Honda Vision – Lands end to John O’Groats

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  • #8209
    Radar
    Moderator

    The story of taking a Scooter a bit further than the shops:

    Vision Express

    Actually I am a little bit embarrassed to admit this, but my greatest motorcycling memory from over thirty years on the road, during which time I have been lucky enough to ride some fabulous machinery is a not as you might expect, hurtling towards the horizon at some immense velocity on a huge piece of race-bred technology whilst struggling to reign in 100+ raging horses. No rather it is an epic trip on a 50cc twist and go moped of all things!
    Mind you it must be said that this was no ordinary moped ride to the shops or to work. To begin with it took me from the very top of this noble isle to the very bottom, John O’Groats to Lands End. Another incy-wincy point, the whole trip was done non-stop. Before you all start jumping up and down saying that somebody could not possibly ride a scooter single handed for that long, I was only one of a team of five undertaking this epic thrash.

    I was running a small bike club for employees of the company I worked for then in deepest darkest Norfolk at the time. We did all the usual club stuff, meets, runs etc. etc., but our most ambitious event took shape one day in the office. It was a bit quiet and my thoughts had wondered to things motorcycle and the notion of a charity event grabbed me, but what? Then it hit me ~ I picked up the phone and called fellow member Chaz across the office and the conversation went something like this;

    “Chaz, do you fancy riding from John O’Groats to Lands End?”
    “Yeah, sounds great!”
    “Non stop”
    “Err…OK”
    “On a Honda Vision”
    “On a WHAT…”
    “Go on it’s for charity”
    “Jeez I must be mad, OK”.

    Chaz was as un-hinged as me and the ideal candidate to ride a moped the better part of 1,000 miles being a somewhat thickset ex American Footballer! At the next meet we pitched it to the membership and initially loads of people seemed willing to join our little relay. But as always as the date for the off drew near one by one they came up with their reasons for being otherwise disposed. In the end I was left with 5 people to ride the moped and drive the two support vehicles that Chaz and I had blagged.

    Now the aim was to do this properly and make sure all the money raised went to charity involved and not eaten up in costs, as is so often the case. So we got blagging and did amazingly well. A local Honda dealer (C.J.Ball & Son, now in Norwich) agreed to lend us not one, but two Honda Vision Met-in 50cc puddle hoppers. One was an ex training scheme hack to be used for the run itself, while the second was a brand new bike to be used as a back up in the event of a breakdown only. A national car rental firm laid on a diesel Transit van and a tank of juice, Honda UK provided waterproofs, Lotus Cars (my employers then) lent us a brand new Elan SE sports car and a fuel card. Finally Little Chef chipped in with some meal tokens. The moral here is ask, if the cause is good you might be surprised how willing people are to help.

    After a brief debate, we settled on a good cause; namely the Special Care Baby Unit of our local hospitals, The Norfolk and Norwich. They had cared for one of our club member’s young baby son superbly, and they were in need of a new piece of equipment. It seemed a natural choice for them to benefit from our fund raising. The next couple of months were spent rounding up sponsors and soon £1,500 had been pledged. More than enough; time to go for it.

    There was no going back now, and on a damp September morning we loaded the two mopeds and a myriad of kit into the back of the Transit and the boot of Elan and headed north from Norwich. First stop was in Northumberland where we descended on my poor old sister for an over night halt. No expensive hotels or camping pitch fees you see. We were up early and carried on toward the very top of our noble isle. After getting spectacularly lost by Nippy leading the way in the Transit (worrying this he planned the route we were about to use!) we arrived in John O’Groats later than we had planned. Now this little village is what could be optimistically described as a “one horse town”, but the small local gift shop had a book to sign to say you had been here to start your journey officially. This done I grabbed the keys to the Honda for the first stint and set off into Scottish highlands on the opening leg of the trip. As this whole stunt was my idea I thought this only fair.

    Our plan was that the Moped rider would be kept company by the Transit, while the Elan would go ahead with the next rider and wait at the changeover point. This way the riders and drivers should always be reasonably fresh.
    I rode away wondering just what crazy impulse had driven us all to this. Anyway the miles rolled under the tiny wheels of the Honda surprisingly briskly, and it felt like no time at all until my stint was over and I passed the Vision to the next rider. The plan was working well as we headed deeper into the Highlands. Darkness was beginning to envelope us now and somehow the spectacular scenery all around us just rolled by almost unnoticed, curiously all the rest of the team said much the same thing.

