NCX: 16,000 Miles & 9 Months on…

ODO 16K

ODO 16K

This is going to be nice and brief so you can get back to work, you probably shouldn’t be on this anyway! Tell the boss I said ‘Hi’!

So, I picked the bike up from Blade Honda, Swindon on the 8th June 2012 – I’ve owned it for just over 16,000 miles, 9 months and yeah I love it, I love all things with two wheels, though, you probably wouldn’t think that if you met me!

I have recently replaced the chain and sprockets, managed to get 15,275 miles out of them, but I have replaced them with a slightly bigger, 525 pitch D.I.D GOLD XRING, and W.O.W, what an improvement!

The difference I have noticed is smoother power delivery, better acceleration in terms of again, smoothness and comfort pulling from a standing start and generally an overall smoother bike! I love it.

It handles well, even with shoddy unchecked tyre pressures because to be frank you couldn’t be arsed to check (I’m anal and check them twice a week, Wednesday and Sunday), but then it is no performance motorcycle, more a donkey with a little extra kick & twist – I’m sure we can agree on that. It looks dopey but suddenly comes alive more than you expect when you pull on the throttle to accelerate, through the twisties and back down to 30mph because a cop is waiting for you in the lay-by with his toy laser gun, however the engine breaking, well it’s not there so you feel like you are constantly on the brakes after having a little fun!

It’s practical, if you have one, and you use the storage trunk, pretend it’s not there for a week and let me know how you didn’t cope because you rely on it so heavily now for the daily commute, for the dash to the shops to pick up some milk and eggs or into town and ‘quickly’ pop your helmet away as others watch in disbelief, trying to figure out why you are putting your helmet in the fuel tank… no love, it’s a storage compartment – honestly.

Fuel consumption – amazing. I said it would be brief, the past 16,000 miles have cost me around £1,423.58 in fuel based on £1.369 per litre of fuel and 70mpg on average, I’m a very laid bike rider… at times… ;)

So, to the important bits below:

Cost of Ownership – Official Honda Mechanical Services:

** ** ** ** **

First Service: 600 Miles

Date: 14/06/2012 – 6 days after picking it up ;)

Cost: £130.69

Where: Blade, Swindon

** ** ** ** **

Second Service: 8,000 Miles

Date: 15/09/2012

Cost: £189.49

Where: Blade, Swindon

** ** ** ** **

Third Service: 16,000 Miles 

Date: 16/03/2013

Cost: £224.48

Where: Blade, Swindon

** ** ** ** **

Cost of Ownership – Non official services:

** ** ** ** **

Other Service: Rear Tyre Change (Replacement BT023R)

Old Tyre retired at: 7,454 Miles

Date: 31/08/2012

Cost: £131.00 Fitted

Where: Independent Mechanic

** ** ** ** **

Other Service: Brake Pad Change (Rear Single Caliper Only)

Old Pads retired at: 11,537 Miles

Date: 11/10/2012

Cost: £37.86 Fitted

Where: Independent Mechanic

** ** ** ** **

Other Service: Tyres (New BT023 Set) & Chain & Sprocket (D.I.D Gold XRING 525 Pitch not the original 520)

Old Tyres & original Chain & Sprockets retired at: 15,275 Miles

Date: 15/02/2013

Cost: £355.00 Fitted

Where: Independent Mechanic

Notes; The second rear tyre got 7,821 Miles until retirement. The front was original so that got 15,275 miles of use, that’s pretty good going!

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Total Servicing Costs to date: £1,068.62

Total Fuel Costs to date: £1,423.58

 ** Overall: £2,492.10 ** 

My Rukka Motorcycle Gear

After 2 years roaming around in my bog standard Frank Thomas textile jacket and trousers that cost nothing more than the price of a few sweets from the local sweet shop and my 1 piece leather suit that I had when I got my first ever bike, a Honda CBR600F, I finally had enough of getting caught out in the wet, suffering from wet crotch syndrome after a short blast into work and inadequate protection that seemed as useless as a soggy notebook. It would have been stupid to spend such moola (That’s money) on such great kit to start with especially as I was only a beginner,  then there was the fact I didn’t even know such kit existed, so I couldn’t have done anyway. But now, Rukka is all I will wear, until it wears out… I’ll be old then, from what I have heard about it.

