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Road Trips and Tour Reports

Road Trips and Tour Reports

Many of our members travel the world on their motorcycles. Whether it is in the UK, Europe or further afield, we encourage them to produce an article on their trip and have it published here on our website. 




Rhino 2018

Rhino 2018

 by Helen Beer




BMW SW Alphabet Challenge Feb 2018


We started the challenge in January planning to accomplish it through several fun days spread over a few months. Luckily one of our gang likes to play with his sat nav and lead us astray and a plan was hatched to tick off a few more on a chilly February Friday.

We met at CW's in the middle of a white out - where did that snow flurry come from? Apparently it just appeared as I was eyeing up the sweets and choccy in the fuel station.....never take your eyes off the task in hand! By the time we'd had coffee and banter with the lads in the shop things had improved and we set off for RAF Tarrant Rushton Airfield. The roads were a tad slippery, plenty of mud, pretty thatched cottages, narrow lanes, thousands of snowdrops along with daffs and crocus - spring was teasing us. Down Zig-Zag Hill for the brunch stop at Mirus 55 in Gillingham - a bike shop with a difference and a great cafe.



More lanes to KingAlfredsTower - a National Trust Folly on the Stourhead Estate. The scenery was stunning with far reaching views so we went on to SherborneCastle



Back to CW's to round off the day and then all starbursting home to clean the bikes - 9 hours and about 250 miles later.

The Challenge is great fun - it takes you to new interesting locations and provides more excuses to just enjoy our lovely countryside in great company. Just do it!!!


Helen's Magical Mystery Tour 22/10/2017

Helen's Magical Mystery Tour 22nd October 2017

Storm Brian couldn't deter 12 happy and hardy souls following me to Broadwindsor on my October Magical Mystery Tour...


The roads were a tad mucky and some mentioned tightening of  muscles on occasions. Tables were reserved and a few enjoyed the retail therapy opportunity.


Then off to West Bay via Evershot, Piddletrenthide, Charminster and Martinstown to admire the Hardy Monument in the sunshine.


Time for a browse in Helmet City (oh that new Schuberth with a peak is lovely and there was a wax jacket that matched my nail varnish) before lunch in Windy Corner Cafe.


Back through Lyme Regis and 9 made it to mine for tea and cake.


Many thanx to all that came to play and to Betty and Jill for sweeping us safely along.


Helen's Magical Mystery Tour 22nd October  2017



Storm Brian couldn't deter 12 happy and hardy souls following me to Broadwindsor on my October Magical Mystery Tour...



The roads were a tad mucky and some mentioned tightening of  muscles on occasions. Tables were reserved and a few enjoyed the retail therapy opportunity.




















Then off to West Bay via  Evershot, Piddletrenthide, Charminster and Martinstown to admire Hardys Monument in the sunshine.





Time for a browse in Helmet City (oh that new Schuberth with a peak is lovely and there was a wax jacket that matched my nail varnish) before lunch in Windy Corner Cafe.



















 Back through Lyme Regis and 9 made it to mine for tea and cake.












Many thanx to all that came to play and to Betty and Jill for sweeping us safely along.




BMW National Rally AUG 2017



Friday 25th August, 0715, 10 degrees and off to the East Anglian Section's National Rally..... excitement levels were high as I headed up the M5 to meet with friends at Cheltenham.... my instructions were to go past Cotswolds BMW (how mean was that!) and head to Morrisons. After that all I had to do was keep up - simples. Hugs and coffee and we were off.

Stow on the Wold, Chipping Norton, Banbury, Deddington, Croughton and coffee in Buckingham sat in the sun. Milton Keynes with the lovely roundabouts, Bedford, past Cambridge, Newmarket for Ice Creams, Stowmarket and 10 hours after leaving home landed with a warm welcome from the Meet and Greet team. There was definitely an autumn bite showing - although the daytime temperatures were good the trees were showing signs of change and there was lots of harvesting.

A relaxed evening meeting up with old friends and making new ones. The official rides were full by the time we got to the notice board but we hatched a cunning plan and set off on Saturday to Sutton Hoo (National Trust Burial Ground). Aldeburgh and Sizewell (no the fish did not have 3 eyes and the sea was not glowing).  Our leader soon found grassy lanes and quiet wiggly roads - perfect.


Bob (brackets) Bensley did a grand job with the auction and the vision of the  hunky 6' 8" chap trying on the medium leathers will make me smile for a while. The raffle tickets were in short supply but somehow I ended up with some and won a heated vest which was donated to a mate that didn't have one - winter is approaching! Elvis entertained us and members were soon jiving away. All good fun.

Sunday there was much on site to see and do but my wheels were calling and off we went to a Craft Centre near Henstead, then Beccles, Haddiscoe, Belton, BurghCastle and Gorleston-on-Sea, Bungay, Fressingfield and Dennington - not many miles but mainly empty twisty roads. The evenings entertainment was the Quiz - way beyond me with an offering of only a few answers but the hall was crowded and the air very competitive.




My request for an early start was not met with huge enthusiasm but they played and we were gone by 0730 - punishment being brekkie at a Burger King en route!  But we had a wonderful quiet ride across Suffolk and our first traffic was at Stow (I won't mention how 4 became 3+1 before gathering together again for coffee at Buckingham). Farewell hugs at Cheltenham and the M5 was quietish so home in 9 hours.

Many thanx to Sally, Brian and Graham for your company and being 'route masters' and to all those who worked so hard both before and during the weekend to make it a brilliant time for so many.



