Getting back in the saddle

Well, after an absence of some six months from blogging, it seems that our handful of followers are looking for more.  We thank them for their dedication and positive comments.  Perhaps a short road trip to get the writing juices flowing again?

Anne has diligently packed the motorbike panniers over the last few days and we are ready for our first road trip in 2022. Little steps and with Easter approaching, we want to be back before the bulk of the holiday makers are out and about. Coffee at Boonah over Cunningham’s Gap and into the Granite Belt as the area is called, known for its fruit, national parks and wine.  Yes, we produce wine in Queensland.  It’s not all beaches and palm trees.

Boy that looks good. Suttons Juice Factory at Thulimbah.

As we approach Stanthorpe  I am struck by the golden colour of the leaves of the deciduous trees. For some reason I always think of April as the start of Autumn but it is in fact March I am reliably informed.   Without such trees around us in Manly, I am always about a month out on the seasons’ change each year.

Autumnal Tints near Stanthorpe.

Day 2: My iPhone’s weather app shows cloudy skies all morning but no rain. This is confirmed by the bureau of meteorology’s radar map but unfortunately this is in conflict with the sound of rain on the roof of the mostly waterproof tent. So much for relying on technology. I had used the weather forecasts before we left to determine what we brought with us, and rain gear was noticeably absent!   Jeans are not that waterproof but it is what we have.

Water has entered the tent overnight, puddles Anne calls them, but from my side of the tent just wet patches.  It is all in the perspective. Seems the waterproofing has not significantly improved since the last trip.  This is why from time to time, equipment needs replacing, but I, Anthony, do not like to throw anything out that has given good service which is why we still have tents going back to 1975!  I have been reliably informed on this trip that this tent will not be making the next motorcycle trip in Queensland. A replacement needs to be sought and this tent retired and donated as “dry weather only” tent for kids.

Camping near Storm King Dam near Stanthorpe.

Up and off to Stanthorpe in light rain heading for the Commercial Cafe, which we hear does great coffee, to meet up with a lovely couple we met the day before at a petrol/gas station where their young son got to sit on both our motorcycles. We really enjoy meeting locals and get their perspective on life and living. Breakfast at a non-gluten free establishment, in spite of their best efforts, does not treat me kindly later in the day. I will need to be more careful in future.

Stanthorpe Fire Station mural.
Another Stanthorpe Mural, go see them all.

A clearing sky tempts us to ride the 36 kilometres to Girraween National Park, a place we have loved to visit during our time in Queensland but have not been to for a dozen years or more. A brief rain shower tests our resolve and our jeans’ lack of waterproofing, but we push on and are able to hike partway up the Pyramid, a famous rock formation in the park. It is really good to be out in the country again.

On top of the world at Pyramid Rock, Giraween.
The water is flowing in Girraween National Park.

While having dinner, a cup of soup and a biscuit back at the campsite, we meet a group of families from Brisbane who were all originally from Kerala in India but only met when they moved to Australia. They invited us to join them for dinner with a range of mouthwatering curries on offer, but I realised I had to decline because of Coeliac Disease. What future culinary delights will I be denied?  Oh well, life goes on with nice dried biscuits. 

Our third day is still grey but with the promise of sunshine further west: we are headed for Texas, a small town of 900 people on the banks of the Dumaresq river which also forms the border between Queensland and New South Wales. Anne proposes we go via the Bruxner Highway so south we go, crossing a state border for the first time on our motorbikes in more than two years without fear of quarantine rules being suddenly changed.

The Bruxner highway from Tenterfield to Texas was a joy to ride: undulations, twists and turns great views and little traffic. Stopping at a river crossing, we enjoy a leisurely break on the banks of the Dumaresq river, which had been in flood only days earlier as evidenced by damage to trees and bushes along the riverbank.

On the banks of the Dumaresq River
Please hold onto the handrail while crossing the bridge.
Texas, a small part of Queensland.

The Texas Railway Museum is our third night’s camping spot. Located just  outside Texas Queensland, not the US TX, a band of intrepid volunteers are working to restore part of what was a 54km branch line to  sleeper by sleeper.

