via a forum. I’m not a huge user of forums and tend to go on in fits and starts. So in reality I had no idea if anyone would be there are all. But I had not been to Squires and the ride looked nice enough on the google map. That was enough to get me packing up my Lola and cruising up the roads to Yorkshire.


I don’t recall the time I set off as I had been up until late gripped once more by the pages of Under Asian Skies by Sam Manicom. I’ve been wrestling with this book for a while and not because it was a hard read. In fact to the contrary I was adoring this book so much that I had put myself on a ration of sorts so as not to be done to soon. A chapter here and few pages there like spooning a favourite ice cream in the desert. It was a rich cool sweet taste that you wanted to devour but you also had the knowledge that once it was gone then it was gone!


So I’m packed with a small amount of kit on Lola, just an airbed and some socks in the top box if I am honest. With of course the supplies for Lola and she always had spare bulbs, a first aid kit and a high visual jacket. My own survival kit is socks, an airbed, a debt card and my RAC breakdown card. I’m not one for packing heavy for things and you really don’t need that much when you travel, especially in Europe!


I did all my pre ride checks as ever, flicking on the indicators, checking the brake light works when levers are pulled and pressed. The tyres are given the once over with a brush of the hand and a keen eye and the fluid levels checked. I mount, happy and with a snap down of the visor I press the magic start button to get under way. I’m looking forward to meeting old friends like Owen. Owen or Jones as he is known on the forum I have spoken about before on my TLD 2009 trip and true to form he was always great entertainment value. For this years event Owen had sprayed his formerly white Pan European in shocking pink. Not content with the sight of a huge Pink Pan European, Owen had affixed fairy lights all down the front. I was very much looking forward to seeing his efforts in fruition on the ride. That would have to wait until I got to Lowerstoft and the Team had arranged sleeping and meeting at the local Territorial Centre to their credit. My friend Nick was on the Team and would be heading over from Germany in his further effort and commitment to the event. Nick is quite but fastidious man that oozes concern and devotion toward a task. Never has it seemed that the task is self serving and he can be found constantly organising and solving issues for riders. He was a natural choice for the team to have in the organisation of the event in my opinion. Perhaps this stems from his time in the forces or perhaps it is just part of his character, either way it is an attribute that makes Nick almost instantly likeable.


There would be many others there that I was looking forward to seeing, Grumpy Old Git would be there and he had been helping me with my lack of focus to details. Small things like paying my ferry ticket and the like! Mark would be there on hand to send me a message via facebook to keep me up to date or more often than not get me up to date with what was going on. Mark is one of these people I spoke of before in so much as his bike is like the cockpit of the Lunar Shuttle. Lights, buttons and cameras of all description attached to his BMW GS, not content with the crammed electronic gizmos on his machine ark would also be in full adornment of Overlander apparel. I was very much enthused to see what Mark had done to his bike this year.


I was hoping that Ros would be there and after meeting Ros at other XRV events it was going to be fun and of that I had no doubt. A petite kind beautiful woman that attacks life with an exuberance of almost abandon adventure yet somehow mixes this with normal living and a high academic career as a Psychologist (not quite a real Doctor but she is giving it a go. Yes I’ll get a slap for this I am sure but then that was the point of putting it in!).


But I am missing many wonderful characters out and I am sure I will fit them in along the way of this ride report but I should get on with getting to the meeting at Squires before you lose interest and go looking for porn or bike modifications!


The ride to Squires was a breeze and the weather was holding out, a simple ride of no more than perhaps 70 miles. Most of this was motorway to my dismay and having done rather a few Iron Butt events I was becoming bored of motorway travel. It is wonderful to simply get to a place but I was in a state now where I wanted to see things as well as cover a distance. So the dull black asphalt hummed under the wheels of Lola and the white lines that guide my stead flicked past my feet in a blur that made them almost look alive. As if the road was in fact some black watered gulf with neon eels flashing past the bow of a battleship grey Lola. I was more than happy to cruise the waters of the motorway as I was looking to simply get to my destination. I’d made pictures in my mind of what the Squires café was going to look like and this is often a dangerous thing to do as it often has meant a let down when I have arrived at places. But it was impossible for me to not think about the place, having been to other famous biker meeting places I had a presumption of Ace Café like scenes. Photographs on the walls with a stream of bikes parked up, bikers chatting in small groups about various ride outs. Leather waist coats mingle with adventure suits and the odd fishtail scooter rider walking around. All with a cup of coffee in hand as it seemed almost obligatory to have a coffee at a biker stop.


I pulled in off the now A road and into the glorious old gnarled tree lined twists and turns, the signs reflected that I was near to a biker café or at the very least a popular route. A multitude of prism refracted greens and browns flooded my visor as the now full power of the sun illuminated the way for me. Rich deep scents of earth and cut grass that sparked nostalgic memories of childhood and riding a pushbike with friends to go fishing at the local canal swam in my nostrils. Then the day glow backed ‘warning bikers’ and ‘think bike’ shone off the sun getting near to its zenith

Then in the middle of what seemed to be farmland there stood the pale white washed walls of a building. The Tudor look of weathered whitewashed lime cladding was starkly contrasted with the black beams imbedded in to the masonry. It was the car park that made it clear that I was at the right place, being by far oversized for such a structure and obvious that the car park could hold far more passengers than the café could manage inside.


But the car park was almost barren with perhaps just two motorbikes stood proud and apart as if trying to stretch out the view and make the place look fuller. It failed dismally in the effort but the old mismatched benches had a few biker characters sat looking at the car park holding the obligatory mug of coffee. A large portly man with a full Captain Birdseye beard was sat in steady silence with a gaunt chap with a mop of jet back hair that almost shone with whatever product he happened to have used. I parked up Lola to make up the numbers to the ever watchful eye of those that had got there before me. People watching was of course always on the cards for all bikers. I could feel them looking Lola over and myself in the garb. Searching for clues of what type of biker or person I was, where I had been and what possible stories I may have to tell. I was in my ‘cut’ though I do not wear rockers of any one MC. I place country patches on my back of where I have been as well as stickers on Lola. The front of my cut is for showing what I support rather than what I belong to.


I walked to the entrance of the café, looking more like an old coach house and pub than that of the Ace Café. It was a much grander affair than I was expecting, glancing around I could see the advertisement banners of various bike companies and mechanics lining the outer wall. I smiled and greeted the beard and the hair to a nod a smile in return, a slight lifting salute of the coffee mug from Captain Birdseye and I moved into Squires.

It was indeed a bar and the standard sort of layout that you would find in old English country pubs. Why it was called Squires Café I was not sure but I assumed it was due to the fact they served food also? I’d have to look that up later perhaps, I say that but I tend to get distracted by other things going on. The bar was dimly lit and I’d taken a step past the old wood and glass panelled doors waiting as if a wave of history would come over me. Wanted to take in the sights, the sounds and the ambience of Squires. The window seats had seen better days with the old red leather being faded at the corners and burst in places here and there. The bar had an over drop where the pint glasses would be stored and where I would have to duck to be able to speak to the bar maid for my own obligatory coffee. Bike memorabilia hung on the ways in the form of pictures and parts of bikes. Music played with an overtone of rock, Iron Maiden at 11am for some reason did not seem out of place, though I had never heard that particular band used as background music, it somehow worked for them.