Holland June 2017


JUNE 2017

I have to confess to being a little nervous as I rocked up in the layby at 0630..... I'd agreed to go away with 19 folk I hardly knew. Some would look at this as total madness but if we are all motorcyclists then it would be fine..... I repeatedly told myself. I started to wonder if I was lurking in the wrong layby but I was just early and the others gradually arrived and we set off to Fleet Services. I soon settled down - this lot were great - courteous riding with each other and to other road users. By my first holiday coffee I was very happy with my new riding gang. On to Maidstone services to gather some more and on to the tunnel.


Hot sunshine as we rode across France into Belgium. Antwerp was our first overnight stop and I would be delighted if I never went there again..... the traffic was awful - huge lorries mainly but with good fortune and a touch of magic we managed to filter and gather safely at the Ibis Hotel in the centre of town. Tony, our leader, is a very experienced guide and was like a Mother Hen with her chicks..... checking we were all together and pulling over where safe. Dinner outside enjoying the warm summer evening with plenty of noisy banter. The following morning there was time to see the Cathedral while a new tyre was sourced for one of the group. This gang were mainly very experienced travellers and quietly adjusted their agenda and sorted any problems. No dramas.



Escaping Antwerp, where the traffic chaos was worse than yesterday, we headed to Rotterdam. Another Ibis by a canal for cold drinks in the sun before dinner on  the deck of the V11 - a boat built in Dartmouth in 1951. One lady on the floor - she maintained she missed the seat but possibly the result of too many G & T's...... no damage and time for photographic evidence before assisting. An after dinner stroll then back to the hotel to watch the barmaid massaging the single men and bets were placed to see who would get lucky...




Saturday started at a leisurely pace - time to explore the local markets. The displays of fresh fruits and flowers were stunning - I was just tasting the Dragon Fruit when Carol informed me it looked like frog spawn - lovely! As we sat outside having coffee the local security police stopped by to warn us to keep all valuables out of sight (Brits abroad stand out a mile!). Obviously there was an unsocial element around. Fine Dining included various salad pots eaten on the pavement in the sun followed by a nostalgic trip to C & A. We then had to have a tour of the Cube Houses - the sign said you had to be special to live there and that was so true. A strange sensation  - plenty of head ducking but a feeling of spaciousness due to plenty of natural light and minimalist design. Some of the lads visited the Keringhuis Lock and enjoyed this magnificent feat of engineering. An evening at the Italian where we raised the noise levels and then back for Jazz Night in the hotel.




Sunday and off to Delft by train. Stroll through the city and Delft Pottery Tour which was fab and then we were collected by a Canal Boat (how do the lads do it?) for a Tour before lunch in the main square listening to a Beatles Tribute Band. The evening saw the group split as it was hard to find somewhere for 20 - walking deep into the centre smelling heavy of something you just don't get in Budleigh!





Early start on Monday for Amsterdam - all on the train were trying to tick the box of seeing windmills - locals assisting us! A walk round the city was very educational ..... canals, old houses and the red light district where girls were selling themselves. We ventured into a Museum of Prostitution where the story unfolded of how this line of business became legalised giving the girls protection along with paying their taxes. Some visited the Heineken Factory. Another canal trip in the sunshine and then back to the hotel for dinner and presentations to our tour leader and birthday cake for one of the lads.








Someone stole the sunshine on Tues so various plans were made and I linked up with two of the lads for a mystery ride...... think it was a mystery to the leader too but all very relaxed and I fell into normal holiday mode - my plan is to keep up - simples! We headed for the Dams via Rozenburg where we were the first tourists in a local cafe..... they made us very welcome although their English was limited and our Dutch non existent. They had never put a bacon sarnie through their till and they served buttered toast with side salad. We stopped to admire a windmill and then had a ferry crossing to some lovely scenery and very challenging winds. My little bike with her big metal panniers acting as sails ended up on the wrong side of the road but I managed to get her back before the oncoming traffic became an issue. The car behind was considerate and gave me plenty of room - guess I was providing good entertainment.. We stopped to admire a plane - known as the Widow Maker due to its small wings..... one of the lads thought it was going to be a museum but it turned out to be a scrap yard.... they know how to treat a girl! There was payback in mickey taking when he went to pay for his fuel and hadn't taken the pump number - he told the girl it was the red bike..... no wonder she looked confused - they were all red. I was glad to get back into the city (don't say that often) where the buildings provided respite from the winds and over celebratory drinks for arriving safely back I was told I was officially one of the lads in this gang now - I took it as a compliment! Our last dinner altogether as 3 lads were off on an adventure to Iceland. We dined on a floating hotel and the laughter just got louder and louder..... at one point a lad asked for Tena for Men - the tears were almost rolling down his legs. It was all to do with sharing a cheeseboard and you really had to be there to appreciate it. The music was good accompanied by drunken swaying.





Wednesday and we waved off the lads and 3 girls were heading home by train - one was poorly and the other two escorted her safely back ... again quiet efficiency - no drama just practical tlc. The remaining bikes split into two groups and after a wild, wet and windy start our gang moved swiftly on for lunch at Jabbeke and were in Dunkirk by mid afternoon for a stroll around and all gathered for dinner in a lovely restaurant.



Thursday and two groups headed for the tunnel - each getting on earlier trains and all landing safe and sound. Many thanx for a fantastic week - your company was brilliant - a kind, caring crowd who all got on well together, mucked in and certainly made the most of the break. Looking forward to next year!



Rookie Ride 05-11-2016


A cool but fine morning saw an equally fine turnout of around 25 riders at Exeter Moto Services for the Guy Fawkes Rookie Ride.

DSCN6655A Good Turnout


DSCN6674Ready for the Off

Heading north up the Exe Valley to Watchet we were treated to some gorgeous autumnal scenes with all the leaves having finally turned golden and cascading from the trees like snow. However we all remembered to treat the fallen leaves on damp road surfaces with due respect, especially in the twisties.

