Sunday, 4 September 2011

A Tale of Ten Closed Roads............... “No Really, TEN!”

SS2000 in 48 Hours (incorporating End to End Gold)

SaddleSore 2000

“Oh Yes! SS2000 incorporating the End to end Gold.................... Come on!”

“Now that’s a plan” J

So then the fun really began, first the route, emailed to and from each other 5 times.

I had originally planned to set off from Rochdale head across M62, Down M1, meet up with Ron at Thurock services on M25, Clacket’s, M4, M5 Gordano & down A30 to LE. Back the same way but straight up to Glasgow on M6, then across Scotland to JOG, finally back down to Rochdale. Simple.................. ye right!!!

“How’s that sound?”

“No, not happy with that! We need to do at least 200 miles over, Belt & Braces”


“cause the bikes odometer is wrong”

“so why is it there?” (Here we go again) “but yes your right, we don’t want to be doing all that and not get verified.”

“When are we going?”

“Sunday/ Monday 21st – 22nd Ok with you”

“Week after next, you don’t mess about do you? – OK, sounds good to me”

So we were set, I got my “Leave Pass” signed off with “Her who must be obeyed”.

Friday week before the ride..................................

“Can’t believe this”


“my ***** grips have packed up, screens stuck halfway up but if I can’t get the grips sorted I’m not doing the ride. Bike is booked in for Tuesday at my local dealer” (who dully refused to repair them saying they were an after market addition).

“I’ll speak to Robi’s and bell you back” (Robi’s being where we bought the bike’s from ME!)

Upshot of phone call & a visit or two was that Ron came up the Friday before the ride and had grips repaired at Wigan Yamaha. The ride was brought forward by a day so we were not waiting about & most importantly the route was “Reversed”. This prompted me to incorporate a 2 hour sleep stop back in Rochdale. This was the best thing we did.

Kit packed, panniers & top box on, route up loaded to both Garmin’s & we’re ready for the off. So it was off up to bed, separate rooms mind, for the pre ride sleep. Bed at 2000 up at 2400 for a 0030 ride to petrol station for 0100 start.

Quick picture in the garage and we’re off......................................... start point being the 24 hour Shell Garage on Kingsway heading to M62

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1 mile down the road & only the second turn of the ride ...................... “Road Closed”

“can’t believe this, bl**y road’s shut for bridge repair at midnight”

It had closed 35 minutes earlier, we should have known right then we were in for a long ride. So first detour straight through Rochdale to Asda.

Asking the security guard in Asda to sign the start form was a stroke of geniuses, as the poor bloke looked like he was about to cr*p himself when we both walked in with helmets on. The front was up but just the look on the guys face told me he wasn’t a happy chappie. The 2 billies gave us the once over as they went about their reff’s no doubt wondering what Ron looking for. Glucose drink............. which sadly they do not sell.

So start form signed, tank filled, cash machine receipt numbered and start mileage on the back & tucked in wallet, done. Or in Ron’s case, Clip board with pen on a string with pocket on the back for receipts. Very impressive I thought, “made it myself” he says with pride, “can you tell I used to be a cabler” holding up the pen for inspection. “I’ll stick with my wallet, and pen velcro’d to the frame”. “Whatever”................. We love each other really!!!

Heading up the M6 near Carlisle I hear

“I can’t believe this, the grips have packed up again.”

“Your joking”

“Na, pull in I need to have a look”

The next thing is, half the front cover’s are off under a lorry fill up area and 45 minutes have gone with still no joy. I’m chuffed Rom decides to carry on, just means a few more stops in order to “re-heat the old finger end’s”

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Time for a warm up stop.

We make good progress through Scotland and it’s not long before we’re riding through Wick and on down into JOG’s.

It’s SHUT!!!

The Start of a Great Ride always starts at the "End"? I'm Looking forward to doing it the right way round Dan!

Luckily the cafe was open, so after taking a couple of pictures of the bikes (one of Ron’s lights for the US supplier) it was into the cafe for a massive coffee, so big the cup has two handles & the all important start receipt.

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There you go Mr US Supplier, best add you will get for the UK.

The old couple at the side of us & the only other customers as it happens, start telling us how there had been 62 mile an hour winds the previous day and how lucky we were.

“Would you be our ride witnesses?” which then requires a full IBA style explanation of what we’re doing.

“Is it for charity the old lady asks?” as she does no more than fill in both signatures with her & her husband’s details. I’m nervous but as ever Ron calms me down saying it’s OK.

A quick look in the gift shop for a sticker, (I like stickers) but they are all too big or just naph & we’re off back to mine for a kip.

Filling up at Wick I here Ron shout,

“Oh bl***y hell, look at the cafe receipt”

“Why, what’s up?”

“it’s two hours FAST!!!!”

“kin hell”

Sure enough, it says 1235 and the petrol station has 1135. Great start, Not!

