Now those of you who know me will know the one thing that annoys me the most and that is 'unfinished business'.
Having taken a leisurely three days to complete the Northern Loop which I had actually allocated a single day for sort of threw my planning out the window. Making the conscious decision not to visit the Speedway Circuits at night was supposed to ensure I did not turn the challenge into an Iron Butt style challenge.
Unfortunately for me my mind is hard wired into Iron Butt style riding and if I admit it, it always has been. With this fact deeply embedded inside my head, as soon as I looked at the two southern loops on BaseCamp I saw the error of my ways. Why take two days to head down the South East coast. Then follow it up with a further two day ride covering another 600 miles down the South East side of the UK when I could simply join the two routes together! So that is exactly what I did.
That 'lightbulb moment' just made perfect sense, well to me at least it did. One ride taking two full days, with an over night stop on the Isle of Wight, which coincidently is within 25 miles of being the half way point, and that was my route, sorted! As with every ride I then set to work fine tuning both the route, petrol stops, ferry crossing times on and off the island and finally, an over night stay on the island.
My route was almost complete, petrol stops are not an issue at all and nor was sorting a ferry as i knew there is a sailing every hour on the hour. However finding suitable accommodation was quite another story. Trying to find a B&B or reasonably priced hotel (insert cheap here) with secure parking for the Blade, proved to be a nightmare. I just could not find anything on line. So when in doubt, ask your mates, a quick tweet returned nothing. Luckily a single line question on the Iron Butt UK Forum sorted everything. Bob came to the rescue with the offer of the use of his couch which I readily accepted. All that was need now was to set the date. Jeannie agreed to look after Lilie Rose's needs on Friday and that was all I needed the date was set. The plan was to set off at 0400 hours on the 4th 4th 2014, I love it when dates align!
I would ride down through the centre of England, cut West at Coventry, taking in Birmingham and Wolverhampton before riding due South and onwards to the Isle of Wight. Once on the isle I would meet up with Bob and stay the evening with him. This would be followed by a ride across the south coast to Eastbourne before heading north up and around London before heading over Ipswich followed by the final 260 mile northwards and home.
2 Days, 1280 Miles, 1 Overnight Stop, Perfect!
As with all great plans there was one great big glitch with the start time. Setting off at 0400 would put me slap bang in the middle of the Birmingham in the rush hour traffic. My thoughts on that where simple. No thank you! So I decided to head out at 0200 hours putting me at my first stop, Leicester Speedway Circuit at the magic 0400 hours, perfect.
You see it's not just a case of jumping on my bike and hoping everything works out, I just love the planning and preparation. Sat in the pub at 1030 with my 4th Slimline Tonic of the evening was not what I'd planned but we were not going to miss the Globe Quiz night just for a 1280 mile ride, no way!
"Shit is that the alarm" it felt like I'd only been asleep for an hour and half! Damn I had, why do I do this to myself? Flew through the back of my mind as a donned my clobber. Full textiles this time as a) it was foggy as hell, b) it was far too cold for summer gear and c) I just feel a whole lot more comfortable in my Gortex Dainese Gear.
One for Twitter
Opening the garage door revealed the true extent of the foul weather I was just about to head out into, rain, fog and the pitch black of the night, just the way I like it. "What is he on about" I can feel you asking, Well the reasoning is quite simple. "Who else would be daft enough to be out in this atrocious weather" and I was right, no one was!
I didn't see another vehicle until I rode onto the M62 Eastbound, then south onto the 50mph M1. As with all my rides the first 2 hours are always spent planning what I have to do to stay focused on the job in hand. Riding from point to point always works best for me. Short 150-200 mile stints are perfect. Filling up the day before ensured good progress was made. Riding point to point prevents having to watch the sat nav tediously count down from 660 miles to 0 . Here's a tip LBK, just plot the Circuits into your sat nav, carry a list of the circuits in the order you plan to visit them written down clearly. All you need to do is just select the next location from your favourites, simples! I also work out and right down the distances and travel time to each location on the same piece of paper. Sadly the distances are always about 10% shorter than they actually are thanks to BaseCamp giving straight line distances, for some unexplainable reason.
Outward & homeward routes, Done!
So with all the planning done and dusted I was on my way. Wrapped up well against the rain and cold, passing through so much fog it was a constant battle to keep the outside of my visor clear. I was loving it. Well what's the point if your not enjoying it, non what so ever. Plus the reason I was doing the ride, it was all about Elliot and raising awareness of the Haemophiliac Society. Which I fully intend to do all the way round by Tweeting each and every stop and adding it to my Honda #MyJourney page.
Before I knew it I was parked in front of a very wet Leicester Speedway circuit. A short jaunt later it was Coventry then Birmingham and Wolverhampton, done.
Leicester Speedway Circuit
Coventry Speedway Circuit
Birmingham Speedway Circuit
Wolverhampton Speedway Circuit
Then It was time to head off down to Swindon before popping into Wales for Newport Speedway Circuit which is now an HGV trailer storage park then round to Cardiff Millennium Stadium. I even past my good old mate the Gold Post Box (keep an eye out for it lads, opposite the castle gates on the other side of the road).
Swindon Speedway Circuit
Newport Speedway Circuit
Cardiff Millennium Stadium
Somerset is a lovely ride once your away from the motorways. As it happened the whole ride turned out to be an 80/20 split of A&B road to motorways which was great. I've spent far too many years riding up and down motorways, plus the Blade craves bends of every shape and description.
Somerset Speedway Circuit
Before leaving Somerset I dropped Nobby a text giving him my ETA for the Plymouth Speedway Circuit. Now I have to explain, I had no idea who on earth Nobby was other than some one who had recently followed me on Twitter. A Tweeted conversational a few days earlier had been our only contact. We had arranged to meet, I'd jokingly said, "as long as there was a bacon butty and a coffee to be had". Little did I know at the time Nobby was going to turn out to be an absolute gentleman.