Having reached the north coast of Somerset we hung a left and parked up on the sea front at Blue Anchor for a refreshment stop at the Driftwood Cafe. Once again we were treated to a spectacular scenery with a view across a calm blue sea clear across to Wales.

Rookie Ride Nov 16 003aBlue Anchor Bay

On leaving the Driftwood we continued west for a short distance and then turned back inland towards Dunster and across Exmoor on the A396. With few other vehicles about we were able to enjoy the twisty bits at our own comfortable speed without having to continually brake into bends due to ditherers in 4-wheeled metal cages. We rejoined our outward bound route just south of Bampton and continued south along the Exe valley to Rewe where we paused and had a natter and said our goodbyes before splitting for home.

Rookie Ride Nov 16 013aRewe Parish Hall Car Park

To quote Wallace and Gromit, it was a grand day out. Very many thanks to the two Davids Mudge and Tripp for expertly shepherding us and ordering a sunny day from the fine weather fairies. Let's hope they are as obliging for Betty on the Memorial Ride.

Rookie Ride Nov-16 001aThanks to our Sweeper & Pilot

Nick T.      Photos courtesy Helen Beer & Betty Nott


Canada Summer 2016




We'd had a fab time in Austria so I tentatively asked where to next and dropped a hint for the Rockies. Amazingly the challenge was taken up and a plan hatched which saw myself, Nick and Jill arrive at Heathrow bright and early on 19th June with helmets for hand luggage.

The Ramada Hotel in Downtown Vancouver was our first stop and here I discovered that a single room in Canada means two double beds and a fresh coffee machine - so much space for sorting kit - brilliant. We had a few hours to spare so took a boat trip to Granville Island and had a walk round Sutcliffe Park  looking at art galleries, fresh markets and crafts stalls and listening to local musicians.

Canada1Downtown Vancouver from Granville Island

Our trip was booked through H C Travel and we arrived at BC Rentals Monday morning to collect 3 brand new bikes - Nick had the new Africa Twin and Jill and I had Vstroms. They came with panniers and top boxes and the lads gave us puncture kits (which were returned unused), pressure gauges and chain lube. They laughed when I asked about spare oil - guess that comes from having a thirsty GS. We escaped the city and rode over Lions Gate Bridge towards the snow-capped mountains.

First stop was Shannon Falls and the Sea to Sky Gondola at Squamish where we walked the suspension bridge and enjoyed lunch with stunning views of lakes and mountains. Next was Brandywine Falls and Daisy Lake - here we were privileged to witness a very relaxed wedding ceremony where they had the waterfall as the backdrop of their photos and we cheered the newlyweds.

Next stop was Whistler Village - lovely twisty roads when I did wonder if we had strayed onto the Stelvio... A fuel stop in Lillooet showed we had played all day for the equivalent of £6 - good result! More curvy roads to the Sandman Hotel at Cache Creek (Gold Area).

Canada2  Whistler

It had been a good start on the bikes - the Vstrom was very comfortable and I love riding along rivers, lakes, coasts and twisty mountain roads. Route 99 is highly recommended and other road users were courteous - any slow trucks pulling over.  Their road works were something else - inches deep in loose dusty gravel for several k's - that stopped the bikes looking shiny and new! And the size of the vehicles was staggering - mega big boys toys.   First day 345 k.

Up early, Fraser Valley and The Packing House at Spences Bridge for coffee - wide open spaces and quiet smooth roads. Nicola Valley, Merritt, past Kamloops and the realisation we are somewhere very new and different with the signs for Indian Reservations and Rodeos. Past Shuswap Lake - an affluent area with water skiers, jet skis and boats. We were earnestly searching for bears - saw plenty of BLOBS (Bear like Objects) but no confirmed sightings.

We had arranged to meet friends at Dreamcycle Motorcycle Museum at Blind Bay (Shuswap) and back to theirs for lunch and to admire the view of the lake from their home. Then, with local guides, we set off for Salmon Arm Pier, Craigellachie where The Last Spike for the railway was driven for the completion of Canadian Pacific Railway in November 1885. We watched a goods train go by with 152 carriages and 3 engines to help it on its way. We all stayed at the Glacier House Resort in Revelstoke - up in the mountains with clear air, snowy peaks and we took over the lounge with our delivered pizza and maps (their restaurant and bar were closed Mon-Wed). 430 k.

Wed morning and time for the girls to name their bikes - Bear and Matt - you just have to bond properly! We had challenged Pauline and Don to find us bears and we set off to Mulvehill Creek Bridge and the quiet roads along the Columbia River looking at Mt McKenzie. We had a James Bond moment as a helicopter checking power lines followed us for a while. Then a real treat - a free ferry across Arrow Lake from Galena Bay to Shelter Bay.

Canada3Arrowhead Lake Ferry

Along Arrowhead Lake to Nakusp for first Iced Tea (official holiday drink) - perfect. New Denver, Silverton and Slocan Lake Viewpoint in Kootenay. . Then a fantastic ride of miles of twisties with trees, snow-capped mountains and a wide fast flowing shallow crystal clear river. Am sure you can feel the grin factor! Kaslo to see the Canadian Pacific Paddle Steamer and back the way we came to the ferry... Here was our first sighting of bears. A mum and baby were feeding by the side of the road, shortly afterwards one crossed in front of us and another was spotted in a clearing - so lucky.

465 k by the time we had dined in Revelstoke and returned to our hotel and a 12 hour play day.

Pauline and Don waved us off on Thursday morning - it had been fab to catch up with them again after 7 years. They had been great company (especially Don for Nick who had two chics or old broilers to cope with) and super tour guides (we were going to do Meadows in the Sky Parkway but it was closed due to snow and Plan B turned out to be Plan A+).

