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Manchester Bike Show 2015

Blog Date - 31 March 2015

This year Sharon and I were at the Manchester Bike Show. Nothing unusual there. Except this time we were part of the show. 

Why Am I Here?

I'd never ever considered the idea of "doing" a bike show. I want to promote this website but I'm far too tight to actually spend my own money on promoting something that doesn't earn any money. And yet via the power of internet forums, facebook and some recent connections the gf and I found ourselves stood in the massive hall at the Manchester Bike Show next to our 125s and a board proclaiming "Bikes And Travels" to anyone willing to listen.

Sharon stands next to our bikes and our board at the manchester bike show
We could almost look professional...almost

How? Apparently the show organisers make space for clubs, as in bike clubs, for free. I guess the advantage is 2-fold. Firstly the bike clubs in attendance will tell all their members and friends which is a great way of promoting the event. Secondly it fills the space with a wide range of exhibitors. Not only are there stalls for those wishing to sell something to the motorcyclist there are displays of all kinds. Vintage Japanese, Jawa, 2 Stroke, Moto Guzzi and Gold Wing owners clubs to name but a few all put out fascinating machines. Among the clubs Westhoughton MCC provided cake and sweets and Gawsworth Jesters had a very curious Voxan on their stand. This is just a snippet of the weird and wonderful delights that a varied selection of groups and clubs brought for all to see.

"Chunky Tread Motorcycle Adventure Club" is run by Pete Johnson and exists to promote the joys of travelling on 2 wheels. There are no Monday meetings, there are no forms to fill in, there are no subscriptions and no geographical constraints. It's a loose affiliation of like minded people connected via the internet with no agenda other than encouraging folks to get out there and go see for yourself. Pete posted on facebook that he'd secured a stand at the show and was looking for adventure motorcyclists to share their experience. I volunteered.

When I learned that I was to be alongside such worldly wise travellers as Bernard Smith and Graham Field I promptly felt like something of a Charlatan. They've been around the world, they're the real deal. Me? I've been to Scotland on a 125 in winter, big deal. Pete assured me I was not wasting space. Not everyone can go around the world, not everyone wants to. An adventure can be as simple as a weekend away with a tent somewhere you've never been. Meeting new folks, seeing new things, exploring the back roads or finding a hidden castle can be an adventure. You don't need a BMW GS1200 and a £20,000 budget to find something new.

The Show

The gf and I spent Saturday and Sunday manning the stall along with, ahem, Pete Johnson Bernard Smith, Graham Field, Nick Sykes, David Kitson, Dave Fenton, Ian Coates and Paul Stanley.

Bernard Smith and Graham Field were very busy talking to punters who'd read their respective books, even selling a few more as they went along. Ian Coates, at the age of 72, was also attracting his share of the limelight with his calm demeanour, an incredibly world weary Africa Twin and tales that prove adventure is not just for the younger generation. The rest of us were happy to talk to those who showed any interest in our machines and our tales. The gf and I found our curious visitors to be intrigued with how much you can actually fit onto a diminutive 125 yet still gain forward motion and a realisation that having "L" plates doesn't limit you to your local town. 

Ian Coates sits astride his 250,000 miles Honda Africa Twin
Ian Coates on his 250,000 miles Africa Twin

Things quietened down at the end of each day. We used this time to look around. Of course the major marques had the usual displays of latest models along with models of the female variety. If I am being completely honest, urgh, I didn't see anything that I couldn't see on a tour of Manchester's bike shops but at least the bikes were set up to sit on safely rather than having to fish them out of a cramped showroom line. There were a good number of clothing, aftermarket spares and trick goods stalls. What caught my eye the most were the club stands. 