    The Vision was running faultlessly, and on the downhill sections, if the throttle was kept wound on, the speedo needle could be pushed off the end of the 40mph strip speedo and on to the fuel gauge as far as the letter “U” on the “FUEL” marking!! All this took place while plunging down mountain roads at night, cornering absolutely on the limit of the abilities for the little Honda – what a buzz!

    As night closed in completely the roads became increasing deserted, just the Vision and the Transit picking their way through the night to the waiting Elan at the next changeover. The Vision was running brilliantly, but it was not designed for these conditions. Out here it was pitch black and the headlights yellow glow just was not up to it. In the end we drove the Transit as close as we dared to the Vision and put the lights main beam, thus illuminating the path for the Vision rider.

    During the first night I even slept with Sally in the back of the Transit, while her boyfriend Nippy, was driving! Unfortunately for me it was literally sleeping, as we were both fully clothed and in separate sleeping bags with the spare moped between us. Oh well!

    Meanwhile the Vision just kept going at a steady 30~40mph stopping only to re-fuel and change riders. We carried petrol for the moped in can to overcome the inexplicable lack of 24-hour garages in the middle of nowhere. I thought we lived in the service age too, pah!
    My Brother in law “Bolders” in particular was really enjoying himself in the Elan and had pushed well ahead, to the point he had nearly ran it out of fuel. He bottled out after the fuel light had been on for a good while and waited just below the brow of a hill for the rest of us to catch up. Typically for September in Scotland it was freezing and by the time we got there he was turning blue, poor lad. Reassured by our presence he pulled away crested the hill only to be confronted by a huge 24-hour garage. He need not of frozen half to death, ho hum.

    We took this opportunity for a brief rest halt, to refuel the moped, the fuel can, the Elan and the Transit. Another popular option was using a proper toilet as opposed to some bush or another! But we had to keep moving and the miles kept racking up steadily as the Scottish highlands blended into the borders, then the north-west of England came and went, and the Vision continued to cruise on, totally unruffled by the constant diet of wide open throttle and repeated rider changes. The brave little Moped was earning respect in style. “Bolders” was getting seriously attached to Vision, and at one point did 140 miles in one stint, between the north midlands and the outskirts of Bristol, stopping only for fuel.
    As we travelled south all of the best, most spectacular, countryside that our island can offered rolled out before us, like the backdrop to a Hollywood road movie. For the time we were all together, cocooned in our own small world, we became like one entity. Living, laughing, sleeping, eating and taking the mick as one. Incidents came thick and fast and there were far too many to squeeze into a brief tale like this. The days became a blur of a stint on the bike, then a rider changeover, then grabbing fitful sleep in the back of the support van, before clambering back on the Moped for yet another stint. The whole trip took on a rhythm all of its own. The intensity of the experience was only sharpened by the fact we were also raising money for an important charity too.
    The pattern of blasting ahead in the Lotus was working pretty well and as each of us took over the Vision we were quite fresh and ready for “action”. We did stop on a couple of occasions to eat, and plan the miles ahead, but these breaks were a maximum of 20 minutes as the urge to complete the run drove us on.
    In the end though the pressure of having only five people to drive/ride three vehicles constantly was taking its toll, and in the interests of everyone’s safety we had a one-hour stop and used our food vouchers in North Devon. Then we set of for the last few stints on the Vision, only a 125 miles or so to go. The sun was out and I grabbed the keys to the Lotus, dropped hood and had a memorable thrash across Devon.

    Bolders, Nippy, Sally and Chaz insisted that I rode the last few miles to Lands End. I was pleased about that, and as the Vision carried me toward the finish line I had a great sense of pride that what had started as a silly idea a couple of months ago was about to be completed. Curiously now this little 40 mile stint passed by quickly, whereas if somebody had suggested we ride this distance on a 50cc moped only few weeks before it would of seemed like an eternity.
    After all the organisational work we had all put in, and then the trip itself the entry into Lands End came as something of an anti-climax. We weren’t even left off the entry fee despite our charitable cause, tight wads. We entered all our names in the book for people who have made this journey, and then looked at the brave little Honda Vision that had carried us all here without complaint. A total of 906 miles had been added to the machine’s odometer in just 42 hours, an average speed (including stops), of 21 mph. For a machine with a nominal top speed of 30 mph that is really impressive.

