A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

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Journey Into The Unknown

Blog date April 2017

So my first problem with the luggage for the Kawasaki Z250SL may have been solved - as long as it is still with me at journey's end (Z250SL Luggage Solution - Kriega US Drypack). So now for problem 2, no Ren satnav to get me to my chosen destination.
I do not have a sat nav on my bike so I've had to resort to the old fashioned way...maps. Fortunately the route is fairly simple as I plan to meet Ren at Devil's Bridge. So M62 to junction 10 and on to the M6 northbound. Then junction 36 on to A65. Simple. Well maybe but probably not for me. I try to sear the route into my mind.
I have told Ren I will leave my house at 9am. I then wonder if that may be too optimistic for me and decide to revise that when he telephones me. Unfortunately I miss his call and discover he has no signal at the campsite so revision of time is not an option. 9am it is then.

I get up nice and early, load up the bike and set off. I am nervous but also vaguely excited about finding my own way. I much prefer company on a ride but it will be good to find out if I'm capable of solo. It is a lovely day, clear and sunny, perfect riding weather. I occasionally glance in my mirrors to double check my new Kriega luggage is still attached. So far, so good.
It all goes well and I keep quite relaxed until passing junction 35 on the M6. Where is my needed junction 36? It seems to have disappeared, I begin to panic inside! Have I missed it? If so what to do? Fortunately I eventually see junction 36 and I am relieved to realise I haven't missed the turning, it was just a long gap between junction 35 and 36. 

I miss the turning off on the roundabout for the A65 but Ren has taught me well. I simply sight the turn off, go around again and then come off second time around. On the A65 I pass a sign for Sedburgh and then out of the corner of my eye I pass what may well have been Devil's Bridge. Damn it, but I'm strangely unperturbed. This is a fantastic road and I'm enjoying the ride, I will turn around soon enough. A handy side road appears so I turn around and I head back the way I've just been. Yes - there is Devil's Bridge and there is Ren waving at me. Wahoo!!  I made it and I am somewhat relieved but also very proud of myself.
My first solo trip on the bike where I do not know the route beforehand is in the bag. Another bonus is the Kriega luggage is still with me and therefore this has been a great success.. Bonus!! 

I know I do everything slowly in my life. It took me forever to learn to ride with confidence. It took me a while to gel with my new bike. I do sometimes wish I had learned so many things I have achieved recently when I was younger. But then again would I have appreciated them as much then as I do now?  Besides we can not go back so I will just have to be grateful that I got to do that which I love eventually, right here in the now. The sun is out. I rode my bike without a satnav and I did so with a smile on my face most of the time and enjoyed it.

Ren and Sharon's motorcycles side by side outside the restaurant in the glorious sun
Time to relish food and the fact I did my first journey into the unknown.

Ren and I ride to a cafe. It is warm enough to sit outside and as I admire the view and my loaded bike shining in the sun I know that today is a good day to be alive and to ride. I am content, happy and so very grateful for all I have and all I have achieved on my bikes thus far. 

We take the long way round to the campsite at Muker and we find some delightful single tracks. On the 125cc I would be loving these. On the 250cc I am still enjoying them but I am aware I am still a little nervous of cambers and rough ground that would not concern me on the 125. But I know well enough that the only way to conquer a fear and get comfortable with anything is to do it, so I welcome the opportunity to get some well needed practice. Some beautiful roads and stunning views lead us to the campsite where we unload, pitch up and finally relax with good friends.

The teepee tent and the motorcycles at Usha Gap campsite near Muker
Wig Wam Bam - Green bike, green tent, green grass..how very err  ...Green. 

What a wonderful fabulous weekend. What more could you ask for?  Sunshine, blue skies, beautiful surroundings. Motorbikes and good friends and the guy you love right next to you. Yeah this weekend was a special one for the memory bank. Simple but perfect. 

Looking out from the tent we see blue skies, another tent and the delightful Yorkshire Dales
The perfect room with a perfect view. Happiness.

Relevant links:
Z250SL Luggage Solution - Kriega US Drypack
Sharon's Stunning Achievement

We'd love to hear and share your tales about what you've had to overcome to get on two wheels and get out exploring. For some it's second nature for others it's a real challenge. Click Here.

