With 2020 well in swing I thought that I would take a brief moment to review the last year. It was an eventful time and a year that will influence and define the what happens the next twelve months.
The year that was
The year started very much focused on the planning for the trip to the Alps. As the date of departure steadily approached, it was a comfort that the others on the trip were becoming more motivated .
This allowed me to concentrate on the route fine tuning. I had already booked the accommodation which by then had then effectively become waypoints.
Despite this it was still early in the year and the trip was not until July. There were still many opportunities to get out on the road and the fair weather gave me plenty of opportunity. I planned several weekend day trips and it was becoming obvious that Nick was becoming more accustomed to, and notably enjoying, my departures from the faster A roads to the more remote single track. Perhaps my more adventurous side and desire to explore was rubbing off on him?
My first trip out of the country was a long weekend in Budapest as a birthday gift. It was March and while still early in the year we were blessed with some very warm weather. This was a precursor to the heatwave that would later sweep Europe.
Our activities in Budapest were pretty much what you would expect from tourists on a city break. I did have one eye on the motorcycling scene out there. I took the opportunity to make a mental note of the surrounding countries. Perhaps a ride through Austria, Hungary and Romania in the future?
As we progressed through May and June I had prepared for the Alps as much as possible and was bordering on over preparing. A tell-tale sign of this is browsing Amazon and motorcycle websites for things to buy that you don’t really need. An extra map, a first aid kit to replace the perfectly good one you had, or (as was my case) a puncture repair kit that you may never use. We would never be far from civilisation and I had breakdown and recovery cover.
Beginning of the end for the Triple Black
I had been asked by my local Motorrad Dealer on the lead up to the trip if I would take one of their stuffed bears. The aim was to take some shots for their social media. On the visit to the dealer to collect the bear I got into a conversation with the sales guy.
I knew that my finance was up on the Triple Black in January 2020. I felt a little surprised (or guilty) to be told that I could change bikes now. In fact, it would be advantageous to do the change sooner rather than later due to the residuals. This would plant the seed for what happened on my return from the Alps.
The hills are alive with the sound of touring
After years of planning (and many tours in the interim) the July trip to the Alps came. It could not have gone better. To ride the Alps is rewarding enough, to ride the Alps with close friends from America enjoying the trip of a lifetime was special. My future goal now is to give them a new trip of a lifetime. Something I’m sure I can provide as me own personal horizons expand.
So many stories that become words
I returned from the Alps with a tale to tell. A ride report became a story of an epic trip full of history, planning and execution. Before I realised, I ended up in book territory and not really knowing what I had done was completely dumbfounded when I landed a publishing deal.
Goodbye old friend
While I took onboard the process of all aspects of book publication, I found myself one again at the dealer and with a very appealing proposition of a brand new R1250GS Adventure Rallye TE. As is experienced with anyone changing vehicles, this was also tinged with an element of sadness .
Not only had I spent a good four years with the Triple Black, it had transitioned me from a sports bike rider to an adventure tourer. What had felt at the time like the biggest mistake of my life, would turn out to be one of the most rewarding and life affirming changes I have ever made. Coupled with that was the time I had just spent documenting my time with the bike over the most recent tour
A brief return to the Alps
I managed to distract myself with a cunning plan. Having been gifted a trip to Budapest for my birthday, I returned the compliment with a trip to the Alps with my wife for her birthday. I was just over a month from my return and once again I found myself in Geneva. She had never experienced this part of the world and it was a thrill to share some of what I see while touring. We danced in and out of France, Switzerland and Italy by car, covering as many of the passes as possible. It was a different experience from doing it on two wheels but no less magnificent.
Hello new wheels
I opted to wait until September to take delivery of the bike with a brand new 69 plate. The next month was taken up with getting the run-in period out of the way and through its first service. I accomplished this just before the weather turned and we experienced the wettest October and November that I can remember.
I would not have the opportunity to ride again until late December and on the 29th, with only a couple of days left of 2019 left, we got the bikes out and said goodbye to the year.
Looking forward to the year ahead
So, what does the new year have to offer and what are my goals? I am looking forward to getting more time out on the GSA. It’s a pleasure to ride but we have not spent enough time together yet to have fully bonded. I cannot fault bike itself in any way, but my technical nature means I cannot rest until I have fully got to grips with the TFT dash.
While music’s not that important to me, I need to get to the bottom of the media integration inconsistencies and playlist problem. I have elements of OCD when things don’t work 100%. Maybe it’s out of my hands and will require the next firmware update but if this is the case I want to be fully up to speed.
I also have plans to visit the TT on the Isle of Man this year for the first time. I always said that I was waiting for the opportunity to be chaperoned by someone who knows the ropes. This has presented itself in the form of a friend who not only is a regular visitor but and ex racer. Add to the mix the arrival of two very good friends and TT nuts from the US and this looks to be another epic couple of weeks.
Later in the year I hope to get booked in on one of Motorrad’s off road skills courses. These are based in South Wales and it would be remiss of me not to extend the visit to a brief tour of Cornwall.
Finally, did I mention the book?
Finally, I have the book launch. This is a very exciting time and I don’t know how it will go. I am expecting an imminent call from the publisher to meet with their marketing team before launch. I’m just very grateful to have the opportunity to share my experiences and hope that it will allow people who have similar travel aspirations to take a leap into the world of touring.