Seeing my first motorcycle, a Honda H100 in pristine condition brought back some memories, although not all good. The Honda CD200 Benly did bring back some excellent memories. I've never seen a lock up clutch before so the 2-Stroke stand was enlightening. The Ducati club's cutaway engine helped the gf visualise the valves of a four stroke at work and the GT750 "Kettle" club's cutaway engine helped explain 2 stroke principals. The hidden carburettor of an old Jawa looked very smart and I wonder why that never stayed in play. Eating cakes from the Westhoughon MCC's stand and chatting was tasty talking. Among the Guzzis and Gold Wings, the classics and customs there was more then enough to keep me fascinated.

A Honda CD200 Benly in excellent condition at the show
My Benly never ever looked as clean as this one.

Many Thanks

While my feet and my legs ached from standing and my throat dried from talking I had a great weekend. Pete "Chunky Tread" provided the opportunity for the gf and I to promote our website and to encourage anyone with a smaller bike to get out there and see the world, even a small part of the world. He and his wife Sharon also provided a welcome meal and chance to sit around and talk on Saturday evening. I couldn't ask for more.

Pete Johnson sits and rests with Ian Coates on the stand
The main man Pete takes a breather with Ian. (courtsey of Nick Sykes)

Pete also provided the opportunity to meet and talk at length with the folks on the Chunky Tread stand. I used to think these world travellers would be different, perhaps somehow special. They're not you know. They're just ordinary people with ordinary ups and downs, they have good laughs and sorrowful tears. They have or have had real jobs, their trips aren't sponsored or financed by wealthy parents you know. They've lost loved ones. They have families and friends. They have mortgages and bills. The world wasn't handed to them on a plate they just chose to go out there and make it happen. So what's stopping me? What's stopping you?

The Chunky Tread Crew at the manchester show
Worra motley bunch. (courtesy of Pete johnson)


Reader's Comments

Pete road2manchester said :-
It was a pleasure to have you both on the Ctmac stand and enjoyed you blog entry. You too can become a Adventure legend. Just keep doing more of the same. Pete
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
"Legend". Huh...as per Bernard's face book comments it's more like leg ends, book ends and bell ends. Cheers!
1/1//2000 UTC
Peter B said :-
Hi Ren,
well done you,
I found your site by accident a while ago and have enjoyed reading about your adventures etc.

Look forward to reading your next blog, don't leave it too long.
Peter B
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Cheers Peter B! There's a short break in Wales for us soon and Scotland again later this year. I'm not sure if I'll get into Europe this year though, it depends on the finances.

I'm looking for a wealthy benefactor wishing to give me lots of money for no reason whatsoever. Any volunteers?
1/1//2000 UTC
Henrik said :-
Aren't we all looking for a benefactor :-) DFDS from Newcastle to Bergen
was sadly withdrawn in September 2008,and the route between Harwich and Esbjerg has closed, as of 29 September 2014. so that leaves UK no longer directly connected to the norse half of EU when rolling on own wheel's unfortunately. Guess there is only the tunnel then, and a few ferry's to NL.

So to reach Scandinavia Netherlands and Germany has to be crossed before DK

Some good "rests" in NL/D would make sense, as a part of such trip, even if
they are not the "main purpose/destination", and even more so on a small MC.

Why KLE500 appeals to me also, you just jump on its back, twist the ear, and
without screaming to much it take's you transit through one or two countryes
before the destination. Free speed limits in D, and 120-130 km/h in DK/SE, it's a pain in arse, but possible in orde to reach new destinations,..

Even 3 week's quickly becomes "short", as we know all know, and as far as I can see you would need 4-5 week's for a good travel to Norway from UK, and 2-4 week's for the south of Scandinavia, all dependant,...

For my part I just hope to get old enough, and stay fresh when retired ;-)
1/1//2000 UTC
Henrik said :-
And thanks for this article, some good thoughts about who "real" travellers actually are ;-) and a good idea for you to be a part of this with own stand
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Henrik. Yeah the show was a worthwhile experience.

My biggest problem is that I like to travel slowly. Yes, yes it is possible to cover 300 miles per day even on a 125. The thing is though that I want to enjoy the trip and actually stop and look around the places I'm travelling through.

