Black Beauty

Monday, April 29, 2013


This post is to give some of the details about preparing for the trip.  Being that it's an international trip for more than 3 weeks, it takes a bit more work up-front to get ready than my usual trips across the country.  I'll publish this post in late April.

One good thing--since Beach's is providing bikes, I have no bike prep or clean-up for the trip!  That's a good thing.  No oil changes.  No deciding about tires and whether or not they are good for the trip.  Nothing at all, and I like it!

The trip started with an email from Beach's last summer that announced the Isle of Man Tarry tour.  I didn't know that they had ever held a tour focused on the IOM, but after reading quite a bit, have learned that they do one once every 5 -10 years; it's not a regular staple in their tours.  I think when Rob Beach (owner) gets in the mood to see some spectacular racing, he organizes one.  In any case, once I read the email and thought about it for a minute or two, I knew it was something I definitely wanted to do.

I forwarded the message to Gary and asked if he was interested in going.  He and I had talked about trying to go several years ago, but it seemed like the logistics were just overwhelming.  Flights, ferries, lodging, transportation--it was just more than I felt I could work out without a tremendous effort.  So, even though we talked about it several times, I don't think we would ever have gone if this tour had not shown up so easily.  Just pay your money, get airline tickets, and go!!

After Gary looked at the email and their website, he was not sold on it--the tour was quite expensive, and he knew Linda would want to go.  It's very expensive for me alone and almost twice my cost for them.  The tour alone, with airline tickets will cost them almost what my first house cost in 1972.  That's a lot of money for three weeks of playtime.

But when he mentioned it to Linda, there was no question about going--she wanted to go!  I actually think she wanted to go more than he did, so they agreed and we prepared to send in our initial deposits for the tour.

From the website, it was clear that one limiting factor was the number of bikes they would be able to get on the ferry from England to the IOM.  They said they had 10 passes, so we wanted to be sure to be able to take the bikes over on the IOM so we sent our deposits in immediately.  We were committed to going! 

The first question that had to be answered was "When are we going, and when are we coming back?"  While that's actually two questions, we could not start getting ready until we knew when we were leaving and returning.

We were in agreement that we would probably not ever go back to this part of Europe again, so we wanted to see as much as possible while we were there.  After some discussion, it seemed most advantageous to fly into London so we could do and see things for which London is famous.  And we'd use public transportation (subways, busses, trains, etc) to make our way around London.  Probably would include a tour or two to make it easier.

And the tour itself has only two or 3 days in Scotland, so we wanted more time there.  To do that, we decided to go there after the tour is over.  Simply rent a car and drive 165 miles and be in Scotland.  Piece of cake!  Having made the decisions regarding tour "extras" (London and Scotland), we were able to chose when we were leaving and returning.  We leave for London on May 21 and return home on June 14.

Passports obtained in 2005 for our Alps tour are still valid, so nothing required for that issue.  The folks at Beach's recommend that we get an "International Driving Permit" from AAA for the trip.  I did get one when Gary and I went to the Alps in 2005, but didn't use it and didn't understand why it was needed.  I researched it a bit and found that it is a way to authenticate that your drivers license is not fake.  They trust AAA to check a person's credentials, including their drivers license and to issue the International Driving Permit when they have verified your drivers license.  I've decided not to get one; hopefully the validity of my drivers license will not be needed.  Only if I get in trouble will it be questioned, and I plan to stay out of trouble.  My last adventure brought enough trouble to suit me for a long time!

A couple of weeks ago, a large box was delivered by UPS.  I had not ordered anything, so I had no idea what might have been shipped to me.  Examining the shipping label, I noted "Grand Island, NY" as the return address.  Beach's is located in Grand Island, so I decided it was something from Beach's and opened the box.  To my delight, a large, customized rolling duffel bag was inside the box.  It had my name and "TT Tarry" embroidered on it, along with a very large Beach's logo.

A very nice bag indeed, with large rollers, a divider, two large compartments, and legal as a checked bag.  Only drawback is that it weighs almost 14 pounds, so it does limit what I carry on the plane to some extent.  My travel-mates also received one each, so we'll look like the bobsy triplets rolling our duffels around the airport and other places. 

Today I talked with a Verizon representative about how to use my phone while in the UK.  It seems that I have two options, depending on how much I want to use it while there.  Beach's is providing a phone for the tour, but from what I understand, it's somewhat expensive to use.  And I'm very familiar with mine, so I'll choose one of the options so I can make and receive phone calls and texts while there.

 I have to decide which helmet to take.  I now have 3; two are modular (flip-up) and one is a full-face helmet.  I don't think I'll take the newest one; it's very expensive and I am a bit concerned about something happening to it.  My old modular is the one I'll probably take after I remove the wiring harness for communications.  Since I'm not planning to talk or listen to music while there, I don't need the speakers and microphone.

I have decided what riding clothes I'm taking.  It's the same outfit I took on the other tour in 2005.  It consists of a waterproof coat and waterproof overpants.  They kept me dry during an all-day ride at the beginning of the first tour, so they should keep me dry again.  My one-piece Roadcrafter (the Bumblebee) is simpler to wear, and is waterproof, but it's not practical if I need to stay dry while watching races or walking from one place to another. It's either on or off, while the overpants can be worn with or without the coat.  I guess Rob and Al (with the tour) will wonder if I only have one riding outfit since I'll look the same on both tours.  If I wear the old helmet, that will assure the same look!

In a recent ride from Pensacola FL home a few weeks ago, I discovered that my right boot had sprung a leak.  It rained the first 500 miles of the 750 mile trip, so it got a good workout and failed.  So, I found a pair of BMW boots on a forum that I bought used (at about 1/3 retail price) for the trip.  Supposed to be waterproof, I'll test them between now and then to make sure they are truly waterproof.  If they leak, I have another pair that I know is waterproof that I'll take.  Obviously, I'm expecting it to be wet over there...

I've looked into electrical service in the hotels in the UK.  Their power supply is 220 volts, while ours is 120 volts, and their receptacles are different from ours in the USA.  So, I found that the things I need to charge (phone, camera, and XOOM tablet) all can handle either 120 or 220 volts.  And I now have a plug that will fit their receptacles.  So, that issue is now dealt with.

I have started a packing list of things to pack; mostly clothes.  I've found that polyester clothing and nylon dry easily and are lightweight, so most of what I pack will be polyester so I can hand wash them in a hand basin when needed.  The first tour was all-cotton, and did not dry so well overnight.  Experience sure helps! I may buy a couple more long-sleeved tee shirts for the trip.  We'll see.

I think this is enough for my second post.  I'll plan to write one more post to publish just before leaving the country.  Comments are appreciated; it gives me a sense that someone is reading my stuff and I do get feedback that helps reinforce my efforts.