It's been a little while since I have been out on my bike, and then it was only using it to get to work and back.
This time last year I was in final preparation for my trip around the UK, but nothing planned for this year - it's been a bit busy with just getting on with life!
However, I had a week off and the initial plan was to spend 4 days travelling around Wales, but as the week grew closer I went down with a heavy cold/man flu which left me feeling completely drained. There was no way I was going to be riding a bike for 4 days as much as I wanted to.
By Thursday I was feeling a bit better and pissed off that I hadn't been able to get out, so that night I hatched a plan to do a monster dash to Wales and back in a day!
Now, I live on the South Coast in the New Forest - Wales is a good distance away!
After looking at the map I really wanted to get to Brecon, but realistically if I managed to just get over the border and to Monmouth I would be happy.
So I prepared the bike the night before, which meant topping up oil and loading tool bag on board and I was ready for the off at first light!
The next morning was dry but frosty, but as long as it wasn't raining I didn't care. I said my goodbye's to Kiera who thought I was mad and who thought that I may be back at some point but not the same evening, and so with the mileage reading 14892.4 I was off!
Here is Lucille fitted with sheepskin seat which kept my arse toasty warm and handlebar muffs. This was the first time I had used the muffs and they were brilliant! The panniers were full of tools and spares, just in case I came across a BMW GS rider in need of assistance and I took a rucksack. This was also a first as I had never ridden with one on before so was a bit unsure how comfortable it was. As it happened I felt as if it kept my back nice and warm!
I had no real plan, just a general direction of travel but knew I didn't really want to go through Bath as it is pretty congested at the best of times.
So I left New Milton (home) at 0740 hrs and headed North towards Bransgore where I crossed country towards Hurn and followed the old road up towards Ringwood. Passing through Verwood and heading out towards Cranborne, Sixpenny Handley and Tollard Royal.
Up on the "Chase" as it's known it is high up and exposed and there was a lot of ice around on the sides of the road. Being only lanes, the chances of it being treated by the council would be non existent, so I had to keep my wits about me!
Dropping down to Shaftesbury I had the pleasure of Zig Zag hill. It's not called Zig Zag for nothing! Shaftesbury I stopped for fuel, a pee, coffee and a much needed bacon roll! Of course I needed to warm up, as my feet were suffering the most.
Onwards, and heading towards Warminster, once more up on the downs it was bitterly cold, but the sun was shining so I started to warm up slowly.
Westbury, the outskirts of Trowbridge before I headed towards Melksham and on to Chippenham. Across the M4 and I took my next stop at a little garage by Hullavington Airfield. This was just a splash and dash stop, so no brew this time!
Past Malmesbury then a left on a little road the B4014 towards Tetbury. Keeping to the lanes which were easy to ride it was straight on till I hit Stroud.
Here I picked up signs for Gloucester. No matter how many I times I have been through Gloucester I seem to go on different roads every time and this day was no different.
I then headed out on the A40 towards Ross on Wye turning off just past Huntley on the A4136 which winds it's self through the Forest of Dean and all the way to Monmouth!
I pulled in to Monmouth High Street around 1340, 6hrs of riding and two fuel stops.
A brew in Costa Coffee and refuelled ready for the return trip.
As usual, you cannot help but be noticed when riding a C90. I guy came up to me and said, that is roofing flashing on those leg shields isn't it? Well spotted Sir, and we had a chuckle about it.
Heading back I knew would be harder, due to tiredness and the fact that the last bit of the journey would be in darkness.
So, away we went following the same route back, apart from Gloucester, as I managed once more to go a different way!
I managed to get back to Chippenham before I needed to stop and a thaw out. By the time I was ready to leave it was almost dark, this is where my new lights on the front of the bike really earnt their place on the bike.
With the darkness came the cold as the temperature started to drop rapidly. I got back to Shaftesbury and was very cold indeed. It took 20 minutes of walking around and drinking hot chocolate to thaw out.
It wasn't as if I was wearing the wrong clothing either, I had a compression top, a t-shirt, a fleece jumper, plus my lined motorcycle jacket. My legs covered by Ron Hill tracksuit bottoms and my winter motorcycle lined trousers. My feet were in high performance Falke socks. But I was still cold!
The last stretch was before me, and I knew that this could be the worst part of the journey. I dug out my waterproof jacket and put this on as well, and set off.
Strange though as this now was the warmest I had felt all day!
The trip back across the "Chase" was good, and I headed straight for Ringwood, dropping back through Bransgore and home.
I got in at 2100hrs, cold, tired and hungry but very happy indeed. Kiera said it was the happiest she had seen me in weeks!
Which just proves that a bloke needs to get out on his bike more often!
The final mileage for the day ended up at 15163.5 which gives a total days mileage of 271.1 miles. Not bad for a fat bloke on an old Honda C90!!!!
As per normal, Lucille did not miss a beat and was a joy to ride. For this trip I used my new flip front helmet. I bought this at the NEC bike show recently and I must say it was great to wear, especially wearing it for the length of time I did.
So all in all, a cracking day out, but lack of photographs due to not wanting to stop!
The journey continues...........