Ride up to Snettisham Beach

After an early start and a migrane at London Bridge station, I rode up from Cambridge to my friend’s beach hut at Snettisham. the weather was good – warmish but sunny. The bike felt so much better with all the heavy luggage off – even the topbox which usually goes everywhere. It gave me the confidence to do lots of overtaking and make some progress on the way up the A10. I had a recommendation to take a newly opened alternative bypass around Ely on the way back, via Queen Adelaide which was a really enjoyable road for riding, right next to the river higher than the road as it runs dead straight toward Ely. The total ride was 111 miles.

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Looking at my track from the GPS I can see I didn’t take the road I should have. I remember the advice was ‘don’t cross the river’ and that’s what I did. Next time I will get it right.

Getting ready to ride in Spain

On Sunday I sail on Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Bilbao for a couple of weeks riding in northern Spain. I’m leaving the tent at home for a change and have booked four rural hotels, all interesting, I hope, in different ways. Not camping means I can leave all this lot in the cupboard:

In fact this is a picture from Google earth of my first hotel:

Hotel Real Monasterio de San Zoilo

I was feeling a little sad at missing out on the camping experience but this photograph looks like an intriguing place. Does its name mean that it is a real monastery, not one of those fake monasteries with fake monks who turn out to be actors?

When you are immersed in working and living – as is too easy, these trips can come up out of the blue almost in a strangely unwelcome way – paradoxically – as an interruption to the numb mindlessness of routine. But getting out maps and packing the panniers does start to dissolve that.

Unusually, the sailing down to Bilbao is two nights, a chance hopefully to disengage and get into a new headspace.

Back to Cambridge

Its Spring. The clocks have leapt forward, the sun is shining – weakly – and its time to bring my bike out of hibernation in London and ride it back up to Cambridge into my increasingly expensive to rent garage, where it will stay for the next 8 or 9 months – apart from when I’m riding it of course.

Riding and driving in London is not fun. Most other road users are fine but there are a few who are crazy or seem to be testosterone-fuelled idiots. Mainly, its just that there are so many other people trying to get somewhere. My route up the A10 is not as fast as the motorway but once past the M25 traffic starts to thin out and it turns into an enjoyable road past the turn for Hertford. The sun came out too. I’ve not been to Cambridge since before Christmas and it was nice to arrive back, each return and there is an extra block of flats and one more building on the Addenbrookes site.

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My next major trip will be in mid-late July, after graduation, when I take the ferry from Portsmouth down to Bilbao again and spend a couple of weeks riding and this time tent-free, staying in hotels across northern Spain including near to the Bardenas Reales that I’ve heard so much about.

I’m still trying to solve the problem of decent audio on my recorded videos on the bike and wind noise seems to drown out my voice, even with the helmet vent closed and a new and better microphone. Here’s the trip in 4 minutes.

First day riding the GSA

I couldn’t resist it – I’ve taken the day off to try out this bike….
On my first day of owning this bike I put my continent-crunching world-beating GSA through its paces – Destination Tescos in Ely. No problems getting out of cambridge. The border formalities were easy. Once on the A14 going west I felt a few drops of rain on my visor. Its well known that one shower on the A14 and the road will be impassable until next Spring. Luckily the rains held off. Some of the tarmac was ‘ever so slightly rough’ but the suspension coped really well. By lunchtime I arrived in Ely, a strange and wild place where banditry and corruption are well-known. Keeping a low profile I parked up the bike in Tesco and went inside to see if there was any food and drink available. With lots of gesticulations and shouting I made myself understood by the workers in Costa Coffee next to the pharmacy and cutomer toilets. On my return into Cambridge I was stopped at a chekpoint where I failed some of the questions on the IQ test. But with a bribe I was allowed in.
On the road I noticed some strange things: other bike riders don’t seem to return my nods any more. Instead I get greetings from the drivers of the following classes of vehicles: agricultural machinery, those big mowers that cut grass verges by the road; also scarecrows in the fields near Cottenham.
So day 1 was good – apart from struggling to get this machine into neutral once its warm. The riding position is good and the windscreen is great – I can ride with visor up now. I don’t know about its acceleration so no overtaking at the moment. It doesn’t feel as nippy as my previous bikes but presumably the power is there doing something.
Most of this post is also copied to the UKGSer website.

oh no, what have I done!

