Monday 11 February 2013

A Question of Counties - Part Five

This is getting to be quite fun! So far I have visited twenty one Counties of England without leaving my chair. It has certainly dug up a few memories on my virtual tour.

So for this helping, we will first tick off some of those I visited for the first time (on a bike) during my Grail Quest Tour of 2012:


Triumph Tiger 1050 and Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral


At Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island

Actually that wasn't my first experience of biking in Northumberland, that had come two weeks earlier when I rode the Keilder K2 Rally but I'm not sure it counts (even if they are my rules) as I trailered the bike (my CCM) there?


Durham Cathedral, an interesting ride as the road up to it is very steep, cobbled and on this day it was hammering down with rain.


This was supposed to be a photo of my bike with Wakefield Cathedral, you can just about make out the spire above the screen of the bike. The Cathedral sits in a pedestrianised area so is very difficult to get close to. Although I did manage a better shot than this one:

And a few more Counties that I had definitely visited before but never took photos at the time, or if I did I have misplaced them, so all these were taken more recently!


I rode through the Peak District and therefore Derbyshire for the first time on a Navigation event in February 1988. Run by the BMW Club, this was the annual Alpine Rally which was often graced by snow, although on this occasion we were lucky and just had rain and sleet to contend with and managed to take second place. I returned a few months later on the National Road Rally, when I recall a checkpoint in Ashbourne. This photo is from the Grail Quest in 2012 at Derby Cathedral:


My first ever visit by bike was in March of 1987 after on a climbing trip to Scotland in the February of that year I had tripped and fallen and badly sprained my ankle. However I had already booked onto my climbing club's annual dinner to be held at the Kirkstile Inn at Loweswater only a couple of weeks later. So unable to walk very far and certainly not able to climb, I was wondering what to for the weekend, when I had the idea of riding up on my bike, in those days a BMW R80GS, this photo was actually taken in Hertfordshire the same year, I did take photos on my trip to the Lake District but have been unable to find them:

I didn't return to the Lakes on a bike until March of 2011 when I had a long weekend in the Lakes and decided to go by bike, ironically enough once again on a BMW 800, this time on my F800GS This photo was taken near Blea Tarn on the road from Great Langdale to Little Langdale, the mountains in the background are Crinkle Crags and Bowfell.

On this trip I decided against taking the obvious route up the M1 and M6 as it was so windy, so instead followed the A6 for most of the route. This took me through Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire (see Part 4), then into:
OK this wasn't my first visit as I've ridden through Leicestershire time and time again on the M1 but the only one where I took a photo, here at a fuel stop in Market Harborough:


I first ticked this one off on the Grail Quest in June 2012, riding down a very wet and windy A1(M) but didn't stop anywhere and certainly didn't take any photos! So here's one from a month later when I competed in the Ryedale Rally (near Malton), that's Dave on the left and me on the right, in case you can't tell the difference between a Yamaha Tenere and the CCM.


I've included both despite this photograph being in Shropshire, in fact on top of the Long Myndd, as we had just ridden through Herefordshire on the way there. This was in August 2011, on a long weekend trip to Rhayader in mid Wales. At actually about the last time the CCM was riden on supermoto wheels. A month later I started Rally Racing and it's been on trail wheels ever since.

So how is progress going to my target of having ridden in every County in England? This is what the map looks like now with 31 completed:

Friday 8 February 2013

A Question of Counties - Part Four

This time I've been thinking about when I first rode into the neighbouring Counties from my Hertfordshire home, which is tricky as they would most probably just been exploratory rides as I learnt to ride my bike, thirty four years ago. Remember no compulsory training in those days, you just bought a bike no bigger than 250cc, stuck on some L plates and got on with it.


Although I do recall what was almost certainly my first foray into Essex about a week after getting my first bike when I managed to miscalculate a right hand bend on the appropriately named "Crooked Mile" near Waltham Abbey and became better acquainted with a large blackthorn hedge! Luckily I rode away from that one. Here's a recent shot taken in the county at the amusingly named village of Ugley Green. This is of course just up the road from Ugley itself, home of the "Ugley Women's Road Race" yes it does exist! Typically I couldn't find a village sign at Ugley itself so I had to settle for the neighbouring hamlet...


Again a tricky one but would have definitely been in the very early days, here's a shot taken on the B1042 near Wrestlingworth in 2008. I chose this particular shot because it's a different bike, included for a bit of variety. It's my Suzuki SV1000S that I only owned for about 6 months:


Again a regular haunt on early rides but here's another current day photo from somewhere you might have heard of (no not the one in Australia, that's got a E on the end);


I'm fairly certain that my first trip here might have been as part of my first ride to Oxfordshire, when I went to watch some student mates racing at RAF Little Rissington, my route took me through Aylesbury on the A41 (this being long before the M40 had been built). This photo was however was taken near Woburn in 2011 when I took out the then brand new Triumph Tiger 800XC for a demo ride:


My first trip would have been a ride to Northampton in about 1982 but I found this picture dated 22nd May 1983 from a trip to the 6 hour endurance race at Silverstone. I had owned the GPz 750 for a whole two days at this point in time.

Progress to date.....

Wednesday 6 February 2013

A Question of Counties - Part Three

For my next instalment, a few genuine first time photos.

In 2010 Anne and I did a short tour of the South West, I was at that time on my BMW F800GS and Anne was riding her BMW F800R.

Starting from Anne's sisters in Oxfordshire, we headed down to the coast to:


Not my first time, that would have been in the early Eighties, on a Student Bike Club trip to Poole Speedway. However this shot was taken in 2010 at our first stop near Abbotsbury.


A first for both of us as we headed along the South Coast and then inland to cross Dartmoor.


Crossing the River Fowey on the Bodinnick ferry.


Returning along the north coast and into Somerset we headed inland and stopped for lunch in Wells. Sharp eyed film buffs may spot we are parked beside the same monument that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost used for shelter at the start of the final shoot out in "Hot Fuzz", see I told you that you had to be sharp eyed!

We returned via Glastonbury and Wiltshire back to Oxfordshire but whilst in this neck of the woods, I'd thought I'd finish off this corner of the Country with:


The first time I definitely recall riding a bike through Gloucestershire was in 1988 whilst taking part in the National Road Rally.  This photo however is another one from the 2012 Grail Quest, taken at Gloucester Cathedral. An amusing shot to get as being dark, I had to get close to get both bike and Cathedral in shot. But of course you can't get a bike close to the Cathedral, well not normally but after dark on a Sunday night, it can be done!

So progress seems to be coming along nicely......