Rukka

I ‘m one to go out and ride whatever the weather, nothing baffles me, you could ask many people that, so I need kit that’s like mined. Able to confront harsh weather for sustained periods offering quality protection and durability.  If you pay Circa £1,000.00 for kit then you expect it to last, at least for the time you take up motorcycling. Rukka does this for me. I have heard from many consumer reviews that Rukka if cared for will last happily up to and sometime beyond 8 years. and that my friends is one reason why I purchased Rukka.

Gore-Tex, the wonderful intermediary material that magically stops water from making it’s way from the outer shell of your jacket to your skin. Not a great feeling if you can help it, especially if you ride daily, the extra effort of drying your kit and preparing it for the next day so it’s nice and dry for your trip into the office is nothing more than a nuisance. I’m sure many people will agree. It’s a different story if it’s a weekend toy and you get caught out once in a blue moon, that wouldn’t bother me then!

I purchased my Rukka suit back in August 2012 and to date have ridden around 6,000 miles in the comfort of it’s linings. I purchased the Rukka Athos Jacket, Rukka Focus Trousers and Rukka Atlas Gloves. I already had some Sidi B2 Gore-Tex Touring boots so now I had an ideal outfit for commuting / touring and general riding!

Rukka Athos Jacket

Rukka Athos Jacket

Rukka Athos Jacket

You have to Lubricate the dry lock-out zip, wash it frequently, it weighs a tonne and has so many pockets, no matter where you think you left your keys you always have a 5 minute phase of hunting for them pre and post ride.

But it’s a jacket that does what Rukka state it does. I feel I can review this kit because it’s seen 6,000 miles + the cold days, hot days, rainy days and windy days, so what do I think? It’s magnificent, I’m going to base this review on the Scotland trip I took because during that time I experienced many different climates in a short period of time and to a good degree.

The jacket holds well against the wind, weather it’s just a little breeze or extreme winds as we have experience recently, it blocks it all, pop a ‘Buff’ or neck scarf around your neck and it’s virtually your own little micro climate that you have going on, you won’t feel a thing. The wind against your chest on an open bike like the NCX doesn’t give you the chills or the feeling of being blasted by a stream of cold air, but, instead a feel of utter comfort and nothing less. It turns weather into a thing of the past, as if it doesn’t exist and that’s just what I love, completely blocked from the weather outside but still able to get the ‘feeling’ from riding. I love also how there is very little buffeting from the jacket, unlike my last one I would experience heavy buffeting at time but with the Athos this is almost a thing of the past.

BRING ON THE RAIN, because boy, it’s not getting it in. Wash your jacket (Something that I still need to do) and it’ll keep the Gore-Tex fabric fresh and dirt free. Gore-Tex has ‘pores’ and so these must stay clear of dirt in order for the Gore-Tex to function effectively and as new. I recall from Scotland that on one wet Tuesday I rode for 10 hours, of which around 4 hours was consistent heavy rain, rain that was so vast that even locals thought rivers would swell and have potential to burst their banks, roads becoming layered in surface water and drains visibly swallowing it all up as quickly as it could. Did I get wet? I don’t need to answer that.  I didn’t nor did my wallet that was tucked safely into the inner breast pocket or my trusted hanky that was stowed in my trouser pockets so when I stopped from time to time to fill up my mighty small 14L tank, I could wipe my nose with a dry cloth, and that is priceless!

The neoprene collar is a life saver, with or without a neck buff it doesn’t matter this offers a lot of protection and gives you absolutely no irritation whatsoever even when it’s wet, it’s perfect!

IT’S LIKE A SAUNA IN HERE, no I joke, it’s comfortable even  in hotter temperatures, obviously I’m going by British weather standards here so low – high teens but it worked well, with the liner in, I think though, like a lot of clothing items when it comes to their warmth, they work as effectively as your body. Some people are always hot, some always cold and for those lucky few, always spot on. But for me it works well, hot day, liner in and I’m the ‘hot bodied’ type of person I’m still happy with it’s performance and comfort. In fact It’s not uncommon for me to wear little more than some underwear and a t shirt beneath my suit of armor before going out riding to the shop or for a few hours with a group!

