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Newcastle to Darlington. Certainly not as the crow flies! I had hoped to get further on Day 1 but I left so late in the day that it was not to be.
I leave Newcastle during rush hour, okay I’m stuck in a bit of traffic but it feels good to be going somewhere other than to and from work! It’s not long before I’m turning off the A69 and heading onto twisty B-roads. Credit due to the Bike8 team, I’m only a few miles away from my normal weekend ride-out and already I’m discovering great roads that I wasn’t aware of.
The experience is dampened, quite literally, by the foggy weather however; I quickly come to realise that these are roads I wouldn’t normally use for fun in weather like this, let alone while luggaged up to the teeth! Corners that would normally thrill me are frightening, and corners that would normally test me are terrifying.
Understandably, I’m nervous about undertaking a long, solo motorbike tour.
The question is, what exactly am I afraid of?
Pretty much everything would be the short answer! I have no experience touring, no experience camping and no experience of motorcycle maintenance. The roads are mostly unfamiliar, the Sat-Nav is brand new, even the laptop is relatively unfamiliar; so the chances of something going wrong are mounting…
Examples of things that could go wrong:
Collision with another vehicle
Accident on unfamiliar roads
British “summertime” soaking all my (uninsured) gear
Not being quite ready to completely leave my comfort zone, my first ‘big trip’ will be a figure 8 lap around the UK. The Bike8 was designed by the test riders at Bike magazine and incorporates some (maybe most) of the best biking roads in Britain. It’s a properly British 4-6 day motorbike ride, the details of which were published in a supplement (called Epic Rides) in the summer of 2012 – and you can win a badge if you provide evidence of completing the route (Gold for the whole thing, silver for the Northern or southern loop).
You know what they say, fail to prepare; prepare to fail. Well, I’m totally new to solo traveling and I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, so I’ve been sorting out my gear list for almost a year now!
I’m probably packing too much stuff but my first trip is just a week or so around the UK, so that should give me a chance to figure out what I do and don’t need. For the benefit of others attempting something similar, or if you’re just curious, here’s a non-exhaustive, detailed look at some of the more important items on my gear list:
First of all, here’s the whole shebang in bullet points, it’s more for my benefit than yours but some of the more idiosyncratic options are described in detail further below – with links and pictures and everything!
Motorbike (kinda obvious but you’ve got to start somewhere)