TRF:Hi Steve. By all accounts you've thrown yourself into adventure bike riding with Central Bristol TRF. What's the story?
Steve:Well, personally I’ve always loved the idea of going touring on a motorbike from a very young age, I was inspired by my father’s stories of his world travels with the RAF when he was a young man. I dipped a toe in with some solo riding in Thailand many moons ago, almost forgotten now.
TRF:Is it important to you to be going somewhere, rather than just enjoying what the bike can do in the contort of a circuit?
Steve:Its psychological torture to just keep going round and round in circles, a bit like life can be really. We’ve all had a go at MX, Enduro and Trials bikes, maybe even done a few competitions and practice days, it all teaches you some incredibly valuable bike skills… but there is always that feeling of being on a hamster wheel.
No hamster wheels here...
TRF:What makes leaving home and just heading off for a night so appealing?
Steve:There is something magical, a tension, excitement, uncertainty… prepping the bike, organising your kit, tools, clothes, camping gear. For an impromptu short weekend trip you actually don’t need that much stuff. You’ve got to minimise everything otherwise you’ll end up like a snail with his home perched on your back. Heading off into the unknown with a couple of mates on your (hopefully) trusty bikes to do something that just absolutely sets you free both mentally and physically, surely can only be good for the soul! Also my missus and kids tell me I’m grumpy and no fun at all if I haven’t been out on the bike for a while.
TRF:Is it true that you need all the fancy gear to enjoy a night away on the bike?
Steve:For myself and our run leader Dean Allen, we contacted Gabe from Zen Overland, (discount available for the TRF members), and ordered Kriega panniers and packs. Gabe is incredibly knowledgeable with all things adventure so a great service all-round… and what awesome kit it was too, lightweight, tough as old boots, and rather fetching too. Price wise it can soon start to stack up as with the initial set up costs of most things. We went to Go Outdoors for camping supplies and Marcruss in Bristol, (near the SS Great Britain), for all things military such as a Basher and Bivee bag.
TRF:So you've got the gear, the bikes and the riders. How did you decide where to go?
Steve:The route was planned entirely by Dean who is a well-seasoned run leader with many, many hours logged all over the country and many routes stored on his device. Using his Garmin Montana 600 that had been partially marked out with our ultimate destination laid in, but we adopted a method of navigation that can best be described as ‘Freestyling it’. We would navigate our way picking out as many Green Roads as we could along the way. It was an awesome way to travel as everything that you came across was totally new to you, and as you travelled across England's Green Roads you could see the ground underneath you was changing dramatically to reveal its very composition. At one point up on a hill we could hear the music coming from Glastonbury Festival, we could see which way the stormy weather was heading and attempt to navigate away from its path. Its fair to say it eventually got the better of us but we put up a mighty brave fight and outran it long enough to get our waterproof layers on. Even the weather couldn’t dampen our spirits on the first day or so. We were freestyling and loving it!
TRF:Some people would question how much of an adventure you can really have in one night. Did it live up to your expectations?
Steve:Well, I was treating the journey partly as a technical exercise, what kit you really need to take, how best to set the bike up and then, having given it your best effort to put everything in place, to be self-sufficient and ready for anything. We aimed to make it to the beach and ride along it, we intended to find a good spot to set up camp having ridden all day and covered some exciting terrain and taken in the beautiful vistas that this country has in abundance, We certainly did that. At the end of day one, feeling tired and glad to park the bike, (before I dropped it… again), we set up camp, gathered some wood, made a campfire, cooked some food and drank a few ciders to finish the day. Proper good stuff, talking about the days ride with your mates… totally immersed in the world of bikes, Green Roads and feeling free.
Make sure you read the instructions...!