The Cordura fabric is holding up very well, it feels long lasting, durable and perfect for daily wear & tear or long trips. Every time I put the jacket on, I feel protected, comfortable and best of all, ready for any weather climate. Let’s go and ride the world? Okay then…

Rukka Focus Trousers

Rukka Focus Trouser

Rukka Focus Trouser

Snug, comfortable, well fitted, provide plenty of protection…

The trousers zip into the Rukka Athos Jacket via a 360 Degree zip at the waist, there is then a strap that comes down from the back of the jacket under the bum up past your crotch and then secures at the front of the jacket to stop the jacket riding up while riding, I never use it as the jacket stays firmly in place but on longer runs I use it just in case the wind catches on the motorway etc… not that I travel on the motorway much.

The trousers offer two front waterproof pockets that are deep and big enough for a wallet, phone, the usual bits of crap that you’re not even sure why you carry them and not much else. The trousers don’t really have much functionality, after all, it’s not really needed as the jacket both the Athos and the others in the range provide the main storage you need.

They hold up well against the wind, so long as you have your trousers zipped into the jacket, no wind chill is experienced. As you’d expect, like the jacket rain is no match, high quality durable zips to secure the trouser around and over your boots.

Both items have a high quality finish, you feel you don’t have to be so ‘careful’ but just use them without much thought or paranoia about breaking them. A true everyday product.

Rukka Atlas Gloves

Rukka Atlas Gloves

Rukka Atlas Gloves

These are to date the best glove I have used, and I’ve used a lot of gloves! When they first arrived I thought I had made a big mistake choosing such a thick winter glove, especially in August, but we didn’t experience much of a summer so a good choice after all.

When I first got the gloves they were very stiff, a month later, still very stiff,  I thought these aren’t ever going to break in and I’m going to have to spend another 100 odd pounds on their summer Gore-Tex glove as the Atlas were starting to make my hands ache. Finally after some prolonged use they gave way, now they are exceptionally comfortable, easy to put on and take off and rather warm. I suffer from cold hands so can’t comment on their warmth at low Degs C but I certainly notice a big difference riding with these in low temps than say a pair of Richa winter gloves.

I have no hand guards or any other protection on my bike.. yet… so these take the brunt of everything. After riding from Uig on the Isle of Skye to Wiltshire in 12 hours (570 Miles), these gloves saw a cold start, rainy day and sunny afternoon, my hands didn’t hurt, there wasn’t any pressure applied when shooting down the motorway or any aching of my hands / fingers but kept them in high comfort instead. I loved them, I feel they are a second skin to me, perfectly tailored to my hands almost and up for anything you throw at them, I promise!

To conclude…

The good:

- 5 Year warranty on the Jacket / Trousers

- 2 Year warranty on the gloves

- Loan garments if yours need repair

- High quality / world leading materials

- High durability (possibly up to 8 years or more)

- Good sizing, almost a perfect fit!

- Complete protection

The bad:

- Expensive

- Investment more so than a purchase

Living with the NCX…5 Months, 2 days and over 13,000 miles later…

It’s only been 5 months since I left the Blade Honda dealership in Swindon with my NC700X.

I feel I’ve owned the bike for well over a year already, I’ve spent many hundreds of hours in command, both two up and on my own and still I’m pretty pleased with it, but some niggles have shone through about it, nothing bad and certainly not ticks against it!

Summary: I’ve ridden the bike in various scenarios, singular, two up and within groups (though the latter, not much). Daily commutes on the dual carriageway, beating down at breakneck speeds, sitting behind a lorry on the cold days or flowing around the traffic on those sunny afternoons, the bike offered and never failed to offer a smooth, steady ride and generally good accelerating and braking. I jumped at a chance late fall to take her up to Scotland on a solo tour of the ‘wonderful’ country. Loaded up topbox, panniers and dry bag over the rear off I went, 900 miles of motorway, 1,200 miles of country roads and not a sore bum, joint or wrist later I had a beaming smile, but really, a bike for circa £6,000.00 can really offer me such a joy at such little cost?

Yes, this isn’t just a bike it’s an all rounder in it’s own right, you won’t take it off road, that’s a big no no, but for the daily commute, the ‘grabbing a few bits from the shop’ and blasting off for the weekend, this bike can do that, that’s why it should be looked at as an option for those that munch the miles during the week and still enjoy the weekends away. Even a ride from Uig on the Isle Of Skye to Swindon, a total of 570 miles that I did in one run, a total time of 12 hours on the bike still had me getting off like I had only got on it 5 minutes earlier. It’s incredibly comfortable!

