Horizons Unlimited

There's plenty of riders who dream of packing it all in and heading off on the bike into the sunset on a round the world trip. It's rarely that straight forwards though, and every big journey needs to start with small steps.

This summer the TRF were happy to be part of the Horizons Unlimited HUBB event hosted at Baskerville Hall. TRF member Steve Coward was on hand to help big bikes whose riders had big ambitions but little experience get to grips with our very own green roads.

TRF:

Hi Steve. It looks the HUBB UK event went down really well at Baskerville Hall. Maybe we could start with a bit of an intro to HUBB. What is it?

Steve:

Grant and Susan Johnson started Horizons Unlimited for like-minded motorcycle travellers ten years ago after doing their own Round The World trip north to south, two up on a 1986 BMW R80 G/S. They’ve been to over 50 countries since then, traveling and working all over the world, and have the motto “if we can do it, so can you!”

HUBB is a meeting place both on the Internet and in real time and space through their “Travellers Meetings” – over 25 of them spread around the world – where you can go to get ideas, inspiration as well as a lot of practical advice on how to plan and organise your touring/travelling dreams, be they large or small.

TRF:

How did you get involved?

Steve:

I saw a post on the TRF Facebook Page asking for volunteers for the event. Being retired but also interested about travelling the world I thought it would be a perfect chance to both help out the TRF spread the word as well as possibly finding some snippets of information that might lead to further personal adventures.

TRF:

What did you actually have to do on the day?

Steve:

I’ve always liked the idea of helping others develop new skills and experiences – it comes from my Special Needs teaching background. So with early retirement I’ve started volunteering at events like the Rugby World Cup, horse events the Wiltshire TRF helps out at, taking part last year in the Byways Tour for The Wounded, and going on this year’s tour in July, arranging weekend ride events for the Wilts TRF group as well as taking riders from our Wilts TRF group to more challenging ride areas such as the Wye Valley in order to develop their skills and confidence.

The two days I was at the event went pretty quickly. I arrived around mid-day on the Thursday, got the bike out of the van, sorted out my sleeping kit, signed in and got a wrist armband then had a mosey at the trade stalls.

I went in to a presentation on living in a van for the past twelve years and travelling around the world on it – then legged it back to the van to meet Simon, Rupert, Mike and Wayne who had got the Hereford TRF banner up under their gazebo. We had one ride in the afternoon with one Dutch rider who had set off at 1am that morning from Holland crossed the Channel and was now riding off road for the first time in his life.

First lesson learned, trail riding in leathers is HOT!
On Thursday evening I went to a presentation about crossing Canada east to west on your own on a motorbike as well as having a meal in the dining room and a beer to finish the evening off. It was interesting listening to casual conversations about how couples managed their travel and work time etc which is also one of the main reasons 400 or so participants are at this HUBB meeting.

TRF:

How did the ride go? Was it the first time on green roads for some of your group? Did they enjoy themselves?

Steve:

I was lucky in so far as I didn’t need to organise or plan anything as a GPX route had been put together prior to the event and on the Thursday morning the Hereford guys had ridden the route to suss out any issues and although there were potentially harder sections we could have ridden it soon became obvious due to the inexperience of the bulk of the riders that we should stick to the given route. You do need an amount of common sense though as not everything can be covered prior to going to an event so there’s always the need for a bit of “can you tell me?” with organisers etc as I did on arrival which helped sort things out pretty quickly’

The three rides I took part in were a real mixture – we had one rider in Thursday PMs ride, twelve in Friday am ride and 3 in Friday pm ride. The common link was their inexperience in riding off road. You could quickly tell there were a couple of fast road riders – yet they all struggled to cope with the completely different approach to off road riding. In the first two rides I did my usual thing which was to pair up with a beginner, give them some TLC at the start and then give gentle coaching points as well as tons of positive praise as we went round the route. I really enjoyed helping our Dutch rider on Thursday as well as a BWM GS rider on the Friday, both who were shattered by the time they finished the ride, but were so grateful for our support as well as chuffed in finishing the route. The final ride I was back marker so shutting all the gates meant I spent a lot of time hanging back due to the dust in the air but it was so easy to work as a team due to the positive nature of the Hereford trio who sorted out who led, opened / shut gates etc.

My abiding memory is of my BMW rider asking after every lane –“is that the hardest one?” to which the answer was always “no!”. Guiding him safely down a steep, narrow, grassy byway where he really struggled with the weight and balance of the bike to be thanked so much both on the ride and after the ride was over was the icing on the cake and more than justified taking a couple of days off to help at this event.

TRF:

Do you think events like this are good for the TRF?

Steve:

Without doubt it’s a great idea the TRF taking part in such events. With a field full of motorcyclists it’s the perfect opportunity to get the word out about the TRF. This event also had the additional advantage of taking riders out and practically showing them what we experience when we use the byways that are still open to us – hopefully leading to more knowledge about our organisation as well as possible future members. From my point of view it was also great to meet guys from a different TRF group and get on with them so well!

There was a lot of positive feedback from the participants, several staying and chatting about the TRF, whether there were groups in their area and how to contact them so hopefully some new members might emerge as a result of our helping out at HUBBUK 2017.

TRF:

Thanks Steve!


The TRF is a great way to get to know your bike and develop the skills you might need for big tips on dirt roads. Our members can help you get to know your bike and how to ride it. Find out more and join here.