Pulling under the bridge into a sharp right then left, there he was with mighty Bussa parked up. A big welcoming hello was swiftly followed by a flask of coffee, milk one sugar just the way I liked it and whilst I was drinking and nattering away, out came the bacon butty from his rucksack. Nobby can I just say your a bloody gentleman and it was a pleasure to have met you. One thing’s for sure, I’ll will make sure we stay in touch mate. Anyone who goes to the trouble of PM'ing my wife to find out how I take my coffee is spot on in my books. All I could do was give him a memento which turned out to be a MancRider Sticker and made him an honorary member of the MancRiders, which I know the lads will be chuffed about. Nobby anytime your up this way just let me know and our home is your home. Oh and I hope your better half makes a speedy recovery and is back on the Bussa in no time.
Plymouth Speedway Circuit, Buzzing!
Thank's for taking the photo Nobby
So with Plymouth and my new mate in the wing mirrors, it was time to head over to the Isle of Wight (spelt correctly now Bob, cheers). As I'd started 2 hours earlier than planned I had a brilliant ride over to Lymington along the coast road, arriving at 1645 hours. Perfect timing to catch the 1700 hours ferry. No sooner had I bought a coffee and recharged my mobile the klaxon rang to say return to your vehicles. What a waste of £2.20 I thought to myself as I threw the cup full of coffee in the bin.
Pulling off the ferry I pulled over to plumb Bob’s post code into the Garmin 350LM. A few minutes later I was pulling onto Bob’s drive to find him fully clobbered up and ready to lead me around the back lanes to the Isle of Wight Speedway Circuit, after saying hello to his good wife Vicky who was off out buying Fish and Chips for our dinner. Can I just take this opportunity to say thank you to Bob and Vicky for your kind offer and generosity in putting me up for the evening. If ever your in the Rochdale area please let me know so I can return the favour.
Isle of Wight Speedway Circuit
As I was getting up at 0500 hours to catch the 0600 hour ferry, Bob graciously headed off to bed shortly after 2100 hours leaving me to get a great nights sleep. All too soon however the dreaded buzz of my iPhones alarm dragged me from my slumbers. I thanked Bob once more as I headed out into the cold but clear morning towards the Fishbourne Harbour bound for Portsmouth.
A clear crisp morning start, Love it.
I had a wonderful ride along the A27 to Eastbourne Speedway Circuit just up the A27 then off into the back and beyond called Arlngton Stadium.
Eastbourne Speedway Circuit
My plan to arrive at Wessons Cafe for 0900 hours went a little wrong as it was only 0750 hours so I took my photo, Tweeted Wessons and headed onwards.
I would have loved a Bacon Butty too
Next stop Kent Speedway Circuit flowed very quickly by Lakeside Speedway Circuit at Grays and just 10 minutes from my best friends house. After taking a couple of photo’s of the speedway circuit I texted Ron who came over to meet me and we headed off for a coffee and bacon butty at, wait for it, a Harley Davidson dealership near Thurrock. Thank’s Ron for the butty and brew, it was great to catch up and I’ll see you on Friday for your ‘Stag Do’. You see Ron is getting married in two weeks time (May 4th) to his dear fiancée Jo and guess who’s ‘Best Man’?
Kent Speedway Circuit
Ron admiring the Blade!
Got to agree 'She sure is Sexy'
Riding away I could feel the pangs of depression staring to take a hold. Its always a downer leaving Ron as we have such a laugh but I’d a job to do and snapped myself out of it. A short jaunt around the M25 had me on the outskirts of Harlow at Rye House Speedway Circuit in no time then it was straight over to Ipswich Speedway Circuit. Sadly I became very low just 30 miles of Ipswich as it was physiologically the furthest point from home that day. As Tweets of encouragement came flying at me from Lefty and the guys my mood broke just long enough to sort my head out.
Rye House Speedway Circuit
Ipswich Speedway Circuit
Riding through some great country roads I was soon in the middle of nowhere at Mildenhall Speedway Circuit the quietest place I have ever visited! Next up was Kings Lynn Speedway Circuit at Norfolk Stadium where I was supposed to meet Ashley from BikeSure. Sadly due to lack of phone coverage we missed each other. Sorry about that Ashley.
Mildenhall Speedway Circuit
Kings Lynn Speedway Circuit
Peterborough Speedway Circuit was quickly followed by Skegness Speedway Circuit the penultimate Circuit. I Tweeted my picture of Skegness Speedway Circuit and dedicated it to the guy who had taken the time to put tis fantastic MancRiders Speedway Challenge Ride together, our very own BadBoyBez or Phil in the real world. Bez your a star mate and I’m proud to list you amongst my good friends, well done mate, its been an honour to take part and raise awareness of the Haemophilia Society in the process. None of which I could get into a single Tweet mate sorry!
Peterborough Speedway Circuit
I was back on full form leaving Peterborough through Skegness and on to Scunthorpe Speedway Circuit at Eddie Wright Raceways. Not just because I was on the home leg but because I knew the roads around the Lincolnshire like the back of my hand having had my parents live in Mablethorpe during my ‘Mad Biking Years’ aboard my trusty Kawasaki Z650. Happy days indeed if not a little scary at times.
Skegness Speedway Circuit
Scunthorpe Speedway Circuit
Tweeting my final stop from the Eddie Wright Raceway I dedicated it to our very own Mini MancRider Elliot, his Wonderful Mum Toni and a extremely proud Grandad, Lefty. Here’s to a bright and wonderful future because I know you will make it so. Love to you all from the Walton Family.
I give you the Mini MancRider