Ride and Handling

Smooth, forgiving, wanting, gentle yet aggressive, are just some of the words I would use to summarize the NCX. It’s a weird bike, it does cater well for most riding scenarios, of course just not that of a speed demon because you become rather restricted with the 6,500RPM limit on the engine, though this does make for a few interesting overtakes when you forget, like me rather a lot when the adrenaline is running. This does cap the fun factor for speed but this is balanced by the fun of the engine on the winding roads, urban riding and long runs.

The riding on the motorway / dual carriageway is adequate although the protection, well that’s it, there is no protection on your knee / thigh area which is a head wind is present can become rather annoying and uncomfortable. The wind starts to push your knees out and thus the uncomfortable riding starts. This is my only real nag about the bikes ride comfort and happens rarely, but a Honda accessory is available to deflect the wind before your knees for circa £80.00 so if I was to keep the bike I’d look at this as an option!

Country roads, a real doddle, the bike is forgiving and gentle yet has an aggressive edge that offers the fun factor. I found riding around the local Wiltshire / Dorset and Somerset roads was good fun, although when I took the bike to Scotland, fun turned to excitement, blasting through Glencoe and Fort William, the bike just wanted more and more, up in the highlands, roads that needed serious TLC, again the NCX just played ball, took the bumps, pot holes and utterly trashed coastal roads in its stride, providing me with a great experience.

Equipment

The only equipment I have added to date is the Givi 1111FZ Monorack arms and Givi PL1111 Pannier holder.

To these I have a fitted a Givi E52 Maxia Topbox with rear lights and 2 x Givi E45 Pannier. This combination works well and you have the added luxury of the ‘boot’ up front!

Modifications

I think the essential modifications for this bike when purchased should be, a rear hugger as without the bike does get awfully messy! Secondly a Fenda Extenda to keep the front flick off the radiator, without, you face a nice bill from Honda for a replacement, go and get one. The front of the bike is too exposed not to, and a Radiator guard if you want extra protection.

Servicing costs to date

First Service (600 Miles): £130.69

Second Service (8,000 Miles): £189.49

New Rear BT023R (7,454 Miles): £131.00

New Rear Pads (11,537 Miles): £37.86 (EBC Sintered HH)

TOTAL: £479.18 – Very happy with this considering the amount of riding I have done, no complaints! Just happy riding! 

Scotland Tour 2012 – Day 6 / Summary

Trip Statistics / Costs:

Duration: 6 Days

Mileage: 2112 miles (Door to Door)

Fuel Consumption (UK IMP Litres): 70MPG Mixed Motorway – A/B Roads

Fuel Cost: £193.89

Food: £54.10 (Look What We Found Pouches + Other small bits)

Accommodation: £36.00

TOTAL COST: Circa £283.99 (Incl Camping Equipment: £578.98)

**      **      **

Well, time has come to end such a fantastic trip, one that has already fueled my planning for the next adventure, solo or with a companion.

On Thursday, my 6th day of touring Scotland I headed for home. I left Uig on the Isle of Skye for a 570 mile ride back down to my home town. This took me 12 hour in all to complete, I never stopped once other than or fuel or to adjust my ear plugs.

The NC700X was so impressive, I never doubted the bike once before the trip but wondered how well it would really cope with such a long blast as it was actually designed for such riding but it coped admirably. Will I taking it on a another trip, yes I will! I think the NC has so much to offer, it’s a bike Honda still need to work on, but until then, it’s my No. 1 choice.


[Above: Start ODO mileage]


[Above: End ODO Mileage]

Scotland Tour 2012 – Day 5

After a blissfully warm night at Applecross despite the temperatures outside plummeting my Mountain Equipment bag kept me perfectly snug and comfortable. It’s a truly fantastic bag!

I packed up once more and headed for my now final destination, Uig, Isle of Skye where I would be spending my final night in a wigwam. It’s only a short ride today of about 90 miles so I have decided to venture down the A87 to Fort William before fueling up and turning around to shoot straight back up the A87 and other small roads back to the Wigwam.