I got my coffee from the short but very well proportioned youthful barmaid that had a blaze of bright pink hair adorned on her head, a simple rock t-shirt but I don’t recall what was on the t-shirt as I was distracted by the contours that the words clung to. Behind the bar the theme of the bikes had continued with buttons, patches and plates of various countries and mc clubs on display.


I took my coffee outside to have a smoke and await midday and see if any members of XRV would rock up for the ride down to Lowestoft. It was not long before the odd bike was pulling in to the car park and I was on the lookout for XRV decal stickers to let me know that they are part of the team for the run. But oddly it was the Royal British Legion Riders that came pulling in and I had not seen Ian for some 6 months. Ian was an older biker with the almost stereotypical long goatee beard and leathers, always a smile and a roll up with a story or two to tell. He came over and we greeted warmly with the American type clasp of hands and chatted about various rides we had done and spoke of the RBLR events. It seemed that the RBLR was also running a charity event called the RBLR1000. I had known this but I had forgotten as I had done my share of SS1000 events and was looking for something more of a challenge to riding ability over my stamina.


Even with that said the RBLR was putting on a great show for the Poppy Appeal with some 200 riders going for the 1000 miles in under 24 hours. Then out of the blue Big John from the Iron Butt pulled in and I waved over enthusiastically seeing him pull up. John had been doing an IBA event and was now on his way home again. He had spoken to Pete RocketUK West and had arranged a meet here. Pete is someone that I am pleased to call a friend of mine and works with the ethos as Nick. Nothing for himself and everything for everyone else, very diplomatic in the extreme and a man I just can’t imagine losing his temper. There have been many times that I wish I had Pete’s fortitude with people.


I’d grabbed another coffee as John and the RBLR now mixed with some XRV members coming in, some that I knew and some that I had yet to meet. But Barry Barkingmadscot King had rocked up on his Blackbird. Barry had been the guy that had sorted the road book out with directions and also all the ferry booking for everyone. It was a chat and a look and prod at others choice of bikes before we came to the conclusion that it was time to get going. The heavens had decided to drop a little light rain our way!


In all we had become about 14 strong on various machines from Varadero to of course the Honda Africa Twin XRV. Riding out in formation to the hum of v twin steel as we came to the first snag! The road down to Lowestoft had been closed in both directions so after maybe one mile we had ground to a halt. Gloved hands started to punch at various bike mounted sat navs as we looked for another route to our beer waiting destination.


We come up with a quick plan to head down the M62 and rejoin the main A roads that would lead us into Norfolk. I do enjoy this ride as it takes you from motorways and you can go up and down the gears as you pick a line on a bend. Taking a bend for me is perhaps what a surfer feels when making his move at a wave. Adjusting the speed, checking the contours and then pitching at the right angle to glide you with a smooth effortless motion as gravity and kinetic energy bond you in place. Where as the surfer has the view of the sea, the beach and so on as a biker your view is limitless in so much as you choose the backdrop of your ride.


There was a noise, well more of a growl that I recognised and I thought that once again Lola had eaten the graphite packing that bonds the exhaust. I had not even started the ride and Lola was acting up but in her usual lady like way. Thinking that at the Lowestoft gathering there would be people there that knew what to do I pressed on. Plus I had recalled that Lola had done this on the last XRV meeting and Nick had explained that Vara’s do that! But at least I would have help and experienced help at that, help from men that would have a permanent staining under the finger nails from motorcycle oil and grease. These keen eyed experts thrive and in fact I think they gain their power from feeding on your ignorance and ineptitude to hold a spanner the right way, it is like ambrosia is to the Gods. And I had an abundance of ambrosia in my arsenal of inability!


It turns out that the packing is fine when I get to the TA centre as I am informed reliabilly by Nick with one turn of the key in my ignition. ‘That’s from the front’ he says with a nod and looks under the headlight, my head joins him but more for moral support than anything I may see that would look out of place. Nick looks up and smiles ‘you see?’ he says with a happy tone that means he spotted the problem. I do see, I see pipes and grease and stuff and it looks like pipes and grease to me. Nick then points to this bracket looking thing holding on my exhaust pipe to the engine. Apparently it is obvious that it is hanging off, looks fine to me but then Owen comes over with some spanner type appliance and does something and I am asked to start Lola. Lola duly obliges and now purrs rather than farts and growls, perfect so it is time to hit the bar and have a few beers!


England are playing Algeria in 30 minutes so I walk around saying hello to those I know and to those I don’t in equal measure. Lots of pointing at fur seats and extra lights and so on. Nick does an impromptu welcome briefing from the top his own Varadero and then Owen and I head over the road to the pub.


We are given the heads up that this is some kind of rough estate pub and we should take care. I almost pissed myself laughing and really do enjoy a good joke. I’m from a **** hole in Liverpool and Owen is from a turd bucket in London, I feel confident that we shall make it out of a Norfolk pub alive, plus that had a bbq going and wide screen tv!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The pub is nothing special and the usual suspects of gaunt DSS layabouts mingle at the bar with the plastic local hardcases. We get a swift look for sure but a casual air and an arrogant stroll to the bar gives the vibe that you are no victim. It is important when you travel to be polite but to set a air of ability and confidence. The predators in life tend to go for the weak and the injured animal, anything that is going to be more trouble than it is worth is given space. This is where you need to be, not looking for trouble but not looking like you are scared of it happening. It gets you out of more issues that it will cause, plus my natural charm and people skills get me the rest.


England play a shocker of a flat boring game that leaves both Owen and I drinking up earkly and heading back to the TA centre to see the lads. The TA centre is a good size and more important is the fact that it provides very secure off street parking for a biker’s pride and joy. There is a large open room that looks like an old school gym floor. Upon it have been strewn some old blue padded mats, much like the ones you would have used as a child for your gymnastics badges, I wonder if they still give them out!


So it was that the lights went down at about 11pm I think as we had to be up about 3am to catch first light and be on our way to Ireland to see Dingle before sun set, hence ‘The run for the sun’ being the title of the event. A quick nights sleep in a gym hall of farting snoring males and poor Meesh of course. Meesh is one of our female riders and this year she was pillion (back seat to you non riding folk). I’d had the pleasure of meeting Meesh on the 2009 XRV run and she still had the same broad smile and optimistic outlook that is quintessentially Meeshness.


3am it is a the lights go on and the smell of bacon if wafting with a deep luxurious hue into the gym. We had been given use of the facilities by the TA and Nick and some of the lads had gotten up early to get the breakfast buns on the go. To feed about 50 bikers there must have been about two pigs worth of bacon sizzling away and no one went hungry. In fact there was pig and bread to spare, well there was until Owen and I got to hear about extra pig n bread going! Yummy


Kitted up and well fed we marched out to the compound that had held our bikes. Barbed wire and lattice steel fencing all around with a typical military air to the faded green paint on the walls. Engines kicked into life and last minute checks were being completed by riders and there beasts, the lights shone in all directions and the blip roar of a throttle twisted in eager anticipation of the start. It is fair to say that I was in a fabulous mood as only being around bikes can bring.


Pouring down the sleepy dark streets we filed out of the compound looking to meet up at Ness Point, the most Easterly point in England. Like some sort of motorbike conga the engines purred and a Mexican wave of indicator lights shone the way to the start point. We had not been the only ones to have this idea and I am sure it was a surprise for the Girl Guide trip that come to Ness Point so early to be suddenly swamped by bikers.


