We travelled up the A9 and covered another 2-3 miles before I noticed a headlight behind us with its full beam on. I asked Lily on the back what it was as it was getting closer and closer to us.
Lily soon replied it was someone on a motorcycle. A few seconds later the light was gone but we had not passed any turn offs. I asked Lily to look behind us to see if she could see where the bike had gone. Lily replied it was right behind us still with its headlight off and very close to us. We carried on for another couple of mile and the motorcycle was still there getting closer and closer to my back tyre. I then noticed a well lit intersection coming up so I decided to stop right in the middle to see what the motorcyclist’s next move was. The motorcycle stopped on the edge of the darkness with his headlight on. We waited another 5 minutes and then noticed the motorcycle was no where to be seen. At this point I thought nothing of it and whoever it was had got bored.
With this in mind I carried on this journey but about another 2 miles down the road the motorcycle turned up again without his headlight on. This carried on a significant distance down the road and he was getting alarmingly close to my back wheel.
We started to approach a roundabout in a lit area (Negg Roundabout?) and I saw 2 cars approaching the roundabout on the opposite side so I thought to myself 'if I sandwich us between the 2 cars then the motorcycle can not reach us'.
This lasted about 3 miles down the road until the car behind decided to overtake and speed off. This left me exposed and before we knew it again the motorcycle appeared but this only lasted for about another 5 minutes before he disappeared. A few minutes later before the relief could set in we hear an engine revving so I looked behind and this time there was a car behind us without its lights on. At this point my wife started to cry and I started to fear for our lives. I was unsure as to who they were or what their intentions were.
Not willing to give in, I overtook the car in front and tried to speed away. Suddenly the car that was behind us with the lights off overtook me at some speed and then nipped in and tried to slow us down. I then managed to slip round this car tried to put some distance in front of us. We hit some cars coming up and I overtook them all straight away and then I could not see this phantom car behind. In the distance I could see the lights of Inverness and then we hit the flat bridge with the beautiful scenery but this time the scenery was of no significance to us.
I kept checking my mirrors when I coul -d the reflection of the car creeping up to us but it was too late we had lit the lights of Inverness and neither the car or motorcycle would come out to be seen. We made it back to the Esso station at Inverness where we took some time calm down and phone mission control to relay the recent events.
I phoned mission control (Donna) and explained the events and she phoned the police station in Alness. She then relayed my phone number o nto the police who gave me a swift phone call back. The police lady asked where we were and said that were 100 yards away from the main police station in Inverness. During the conversation with the lady she said to speak to them and explain what we were doing and that there should be no reason why the police could not give us an escort part or most of the way.
Anyway, we went to the police station and explained what had just happened and about the motorcycle charity run and the cause. He then dismissed the actions by saying “Oh it is probably kids messing around!” It was at this point we knew that we were many miles away from home in the middle of no where and on our own. The police man said that we will be fine and try again and if anything was to happen, to stop and ring the police. Oh I will just get rammed off the road, probably killed and then try and ring the police?
What a joke! He was not bothered in the slightest. Thank You Inverness Police! At this point we left the police station and sat outside to decide and deliberate over our options: The A9 is single lane in both directions with no or hardly any civilisation in-between. The people who tried to harm us could be waiting for us in either direction. The police are not interested and it is 2am in the morning.
At this point every thing seemed fine. I decided to add another part to the video diary and although a bit tired everyone seemed to be in high spirits. All in all we had stopped for about ¾ hour before pushing on. We travelled about another 20 – 30 miles before Jason (Lone Rider) said that he had bad cramp and a few aches. I asked him if he wanted to stop but he said no and to carry on. Soon after we saw the road signs for Tiverton but Jason said that he had to stop, so we pulled over and this is when he broke the news to us. He told us that he could not carry on. We tried to talk him out of it for at least 15 minutes but without any results. He then told us to carry on without him and that his wife (mission control) would still be with us every step of the way and that we had to keep her updated of our progress.
With a few feelings of guilt we carried on through Exeter and on to the A30 all of the way to Lands End. Andy and I both said that we had stopped quite a lot and in order to make up a bit of time to carry on without a stop all the way to Lands end. This we did, nightfall soon engulfed us and we just pushed on through dual carriageways. Soon the dual carriageways reached an end and turned into narrow lanes and at this point we knew we were close to our destination.
