Well the time just seemed to be on fast forward and boom we are on the week of the event. I decided to work the Wednesday and leave from Manchester having arranged to meet Charlie one of my mates at Lymm truck stop at 15:00 hrs I left our Manchester store just after 14:00 hrs and arrived at Lymm at about five to three. Charlie was duly located in McDonalds stuffing his face with a burger and chips, some things just don’t change. We made good progress down to Bristol Charlie just tucked in behind me and we were soon at the motel.............
The motel was fit for purpose but nothing special. We went for a short walk decided there wasn’t much else other than the pub next door so settled on the pub for our evening meal. As we had finished our main course we heard the noise of Triumph Tiger 1050 this was Tony who had set off from Kent at a similar time to us he was on his Tiger as his GS500 has expired on the M25 earlier in the day. Tony joined us from Kent and we had a good natter before deciding that we would walk back to the hotel. As we arrived so did Chris Mick and Danny perfect timing, we all wanted a wind down and so had a pint in the hotel bar. I’d made a conscious decision to be dry the week before the ride as I really wanted to give it my best shot, so it was soda water for me.
The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast where Charlie didn’t disappoint by knocking his coffee all over the table and Mick. Charlie has a reputation for clumsiness so this caused much laughter and really set us up for the day. I’d made arrangements to meet my Aunty Zelda and Doug for lunch at Cornwall Services. So, I set off on my own and had a good hour and a half with them and for a service station the lunch was good.
The agreed meeting time was four o’clock at lands end at the visitors’ centre. I was in plenty of time but have a habit of being early so that was fine but there were others there and John McAvoy and his wife Jo were there to meet us. There was this air of excitement with people that had obviously done the event before looking like they knew the drill and everyone on being extremely convivial.
The ceremonial start was duly executed and a start picture taken then everyone set off to the Premier inn at Hayle. I filled up at the fuel station across the road from the premier in sorted my bags had a quick shower and trotted down to the restaurant for dinner. We had a really cracking evening having now met George Dennison, Tony Campbell, some of my bike industry mates we were all on a big long table and plenty of banter ensued.
I’d agreed to say a few words about Rob after John McAvoy had been through the itinerary for the next 24hrs. Then he starts giving out these awards. The most uncomfortable bike to do it on. Who entered into the spirit of the event award. Then he gives me the most obviously over budget bike goes to Philip Youles. Now I’d really tried to play fair having done all the work myself at home and they admit a little flexibility on the £300 pound budget so me having given £500 In px for mine seemed fair. What about Tony he is on a Tiger 1050 I silently protest in my head. But best just to take the ridicule and accept it as a reflection on the hours and hours I’d put into getting it right in my own time at home. So I stood up accepted the award. Then said a few words probably not my greatest after dinner speech as I’d not had time to prep anything but certainly from the heart. For those that don’t know Rob was one of my best mates and had done the event last year only to be killed on his bike in the Isle of Man a couple of weeks after. The ride had been done in Robs memory for 2019 and this was the real driver for me wanting to complete it.
Early night was the next requirement, so by half past nine I was safely tucked up in bed with the alarm set for 03:15. I was so excited I hardly slept not ideal but when the alarm went off I felt perky so with a spring in my step I made it to the start. We had to push our bikes to the start line as not to interrupt the guaranteed nights sleep that the other occupants of the premier inn were expecting to get. Somehow time slipped away and I realised that I hadn’t put my Youles zip through on underneath. My logic for wearing my work uniform was I do a lot of riding with it underneath my gear so I know every seem every crease and on a ride this length a little part of a garment rubbing you can really cause discomfort after a couple of hours. Actually 5 minutes now sorting myself out wasn’t really going to make any odds so I sorted myself out the pushed the bike out of the car park onto the main Road and was off.
The weather was quite wet and although 04:00 hrs was officially sun rise the clouds made it dark. Now I wouldn’t have wanted to do he whole journey in the wet but a couple of hours no problem. My Malvern jacket and pants have really bedded in now and I know they are 1000% waterproof which just gives you that edge. So I opened the SV up and blasted past most of the pack. There was a couple of lads at the front one called James who had won the award for the bike you’d least want to do it on. He was on a 996 Ducati that looked like it had been well used. The other Simon a journalist from PB Ride and Classic bike. I tucked in with them thinking that the navigation through Exeter is where I need to concentrate.