I took the opportunity to make a few video interviews from some of the people work so hard to help the event. Nick and PD Squire got the brunt of my camera in the face at 03.30am with no warning. Philip or PD has the ability to make me laugh so hard my ribs hurt, though unintentional I am sure. A very intelligent and diplomatic man with the most profound middle English accent or Posh to you and me. The sort of accent that always reminds me of Lord Charles the puppet, for those too young to recall this master of humour Lord Charles was a pupput of a well to do gentleman complete with monocle and tails that was always a little worse for wear for the drink. He also has the most amusing side burns that cut in towards his mouth like something from a glam rock band, PD that is not Lord Charles!


We have our photograph taken and then move out to head for the first pit stop at Jelly’s café. I open the throttle and move on past the lead riders with Owen in hot pursuit. It is not very long before we are alone and then a few round abouts later I see a headlight coming up from the rear. Not bad I thought to myself, Lola is not as fast down the straight as Owen’s ‘Bitch’ a 1300 Pan European and he has a few MPH on Lola for the top end but Lola can sweep the corners better without all the extra kit that Owen has on Bitch. So I was quite curious about who was staying with us!

The light moved out to the side and came along the outside and I chuckled as PD’s green Pan European came past. PD also had the advantage of living in central London and corners at speed was not an issue. I was happy for PD to take lead point and we moved into a 3 bike staggered formation. Owen would drop slightly on the round abouts but then come roaring back on the straight, complete with fairy lights ablaze in the dim morning light.


The trio worked the long wide straights out of town and cut the round abouts at pace and I was feeling good with the buzz of the wind and the draw of Lola. Then out of the bushes came a suicidal wood pigeon! The first I knew of it was a flash of colour coming from my left side and then a plume of feathers that shot up Lola’s visor before being whipped violently away from me in the slip stream. Ah well I thought no harm done and stupid bird just lost to a new form of natural selection. It was not until a few miles down the road I noticed that Owen’s lights were no longer in my rear view. I was worried that perhaps my bird strike had bounced off of Lola and right into the path of Bitch or worse, Owen. Perhaps it had hit him in the visor and removed him from his mount as it would have hit with the force of a frozen chicken cannon at the pace we had set.


PD had pulled in for petrol and followed suit, it was about 140 miles into the ride at a guess and I walked around to take a look at Lola’s face. “BASTARD BIRD!” I yelled loudly and with venom at the sight of a smashed right side headlight and Lola covered in blood. There were feathers stuck in various cracks and unknown body parts lodged in the light housing. Lola looked like the Terminator with a single red glowing eye. To Honda’s credit the light still worked on full beam making Lola look even meaner. The good news was that Lola still had the left side head light but the housing guard of the right side had a cavernous hole.


PD had removed his helmet at the fuel pump and with an accent and sentence that only PD and Ted Simon could get away with he described the 140 mile rip. ‘Well, that was most agreeable’ he said in a slightly excited but still dignified tone and I laughed. I did not laugh as loud or hard however as PD did when he spotted what was left of a pigeon’s arse sticking out the front of my ****ing motorbike.


Owen pitched up at the same fuel stop, much to my relief and popping off his lid to reveal the beard he smiled and offered his opinion of the jaunt ‘****in’ class Bruv’ and laughed again at the contrast in remarks but the unity of the meanings. You did not have to go around the planet to find the parallel world, it is all around you in a constant state of uniformed flux.

Owen wasted no time at all with a grin picking out bits of debris and pigeon from Lola’s front light and then scooping up some sort of body matter and serving it up like an entrée.


There was little I could do other than check the housing on Lola to ensure nothing would come zipping off and hit whomever maybe behind me. I thought about going back to Liverpool to swap over to Niki my XVS Dragstar but I was reluctant to do this.


We headed off to Jelly’s café and looked at the skies, clear and blue and I was relieved as I did not want rain to get into the hole in the front light and get to her electrics. With the pace that we had set we had made it to Jelly’s in very good time and it would be some 45 mins before the next rider would show up.


It appeared that Jelly’s was a well known biker café though I had never heard of it myself. That of course meant nothing as I was still very much a puppy in the British biking community. The place was set out much like a truck café at first viewing, with a large open gravel carpark that had loose chipped rock floating around the single story detached café. Inside was again truckeresk with pine looking tables set out among cheap but sturdy aluminium legged chairs no doubt bought for cost and to take the normal bulk of your average trucker. Even with that said bikers are not known for being stereotypically skinny!


A free coffee was on at the café from a helpful and smiling young lady that handed over the large mug and said that whilst it was free any donations to the charity was always well received. I looked at the tin and it was for the help for heroes. A few coins deposited with a smile and then I was off looking at Lola to see what I could do to fix her.


Two XRV guys had been at the café that had not been on the ride but had wanted to meet up at Jelly’s for moral support. Of course by the time I got back out into the stone chip dust of the carpark Lola was surrounded by chin rubbing and head nodding men. Various options where discussed amongst themselves and ways of getting Lola back on the road. The odd bit of technical terminology was used to enforce the prowess of the talk ‘Hmmm yer looking at a H4 in the Vara there, I think I’ve got a spare H4’ to many a nod of agreement. It turns out that a H4 was just a bulb. I had visions of some experimental flux capacitor with the military code name H4 but it was not to be and my old bulb on the left was still working fine. I just needed to plug the smashed plastic to stop the rain.

I came up with the idea that a microwavable lid would be clear and yet still not buckle and distorts under the heat of a bulb. Jelly was very kind and passed me two tupper lids, much like the ones used for a Chinese meal. I trimmed the edges and then one of the Lads came over with some electrical sticky tape. The Terminator effect was complete! Lola looked like a cross between a battered wife and a cyborg but she remained as beautiful as ever to me.


Patched up, coffeed up and ready to roll, we hit the road leaning a white dust cloud in our wake across Jelly’s. It was back to the twisting country roads of England. Pitching left and right, picking lines, dropping gears, off and on the throttle. Absolutely glorious as I felt at one with my environment again and Lola was now back in working order. Colours and scents filled my senses and Lola was as responsive to my every move as usual. We sailed up and down hills and into shaded bends cutting through forests before sweeping over the moor lands and on to the mountain pass. Here is where your concentration, your skill and your confidence is tested fully. You can lean down into the that sharp bend at the base of a steep hill leaving the gas to run off before you hit the apex then drift the power back on to get the grip on the rear wheel and propel you on to the straight. Ready again to pick the power, speed and line of approach of the next bend.


It was all over far too soon for my liking and it is one of the things you have to balance, the faster you go the quicker the ride is over but that speed it something that drives the fun of taking the twisties. Of course you should use speed at a level that is safe for both you and the public to be able to ride another day. That’s your own call and if you want to make yourself a wet spot on a mountain road in the early hours with no risk to anyone else then fine, get the **** out the gene pool but it is seldom the case that these rocket Ron’s just take themselves out. Often it is more the case that the Jones family on the way back from holiday get 200kg of metal projectile rammed into the face. I’ve pulled enough bodies and fresh Orphans out of cars to see me to the end of my career thanks.


