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Thursday, July 21, 2016


In comments to my previous post, RR and I discussed the morality of taking internal combustion engined machines along ancient greenways and I concurred with his views. My Damascene conversion came about on a trip to the Ridgeway. For a change I  had bought a larger trail bike, a Suzuki SP370, which was more "interesting" on the boring 300 mile motorway round trip  down to Wiltshire.

The ancient chalk trackway had been churned up by convoys of 4x4 drivers who delight in finding the "juicy" spots, driving into them and then using their skills to extract themselves.

The result was some 35 miles of a wet, muddy, chalky track with huge areas of very deep puddles (ponds?)

As you can see from the image, I was keeping, with difficulty to the side of the main track. However, at one point the only way through was to negotiate a very deep and wide "water feature". I usually walked such obstacles first but it was not possible on the occasion so I rode through it. Of course the bike hit a submerged rut and I went over. My usual small trail bikes would have been no problem in such circumstances, but the heavier Suzuki was immensely difficult to extricate and push out. By the time I reached the other side I was in a muck sweat ,shaking with effort and needed a sit down!

I rode home at the end of that day, jet-washed the mud clogged Suzuki and advertised it for sale. I was ashamed of what modern vehicles were doing to this environment (with my participation). No more trail rides, but I had had a good innings for some 30 years.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


I mentioned, in an earlier post, that I loved riding the greenways of Wiltshire/Berkshire and always had small, light trail bikes which were easy to pick up if I came off. Here is a little Honda XL125cc parked up on the Ridgeway, an 87 mile ancient road (3000 BC) across the Berkshire Downs

I always looked forward to the immense enjoyment of that old way as I rode the 150 miles down to it from Kent. (If one puts oneself in the right mind any motorcycle ride is enjoyable, whatever its size) One was alone with the vast panoramas, skyscapes and history. Sitting, eating a sandwich lunch all that could be heard was the song of skylarks as they ascended. The small bike did not make much noise as we pobbled along at about 15 - 20 miles an hour and I would always pull up and turn my engine off if encountering horse riders.

I count myself fortunate to have been able to ride it for 30 years because it has been illegal for about 10 years to take a motor vehicle along this famous trackway. This came about because, as usual, modern enthusiasms spoilt things for the individual solitary. Gangs of 4x4 vehicle drivers, some even over from the Continent would career along the road, churn it up (it gets extremely muddy in the winter) and spoil its peace and quiet. It is now only available to walkers and cyclists and that is a good thing, but regretful to us who sought to quietly integrate - to make love to it rather than rape it.

Pohangina Pete and Vita have both commented on my earlier posts about the monstrous motorcycles used by so-called "adventure bikers" like Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. I think that the following rider absolutely knocks them into a cocked hat. He rides a Royal Enfield Bullet, similar to the one I have just sold. But he rides alone, does all his own filming and camps "wild" in the Himalayas. Here is a short trailer for the film he made. The full film runs for 95 minutes and is available on DVD or can be downloaded. It has won many awards and is well worth having, Even if you are not interested in motorcycles per se it is a record of an individual's effort, discovery of forgotten, threatened nomads and Tibetan customs.