Highway 1 today with lots of stops first being the Giant Cedars Nature Trail - a circular wooded walk. Then Rogers Pass Museum with educational films on bear behaviour and avalanche control. Past Kicking Horse Pass and to Golden for our first Tim Hortons...can see why everyone recommends it.... a huge choice of fresh naughty delights at bargain prices. Someone stole an hour of our day today (another time zone crossed - BC to Alberta) and also the sunshine so we abandoned the sightseeing and headed direct to Lake Louise. 245 k

The weather had improved next morning so Nick checked the bikes and we resumed our schedule - Natural Bridge being the first stop on Kicking Horse River in Yoho National Park. The roar of the water was awesome and you could see how the water had carved its way through. We passed the Great Divide Lodge which made me smile following the Brexit Result.

Canada4Natural Bridge, Kicking Horse River

On to Emerald Lake watching the fish jumping and then Takakkaw Falls, Two Rivers Meet (Kicking Horse and Yoho)  and the Upper Spiral Tunnel where we were lucky enough to see a train go in and come out whilst still going in. Back to Lake Louise which was heaving with tourists so we took the wiggly route to Moraine Lake in Banff National Park and the Valley of Ten Peaks for lunch taking in the views.

Canada5Moraine Lake

We took the 1A Bow Valley Road to see our 5th bear stroll across the road in front of us. Riding into Banff the town felt welcoming, clean and friendly and that is how it turned out. We stayed at the Mount Royal Hotel in the middle of town and had dinner at Wild Bills on Caribou Corner relaxing to live country music (here you are safe to admit you like it). 196 k.

Saturday started well with one of my favourite songs playing in the breakfast bar and a walk to see Bow Falls. The town had beautiful art galleries with pictures of local wildlife and scenery. After lunch in the sun we rode past Lake  Minnewanka, the Three Sisters, Canmore and to Kananaskis and the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

Back to enjoy the hotel facilities and 229 k's.

Jasper was our destination for Sunday along the stunning Icefields Parkway. We had purchased National Park Passes before we left which meant it was easy to enter the beautiful parks and we were supporting their upkeep. We stopped at Mosquito Creek, past Helen Lake and Bow Glacier and stopped at Bow Summit. You really cannot describe the beauty - you need to be there. And we kept checking the mirrors for amazing views too. We walked to Peyto Lake and what a wow moment - the water was a vivid bright turquoise.


Peyto Lake

Back on the highway past Rocky Mountain House to the Crossing at Saskatchewan for lunch and passing Athabascha Glacier. As I rode along I hoped my darling John would have been proud of me - we talked of doing this route many years ago and studied books together - it felt good to be here with special friends that knew and loved him too. They made it all happen and my holiday plan was simple - just keep up with the bike in front :-)

A short stop at Tangle Creek then to Sunwapta Falls. Despite the signage promising all sorts of wildlife would be hiding behind the trees keen to cross in front of us we saw nothing but this was probably because being a Sunday the Park was quite busy. One section was called Endless Chain and that is how it was - mountains and trees every which way - stunning. The temperature varied from 13 to 25. Athabasca Falls were beautiful and then to Lobstick Lodge in Jasper watching the setting sun. 302 k.

Monday was a very early start for our scheduled boat trip and our reward was sightings of Caribou and Elk. We were on the Spirit Island Cruise on Maligne Lake and what a day! One range of mountains had been given to our Queen and were named for her - sadly she has yet to visit them. The water changed colour as our boat cruised up the lake - this was due to the Islands and Glaciers.

Canada7Maligne Lake

Nick and I then failed to resist the urge to take a red canadian canoe for a paddle on the waters before heading off to Pyramid Lake. Temperatures today ranged between 6 and 30. 111 k.

Tuesday and someone very kindly gave us our hour back as we headed to Mount Robson National Park back in BC.

Canada8Mount Robson

We stopped for photos along the way and a local welfare checked us - everyone was friendly and helpful. We passed Tum Tum Creek and when it hit 33 degrees we stopped at Clearwater before a lovely twisty road to  Helmcken's Falls in Wells Gray Park. On the way I spotted a photo opportunity at Mushbowl Falls and then we looked down Third Canyon on our way to the Ace Western Hotel Clearwater. 423 k.


Mushbowl Falls Bridge

Breakfast was taken watching our first roundabout - they go for 4 way stop streets so a flowery circle in the road  is a rare sight. Despite the high temperatures there was still snow on the mountains as we headed past Little Fort and on to Highway 24 to 100 Mile House via Peacful Cove, Eagle Island and Lone Butte. The roads were quiet and fun. Along Lac Le Hache to Williams Lake which is in the Heart of the Cariboo District and we stopped at the Discovery Centre to read about Rick Hansen who wheelchaired around the world for spinal cord injury research. His motto was Anything is Possible and his hopes are that one day the only place you will see a wheelchair is in a museum. He is inspirational - having spent a few months in one the thought of going a few miles was daunting nevermind a mega challenge like his. A picnic lunch at Mcleese Lake and on to Quesnel and following the Fraser River to the Sandman Hotel in Prince George. The scenery had changed by the end of the day to no snow and rolling hills. 481 k.

Thursday and our destination was Smithers, Vanderhof for coffee and we had a brilliant flying display by two bald eagles. Road signs offered us chicken racing - we were really in the outback! Fraser Lake was a beautiful dark blue and Burns Lake provided another excuse for a leg stretch. An interesting stop at Houston Visitor Centre to admire the stuffed grizzly and then on through Telkwa  with more snow capped mountains - The Hudson Bay Range. Arriving at the Sandman Inn we had done 383k and chose the steakhouse with mountain views.