We reached Lands End at about 9.45pm where everything was pitch black apart from the hotel where what appeared to be a wedding reception was taking place. We got off our bikes and then took the video camera with us to try and find the famous sign in the darkness. We stumbled over a hut with an A sign outside with photos of various people with the infamous sign. We turned the video camera on along with the light and saw that a lot of people had their pictures taken with the sign and their motorcycle.
Unfortunately due to the darkness we could not do this, but we did find the sign, a solitary white piece of wood in the ground with a few holes in where the actual signs would be placed. In all for just under 12 hours riding we found it very disappointing but shortly after, on our way back to the bikes, the hotel let off quite a lot of fireworks probably for the wedding reception but this gave us a great feeling of achievement and the will to carry on. We stayed at Lands End for a further 20 minutes before deciding to make our trip back up the country. Andy and I discussed the fact that in order to keep to our time limit we needed to get back midway up the country in 9 hours and we both thought this was possible. How wrong could we be?
We set off from Lands End at 10.20pm and soon made very good progress back to Exeter for about 1.15am. After travelling along way down the A30 Andy and I were into a full blown conversation over the intercom about Scotland and what it might hold in store for us. During this conversation we missed our turn off for the A477 up through Exeter and over to Bristol way. Anyway we carried on and I turned to the GPS to help us out but the GPS was showing no turn off for the next 30 miles and it wanted to us to go to London before heading north.
Both Andy and I did not like this idea and we came across another turn off about 5 -10 miles up the road and so we decided to turn off and follow the small twisting and turning roads to try and get back on the west bound carriageway of the A30. After turning round we travelled back on ourselves and the GPS still wanted to send us to London! We found the turn off for Exeter and thought that if we find Exeter it will be easy for ourselves to find the A477 road back up to Tiverton way. Anyway, this was not easy and we found ourselves on another A road out of Exeter send us back the way we came more or less, but the GPS had changed and it was showing that this was the right way.
We carried on for about another 20 miles but we did not recognise any of the signs so we pulled in a lay-by and got out the trusty map. It turned out that we were on the right road but we was heading in the wrong direction and we needed to double back to Taunton and that would take us back to the A477. Our attitudes were slowly starting to change as we were getting tired and we had just wasted a lot of time getting lost.
Feeling a bit down we doubled back and reached Taunton and found the elusive A477. I began to feel a bit of confidence and I soon managed to convey thisto Andy - saying that all we have to do is get through Bristol, Gloucester and back up the country and we will be back up there soon. This feeling soon changed when we hit Bristol. We spent a total of 1 ½ hours navigating our way through Bristol by trial and error. It wasn’t until we got on the right road for about 2- 3 miles that it stated it was the A38. Why can we not have constant road signs with road numbers, it would make life so easier!
Anyway we were back on our way to Gloucester on the A38. It was one straight road and then a left turn on the bridge and before anyone knew it we were back on track up the country on the A417. Suddenly I heard a voice and it was Andy all chirpy and excited. We had found our way back on the right road which we had missed on way back. Andy began to show signs of tiredness and we had to stop for about 10 minutes in every hour to relieve his tiredness and cramp.
The trip back up the country seemed to go very quick and then day started to break and I started to reflect on the journey so far. It had been very hard but I was still feeling eagerness to get up to Scotland. However, this was not felt by Andy as he was tiring very quickly and he was in some pain. We hit Chester and onto the A41 and Andy said that he could make it back up to Blackpool but no further and that he could not possibly do the Scotland side.
It was clear to me that he could not carry on has he already had some near misses with some bushes so I said to him that I would get him back home before I carry on.
I text my wife and mission control to keep everyone informed. We trundled through Liverpool and on to the A59 and half an hour later we were back.
We got back to Blackpool for 11.45am. Andy went back and more or less collapsed on the sofa. I said to my wife that I was not being beaten and that I was carrying on. Anyway she said that I was not doing it alone and she was coming with me. So from 3 Varadero 125’s down to 1 with full luggage and two up. This was going to be the test trip.
