Easter Weekend Trip to the Lake District…in the cold and wet…and a small crash

Having decided we will be doing the Europe Trip together with our neighbours, we needed to make sure that we would all be able to along ok on some shorter trips before doing the big one. Also it would give us a chance to test our equipment (cameras, audio comms, GPS’s etc)

We have had a few great late nights (and early mornings!) with them already and get along great. That didn’t involve the bikes, but did involve quite a bit of beer and wine. We have also done a few breakfast runs on the bikes, but nothing more than maybe an hour or two. It is important to make sure that you are compatible when it comes to riding style, not to mention when you are living in each others space for a few days.

We planned a trip to the Lake District, to a self-catering place. I planned a route that would take us through some lovely roads. Unfortunately some of the way up would be on motorway, but if we avoided the motorway we would have added on a good few hours. As it was, the route I planned would take us about 6 hours.

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You can see I added a couple way-points so that we would be redirected off the M6 to go through the Peak District as well The Forest of Bowland (Lower left of the Yorkshire Dales). I thought the Peak District would be the highlight of the journey, but it was the Forest of Bowland that did it for me. It was like riding through Hobbit country.

Here is a quick montage of footage of our ride up.

The trip up weeded out a couple issues with our GPS’s. I use the BMW Navigator V (a Garmin GPS) and Dean uses a TomTom Rider. The route I gave him took him a bit of a different way at parts, and we ended up losing each other for about an hour at one point. Lesson learned, I need to add more waypoints to ensure we are both working off the same route.

We also came to the conclusion that we need to be able to communicate to each other while on the road. We each have helmet comms between rider and pillion, but we weren’t able to communicate bike-to-bike. This is something we managed to sort out once we got back from our trip using Universal Communications (which allows different brands and different models of communication headsets to communicate). This took a lot of fiddling to get right, but I think we have done it. I will do a separate post about this because I am sure a lot of people will have the same challenge we did trying to get our helmets to talk to each other.

I created a couple of routes for while we were at the Lake District. First was a ride up the steepest road in the UK, Hardknott Pass, and the next was a longer ride to go through Honnister Pass.

The ride up was dry and quite sunny, but the rest of our weekend was wet and cold. We took it easy on the roads, but in the end I took it a little too easy and I ended up dropping the bike. Below is the video of our ride up Hardknott Pass (the accident is just after the 2 minute mark)

Regarding the bike going over, I have learnt my lesson. Typically 1st gear on a motorbike (especially bigger bikes) tend to be quite short, and in my experience you get out of it pretty quick. The thing is on the R1200GS, first gear is pretty long. I should have stayed in first gear all the way up Hardknott Pass.

The ride up to Honnister Pass was a frustrating experience as all the roads that we tried to take seemed to be closed. We still managed to have a good ride on some lovely roads, but it went on a bit too long especially with how cold and wet we all were. Below is a video from that day during one of our detours, this is through Kirkstone Pass.

All in all it was a great weekend, despite the cold and the rain. We all got along well and learnt a few lessons about our equipment. Especially the routing differences between two different GPS manufacturers! We were happy with the luggage capacity of our panniers, and the fact it keeps our luggage dry. I am happy with my GS’s ability to fall over without damaging anything, and also with the fact I was able to pick it up without too much drama! Another thing I learned is I need to use my camera more so I don’t have blurry shots like the one below!

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At least the photo below came out ok.

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Biking buddies, a Triumph!

When we moved into our home about a year ago, I was outside tinkering with my bike when my next door neighbour, whose garage is attached to ours, came outside. He opened up his garage and in it was the shiniest bike in the world, his well loved, shiny and well polished Triumph America. We hit it off straight away, and went on a few bike rides with him and his wife over the next few months.

One day while out at the garage I mentioned our trip around Europe and said it would be good if they could join us. I knew however that that wouldn’t be much of a possibility on his bike. It wouldn’t be too comfortable to ride 3000 miles on it, and besides that, he wouldn’t be able to carry much luggage.

I didn’t think much of it after that, however a couple days later I saw him pull into the driveway on his bike. What was odd about this was the fact that it was drizzling, and he was certainly a fair weather rider…and have you seen what water does to chrome! He would be polishing for days!

I asked him why he was out on his bike in the bad weather. He told me he had just traded in his beloved bike for a Triumph Tiger 800 XCA. He then asked if I was still OK with them joining us for the trip around Europe? I said “Of course!”.

And that is how we got our Biking Buddies for the Europe trip, Dean and Jane from next door!