Monthly Archives: April 2015

A plug for Nick Sanders


Nick Sander’s pad is a well thought out and organised base camp for his guided tours. It has been put together over some time, with obvious thought being put into every stage. The quality and decor of the tents, cabins and trailers makes them homely. They’re particularly easy to relax in after a day’s ride, and that’s important. He says it’s a woman’s touch and he’s probably right.

Caroline runs a tight kitchen and dishes up some amazing food. Gourmet yes, but nouvelle cuisine (i.e. big plates, tiny servings) it’s certainly not! There’s plenty and then some, no chance of leaving the table until you’re well stuffed. With Nick and Caroline joining us for dinner, it made for a great evening with plenty of banter and lively discussion!

Initially I thought it was a bit pricey for a long weekend at over £200. Now I’ve been I can say that was actually a bargain, as I didn’t spend another penny! Accommodation for 3 nights plus 2 restaurant quality meals (with wine) a day is good value in itself, without the guided tour and bike related settings. I probably spend more on a standard camping weekend with my mates, when you factor in 3 nights in the pub!

In summary, if you like riding bikes on scenic roads, with good company, great food and surroundings – book yourself a tour. You won’t regret it!IMG_20150418_160732

Day Two


The second day was exactly what I had expected. A guided tour around some amazing roads and scenery. We didn’t get lost once and stopped off at some wonderful cafes. It was all tarmac, but with single track roads in places. The views were amazing and the weather really played ball for a change.

In an interesting conversation with the guys later, opinions were split over which was the best day. I’d struggle to pick between them as they were quite different, but both very good. If I’d been on my trusty KLR650 though, it would definitely be day 1. It would have eaten those forest tracks, and as I don’t ride off road much these days I’d have loved it.

Riding a VFR800 off road is challenging enough, but when it’s a very tidy one you’ve borrowed that’s always in the back of your mind. Thanks again Sarah for the loan.

Top of the world!


Well not quite, this is the view from the top of another track we couldn’t get up. Giving a total of three dead ends climbs for the day, I did expect a little more organisation from Nick. I certainly didn’t expect us to get lost!

But before that sounds like a complaint, I should point out that Nick was so charming about it in his eccentric way that no one minded at all. The guys and girls here this weekend are all looking for adventure, and what bigger adventure is there than getting lost? It certainly guarantees seeing something you’ve never seen before!

At the top of one gnarly climb I got a round of applause from Mark and James. This came with the accompanying comment “You’re either very good, very brave or very stupid!”. What can I say?

The VFRs certainly aren’t off road bikes, but it’s pretty impressive what they can still do. Normal roads eventually returned though, and with the bikes back in their element the rest of the ride was an absolute pleasure (and relief!).

VFR country – not!


On the first day we set out with a few BMW GS1250S, a BMW 650F, a Honda Transalp, a couple of Suzuki V-stroms and Nick on his Yamaha super Tenere. All of these are adventure style bikes with good off road capabilities. Meanwhile Pax and I are on Honda VFRs, 1200 and 800 respectively – Sports Tourers.

The blurb said there was no off road riding and I wondered if the other guys might be a little disappointed by that. No need for me to worry as we soon got off the minor roads onto gravel. Then forest tracks, then a goat track! We turned round when we came to a muddy climb that Nick couldn’t ascend on the Tenere with knobbly tyres!

To be fair we were asked if we wanted to continue a while back, with no pressure to do so on our unsuitable bikes. It was fairly intense but immensely enjoyable, the only difficulty was the mud with our road tyres. I was immensely impressed with Pax and what he managed to do with the VFR1200. You’re definitely one of the best riders I know mate!

Who says Wales is all sheep?


I’ve had a cracking couple of days riding around scenic Wales. You tend to forget what’s on your doorstep, and certainly don’t always appreciate it. Time to start I think!

These highland cows were an unexpected find, although we did see a lot of sheep. Welsh sheep are loose on some of the roads and they’re unpredictable at best. You really do need to be careful.

Faster faster!


So here is Nick’s R1, a little tatty I have to say. You’d find plenty of tidier bikes on eBay with less miles for the same year, but then again they won’t be world record holders! The machine has been ridden round the world in 19 days. To put that into perspective, I took 4 months to ride half way!

That’s properly riding around the world too, not missing huge chunks of it by flying. Averaging 1600km every day is bloody hard work, you’d need to be super fit and mentally prepared too. I’m not sure I could do that – but then I’d prefer to take my time and enjoy the experience.

So what do you need to set a record? A 40bhp KLR650 single? Hardly! The R1 is a 1000cc inline 4 that can do 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in 3.04 seconds. Or 0 to 100 mph (0 to 161 km/h) in 5.42 seconds. A standing quarter-mile in 9.90 seconds and has a top speed of 179 mph (288 km/h).

Forget the figures for a moment, that’s bloody fast in anyone’s book!

Home from home


Nick Sander’s place is very well sorted, there’s a little bike museum with his round the world bikes. The world record R1 is there (19 days in case you’re wondering), which I tried for size but it’s not my style of bike really. Sorry Nick!

Pax and I are in a wigwam style tent, with plenty of room and proper beds. Pax is just connecting the wood burning stove, so I’d better go and help. He’s good at putting fires out, but I’m not sure about lighting them!

Interestingly, Nick says they did have a Mongolian yurt – but unless you light a fire in them every day they go mouldy. It didn’t last long so they’ve got UK made tents, and very smart they are too.

Pen Y Garreg


According to the sign, Pen Y Garreg is 37m high, 161m long and was built in 1903. It covers 124 acres and holds 6,000,000,000 litres of water. The part that amazes me most is the fact it was built over 100 years ago! Every person who worked on it will be long dead, but it still stands in testament to their hard work and engineering skills. In 1903 it would be very hard work too! Pax kept telling me that any minute a fast jet would scream past at eye level. No such luck. Come on RAF, where are you?PANO_20150416_152237