Reader's Comments

Louisa said :-
Brilliant! Who knows where your next solo adventure may be? Your destination looked great too.

My sense of direction is terrible, so I've memorised the unfamiliar route I'm planning to the Honda dealer this weekend. I'll be taking my little street map with me just in case!! :)
4/5/2017 4:18:23 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Now don't be getting lost Louisa. I've had to set off and retrieve Sharon from various places in the past, I'm not riding all the way down south to come and rescue you too.

Anyhow don't think of yourself as being lost, consider it more like an adventure into the unknown.

I've told Sharon many times, the most important thing is not to panic and get stressed. If you get in a flap it makes your riding dangerous so the moment you start to stress - stop! Take stock, have a breather and calm yourself. You have a brain and a tongue and you WILL be fine, just maybe a bit late that's all.
5/5/2017 7:51:36 PM UTC
Louisa said :-
Pleased to say got there and back safely from my latest 20 mile adventure to Honda and didn't get lost - thankfully! (Thank you for your eager offer of help Ren!) 10 miles of a rather scenic bendy country road was covered as well as villages and a couple of towns. Got overtaken on 30mph stretches (I was doing 30!) and had a slightly scary, wobbly moment while going round a bend that tightened up on me. Managed a nice steady 50-60 mph on the straights which felt comfortable.

Sat on Honda's nc700x - lovely bike, but seems huge compared to my little 125 - no clutch on this one - it's automatic, but can override with manual gears by a switch on the left handlebar! Hmm .. not sure about that! Going to Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati dealer next week. Like the look of kawasakis's Versys 650, their ER6F (why not?) and Yamaha's v-Strom 650. Having said that, I do love my 125 and would be in no hurry to part with her!!

A 400cc retro bike sounds nice, Borsuk - I'm sure you'll find one :)

6/5/2017 11:14:02 AM UTC
Louisa said :-
Ah, just to avoid confusion - it was 20 miles one way, not there and back!
6/5/2017 11:26:14 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
40 miles round trip, sounds to me like you're rolling these days Louisa.

If like Sharon and I you intend to keep to the speed limits you're going to have to get used to 2 things. Tailgaters and crazy overtakers. While the law and common sense is on your side you will on every ride have motorists behind you that believe the rules do not apply to them. They think that you are stopping them from their god-given-right to exceed the limit.

It is an annoyance and all you can do is keep to the limit and deal with them as professionally as possible.

I take it that unlike Sharon you are not a hobbit. The NC700 (or 750?), the Versys and Suzuki's (not Yamaha's) V-Strom are all big bikes for my average bloke size.
6/5/2017 12:04:44 PM UTC
Louisa said :-
Ah, although I can't remember, there's a possibility I sat on the NC750S. This model has a lower seat height compared to the NS700. I'm 5'6" and could touch the ground with the balls of my feet and it felt ok. So a possibility there, but would feel uncomfortable with a bike bigger than that. The only thing for it is to go and meet the beasts in the flesh as I have no idea of size when gazing lovingly at them on the computer:)
The other model I meant to mention was the Yamaha MT-07.
6/5/2017 5:19:13 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Sharon did her training for her test on an MT07 that had been (severely) lowered. I've test ridden one too - I'll add a link.

Now stop looking longingly at shiny new motorcycles and start focusing on enjoying your 125! While I will actively encourage you to take your test and even move on to bigger machines do not ever think that your 125 with "L" plates is not enough. Sharon had toured Scotland (http://bikesandtravels.com/biker.aspx?ride=672) and been to Bath, Brighton, Lincolnshire and Wales before she passed her test.

You'll probably know when you're ready for your test, there's no rush.