By Exeter we were all ready for fuel and Tony was riding with me. I had said we were doing the event on our own and not riding as a group. For me I hate waiting for people don’t mind setting a pace but I just want to keep going I can’t do with all this going like mad then waiting for some muppet that won’t filter. If you’re not going to filter buy a car as that’s the whole point. Anyway Tony and I ride well together so it just worked which was brilliant. Next was the first pit stop this was where the A17 crosses the A429 I stupidly turned onto the A17 missing it. Realising my mistake I came off at the next roundabout this costing me 15 minutes Aaaggg. Tony has waited for me which he really had no need to do but it was great to see him. He also had a lad called Fraser with him who had seemed to find our pace comfortable. Mark myself in fuel up and off. We really cracked on here soon making our way through Gloucester Ross on Wye Shrewsbury Wrexham then just below Chester pit stop 2 where there was a lad on a VFR he had been first there and apparently James and Simon had flown right past. Round Chester on the ring road a bit of local knowledge coming into play and out towards Birkenhead for the Mersey Tunnel. Bikes are free on the Mersey Tunnel well done Liverpool. Also they have scrapped the bus lanes and the traffic flows. I HATE BUS LANES. I’d said to Tony and Fraiser just tuck in behind me through Liverpool and Preston as I know both cities and can dodge round the traffic. We slipped through Preston round the back of the university picking up the A6 and missing the traffic. We needed fuel now and had decided to fill up just before Guys Thatched Cottage but as we pulled onto Brock garage there was much waving of arms and shouting that they were closed ,turns out they’d been robbed, sorry if we caused you more hassle as I’m sure you weren’t having the best of days. I knew we could get petrol further up so no problem. As we arrived at the Preston pit stop the VFR was just leaving but we were second in the pit lane. Guys was by far the best well done to Preston Ducati for manning this. They deserve a mention. My Father and Mother in law along with quite a group of other friends were there to support us including Duncan Metcalf a friend and customer. I was really on it now and we turned this one round quickly two scones went down the hatch quick pee and a hug for everyone and we were off.
You realise how lucky we are because from here north the roads and countryside are amazing. Up over Shap through Kendal straight up to Carlisle then off left Towards Gretna then A77 A75 to Kilmarnock. We wasted a little time as for some stupid reason we were looking for the Greenock ferry when we needed the Gourock ferry but we soon sussed this and found Pit stop 4 and the ferry. Pit stop 4 had some sandwiches for us to take on the ferry. You have no idea how much this was appreciated. Six of us caught the ferry and I recon this probably gave us at least 45 minutes a lead on the others. As soon as we docked we were off the roads were now amassing, also quite but as always on a motorcycle you can’t get complacent you don’t know what’s round that bend, but let’s just say good progress was made. I’ve never been round that bit of Scotland but I will be going back the scenery was stunning. Over the Cairngorms and into Inverness for the last Pit Stop I didn’t feel tired yep I felt like I’d done a bit but I’d expected to be totally knackered by this stage. So two sausage rolls some cake a full tank of fuel and off to Fort William for the last petrol stop. Simon and James had pulled away from us to be honest they were just going that little bit too quick for me and I could feel Tony was probably pushing a few overtakes that were shall we say enthusiastic so I just let them go. It’s not a race. We met up with James in Fort William at the fuel station, but Simon had gone way out in front. So there was five of us in a procession I’m well in behind James on the 996 just pulling out of a corner when his chain snaps and goes fly past my left leg. We stop but he rightly says crack on lads I’ll be fine, so off we go. Were only about 20 miles from John O Groats now but you can tell everyone is tired just that last push. The chap on the VFR is in front of me but I know he hasn’t been through the Mersey Tunnel he let it slip and he’s done it before so he knows where the turning for the lodges is. I know exactly what will happen if I take him I’ll fly past the entrance. So best just tuck right in behind him. It’s not a race. But in my head I’m going to take joint second with Tony Fraser and our man on the VFR. We arrived Simon looked like he’d had a shower and half an hour’s rest. The feeling of completion was absolute. That’s the longest ride I’ve ever done. Everyone put in a Stirling effort and even those that didn’t quite make it to the finish under their own steam in my opinion did unbelievable. Hayley set off on a GPZ 500 that you wouldn’t have gone to the end of the road on and she made it to the Gourock ferry totally unbelievably.
The event is friendly well run and yes you should do it. It’s not a walk-in the park and you will be exhausted but there is an amassing sense of achievement. If anyone is interested in doing the LDU then don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll answer any questions you may have.
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