If you want to go balls out and let’s be honest, it’s damn good fun for a lot of us to do so, then book yourself a track day and go for it! But stay the **** off the public road with the Rossi like speed and the Turnip like ability. There is a very good reason that Rossi and XXXX do not do the TT in the Isle of Man. At some stage you WILL crash on a motorbike doing race speeds on a race track. No rider has EVER had a career that did not involve them coming off the bike. Now this happens on a multi million pound race track surface whilst on a £500,000 super bike being ridden by the top 5 riders in the world. So Benny Buttface from Wigan on his Kawasaki Ninja going down the road that gets serviced by the local council has his replica leathers on and is under the impression that he will be fine because he watched too many clips of Ghostrider on you tube. But the thing is that when Rossi comes off he slides across the grass and into the sand pit then into the padded barrier. Mr Buttface bounces off the curb, takes a deflection from the cast iron post-box and then has his speed broken by Mr Patel’s full size plate glass window. In the mean time as luck would have it Mrs Jones is heading to book her family holiday with her little Molly. Molly is very excited due to the fact that she is now old enough to go on a plane with Mummy and Daddy. How fortuitous that they are there to break the fall of the Kawasaki Ninja that spins towards them at 120mph. This is just a snip of the jobs that we get to turn up to. Anyway, rant over and back to the fun and the ride with the wonderful XRV team where not a wheelie ****er will be seen in the ranks.


PD, Owen and I had come out of the twisting roads and onto motorway, we settled into cruising pace and made our way towards North Wales. That was the plan anyway, that is until PD in the lead [position takes swift left carriageway leaving me on the wrong side of a National Express coach and the exit on the other. I give the briefest of thoughts to an emergency manoeuvre to take them slip road but thought better of it less I scare the **** out the coach driver and cause him to snatch panic at the breaks. So I made my way to the next junction and then took the next turning onto the M56.


Back onto the M56 that will lead me to the A55 right across North Wales to Holyhead port. I was not worried about catching up with the duo, I had assumed that Owen had made the turning after the coach. I simply enjoyed the open sea of the motorway, pulling up and then speeding up again passed the caravans, cars and lorries. Each one with it’s own reason for being on my road, some working with deliveries, the odd travelling salesperson and of course the caravan campers on holiday with cars in various states pulling the single road blocking home away from home.


I was now well into Wales and that bridge that flies the large red dragon lets you know whithout any shade of doubt that you are in Wales had long since fallen from my wing mirrors. So I Lola would need fuel and I suppose I could do with a drink myself, pulling into the Guasanathei or Services to those that do not habla Cymru. There was before me was a large pink Pan European and a battered green Pan European parked up at the side having had their liquid top up. PD came over as I smirked, his swift exit from the motorway still fresh in my mind and with hands fisted and placed together in the cuff position he strode, head lowered and looking suitably chastised before a word was spoken. I laughed and shook my head “You crazy bastard” I chuckled and before I got a long arsed lawyer explanation of the event that PD was prone to give being a lawyer I filled up Lola. We rode down the slip way and pulled over, taking a stance on the grass while I had a smoke we looked for XRV riders bringing up the rear. We waved at those that passed by and they waved and tooted their horns in reply.


By the time we had a drink and a smoke the wind had picked up some and on the ride to the ferry I was starting to gust some. Trying to push my Lola about but I was confident of her ability and power and settled in simply lean into the wind and give a little throttle as Lola seemed to purr at the opportunity to fight the crosswinds. It is very understandable how defensive a biker can become about his mount; it is a very personal thing for many of us. Most bikers will give the bike a name, much like a ship and I’m actually prone to patting Lola’s tank lovingly each time we stop as if to convey ‘good girl’. Some people with motorbikes may not feel this at all and it is just a machine to them, the same was as I feel freedom and peace when I ride I have been told by a few that they ‘cannot understand this type of woolly thinking’. If you don’t get it then you don’t get it but just because you don’t get it then feel the need to either dismiss or denigrate the idea says a lot more about a person’s character or lack of it than it would say about the others. I’m rather please to say that no one at XRV has ever displayed such a rude and dismissive attitude.


The port of Holyhead at last as we pull up and find our group pulled up at the side in magnificent sunshine. I am so pleased that I brought my cap with me and with a freshly shaved head I was not keen to expose the skin to the ultra violet microwave of the heat wave sun. I don’t like to use sun cream when I ride due to the sweating and gloop that can amass inside your lid! Sweat you can deal with and leaving the lid on the wing mirror for 20 minutes soon sorts that out to dry again. Just makes sure you take the padding out and clean it when you are done with the trip of course!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Myself and Owen are on the early Ferry and I meet up with Billy and son as well as Barry and Georgy. We get onto the Ferry but there is an air of concern as 17 riders are not here for the boarding! We have no option but to board and hope they make it over on the later ferry if there is room. PD springs into full diplomatic swing and begins to negotiate with the ferry company. If anyone is going to wear down an entire company with applied logic and mitigating circumstance coupled with a vast array of multi-syllabic adjectives to the stage that you apologise for him running you over, it would be PD who would pull the task off.


On board we are in comfort and time for a snack me thinks. I head to the food bar and order a beef stew and rice and then get the price of E17, yes 17 euros for a beef stew and a bottle of water. That’s a rookie mistake that will not happen on the way back as I shall be stocked up with sandwiches!


Chatting with Billy, Barry, Owen and Georgy the ferry sets off and we head up on deck of the Seacat for a smoke. The wind is cutting and tinged heavily with salt as one would expect on board a ship. The engines thundered as we pulled out of the harbour towards Dublin!!


The voyage is swift and smooth and the place is clean and well maintained, the only thing that I did not like, other than the price of a beef stew, was the fact that the chairs are bolted in place. Not just bolted to the floor but bolted in a fixed position as in they do not swivel around and you are trapped with the view you have. But no matter and I had been reading Sam’s book again about his train ride in India from Madras, having to stand for up to 16 hours in searing heat next to a toilet, that was a hole in the floor and with the train rocking people would often miss the hole and just leave a large curry fuelled turd right there on the floor. I stopped moaning and had a nap in my air conditioned and steward serving Seacat 2 hour ferry ride.


Ireland! Arrival was swift and easy and passport control was just as easy as we swept past and out onto the streets of Dublin. Now and few issues had been brought up on board the ferry. First of all Owen had to go to Dingle and then turn right back around and get home to start work! I had to find some serious duct tape as the electrical tape was melting and coming lose and Barry had to find a pair of gloves for Georgy who for some reason had taken her glove off as a pillion on a Honda Blackbird and was unsure why the wind would whip said glove off into oblivion. So I teamed up with Barry and Georgy along with Billy and Son as we cruised around Dublin looking for various stores that would serve our needs. It had also transpired that Nick, who was taking the later ferry was in need of a back tyre! He had misjudged how much the twisters of the UK would eat up his tyre tread than that of the easy running German auto bahn.


Dublin was heaving in full heat and we moved down the side of the river XXXX that runs into the city. The thing that caused so much issue was that the lights would give 1/100th of a second of green before sitting on 5 minutes of red. This made for slow going and I was hesitant to filter due to the others having side panniers. I keep Lola as slim as possible and never have anything that is wider than the handle bars. This way I can use the bars like a cat uses it whiskers, if the bars fit then the rest of Lola fits too. But there was also the issue of moving around under instruction of the satnav. I did not want to get separated from them to the stage that I was then told to make a left and leave the other two bikes making dangerous manoeuvres to make the turn.


But in the end we get to a petrol station and it seems that no where sells bike gloves but there is a place that sells car stuff and it may have bike gloves! I love Ireland and the people will do anything to try and help and if they cannot help then they will tell you something in the optimistic hope that it will help, I guess this is where Irish luck comes from. ‘I know he’s a fishmonger but feck it, try and see if he sells motorbike gloves. He may have a brother wid a spare pair, ya never know!’


