Archive for March, 2008

There’s nothing better at the end of a hard day than a long cold beer, except perhaps a beautifully rich, deep bodied, glass of Bordeaux. Neither is that practical on a bike. The beer? Well it tends to be warm, and the wine? Frankly it doesn’t get out of France before I’ve finished off my three week supply.

Powdered WineSo to my absolute delight I discovered that you can freeze-dry wine – no seriously – you can buy 200ml of wonderfully rich ‘rouge’ wine direct from Touratech, and in a tiny little silver packet. Perfect.

I was open minded about the wine, I’m not a snob and tend to drink bottles that are less than £5 a pop, but for £3.04 plus p&p even I was a little worried about the quality of the plonk delivered in a mere three weeks.

I prepared the equipment (a jug with 200ml of water, a long stirring thing, and a glass), opened the sachet and dropped in the rather lumpy, congealed powder – not confident at all it was going to dissolve. But to my surprise, the wine dissipated after only gentle encouragement. Five minutes dragged by and I was rewarded with a deep red jug of wine, ready for drinking at the fireside. What could be more perfect?

lumpy wineThe only thing remaining was to actually taste it. This is where the dream of wine on-the-go falls to pieces. Dear Lord… holy cow… and some other non-printable expletives. I’m struggling to describe it without having to resort to blawah, but I can’t come close. It tasted of chemicals, with a hint of toilet cleaner, and and after taste not dissimilar to Sunny Delight.

This is a great idea, and I’m sure if somebody spends some time thinking how it actually tastes rather than trading on the idea of wonderful modern ease and travel, then it may succeed. Until then, drop into your local supermarket, buy the cheapest box of red – remove the outer packing – and be in rouge bliss.

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The Ady Smith school sounded like a really great way to spend the weekend. Not only was it going to be fun but I was also looking at it as further rider training and being able to relate some of things I learned on the weekend to my road riding.

Ady Smith runs a good school that puts the safety of those on the course at the top of the list. So after being kitted up in full protective clothing and introduced to the latest 2008 KTM off roaders we had a safety briefing and I felt very at ease.

The first part of the course was where we got used to the bikes on easy terrain. It was good to get the feel of how the bike behaved under power on slippery ground and in the corners. With not having fallen off I was feeling pretty upbeat and so on to a slower section where we learnt basic slow control and cornering.

The format was pretty much the same for the rest of the weekend. We had sessions of instruction followed by practice then a bit of time putting it all together. As the course continued continued we tackled more complex skills.

It all ended with a run around the enduro course where displayed the skills we learned from sliding the back end round bends, flat corners, riding through ruts and Jumps (yes jumps…) to name but a few. As we did this Ady and guys displayed a far higher level of skill and this added to the feel of the day. I can’t wait to try this again.

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Adventure Motorcycling CoverI was looking forward to having a look at this book when it came out. As practical ‘how to’ guides on adventure motorcycling are a bit few and far between so it’s nice to see another title for people to pick-up when they start planning or even dreaming about a long trip.

On first impressions the book is nicely presented. It’s a full colour hardback that’s typical of many recent Haynes titles. The look and feel makes you want to pick it up and thumb through it looking at the stunning pictures that are included. I found myself settling down with a cup of tea almost straight away and looking forward to a quiet afternoon dreaming about a long trip on a bike.

The book starts with a good introduction that highlights some of the pioneers of adventure motorcycling from the early days to more recent travelers like Grant Johnson and Ted Simon.

Before Leaving HomeRobert Wicks has divided his book into 3 parts, Before Leaving Home, On The Road and finally Typical Adventures. It’s nice and straight forward and each section contains a good level of detail on the sort of things you need to consider prior to the off and when you’re on the road.

Each section contains small packets of useful information interspaced with inspiring photography from around the world. It’s a nice mix that’s easy to take in and isn’t heavy going at all and it’s all rounded off nicely with 3 ‘typical adventures’ which describe 3 different trips from a short two week jaunt to a mammoth 3 year adventure. There’s also a nice section that points you in the direction for finding further information.

And this is the thing with the Haynes Adventure Motorcycling book. You can find quite a bit of information about planning a trip but without the depth you might need that you’d find in other titles on the subject. And this is the crux of the matter. Whilst it’s a great introduction for people starting out in the planning of a bike trip it’s not going to be enough for anyone looking for a bit more depth.

When you look at the photo’s the other thing you notice is that it makes a lot of use of supported trips on the latest machines. To me and many others the idea of doing a trip like this on the latest kit is a dream but the reality is that any bike will do and it would have been nice to see some of the more everyday types of bikes featured too rather than just the photo credits looking more like advert.

Set up for bikeThinking about whom this book is designed for it’s great for those who aspire to do a long distance trip by motorbike and provides a useful starting point for when you start the planning process. However it doesn’t have the depth of information you might need and instead points in the direction of where you might find the additional information elsewhere

So on whole a nice looking book that I found to be a great read and certainly made me wish for my departure date to be a lot closer than it is. As Ted Simon says in his forward if you read this book it will sharpen your appetite to discover the road ahead.

Happy travels!

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