We get to meet Dave, a railway museum volunteer, who comes to check on us  after a concerned resident seeing a couple of dangerous looking bikers just ride up to the station and setup camp calls him! We explain that we are expecting Robert and Kelvin to turn up for the week end.  Dave shows us around the facilities and it is impressive what they have achieved. Worth a visit if you are in the area.

Looking West in Texas on the rail line to Inglewood.
Station Camping in Texas
Intrepid Volunteers Robert and Kelvin, not me, at the Texas Railway museum.
The name says it all.

At Millmerran, we stop for coffee and I am finding that most Gluten free pastries I have eaten so far seem to be a combination of concrete for strength and cardboard for taste. I need to loose my taste memory of tasty flakey pastry.  I am starting to think that gluten free pastry will not form part of my ongoing food consumption. Anyone found an edible version?

Our direct route to our overnight destination of Dalby is closed due to the effects of the recent flooding locals inform us. The damage to bridges and other infrastructure will take some time to repair. 

The Bunya Mountains is the last stop on this little adventure. The mountains rise from the surrounding plain and are visible from Dalby some 50km away.  Crossing the farmland and floodplain crossings as we travel north, the mountains always seem far away. We enjoy seeing deep blue skies finally.  As we start to climb, farmland gives way to scattered temperate forest, then, suddenly it seems, we are enveloped by massive bunya and hoop pines touching above our heads as we enter the real forest. The area was heavily logged.  We are just too late for the Bunya nut season and can only see the remnants on the forest floor, however not a bad thing since the nuts are the size of small pineapples – being hit by one could be very painful.  

While we are still camping, there is a fine restaurant and even finer whiskey/whisky bar with a large section of Scottish and other work. The hearty meal and accompanying drinks are balanced by a couple of brisk walks exploring parts of this unique landscape. 

Last night in the leaky tent in the Bunya Mountains campsite
Fungi in Bunya Mountains National Park.
Bunya pines standing tall
Local wildlife in Bunya Mountains National Park.
Anne sampling the Whisky from the wrong side of the bar.

Back via the Exchange Hotel in Kilkoy, a favourite stop of ours on northern motorcycle loops from Brisbane, for a steak lunch and then after six days and 1158km, we are safely back in Manly.

The only dirt section on the entire trip

While many of our blog entries are from far flung places, for us anyway, there is much to be seen locally everywhere, So while we are all looking at testing our travel wings, why not start with a local trip first?

– Anthony

PS. Storm has a new front (fully round) wheel and has passed the MOT. Ready for the road later this year.

Inland Run

The maps have been refolded, the tent packed and we are ready to depart Airlie Beach, but where to? We have decided that with the strong 40km/hr winds scheduled for the next few days and approaching school holidays that Cairns and the Daintree will have to wait until another day. Inland and south it is. To head south on our planned route, we must first head north 80km/50ml before we can turn inland.

As we approach Bowen, the ocean comes into view again. It is interesting to note that while travelling up the Queensland coast on the Bruce Highway glimpses of the ocean are few and far between until you are north of Cairns. 

Another large Queensland sculpture – the Bowen mango

Cane train crossing.

As we progress away from Bowen the strong winds are abating and the landscape changes. We leave behind the green sugar cane fields and cane train crossings and are moving in cattle and coal country. We have decided to take a route that keeps us parallel to the coast but on roads we have not travelled before. Our planned route will take us to Collinsville, Nebo, Dingo, Banana, Mount Morgan, Monto and back to Brisbane. We also realise that the clouds and rain that seemed to have followed us up the coast have dissipated and we are now riding blue sky days, perfect!

And then we finally got blue skies and funny clouds

Our first stop in Collinsville for morning coffee. We were lucky to spend an engaging hour talking to a local cattle farmer Stephen about his property on the Burdekin river and also the barramundi and crocodiles that inhabit the river. I was not expecting crocodiles to be so far inland.  I think I will keep my toes out of the water should the opportunity arise.

Burdekin cattle farmer Stephen.