Well I got my duct tape and did the repairs on Lola and I had some spare winter rain gloves that I borrowed to Georgy. She was cold for some reason and the only reason I can think of is that she is a female, there can be no other explanation that the rest of us are sweating and squinting into the sun while Georgy shivers.


So the group is sorted and we set off for the N7, this is Irelands answer to a motorway. The thing is that it is still in the process of production. This means that most of the time our satnavs are telling us that we are riding across the middle of a field and become as much use to a traveller as a burglar is to society. Although even with that said it is very amusing for me to try and get a Glaswegian to say ‘Purple burglar alarm’ try it if you get the opportunity!


The sun beat on the fields seemed to glow in the abundance of photosynthesis that must have been going off. The country was pumping out pure oxygen that carried the hint of wild flora scents and freshly cut hey. Not great for hay fever sufferers but I was in heaven. Me, Lola and the roads of Ireland were having a wonderful time of it. I had heard horror tales of the conditions of the ‘traditional’ Irish roads and I was looking forward to meeting them the closer we got to Kerry.


The team made a few pit stops as the young riders got tired and had a nap on the grass verge under the shade of a large tree. We would do this a few times to make sure that all was okay with our young adventurers and it gave us the chance to have a drink, smoke and a chat while they took a wee nap.


We pressed on as to get to Guaaran point before sun set and the purpose of our ride and came off the ‘motorway’ system and on to the ‘traditional’ roads. Heaving lumps of tarmac and cement made an almost Mohican of the road surface as you dodge and weave along. Then every so often there would be a puddle of tar just waiting for you. I say puddle because patching would take place rather then replacement of the surface to sort the numerous and often heart jolting pot holes. Instead they would be just filled with tar, that’s not that bad in winter I guess but we are riding in the middle of a heat wave and the temperature had rising enough to reduce the tar back to a liquid state!


But the view, oh the view that greeted you was well worth the risky roads. Homesteads upon homestead lined the road, with pristine gardens big enough to park a fleet of Eddie Stobarrt trucks. Great pride was obviously taken in the appearance of the homes and they had a right to be proud. Painted in pastels of pink, yellow and blue they still made a stark contrast from the emerald green of the fields that they had been built to farm. People stood in gardens with various appliances for grooming and waved with a cheery Irish smile as we passed, we of course waved back. We kept to a polite speed and obeyed the road signs and this seemed to be recognised by the residents of this beautiful place that would not look out of place in a brochure for a luxury holiday in a Spanish villa.


We had moved down these small unkept roads and into Dingle, almost to our destination now and the roads became more unkept. Potholes became larger and an actual hazard rather than an inconvenience. Corners would conceal killer conditions that waited in ambush for the unexpecting biker who may have over committed to a bend. I became fixed into my road craft riding and dropped down the pace. Scanning the horizon, mid ride and immediate area as I went but this took nothing from the enjoyment of the ride but it left me with the options to make a swift change to my riding plan. I was leading a group so I wanted enough time that when I reacted then my friends behind me had that extra second to see my reaction and then react themselves and all could make progress in safety.

By the time we passed Dingle and headed to the coast the roads had become virtually single track lanes that would be littered with loose gravel and greasy horse **** to add to the fun of weaving around the potholes. We pulled up at what we thought was Guarran Point but there was no plaque and no sign to say that this was so. We checked our road books and the fact that Barry had been part of the team that had made the road books meant that it may be a simple affair. This was not the case and so we zoomed up and down the 4 mile section of road looking for anything that would tell us the trip was complete. It became rather comical as XRV bikes zipped passed us going the opposite way with shrugging shoulders and raised hands.


We would pass each other another four times before our trio of bikes pulled into a gravel lay-by to have a rather frustrated look at the book once more. We had a smoke and did some head scratching and of course turning the road book around as if that would help somehow. Then asking a local that was walking her spotted collie dog she shrugged and said she had never heard of it and it appears that the most Westerly point in Ireland is something that is under local contestation! Three places having been put up for this prestige and depending on who you asked you could any one of three answers, welcome to Ireland.


With all satisfied that we must have been at or passed Guaaran pouint on numerous occasions we headed for the bunk house. This was a beautiful sight for a tired and beer thirsty traveller, with views out over the sea and a large off road parking area for all the bikes. I locked Lola up near the front door and made my way to what would be my bunk for the night. Standard for a YHA hostel the place was clean, funcitional and friendly.


Eight of us would be sharing a room and Georgy wanted to stay with us rather than sleep in the women’s room with people she did not fully know. That was fine and there was a slight mix up over this as when I came back she looked worried and said she been told that she had to sleep in the women’s dorm. I told Georgy to calm herself down that it was fine staying in here with Barry, just to put your stuff on the bunk under Barry’s and should anyway say anything then to direct the misunderstanding to myself and I’d tell em to **** off. This made her smile and she laid her kit out on the bunk, I was thinking that she may well be better off staying in the female dorm but if she was not aware of the noise and smell that 7 sleeping biker males produce she was about to find out. I had a genuine concern that the chemicals over the 8 hour sleeping period may affect her bleached hair! Still, if this is where she wanted to sleep then fine.


I was more than sure she had misunderstood about the rooms as no one on XRV is arsey and everyone is simply there to help. It turns out it was Nick that had said about the female dorm and true to Nick style it was indeed trying to be of help and not an instruction at all. As one would simply imagine that a young lady would not wish to share a dorm with 6 ½ hairy arsed bikers. She would have her baptism of fire of being a biker of that I had no doubt.


We had packed our stuff and made our way ‘just’ down the road to THE pub. I say THE pub as it was the only one for about 5000 miles by all accounts. I loved the fact that even this remote hamlet (no shops) would have a pub. It was very basic and almost American Wild West in the simplicity of the layout. The large red haired strawberry blonde bearded barman nodded seeing ‘non locals’ swarmed in to the pub. The locals had all dressed up in freshly iron shirts and slacks for the men and colourful full dresses on the women. Chairs had been moved into seating patterns for each group and laughter and stories began in each group. There was not much attention paid to the 40 or so bikers drinking apart from a friendly smile and a nod as people moved passed and this I assume was the routine here. It was blissful, like an alcoholic, 4x4 driving Amish!


The walk back was not as bad with a few pints of local brew inside and it was up onto my bunk and into the arms of Morphious for me. I think I awoke at about 6 am to Nick stumbling around and then getting back into bed, his phone had gone off for some reason. I was soon happy to be back in my dream that I would not publish but suffice to say that there was a motorbike and Angelina Jolie and not much else.


I flopped out of my bunk and made my way to our on-suit wash room. I was second in and years of dorm life in the forces teaches you to get in the ablutions early on. First in gets least morning ‘scent’ shall we call it! So I was getting dressed and headed down and outside for a smoke in unlaced boots and a t-shirt kind of half on. Ros was there with her normal beaming smile and a ‘well don’t you look gorgeous this morning’ I was still non smoke semi compos mentis but I knew when someone was taking the piss and Ros did this with perfected humour in the delivery.


Nicotine levels had been brought back up so I moved back into the bunk dorm. With having sampled fresh air outside it gave the room a chance to truly deliver an impact or more an assault of the noxious gases that had built up in the night. It was almost like walking into CS, your skin tingled, your eyes burnt and your nose ran. Worse of all and something that made me audibly laugh was that Georgy was still in bed, not only suffering the stagnant male air but also last in the shower. I had more than a helpful amount of pity for her as I am sure many a wife will have reading this, ever having to be second in the line up to use the bathroom after the husband had been in in the morning. Well Georgy had 7 real ale swigging bikers use her ‘powder room’ before she would get to stand in the mirror and do her hair and make up. Welcome to biking Georgy.