10 minutes after getting back we were on our way. Jason’s wife (mission control) had arranged for some people from the Varadero website to meet us and the first escort was from Carnforth just after Lancaster all the way to Carlisle.
We got to Carnforth for 12.45pm where we met Pongo and his other half. We had a very quick chat and 5 minutes later set back off to Carlisle. We headed over Shap where the Varadero did struggle a bit on the climb but overcame the challenge. Before we knew it - approximately 2 hours after meeting in Carnforth - we were in Carlisle where we met another couple of people who were escorting us to Larkhall. We stayed at Lloyd Honda in Carlisle for about 10 minutes where the hospitality was excellent not only for us but also for the people meeting us.
We met Hefe and Greg who took us through some of the most amazing roads - mostly all downhill - across the Scottish border through Lockerbie. These roads were excellent and without an escort we would have probably got lost.
At this point I asked my wife on the back if she was Ok and she said she were enjoying it and she also asked me how I was feeling. I was feeling good and not tired even though I had been riding continuously for more that 26 hours. After less than an hour of riding we approached a place called Abington where I rang Mission control and she informed me that I had to ring the next people who were escorting us. So I rang the other Andy (aitzw) and MacValk and they said they would meet us at Larkhall.
Not long after we reached Larkhall and waited on the High Street for the others, but by this time both my wife and myself were very hungry so Hefe and Greg took us to McDonalds at Hamilton. We had only been there about 5 minutes before Andy met us and then another 5 minutes later MacValk turned up.
We had a 20-minute rest and discussed with the others the journey so far. It was at this point I knew we were not going to make it back in the 48 hours - but I was not going to let this stop us from completing the journey. We finished our food and it was time again to push off and say goodbye and thank you to Hefe and Greg.
Andy and MacValk were taking us as far as Dunblane to the A9. We rode straight to the A9. We were taken through some breathtaking and wonderful scenery and I have to say that Scotland is at the top of my weekend break list. We soon reached Dunblane and the start of the A9 so we took a 10 minute break and said goodbye to Andy and MacValk. They then both gave us some directions to get us back safely and were very grateful as I was very unsure that I could remember the way back.
By this time light was turning into dark and sense of uncertainty was setting in as a lot of people had already told us the roads were hard before and after Inverness.
The road to Inverness started off great with a dual carriageway but soon nightfall struck and the roads turned into single lanes both ways through the hills with no barriers and just cats eyes for lights. This road turned out to be very frightening as I was pushing my Varadero at 75 mph with 2 of us on and full luggage and other motorists were passing us at speeds well over 100mph with full beam on.
After covering quite some distance on this road we hardly saw any signs of civilisation and so we knew we had to take that little bit more easy to make sure nothing was to happen. At this point we were counting down the miles from Dunblane to Inverness as at one point is started out with 108 miles but this soon diminished.
We hit Inverness at about 11pm ish and stopped off to fill up at the Esso service station. We took 5 minutes break to look at the map and have a smoke before we pushed on to Alness. Not long down the road we saw the signs for Alness and we went over the most amazing flat bridge where the night time lights showed the beauty of the area. Soon after we saw the signs for the service station which we knew was only 100 miles away from John O’Groats. We stopped at the service station where we had a drink and a snack and decided to do a new entry for the video diary. After about 15 minutes we decided it was time to push and complete this mission. We left the petrol station at 11.50pm.
By Darryl Price
In Aid of George Menzies who has been diagnosed with a form terminal cancer.
This mammoth adventure started off as one person's idea (Darryl Price) and snowballed into the adventure of a lifetime for 3 people. The mission was to raise enough money as possible by attempting to ride from Blackpool to Lands End, to John O’ Groats and back to Blackpool.
We rallied around a few local biker hotspots for support and sponsorship and we mostly received a negative response saying that we and the Varadedro 125s would never make it.
We only had 1 ½ weeks to prepare for this epic journey and a lot of companies have given us tremendous support. These companies and their donations are as follows:
· Halfords – Loan of a Median Satellite Navigation System
· Blackpool Honda – For supplying us with tyres and other essential mechanical materials to get us through the trip.
· Pendle Motorcycles – For providing us with waterproof clothing.
· www.printinginprogress.com/charity for setting up a charity web page.
· Lloyd Honda for making our escorts feel comfortable when they were waiting to meeting us.
