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BikeMeet Cafe / Checking out Surfing Country....Cornwall 2019
« Last post by Radar on June 14, 2019, 08:53:09 PM »
For reasons I can't fully explain this year I just didn't fancy a bike trip in Europe. I wanted to just stick a few bits of kit on the bike and head out. No ferries, passports, green cards, copies of my logbook. Simple was the order of the day, just as biking should be. Again in the simple ethos of the trip it was just me and my old partner in crime Mr.P on this trip. No trying to line up the availability of half a dozen mates...this can be a difficult sometimes.

So where to go? Scotland or Cornwall featured on the shortlist. Scotland is a long haul until you get to the good bits, so the land of King Arthur it was! Funny thing with Cornwall is that I don't see it as natural pick as biker's destination unlike Scotland. I think it is because the area is so associated with surfing culture and family beach holidays. Anyway destination selection made I booked a 2-bedroom cottage on the Devon/Cornwall border, and headed for the Southwest meeting up with Mr.P on route. He was on his trusty GS while my weapon of choice for the week ahead was my venerable but very capable Yamaha Thundercat

I find it therapeutic just to be on a bike and up to now I have resisted to the temptation of going 'connected' and listen to music, a sat nav or even take mobile calls while riding. The isolation is part of the pleasure for me, even when just humming down the M5. Now Cornwall isn't exactly what could be called handy from the midlands so we broke up the journey with a visit to the excellent Jet Age aviation museum near Gloucester...well worth the effort of a divert if you are in the area.


Parked up at the excellent Jet Age Museum...bizarrely old friend flew over us in a Robinson R22 helicopter while we parked up!

Once down there we found our digs for the next few days pretty easily, a holiday cottage just outside Launceston. Again keeping it simple...no erecting tents in the pouring rain to the light of your bikes main beam! It proved to be a comfortable, well located and convenient base for the next 5 days. As I alluded to earlier and Cornwall is not natural bikers territory but that doesn't stop it being a fantastic part of the world to escape to for a few days. No work, no family to keep happy, just me, my bike and an old mate in a similar frame of mind. Best of all the phone signal was generally crap too...proper escapism!


Basecamp

The next few days saw us picking along the north coast, the views are stunning and (in an off peak week at least) the roads quiet. The pace was deliberately gentle, which is fine...you don't have to ride everywhere with a rocket up your jacksy you know! Sometimes it pays to roll off the throttle and just wonder along and take in the peace and quiet. We made our way from the north to south coast, checking the lovely little villages that hug up against the cliffs and broad, sandy beaches. We checked out places such as Boscastle that was famously devastated in floods about a decade ago. Visit there now and it seems hard to believe that the places was torn apart to such an extent. Other noteworthy places included the home of the long running TV series 'Doc Martin'; Port Isaac. The village is blessed with extremely tight and twisting streets and was very busy, so we didn't linger. Pretty place though. Generally, the views are great and beaches open and attractive, creating a real draw for the surfing and water sports community. We, however just gently trickled along wending our way from village to village, checking out little tea rooms or pubs when refreshment was needed. Places with wonderful names evocative of times past and redolent of old Cornwall....smugglers and fishermen: Crackington Haven, Boscastle, Tintagel (great name, but actually slightly disappointing), High Cliff, Port Isaac, Port Quin, Polzeath, Rock, Wadebridge, and Padstow (home of the famous Rick Stein seafood restaurants and chippies). In the great tradition of our ride outs Mr.P even lead us down some pretty remote lanes with grass growing up the middle. He excelled himself this time though and found a lane that required me to negotiate a ford on my longsuffering Thundercat! Cheers mate! I also threw one of my traditional strops! A bike trip isn't a bike trip without at least one 'Blue Sparkly Dress' hissy fit moment from me.


Can't beat a bit of paddling




Aston Martin DB7 in an 'interesting' colour scheme

We did mix a little quicker work with all this pottering and discovered that while Cornwall  might be knee deep in VW Type 2 campers piloted by middle class surf dudes pretending to be poor, some of the inland roads do offer the scope for some spirited riding. The Thundercat was more in its natural environment here and the A39/395 and A30 are all enjoyable roads that still offer great views as well as good riding. Somehow Cornwall, despite its popularity has
managed to retain a feel of isolation and getting away from it all, in off peak periods at least






Mr.P did consider tackling the slipway on his adventure bike, but couldn't find that mode on its computer...

Any biking trip in the UK irrespective of the time of year leaves you at the mercy of the weather  and sure enough we had days when clouds and rain were more prevalent than sunshine. This didn't stop the fun however as the worst day we rode into Launceston to check out our nearest town and its rather magnificent Norman/medieval castle. The visitor centre was manned by an extremely talkative lady and Z650 owning guide. I must admit that talking air-cooled Zeds wasn't what I had expected on entering the castle, but it was an entertaining diversion!
 