Barry, Georgy, Billy and Son would be heading on off to Belfast where as I had plans to make it down to the South East for the ferry at Rosslaire the following day. I teamed up with Nick after hearing him talk about the ‘famous ring of Kerry’ and going to see the Sleeping Giant. I’d never heard of either and as Nick was on the same ferry crossing as me it made sense to tag along and get some holiday type snaps.


About 20 or so bikes are due on the same ferry trip but folks made small group arrangements to head off and see various things. I was looking forward to some serious sight seeing and a new pace of riding.


The ring of Kerry runs the coastal road around the South West corner of Ireland. If the amount of coaching with photograph snapping tourists pressed to the windows was anything to go by then it was indeed a popular route.


At a languid pace Nick and I set off around the roads and no more than 10 mile intervals there was a reason to pull over and take in the sights. The sleeping giant is an island off the coast and true to form it looks like a man’s head and torso in the water. Apart from the fact that it was perhaps a mile or so across and I suppose that accounts for the giant part of the name. The ocean was a very bright and vibrant blue with the stark crisp emerald green islands that jutted up made for a simply stunning view. The heat of the day added to the view and gave it an almost tropical feel to the whole experience. Tooting around the ring also has some outstanding 2nd gear hairpin bends to play with. One of the many advantages of being on a bike was the ability to get past traffic build up and reach your view point without frustration.


Parked up at another lay-by I looked over a marble white statue of about 15 feet high of Jesus Christ on a cross with a couple of ladies looking up at him in obvious distress. The whole thing looked out over the ocean like a miniature version of the Christ the redeemer statue looking over Rio de Janeiro.


At various stages we stopped for coffee and people watching in the now baking hot sun and I had begun to be able to switch my lid for my cap with a practiced ease. Sunburnt scalp inside a padded full face lid is just not amusing as one of the members of XRV will be able to fully testify to! People in campervans having a drink with all the luxury that a self contained home brings, complete dining room sets would be placed out in the shade of the awning. Matching colour schemed cushions to rest a weary backside before a nimble on a cheese sandwich from a no doubt fully stocked and colour co-ordinated kitchenette. Car passengers had gathered on family outings with children running around with dripping ice-creams while dads took what looked to be a well earned break, heads flopping back in the polished steel chairs of the café. Mums rummaged in purses for wetwipes to preen over their little ones and bikers slumped happily at wooden A frame bench and table sets with maps splayed over the top while coffee was sipped with a well practiced technique.


Nick and I had been taking turns in getting ‘the round’ in of coffee and biscuits and while one was off getting the brew in the other would be busy taking snaps and people watching. Women that glowed in full length floral dresses that would swish with their walk, while younger ladies wore very little at all and god bless them for it. Ireland was indeed turning out to be my kind of ‘town’.


The roads flicked back and forth from quality asphalt to a camel humped patch work of materials that would range from liquid tar to loose gravel. All this was lying on top of an uneven surface that had large rippled waves of subsidence at just the right point on a curve to save you buying laxatives.

Saying goodbye to Kerry was sad but time moved on and as we moved through small towns and villages we would stop and have a look around for a drink or a toilet or both. The atmosphere of each place was distinctively friendly. An air of ease was all around and it showed in the faces of the Irish population.


I had parked Lola up at the side of the road, having noticed an ice-cream vendor at the other side. Nick had gone off to look for a sticker for his humongous panniers. We had parked just off a T junction and a large modern coach had pulled to the side of the road coming toward the bikes. I was sat on a wall licking a rather nice strawberry ice-cream when this sight instinctively makes me stand and look at the approaching driver of this juggernaut. The coach stopped some metres away from the bikes but this left the arse end of the coach in the main road by a good few feet. I came over to the driver that was now waving tourists out of the side. “You’re out in the road mate, I can move the bikes up for you?” I asked nodding at the bikes to give the needed space. The driver looked over and smiled, with a hand on my shoulder and a broad soft Irish accent said “Ah dis is Kerry, ya don’t park son, ya abandon. People will just go around, but thanks and good luck”. What I needed good luck for I was not fully sure but it seemed that it would be used to end any conversation and was a general term for your life.

TO BE EDITED AND CONTINUED
 

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OVALTEENY !!!
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Nice one so far James, look forward to the rest

There's a picture of the statue in my ride report if you want to use it
 

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Should know better
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yeah, fab report, a great read :thumbup: Wish I'd been there
:rolleyes:
 

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Truffle shuffle king
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James- you owe a days wages ;)
I am dyslexic and it took me all day to read it. Think you were on a totally different ride - I met you at squires. Great read
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
:violent1: Sorry if it's a bit wordy! Yes please I'll have a look at the ride report for the christ statue. I'll get the rest done when I have time, things a little hectic again at the moment but I will put the rest and the pictures on my site :thumbright: Great meeting everyone!
 

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Fine, upstanding member
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Currikey James!

If you want the Government to stop insisting that you write so many reports, stop writing them so well!!

Great report: anyone who was not on the ride can now feel what it was like. Excellent!
 

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Craigypops
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Excellent report that James, and coppers moan about filling in forms and reports, they should just get you to do em! :D

I knew it'd be a good report having recently read your accident report Bike crash May 08 - Adventure through endurance and friendship after accidently clicking on your number on the TLD website and wondering what this web page was that was opening?... about an hour later i was still on the site gripped by this accident report.

You should be a fekkin author m8, really good read :thumbright:



Never pay again for live sex! | Hot girls doing naughty stuff for free! | Chat for free!
 

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Ace trip report.

Just wish i hadn't read Win Xp's comments afterwards,
I had a quick look at your crash report (may 08 )
and now (some 2 hours later) have just finsihed reading the Kiev and back in 7 days report.

How about TLD 2011 London Kiev London??
 

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Jazus you don't half talk some sh#te!

Can't tell where you come from with that blitherin.

Craicin all the same and yes, sun burnt scalp and a full face does hurt.

Your surely practicing for your first book...just gotta put the right adventure together eh!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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excellent stuff :) I was eagerly waiting to read the part of your report that started with arriving in Dublin and it didnt dissapoint :) Your description of our roads,people and mannerisms are bloody spot on, I laughed so much. Sat Navs are just for looks over here. You neglected to mention the bit about where the road turned into a riverbed on one of the many hairpin bends on the road outside Dingle on the way to the point..it was a killer but where else where we to put the river ? :) :) again, an excellent report and as an earlier reader said, it felt like I had been on the whole ride.( I travelled down from Dublin to say hi to a few of you guys)
 

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Craigypops
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Indeed XP- Im sure you guys were tired and sore, major 'grats' to all of you for completing your task... TLD... I hope your all proud of yourselves, I for one raise my glass to you all :) hip hip hurray ..etc,etc :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Glad people are enjoying the read :) and yes I do end up doing most of the reports in work! Never tell people you can type when your profession is driven by long winded reports! Here is the rest and I have yet to proof read it and add the pictures to the site edition. Hope you enjoy and it was a pleasure meeting everyone.
 

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Nick came back with a strawberry ice-cream and a sticker for Kerry to place on his panniers. It was then my turn to head off in search of patches and memorabilia. The good thing about a ride like this is that you pass through so many small tourist attraction towns. This leaves you with a great choice of nik-naks to buy as you evade Americans and the French who seem to come in by the coach-load at 10 minute intervals. All of a certain blue-rinse age group and in no kind of hurry at all as they procrastinate outside shop doorways.