[Above: Leaving Applecross]


[Above: Leaving Applecross]

It was a particularly wet day leaving Applecross, it had started raining around 0700 when I was packing up to leave, it soon got heavier as I entered into Applecross pass and through the mountains, the rain continued all the way down to Fort William, my Rukka gear held up well, if slightly heavier but held the rain out, I was warm and comfortable.

After heading down to Fort William, turning around and heading back I soon started to come into better weather as I approached the Isle of Skye and managed to snap a few shots for once!


[Above: Uig]


[Above: Ferry from the Outer Hebrides coming into Uig Harbour]


[Above: VIew from the windows of my Wigwam]


[Above: White Wave Wigwams / £15PPPN]

Scotland Tour 2012 – Day 4

After consuming my incredibly tasty sandwich from the NR cafe yesterday I soon proceeded for the Storma View Campsite near John O’Groats however the site really wasn’t up to expectations and looked so deserted I thought I’d keep my £8.00 that it would cost me to camp there and continue on my travels, after all this is supposed to be an adventure so I thought I’d get back on the road and see where I’d end up.

I soon came across a fantastic site called Halladale Inn Chalet and Caravan park where I pitch my tent for the night, views of the sea from my tent, sheep in the field munching on the grass next door, life was at its basic state, simple and relaxing. The pitch was at a cost of £5.00 which was very well priced for the cleanliness of the place, it was very well looked after.


[Above: Camp at Halladale Campsite]


[Above: Sunrise from my tent at Halladale Campsite]


[Above: Me! Hello!]

After getting the camping kit packed up and loaded into the bike, off I went, I headed along every road that was closest to the coast, this was my tactic for the ride along the top, I had some fantastic roads, I had ridden for about 10 hours this day from Thurso to Applecross and 8 of those hours must have been single track roads, passing a car every couple of hours and stunning scenery every second, an experience I’ll remember for a very long time.

Once I started to hit the remote Villages / Hamlets of the North fuel prices really started to rise in price…

The above photo’s were the last 8 hours of riding, most spectacular but unfortunately the really good picture moments were at places it was just not suitable for me to stop, below are some of the pass to Applecross know as the Bealach na Bà and what a fantastic road it is!

after I had blasted through the pass to Applecross, which, for the record, is a fantastic road, I only road it in the wet, coming back the roads were more so like rivers, but the experience was astronomical, so fun, I’d ride there now just to go and do it again!

I soon stumbled across Applecross campsite where my pitch looked a little like the last…

Scotland Tour 2012 – Day 3

Today started very rough, I woke up at 05:30 with terrible stomach pains, thinking it would ease I was soon enough heading to the bathroom.. times passed… I was feeling tender, perhaps it was that beef sandwich I’d had at the Green Welly stop on Sunday or the KFC on Saturday night? I have no idea… 08:30… I wake again with terrible stomach pains, feeling tender I thought my riding planned for today was over. As time progressed I started to feel better, my mood picked up and I went on a short jolly of about 30 miles from Grantown-on-spey to Tomintoul on the A939 which was a fantastic road, loads of switch backs and sharp but flowing bends.


[Above: Morning Rise from Grantown-on-spey]

I left CairngormsHighlands from Campingmygarden.com at 11:15 for Inverness, Tain, Helmsdale, Wick and then Arriving in John O’Groats. The ride was successful, I left a little tender on some bumps but now I’m at the NR Cafe in John O’Groats I’m feeling good, the Chef was happy enough to make me a Cheese and Red onion Sandwich,just tucking into it as I write this.

I’ve ridden up here on the A9, a good road in places, I can see why so many accidents have happened on it though, more towards the North East the roads become very nice and hairy, wide and open so you can really apply the throttle. I then picked up the A99 for Wick which became a little boring and slow, open, straight roads and no fast corners…

I’m now heading for Storma View Campsite, I’ll be staying here for the night before heading towards Applecross with an unknown stop location as yet, All the trip photo’s are below, there wasn’t really much interesting on this ride, tomorrow should start to see more interesting landmarks and scenery!

[Above: 10,000 Miles in 3 and a bit months!]


[Above: Storma Island]


[Above: I've Arrived]


[Above: John O'Groats Harbour]


[Above: My Lunch from NR Cafe}

Scotland Tour 2012 – Day 2

I left Glasgow this morning at around 10:15 picking up the A82 out of Loch Lomond towards Fort William however, unfortunately the A82 was closed North of Tarbet which meant I had to reroute on the A83 and several roads after that but it was no disappointment to me, I loved it. I’ll just ensure I manage to finish the bit of the A82 that was closed on my return. I have no idea why it was closed. I must have ridden for about an hour or so before I really started to see spectacular Lochs and mountains. I was so blown away… literally but that’s for later.


