One man and his Bike (Yamaha XJ600)Travelling Miles to Deliver Smiles around the UK in 5 days by Bob McGuire
Monday 5th June Billingham to John O’ Groats
Woke up at 6am looked straight out of the window ahhhhhhhh it’s dry, great start so do the normal shower, shave etc. My bike is already packed up with everything I need it’s just a matter of getting on it and hitting the road.
All preparations for the bike were done previously new sprocket, new chain, new front and back tyres and a service. A further check was carried out on Friday afternoon courtesy of Clarks motorcycles in Eaglescliffe Cleveland where I had the bike serviced.
Petrol already in the tank off I go after saying my farewells to my family. I set off up the A19 through the Tyne Tunnel and joined the A1 just south of Morpeth. After a while I looked at my mileage and felt the numbness setting in on my backside and realised that I would need to stop after about 100 miles low and behold my bike decided to run out of petrol literally after 100 miles however fortunately bikes have a reserve tank and as I switched it to reserve I seen a big Macdonald’s sign and a petrol stations just south of Berwick, thought this is going to be a long day I better fuel up with a McMuffin as well as filling my bike up. I Phoned Carl Webb to tell him I was on my way and explained I had done the 1st 100 miles in about 1 hour 50 to which Carl replied Bob your never going to make it, (thanks for the confidence builder mate) hahaha.
I crossed the border in Scotland went over the Forth Road Bridge and made my way up the M9 towards the A9 which would take me to John O Groats. No major events on the way up but I did have a rye smile on my face when I looked to my right as I was passing through Aviemore and seen snow on the hills mmmmmmmm wonder what it’s going to be like when I hit the real highlands?
A quick stop for a drink and refuel and I was on my way again, again no major events as I travelled north apart from feeling it get colder the further north I was going. Next stop a service station just north of Inverness where once again I fuelled up as well as the bike. I got talking to a guy who was in the service station with his postman’s uniform on expecting to hear a gruff Scottish voice I found out the guy was from East London and had moved up there, and was a postman up there. I explained what I was doing and they wished me well and gave me grave warnings of the roads around Loch Ness and Glen Coe. With that ringing in my ears I set off for the next stop John o Groats. However, literally 50 miles away from John o Groats I decided to take a detour and went around the top of the Scottish coast and rode through Thurso, past Dunnet bay and off to John O Groats.
When I got there I was shivering, it was freezing, I found the photographer to get the customary picture next to the post (see below) and registered my intentions to go to lands end. I then made my way to the bed and breakfast in Wick and low and behold they had the central heating on so I could thaw out. A tea of fish and chips washed down with a couple of pints and I was ready for bed I had arrived at Wick at 6.30 pm nearly 12 hours on the Bike and 475 miles!
Wick to Penrith via Fort William
Woke up looked out the window and a big smile was on my face it was glorious sunshine yesssssssssssss. Normal routine shower, shave and a nice breakfast to set me up and off I go Wick to Inverness was the 1st 100 miles. The roads were clear the sky was blue, mountains to my right and ahead of me the glistening North Sea to my left this was bliss.
Mmmmmm one thing you have to do on a bike is stayed focused. Who put that corner there with that cliff? Cruising down the A9 taking in the sights and watching the road means I can multi task, however, if you loose an inch of concentration your off the bike. Fortunately I kept my wits about me and the close shave that I had was literally an umphhh in the stomach and a word with myself. Following the A9 down you literally skirt the coastline and the roads have numerous bends which I was well aware of, as I came to one corner I noticed a warning sign telling me the road could be slippery so as I looked at the warning sign someone had took road away and put it to my right thus leaving me to brake rather quickly and take the corner at a queer angle as I did I had the opportunity to look to my left to see what was there and ………… Yes you guessed it no road; no field just a cliff dropping into the North Sea Phewww!
Not long after that I stopped at Inverness refuelled had a word with myself and ensured I was 100% focused on the next part of the journey considering my colleague from Inverness had warned me about the corners around Loch Ness.
As I rode past Loch Ness towards Fort William I don’t think I stopped smiling all the way. The Loch was beautiful with a background of hills and mountains that are out of this world. I took a fuel and coffee stop at Fort Augustus and decided to phone a few people Woody (John Woodhouse Branch Sec Newcastle) who is an ex biker was first on my list as I explained to him where I was, I could hear the groans and the few expletives about how lucky I was to be doing this and my smile got even bigger he was right, I am lucky and feel very privileged to have done this on behalf of the CWU HA.
Next stop Fort William and off I go as you head towards Fort William the scenery is awesome, mountains and lakes on my right and as I get close to Fort William Ben Nevis is their in her full glory absolutely astounding. I go through the village and set off for Glen Coe on the A82 towards Glasgow. Riding through Glen Coe is an experience I would recommend to anyone the scenery is rugged, wild and beautiful. Once you get over Glen Coe you then go through the Trossacks which again has glorious scenery with Loch Lomond sitting proudly by the mountains.
Once I’m through Glasgow it’s all motorway to Penrith where I bed down for the night. Thanks to Dean Area Delivery Rep for the North Lancs and Cumbria branch who recommended the B&B there, all in all 10 hours on the bike and 405 miles covered and I get to Penrith at about 6pm.