After a successful ride up to Stoke, the next event in my riding agenda was a winter meet hosted by Pete Johnson and Chunky Tread Motorcycle Adventure Club. Despite only having a couple of hours to ride, I still didn’t manage to reach destination before nightfall and while bouncing along the last bit of road, a composition of mud and gravel, a thought struck me: I’m on my way to meet a bunch of complete strangers in the middle of nowhere outside Manchester. One of the amazing things with motorcycling.
Since leaving Spain, I have always regretted never making it to Los Pinguinios, the winter meet outside Valladolid. It always seemed too cold for me. Therefore, it felt like quite a victory to make it to this event, although admittedly the weather was quite mild.
This was a small and intimate meet where the focus was on having a good time, exchanging experiences and having a few drinks together. Being a foreigner, I was treated to a local specialty as welcome dinner: chips, gravy and mushy peas – something that I had not yet tried after a shade over 2 years in the UK. Some things are worth waiting for! The weekend continued in the same spirit, at a small meet I find it easier to get talking to people and I learned a lot from talking to Ren, who is an experienced 125 rider. He and his girlfriend Sharon run Bikes and Travels and, with its vast information on this topic, it gives a good insight into the small cc world.
During Saturday we did a short ride out to see the surroundings and check out a few shops which catered for all needs involved with motorbiking and camping. Thanks to Ren for leading our group of mall and large bikes. It was great fun to push the CG to its limits over the moors outside Manchester while the big bikes patiently stayed put behind. Always nice to ride with civilized people!
As mentioned plenty of times previously, I come from a “big bike” culture where a small bike is considered to be a 650 or 750 (often seen as beginners bikes in Sweden) and I have frequently been told that my Monster 600’s were too small to travel on and that my 650 Versys was to weak to take a pillion – yet I managed very well to do these things. I can only conclude that bikers in Sweden have a lot to learn and that money can be spent in more productive ways than on purchase and insurance of a massive cc bike – for example on petrol 🙂 and travelling.
On the topic of travelling, there were plenty of tales to be told during the weekend. One very unusual story was that of Pete himself and his Road to Manchester: being from Manchester England he set out on a quest to visit 33 places called Manchester in the USA, all being former settlements and named after the first Manchester – some no more than a couple of houses along the road and others full grown cities. I found it an amusing idea, although it wouldn’t work for me – my home town Karlstad has only one namesake in the USA. So, fortunately for me, I have another working concept: the WIMA rallies always point my direction of travel. Pete won the Bennetts’ biker’s dream and got his journey funded, but only after working hard researching and preparing the adventure so no credit should be taken from his effort. It is all documented on United States of A Manchester – an interesting read I must say.
I was also delighted to meet Bernard and his famous Bertha – the bike that took him and his late wife Cathy around the world. The astonishing detail of this tale being the fact that she was blind. Upon my return yesterday, I started reading their book “Touching the World” – an amazing and inspiring story, first chapter describing their climb of Machu Picchu, something many would think impossible for a blind person. In addition, her ways of describing the world amazed me, being so vivid and colourful. To find out more, please visit World Tour or get the book.
I’ll stop here, concluding that I had a fabulous weekend! Now Koneko needs a good clean before being stored away for winter and if we cannot bring her to Spain we would sadly have to sell her. She has really proved her potentials this weekend but import rules are rather complicated and that is the reality we will be dealing with while relocating.