8/5/2017 9:10:45 AM UTC
JohnS said :-
Just reading through old posts and it is impressive how much your riding has come along Sharon. Keep it up and well done.
17/4/2019 8:39:04 AM UTC
Sharon said :-
Cheers John,

I always think I am a real slow learner but at least it means I never get bored easy because everything is a challenge.
While doing some twisty roads the other day I realised that although I am pretty happy these days with my left hand corners, position good, feel like I glide round, my right still needs work. Position is sometimes wrong and I don't have that ease of movement of that glide feeling on the right corners at all.
So always something to work on and improve.
24/4/2019 1:13:19 AM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Sharon, your comments are really interesting and show the level of training out there is very different to my day, I'm not really that old, honest. I suppose 40 years ago you just strapped on some L plates and took your RD250 out in a cloud of blue two stroke and if you were fortunate enough lived to tell the tale. You obviously know where you should be on the road, which I think is a great testament to modern training. The trouble with knowing how to ride of course is that you can beat yourself up when you get it wrong, ignorance must be bliss, if you live that is.
I know some riders are more comfortable on left handers because you're on a clear surface, not in the gutter and there's no chance of running towards the kerb.
Well done Sharon.
24/4/2019 9:41:43 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
The left hand / right hand issue has been discussed on a number of forums. I think what Mr North says is possibly true as on right handers it does feel as though you're heading for the scenery (and if on the "Roadcraft" line will indeed be close to the gutter on approach) whereas on left handers it seems as though you have the opposite side of the road as a "safety" margin.

But it's very misleading as once a vehicle arrives coming in the other direction that margin disappears. And in the end, departing the tarmac via a hedge is probably better than meeting something else coming the other way.

I do wonder if this false sense of security is at least partly responsible for Ren's and PocketPete's crashes. Were these by any chance when you were both on a right hand bend (ie the bike coming the other way was turning left)?
24/4/2019 11:15:17 AM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
By the way, just to be clear, I know the bike coming in the other direction was at fault.
24/4/2019 12:08:06 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
My little spill was on a comparatively gentle bend to the left for myself, to the right for the rider that I collided with.

For myself left handers appear easier for 2 reasons. Firstly as Ian said it feels as though there's a big run off area when cornering to the left as there's all this extra tarmac on the opposite side - just in case. Of course this is lunacy. Secondly camber. The camber on most roads is with you on a left hander, against you on a right.

Upt'North. I quite agree modern training is far more thorough than it was 28 years ago when I did my test. That said complex road position theory is not really covered in detail for test level training. The general idea is to keep to the centre of the lane unless conditions and traffic dictate otherwise. Sharon's knowledge comes from her own desire to improve her riding, from asking lots and lots of questions not only of myself but other riders too, from looking at stuff online and simply gaining experience.
24/4/2019 1:54:54 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
I was 'police advanced roadcraft' trained. Part of which was avoiding 'hazards'. It kept me safe for 35 years.

Roadcraft dictates left of centre of the left lane. Keeping sufficient distance from the kerb to avoid grids and wide enough from parked cars to avoid doors being opened.

Camber should make you keep left. But none of this helps when another car or bike is on your side of the road on a bend.

What I would say is that the current methods of training cbt and test preparation are an equal to my police training. If you ignore that half my 6 weeks of police training was on convoy groups, escort duties and pursuits. These have little use for normal biking.

But accidents happen that's the nature of the beast.
24/4/2019 2:17:41 PM UTC
Pocketpete said :-
I was 'police advanced roadcraft' trained. Part of which was avoiding 'hazards'. It kept me safe for 35 years.

Roadcraft dictates left of centre of the left lane. Keeping sufficient distance from the kerb to avoid grids and wide enough from parked cars to avoid doors being opened.

Camber should make you keep left. But none of this helps when another car or bike is on your side of the road on a bend.

What I would say is that the current methods of training cbt and test preparation are an equal to my police training. If you ignore that half my 6 weeks of police training was on convoy groups, escort duties and pursuits. These have little use for normal biking.

But accidents happen that's the nature of the beast.
24/4/2019 2:17:50 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Hi Pete, it sounds as though you're recovering well even if you are suffering from double posting.

My father was a senior cop in County Durham and decided he should go through the Class 1 training as all his "lads" had done (they rushed around the county in souped up Triumph 2.5pi estate cars attending all the serious incidents). He would come home from these sessions shaking after being instructed to overtake round blind bends, break all the speed limits by a huge margin, and offer no quarter to any other vehicle. "Making progress" they called it.

After these experiences he decided to let others do the driving. He always said that as they were investigating murders and the like, the victim could wait an extra few minutes for them to arrive.....

Having said that, he taught me to ride and drive, and I still remember many of the things he taught me - outmoded though some of it is these days. He was always a great enthusiast for smooth progress.
24/4/2019 4:07:24 PM UTC

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