[Above: Loch Lomond]

I picked the A83 up from Tarbet until Inveraray where I joined the A819 for Loch Hawe where I then proceeded for Tyndrum for the Green Welly Stop where I had a cracking beef sandwich, costly at £6.15 but worth every penny after I’d divulged it!

From Tyndrum I left on the A82 heading for Fort William where I passed through Glencoe, by this point I was speechless, it may have been so windy I regularly touched the white line as I battled to keep the bike on my side of the road, it doesn’t help that I am just skin and bones, but after wrestling with the bike the wind and rain, thankfully dies off but the Rukka kit has really impressed me! I thought at one point water had seeped through the crotch and bum, but after stopping to check it was nothing but a bit of biking sweat…So as it goes, through Fort William, towards Spean Bridge where I then picked up on the A86, fantastic bit of road. I really enjoyed it and next to no cars so it was very peaceful, I just cruised and cruised, without a care or concern in the world.

[Above: Fort William]

[Above: Love this pic but not sure where it is!]

I eventually arrived in Newtonmore where I avoided the A9 by picking up some back roads towards Grantown-on-spey. The road I took was the B970, again a fantastic road, I think most of Scotland will be like this! I eventually came off the B970 and came to Grantown-on-spey where I’m staying at CairngormsHighlands from campinmygarden.com. My Hosts are Chris and Brigitte, they are a fantastic couple, so much so, I hope to return here early next year if I get the chance.

So that’s today, 7 hours of riding to cover 220 miles with plenty of photo stops when the rain had eased. Tomorrow is a run from Grantown-on-spey to a campsite at Caithness John O’Groats which is about 140 miles on the A9 from here, however I’m going to try a different route and hopefully miss the A9 altogether!

Tonight I was offered a Static Caravan for the night instead of camping, I snapped at the chance so my tent is nice and dry for the wet weather tomorrow and the wild camping to come!

I’m not sure if I’ll have WIFI tomorrow night so I might get a tad behind but the picture as I proceed north westerly should only get more spectacular I hope!

Scotland Tour 2012 – Day 1

So, I’ve started my first RR, this is only a small trip compared to the rest in this forum but the start of something new for me. My thirst for this was fed from several RR’s on here and a pure lust for travel, new experiences and meeting new people and the stories they all have to tell. I guess this trip symbolizes the next few years for travel, freedom and adventure. The start of much more to come.

This is the RR for my week long ride from Wiltshire to Scotland. Solo Rider. 7 days. oh and the worst weather in September for… 30 years and I’m off camping in it! Lush!


[Above: Leaving Swindon]


[Above: Start Mileage]

I left Swindon last night around 18:15 after packing the bike up and getting into my gear, I recently purchased the Rukka Athos jacket and Focus trousers and Rukka Atlas gloves so I’m looking forward to testing to see how good the kit really is and how comfortable it keeps me on the next 2,000 miles.

My first stop was a mere 60 miles away from Swindon, in a city called Worcester where a friend put me up for the night, more so it was just a head start for me, one less hour to travel today. I left Worcester at 07:15 heading for the Peak District with initial intentions to travel on every road but the motorways to Glasgow with plans to Camp at Skelmorlie, but after meeting a great guy called Dave from another travel sight and getting the insight on riding in Scotland I then went to meet some family just outside of Glasgow. I’m spending the night here now, I hadn’t expected to get up here so early but after heavy traffic on the back roads to Glasgow I ended up hitting the M6 for the rest of the journey as I didn’t want to sit in traffic. I arrived in Glasgow at 14:30, still as fresh as when I left Worcester. I think so far I have done circa 400 miles since leaving home, hoping to add another 200 – 300 tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will Leave Glasgow on the A82 up the Western edge of Loch Lomond for Glencoe / Fort William where from there I will effectively turn back on myself for Cairngorms National Park and my stop for the night in Grantown-on-spey, from here hopefully things will pick up and get more interesting followed with plenty of pictures!

