We finally made it out of Glasgow. I mean, it did its best to keep us there-rain, fog, traffic lights that sit on red for a few hours before they allow you to pass. But then again, it wouldn’t have been a Glasgow send off if we were not soaking wet within five minutes of leaving the house! The build up to leaving day was fraught. Both of us struggling with the stress of packing up our lives into waterproof bags to be stored in a basement. Ryan became especially stressed when he realised that I had used up the majority of the precious silica tabs, intended to keep our belongings from rotting, on my crate load of books (Whoops)! But, we are finally there, having been for our last Dumpling Monkey, having said repeated and elongated goodbyes to a number of friends (who I bet by now are glad to see the back of us!), we are finally on the road.
Now in your head I am sure you imagine ‘on the road’ to be a romantic state of existence, where one is free to travel where one chooses, to relax with a book outside country tea houses, to wake each day with excitement as to what you might see or experience. It is exactly like that-except all those amazing feelings are interspersed with ‘the fear’. The fear can only be described as that gut wrenching feeling, when you know you have made a mistake and you are just waiting to be found out! We are both still nervous about the work we have done on the bikes, whether we have chosen the right bikes, if the bikes will make it all the way to China. And as you drive you are waiting for a snap, pop or grind that indicates your failure.
And it didn’t take long for that to happen. Having taken beautiful A Roads (what we could see of them through the mist and fog) down from Glasgow to Kendal, passing over Shap Hill and nearly killing a few cyclists, we descended into the tangled knot of roads in the midlands. Sitting in traffic on an air cooled bike is not wise as they require moving air to keep them cool, so we decided to hop onto the M6 and travel a few junctions down to the road that would take us to my Aunty in Herefordshire. Merrily cruising at 60, I watched in my mirror as Ryan suddenly lost speed. Thinking he was trying to be efficient with his fuel, I indicated left to join him in the slow lane. Within seconds he was indicating to get onto the hard shoulder and I joined him. The bike was dead, no compression, no engine noise, nothing. I jumped on to try and kick it over, there was a loud pop. Both of us felt sick, Ryan was hugely upset, all the work we had done, endless hours in the basement, all the plotting and planning, and we got as far as Wigan.
Having managed to push the bike off the motorway, we began the arduous process of trying to work out what to do. It was already after 5pm so a mechanic was not an option, neither was hiring a van to move the bike anywhere. Luckily for us, after fighting off the advances of a drunk local, a white van pulled up at the lights next to us. The side of the van read: ‘motorcycle recovery’, we couldn’t believe it! Ryan flagged it down and out stepped Roy, our saviour. On his way to another job, Roy, a kind Christian man, said if we were still at the lights when he got back, he would put the bike in the van and take us to a hotel. Not being able to move anywhere, we eagerly awaited Roy’s prompt return and as promised he loaded us up and pulled into the Holiday Inn carpark. Before he left he said he would take a quick look, and on doing so found the spark plug had popped out. We screwed it in, and the bike started. I don’t think I have ever seen Ryan so happy, and ever been more worried about him having an affair! The way he looked at Roy and held him in a tight embrace, was truly heart warming!
Thanks to Roy, we made it to Hereford and spent a wonderful couple of days in beautiful sunshine, relaxing, gardening, and watching rugby. Leaving Hereford we made our way to Birmingham to visit my Grandparents. We dropped in at the Morgan car factory, letting ourselves in the backdoor, we toured the museum admiring the amazing handiwork. One of the great highlights of the trip so far has been taking A Roads through incredibly beautiful towns and villages, and Great Malvern certainly did not disappoint, with stunning views out over the English countryside which so famously inspired the great Elgar. After spending a lovely afternoon with the grandparents in Birmingham, we began to make our way South to Bristol. Both of us were feeling great, and were slowly building confidence on the bikes, trusting they would make it. Until about 20 miles outside of Bristol, where Ryan’s spark plug popped out again. The problem this time is that it would not screw in. This was a Very Big Problem. Without a spark, we were going nowhere. After about an hour at the side of the road, we managed to wedge the spark plug in and made it to Meg, Deano and Kaz in Bristol. They had made us an amazing dinner (the classic veg chilli), but it was hard to raise our defeated spirits, and we went to bed filled with dread.
As with everything though, in the morning things looked a little brighter. We rang Jonny Bunga, Glasgows premier mechanic and a great supporter of our adventure, and he was able to tell us that the spark plug had been cross threaded and we needed to get it drilled out and rethreaded. Luckily for us Alan from PriceBros Engineering in Avonmouth took pity on us, and we were up and running again by lunchtime. Finally feeling full of excitement, we cooked up some delicious grub for our hosts and got down to some serious Jungle Speed battles.
Covered in bruises, but full of new violent ideas of how to wrestle a plastic totem from an opponent, we left Bristol the following day to head to Swanage. On the way we picked up some fancy new helmets, and fitted our intercom system. Ryan is now lucky enough to listen into my frequent road rage, and colourful insults thrown at my fellow road users. How long it will be before we get fed up of talking to each other, is yet to be seen. Swanage, as ever was wonderful, catching up with family and friends, but with a tear in the eye, we set off towards London, and the final leg of our farewell tour.
People often say that when you travel, it is the strangers you meet, and the generosity that is shown to you, that makes your experience so great. For us, the kindness we have been shown has already shown this to be true. But you don’t need to leave the UK to find it. There are such wonderful people here, so many interesting places to see, conversations to be had, knowledge to be acquired. We suggest you all hop in your cars and take a road trip.
Thank you to everyone, friends, family and strangers who have helped us get this far!!! We couldn’t have done it without you xxxxx