“We’ll it gives us another 2 hours to get down there” I say knowing full well what’s coming

“NO CHANCE!!! We’ll just have to write a note, mitigating circumstances and all that”

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Action shot of Ron, not my best picture, Sorry Mate!!!

We stop off at the Triangle Services where Ron decides to have another look at the wiring for the grip & to my surprise finds the problem, a disconnected earth lead on the grips.

Ron’s in 7th Heaven & bursts into a jig on the grass bank, half scaring the young biker who is chatting to me about the Edinburgh Bike Show he is heading to. The lad tells me how he wants to ride round the UK Coast line, 5000 miles apparently. Just hope he gets a bigger bike....................... he’s on a Classic Harley Sporster.

The Oxford mitts we have both fitted are driving us both insane as they just keep moving and fouling all the controls. They stay on till the return trip from LE were we both took them off and stow away in top boxes vowing never to use them again.

We land back at mine spot at 2000 as planned, quick brew, (made nice with brandy) & it’s off for kip.

Jesus, how fast did that alarm go off, snooze, damn its 2240. Up shower, kit on & we’re pulling out the garage again at 2300 another fill up in Rochdale and off onto the M62, right onto the M1.......... and then the fun really began.

“IT’S SHUT!!!!”

“Ron, its F’ing SHUT!!!”

“Ron can you hear me? R........O..........N”

“Cause I can here you, why do you keep asking?”

“You never answer me!”

“That’s cause you never take your finger off the bl***y button long enough to get a word in!!!!”

“What’s SHUT?”

“The bl***y M1 is SHUT”

“Can’t be it’s the M1, it can’t be?”

“It’s say’s, M1 closed from junction 18 to 16 expect big delays”


After what felt like an hour of silence I hear,

“right I know where we can go, A14 M11 down on to M25, sorted”

“that’s good with me, just take the lead and I’ll follow you!”

I bet the A14 is a great road when you A) know where you’re going & your sat nav is not saying



Watching the millage get further & further from your destination & your arrival time, which up until that point had been an hour and a half ahead of schedule, suddenly says you have 15 minutes to spare is not a nice feeling.

I catch a glimpse of a sign and can’t believe it.

“Ron, the M11 is closed”

“na, where did you see that? It’ll have been a sign for the M1 again”

20 minutes later and with my sat nav now turned off, we arrive at the M11 round about,

M11 Closed for night working!!! This was the first time my head went down, just for a minute but it was the third closed road & was getting wound up, mainly by the sat nav telling me we were running out of time for the E2E Gold.

After riding about in the pitch black trying to follow my sat nav (which was unbeknown to me trying to send us back to the Northampton Services on M1) we pulled over for a “Chat”

“right its not looking good”


“you Ok?”


“no your not!”

“Ron, I’m ok”

“your pi***d off”

“listen its 187 miles home, the E2E Gold is going down the crapper and I’m sick of listening to the sat nav telling me to turn round, it’s not you right”

So the decision was taken to crack on down and get the SS2000 in the bag, then see how it pans out. I take the lead and start off in the direction of “Bl**Y Northampton Services” as I ride straight past the A1 M turning Ron scream’s

“Where you Going?”

“I’m lost and the sat nav say’s this way”

“well it’s wrong”

“so what do I do I have no idea where I am, all I can do is follow this heap of S***”

“Just listen, we head down A1/M onto M25 and ..................,


“you know we just might make the E2E Gold................. come on this is going to happen”

All this on the hoof heading down the A1/M that to me had just appeared out of the blue, I’d seen it but was so obsessed with following “Dorris” I had just not registered the turning.

Ron worked out in his head that with the massive detour, the receipts collected from both stops on the way that we would not need to go the south circular via Clackets. We would have the miles, it was just a question of if we could make up the time.

As we pulled onto the M25 a miracle happened.

“Ron, guess what”


“what, sorry just working miles out in my head”

“stuff that, Sat nav back on and WE CAN MAKE IT”


“We can make it in time so if your mileage is right”

“Ye..... Ha!”

At that exact minute the ride all just made sense and I has as happy as I had been all the way round Scotland.

The ride down to LE was great, sun out, road almost empty and the thought of completing the E2E Gold ever present. The last couple of miles felt a little fraught as there are few passing places and when time is of the essence every parking car is a pain.

Luck was on our side and we arrived with 10 minutes to spare.

“ticket machine is broke, great”

“we can get a receipt in here” no you can’t especially when the woman at the information desk just tells you to go to the hotel to get your end receipt stamped. Thanks for your help love!

"Sorry Lad's you can't stop there, we have a helicopter coming in. Do you want a picture together?" Says the BIG Security guard.

"Yes Please, Mister"

Spotting the souvenir shop we both dive in to buy something.

“here you go Ron, a Land End pin with 874 miles on”

“Na milage is wrong we’ve done more than that”

“it’s a quid for Go** sake, and you can tippex the milage out and add your own”

We both crack up laughing.

