Month: May 2014

Day 2 – Esbjerg to Jyderup

After a fairly uneventful night (the ferry didn’t sink) we woke. I had a pretty restless nights sleep and can’t say I felt particularly refreshed but the excitement at what lay ahead of us seemed to override any feelings of tiredness.  We plugged in all the electrical gear we wanted to have charged for the next day or so, as you can see us geeks take a lot of gadgets with us!

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I checked the location on my GPS to see if it worked and yes, my bike was in the middle of the North Sea!
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We then headed down to the café to have some breakfast. I had mug of coffee and a granola pot, followed by a second mug of coffee! The plan for the day was pretty simple, get used to riding on the “wrong side”, get fuel and ride to Vladimir’s house in Jyderup where we would camp over night to test setting up the tents and prepare for the main part of the journey.

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When the ferry was about 15 minutes from the port we went down to get the bikes unstrapped and pack away any items we’d taken out to use whilst on the ferry. I was pleased the bike was still upright as I’d never taken a bike on a ferry before and wasn’t sure how well I’d strapped it down. It took a bit of messing about to get my stuff back in the panniers and top box, I really hadn’t organised my gear very well and whenever I opened the pannier on the kickstand side most of the items fell out. The ferry docked, the doors opened and we rode out on to Danish soil.

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The weather outside was looking pretty amazing, forecast was for 28 degrees and they were pretty much spot on. Unfortunately hot weather although nice, isn’t ideal when you’re head to toe in black biker gear and wearing a helmet. We queued to get through passport control, Paul was clearly very pleased to see me, Roy had a big grin and I was trying to stop my ears from bleeding due to Paul’s VFR exhaust rumbling through my entire body.

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After we cleared customs we hit our first Danish roads and the initial panic of riding on the other side of the road. To be honest it was fine, well until the first roundabout came up and that did feel a bit weird riding the opposite way around it. Our first stop was to find fuel as we’d all used pretty much all we had getting to Harwich. We rode for about 15 minutes and I was starting to worry as my fuel gauge was rapidly decreasing. After pulling off the main highway we found a small petrol station on Paul’s satnav and arrived with my bike showing 7 miles left in the tank!

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The petrol station was a new experience, unmanned and card only. You stick in your card, enter your pin as usual but then you select the pump you want to use and what octane fuel in some cases. It actually works quite well but it’s a bit of a change to the UK.  We headed off towards the Great Belt where we crossed the Great Belt fixed link bridge, the longest suspension bridge outside Asia, and the 3rd largest in the world. After a brief stop to get our bearings we headed for the bridge, and what a bridge it is! Running parallel to the road bridge is a train track and at the moment we crossed so did a huge freight train, it was pretty cool.

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Right where we stopped we could also see a Naval base with a load of Navy Ships sat docked.

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trip Skype meetings we had but I knew he was friendly with Paul and they had a “special” relationship! Vladimir’s wife and daughter were there and welcomed us to their home. We had a quick drink  and chat before spending time sorting the bikes for the main part of the trip and getting our tents set up.

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Thomas Lindberg , another IBM’er, was there with his nice restored Mini which he was proudly showing off.

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Vladimir and his family kindly made us a BBQ dinner and we sat eating and chatting for a while. After the food had been eaten I went back to finish sorting out my bike whilst Paul caught up with Vladimir and the others. A short while later we retired to our tents. except Gregg who was staying in a real comfy bed in Vladimir’s house.

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Day 1 – Norfolk to Harwich and the ferry

So it was an early morning, not only did I have to get the bike sorted out and loaded up I had to finish some work. The plan was to meet up with Paul and Roy at Cambridge Services around 13:00 which meant leaving around 11:00 to 11:15. Once I finished my work, I got the gear together and went to get the bike out the front of the house. This turned into a bit of a nightmare as it became stuck with the front wheel jammed between a slab and a fence!  After much tugging and heaving, which included scraping the exhaust on the brick wall, I managed to get the bike out of the gap with my partner Caroline helping pull from behind. By now I had gone from calm organised Chris to sweaty slightly fed up Chris who was now starting to look like he was going to be late leaving.

I couldn’t put the panniers and luggage on until the bike was out the front, there simply was no way to get the bike through with it on so I had to spend another 15 minutes loading the luggage onto the bike and frantically working out how to fix the tank bag in such a way that it didn’t hang off the side of the tank! Thanks to a couple of bungee cords that was resolved and the bag sat proudly and secure.