Scotland – 2012

The ‘Prep’ phase…

6 days to go….So, kit prep, trip prep, food prep, it’s almost endless.

Over the past week I had been ‘ummming’ & ‘arghhhing’ over using Hostels / Bothys / B&B’s and camping. I have all the camping equipment you could shake a stick at but I felt like or at least had an attraction towards using a B&B, until that is, I started to think and pencil down the route I thought I would most like to take through the country.

I found that, as I have never been to Scotland I couldn’t decide where I really wanted to go or what I wanted to see & do. I decided in the end that, I couldn’t book a B&B, or any accommodation for that matter because I really don’t know if I’d ever arrive, I’m the type of person to see a place or road that looks interesting and follow it until something else catches my eye. Every time I found a nice looking place, I found another, then another… I found small single tracks that went off into the middle of no where, this is what I want, freedom. No plan, no destination.

Wild camping was the only thing for me, out in the wilderness, away from civilisation and going at my own pace. I have been researching and spending a lot of time on looking for the best wild camping spots, unfortunately a lot of them really are off the beaten track and only accessible by foot. In this case I started to scope some places on Google’s street view and through the posts from others on various camping forums.

Jack Wolfskin – Gossamer

I currently have a Coleman Bedrock 2, 2 person tent that I have been using for camping, however, as it’s only me on this trip I decided to look at a new tent for several reasons and something smaller that would be less space for my body to heat up and keep warm. I initially looked at small 1 person tents but soon stumbled across a hooped bivi made by Jack Wolfskin called the Gossamer and at £90.00 RRP I set to work to see how much I could pick one up for… £68.99 later from Trailblazer Outdoors, I soon had my new bivi delivered to my door.

 

After looking at the temperatures in various places around

Mountain Equipment Starlight IV

Scotland I soon decided that my small sleeping back I picked up from Decathlon in France would suffice, until I spoke to my father, who said I’d be mad not to buy a proper down or synthetic down bag for the trip as mine did only have a comfort rating of +9 Deg C and the temperatures are expected to drop to around 0 Deg C to +5 Deg C… So a trip to the local camping shop was called for. What I hadn’t expected to do was come out with far more goods than I really needed.

Thermarest Neo Air Xlite

I picked up a Mountain Equipment Starlight IV sleeping bag that has a temperature rating of +5 Deg C to -18 Deg C, Just perfect for my trip! I paid £108.00 for the bag From Go Outdoors. I spoke to a chap there called Chris who was up to speed on his knowledge base, I like those individuals you find in such commercialized shops like Go Outdoors, the sort of people that you only ever expect to find in the more pricey independent stores, not that many of those around around anymore. So after selecting the sleeping bag I had a quick thought, what about a sleeping mat?

Oh dear… I came away with the Thermarest Neo Air Xlite, something I didn’t need but boy, it’s so tiny I had to! The Thermarest Neo air Xlite come in at a price of £108.00, the best money I have ever spent on a roll mat! I tested the Bivi, sleeping bag and tent in the garden a few days ago and I’m so impressed with the roll mat, it’s immensely comfortable, if not more comfortable than my bed, that’s saying something!

Pitching and erecting the Bivi was simple, as you’d expect and it’s a very light tent certainly around the 1.5KG mark, the poles are super flexible and the material certainly feels durable, however it does suffer, like any other tent from Condensation, also, the fly sheet can not be removed from the inner but rolled up, in very wet circumstances, this may be a problem as it will get the inner wet. If it does get the inner wet at least it’s mesh and should hopefully dry quickly.

After a successful night under the stars in the Garden, I can say I am very pleased with my purchases so far, but, the real test will be Scotland.

I have selected to buy food from a company called Look What We Found, they produce food similar to other companies such as Wayfarer but LWWF isn’t so camping orientated so I thought I’d give them a shot to my usual Wayfarer selection.

This weekend I also selected some  entertainment for the trip. I have selected to use Spotify premium for the trips lonely moments when the going gets tough and I need something to take my mind off things, that happens on every trip right? right. Spotify charge only £9.99 for a months unlimited music, which for things like this is perfect, especially as a solo traveler I enjoy some musical entertainment.

I think now, apart from packing the bike up and checking the goods off my list, I’m done. Thursday night I’ll clean and lube the bike before departure to Worcester initially on Friday night which will take an hour off my journey before I start, a head start! :)