Friday 1st July was Canada Day and Public Holiday. We weren't sure what to expect but everything was open to take our dollars. First stop Moricetown Canyon on the Yellowhead Highway Trans Canada 16. On to Terrace and wiggling along the Skeena River we were treated to our last bear sighting - he or she sat very cutely in the wild flowers and long grass by the roadside. The River was vast and we decided that folk in that area go fishing on Canada Day as we didn't see much else - there were BBQ's along the waters edge and on the islands. We arrived at the Crest Hotel in Prince Rupert early which gave time for a stroll along the waterfront before dinner watching the eagles. 358 k.

Canada12View from Balcony, Crest Hotel, Prince Rupert

Saturday was the very long boat journey along the Inside Passage to Port Hardy. We were up at 0430 and serenaded in the queue for the ferry by Red Red Wine from a Harley - they love showing off their stereo systems! The Northern Expedition left on time and we had 15 hours of moving scenery despite the rain - Butedale, Boat Bluff, Bella Bella - waterfalls and hills and trees - lots of trees! Just 12 k as we pulled into the Glen Lyon Inn at nearly midnight.

Breakfast was enjoyed watching a dozen bald eagles at close range and a seaplane. Our view of the estuary was lovely but we could have stayed a few nights in this relaxing place but our agenda was calling and we rode off following the Nimpkish River to Woss where some local bikers recommended Sayward at Kelsey Bay. So glad we followed their advice. We arrived at Painters Lodge at Campbell River to be delighted by huge rooms overlooking the water, an outdoor pool and dinner on the terrace watching seals, canada geese and eagles. There was a free boat trip to their sister lodge across the water on Quadra Island so we enjoyed this treat watching the sunset. 264 k.

Canada10Sunset at Campbell River

As we hadn't seen Whales we decided to take an early Whale and Wildlife Experience  and by 0800 we were kitted up in bright red onesies ready for 3 hours of Discovery Channel in the Zodiac. We had a wonderful time - fantastic scenery, changing waters from flat calm to 3 foot waves, mountains, islands, seals, eagles, harbour porpoise, deer and yes, 2 humpbacks, known locally as KC and Ariel. We were so lucky. 70 miles of smiles. After lunch we took a ride to Gold River - bends galore and very quiet - enjoying a cuppa in a craft shop discussing Brexit with the owner. 188 k.

Tuesday and after breakfast watching a sea otter, eagles, a heron and sea planes we found the 19A with no help from the sat nav. A lovely road along the river with plenty of entertainment - wood carvings, totem poles, beautiful waterside houses - to Courtenay. Brief stop at Qualicum Beach and to  Port Alberni  - a pretty but very busy town.  Past Kennedy Lake in the Pacific Rim National Park to the Tin Wis Resort in Tofino for a paddle in the chilly waters. Tin Wis means Calm Waters - odd that we were looking at Tsunami Escape Route signs! 287 k.

This was another place we could have spent more time at - we were right on the beach and woke to the gentle sound of the waves. We had a ride into Tofino just to see it and then took the only road out - Kennedy Lake looked even more spectacular going East. Port Alberni and then a detour to Englishmans Falls in the Provincial Park of the same name. Ladysmith next - a pretty town and the last roundabout we saw - that averaged out at one a week on our trip. Into Victoria and sadly the traffic we were promised materialised but the bikes were fine - no problems with the heat and they had behaved brilliantly in the high altitude too. Good to see Trans Canada Highway signs and not to be caught by the speed traps (were we good or lucky?) We arrived at the Best Western to all be given free upgrades...did we look that wrecked??? Bikes secured in a nearby car park and off to the Irish Pub as recommended by the hotel staff. 353 k.

Thursday morning was a quick walk round Victoria before heading to Swartz Bay and the ferry to Tsawwassen Bay on Vancouver. The  ferry ride was about 90 mins and the traffic into the big city tough after so many lovely miles on quiet roads in wonderful scenery. They don't filter out there but we returned the bikes on time and unscathed. We did it!! 90 k today and a total of 5162 k 3207 miles.


The End of the Road - Returning the Bikes to Cycle BC Rentals

Our friends missed us so much they met us at the bike shop and took us to our last hotel - The Sylvia - and heard all about our travels over dinner. And Friday morning they took us to the local BMW Dealership and then on a tour of Stanley Park before depositing us safely at the airport. Along with the wildlife mentioned we saw horned sheep, American robins, yellow butterflies, black squirrels, vole, gopher, chipmunks and a Clark's nutcracker. Food and fuel were cheaper than the UK but accommodation quite expensive especially if you're not sharing.  It was truly a wonderful adventure - if you're thinking of it then our advice is Just Do It!




Scotland Spring 2016





Two thousand, two hundred and thirty fun miles in 12 days with great company and stunning scenery - how lucky am I!


As always it started with the BMW Hotel Weekend and as I rode up over Yettington Common at 0630 Mitzy flashed who stole spring? We've had the bright flowers and chocolate season is over but instead of warmth there was a deep white frost sparkling in its beauty.  Up the M5 to Sedgemoor to meet with friends and then J9 to meet the rest of my travelling companions to Gretna. The laughs began with John confessing he had his thermals on the wrong way round - dressing in the dark was not an acceptable excuse - was he too tight to put on the light on or did he not want to wake his good lady???


