Just home from another long jaunt across the middle of England, from London to Shrewsbury, and back. Catching up with family for the weekend up in Shrewsbury, Welshpool and surrounding areas. I took a slightly different route from last time, running a little further North.
Over the weekend I rode up to Shrewsbury on the bike to see family. Heading North I took boring motorways, but on my return South I took a far more enjoyable and scenic route:
As the days grow longer and my IAM course progresses, I have been looking for decent routes to hit after work on my commute home to squeeze in some extra practice and take advantage of the lovely weather. I ride home Eastbound on the A13, so have been hunting down quiet, yet interesting roads in close proximity to the areas of Upminster, Bulphan, Tilbury, Horndon-on-the-Hill and Brentwood. This is my route:
It’s Christmas! – screamed Slade. For bikers up and down the country that means Toy Runs. Not just any old excuse for a ride out, but a chance to dress up, decorate the bike and most importantly take some toys to kids stuck in hospital this Christmas. On Sunday I joined the Ace Cafe Toy Run, which visited the children’s wing of St. Mary’s in Paddington, Royal Brompton in Chelsea and the Evelina Children’s Hospital in Westminster.
I took my 8 year old daughter along with me, who was super excited and had wrapped our presents days in advance. The weather held out well, just a spot chilly in the morning and we finished off with bacon sarnies and complementary drinks back at the Ace. Here’s some snaps from the day, most taken by my daughter!
On Sunday, the weather was dry, sunny and perfect for a ride on the bike. We set out early, to make the most of quieter roads and avoid the unbearable midday heat and set off into deepest Essex.
This was Evie’s first proper ride out, having only been on short journey’s around local streets to get used to riding pillion. Decked out in a Hein Gericke textile suit with armour, RST boots and Caberg lid, she was more than prepared. We briefly stopped at the High Beach tea hut, but got bored waiting for it to open so dashed off straight to Finchingfield, via Ongar, Leaden Roding and Great Dunmow, a popular run for all bikers. Evie was a good pillion, quickly got the hang of leaning with me around all the twisty bends. Just a bit wobbly as she was looking around lots.
In Finchingfield we popped into the Bosworth’s Tea Rooms for a quite bacon buttie and coffee, Evie had a sausage sarnie and juice. Very nice and far better espresso than High Beach. Fed and watered we set off home and were back for noon. There’s definitely plenty of good arguments for an early Sunday morning ride out.
It was a lovely sunny summer evening, I Managed to blag leaving work earlier, a night free from kids and my Fazer had a full tank of fuel. I really fancied a chippie tea and the Fazer Owner Club – Unofficial were riding into the far reaches of Kent. Like planets falling into alignment, everything was all set. I left central London, down A2 via Blackheath and on to Nell’s Cafe in Gravesend for the rendezvous, where I had a good natter to some of the Kent branch of the IAM (really must do that some day soon). A quick blast down the M2 took us deep into Kent, where top chap Steve led us along some nice twisty country roads before stopping off in Herne Bay for our chippie tea. Not the cheapest Fish’n’Chips, but a decent one it was, and great to sit by the sea eating whilst the sun slowly came down.
Once sated, onwards we rode along some great minor roads and twisty country byways skirting Canterbury and Dover, before finally calling it a day when we had exhausted all daylight.
Big thanks to Steve for leading this ride.
A couple of months ago a 16 year old kid, also named Arthur, posted on London Bikers, requesting an escort for his upcoming school prom night. Not really needing much of an excuse for a ride out, a large group jumped at the opportunity with one prominent forum member offering a pillion seat on his swish Ducati Pangile 1199. Last night was Prom night and what a night it was.
Around 30-40 bikers descended on Arthur’s house, where his family fed us all tea and biscuits. We then set off for a brief ride out around Epping forest with a quick stop at the high Beach Tea Hut, before continuing to the hotel hosting the prom night, for our big entrance. We arrived in force, made loads of noise and had few burn outs all to the cheers of the Prom school kids. We definitely went down as one of the more memorable Prom arrivals.
We then returned to Borough Market for the weekly London Biker meet, then finished the night off with a pit stop at the Blackheath tea hut. I hear Arthur pulled a couple of girls at the Prom, so all in all, a great fun night to be had by all!
Update: Check out this video compilation of the Prom Night ride, thanks to Sam Bird:
On Sunday 25 May, Paris bore witness to an unusual sight: 200 motorcycle riders revving their vintage and customised bikes through the streets, leaving the city with a noisy crescendo that turned the heads of all around.
It was a one-of-a-kind event organised by RRL – Ralph Lauren’s denim line inspired by Americana and authentic, traditional workwear – in conjunction with Paris’ own resident hipster bike mechanics from Blitz Motorcyles.
The route was 99 km and lasted for three hours, heading in a loop through Versailles, the Chateau de Dampierre and Saint Cyr l’Ecole, before finishing at the Ralph Lauren flagship store on the Boulevard St Germain, which had been decked out in vintage petrol pumps and bales of hay, to help add to the sense of adventure.
The other night The London Bikers organised a night to remember, a midnight ride ride across the city hooning past all the sights. What made it special was the immense turnout (over 50 bikers), the gorgeous warm evening and amazing atmosphere from fellow bikers and the crowds spectating and cheering us all on. With Miss Plum getting everyone organised and leading the ride, we all had a top night we’ll always remember.
Our ride started at Oval Motorcycle Centre, then on out across Battersea Bridge into Chelsea and Knightbridge, before whizzing past Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace before a quick pit stop on the Mall overlook St James Park. Then on past Trafalgar Square and looping up round into Soho via Frith Street, before heading down past Downing Street, the Cenotaph, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey and across the river for a second stop by Waterloo and the London Eye. Back in the saddle we went North of the river again, zoomed past Aldwych and Royal Courts or Justice, down Fleet Street and our third stop outside St. Pauls cathedral, for a perfect photo opportunity. Off again, hanging a right by the Bank of England and South over London Bridge, past Southwalk cathedral, Borough Market, the Shard and then crossing the river again over Tower Bridge, lit up beautifully.
… a stop at the wonderful 24 hour Beigel shops for some much needed sustenance and a mix with Shoreditch hipsters leaving their night clubs and bars.
We continued North weaving through the streets and up to Brick Lane and a stop at the wonderful 24 hour Beigel shops for some much needed sustenance and a mix with Shoreditch hipsters leaving their night clubs and bars. To finish off, we continued East onto the Isle of Dogs and took a tour through the ghostly skyscrapers of Canary Wharf all lit up and towering overhead. The original plan was to continue on to Greenwich, but alas the Blackwall tunnel was shut for maintenance.
All in all, it was a wicked night, it was great to get out with Mary pillion (sorely missing a bike of her own) and great to see all of London’s landmarks lit up. Everything went swimmingly, even if group of us sometimes got separated momentarily.
By gum, a mid week ride out, what’s that all about? With kids at school, the weather forecast predicting summer arriving and the two of us in dire need of a break, we booked a day off and hit the road. The plan was to hit the infamous Burnham Bends (around Burnham-on-Crouch), then double back, through Chelmsford and out to Bishops Stortford following the A1060. But wait, Mary was having a wardrobe malfunction: her old leather trousers were hideously baggy after recent dieting, but the interim pair bought cheap off ebay seemed to fit, but had no give in them and prevented her getting her leg over the bike. Not good. A quick pit stop at J&S Gants Hill sorted us out with a pair Frank Thomas trousers that fit and didn’t break the bank. Sorted. Now back on the road.