Commemorating the Collinsville “pit pony”

In the Wikipedia entry on Collinsville, it talks about coal being discovered in 1866, but in the next sentence mentions that the aboriginal name of the town was “Moongunya” which means “place of coal”! How often do we see the term “discovered” used when the locals knew always where it was, perhaps we should use “discovered by …” instead for accuracy.

Unlike the coast, road traffic is light, however in this coal mining region oversize loads seem fairly common and, unlike the oversize signed loads we see in and around Brisbane, these are wider than 50% of the road. Locals just pull over when they see a pilot vehicle approaching. We did find that the trailing vehicle was helpful in getting us safely past these mammoth loads on numerous occasions.

Fair warning

No overtaking yet

I think we can call this an oversize load(s).

Oh no, we stopped too long, will have to get past them a 3rd time!

That’s why we don’t ride at dawn or dusk – too many kangaroos

An overnight stay in Nebo took us back to the same pub we had lunch at last year while in the camper van.  This is the only time that our paths crossed with last years trip. We get talking to a couple of people who were from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and lo and behold were friends with Katie who was expecting the baby in Rockhampton, small world.

We had been puzzled since our trip last year by a shrub we had seen planted in well spaced rows in cattle country. Again we are seeing the same plant. We did not understand what this was. It turns out to be Leucaena, which is a legume fodder crop, that originated in the Americas, that used as a cattle feed supplement. Always something new to learn when travelling.

Nebo pub

Lunch is taken at Kell’s Snack Shack, parked at a road junction off the Fitzroy Developmental Rd near Middlemout. This enterprising person has a mobile kitchen with its own truck mounted generator providing meals and coffee to passing motorists. A steady stream of road trains, trucks and service vehicles arrive and depart while we are there, a testament to the service provided and a CB radio to take orders in advance is a smart move.  

Kell’s Snack Shack mobile van in Middlemount

Popular Kell’s Snack Shack mobile van in Middlemount

Must be the town of Dingo

We return to Rockhampton to see new Harry and proud parents Katie and Gus. While we had missed Harry on the northward trek, he arrived in time for us to see him on the way back.  We will also get to see his new home as we are invited to spend Friday night with the new parents and Harry at their home, on a cattle property, outside Banana.

Katie, Gus and baby Harry

We dine that night at TruFusion, an Indian restaurant on the riverfront in Rockhampton. The food was fantastic, but do not order as much tasty nan bread as we did! 

Archer Park train station in Rockhampton is now a museum

Heading for Banana gave us an opportunity to take the Burnett Highway to Mount Morgan, a wonderful twisty motorcycle road. The fun of riding at its best but curves are tight and any overspeed and you could be on the wrong side of the road. A visit to the railway museum which was on the now abandoned Moura to Rockhampton rail line gave us the history of the area based around the Mt Morgan Mine which operated for almost a century extracting gold and copper.  At one time it was one of the largest gold mines in the world.

Lovely road to Mount Morgan

Mount Morgan Station

Banana was named after a yellowish bullock

A night on a cattle property. A first for us although there are no cattle at present. Katie and Gus are excellent hosts and give us a tour of the property the next morning.  I should not have offered to open and close gates as I did not realise how many there were!

Little Harry is now home

The property outside Banana

Proud grandma Catherine

Anne loving her baby cuddles

Sunset in Banana

We take the Burnett Highway (A3) from Biloela to it’s southern end at Nanango. We had never ridden this route before even though it is not that far from Brisbane and were pleasantly surprised by both the twists and turns and the change in elevation along parts of the route.  In addition, traffic was light which made it all the more enjoyable. We will ride this route again one day.

Painted grain silo by Drapl and The Zookeeper in Monto, Qld

With the new locally acquired COVID cases in Brisbane is a lockdown looming? Breakfast is taken at the Goomeri Bakery, a French style bakery with a well deserved reputation in Goomeri while we wait for the 10am Queensland COVID update. We have been on the road for 14 days so are now outside any historic quarantine rules. We have decided that if a lockdown is declared for Brisbane and SE Queensland we will turn around and head north again. 

