​The UK Ride

                                                             The U.K. Ride
                                 Touring England and Scotland

Because so many requested- the riders in the picture above are:  From left- Greg Baker, Keith Hooper, David Whitley, Colin Baker, Julian Pike, Nigel Moffet, Phil Derryberry, Peter Mallon, Guy Boutin, Colin Donnelly.
In the course of living one's life, you quickly find out many truisms.  One of which there are those that talk about doing stuff, and those that go out and do it.  I like to think I qualify in the later.

I had talked about riding the UK for several years, and can even remember thinking about it in my early 20s, when such a thing was a far off fantasy.   However, I could not bring myself to do it, until North America was taken care off.  I was riding back from the Blue Ridge last fall, gliding through the quiet Georgia countryside, when I came to the conclusion, there was nothing left I just had to do on this continent.  I have the lower 48 states and most of Canada, several times over, and not just the view from some mindless interstate, but up close and personal on back roads.  I've visited every major national park and landmark, and been privileged to ride this continent's most famous motorcycle highways.  My resume includes all the roads any Long Rider worth his Stich, yearns to ride.  From East to West and North to South, not much has eluded my love for riding and exploring.

With that in mind, I decided to turn my attention to the UK and places beyond.  When the thread for the Britstoc rally appeared on the ST owners site in early December, I announced my intention to attend.  I had just made up my mind to retire in late April, and the timing seemed good.  So, on a cold holiday night, the gears were placed in motion to make it happen.

First, let me thank all the British ST owners who helped pull this off.  Without their support, care, and concern none of this would have been possible.  I posted I wanted to come, but would need help on the other side, and the response was overwhelming.  Basically, my riding brothers in the UK said if I came, they would take care of the rest.  A short while later, and to my good fortune, "Uncle" Phil Derryberry of Nashville, Tennessee also signed on.  Uncle Phil's credentials as a Long Rider are well documented not only on this site, but the entire touring community as well.  Uncle Phil is not only a riding brother, but has become a true friend and confidant over the years and miles.

Because I was busy training for a half marathon and a few shorter races, planning my retirement, and my upcoming West Coast Tour, I asked Uncle Phil to handle the details of this tour.  He served as the liaison with the Brit riders.  He secured the bikes, and coordinated the routes we would ride with the "chaps" in Britain.   Uncle Phil has always been good with details (how do you think he got his nickname?) and his work on this was of great help.  Finding motorcycles to rent in London is not as easy as it looks, it took leg work on both sides of the pond to locate not only a hire agency, but one with the correct bikes.

My bike for this tour was a 2004 Honda VFR.  For those interested  I will offer a more detailed evaluation of what I thought about the bike on a separate link after the telling of this story.  I will also post a tips page for those interested in their own UK ride, and how to do it.

 Most Americans, visiting the UK, never venture very far from London.  Not so with us.  We spent the first day on foot doing all the touristy things one does while in London, after which we headed north to Scotland, before dropping back south to the English Lake District and on to the Britstoc rally.  Our tour covered most of the Kingdom.  

The riding was great, but don't mistake for a minute, the immense task of learning to ride on the left side.  The roads were narrow and crowded, with lethal roundabouts aptly spaced to keep you honest.  I struggled almost the entire time.  I have a new found respect for the Brit riders.

The tour carried out over 11 days.  The first was a fun ride to Nashville to hook up with Uncle Phil, for the flight over.  The journal covers 8 riding days, and 2 in transit days to and from.

We spent a lot of time on back roads, easing through villages, and leaning when we could.  Weather was a mixed bag, with a couple of really nasty climate changes.  

I won't give out any more details here, you will have to read the story to find out the rest.