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I finished getting my bike gear on, I was sweating like a pig in a sauna by now. The jackets and trousers had thermal lining zipped in as the weather was likely to get pretty chilly over the next week as we rode north. I said goodbye to Caroline, climbed on the bike then I twisted the throttle leaving Heacham behind me.

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As I rode out of the village I felt a whole mix of emotions, this was a big undertaking and something I’d never imagined doing in my life. I felt sad I would not be seeing my girl for a couple of weeks, I felt anxious at what lay ahead, I felt excited at the adventure that after months of preparation was now unfolding and I felt frustrated because I was already running late!

The bike felt heavy but not overly so and certainly the handling seemed to be fine. I hadn’t had a chance to do a test with all the luggage beforehand as I’d only just got the bike in time for the trip. I felt a bit snug, wedged between a rolled up tent and sleeping bag behind me and the tank bag in front but it wasn’t uncomfortable. I headed out, by passing Kings Lynn at the Hardwick and proceeding down the A10 towards Cambridge. As always with Norfolk I ended up stuck behind trucks then tractors but eventually managed to work my way past the traffic to freedom.

I arrived at Cambridge Services just after 13:30, a bit later than planned but luckily Paul and Roy had only just arrived and were chatting to a couple of bikers as I pulled up next to them. The couple were interested in the trip we were doing having just ridden back from Italy I believe and they gave Paul their last 5 euros to donate to the Charity. We also met up with three of the sponsors who had come to wish us a bon voyage. We sat down, had a coffee and chatted for about 15 minutes then took a few photos to record the start of the trip.

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After we’d finished our drinks, taken a quick toilet break and said our goodbyes we mounted up and headed off, next stop Harwich and the Ferry that would take us to Denmark.

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It was a pleasant ride, a bit of traffic but it stayed dry which was a minor miracle.  Finally it felt like it was all real as I rode in formation with Paul and Roy at last. We reached the port and just as we joined the queue for passport control it started raining! We of course got a bit wet but luckily the gear had an 18 hour ferry journey in which to dry off.  Whilst in the queue we met up with a nice guy from Austria called Markus Hambrusch who was heading off to Iceland on his motorcycle.

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The ferry was a pretty basic affair but functional and generally pleasant with a bar, restaurant, coffee bar and shop. A swift beer was had to celebrate the launch and a bit of planning for the next day as Paul pulled out his shiny new Macbook Air and opened up some maps. Markus then turned up and we sat chatting for a while.

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Feeling a bit hungry and not wanting to sell a kidney to pay for some dinner in the main restaurant we headed downstairs to the smaller and cheaper café. We ordered some food, I had a chicken and vegetable dish that was pretty filling and not bad value. Paul headed off to get some sleep, followed by Roy shortly after. I sat and finished my drink, digesting the days events and trying to chat with Caroline on the phone using the ships wifi. Unfortunately the wifi was hopeless with the signal dropping left right and centre. About 11pm they closed the bar and turned off the wifi completely so I headed back and climbed in my bunk above Roy’s bed. I don’t think I’ve been in a bunk bed since I was a kid!

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Apologies!

Firstly I want to apologise for the lack of updates since I left England. The plan was to have internet access every night to be able to catch up and blog, the truth is wifi has been impossible to find! I am going to give a summary of the trip to date in day order and will likely do a more detailed write up at the end!

Vango help out!

With a day to go I still had a broken tent to use. I had been in touch with Vango over the previous 2 weeks but nothing happened. Then after one last attempt they replied. The end result was a fantastic discount on a great tent and next day delivery! Way to go Vango!. So far the tent is great.. the Omega 350 is easy to setup and has loads of room.

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Thanks to Vango,  go check their website for a great selection of tents.

Holiday Travel Insurance!

So it’s the last day before I leave and I realised I hadn’t sorted my travel insurance out. It’s not that I hadn’t started enquiring and researching because I had, I had just been so busy that I ended up leaving it to the last day. During my research (i.e. typing Motorcycle Travel Insurance into Google and hitting the Enter key) I found a few companies that offered cover of varying levels and varying prices.

hs_foot_august13After some reading and reviewing their cover I decided that a company called Holidaysafe were a good choice due to their understanding of cover required when touring on a motorcycle. So I proceeded to the online quote forms, completed the simple questions and hit the button! A few moments later I was presented with 3 options all of which offered varying levels of cover but all of which were very reasonably priced. The premier single trip cover which I decided upon, had an impressive level of cover and included cover for motorcycle specific items such as leathers and helmets. After completing a medical questionnaire which spans a number of pages depending on whether you have any conditions to declare you are then presented with a payment screen, that’s about all there is to it! I had contacted Holidaysafe regarding the trip and they kindly offered to help support the trip by covering my Travel Insurance free of charge! I can highly recommend their customer service and friendly staff!