Enjoying a rest and oversized croissant at Goomeri

No new COVID cases and no lockdown, so we are off to Montville to spend a night with friends Pam and Jim who have a wonderful country retreat overlooking Lake Baroon. Great to catch up.

The scenery quickly changed from this…

… to that. Good to see green again, approaching Maleny

Great to spend a night with Pam’nJim.

A short run back to Brisbane and we are home.  Our first proper motorcycle adventure since 2019 is sadly over. It also our first in Australia since we tried to ride to Melbourne for Christmas 2012 and I ended up being airlifted to John Hunter hospital in Newcastle NSW. 

We took only 15 days and covered just over  3,100km / 1,900 ml. but we have not lost our  passion of this type of adventure.  While we are restricted now, I think that 2022 will open up more opportunities for travel, so hopefully we can be “back on the road again” as Anne likes to sing as we depart in the morning. 

But for now, it’s been back to reality, trying to turn our backyard wasteland into something more presentable.

We moved these 5 cubic metres of soil by hand – good exercise!

– Anthony

Out of the fog

Early morning fog swirls ahead of us, we can hear breaking of the waves, but they remain unseen as ghostly shapes fade in and out of vision. Then as the fog starts to clear, the waves come into view and the ghostly shapes solidify to become paddle-board riders cresting the swells.

Out of the fog, a magical experience

We are standing on Nelson’s Beach at Bargara enjoying the first day of spring, yes we are on the road again and on motorcycles, back to our roots. So how did we get here?

While Australia has been both extremely lucky and vigilant, Covid-19 still manages to get into our communities and cause lockdowns that make travel planning interstate problematic.  We were scheduled to spend two weeks in Tasmania a couple of months ago, but lockdowns and designated hotspots derailed our plans at the last minute.  Given that state borders are the new travel boundaries, we still have all of Queensland to explore and with the heat of summer fast approaching, it was time to get out and head north for a couple of weeks.  The only problem is that all our current travel gear is in the UK. Time to dig out all our old camping gear we have not used for decades and see what the moths have left us.

Fifteen year old kerosene, perished valves, decades old sleeping bags and a smelly leaky tent all challenged the preparation process. I did find during testing the stove that the home smoke detector works well!  With some judicious cleansing, a waterproof spray and a few parts replaced; note buy the spares pack at the same time as the stove because when you need them 20 years later they are long out of stock, we are good to go.


Just a little more WD40 and a hammer

With no Covid-19 cases in the community, we head off early so by the time the daily Queensland Government Covid-19 announcements are made we are outside of Brisbane and past Noosa. It feels so good to be loaded up and riding again, our smiles are wide as we head north.  

Given a lack of space and our confidence in weather forecasters, we are leaving waterproof outerwear behind.  If we get a rainy day we will just wait it out. No one told the rain gods and a cloudy start turns to rain outside Gympie, turn around and run for home? No, we are made of sterner stuff and ducking into a service station till the rain storm passes helps.

We just missed the oncoming storm

While this is a road trip will allow us to explore parts of the Queensland coast we have not seen before, we also want to revisit some of the places we have visited over the last few months looking for a quieter place to live. We have enjoyed Manly but it has grown busier over the last few years while we have been travelling overseas and we feel that somewhere smaller is what we are looking for.

Our first stop is Hervey Bay, where friends have just moved to and it gives us an opportunity to both catch up and also learn a little more about living in Hervey Bay. We are provided wonderful hospitality and our stay is over too quickly. We are moving on to Bagara next and into a tent for the first time since Iceland in 2019.  

With our dear friend Leanne in Hervey Bay

Caravan parks appear full, with NSW and Victorian number plated vehicles. Their owners are staying in Queensland rather than return to indefinite lockdown in their own states.  This does not affect us as we do not need a powered site. We get a lovely space looking into the forest with no one within 50 meters, how lucky can we be. 

Camping at Bagara

Happy we met 47 years ago

Anne is happy on this special beach

Mon Repos conservation park, Bargara

September 1 and the first day of spring and as the morning fog dissipates we notice patterns on the beach, have the local wildlife been busy overnight? No we meet locals Kay and Cynthia who are producing a range of what I would call “beach art”. They are here today to celebrate the first day of spring.  Their art puts a smile on our faces – it is bold and happy.   Kay and Cynthia were just as open and inviting as their art.