It's approximately 1,000 miles to Denmark via the Channel Tunnel. At a steady 100 miles per day that's 10 days there, 10 days back and let's say 10 days in DK to actually have a look around. That's a whole month off work! And that's not even attempting to get into Norway or Sweden.

So I'm left with 3 options.

1. Press on hard and try and squeeze everything into 2 weeks. That defeats the whole purpose of travelling for me, to see places and meet people.

2. Take a chunk of time off work. It's an option and one that I keep on considering.

3. Stay put and keep on dreaming.

I think I shall have to pull my finger out and stop dreaming. I guess I'm just a tad scared.
1/1//2000 UTC
Henrik said :-
Agree about taking the time to see things, (but it took me long to "accept").

Some quick ideas:

In Romania we was 4 persons in a transporter-van, mc's on trailer, did the 2000 km without breaks, taking 4 hour turns, sleeping in the back, gave us
about 5 out of 8 day's effectively in the mountains. Some from the team did
pay for having their mc's in a van, and took the plane to Bucharest etc etc

Not saying that you could use the exact same "model", but maybe inspiration
for something, if you have some in your network with a van/truck, and you could gather f.eks. 6-8 people. 2-3 people in the truck, rest by plane,..

Copenhagen airport is ideal for DK and south SE

Oslo Airport should cover S/V/E-Norway and into middle SE

Arranging a joint-venture "transport-solution" would not nesesary have to mean that it was a "group-tour", but eventually just a transport solution
allowing people to split up for separate trips/groups at destination

Don't know what you think, personally I don't deal with arranging tours any
longer, but seemingly other people likes to be captains in such projects ;-)

(some are even able to make money on solving such logistic problems)
1/1//2000 UTC
Henrik said :-
BTW 5-600 miles from tunnel to Kiel-Oslo ferry, wake up next day in Oslo :-)

from eurotunnels own page
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
You're like some kind of tease Henrik

I think what I'm going to do is give up my job, sell the house and go travelling. And when I need somewhere to stop I'm going to come to your place and stay there with you and your lady. When you've had enough of me I'll say it's all your fault because you made me go off travelling. Hehe!
1/1//2000 UTC
Tony Wilkins said :-
Great write up. Sounds like you had fun and made friends.

I once spoke to someone who had done a lot of travelling. I asked him what his favourite trip was. He replied "The one I'm on".

Sounds like a good outlook to me.
1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Tony. I did meet some cool folks. The best trip should be the one you're on and the best bike in the world is the one you're riding at the time.
1/1//2000 UTC
said :-
Ren: hehe, that's why I suggested the Kiel-Oslo, to keep you in safe distance from DK :-) ,.. anyway, remember to check out "Lysebotn" and "Trollstigan" if you hit Norway one day, its a memory for life,.

Unfortunately there is always snakes in the garden, Norway is the most
expensive country one could imagine, and then it's raining at least half the time, if you can drive the east-side of the mountains, less rain there,..
1/1//2000 UTC
Monk said :-
I'm afraid this entire section excited me FAR too much.

1/1//2000 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
CALM DOWN MONK! It's only a blog post :-)
1/1//2000 UTC
Monk said :-

1/1//2000 UTC
Graham Field said :-
As you well know Ren, it's not a competition, distance and destinations are irrelevant, it's just about packing the panniers and heading out, even if it's just for the weekend, something many of my FB friends seem way better at than I am. I need to get out more, and leave the passport at home. It was a pleasure to meet you and although at that time I was very preoccupied with the publication of my new book, now I can look back at that weekend and wish I'd lived it more in the moment because it was brilliant. Let's do it again soon.
1/1//2000 UTC
JcT said :-
Will you be at this year's Manc bike show
13/2//2018 2:05:30 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi JcT. Yes Sharon and I will be at the Manchester Bike Show once again. You'll find us and several other very interesting characters on the Chunky Tread Stand. Come and say hello.
14/2//2018 10:39:05 AM UTC

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