What is with the passion for motorcycling? with the wind buffering, the vibrations on the handlebar and the seating position sometimes uncomfortable, and all that goes with it, the very same passion that push us to ride a motorcycle milling Miles after Miles into the Horizon is something that all people are not prepared to buy into.
Sometime ago when scrolling Motorcycle Associations on the internet, the name *Ironbutt, a dedicated Motorcycling Association that promotes Long safe distance riding, caught my eye more than the others and to become a member of this association you have to be a Succesful finisher of an *Ironbutt rally or one of the rides that they sponsor such as: *The Saddle Sore 1000, the one I choose for my first attempt; I like the idea of being included into the Association and above all that Number plate holder that says: “World’S toughest riders” *Ironbutt motorcycle association, that they’ll send you after verifying the validity of your ride.
The chosen route would be to leave London anytime into the early hours of the night driving into Exeter passing by Bristol, Birmingham, straight into Glasgow across into Edinburgh down to Newcastle, Leeds and Leicester before finishing back where I’ve started, most importantly collecting petrol receipts along the way.
Leaving London at 1.09 am, that’s what the petrol receipt says, I drive into the night full of excitement and perspective trying to remember the right speed average for the trip while accommodating myself into a comfortable riding position. Motorcycling by night on isolated pieces of tarmac brings the attention inward yourself while you’re being completely surrounded by darkness while those couple of feeble lights are trying to cut through the darkness with the constant rolling noise of the engine firing away is something like meditating while holding an handlebar, a very profound experience as you tend to live every moment. The night reveals to be colder than expected, after only 2 hours into the ride I can feel the finger tips of my hands getting cold and the wind chill that penetrates into my chest and in three occasion I had to stop for a Big Hot drink to hold between my almost frozen hands while gulping it down quickly while still almost scalding hot. Along the night ride some Fog banks appeared so thick at times, that made it look like you are about to drive into a white wall, even with the fog lights on.
At around 4.00 am I remember the Chilling was so uncomfortable that my mind had start reconsidering riding the Motorcycle into the winter a thing impossible to do if it was going to be this cold again, an idea that quickly dissolved away when the much awaited Sun raised on a clear day, the day is now yellow bright instead dark black, I can see the dew raising from the fields and Bristol in the distance slowly revealing as I drove past it on the M5 the mood has improved and everything look as promessing as it can be untill tiredness kicks in, as I am forced to stop to take a nap I fill the bike with petrol for a second time then park it in the nearby window of the petrol station attendant. Trying to found a comfortable place to lay down seemed hard, I am surrounded by lots of green soft grass which I cannot lay on as they are still wet from the dew holding my helmet in my hand like a Bandit I keep walking about untill I’ve found comfort into the still semi desert Autogrill where, on a massaging couch tucked away in a corner of the hallway that faces the bathrooms I fall in a dreamless sleep waking up 35 min. later by the sound of myself snoring, feeling refreshed and ready to go again.
The Scottish border is not faraway, passing through Penrith the Horizon is clear and the Peaks in the Lake district are at is most splendour making me wanting to deviate towards them and start Hiking but this is not that kind of trip, then tiredwness kicks in, as I am trying to keep singing aloud with the music playing into my hears, holding my awareness on untill I found a soft grass, dried up by the warm Sun that overlooks the vast field below where for a second time, I lay down with the helmet beside me and the bike keys secured in my pocket, without worrying about the other valuables left on the motorcycle i fall in a deep sleep , it’s 10.34 in the morning. I wake up 40 min. later by the powerful sound of an RAF Tornado passing on a low glide above me, without realising to have fallen asleep, I am trying to compose myself while observing squeezing the corner of my eye, the Tornado flying away in an almost acrobatic manoeuvre, feeling totally rested and aware as a light bulb entering Scotland soon after breaking the 500 miles mark making the rest of the Ride much easier in my head knowing that if I rode this very 500 miles, I can certainly run another 500 more.
Passing through Glasgow and Edinburgh without problems I am soon heading back on the A68 towards Newcastle, a sweeping country road that takes me for the first time into the Northumberland national Park, there are vast green field around me hundreds of small sheeps grazing the grass around and luscious emerald Hills, I absorb it it all while switching off the music playing in the helmet being extremely entertained by the scenery, I re-enter England without even realizing it.
The ride continue effortlessly into Newcastle, with the vision of the Angel of the North far away in the distance, like a giant emerging from the Hills of Gateshed his maestosity takes away from this sometimes dull Northern Industrial landscape, the boredom and sadness that an Industrial Town carries within. The ride on the M1 is now a matter of not questioning myself when I get there, but how do I deal with this long mostly straight road that feel endless and quite repetitive stopping in 4 occasion for stretching the legs, constantly listen to music while singing along knowing that I am succeding on completing the ride in the time frame given me, now it feels hard to stay put on the saddle, I want to finish it now, I want to experience the end entering Oxfordshire with the daylight slowly fading away while more and more cars are switching the lights on, the battery on my MP3 player is now completely drained with the last petrol stop coming into place. At the petrol station I pull in quickly and put the bike on the centre stand, quickly fill up the tank with a little petrol and wait impatiently for the last important petrol receipt, like the finishing line, that delimit and stops the time of this ride, it reads 21.58 pm, exactly 20 hours and 49 minutes later, I am now overfilled with a simple joy and a fixed smile on my face while posing beside my mighty wheeled companion for the ritual picture feeling invincible and still buzzing I know by istinct that it certainly does not end here.
* the name IronButt, SaddleSore 1000 are all trademarks of the Ironbutt Motorcycle association.