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PANDEMIC TALES PT. I

A TALE OF MOTORCYCLE OUTINGS IN THE YEAR OF CORONA-VIRUS FROM THE PEN OF JOHN NEWMAN...

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One of the manifestations of the Corona virus pandemic has been the way the months have distorted our perspectives of time. It is often difficult to recall events, our experience of them, and over what time period they took place.

I do remember in the first period of restrictions that began last March, that a lively debate ensued as to whether riding our bikes could or should be considered as part of the limited exercise menu that we were allowed and encouraged to participate in.

As many of us will have argued, once you put your riding gear on, it makes for very effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). If you kept your gloves and helmet on, or if stopped pulled up your neck tube as a face covering; you and others who might be near would be protected.

The argument didn't hold up, and subsequently the police and the industry body agreed that motorcycle riding was not an exception to the rules. In the part of the country where I live, Yorkshire; the police were active in stopping riders heading for the popular roads through the Dales.


Sunny Miles
Eventually, on 23rd June, the first restrictions were lifted; perhaps too soon given the situation we now face. But that's another complicated and complex political story, and not one for these pages. However, along with the rest of the population, motorcyclists and the others, I looked forward to putting in some sunny miles, and meeting friends who I'd only been in electronic contact with for the past couple of months or so.

Back in August Wemoto published a feature written by Dave Newman (brother). Titled 'Up t'North' telling of an off road coast to coast saga beginning in Whitby, North Yorkshire. The ride took place on the first weekend that hotels and guest houses were free to take bookings again. So I proposed to another Dave, a motorcycling friend of many, many years, that we also head up to to Whitby and meet up with the 'trailie boys' for the craic and sociability.

Dave lives in Brighton, and the initial stage of his journey involved a long hack of around 270 miles. Fortunately he has a comfortable mile crunching Triumph Explorer, the shaft drive 1200cc bike that they have placed in their 'Adventure Bike' category. Though it would take a brave and bold, and possibly foolish rider to attempt anything too adventurous, given the height and weight of these machines. My BMW F800R, described by one reviewer as a 'grown up' middleweight naked, sat waiting to roll some decent mileage through the wheels.

As we dropped down into Whitby a hollering caught our attention. Our four mates on their trailies had also arrived in town. We immediately pulled over and exchanged greetings and gloved handshakes; and made the right admiring comments about Martin and Mike's new and gleaming Yamaha Teneres - their forthcoming ride would literally take the shine off.

Our plan was to check in to our accommodation, change, a couple of beers, and then take a taxi out to the village and pub/hotel where the off road contingent were camped and accommodated. Distancing rules applied to pubs and restaurants, and some of the smaller premises were not open. Whitby was busy. Like us, people were relieved to have been set free. We found a pub on the harbour, registered our details, and were directed to a corner space by the friendly security blokes.

At the Horseshoe Hotel in Egton Bridge it was good to be supping a few beers and having a yarn about riding. Lively banter and piss taking quickly elevated the noise level. The landlord had sensibly reserved us a separate room, away from his other customers. Amongst all this we managed to get some information about the route, and agreed that we would meet up with them the following day at Reeth, a delightful and popular village, out in the Dales beyond Leyburn. Then perhaps arrange another meet with the group further down the track so to speak.

We headed back to the Horseshoe hotel, thinking that late night revelry would have delayed their departure; but there was not a trail bike to be seen. So we plotted our road route, a civilised jaunt combining coffee and lunch stops before Reeth. Where we joined the ice cream queue, and hung around, and hung around. No answer from mobile phones. Assuming the going was tougher than they had anticipated, we headed back to Whitby.


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Breakfast Conference
After a breakfast conference Dave and I decided that trying to locate the trail group was not top of our agenda now. We would head towards my home, but Dave would continue on to Chester to stay with his son. It was sunny and warmish. We parted company at Denby Dale, and he continued west.

A call from brother Dave. He and Martin, were about an hour away from Huddersfield. Their bikes needed some attention, and they would require food and lodging. No problem. Dave's KTM was making noises that were not healthy and not conducive to a further couple of hundred miles back to London.

The Tenere had several bent components; footpegs, silencer, busted number plate. Not looking good for a '20 registered bike.

We bashed and bodged and cable tied outside my garage to the interest and amusement of my neighbours, and the curiosity of several blokes walking their dogs. A couple of muddy trail bikes obviously got the memory juices running for a couple that stopped to chat. There are a lot of ex motorcyclists around.

The KTM still wasn't well, even with a slug of fresh oil. Where did the other oil go? Burned? Big single trail bikes don't cope that well with long road mileage. It made it as far as Grantham on the A1 before a recovery vehicle was required - the engine rebuild is almost complete.

Martin's Tenere was the subject of another Wemoto feature in September when it was stolen from outside his parent's house in South London, while they were chatting over coffee. Never a dull moment!

Thanks very much John for this tale of - having a nice time with mates on two wheels - despite the heavy hand of Covid! Looking forward to reading part two. Anyone else out there got some tales to tell of riding in these strange times? We'd love to hear them if so - email us at news@wemoto.com or drop us a message on Facebook. Thank you and stay safe.

Posted by John Newman
for Wemoto News on 20 January 2021 in Features

Edited By: Denisa Orbulescu

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