I think I’m almost as passionate about Scotland as I am about motorcycles, scotch and good coffee (which means it’s significant). I first travelled to Scotland in 2017 for our NC500 Adventure. I fell in love with the scenery, the roads and the people. I knew I would be heading back.
In August 2019 I set off on tour to explore the West Coast of Scotland and, more importantly, the Isle of Mull and the Isle of Skye. I decided to call this adventure the “Western Isles Tour”. Now, I must put my hand up and admit that I have made a mistake. I have been advised by several followers that the Isle of Mull and Skye are not part of the Western Isles. Please accept my apologies for this error! (But to me, Mull and Skye were the Western Isles, for this adventure at least!)
The tour itself took place over five days and was designed to take in key parts of the Scottish Highlands, the West coast as well as the Isles of Mull and Skye. In total, the adventure covered over 1,300 miles, starting and ending in Manchester. AKA Team Mapped Base Camp. Although, the true start point is Loch Lomond.
It’s well documented that riding a motorbike can bring a huge sense of freedom and when you tour solo for longer distances over many days this feeling is even greater. For a beginner, that first big solo motorcycle trip can be quite daunting, raising many what-if questions – what if I break down? what if I get lost? Some people are just more naturally confident, whilst others are less so, worry more and find the idea of riding out into the unknown uneasy.
If you’ve not travelled long distance by bike solo before and are somewhat nervous of the proposition, but do what to overcome this fear and explore, then read on. This article will hopefully give you some tips to beat those fears and plan for a trouble free motorcycle tour.
My planned trip to California to rent a Yamaha Super Ténéré from Eagle Rider and head inland to take on Yosemite National Park all went to plan without hitch. The weather was perfect, the snow stayed away and the Tiago Pass stayed open. Experiencing Yosemite off season at the end of October and riding the Tiago Pass on a weekday was probably a shrewd move to avoid the crowds and ride the roads at their quietest to enjoy the stunning scenery at it’s best. Below are some video highlights from my trip through Yosemite.
I was recently assigned a new work project that required a visit to San Francisco to work with a client for a few days in October, and so of course I got to thinking if I could incorporate some motorbike time whilst out there. Prior visits to the Bay area, where I had chance to rent a Harley Davidson Dyna 103, a Road King 107 and Triumph Bonneville T100 were all very memorable. However, I have always wanted to visit Yosemite National Park, being renowned for it’s natural beauty. At ~200 miles inland, I’ve just never had longer enough to get there with time to appreciate it within a weekend bike rental.
For this upcoming trip I’ve arranged my outgoing flight 3 days earlier (and actually saving the company money to boot!) to fit in a rough itinerary of:
Day 1 – collect bike in San Fran and ride 200 miles to Yosemite
Day 2 – explore Yosemite, Tioga Pass and ride up to Lake Tahoe
Day 3 – back to San Fran via Sacramento to drop bike off
It’s been a little while since my last update here, July and August have been a rather hectic with all kinds of biking antics on the go. Here’s a brief catchup of the highlights:
Mary in Scotland
The end of July saw Mary heading up to Scotland for a the Curvy Riders MC annual meet up. This year located just outside Glasgow, many women bikers from across the UK gathering for the club’s AGM, ride outs, spa sessions and of course much partying. A bit of a mission from London, made worse by the crazy heatwave hitting the country.
Continuing my MT09 adventure down under in Brisbane, for my second day I followed a route loosely based on this Rent This Bike blog post, an epic loop heading North West of Brisbane around lake Wivenhoe, taking in Mount Glorious, then North West over to Kingaroy, through Bunya Mountain and then back via Cooyar, Crows Nest and Esk. A substantial ride to do in one day at around 535 km, that left me minimal time to stop and explore along the route, before riding back into Brisbane after dark due to the early autumn nights. Definitely get out on the road early or consider stopping the night half way for a more leisurely cruise.
So when my boss turned round and asked if I could join him on a sales trip to a prospective customer in Brisbane, I of course jumped at the opportunity. Sure, there was quite a lot of technical prep work setting up demo systems for presentations, the arduous sales meeting itself and the long flights (not business class sadly). But it did afford me chance to grab a couple of free days to rent a bike and explore some of Australia’s beautiful East coast. Being my first visit to Australia, I was keen to see as much of it as I could cram into my time there.
For motorcycle rental, a quick Google revealed Eagle Rider had a shop in Brisbane, certainly tempting having rented from them previously in Sam Francisco. However, I also found the smaller local firm Rent This Bike, with a good choice of bikes and very competitive pricing. They were also more flexible on return times, affording me two full days of riding. I only had a Friday and Saturday free time and EagleRider close at 3pm on Saturdays, whereas Rent This Bike were happy to accommodate pick up and drop offs from 7am to 7pm any day.
Over the last year, I’ve made a number of trips to the San Francisco Bay Area, hiring a number of bikes out there and explored many great roads and locations. Here I have rounded up some of the best routes I enjoyed ready for you to download and check out if you’re in the area.
Having rented big Hog’s on two prior work trips to San Jose, I opted for something a little different on my last visit. The Triumph Bonneville T100 is perhaps an unlikely choice, but was surprisingly capable and comfortable to explore the Bay area from Santa Cruz up to to Petaluma in the North, whilst still being a lot of fun to fling round the bends. Check out the highlights from my weekend adventure.