The views from atop the castle keep were impressive and you could certainly see why it had been chosen as a key defensive position it so dominated the surrounding area. Well worth a visit if you are in the area. Launceston was also home to 'The Red Chair Cafe' where I enjoyed a cuppa and good natter with the owner about bikes...turns out he has a MT-09 Tracer and as soon as we went to sit down he presented us with a book about classic bikes while we drank our tea. One of the regulars (also into his bikes) brings them in for customers to look at! He was sat at the next table to us and we were soon nattering away about bikes. The interior of this smartly presented little cafe is also fitted out in the style of the Art Deco period and the chairs are of the 'Mackintosh' type. Great little place.
 
By now the weather had improved so it was back on the bikes once we found them (we went back to the wrong bike park initially!), and heading over Bodmin moor to check out the charming little port of Fowey, which is a lovely town and with great views over the River Fowey estuary and it was in this town we finally got our hands on a Cornish Pasty. Unbelievably they don't do a salad pasty (now there's a concept...) so I was FORCED to have a traditional one, and to make matters even worse they only had large ones left. The sacrifices I make...




 
A small ferry runs across the estuary and we decided to take it in order to go to Polperro. I last took this ferry back in 94 whilst riding my FZ750. I was in the area while visiting friends based at RAF St.Mawgan. Hard to believe it was so long ago. In the end we skirted Polperro as we enjoying the ride too much to stop. The Thundercat was running beautifully despite having sat under a cover in the garage for much of the last few months. Shame I don't find the riding position as comfortable as I once did...the time for a 'sensible' bike looks to be upon me...
 
The final day in Cornwall saw us ride across the spectacular Bodmin Moor and head for the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth. A great ride despite being all main roads as the moor provides a suitably spectacular backdrop. The museum itself is excellent and manned, by knowledgeable and friendly staff. I particularly liked the Healey speedboat on display as you entered the museum, but the place was full of interesting exhibits and had a watch tower with a brilliant view of the harbour area.




 
A ride around the headland and a blast back over Bodmin saw us back at our digs for the final evening. Base for the week was a converted barn and it was most comfortable, and cost effective compared to B&B's and even camping surprisingly. Off peak the area is surprisingly affordable...£355 for 5 days for a well-appointed, 2 bedroom cottage is excellent even if the Range cooker had us baffled initially! The local town of Launceston was a good place to stock up on provisions and The White Hart pub served hearty food, including the biggest burger I have ever seen! I needed a good pint of 'Proper Job' ale to wash it down...it's a hard life sometimes!
 
We wrapped up the South West run by plodding back up the M5, and again broke up the journey. This time at the Bristol Aerospace museum, the star exhibit of which is the last Concorde to be built or flown and on display in a new state of the art hangar. Riding past the amazing Brunel designed Clifton Suspension bridge was also a personal highlight
 
So a great few days away and travelling by bike is always special somehow. The area may not be a bikers heaven like Northern Spain, or even Wales but the place does have an atmosphere and feel all of its own...the desolation of the moors, the beautiful beaches, the pretty little harbours and a bike is great way to get they and check out all the little nooks and crannies. One tip though...don't do it on a sports or even sports touring bike . Get on a tourer, a retro or an adventure bike, roll the throttle back and just enjoy your surroundings

Some useful links:

https://jetagemuseum.org/

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/launceston-castle/

https://nmmc.co.uk/

http://aerospacebristol.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifton_Suspension_Bridge
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Italian tackle / Re: Fantic 500 Caballero - brief imprssions
« Last post by Radar on June 13, 2019, 07:57:45 PM »


Andy (aka Thumper) tried the 500 too recently. Came away impressed with it's road manners, but felt it was perhaps a little too road biased
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Meetings and events / Re: Mach 4 Festival of Motorcycling, Music and Booze
« Last post by Radar on June 13, 2019, 07:52:44 PM »
Some great photos. Your camper van looks awesome! :)

The camper van is indeed great - it's revolutionised our spare time. After 55 years of camping we now don't mind it when it rains - our last few tents have been trashed by Welsh storms, but now we just crack open another drink and pull the awning in when the wind gets up.... ;D

We're off to the Outer Hebrides in it later this year  8)

Awesome stuff. I'm hoping to get a van next year, won't be a camper, although I will sleep in it

I remember how much you used your various vans, most infamously the flaming Master, dusty Transit and the mini-horsebox with the pink star!
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Meetings and events / Re: Mach 4 Festival of Motorcycling, Music and Booze
« Last post by HippoDrones on June 11, 2019, 01:42:38 PM »
Some great photos. Your camper van looks awesome! :)

The camper van is indeed great - it's revolutionised our spare time. After 55 years of camping we now don't mind it when it rains - our last few tents have been trashed by Welsh storms, but now we just crack open another drink and pull the awning in when the wind gets up.... ;D

We're off to the Outer Hebrides in it later this year  8)

Awesome stuff. I'm hoping to get a van next year, won't be a camper, although I will sleep in it
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Meetings and events / Re: Mach 4 Festival of Motorcycling, Music and Booze
« Last post by elessimo on June 11, 2019, 01:02:10 AM »
Looks like you had a fabulous time. I would have come, but felt I needed a quiet week before the new job, thinking I might have got that wrong!! Mach 2.5 was brilliant, the only one I have made it to so far.