    We had ridden day and night, in sun and rain, in towns, out in the wilds, in short we were just out there escaping the rat race that is reality for most us day in day out. It had an almost surreal feel for few days, a special time, and when journeys end came into view, suddenly it was not the elation that we had expected, but sadness that was the dominant emotion. The realisation that this time had to end hit us. We were all drained physically and mentally, but what we all wanted to do was just turn on round and do it all again. So ended a memorable three days, and it was with some pride that the team gathered together once again a couple of weeks later in the Special Care Baby Unit in Norwich to hand over an outsize cheque to the consultant, a job well done.

    38171547886_78d754f37b.jpg
    Handing over the big cheque

    • This topic was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Radar.
    #16340
    cookeye
    Participant

    Nice one radar
    was you at lotus about twenty years ago then if so did you know a guy called rick hilton he had a honda 50 thing for a bit and loads of differant other petrol driven stuff takes me ages to type this s*** with one finger so thanks for your post i knew scooters would work
    cookey[:D]

    #16341
    Radar
    Moderator

    I do remember a Rick, but I am not sure of his surname. He was ex RAF as I remeber and worked making test rigs. I don’t remember much about his bikes, but he had an amazingly ratty Triumph Vitesse car that he sold to another mate of mine. I vaguely remember that he left to become (bizarrely)a milk man in Ipswich! From there he went on to Spain. Is this the same bloke your thinking of?

    Nice one radar
    was you at lotus about twenty years ago then if so did you know a guy called rick hilton he had a honda 50 thing for a bit and loads of differant other petrol driven stuff takes me ages to type this s*** with one finger so thanks for your post i knew scooters would work
    cookey[:D]

    #16342
    cookeye
    Participant

    [:D]
    sam guy m8 of mine small world e/mail him once a week
    all that way on a vision
    cookeye[;)]

    #16343
    Radar
    Moderator

    Cookeye,

    Next time you e-mail Rick say “hi” from Radar, he might well remember me too. Did he really crash his milk float down by the docks?

    It was a long way on a Vision, but great fun.

    My wife trained as a nurse in Ipswich, is this your neck of the woods?

    Radar

    sam guy m8 of mine small world e/mail him once a week
    all that way on a vision
    cookeye[;)]

    #16344
    imperialdata
    Keymaster

    Think you guys are on the wrong forum, try friends reunited[;)]

    (Only kidding!)

    #16345
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    All that way on a Vision. I had one a few years ago and my bum hurt after 20 miles. Respect!

    #16346
    HippoDrones
    Participant

    hahahaha cool [:D]

    #16347
    Radar
    Moderator

    It will 21 years in September since i did this run…time for a repeat performance!?

    #16348
    katana
    Participant

    I’m up for it

    #16349
    Radar
    Moderator

    quote:


    Originally posted by katana

    I’m up for it


    Give me a bell

    #16350
    katana
    Participant

    Will do

    Think i might have found a bike that will appeal to your Yam side and with a bit of a fettle could be a laugh to ride the length of the country.

    https://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290529690397&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

    #16351
    chris24682
    Participant

    Nice story. Me and a mate are doing the same trip this May on two honda melodys (1983 and 1985 models)both brought for under £250 each.Doing it over 6 days with nothing but backpacks and a tent. Really looking forward to it now after reading this.

    #16352
    Radar
    Moderator

    quote:


    Originally posted by chris24682

    Nice story. Me and a mate are doing the same trip this May on two honda melodys (1983 and 1985 models)both brought for under £250 each.Doing it over 6 days with nothing but backpacks and a tent. Really looking forward to it now after reading this.


    Hey we would be really interested in following your story as you prepare and then take on the journey. It was a brilliant experience, one of the best things I have done, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

    We also did Moped racing around the same time and that was a hoot too. Pics are on the site somewhere. Forum member Champs was racing peds last you too, again you can follow this on the site somewhere.

    In the meantime welcome to the forum and this link will help you to look about…

    https://www.bikemeet.net/forums/topic/great-posts-pics-across-the-site-part-2/

    #16353
    Radar
    Moderator

    Came across this story while down in Norfolk…

    https://www.wrongwaydown.biz/

    Brilliant!

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