Up through Broadway with its yellow Cotswold stone, Mickleton so pretty  and the Fosse Way bright with yellow fields and the smell of bluebells. Past Lecis and to Appleby Magna for a break in McDonalds..... up to this point we had 3 McD Virgins in our group who were pretty reluctant to change their status but as the options were limited we persuaded them the coffee was ok and they would be fine. Then Asbourne, Buxton and rain and snow in the Derbyshire Dales, Glossop and a tea stop at Rhodeswood Resevoir. Then we managed to get split up and I ended up leading a small pack through Halifax in the rush hour. Filtering is never my favourite game but sometimes necessary - as leader you want to make safe progress and being mindful of my huge panniers I headed gingerly between the cars.  Snow and hail followed but we all made it safely to Giggleswick, via Keighley and Settle within 2 minutes of each other.

scot1 scot2




Friday looked bright and sunny but within minutes it had turned to a blizzard. Up through Ingleton where the Tour de Yorkshire was heading that afternoon - bbbrrrr - much too cold for lycra.  Windermere for coffee then Ambleside and Grasmere to be faced with a road closure sign. Plan B and our leader took us up The Struggle to The Kirkstone Pass.... he did stop and ask what we thought of his decision halfway up and was not impressed by my response but hey, we laughed and carried on. I think it was my eyelashes freezing together with the snow that made me think a different option might have been more sensible. Earlier in the day the pass had been closed but now it was open with deep snow either side of the road which luckily was ice free and clear. Am sure it all looked beautiful if you could see it! Down past Ullswater, Carlisle and to Gretna where a warm welcome awaited.


Saturday brought lots of choices and some of us joined the Scottish Section Ride hosted by Nigel and Drew - The Dumfries Loop. Annan, Bankend, past Caerlaverock Castle and the Solway Coast, Castle Douglas, Loch Ken, Ayr and New Galloway for coffee. We did 80 miles without a single car to overtake - and this wasn't cos we were going slow!  Moniaive, Thornhill and AE for tea before back to power wash the bikes. Apart from all the salt en route somewhere between coffee and tea our leader took us up a dirt track..... this was very steep with mud, rocks. scree, potholes and grass. Fortunately nobody had a sense of humour failure or a tumble as we manoeuvred our bikes around and went back down... All landed safe back at the hotel and one lovely lady said how privileged she felt to be a member of our club - how grand was that!




The Ceilidh provided excellent entertainment and was a great spectator sport - so much laughter the tears nearly ran down my leg..... you had to be there to appreciate it. Jill and Nick, friends who didn't book early enough, were at another local hotel where they were subjected to an Elvis tribute night.... think they went to bed v early!


The forecast for Sunday was not good so we decided to have a walk and checkout the local shopping mall....there were lots of happy lady members and some v bored looking chaps who mainly took refuge in Costa! Tea in the Chapel was interesting and then I felt the urge for a ride so a couple of us nipped to the coast and around to Ecclefechan (just cos I love that name) for a little fix. Then there was Bill's Quiz to entertain us during the evening..... he really needs to make his questions easier!


Monday there were fond farewells and thanks to our hosts and Sally, Brian, Graham and Rob who had organised the first part of our adventure and John and I set off with Jill, Nick, Dave, John, Mike x2, Harry and Chris further north.


Fort William was our destination so we took the A75 and A76 in sunshine with dry twisties. Past New Cumnock, coffee at Mauchine, around Kilmarnock, Largs and the Gourock Ferry to Hunters Quay. Up past Loch Fyne and Inverary for lunch. Timing is everything and as we came round a bend we were greeted with a car that had just spun with debris all over the road - a few seconds earlier and he could have taken us out....A beautiful rainbow greeted us at the Onich Hotel on Loch Linnhe and we enjoyed stunning views over dinner of gentle waves on the shore and distant mountains. The roads were busy with bikes partaking in the ISSDT with the smell of R in the air  - cracking! Harry shared his funny story of the day - he'd texted his good lady in the morning and was surprised he'd not had a response...... on checking he found he had sent Hello Sweet Pea....etc etc to his tenant...whoops!



Tues and after breakfast looking at snow capped mountains  we headed off to Skye. The road from Fort William to Mallaig is truly great with wonderful scenery and fast twisties. Tickets bought and warnings of a rough crossing but all was fine - phew! Armadale, north to Sconser for lunch in the whisky lodge and a loop via Dunvegan and down to Portree for our overnight stop with time for a walk and ices on the harbour.







Wednesday brought ferocious winds and we needed our porridge for strength to hang on very tight. Over the bridge to the Kyle of Lochaish, A890 past  Loch Carron, Balnacra,  Achnasheen , A382 to Kinlochewe, past Beinn Eighe  to Gairloch where the lady in the fuel stop had a fantastic view from her office window over the loch. Poolewe , Aultbea, past Little Loch Broom and lunch at Camusnagaul  and on to Ullapool. We had Goats, sheep, potholes, scary winds but it was all worth it for the beautiful scenery - sea, lochs, hills, mountains, The yellow gorse smelt lovely and there must be some keen bikers in the transport department up there as there were signs asking road users to let the bikes pass safely.

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Our accommodation here was a motel which was perfect - bike right outside your door. An early morning walk along the river footpath then on to Strathcanaird, passing Ardvreck Castle, Elphin, Inchnadamph overlooking Loch Assynt, Scourie and to Durness to the famous chocolate shop. The scenery was stunning but the wind a huge challenge and we had to prise our fingers from the bars. Taking pride in staying the correct side of the road I was taken across just the once and luckily the roads were quiet.  The cafe was worth it - v yumi hot chocolate and chocolate croissant! Thoroughly recommended. Around Loch Eriboll, past Tongue, Armadale  and Dounreay to Thurso for a two night stop. There is so little traffic and so much fantastic scenery you could take a photo at every corner - we are so lucky in this country to have such accessible beauty. The temperature even rose to 15 and I turned my heated grips off!  We walked round town and visited the Dounreay Exhibition in the museum - decommissioning being the major task now.