With badges and stickers collected and put in pride of place and ice-cream consumed in the bright sunshine of a small Irish town we packed up for the move on towards Rosslaire.


We had ridden some of the most wonderful country roads that it has been my pleasure to witness to date. The natural beauty of Ireland cannot be over-emphasised and I am very much aware that I lack the ability to paint a picture in words that would do justice to the route we had taken.


The engines of the Varadero Duo hummed along at a leisurely cruising pace back up the N7 as we came to the roundabouts again, rendering the satnavs as little more than a time keeper and spare speedo. As we continued on our way I noticed that a sign had pointed to Dungarvan.


This is the town that my sister lives in and I had planned to stay over and see the family but thinking that I would not have time I’d put the thought from my mind. Seeing as I was little more than 5 miles from the place I thought that Nick and I could get a meal and a night out on the town with a free bed thrown in while I also got to see my sister and brother-in-law.


I pulled over at the side of the road that has the extra section for slow-moving traffic and spoke to Nick about my plan! I did not have my sister’s exact address to hand but I did have her number. I could call ahead and warn that she would have two hungry bikers coming for some grub and get the code for the house at the same time.


I made the call and Nick and I scribbled the notes on some paper, job done and we hurriedly plotted the course in the satnavs and jumped back on the bikes for a swift U-turn.


I’d not seen Sue for a while now and it was one of those things that I kept meaning to do but then other things would happen and the plans would again be put on hold. It was going to be entertaining no matter what, as life with Sue and Alex always is. If we where not going to be press-ganged into going the pub then I would have eaten my own rear tyre!


To say my family likes a drink is as much an understatement as the Taj Mahal is quite pretty if you like that sort of thing. We are Scousers in the true meaning of the word as in we are the children of Irish immigrants. The term Scouser was used to describe my people because of the stew that was made. Potato based, of course, with simple mixed vegetables in a broth it would have meat in of any kind that could be afforded but often was the case that people could not afford it and you would have ‘blind’ scouse. The term now of course is as lost as Cockney is: used to speak about anyone from London rather than those born in within the sound of Bow Bells.


So you have a Scouse woman and her husband who happens to be from Airdrie (outside Glasgow). A good time was just going to happen regardless and I had missed their fighting so much. Common-place was Alex getting a little worse for wear and as he does his voice gets louder and louder while Sue will shriek his name louder and louder. He would turn around and say ‘sorry Hen’ with a peck on the cheek before turning back to his enthusiastic conversation at the same volume that had prompted the shriek in the first place.


Nick and I pulled in to the side estate and onto the red stoned lattice brick drive of the yellow wall painted bungalow of my family. Both bikes parked up and Alex came out with his normal welcoming smile and hug. Alex is looking to pass his test and get his own bike much to the dismay of my sister but ever since I took him out as a pillion he has been hooked on idea of a bike. Alex is a very determined character and very intelligent along with it, never afraid of hard work, so I have no doubt what so ever that he will achieve his aim. He is one of these people that can turn his hand to anything, a master degree in robotics, a high position in Motorola, playing golf or becoming a well recognised rugby referee as well as trainer of many of the youth teams that have lead on to professional rugby careers with Munster, Ireland’s premier rugby team.


So we chatted about the ride and Alex ran around the bikes pointing at some of Nick’s adaptations with child-like curiosity before Sue came out and gave me a kiss and a hug. Sue asked what we wanted to eat and I said ‘yes please!’ She smiled and nodded and anything Sue cooks is going to be plentiful and tasty!


The neighbours came out as well as Sue and Alex’s dog, Angus the Scottish Terrier, who then duly christened Nick’s rear tyre with a cocked leg. The neighbours smiled and pointed at various parts of the bikes and we chatted about what we had done and why. In the middle of this chatting I could smell the unmistakable scent of steak on the grill and pepper sauce on the boil.


The neighbours had wished us well and we came in, Alex showed Nick his room and nodded to me ‘yer down there as ever Son’ for my room. Then it was off to the garden to see the various sports-kit Alex had collected.


The house is a clean organised chaos of clothes, stuff, magazines and computer equipment as it always has been. It is a system that works for them and to the untrained eye this would just look like a tip but you can ask either one where anything is and you will be told with computer like efficiency of what pile to look in to acquire your grail.


We had a play in the garden with the hurling bat or stick or whatever it is that they call it. The sport is huge over in Ireland and attracts as much attention as football does over here. Eire is very sport orientated as an island anyway but Dungarvan is like the capital of sport. Sport here is not a sport unless there is a minimum of a 50% chance of someone getting some bone broken in the process of the game, a simple but effective rule that makes every game more entertaining.


Alex had a signed hurling ball that I assume is the equivalent to a prized, signed baseball is in America. Shown and passed to Nick with some pride Alex showed Nick how to hit the ball against the 7 feet high back garden wall. Nick was all to happy to oblige his host and instantly hit the ball with all the effort one would expect from a ex-Forces man. We all watched as the ball disappeared over the wall and across the neighbouring wall into a rear garden. After Alex stopped speaking full speed Scottish Glaswegian we decided to leave the sports games alone and settle in the back to have our steaks.


No sooner had we eaten than Sue and Alex are now keen to show us around Dungarvan. I have been before of course but Nick had not and Alex had now enthusiastically had called a taxi to show Nick the sights. I knew the ‘sights’ would actually mean ‘pubs’ and that was fine with me.

Dungarvan is a beautiful place and it is cut in twain by a river or harbour I suppose is more accurate as it is or was a fishing town. Cobbled streets and as we came over the main bridge the lights from the far side of the river shone brightly from an array of bars. We pulled up and head in for a pint in one of the fine bars. Sue and Alex are greeted by both the bar staff and a few people around the bar, my family is rather sociable and you take us as you find us, you can normally find us near or in a bar.


One of the great things about a sports-orientated place is the very obvious effect it has on the female physique and indeed it was not Irish eyes that were smiling. The sun was still beating down and the pavement was packed so we moved across the road to have a drink. Followed shortly by a ‘doorman’, not like any doorman you will meet in Liverpool. The guy was big enough but the attitude and facial expression was relaxed and almost apologetic as he explained that the Gardai (Irish Police) had told them they could not extend past the curb of cobbles.


A few glorious pints of the black stuff and chatting to various people passing by we settled in while I enjoyed the ample views on display. Nick is very much married and I had palmed him off with Alex to listen to more sport tales: Alex would have many to tell and tell them with grandiose gestures of how some tackle had done what to what bone.


I rejoined our group who had started talking to gent who was introduced as Peter. Peter was thin and tanned with short cropped hair and trendy t-shirt and jeans with rolling blood-shot eyes. ‘When did you last sleep?’ Alex asked to Peter’s slightly unsteady wobble while he mused on the question and held his pint with a practiced grace. After what seemed about 10 minutes the reply came ‘errrr what’s taday again?’ Alex laughed loudly and slapped his shoulder ‘It’s not Sunday, yer safe Boy’ Peter smiled and wobbled and said ‘I’m not drinkin’ wit dat Simon no more, fecker drinks far ta fast. I tink I passed out fer a wee while but I caught up with by tree’. It’s a wonderful atmosphere over there and drinking is very much a social event all of its own. I’ve actually lost my ability to drink that much due to working shifts and of course riding the bike. I just seldom get the chance to go out for a session and by Irish standards I am a complete light-weight.