Kay and Cynthia’s mandala,Hello Spring, smiley and flower


Kay and Cynthia, beach artists

After chatting for a while we invite them for coffee – thinking about it now, we’re not sure if they were finished making beach art for the day but they graciously accepted.  This little coffee shop on the beach is full of regulars – surfers, paddle boarders, skate-boarders, business people, artists.  Having explained that we were considering Bargara as a possible retirement place, they introduce us to Bill, a local developer.  Our morning walk on a foggy beach suddenly turned into a whole day of connections.  Bill tells us we need to call Molly (his real name is really Grant – yes, there’s a story behind this).   And Cynthia invites us to afternoon tea followed by walk to a special place built by Bill in consultation with local Aboriginal artists and elders.  What a morning already and a what a day this promises to be.

Anthony having his Poppy nap in Bargara

Time for a late shower and lunch before meeting Molly who gives us a great tour of the development and explains Bill’s philosophy, environmental work, such as creating the smallest lighting footprint to prevent disorientation of Loggerhead turtles.  I (Anne) would move there now if I could!…  Time to head to Cynthia who has made a special orange and passion fruit cake to cater for my lactose intolerance!  We seem to have so many interests in common, such as travel, the arts, energy, nature.  We’d better stop before it gets too late for our walk!  Off we set with Cynthia, her husband Dave and a visiting friend Helen.  Remember our Carnavon bush trip where Anthony’s boots fell apart, this happened again!…  Lucky Dave had some strong glue.

At the yarning circle, we bump into Bill again who is there with photographers and artists who have been commissioned to create more mosaics along the paths in the estate.  Bill has built strong connections with the local Aboriginal people which means a lot to me.  What a day this has been with so many connections.

Dave and Cynthia at the new yarning circle in Innes Park

As always, I am the one driving a potential move (poor Anthony!)  and I have had a clear idea of what I would like from a potential move:   a small place with a soul and a vibrant community, and proximity to nature. And not too far from medical facilities.  Could Bargara be the place?…

– Anthony & Anne

Escape to the Country

The senses are heightened as we escape the confines of Brisbane and head south west towards Boonah. The colours seem brighter, yellows, greens and browns drift by, all offset against the deep blue sky and the intoxicating smell of wattle/mimosa.  We are escaping to the country for a few days. Queensland winter days are low 20’s Celsius and clear blue skies.  I cannot think of better motorcycle riding weather, even if the mornings are a little nippy.

After a false start two weeks ago, when we woke with colds on the day of departure and ended up swapping the bikes, “Bee” aka Honda CB500X and “the Bird” aka Triumph Thunderbird for a slot in the COVID testing queue, we are finally away.  A negative COVID test result a couple of days later was expected, but in these times one always has a small question-mark over the outcome.  The all clear came via text and we were able to reschedule once we had thrown off the last remnants of our colds.

Unlike Streak and Storm, the Bird and the Bee are not equipped to take everything bar the kitchen sink. Space is limited but with some judicious packing we are able to fit everything we need for three days in the Bird’s not so cavernous panniers and we are off for our first road trip with these two bikes.  “Streak and Storm” our usual mounts are a world away and who knows when we will get to ride them again.

Leaving the city traffic behind, we wend our way to Boonah, a small country town about one and a half hours from Brisbane. A regular stop for us for coffee but instead of returning to Brisbane as we usually do on a day’s ride, we are heading west, up over Cunningham’s gap where the sound of bell birds ring in our ears.  We can feel like we are really away with the dividing range to our backs as we travel towards Clifton in the Toowoomba region for lunch and the air decidedly cooler.

Anne has a connection to this area as some 25 years ago she was member of a team that competed in a national innovation competition. Her team won the State (Qld) competition and then travelled to Perth for the national finals. They did not win but secured best national ‘Marketing’ prize which was the area Anne led. The product you ask?  The processing of pig waste! We’re not sure what happened to that product but Anne found it a fascinating experience, apart from the smell.