There was much debate about routes due to the forecast and when I commented that taking risks could mean that  if anything untoward happens we become someone else's problem the answer was 'we are each others problem' - so true and the delight of riding in a gang is that you look out for each other and enjoy the camaraderie. We chanced the windy route to get the very best of the scenery and it was oh so worth it.










Friday and time for Orkney. An early start and down to Scrabster for the ferry to Stromness. Here I was awarded the Pratt de Jour as I managed to get lost on the Quay and nearly ended up back in town instead of on the ship.... I had to blag our way (yes someone came with me!!!) back in and get to the front of the queue...the ferry loader thought it funny luckily and the guys tied Mitzy down gently. We were so lucky as the sea was like a lake, big blue skies with bright sunshine. Out past Dunnet Head and the Old man of  Hoy. Skara Brae fist stop then Kirkwall for the poppies - The Weeping Window- at the Cathedral. The Italian Chapel and Churchills Causeway learning about the Scapa Flow and the Tomb of the Eagles. Time to go and down to St Margarets Hope  for the  ferry to Gills Bay and a quick visit to John O'Groats and Dunnet Head (where I was seen with the turkey baster extracting petrol from one tank for another - well I was a Girl Guide and always prepared for petrol station closures).  The Dunnet Head Campsite looked stunning in the evening sun with the happy campers enjoying a glorious sunset. The Dirty Stop Out Gang returned at 1945 - just in time to be on the noisy table again for dinner.

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Saturday and 9 out of the 10 of us set off together for Helmsdale along a single track logging road then we split again for Brora, Golspie, Dunrobin Castle and more single tracks (and dual carriageways with grass up the middle)  to Rogart and lunch at The Pier Cafe in Lairg. Then a v wiggly route to Bonar Bridge and Cromarty where sadly the dolphins and seals were awol. We stopped the ice cream man from reading his girlie magazine - am almost sure it was the Womans Weekly - and a stroll in the bracing air before heading to Inverness.

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Sunday and down through the Cairngorms to Tomintoul, over the Lecht Summit,  Cock Bridge and Ballater. Lovely empty roads. Strachan, Bridge of Dye, Cairn o' Mount and Clatterin Bridge for lunch followed by a play up and down the Glen Esk Valley. A short spurt on the A90 and the Glendoick Garden Centre  before more off roading with wiggly hairpins and gravel to Perth. Here we had v secure parking in the rear yard of the hotel..... but panniers had to come off to get in!


Monday saw 5 of us head south to the Kelpies - if you haven't seen them you really should - and to Biggar to visit Juliet and Gordon and admire their lambs and classic bikes over lunch in their beautiful sunny garden.  Gretna again then Carlisle, Penrith, and Ullswater and the Kirkstone Pass in the evening light - magnificent.  After a long days play I was ecstatic to find my room had a Jacuzzi bath! Windermere was our last night so a presentation to Chris for sorting all the accommodation and Tues saw us splitting into small groups to head home.





Thank you all for your company and to those that planned routes and despatched tlc along the way  - much appreciated.  



The Lovers Return Part 2

Second half of Richard and Mark’s holiday write-up - continued from the Oct-Dec 2015 Newsletter


Day 11 :  We start the day with a hearty breakfast ahead of our farewells . The mood this morning is influenced by the view from the hotel window, grey sky and rain.  So as the rest of the boys head north east towards Santander Mark and I consider our options do we head to find sunshine or carry on towards Santiago in the footsteps of the disciples?  Well that's a no brainer, obviously towards to sunshine!  So south it is towards the top of Portugal, little did we know what lay ahead of us.  

We start off on A type roads but after about 10 miles we are on very twisty B roads or very twisty unclassified roads, this was to be for the next 140 miles in the rain and mist , sometimes visibility is down to about 10 yards.  There is every type of bend you can imagine, with many roads having subsidence and/or debris on them usually somewhere on the bends.  We also have to contend with cars and lorries cutting the bends at much higher speeds than they are able to stop safety on their own side of the road which they can see to be clear.  If that isn't enough to deal with throw in some cows and a rabid dog the size of a small horse!!!  We are right on the top of a mountain road in the rain and mist with all most zero visibility, we haven't seen any sign of life for miles when a very large black shadow is rushing towards me from the mist, by the time I can identify what it is I can see the whites of its eyes and its snarling teeth. I put a squirt on, plus extend my boot towards it . Fortunately we both get by unscathed. Later we arrive at Villablino, find a hotel on the main street through the town, go in and find a rather portly gent and arrange a room for the night, we are shown upstairs and into room 101, that will do nicely.   After a freshen up we return down to the bar area where the rather portly gent who by now we have discovered is the owner, is watching porn on his laptop and is not bothered that we know this!! So funny.  


Day 12 :  We make an early start – well, by our standards and head towards the west coast of Spain.  We start as we finished the previous day with tight twisty roads.  Within about 50 miles we have found the sunshine and the bends are getting more sweeping and within 100 miles the roads are flatter and bends less twisty. We stop for coffee about 2pm and watch the world go by enjoying the sun. It’s been a few days now since we have ridden with the sun on our backs, and it feels good.  I manage to get stung by a bee which had gone up my sleeve, glad I packed the large first aid kit.  We had a boys own moment again today when I wacked my pannier while off-roading , so we had to dismantle it and resemble it to get the catch to work correctly.  All was well and we had a brew by the roadside while fixing it.  We arrive in a town called Xinzo de Limia stop outside a hotel. The owner is stood outside, he walks over to us and asks if we want secure parking for the bikes, “yes please “, so he sets off walking, telling us to follow. We have totally fallen on our feet here, top place for £13 each including breakfast. We shower, change and have a walk around the town stopping for a beer in the square and enjoy the evening sunshine. 




