6 riders 2 pillions & 2000 miles
When 8 members of the Halton Motorbike Club gathered outside Halton House Officers Mess excited about the week ahead, they couldn’t have imagined what May weather lay in store. After the obligatory photo Jan De-Vry, Si Taylor, Clare Wells, James Render, Jo Owen, Josey Wales, Rob Chisholm and Graham Shackleton set off on the epic journey to Elgin, Scotland, 552 miles away.
After trying to ride in convoy through Bedford, receiving cheers from children and scowls from parents, and losing certain people along the way, the journey went quite smoothly as we travelled north. Spirits were high and plan B ‘ride to RAF Boulmer and decide whether to stay or push on to Elgin’ emerged! Clouds are attracted to motorbikes – fact. The further north we went the colder it got and the more rain we hit. A few of the comms systems were turned off for the sanity of the riders! We sped past RAF Boulmer and dreams of returning circulation vanished in the exhaust fumes! At the Scottish border we stopped for a photo and leg stretch, however Jan gleefully informed us that we were about half way there! Despite the growing dark clouds we took the scenic route through the Cairngorms. With most wearing waterproofs and the comms systems switched back on, we rode through beautiful scenery accompanied by horizontal rain. We finally reached Elgin, pulled up to our base, Jan’s house and fell off our bikes while Graham congratulated himself for trading his sports bike for a comfortable cruiser.
On day 2 over breakfast the maps and the weather forecast were checked and the route was planned, with lots of stops for stretches! We headed to Aberdeen in good weather, light rain and after a stop at a bike shop for James to try on 10 waterproof jackets we travelled north up the coast stopping at Baxters café (named after the local soup factory). We continued north along the beautiful coast with only light drizzle and looped back to Elgin. The frequent stops served well and the atmosphere in the house that evening was a lot jollier. Tales from the day were swapped, bruises were compared and routes for the next few days were discussed.
Day 3 saw us on awesome sweeping corners and long straights, perfect for warming the tyres up and getting rid of squared edges created by travelling to Scotland on main roads. The roads around Loch Ness and Fort Augustus made the journey worth it; it was as if the roads had been made for bikers. The weather was great and the views around the whole loch were amazing. We made frequent short stops to drink in the views, everyone felt recovered from the journey up and made the most of the clear roads. For any avid bikers yet to travel north of the border…..do it! Everyone returned to Elgin refreshed and chatting non-stop about the awesome day.
On day 4 the weather forecast meant a race against the rain as dark clouds gathered menacingly. Dressed warmly, with waterproofs prepped – we made for the Isle of Skye. The strong cold wind made the lightest drizzle uncomfortable. At the Skye Bridge desperate for a cuppa and hot food it was eerily quiet and we soon discovered why…the Isle of Skye was closed! Annoyed and very hungry we ventured back to Kyle of Lochalsh for fish and chips. Jan had a face like thunder after forgetting his waterproofs, or as he said ‘trusting Josey’s rain-free route’! The fog and rain meant the journey to the top of Applecross Pass had to be aborted.
Day 5 brought a desire to enjoy our last ride by returning to Loch Ness. We went the opposite way around the lake and after Fort Augusta we headed back to Elgin where Graham set his camera up to get photos of everyone riding together. The bike swapping throughout the latter part of the week led the talk to which bike to buy next! A trip to the garage for new rear tyres was essential and obviously a photo outside RAF Kinloss was needed before we headed home! That evening everyone talked passionately about the week, and felt they had gained a lot as riders, the journey up had been tough but, due to the awesome roads and morale in the team it had been worth it! Everyone had forgotten about the pain of the first day and started planning the next outing. On the final day no-one was that keen to start the journey back and by the time everyone returned we were ready for a break from riding for a while! For info on RAF Halton’s Motorbike Club, contact Graham Shackleton on Ext. 6117 or Cpl Rob Chisholm on Ext. 6129