On the road again, north of Clifton Qld

As we like to take our time, and be off the road by 4pm at the latest, to avoid meeting wildlife head on, our first night is at Oakey.  We have not made a booking, with all the uncertainty, but head to the same motel we had booked a couple of weeks back and were allowed to cancel on the day with full refund because of our COVID hick-up.

As the local school finishes for the day, we hear pop music coming from the school speakers. The motel manager tells us that each month the best class gets to choose the song to be used instead of the school bell.  What a good motivational tool. As we walk to the local shop in our motorcycle gear the younger children wave and say hello. Not sure that you get that in the city.

The motel manager offers to run us up to the local club for dinner, which as always in the country serves up a hearty meal before a constitutional walk back to our motel.

Wildlife is always a concern with country riding, but given that we avoid riding at the start and end of the the day as a rule, we see little wildlife close up which is a good thing. Very occasionally we are surprised and watching a pheasant rise up and fly within a wing’s length of my helmet was enough to increase my heart rate in spite of the medication I take. I was just envisioning what a pheasant emblem would look like embedded on my jacket when it veered away.  Minutes later a large eagle glided a couple of meters above our heads and then a really large goanna decided to cross in front of us, and immediately turn across the road again in the opposite direction, all in the space of 10 minutes.  They say things happen in threes so that’s enough excitement for one day.

We have not been to the Bunya Mountains for 20 years, so what will have changed – not much I hope. The mountains rise up to over 1000m / 3000 ft. from the surrounding plains providing great TV and mobile phone coverage for the locals. The Bunya Mountains National Park, which covers some 19,000 hectares, is the second oldest National Park in Queensland. It is named after the Bunya tree which is famous for nuts that saw Australian Aboriginal people travel from hundreds of kms to harvest the nuts every three years until European expansion into the region in the 1840’s and the subsequent farming and logging in the region curtailed this practice.

The road from Jondaryan to the Bunya’s still has a section of dirt that we remember from our previous visit. Some things do not change.  A twisty single lane road with hairpin bends takes us up from the open plains east of the Bunya mountains to in the cool and quiet of the magnificent Bunya and Hoop pine trees that surround us. We were lucky not to come across any vehicles making the decent. It really is a single lane road. We will be coming back a different way.

Looking south from Bunya Mountains
Heading towards the Bunya Mts from Jondaryan.
The Bird and Bee resting after a strenuous climb to the top of the Bunya Mts

One of the great pleasures we have riding is meeting other motorcyclists. This time we meet those from 2 years old to over 70. The two year old was not talkative but just loved motorcycles and was enthused just by seen our helmets. The parents were at a loss to explain his love of motorcycles as neither rode although his mother had ridden dirt bikes on the farm as a child, so maybe it’s in their DNA.

Bunya trees heading for the sky
Footholds in a Bunya tree trunk
Bunya and Hoop pines
A walk though tree, room for a motorbike?

The restaurant at the start of the national park allows us to leave all our motorcycling gear on a table between our coffee and lunch bookings while we meander between the impressive pines.  They also have the Shackleton scotch bar with over 100 Scotches on offer.  We will have to make a return trip and spend a night in front of the log fire sipping single malts.

Shackleton’s Whisky Bar, Australia’s highest in the Bunya Mts.

Onward to Kingaroy the peanut capital of Queensland and original home of our former state premier Sir Jo Bjelke-Peterson. Before our time I hasten to add. When he was premier, Queensland was sometimes known as “Jo’s Place” and he was famous amongst other things for deflecting questions from reporters with “don’t you worry about all that”. His wife Flo was famous for her pumpkin scones and also became a Queensland state senator. An interesting couple.

Warmer weather greets us on our third and last day on the road,  heading home on our wedding anniversary. We celebrate with coffee and cake at the Goomeri Bakery. We had learnt that the owner while spending time in France offered the local baker her time for free to learn the baking trade.  The result a wonderful french bakery in central Queensland. 

Street art in Murgon
Street Art in Goomeri
Now there is a water saving idea.

