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INTO THE WILD

A THREE NIGHT BREAK OUT OF TOWN - WITH A SOMEWHAT SPEEDY MOTORCYCLE JOURNEY TO START!

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Here's a story from the pen of a friend of Wemoto about an escape from town on his motorcycle, probably what we all want to do at the moment – get away from it all. So here it is, with many thanks...

The plan was to take my Guzzi to our three night break in Blackwood Forest, Lock down was easing and half of London would want to escape on the first weekend. So, if I went on the bike I wouldn't have to share the car with the kids (who are  in their twenties now) and subject them to my four wheel road rage. Talk about a no brainer.

Then, at 6pm on Friday night, Pascale looked up the booking details and mentioned that we needed to check in by 8pm. The prospect of eighty odd miles in two hours with almost half of it through London threw me. I went into my old despatch mode
"Urgent job SE15 to Basingstoke 2 hour deadline, can you do that one zero?"

Trusty Guzzi
I left the house at 6.10 and hopped on my trusty? Old (officially historic) Guzzi thinking, what's the quickest route to the M3? I kind of made it up as I went, trying to remember fuel stations on the way. It was pushing 7pm as I filled up just south of Wandsworth Bridge after a tense blast across south London in the rush hour. There was a queue to pay which wound me up, then I was off through Putney, Barnes and eventually the top of the 316 where I found myself following a Police car at the statutory 40mph. I hung back until he turned off.

Then, at last, the M3, time to wind up the old girl. Before long we were proper thundering along and the sign said Basingstoke 35 Miles. My speedo has long gone but I was up there with the middle and fast lanes with the cars. I was aiming for Junction 7 at which point I would need to check my phone gps for the last bit. Then my foot slipped off the left foot peg. I looked down to see my boot covered in slippy black 20/50. My instinct has historically been to catastrophize and I looked around the left hand pot thinking, head gasket, the power still felt good despite my foot slipping wildly off the peg. I pulled over at the next exit. Of course the dipstick had come loose. "Rodney you dipstick" well I do live in Peckham. In the rush to leave I hadn't as much as grabbed the traveller's favourite tool... an adjustable.

So I turned the hot 22mm dipstick as finger tight as my gloves would permit and off we went. I pulled into reception at the forest at 10 minutes to 8 and checked in, the car load were an hour behind! I'd done it and it was great, POD Forest hols Basingstoke I hour 40 mins, 88 miles.

The Adventure Has Begun
Whilst tearing along I had had an idea, I could do with a bike in Cornwall where I am lucky enough to have a house...this Guzzi is going to live in Cornwall now. I can take it to my friend Nero's in Bristol on Monday morning, go back on the train and grab it on the way down to Cornwall next weekend. This time, I am TE Lawrence on his Brough: well I am a stone's throw from his old gaff at Clouds Hill, and my bike is a V Twin. The adventure has begun. The first thing I need to find is an adjustable!

In Search Of An Adjustable
Waking up in the forest with a hot tub bubbling outside the French windows a year after Covid struck, was an experience hard to describe in its tranquillity and beauty. The Guzzi was basking in the sun nearby and the kids had gone to Portsmouth for fish and chips.

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The day was feeling pretty perfect already. After a dip, I grabbed my lid and set off to Winchester in search of an adjustable. We used to teach something called Tool Priority at the project where I work, it started with ratchet and hex socket and ends with mole grips. The kids always listed the adjustable as the best tool and I soon found one for two quid in Poundland, hang on I thought, that's a slight contradiction. I bought an expensive litre of oil in a service station, bungeed it on my rack and headed off back to the forest.

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The road was beautiful and deserted. TE Lawrence used to blast up to London for a night out before returning to Clouds Hill before he the final off in these parts, nearly 90 years ago. He once raced a Tiger Moth. Right on queue a Hawker Hurricane flew over my head and I was transported back in the daydream. I pulled up back at the cabin, kicked the enormous Guzzi propstand and reached for the oil which was no longer bungeed on the back. Apart from my environmental concern I had just let seven quid bounce down the road somewhere, so off I went backtracking. I spotted the weeping bottle about three miles back, some one had run it over and it was split but I strapped it back on upside down and headed back to top and tightened up the dipstick with my two pound tool. We chilled as they say for the next couple of days.

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Early Monday Morning
I needed to be back in London by Monday afternoon so planned to leave very early Monday for the next leg of my trip.

The blast down from London had given me a taste for it, so no turning back now, I am covid free and double jabbed. How much more can one self isolate than solo on a motorcycle?  The next leg, Winchester to Bristol was 100 or so miles and I estimated it should take me less than two hours. I  needed to leave at 5am to catch a London train around 9am and after binging on Line of Duty on Sunday night, I had four hours sleep.

At 4.45 I layered up with my new gold top leather. I love a pose and chose to top it off with a Davida pudding bowl lid that I'd scored off the marketplace. That was dumb, ten minutes later after I joined the A303, I pulled over and pushed my Wemoto necktube into all the gaps between face nose goggles and helmet. It was cold and misty and it hurt a bit. I thought maybe the sunrise will bring some warmth but also realised my ETA was 8am so not much chance of more than a couple of degrees of temperature increase in the next two hours. I missed the A36 turn to Salisbury and was certainly not going to pull into a lay-by to check Google Maps, that would mean taking my gloves off and unzipping.

Stonehenge In A Fog
I had passed Stonehenge in fog so I didn't see it, now I was looking for somewhere to stop and check where I was. I pulled over at the first petrol station and went inside. There was a coffee machine and an espresso brought me back to life, the lovely lady advised that if I took the next right I would save ten minutes. I had stopped at exactly the right spot to correct my earlier error and now Bristol was close, about forty miles from memory. It was still a bit chilly and the shadow side of valleys noticeably cooler than those catching the early morning sun.

At ten to eight I rolled up at Nero's workshop, the bike hadn't missed a beat and I had loved the early morning blast despite the questionable choice of attire. Still, I doubt TE Lawrence even wore a helmet, he was well hard.

Nero got the kettle on, then dropped me at a station and I pulled in to Paddington at half twelve. The bike is having a rest in his workshop until I collect it for the next leg. On the train home my mind was buzzing with ideas for more trips, it's been a long lockdown and now Mandello de Lario beckons for Moto Guzzi's 100th anniversary in September, I wonder which bike to take, maybe the Le Mans if it survives another track day at Brands on May 6th.
Article written by Neil Waugh

Well thanks very much for the story Neil, a good time was had by all here clearly and the bit about the oil falling off the back, it's happened to us all!

Have you been anywhere on your bike yet dear reader? If so tell us about it – it's always great to have some good news stories, email us at news@wemoto.com or drop us a message on Facebook.

Posted by Guest Post
for Wemoto News on 29 April 2021 in Features

Edited By: Denisa Orbulescu

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