“Where the hell am I?!”
My headset had run out of battery, followed soon after by my phone which had been my GPS for the trip. Not only that, but it was raining and I’d spent the last 6 hours on my Fazer 600 riding up through Wales with a single, heavy backpack carrying everything I needed for the weekend.
It was a bit of a low point.
Earlier that day, I had blasted up the motorway for 2 hours, crossed the Severn Bridge, and taken the A470 up through the centre of Wales. I was heading for Betws-y-Coed to meet a friend and walk up Snowdon. It was my first solo bike trip.
Luckily, I had the sense to bring a road map of Wales with me and one of those magnetic tank wallets. I did eventually get to the hotel and only about half an hour after it had gotten dark and I couldn’t read my map anymore!
I learnt some important things from that trip but the biggest and most important one:
I love travelling by bike!
Don’t ask me why, for all intents and purposes, it was a terrible ride. But I just remember coming home and thinking “I want to go again”.
Looking back and Planning Ahead
It didn’t take long for me to look back and see the mistakes I had made on that trip. I knew I needed a new bike, which lead me down a long and winding path ending with a new Tiger 800, a decision making process that involved making sure I wouldn’t worry about my tech running out of battery in the middle of nowhere again – the Tiger came with 3 power sockets where my Fazer had nothing.
Panniers were a must too. My massive Oxford backpack, while useful was too much of a strain when you’re in the saddle for a full day’s riding.
I’ve been on quite a few trips since that first slog, but every time I come back with a new list of improvements for the next time. I don’t think that ever goes away, and I hope it doesn’t. I suppose what I’m trying to say is to just get out there and ride – for an hour, an afternoon, a day, a weekend. Don’t wait for that big trip that you’ve been planning for months because there will be so many things you’ll miss because you weren’t out in the saddle, learning.