We always enjoy travelling down new roads and the Goomeri to Gympie will be worth riding again. We stick to the back roads up from Gympie via Kenilworth and Maleny to Woodford and finally a twisty ride up over Mt Mee.  Three days of good weather and riding over 830km and we are home. A wonderful experience, the riding, the people we met and the weather and one that we will repeat.

Happy Anne near the end of this trip
Old Windmill in Goomeri

The thirst for adventure has been rekindled and we are lucky to be in Queensland. Our state is seven times the size of the UK and two and a half times the size of Texas so there is much to explore, so next week we swap two wheels for four and our adventures continue.

– Anthony

It’s a wrap – the end of our fourth motorcycle journey

Streak and Storm are back in storage for a well earned rest after 2 months on the road.  They have both accumulated over 60,000 miles / 96,500 kms. Both will need a good clean and service before returning to the road in future.  Anne’s chain and sprockets have reached the end of their lives and will need replacing but this will wait until before we next take Streak and Storm on the road again.

As a final treat we thought that we should take Streak & Storm out to a couple of motorcycle themed places in London we had not been to before, namely ‘The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club’ in Shoreditch which opened in November 2015 and the famed ‘Ace Cafe London’ on the North Circular Rd which originally opened in 1938. With all our motorcycle travels we had never ridden motorcycles in Central London.  Anne decades ago had bravely ridden a bicycle around London until it was stolen but that is another story.

Crossing Tower Bridge on Streak

Tower Bridge from Streak

The weather is kind to us, but does not make up for the horrendously slow traffic we encounter, and this is a Saturday.  I could not imagine how people do city riding every day. We wend our way slowly through SE London trying to stay in the correct lane before we both realise that there is a small white motorcycle on a blue background for the bus lines, Eureka, we are off and making much faster progress.  Over Tower Bridge, a must do option and finally arrive outside The Bike Shed.  I am contemplating how to cross the oncoming traffic into the entrance when a group of a dozen or so street bikes swamp us, one pulls across the oncoming traffic and authoritatively stops the cars.  We all nip across and into ….. a small laneway between the tables and chairs of the patrons: it’s great except we have our wide panniers and the rest are slim street bikes.  Still, all survive and we park in the back under the railway arches.

Parking in the Bike Shed London

The parking under the arches is filled with a cacophony of motorcycle engines as we all park.  We are the only adventure bikes and dirty ones at that.  Streak and Storm with their panniers, sticker covered top boxes and loads strapped on the back stood out amongst all those smooth road bikes, but none of them have had the adventures Streak and Storm have experienced.   

The Bike Shed store

About to have brunch at the Bike Shed

Well worth a visit and great to have such a place in central London for motorcyclists to meet. Kudos to those who set the Bike Shed up.  Do go and support this establishment if you are in London, “use it or loose it as they say”.   After a delicious brunch at the Bike Shed, on to the Ace Cafe via Euston Rd – again the bus lanes were a saviour for the clutch hand allowing us to keep moving at a steady pace. The Ace Cafe was a transport cafe from 1938 to 1969 built to service traffic on the A406 North Circular.  In the 50s and 60s it became a magnet for young motorcyclists and became one of the birthplaces of the Care Racer:  it was one of the cafes motorcyclists would use for short races between popular cafes.  (for those interested, check out )

Anne outside the Ace Cafe London

Ace Cafe and time for a coffee

Finally for those who want to know, and so we will not forget, here are the trip facts and figures

– This was our fourth long distance trip on Streak and Storm since 2014

– We visited France, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, Faroes, Iceland and Germany

– Streak & Storm have now been to 50 countries

– Streak & Storm covered 4,500 miles / 6,700 kilometres this trip

– We replaced two parts on Storm, the rear ABS cable and LH Instrument control

– Both motorcycles have now travelled more than 60,000 miles / 96,500 kilometres

Heading back to storage, thanks Streak and Storm

This trip to Iceland and the Faroe Islands has been yet another great experience, we have seen and done so much, made new friends and renewed our bonds with existing friends.  We will however focus on warmer climes in future for our motorcycle travel.  We now seamlessly switch to four wheels for a two week road trip.  Yes a couple more blog entries to come.

– Anthony