Motorcycle Diaries – January 2019

Let’s start the new year by wrapping up the last one.

I feel that picking what type of bike you are going to ride is like choosing a career path. Some people can afford multiple bikes and kit but most of us only have the resources and time to devote ourselves to one style. Along with the bike comes the riding kit, the accessories for the bike, the track days, the off-road training, and so on.
It was 2015 when I realised that adventure bikes were for me. A bike is a device that helps you see places, cultures and muddy lanes – at least that’s my opinion.
But 2018 almost lead me down a different biking path. After 18 months of owning my original Tiger, I had been knocked off by a driver pulling out of a junction. This lead me to start commuting to work by car and eventually getting rid of the bike. I’d had this bike for a year and a half and hadn’t been on any of the adventures I’d promised myself we would go on (with the exception of a trip up to Trailquest for off-road riding on their Triumph Tigers). So why shouldn’t I get something else?
I eventually settled on a Triumph Scrambler, which I started the year on, but swapped for a Yamaha XSR900 in January. They were both fun bikes, they looked good and were great for casual riding – go out for a blast for an hour and get a coffee.

By July, I had realised that something was missing in my biking life. After proposing to my girlfriend in April, I went through what I’m calling a Quarter-Life Crisis. We were on the cusp of getting married, settling down, and having kids. Would this mean my biking career was over? Of course it wasn’t, but I still felt it all the same, and the call of the adventure bikes lead me back to a lovely low-mileage Tiger 800 which I upgraded to and now throw down muddy lane every Sunday morning!

After an unsuccessful east coast trip in September that was mostly abandoned due to torrential rain, I moved on to turning this Tiger into a proper do-all adventure machine. I had (and still have) big plans for her.
About a month ago, I thought I’d give a few byways a run, which turned out to be brilliant and inspired a few friends to start coming along too. Between Christmas and New Year, the Tiger got new shoes which I still haven’t managed to ride off-road with yet, but that’s what 2019 is for…

What’s New for 2019?

In a nutshell, as much as I can.

Due to the upcoming wedding and honeymoon I have started the year with just 4 days of holiday left to book, slightly restricting what I can do and where I can go. It’s time to sharpen my planning skills and make the most of the bank holiday weekends!

I’ll be out riding the lanes and byways of the South West as much as I can, hopefully every week, honing my off-road skills in preparation for the Taffy Dwrg in May. The Taffy Dwrg is a Trail Riding orienteering event held in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, home to some of the best trails and byways in the UK. I can’t wait.

But with that coming up, I need to get the Tiger prepared for all the inevitable bumps and bruises of the trek. So any spare penny (not being saved for the wedding) will be going on all kinds of bits and bobs – more engine and upper-bike protection, a decent set of handguards (probably Barkbusters), foldable gear levers.
Of course all of the kit will come with reviews, along with 6 month reviews of the kit I currently have, so keep an eye out for those.

I have a few ideas for some short trips around the country that I’ll try to squeeze some interesting content out of. This also includes a ride up to North Wales to hopefully ride some trails with Ride the Wild, and also joining like-minded riders at this year’s Adventure Bike Rider Festival.

Along with all of this, I’ll be starting preparations for the Gibraltar Race which I’m planning on competing in in 2020. By then, the Tiger will need to be rally ready, and it all starts from now.

Happy Riding!

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