I just went down to a motor dealer in Hitchen who had a Beamer for sale on ebay. First I rang up about it and they said, sorry but someone is coming to see it, we’ll call you if they don’t turn up. I gave up and forgot about it. They rang me to say he hasn’t come. I rode down there enjoying getting back on a bike again. they showed me to ‘the bus station’ where it sat surrounded by dusty broken down cars, looking hardcore and beautiful and in immaculate condition – with 11,000 on the clock. They left me the key and said try it. Up on the centre stand I didn’t dare get it down and tried to climb on top and found I couldn’t reach the ground. So I though ok, BMW GS Adventure is not a bike for me. However I thought I won’t get this close to one again to try it out and the seller was including a low seat, so struggling and with the help of one of their salespeople we got the low seat on and the bike off the stand. Now, climbing on it and moving it around became a piece of cake. Where is this heavy unwieldy bike that people have written about? they phoned up the bos whose bike it is and he told me, ah someone is coming to see it and they have first refusal. I give up for the third time, then enjoy a confident ride home, wondering how different a GS would feel. In the bath and covered in soap, the phone rang and I learn that the bike is mine if I want it. Dripping I read out my card number for a deposit. I think this might mean I have become or very soon will become a GS owner. I can’t quite belive it. After all the hype – which is so consistent that I have to believe it – this bike seemed, on first experience, to be so normal and not as intimidating as I imagined. Let’s see how the next week falls out.

My motorcycling personality

Well, it is nearly midnight …

“What’s YOUR Motorcycle Personality?”
Instant Motorcycle Personality Analysis!

* Motorcycle Personality TestAre you “obnoxious”? How about a “liar”? Any chance you might want to add “stupid” to the equation? (Or, perhaps none of these apply to you!)

* On the other hand, would someone describe you as a “hard-core, motorcycle riding fanatic”?

* Of course, there’s all kinds of motorcyclists in the world. Does the term “inspirationally abnormal” best depict who you really are?

* Do you know any riders who are “bold, adventurous, spirited, philosophical and experienced in many areas of life”?

* Hey, you might even be fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to know a rider who is a “mature, intelligent, fact-filled encyclopedia.”

There’s MUCH more you can learn about yourself in this MOTORCYCLE PERSONALITY TEST. Regardless of what personal quirks and/or insights this analysis will conjure up for you, the only known cure is to ride more…

NOTE: This TWISTED GRIP MOTORCYCLE PERSONALITY TEST is simply for fun! If more than one answer seems right for a question, select the one that “best” applies to you. To receive your free analysis, enter your name & email, and click “My Personality.”


Michael’s Motorcycle Personality!

Hey Michael, below are the results of your MOTORCYCLE PERSONALITY TEST.

This was created and brought to you by Motorcycle-Intelligence.com, publisher of MOTORCYCLES ONLY, the world’s #1 newsletter for riders who can tolerate occasional motorcycle whimsy — all in addition to news, tips, and practical insights about riding, motorcycle gear and rider safety.
Question 1:

I am interested in motorcycles because:

Your Answer: C1
I enjoy riding


You are an adventurous creature who loves independence and freedom, and are not held back by risk. As well, you are secretly admired by those who wish they could be more like you (and who may also consider you “crazy,” or more precisely, “inspirationally abnormal”).

Question 2:

I ride motorcycles primarily to:

Your Answer: C1
Enjoy riding by myself


You are free-spirited, independent, actively competent and dexterious, as well as quite self-assured. You are a natural leader and go your own way: no one can tell you how to run your life. You enjoy life more than any non-rider you know. You’ve solved most of the primary problems in the world, and if you could spend a little less time riding, you could help get those resolutions implemented!

Question 3:

I think “motorcycle safety” is:

Your Answer: B1
Something I continually learn more about.


You are intelligent and/or experienced enough to respect the concept of reducing calculated risks for the purpose of enjoying long-term motorcycle pleasures. You are a good friend to yourself and to others, and all things considered, you have a pretty good life. You would help another in need (including non-bikers) and represent the cream of the crop within the global brotherood of motorcycle riders.

Question 4:

I primarily ride:

Question 4:

I primarily ride:

Your Answer: B1
When it’s at least minimally warm enough, but it doesn’t matter whether it’s sunny or raining.


You are a serious and seasoned motorcycle rider who not only can’t get enough of a good thing, you are self-secure, competent, hearty, have good riding gear, and quite likely have a lot of good riding stories.

Question 5:

Here is what I think about wearing a motorcycle helmet:

Your Answer: B1
I always wear a helmet, regardless of whether the law says I need to or not.


You balance your freedom and pleasure with practical responsibility. You have confronted the reality that if you want to enjoy motorcycle riding a long time, a high-quality helmet is an important part of ensuring your survival. Heck, that helmet of yours even has the potential to help your family, friends and associates to benefit from your brilliant and entertaining companionship indefinitely into the future.

Question 6:

The “Best” motorcycles are those that:

Question 6:

The “Best” motorcycles are those that:

Your Answer: D1
Go the longest distances in relative comfort.


You are bold, adventurous, spirited, philosophical and experienced in many areas of life. Even though you are a kid at heart, statistically speaking, you are over the hill. You are enjoying life more than most every non-rider you know and your non-riding friends think you’re eccentric.

Congrat’s! You passed the Twisted Grip Motorcycle Personality Test!! Keep an eye out in your email inbox for MOTORCYCLES ONLY, your FREE newsletter with news and tips on motorcycle riding, motorcycle safety, and occasional whacky motorcycle whimsy.