Good to catch up in Ludlow yesterdayand meet the new Triumph in person. I have to say it looks great

You're right Radar, it was another excellent Mach Festival - the mixture of bikes, music, booze, food and people does work whether it's sunny or not  ;D
Thanks for turning out for our meeting in Ludlow - good sarnies, eh? See you at Prescott on Sunday?  8)
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Meetings and events / Re: Mach 4 Festival of Motorcycling, Music and Booze
« Last post by elessimo on June 11, 2019, 12:56:21 AM »
Some great photos. Your camper van looks awesome! :)

The camper van is indeed great - it's revolutionised our spare time. After 55 years of camping we now don't mind it when it rains - our last few tents have been trashed by Welsh storms, but now we just crack open another drink and pull the awning in when the wind gets up.... ;D

We're off to the Outer Hebrides in it later this year  8)
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Meetings and events / Re: Mach 4 Festival of Motorcycling, Music and Booze
« Last post by Radar on June 10, 2019, 09:38:28 PM »
Looks like you had a fabulous time. I would have come, but felt I needed a quiet week before the new job, thinking I might have got that wrong!! Mach 2.5 was brilliant, the only one I have made it to so far.

Good to catch up in Ludlow yesterdayand meet the new Triumph in person. I have to say it looks great
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Meetings and events / Re: Mach 4 Festival of Motorcycling, Music and Booze
« Last post by HippoDrones on June 10, 2019, 02:05:44 PM »
Some great photos. Your camper van looks awesome! :)
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Meetings and events / Mach 4 Festival of Motorcycling, Music and Booze
« Last post by elessimo on June 10, 2019, 12:09:16 PM »
The weather forecast was 90% likelihood of torrential rain but the reality was 5 minutes wet and two hours of sunshine. Took the longer route of Abergavenny, Brecon, Builth Wells, Rhayader, Llanidloes to miss the Hereford traffic. Nice.

Debs had already arrived at our usual spot near the showers at Llanidloes Rugby Club, so it was time to check out the bands. Ty Gwyn were co-sponsoring the event, so a couple of Festival Ferrets were downed and out came the tequila chasers. The Suffragettes did some good covers and Aziz Ibrahim (Stone Roses, Simply Red & Hot Chocolate) did his usual blistering solo set...


Our usual place

Our session cider

Aziz Ibrahim

Next morning (Friday) was threatening rain, but 120 riders set out for Nick Sanders' first ride-out, south west to Abergwesyn Pass - a lovely route. The first hour-ish was dry but is started spitting at the pit-stop high in the mountains. The Continental van had driven ahead and doled out as much free coffee, tea, croissants and cake as we could consume.
The next three hours were a lot rainier, so at least some of the country lane muck was washed off...


Pit-stop

Not so pristine now...

Abergwesyn Pass

That night it was Tom Hill's 70s JazzFunk Machine headlining: superb live even if jazz isn't your thing. There was a severe storm at 2.30am but luckily we were still up (home-made damson vodka now in the mix) so retracted the awning and let the rain carry on cleaning the Bonnie.


After the deluge

Room with a view

The next day an MCN journalist joined the ride-out, so expect his article in this Wednesday's MCN. However Debs and I waited until the afternoon and did a solo trip into Machynlleth via the gorgeous narrow mountain pass: short but very sweet  :D

Tacla and The Kows were the bands that impressed on Saturday night; we were starting to flag a bit through lack of sleep but saw some of the fire circus entertainment after the final band.
The route home was enlivened by meeting Radar in Ludlow and yet again only finding 5 minutes of rain and the rest was sunshine. Really getting used to the Bonnie now - it has officially knocked the old 3TA off the perch and is now my favourite bike ever.


Good workhorse

Ready to ride round the world....

This was our fourth Mach Festival (Machs 2.5, 3, 3.5 & now 4) - we now have new friends met there and a regular fixture in the diary. Kudos to Nick Sanders, his wife Caroline and the whole team - it's a great bash!
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Members' bikes / Re: Kawasaki ZR550 - Update on my lovely old hack
« Last post by Radar on June 09, 2019, 12:52:02 AM »
Well after 18 months I have sold the ZR...after an iffy start I really enjoyed the 4000 miles I did on this bike. But I need the funds to shuffle my bikes about a bit, so it had to go sadly. Sold to a local chap so hopefully I will still see it about
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