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For the UK adventure rider, there's no greater challenge than the idea of riding the length of Great Britain on as many Green Roads as possible.

With no 'classic' route to follow the challenge begins weeks if not months ahead as maps are pored over and marked up. Earlier this year Cornwall based trail rider Jim Beech pitched the idea to a group of mates and the adventure began... would they make it?

 

TRF:

Hi Jim, great to meet you. You are in quite an exclusive club of trail riders who can say they have ridden Green Roads from John O'Groats to Lands End, or 'Tip to Toe' as you called your trip. How did it come about?

Jim:

The idea of the trip actually evolved from watching a Vimeo of your own trip from Newcastle to London and back involving the TRF. 3 of us (Jim, Martin & Richie) started looking into the possibility of a John O’Groats to Lands End trip linking up as many green lanes as we could find.

Martin Chapman (CEO of Martins Motorcycles, Pool, Camborne, Cornwall) KTM 400EXC

Richie Carrington (Health & Officer) KTM 525 EXC

Jim Beech (myself - Teacher of Engineering, Design & Technology) KTM 500EXC 6 Days

Phil Harvey (Engineering Consultant) Kawasaki KLX 450 R

Graham Stephens (Transport Business) KTM 350 EXC

Greg Stephens KTM 350 EXC

Lawrence ‘Loz’ Ball – Support Vehicle Driver (Welder & Fabricator) Mercedes Sprinter Motorhome & Tow-A-Van.

We are all members of the KTRC (Kernow Trial Riding Club) with Graham & Greg also being members of the TRF. We do regular rides, events and social nights in Cornwall but venture into Devon, Wales & as far as Erzberg within the year.

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Team Orange get ready to hit the Green Road...

TRF:

Travelling the length of the UK on Green Roads must be a massive logistical challenge. As far as I am aware there is no 'classic' route to follow. How did you go about planning where to ride?

Jim:

The route planning took plenty of hours on Google maps, talking to folk who had done lots of UK riding and also friends who had competed in events in areas that we were planning on passing through, like the Welsh 2 Day.

 

We used social media to put the word out for scenic and rideable tracks then started putting pins in the map and joining up the route with green roads. We were tight in the planning knowing that we may need to be flexible when were actually riding and we may be restricted by time, energy, injury, breakdowns, repairs or mishaps each day. We gave ourselves 11 days to cover 2366 miles off road, compared to the 877 in a relatively straight line on tarmac.

 

TRF:

How did the trip pan out? Was it as you expected?

Jim:

The trip was amazing and went remarkably smoothly. We got close to running out of fuel once, only had 3 punctures despite using thick tubes and the Kawasaki went under water in a river crossing and required some minor fettling to get it back on song.

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Martin ‘Stumpy’ Chapman got the closest to losing his bike in a Welsh bog but after we’d taken photo’s and done plenty of laughing 4 of us, a towrope and a handful of throttle managed to free him up. We had a full range of weather including ice, snow, hail, sleet, rain and sunshine making the terrain changeable, challenging and always fun.

In Scotland we chose really small lanes running over mountains and alongside lochs, Yorkshire was gnarly, rocky paths and Wales offered us a mixture of bogs, grassy trails and fast forest fire roads. The closer to the South West we got the more we recognised the types of lane we’re used to riding. The UK really does look superb when you get away from the towns and cities and there’s plenty of great legal riding up for the taking.

Folk were so generous too – whenever we stopped and spoke to locals and talked about what we were doing we were offered hay barns, bunk rooms, static caravans and campsite pitches for free as well as making more donations for the charities we were supporting. (RNLI, Cornwall Air Ambulance, Lander For Uganda, Beths Inspiration and Handstand).

TRF:

You must have seen some incredible parts of the country. Do you think using the trail bike helped you get to places that would otherwise be quite difficult to experience?

Jim:

The bikes we used are our everyday road registered trail bikes. ‘Rock Oil’ offered us free lubricants, as their generous donation, so we dropped the oil and filters every other day but it was mint coming out and we could have done it every other two. Nothing else was done until we returned home. New pads and bearings lasted the distance – I even did the entire trip on one set of Mitas Military tyres.

 

Apart from that the bikes were the perfect transport for covering the miles & the terrain. For seeing every nook and cranny that you see on foot or mountain bike but also pounding out the miles to ensure we got to our destination when we had planned. Time is the real luxury here & we all had jobs, partners, kids and reality to get back to.

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A perfect Great British blend of hard work, rubbish weather and tea

 
If we did it again, we’d do more miles and include more lanes. For the odd bit of road work we did they were equally fast, comfortable and pacey as they were on the rough stuff. It was ace getting up every day thinking all we were going do was ride all day - again!!

TRF:

I can imagine that reaching the 'Toe' of England must have been a bitter sweet feeling, great to have finished but sad to have to get off the bike. What would you say to anyone else who is thinking about doing this kind of trip in the future?

Jim:

Reaching Lanner near Redruth and meeting up with loads of pals and local club riders for the last leg to Lands End was incredible but the welcome at the finish was even more of a surprise. Laurence, our Support Van Driver, ditched the van and rode with us for the final stretch. Loads more friends, family and folk who had been tracking us on social media down the UK turned up to welcome us home on a gloriously sunny Cornish day – along with Large Steak Philps Pasties to be washed down with a Cornish Tribute Ale. It was a real mixed sense of relief and great adventure coming to an end.

If we were to do it again or offer advice to others it would be to try smaller adventures first. Go trail bike camping for the weekend a few times, then extend it to 4 days and so on. Test your kit, know your limits, your spares and mechanical knowledge to get you out of trouble. Also travel light, it’s incredible how much you can do without. Good maps are as useful as sat navs and an aftermarket 12v USB socket can charge most things you’ll need. Go do it!!

TRF:

Thanks Jim!
 
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Was there ever a more hard won Cornish pasty?


Green Roads criss cross every corner of the UK. Regional TRF groups help to manage the network and are a great way of learning where you can and can't ride.