· All of the escorts that met us on the way who made us get to our destinations with ease and looked after us.
Jason McGuire set off at 6am to meet us (Darryl Price + Andrew Robinson) on the A583 at Kirkham roundabout at about 7.15am so that we could all fill up at the same time and get to George Menzies house on Harcourt road for the same time. The set time of departure was 8.00am Friday 2nd September but George and family had to nip out at 7.35am in the morning as they wanted my wife to be there to see us off.
George and family arrived back at their house at just after 8.10am and then wanted to take some pictures. We made our final checks and At 8.26am we all set off on Honda Varadero 125s - all in different colour and years of make (red 02, blue 54, silver 05) without the aid of a support vehicle.
We then began our journey and made good time to Birkenhead. We were supposed to meet one of the lads fof the Varadero website (Crazycopo) at the junction of the A41 and the A525) at 10 am but due to the late departure we were unable to make it.
We stopped off at Asda outside of Birkenhead to let Crazycopo know and then soon after we made our way down to the meeting point mentioned before. We arrived at the meeting point at the junction of the A41 and the A525 but there were no bikes there so I made the decision to carry on. It was then suggested through the bike 2 bike radio that we stop and send a message to crazycopo with our location and to ask him to catch us up. Soon after we sent that message it was received by crazycopo but due to our progress it took between 30 – 45 minutes even for him to catch up on a 1000cc Varadero motorcycle.
After much thought and support from Jason and his wife we decided to fill the bike up and take an extensive rest of about an hour before attempting to ride back up the A9 to Dunblane. At this point I had lot of feeling of defeat and emptiness just to know that we were only 92 miles away from our goal but that, for our safety, we could not carry on.
Time passed and we knew that we should make the journey back. I carried on, on the A9 for about 30 – 40 miles before everything hit me all at once and I could not ride any further. We stopped in a lay-by in the pitch black dead of night and had a rest. At this point I took some pro plus and had a drink. Every emotion had just suddenly hit me. (Tiredness, stress, defeat, etc.) My wife kept me going through it and we carried on riding and stopping every two lay-bys down which is about 100 yards until we could not ride anymore. We got a few miles more and stopped about 5.30am and decided that I could not ride anymore until it was light due to the fact that I had started to hallucinate and see objects or things in the road which were not actually there. This was all still very frightening as we were still on the A9 and we did not know if we were being followed at all and there was no traffic.
Daylight began to break and it was time to take some more pro plus and get the journey done. We then rode all the way to Perth before stopping for petrol. Just after leaving I saw the sign for a Little Chef so I decided to pull in there and get some food to try and liven up a bit. We had two of their big breakfasts but they were not as nice as we thought it would have been.
After some food and coffee we decided to push on. We got back through Dunblane and followed the directions kindly left to us by Andy and MacValk the previous day. We got lost a bit and decided to phone Mission control (Donna) and she said don’t worry that things were in hand. She had arranged for escorts to meet us and take us all of the way back up to Carnforth all we had to do is find our way back onto the A73.
We managed to do this with my wife navigating and soon as we turned onto the road Andy was there waiting for us. Andy expressed to us that he was sorry to hear that we had trouble and not to worry about the journey back. Meanwhile all of the time all of the Varadero UK members were being told of our progress every step of the way day and night by mission control.
Andy took us all of the way back to Abington where we had just one road the B7078 back to Carlisle.
We get back to Lloyd Honda at Carlisle where Pongo and his other half were waiting for us. We had a ten minute break there where we had a chat and the hospitality was once again fantastic. A big thank you!
Once again said our goodbyes and made the final stint of our journey home. Pongo did an excellent job of getting us back to Carnforth quickly and especially after stopping off for a quick drink.
Many dream of doing Land’s End to John O’ Groats on a bike – but few would choose to do it on a 125… with a pillion on the back.
But that’s what motorcyclenews.com user Darryl Price has done – starting off with two mates for company – also riding 125s. All three were on Honda Varadero 125s with the intention of raising charity cash.
The idea was to go from Blackpool to Lands End to John O’ Groats and back to Blackpool – 2040 miles and all within 48 hours. And that means no sleep.
