Is the Bike8 any good then?
I think, if you’ve read this ride report, then you already know my answer to that question. The team at Bike Magazine have done a stellar job creating the route. There were parts of it that even justify it’s appearance in a supplement entitled ‘Epic Routes’.
Unfortunately for you guys in the South-East, the route doesn’t really do much more than dip a toe in and even that part isn’t exactly awe-inspiring. To add insult to injury, there’s a lot of road resurfacing going on this summer, so you can’t even properly enjoy these roads, even if you know them well!
As I mentioned in the blog posts; touring, fully loaded, on roads you don’t know, is not the best way to enjoy these roads. Ideally, I’d spend a week learning each leg, based in a B&B so I don’t have to carry much stuff, and then string them all together in one almighty blast!
Whether the weather would hold up for the entirety of a venture like that is a different question entirely!
As it stands though, I often found the easier roads more enjoyable. The scratchy roads through Northumberland and the Pennines were a bit much but the flowing curves of the Dales and Wales made for really enjoyable riding.
For the best of both worlds though, Scotland wins out. In fact, if you were only able to do one loop (be that due to time, money or whatever), then I highly recommend that you choose the Northern Loop. Maybe you can get there by going up via Wales and the Lake District, that way, you haven’t really missed anything!
If you can only do one leg… I’m not sure which I’d pick but if you get the right time of day and the right weather, the combination of roads and views on the North Western Leg will make it a crowd pleaser.
In fact, I expect to go up the A87 mid-week late in the evening on any sunny week next summer and see hundreds of bikers (because my opinion is so far reaching and persuasive, obviously)!
Despite the poor road conditions down South, I’m really glad I did the whole route. Cyclists have the Land’s End to John O’Groats as a feather to add to their cap and now we bikers have the 8. Maybe we could persuade the German Motorcycle Tourists, who tend to stick to Scotland, to give the rest of Britain a look-in too.
For me, now that it’s in existence, it doesn’t make sense not to do it the Bike8! I thoroughly recommend the Bike8 to anyone (except horse & cart’s, lorries, classic cars, caravans and motorhomes) it’s liberating to cover so many miles with so few impediments and so little time spent on dreary motorways and feeder roads.
Out of ten I’d give it an easy 8 (how fitting, I didn’t do that on purpose, honest!). I was incredibly lucky with the weather though; if I’d had more of those freezing fogs that plagued me on the first and last days, I may have come back with a dimmer view. But Bike can’t do anything about the weather; the roads they’ve chosen and the way they’ve linked them works, so get out there and do it!
How much did it cost me?
Well, all-in I spent £453.10 – more than enough for a boring week spent on a beach in Turkey, or similar.
That’s just on food and fuel (and a few little bits of kit). It doesn’t factor in the replacement helmet I had to buy, nor the original helmet I bought the day before departure. It doesn’t include the cost of my hammock or camping gear either.
I spent £292.70 on fuel for my bike (as opposed covering petrol costs for my various rescuers!) and got an average of 42.23mpg, which is not bad considering I was on three coils for most of the journey and riding fast for even more of it.
I only spotted one active speed trap van on the entire 2,116.5 mile journey (although there may have been others I didn’t spot, which may add to my overall costs!).
Either way, I think it was money well spent.