It has been early three years since I had my first and the only ride in Europe. Mark has been doing this kind of ride for more than a decade. Before we went, he warned me that I would be hooked. Oh yes, what a ride: rian, gale force wind, alps & the night in Gap… I will never forget it, I always want to do it again.
Last two years, I simply didn’t have the chance to ride over. During last winter, I decided that I would do it again this year by myself. I started planning to get ready: fitting my own customised hand-guards, adopting a chain oiler to make the chain last longer and fitting a top box. All these enhancements aim to improve a long distance riding comfort and increase luggage capacity. To help me to know where to go, I also equipped myself a motorcycle sat-nav. All of these equipments are second-hand and bought either from my biking friends or an online auction site.
To complete the whole make over, I got a pair of panniers and I asked Dave to tailor made some brackets for them. Dave has just recently retired from Jaguar as an engineer and we have been riding together for some time. It is amazing to see his craftsmanship on how to build these simple, yet effective frames. The finish is exceptional and it is very rare to know if anyone still has such skill set. Dave was awarded a car from Ford/Jaguar before which was an acknowledgement for one of his designs; no wonder Jaguar wouldn’t let him retire. I wonder nowadays how many of us would have developed such a skill as we are all encouraged to buy things rather than make things.
My choice of transport would have to be Yami. When I first bought her, I knew she would be ideal for a long trip. So far not only the ride has been comfortable, Yami has also proved to be excellent on roads up in the hills and mountains. Last year we had a ‘Initial D’ moment when we were challenged to run with a group of Chinese with newer and faster bikes in North Wales. It was so satisfying to show them how to ride on these roads especially when they called her a junk at the first place! I did wish to have a camera with me to capture their reactions when we overtook them. Not only we outran them, we smoked them! Therefore it would only be logic to use Yami for this trip.
Next step: Plan my route and destination.