For more information on their products go to the Holidaysafe website.

And so it begins!

I am the lucky one in that I get to leave last! Paul Mooney has just left and is heading to get the overnight ferry from Northern Ireland to England. The first road warrior is winding his way to the port as I type this, the months of preparation are finally over and now it’s time to get on with the task of reaching the Arctic Circle. Paul will meet up with Roy at Preston tomorrow morning and pop in to see Sean Cull for a cuppa on route, sadly Sean is not coming this year due to an unforeseen family issue. Paul and Roy will then head down and meet me at Cambridge Services (not very glamorous I realise, sadly IWM Duxford didn’t get back to me regarding starting from there so we had to find an alternative at late notice). Gregg is flying over today and will be in Denmark by tomorrow and after we arrive in Denmark on the 22nd We will all meet up at Vladimir’s house.

Paul is running a tracking app on his phone so hopefully a large amount of the trip you can watch almost is real time!! I’m off to do some more packing!

http://www.pmooney.net/trackme/

Thanks to Henry Cole from World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides!

I’m a big fan of Henry Cole, I love his down to earth style and no nonsense approach to his documentaries, if he doesn’t like something he’ll say so! He has produced and directed some great documentaries around the music industry but as a biker he has produced a whole series of shows under the World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides banner for the Travel Channel, where he rides the trip along with a support crew giving an honest and heart felt commentary on the whole experience. His Route 66 series was great and had the same effect on me that The Long way Round had when I first saw it, it makes me want to go ride Route 66!

Last month the Travel Channel broadcast a mini series where Henry went to Bonneville and after months of preparation which included dislocating his shoulder! he successfully obtained a world record in the pre-1955 classic motorcycle category riding the awesome Brough Superior, I was really pleased for him and his team.

So why the thanks? Well I had contacted Henry via twitter a few weeks ago and he kindly wished us luck with the trip. Last week my partner Caroline contacted them as she was looking to buy me a T-Shirt from the Henry Cole range, which is a really nice range I might add. The girl from his team replied, no problem, we’ll sort one out from Henry and the Team for free! This morning this lovely T-shirt arrived which I will be wearing in the Arctic Circle with a good luck message from Henry and His Team, I’m so chuffed!

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For the record, it’s a really nice quality T-Shirt and you can see the range here. I am sporting the T-Shirt below in my “Catalogue” pose.

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Thanks Henry, be great to meet you one day for a chat and ride out!

For information on his productions HCA Entertainment

BMF Show Peterborough

Yesterday I popped over to the BMF Show to check out the adventure zone and try and get the last few bike related bits I wanted. I managed to get a cheap throttle cruise control lever which simply clips onto the throttle and allows you to rest your wrist on the throttle and maintain speed without gripping the throttle all the time. I also got to chat with some interesting bikers who have been on some pretty extreme tours.

Sam Manicom is a really nice guy and has a really interesting story to tell. He has written 4 books on his motorcycle travels which all started when one day he woke up, realised he had no commitments, not debts and no responsibilities so he decided he was going to ride to Africa. Having never ridden a motorbike he went out and bought one, 6 weeks later he had passed his test and was heading south to Africa! 8 years later, he came back!

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Me and Sam, hopefully going to catch up after the trip.

I also caught up with Cliff who runs The Adventure Bike Shop, if you remember Cliff kindly gave me a discount on a tank bag for the trip. Sounds like he had a good BMF Show with plenty of interest in the bike touring scene!

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Tammy, Me and Cliff

 

The Gang!

So the guys had sent me some updated photos for use in the Finnish Magazine article. I thought you might like to see the cool dudes with their nice shiny equipment!

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Chris Harris on the F650GS, that’s me that is!

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Paul Mooney looking very chilled with his VFR Crossrunner.

Gregg Eldred

Gregg Eldred soaking up the sunshine with is Vstar.

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Sean Cull, in deep water again! Sadly not coming on the trip now due to family health issues but will be with us in spirit!

Roy McGeoch

Roy McGeoch with his rather nice R1200GS! If anyone has the right bike for the trip he has!

Arvid Nornes

Arvid Nornes gives his “Hollywood” pose for the camera, looking good dude!

Vladimir Veletic

Vladimir with is Varadero and a monster dog!