Alex was now in full cheery mode and we simply had to go over the other side of the river to see the ‘real’ pubs. I looked over to the now dark side of town, where we stood all the neon lights glowed and the short skin tight skirts tottered up and down the harbour, I thought moving was a bad idea but Alex was not to be dissuaded and of course Nick was a guest and should be shown the town.


We crossed over but did not go to the pure side. The pure side is a zone where only Gaelic is spoken and any other language is ignored. They are willing to help you ask for a pint in Gaelic but you would not be getting served until you asked in Gaelic!


Nope, Alex took us to what I would call ‘old man pubs’. As dark on the inside as they had looked on the outside with the smell of beer and stale peanuts in the air. The bar a simple affair of thick wood and simple displays of drinks rather. Dark carpets I assumed for masking the spilled drink and blood as tattered bar stools surrounded the bar. Nothing but a few older men sat drinking and talking about sport. I was right about Alex’s idea of a real pub and I was now in the Irish version of a British Legion pub!


The barman, a large lad with broad rugby playing shoulders looked at Alex sternly and placed his fists on the bar ‘what the feck do you want’ He had said leaning in towards Alex over the wooden expanse of the bar. Alex smiled and placed his arm around my shoulder and said as though an announcement ‘I’m showin’ me brother around’. The barman remained stone faced and replied in a broad southern Irish accent ‘I dun give a **** who ya wit’. He had not made eye contact with me and I laughed loudly at the display as spoke ‘Oh yeah, this is my kind of ****in’ bar’ and I rolled my shoulders, the barman looked at me and gave a small smile and a wink before turning his back and heading to the pump ‘da usual is it Alex?’ he said without looking back ‘same fer you Sue?’ again without looking back and I settled on a stool and got my drink.


It was starting to clock on and woman had started to fill the bar! Result I thought and it seems that there was the local nightclub up stairs and the girls would all file in to wait for the place to open. Alex and Sue being well known as well as Alex’s legendary ability to talk the leg off a donkey had a few girls wisp past with heads lowered to not attract Alex’s attention and whisper a polite ‘Hiya Sue’ but without breaking stride.


To my dismay we would not be going to the club, Nick was looking tired and we had a ride on in the morning to catch an early ferry that Barry had booked for us. Next time I would ensure that I had a few days over there for sure.


Sleep came blissfully and morning came swiftly, Sue had gotten up and made Nick and I breakfast and then it was back out on to the open roads and to the ferry port.


It was an easy ride and the weather was still being kind to all that lived in the Emerald Isle as well as those passing through it. It’s odd for me as I don’t consider myself fully Irish but I don’t count myself as English either, I’m a Scouser and it is rather like being an Irish cousin I suppose. I do consider the Irish as ‘my people’ but somehow disjointed and apart without having grown up there. As a Scouser you are readily accepted in Eire but I still feel I learn more about ‘the home land’ and the language. One thing that is common in Celts is the love of travel and perhaps this, rather like an Australian is why you can go to the deepest, most off beaten track on the globe and you will find a Scouser, an Irishman or an Aussie already sat there reading a book and having a beer.


We had passed through customs with ease and parked up waiting on our ferry when a chap in a baseball cap, red t-shirt, blue jeans and large dollar buckle. I assumed he was an American but as I came closer he was chatting to Nick in German. Nick obviously is fluent in German, so much so that the man must have assumed we were German and smiling at me and Lola started to speak to me in German. I smiled and shrugged and Nick explained that I didn’t sprechen.


The ferry ride was smooth one again with the good weather and I had stocked up on sandwiches for the route back to avoid the high seas pirate like prices of the meals. Nick was heading up to Cumbria so I route would be the same in Wales.


The rest of the XRV bunch had met up on the ferry and we had the chance to chat about our various sight-seeing expeditions. I took the opportunity to fall asleep on Ros and sprawl naked-footed across the seating area. Ros was chatting away to Nick about stuff when I came to. I rubbed my eyes and chatted to some of the XRV lads about rides they had done and rides I was looking to do in the future.


Time for a smoke and I meet up with the XRV smoking team up on deck, chatting away about adventures they had been in with the Police and asking me some questions on law as I gave my philosophical views on law keeping.


Tickertyboo, quite short but broad enough chap was fun to listen to as he was also a story teller like Alex. I instinctively like story teller folk as they have a confidence that I find relaxing and an enthusiastic approach to the delivery of interesting tales and misadventures full of humour. We stood there on the bright white painted deck of the ferry in the bright sun shine surrounded by a deep sapphire sea as we laughed and chatted before it was almost time to be packing up gloves and lids for the landing.


We said our goodbyes and exchanged emails with a few but all would be on the forum anyway I just didn’t know all of their forum names!


Pulling off the worn, green-painted metal ramp of the ferry on to Welsh soil we peeled off. I was not wishing to take the M4 route from Fishguard to join the M5 / M6. It was far too nice a day for any of that and Nick and I parted from the group at the round about that would send us up the glorious coastal road of Wales.


I had driven this route many times as a young man with a full head of hair, though shaved short as I was in the RAF back then. Living in Haverfordwest and I recalled that it would normally take about 4 hours in a car to get to Liverpool. I was in no great rush and neither was Nick.


I took lead and we headed past the yellows of the wheat field in full bloom of gold swaying slowly like a easy tide as the gentle breeze wafted over the tops of the stalks. Past the deep green pastures with the white moving spots that would become sheep as you closed the distance and all the time that sapphire blue sea shone on the left hand side. Cutting from countryside into small villages and back out again just as quickly I had found that I was really enjoying just riding. Not pushing for an Iron Butt qualification or seeking the next destination but just simply enjoying sweeping the amble bends of the Welsh countryside. The odd change of pace and challenge of a slow moving tanker would add a little extra spice and Nick soon got the overtake technique. Trucks tend to just ignore the line of traffic they create and there are few dual lanes in Wales. So I would take the lead then pass the truck when safe to do so before I would then slow right down on a straight, at times to the angry blast of a truck horn but if he was going to ignore that he was slowing everyone down I found it hypocritical of him to be pissed that I was slowing him down until Nick had blasted past him and me. I’d then speed up again and take the lead point and whenever a truck was in the way we would repeat the overtake procedure.


Now and then when we felt like it we would pull over for a coffee or a snack and some fuel. Steady easy sweeping progress in some wonderful coastal views. I’d been very much spolit this trip with the views in Ireland and the views in Wales. There are so many great rides to be done in the UK and Ireland if you just stay off the motorway. I will be taking more and more advantage of this in the future for sure.


All too soon we had hit the M56 and my junction came up, Nick beeped, waved and put the hazards lights on as I cut off left and waved goodbye to my friend. I headed for home with a smile, some wonderful memories and a broken front light.


Until next time – ride hard and force yourself to live your dreams.


James691
 

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Just as the start was excellent so was the finish, a most enjoyable read James, Im chuffed that both you and Co. had such a good time.The hurling 'stick' is called a Hurley made from Ash wood and the ball is called a Sliotar, sounds like (schlitor)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks man! I know it had a thin strip of metal along the end of the Hurley. Alex loves the game :thumbright: and think he is still looking for the ball that Nick slogged for about a 1/4 mile.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Cheers PD :) for picking up on some of the spelling mate! :thumbright: If you fancy doing a full proof read then please be my guest. It would be most appreciated :thumbright:
 
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