Day 13:  We head west towards the coast, 80 miles see us in northern Portugal just in time for lunch, great roads again to get here. We decide that as the temperature is now in the 20s it’s time to get the hammocks out and sleep beneath the stars.  Last time we toured we decided we needed to get a little more organised as far as catering is concerned.  So tonight we would source and cook our own dinner.  We find a shop, purchase steak, noodles, carrots, onion, peppers, tomatoes, eggs and of course wine.  

A right feast , well enjoyed and finished off with cheese and bread.  It’s these moments that really make motorcycle touring an adventure. Another great day, we did almost 90 miles, lol. Time for bed I think.  


Day 14 :  We have a lazy day , not rolling out of our cosy hammocks until 8.30ish then after we cook boiled eggs, and coffee for breakfast we hit the road about 1030 and head north hugging the coast until we get to Vigo.  By now it’s 1430ish so we decide to head back through the mountains to our campsite at Camposcanos . We arrive back about 1730 do some housekeeping then kick back and enjoy the sunshine until we smell food cooking at the site cafe, so that's another day done .  




Day 15:  We leave are wooded haven and head north along with the cows for a small island joined to the mainland by a long bridge , this is funny as my companion does not like bridges.  It’s about 2 hours away and it’s a great ride.  When we arrive in glorious sunshine it’s time for a coffee.  

After coffee we head inland to Santiago de Compostela to find the finish point of the 'walk de Santiago ' it’s about an hour away.  We are not sure what to expect when we arrive, I'm thinking it will be some religious monument, I think Mark is expecting a finish line with a chequered flag and a foot spa.  As we are nearing Santiago the walkers appear to be looking more weary than usual.  I suppose it’s a long way from Paris.  

We arrive in the city to find a real buzz, lots and lots of people probably more people that we have seen in the last 14 days. There is a fun fair and real festival atmosphere. We will stay here for the night, so check the internet for a local hotel with secure parking.  Result, there is one just half a mile from where we are.  Once the reservation is made off we go.  We arrive at the address and go in, the hotel is a single floor of an 8 story building, with an underground garage.  This is a right result.  That evening we walk into the old city with the cathedral at its centre, take the usual photos and do what we were told all who have made the trek from Paris do , lie in front of the cathedral entrance .  

So with that done and more atmosphere soaked than we can deal with its time for a beer and local cuisine.  We have a stroll around the new town and find a very busy cafe , which is a good sign in our books.  We go in and another result top nosh and loads of it, we sit and enjoy for the rest of the evening.  


Day 16:  Heading to the most NW point of Spain, we find the most breath- taking coast line, to those who have not been I can’t recommend it enough, so totally unspoilt.  It’s like going back in time.   This is what I tour for to find places that have not been spoilt by western tourism, no English spoken not a MacDonalds or Tescos in sight. Sheer bliss, I would say this is the closest to UK you can find this.  

Just when I thought we had had the best of the roads we stumbled across the AS12, a gorgeous mountain road north towards Navia, probably the highest unfenced road I have ever ridden, the drops were so big you couldn't even see the tops of the trees!  Roads just wide enough for two cars to pass, with the most amazing views.

We are about two thirds along the AS12 when the mist comes in and dampens the roads , now that focusses the mind.  We have done nearly 250 miles today which, by are standards, is high.  We arrive in Navia, which appears to be a small fishing town on an estuary near the coast, at about 1830, find a hotel and settle for the evening.  


Day 17:  Today’s half a plan is to head east back towards the Picos, we ride all day on more amazing highly-demanding roads.  Having negotiated more than our fair share of hazards we arrive at Potas and decide to stay at the same hotel as we did earlier in the trip as it was so good.  One of the many things that have amazed me on this trip is the magnificence of the engineering in this part of Spain, especially as the country appears to be stuck in time.  The viaducts, bridges and electricity pylons in the mountains are beyond belief.  I would say at least 80% of the roads we have used are in race track condition, tho’ the other 20% are like off-road.  We have done about 2,500 miles and millions of bends, at one point today we stopped got off our bikes and just laughed and said “no more bends today please”. You can tell we are near the ferry as we have seen British bikes again, we have not seen any since we left the Picos 10 days ago, we can’t believe the Brits don’t appear to go much further than the Picos, they really don't know what they are missing. Or perhaps that is a good thing!!  Tonight we expect a feast as it was the last time we were here.




Day 18:  Off to Santander, the long way.  We choose a route which will be about 100 miles as the ferry doesn't sail until 2115.  The CA282 turns out to be another great road, it’s about 30km through the mountains.  On roads that cause us to negotiate articulated lorries, cattle, and a sleeping dog. Great fun is had by all on our last day in this awesome area.  We arrive in Santander at about 1500 and have the obligatory MacDonalds , as we have had more than enough cured meat.  Then in to the centre to find a cafe to while away the hours until its ferry time.  We arrive at the port, and again we get talking about where have all these bikes and cars been?  Because we have seen hardly seen any since we’ve been here.  We conclude that they probably all use motorways.  Cos it’s not likely that we are going to ask, being a pair of anti-social old farts. Lol.  At least the fun is now off the bike trying not to make eye contact..... Who will lose this game we regularly play? lol, Mark’s first to crack , and who should he crack to but Messrs. Foster & Thomas, so now we have entertainment for the evening voyage. After an evening of fine food and wine we retire to our cabins and sleep until 1300 hours the next day, it just goes to prove how hard we have tried over the last 3 weeks... Lol.  


So as per previous trips now the conversation moves to where next as its only 3 months away


Mitzy's Harz and Wurz Tour 2014

Mitzy's Harz and Wurz Tour 2014

 by Helen Beer




Wally's Summer Tour

Wally's Summer Tour - Cumbria 2014

 by Helen Beer