Black Beauty

Sunday, June 23, 2013


This is my wrap-up of the trip.  I usually write my final post after being home for at least a few days, sorta like letting the stuff settle out to see what remains after a week or so.

The trip exceeded my expectations.  While not everything was spectacular and wonderful, there were enough terrific sights to overcome any not-so-wonderful, plus some terrific parts.

I enjoyed riding the course at the Isle of Man, particularly the section that had no speed limit and two lanes of one-way traffic.  I didn't have the fastest machine, by a big margin, but it was fast enough to do a lot of passing for those riding at moderate speeds.  It's probably good that my scooter wasn't all that fast; I might have gotten into trouble with a faster machine.  Because the scooter handled so well (better than my RT), and because it was stable as a rock, I felt comfortable riding at 96mph.  That part was such fun.  I wish I could have done it over and over!

The races themselves were a bit of a downer, from a viewing standpoint.  I've been to many motorcycle races, so I know they're very fast and the space in which you can actually see the bikes is small.  But at the Isle, those spaces were generally smaller, and actual bike-to-bike competition was fairly rare.
Sidecars Racing

The quality of the racing, and the skills of the riders, on the other hand, was superb.  THE best I've ever seen.  As mentioned earlier, these guys are not riding on a smooth track with plenty of safety for when they go down, as you find at Daytona, Birmingham, VIR and other road racing tracks across the nation.  No, these guys are running almost 200 mph on city streets and country roads, with very little safety to protect the riders.  The riders are all crazy to do what they do, but they are extremely talented in the way they do it.

Food was excellent.  Beer was good to excellent.  The Yorkshire Dales in northern England are fabulous.  I love their one-track roads and all of the rock fences and walls across the countryside.  I think the Dales were the second-best part of the biking portion of the trip.
Stone Fences and Walls Across the Dales

The general public was fairly tolerant of motorcycles, but not as much as they are in the Alps region of Europe.  In the Alps, the motorcycle has priority over everything else, and drivers of other vehicles go out of their way to give the motorcycles a break.  In the UK, it was a mixture of USA and the Alps, with a few car drivers helping motorcyclist by giving space and making room for passing.  But there were also some car drivers who were not tolerant of motorcycles and made it a bit harder than it needed to be.
Single Track Roads in the Dales

Our hotels on the tour part of the trip were very good; excellent.  While I had trouble figuring out how to get the shower water right, the buildings were well maintained and everything was neat and tidy.  Service was also excellent at all of the hotels.

The scooter was a great choice for the tour.
 While I am sure some of the other riders looked at it as a toy, it rode great, was reasonably economical, and handled great.  I liked the fact that I could flat-foot the bike when stopped.  I liked the fact that it felt very light (even though it weighs as much as my RT).  I liked not shifting in traffic. I liked the heated seats, the heated grips, and the power windshield.  I liked the excellent handling and confidence it gave me.  I didn't like it's noise. I didn't like the short, busy suspension.  That's about all I didn't like about the bike.  If it had cruise control and a less busy ride, I'd consider one as my next two-wheeled vehicle.  But with my style of riding, with long days in the saddle, it would not give me the comfort of my RT.  We'll see...

I enjoyed all three roommates I had on the tour.
Roomate #1, Rod
 Rod (from Australia) was a neat guy, a surveyor by trade.  Young (I'd guess 35) and smart.  I'm sure I was more of a problem to him than he was to me; I stayed up later than he did every night, blogging usually.  He also slept later than I did, so I'm sure he was a better roommate to me than I was to him.  My second roommate, Chuck (from New Mexico) was a good one, too. He is about 10 years younger than me, so we had a lot in common.  I enjoyed talking with him about life and his touring.  Last year he did a 9 month, 40,000 mile world tour and is planning an even longer one next year!  I enjoyed the time we spent together.  My final roommate was Gary (from Southern California).  He is a little older than me and is very sharp and articulate.  He and I struck up a quick friendship when I learned that he occasionally tests bikes and other motorcycle things for Consumer Motorcycle News, my favorite motorcycle magazine.  He was a neat guy who traveled with more electronic stuff than I do!  As with the others, I'm sure I was more of a problem to each roommate than they were to me.  My late-night blogging was probably a hassle for them.

Rob, Gretchen and Al were great.
Our Fearless Leader, Rob Beach
Rob's First Lady, Gretchen

First Mate, Al
  I enjoyed being around each of them; they made me feel at ease and were helpful when needed.  I inadvertently left my three-fingered gloves on the bike at the end of the tour, and they are going to send them back when they return from their current tour.  I wish the tours weren't so expensive; I'd like to do more because they make it so easy.

The UK is not a big country.  When I got on the scooter, it had 2km on the odometer.  When I turned it in on the last day, the odometer read 2,669km.  So, I rode it 2,667km, or 1,657 miles.  Actually, Gary rode it part of one day, so I rode it a little less than that, but I was on his bike when he was on mine.  The fact that we spent a considerable amount of time dealing with ferries and watching races reduced the number of miles we rode.  And, we drove the car about 1,100 miles while we had it.  So, we covered about 2,700 miles in the UK. It is a beautiful, diverse country.

The trip was a once in a lifetime trip, a bucket-list item now marked off my list.  The Isle of Man was magical. I'm glad I went but happy to be back home!
The Truth Hurts!

Until next time....

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