Grim Rider's Websites
A site dedicated to long distance motorcycling &
home of the Grim Riders MCC; the British Long Distance Riders;
and the Moped Challenge
The idea was to complete an SS2000 ride – an IBA recognised ride which constitutes covering over 2000 miles within a 48 hour period. I planned to include a 4 Corners ride within that, visiting Lowestoft; John O Groats; St Davids; and Land End within 36 hours along the way and adding on the distance from home to Lowestoft and then from LE back home to get to over 2000 miles. A friend from the Iron Butt Rally, Iron Butt Abu, decided to join me on the ride and as we both live about 200 miles from Lowestoft we decided to synchronise our starts to get to Lowestoft at about the same time on Monday 28th July. My only problem was that my bike was booked in for a brake service at the local (40 miles away) BMW dealers the morning we were setting off, so that became my start point and I phoned Abu at 11.15am as I left.
I covered the 199 miles to the Euroscope at Lowestoft (luckily knew exactly where it was as I visited it the previous week on the East Coast Challenge – it is not well signposted!), and my main concern as I rode there was whether we would end up dehydrating in the heat. Little did I know what was to come – it clouded over after Norwich and that was the last of the hot weather we were to see. I got two witnesses who were walking past – the first old guy couldn’t remember his phone number so I wasn’t sure how reliable a witness he would be! After 50 minutes at Lowestoft (Abu had terrible traffic around the M25) we set off north. We had decided to go up the A1 rather than across to the M6 to vary the route a little and it was very pleasant travelling across East Anglia and up through Lincolnshire, We had not ridden together before and both probably had some uncertainties about how we would get on, but our styles and speeds seemed to gel well and we made good progress.
Getting to Berwick upon Tweed marked a change of weather – we were surrounded by thick fog – I thought it was a fog off the sea which would clear but it was to last for the next 7 or 8 hours. All the way through Scotland we saw nothing beyond the edge of the road and about 20 feet ahead and it became very tiring as we had to concentrate so hard all the time. We took it in turns to lead but Abu coped far better with the fog (the advantage of a Fog City insert, I could see very little at times as my visor and glasses misted up – I had assumed would not need to treat them!) and he dragged us through. We stopped for a break in Inverness and got to John O Groats just before 5am where the fog was just clear enough to take a couple of photos.
There was nobody around so we headed back down the road and found that the Tescos north of Wick was just opening and a couple of ladies agreed to be our witnesses. We set off again, pausing briefly to take a photograph of the Round Britain Rally landmark in Brora as it was only just off our road. We took notice of the deer warning signs on the A90, remembering what had happened to several riders on the Iron Butt, but obviously my deer whistle was doing its job!
We stopped again in Inverness for breakfast and a rest before setting off again in the fog, now added to by rain. The fog abated when we got south to Stirling, but the rain got heavier until we had left Scotland and got on to the M6 south. At Carlisle Abu decided he could not go on and needed to stop so I went on alone. I worked out that I did not have the energy, or time, to complete the rest of the 4 Corners as there was still over 800 miles to go and only 14 hours to complete them in. I seriously considered heading for home, but that would only have come to 1460 miles, not even a BunBurner 1500, and I was determined to see if I could get the 2000 miles in. I still felt good after 28 hours on the road so decided to head for Lands End, thinking that would constitute an End to End Ride. Heading for home from there would come to just over 2000 miles. The forecast for the south west was not good but I put my heated vest on and winter gloves and rode past the heavy traffic around Birmingham, 20 miles from home, and down the M5.
It was getting dark as I reached Cornwall and I was looking forward to riding across the county I was born in, since I had not visited for many years. However, Cornwall was really horrible to me - the wind was blowing very heavily from the south west, to the extent that I had to lean the bike right into it and it was continually getting blown across the lane on the A30. As I went across Bodmin Moor it started to rain again, so heavily it was splashing into my helmet vents and soaking my face. The last 30 miles to Lands End took me over an hour to complete - the roads were like rivers in places, with water splashin gover my feet and up to the bike's axles in places. It was like being in a monsoon when I reached Lands End just before 11pm and I was soaked through as soon as I took my helmet off. The wind nearly blew me off my feet as I struggled to hold my camera steady enough to take a photo.
I wandered into the Lands End Hotel to get a witness and was severely tempted to stay there, but the thought of getting up early in the morning when it would still be raining and leaving early enough to get home by 11am forced me back out into the rain. It took me nearly 2 and a half hours to get as far as Okehampton when I suddenly realised I had been on reserve for a while and had not seen a garage for miles. Despite the heated vest and grips I was getting cold, and my boots and gloves were now full of water. I was feeling very miserable and starting to see hallucinations in all the shapes appearing out of the dark – the mist was like all the avenging angels at the end of the first Raiders of the Lost Ark film, and I thought it best to stop before they got me! Luckily a garage appeared and I dived into it, dripping water all over the floor like a drowned rat – the lady behind the counter obviously felt so sorry for me she gave me some chocolate and made me a cup of coffee!
The rest of the journey home went in a shivering blur with only a couple of stops for petrol and more coffee at Gordano until I pulled up outside the house at 5.27am, 2029 miles and 42 hours after leaving Clarks BMW. I hadn’t actually slept in that time but had catnapped on a few occasions for quarter of an hour or so at a time. I did question what I was doing, and why, on quite a few occasions and there were times when I felt the ride was definitely out, if not to finish me off, then to finish my commitment to long distance riding! But I am sure it will not be my last ride, although it may be a while yet before the next such adventure!