You can read Darryl’s story in his own words on the following pages. And you’ll also find out how a nutter riding at night without lights on harried the final lone rider out of reaching John O’ Groats – and how the police let him down when he needed them most.
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Andy, Jason and I stopped off on the A41 in between Chester and the junction of our next turn off the A417 for a breather and a few calls when we were approached by 2 bikes. One of the bikes went straight on and the other bike pulled over and turned out to be crazycopo.
When he took his helmet off he stated to us that he could not believe our rate of progress and that it took a lot for him to catch up to us. It was this point that I realised that it was not just a normal bike ride I was encountering, but a mammoth journey that we might not be able to complete, but one which that we would give our very best attempt to complete.
With this thought in my mind I knew I had to stop at nothing in order to complete this mission. One thought that was running through my mind was that when people suffer with cancer they experience a serious amount of fatigue both in and out of Chemotherapy, so I quickly related this journey to their symptoms and thought to myself, if this makes me able to experience what they are going through slightly then maybe I might be able to understand a bit better.
We stopped for about 10 minutes to have a drink and to start the video diary. It was during this point that we noticed the beautiful countryside with houses situated on the slopes of the hills. It was all very breathtaking. We rode for at least another half hour before encountering some very long tail backs in built up areas, but due to the agility of the motorcycle we was soon able to by pass these and head on but these slow stints were affecting our time limit and putting us further behind our deadline.
After a while on the A49 we soon came up to our turn on the A417 and Jason said over the intercom that we had to meet someone on the A417 at Highpury. So we followed the A417 down but we did not realise that the road splits and to carry on, on the A417 you have to turn left and then right but instead we carried straight on still bringing us out at Gloucester way. This road brought us out near the bridge to approach Gloucester but we were a bit baffled as to why we had not hit Highpury until I saw the sign with the marked A417 and then I realised we had gone a different way. Anyway we doubled back for about 6 miles back to Highpury but could not find the person we was supposed to meet so we all stopped and agreed to turn back and push on through Gloucester.
We traveledl over the bridge and managed with ease to get through the roads and traffic and were soon on our way to Bristol. This is when our biggest delay hit us. By this point we were tiring a bit and we were in need for a rest but I asked the lads if it was ok for us to push on and stop outside of Bristol. The lads agreed and we got on with it. We headed on the A38 into Bristol and hit the city centre and suddenly things went haywire.
All of the main roads merged and we could not see the sign for the A38 out of Bristol plus Andy shouted out over the intercom that he had cramp and that we needed to stop ASAP. We carried on the main road and I decided to turn the GPS on try and get us out this maze of roads but the GPS wanted to take on the A37 out of our way so climbed a big hill going past a big motorcycle shop at the bottom. We got to the top and decided to pull over and ask for directions. We stopped outside a shop forecourt but I did not notice the sign saying ‘no stopping’. We stopped and got off our bike and Andy managed to relieve his cramp a bit. The next minute an angry man came out of his shop and said “Can you not read the Sign?” I soon explained to him that my friend had cramp and that we were also lost while doing a charity run.
The man from the shop dropped his guard and smiled and said no problem. He asked us where we needed to be and asked us for a map. He soon gave us directions to get us back on track and said to take as long as we needed. Andy had managed to relieve his cramp and we soon set off again. After a few more detours and a lot of frustration we were out of Bristol but it had taken us about 1 ½ hour to do this. As we left Bristol we saw a big McDonalds and the sign for the A38 so we stopped off for a bite to eat and a rest.
About ¾ hour after leaving Pongo at Carnforth we were back in Blackpool and we turned the corner into Harcourt Road, our starting place, at 5.25pm Sunday Evening.
We had completed the trip in 57 hours flat with no sleep. I then checked the total mileage and even though we never actually made it to John O’Groats we still covered an amazing 2040 miles and my Varadero 125 was still running perfectly and eager to chew some more miles up.
This was a truly amazing trip and it was for such a good cause. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped us along the way especially all of the people who escorted us. A big thank to Mission Control (Donna) without whom we not have been able to even have started the trip. Thanks to the guys for even attempting this trip with me. Another thanks to Pendle Motorcycle for the clothing and a big thank you to Blackpool Honda for ensuring my bike runs and still runs like a dream.
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