“can I get a receipt please”

“cant believe this Ron, it’s wrong, it’s an hour fast, aaaaaaaaaaagggghhh!!!”

“can you just write the time on and initial it please”

“no problem”

We stopped at KFC for Lunch, Ron proceeds to check all the connections on the Starcom as we lost com’s heading down toward LE. After having a good rest and break we hit the road for the final 600 mile leg.

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As we headed out the silence was deafening, no radio!

Pulling over in a lay by we have another one of our “moments”

“well it’s not mine, it must be yours”

“I’m not checking all them cables, can’t be arsed”

“well have a look”

“ listen, its not mine, let me have a look at the radio”

“Whoop’s................................. it’s switched off!!! Sorry my fault”

“you prat, I checked all those cables for nothing”

“Can you here me, Ron, can you here me?”

“No..................... ow’d on, HO SH**!”

“what’s up”

“my radio’s switched off an all”

We both simultaneously fall about laughing, yet again................... “Priceless!”

Other than a prat in a Black Range Rover Sport trying to squash me on the M25 as we filtered round nothing really happened until we were heading up the A1 in the pitch black.

Ron’s spots gained a mind of their own and flashing full beam for no apparent reason.

Pulling over straight away onto a very narrow hard shoulder we cover them with paper and masking tape.

“Here’s hoping now’t else goes wrong” Ron says..................... famous last words.

“R – O – N, ....... RON HELP!!!!”

“what’s up now”


“QUICK It’s on my leg, I can’t move”

Leaning over to plug my intercom in, I had that awful feeling, this is not right, sh** it’s falling!!!

I grabbed the bar end in an attempt to hold her but by this time I was down, right hand and leg pinned to the deck............................. “thank G*d Ron was quick off the mark to lift the Beast off me, I jumped out and helped get her up straight.

(Thanks’ Big Lad, you’re a bl***y star)

Riding back into the pitch black A1 I suddenly realised how bad that could have been, if I had been alone. My head was 2 foot from the carriageway, pitch-black with hazards on.

“It could have been....................... bl***y hell, I wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for your bl**y lights.............. Cheers Mate!”

We just crack up laughing, swearing, laughing and cursing at every truck that flew past us at 90.

We sat at a very steady 70mph for another hour then pulled into a Little Chef for a brew, to be met by a couple of traffic police, we had parked at the side of their un-marked BMW.

“Just as well you’re in here; you would not want to see what he has just been doing coming up that road!!!” Ron says to them as they both look us up and down. We all crack up laughing.

“Cheers MATE!”

It’s now about 2100 & 44 hours into the trip, I don’t think Ron will mind me saying this, but we are both feeling it a little & then to top it all off we have one of those bizarre conversations with the waitress.......................

“2 coffees love”


“can we get two receipts?”

“I’ve done the bill”

“No! We NEED two receipts”

“I know I’ve done the bill”

“N_O!!! We NEED two...............separate, like one coffee on each”

The waitress looks at us as if we had just asked if we could borrow her 18 year old daughter for half an hour to give us both a massage!!!


“we’re doing a ride and need proof we were here, is that ok?”

“right, leave it with me I’ll sort it somehow” (Big sigh as she stomps off to the till).

Bill paid, Receipts collected and were off again.

Up the A1 thinking all is done and yes you’ve got it................. “Road Closed”

So into yet another detour right around Doncaster following a couple of trucks, unreal.

M62 felt like heaven, lights, three lanes, no road works............ whoops I speak too soon.

Heading home and low and behold, were diverted off the motorway at junction 29 M1 turning “M62 Closed” I happy to report it was just the junction and we drop back down onto the M62 without incident.

Last stop was just after Leeds on the M62 were Ron announces

“that’s it we’ve done enough, get an end receipt and it’ll save us faffing in Rochdale”

“music to my ears”

After a drink we head back to the ranch.

Job done!

Coffee made nice, half a rack of ribs each and it’s off to bed for a well earned sleep.

UK End to End Gold

Now for the boring bit.

2192 Bike Miles, 2124 Garmin miles ridden

42h hours & 36 minutes on the go, less 2 one hour breaks, a 3 hour sleep stop plus numerous road side breaksas required

13 receipts collected in total

Fuel consumption 48 mpg (Well chuffed with that!).

Lessons learned

1) Check time on receipts as soon as you get them - imperative

2) Don’t bother using mitts unless its extreme cold there crap

3) Switch your radio on before checking all the connections on the intercom box under the seat

4) Check were your Sat Nav is sending you don’t just follow it once you’ve taken a detour

5) Don’t fall over while connecting Intercom

6) Two minds are more argumentative than one

7) Finally do not believe your odometer, it’s WRONG! Unless you’re a billy who’s had it calibrated. J

Hope I’ve not bored you all too much & the report has kept you amused enough to bother reading it all.

Thanks for the company Ron, you’re a star. Just pleased we know each other enough to know when to stop arguing about odometer readings..........................           

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