Who else is fighting to keep our green roads?May 4, 2015
12 sheep and it’s a traffic jamMay 18, 2015
What would happen if you tried to ride a 15 year old trials motorbike from one side of the country to the other? No seat. 30mph max speed. Tiny fuel tank. Would man and machine make it?
That's just what Greg Villalobos (Northumbria TRF) and Noel Thom set out to find out.
We caught up with Greg to find out just how stiff his legs were after the attempt.
Hi Greg. So this trip, the only question really is why?
Well, it's the classic answer really, why not! If you want something a little deeper then it's two fold. Firstly, it's down to practicality. I have two bikes, a KTM 450 which I have ridden all over the country, and a recently bought 15 year old Montesa Trials bike. I wanted to see what the Montesa was like for Green Laning so needed to get it road registered. Once I had started down that road then it made sense to do something a bit bigger on it.
The perfect green laning bike or an instrument of torture? Only time would tell
The second reason is a bit more philosophical. Once you start getting into the whole adventure motorcycling thing you realise that at any given point in time there are tons of people out riding their bikes all over the world. They all have blogs and Facebook pages so if you tap into the network it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the adventures that people are having. I've done trips abroad before on 2 wheels (actually they had pedals attached), but I know what it takes to pack everything up and disappear for months or even years. Right now I'm about to become a Dad and I just couldn't get away. I actually didn't really want to get away either, I quite like my life right now!
So it was really about taking that same adventurous approach and seeing how I could apply it to something that you could literally do over a long weekend from your front door.
It wasn't just the bikes that needed excessive refuelling
That's interesting. I guess people normally associate adventure with big overland trips. It's easy to forget what we have here on our doorstep.
Exactly. When I explain to people what Green Laning is and why I enjoy it so much I always come back to this idea that I can get up at 7am on a Saturday morning go out for 10 hours and come back having had a massive adventure.
I've been pushed physically, ridden over terrain that tested me to the limit of my riding ability, seen breathtaking views of England that very few people get to experience, got stuck and enjoyed the camaraderie of my friends helping me out, and putting my ingenuity and inventiveness to the test by fixing the bikes that have broken down.
And I get to come home and get into my own bed at the end of the day!
The 'H' in Northumberland has never been this easy
You're making me want to get out on my bike right now. So what was involved? A lot of planning?
Well the hardest part was getting the bikes road registered. I had no idea how much of a pain that would be, back and forth between the DVLA and HMRC. There was actually meant to be 3 of us but Davy's registration didn't come through in time. For me the only prep I did on the bike was to give the plastics a home made paint job. Apart from that everything else was bog standard. Noel of course cheated his back legs off by fitting a big tank and seat, but hey he's older and has to look after his knees…
The route planning was fairly easy as I know the lanes on the east coast and Noel knows them on the west.
We did have a GPS that filled in a few gaps but mostly this trip was less about exploring new lands and more a case of exploring our bikes and ourselves.
We knew that we would have various challenges to overcome, mechanically, fuel etc. That was the adventurous bit, knowing that something would break but not knowing what, when or where.
Before we left I was certain that we would be coming home in a recovery van. The Montesa kept overheating. I remember looking down and seeing huge plumes of white smoke billowing out behind me. I thought I was on fire. And of course the fuel issue. I had originally planned on taking a 5 litre can with me, but in the end I ditched it in favour of my DSLR camera - there was only so much room. I had my 3 litre tank on the bike and two one litre bottles in my bag. In the end I did run out of fuel next to the sign for Alston town, a mere 500 yards from the petrol station. Of course Noel had his super tank and rode to the rescue.
The biggest surprise of the trip was going to sleep under clear skies and waking up with the tent covered with snow. That was pretty special.
What a difference a day makes. Expect all weather when camping on the roof of England
The film you made has had a lot of interest on line. Almost 20,000 views so far.
That was a nice surprise, and for some reason most of those came from Russia! I think it has been picked up by the Trial Riding community, which is ironic seeing as I haven't even done a trial, though it's on my 'to do' list. I have made a lot of films as part of my work and try and construct them around a story if I can. We are blessed with so much high quality recording gear these days, everyone has a GoPro, but the hardest thing is making something that is engaging and that keeps people's attention. Only a fraction of what I record makes it into the film, and as I'm riding I'm constantly building a storyboard in my head, 'that shot would go with this one, I need a wide shot here and it would be good to set this shot up if I can'.
Greg runs dry agonisingly close to Alston and fuel
The joys of refuelling a 2 stroke
Noel has written up the trip so we'll be sending that off to a few magazines soon. In some ways this was one last hurrah before my baby arrives in May as I know things are going to get pretty hectic after that. That's the next adventure really, though I'm trying to figure out how it can involve two wheels and a combustion engine. I'm sure it can be done, can't it…?
Celebrating success like any true Brit. A cup of tea on the beach. Sort of.
Fancy having a go at riding coast to coast on Green Roads? Want to do it in the comfort of a bike with a seat? Teeside & North Yorkshire TRF are hosting a guided Coast to Coast ride this summer. Click here to download the booking form.
If you enjoyed Greg's film, take a look at The Green Lane Relay where he rode his KTM 450 from Newcastle to London and back guided solely by TRF members.