Well I have been visiting a lovely town in the north of Italy called Fiorenzuola d’ Arda quite often recently. As it is a very long drive from Roma I have stayed overnight a few times and just look at the lovely hotel I found https://www.mathis.it/en/
The Hotel Mathis is an amazing find! The food is amazing and the service is really something from the old days, friendly and welcoming. All of the staff are really kind and seem to enjoy meeting folks so I was made to feel at home straight away and the beer is great too, as well as the food.
And when I returned very late one night after attending a basketball match and then dinner with the team there was a graduation party in full swing, I was not tired so I stayed up for a couple of beers. And chatting to the hotel owners, a lovely young couple, he then took me to view his collection of motorbikes and here below is a selection wowowowowowow, I could not believe my eyes!!
I bought my first bike, a Honda 50 4 stroke, at 14 and then broke my collarbone at 15 when I managed to lose the front end and fly over the handlebars in a local field. Since then I have had a range of motorbikes and experiences including track riding as well as racing and I just wanted to pass on some basic survival tips to you, dear reader. So here we go:
ALWAYS stay within your comfort zone. Work on expanding that zone by taking any and all training that you can afford.
ALWAYS dress ready for the worst, so good helmet, gloves, bike jacket and jeans are essential. ALWAYS.
Assume that the other road users will do what they should not, so ride defensively and give them all a very wide berth. And they often do the wrong thing.
Take rider training cos we are NOT all Valentino. Track riding is great for learning, so is off road riding.
Look after your bike (check tyre pressures, oil levels etc) and your bike will look after you. I check tyre pressures before evey trip and then daily during my trip.
Stay safe and have fun! My current lovely bikes are shown below
Well I collected my beautiful new Yamaha MT10SP last week in the Midlands from Alf England and I then rode her home to Amalfi. You need a day to ride thro France and another to cover Italy, on a bike you MUST take yer time and allow for weather, tiredness, traffic and all of the other factors that can influence your ride.
I was very lucky with the weather, in the UK it was mainly warm and dry and I only hit a couple of wet patches going from the Midlands across to Cambridge. Then on the Friday I headed up to Nottingham to see family so I then set off from Nottingham at midday Saturday down to Dover and hopped onto the P and O ferry for Dover. I love the ferry as much as I don’t like the tunnel, I always buy an open ticket with P and O and I find their service excellent.
So in the afternoon I arrived in France and I headed into Calais to fill up the bike at the local Supermarket and I then headed south on the wonderful French motorway system. Luckily I have the new European Telepass so I do not even need to stop at the Pay Stations, great for the motorcyclist as it saves removing gloves and then searching for tickets and or cash or credit cards.
I stopped at Reims where I had booked a night at the excellent Ibis Budget at Thillois, I have stayed many times and the area has eveything you need for a good meal, beer and rest and the hotel car park is secure! I find that a gentle start to a long trip is always a good idea as you need to get to know the bike, so a long slog is never a good idea for the first day.
From Reims the next morning I rode south in increasingly warm weather and the French motorways are sooooo good you can generally cruise at whatever speed you choose. This bike has cruise control so I selected 140k/h to (hopefully) stay out of trouble and headed towards Chamonix. When I got nearer the information signs showed a waiting time of one hour for the Mont Blanc tunnel so I decided not to stop for lunch as I had planned, instead I overtook the hundreds of cars and got through the tunnel quickly, they charge an extortionate 32 Euro for the bike compared to about 45 for my van!!
So I was in Italy and so I could increase my cruising speed as the Italian police are more lenient and in general anything up to 160 seems to be ok, so I headed to a lovely hotel I know in Biella for the night as I was starting to feel quite tired. The Hotel Europa is in the city centre but very quiet and comfortable with an excellent eating house very near.
The next day was a gentle ride south down the motorway, I stopped for lunch in Orte with an old mate and then from Orte down to Amalfi where I arrived at about 4pm, tired but very very happy!! The bike returned an overall 16.5 km/litre (46mpg) which is great, the only problem is the range as she only has 16 litres of petrol so this means a stop every 180/200 kms when she runs onto reserve. WHAT an experience, total ride was about 2400km. A few pics follow:
Well it must be said that I have been visiting this UK motorcycle dealership for more years than I care to mention, and they have never let me down nor ripped me off. My first visit was with my Honda CB750 when I was a peniless student, I was looking to purchase a GB sticker as we were planning a trip to France. Imagine my suprise when the mechanic David came out to ask me where in France we were heading, and then he asked could he come with us, and our friendship began!
They were 100% Honda in those days, they are now 100% Yamaha but little else has changed in terms of their dedication and honesty. They have moved to new premises which allowed them to expand the business, have a look at the image gallery here. As you can see the shop looks fantastic and they are rated one of the top Yamaha dealers in the country.
You are always welcomed when you walk into the shop and the tea and coffee machine is always available, and of course offered free to everyone. They have a great range of new Yamahas to look at as well as many different makes of used bikes, plus loads of lovely Yamaha clothing and HJC helmets. Look at some of these pictures below.
OK I know that I am far too old for fast motorbikes these days and I should be looking at electric scooters and heated slippers, but hey never say never. And thus I just purchased a new Yamaha MT 10 SP which is the flash version of the MT 10 with Ohlins suspension and other stuff, have a look at this stunning bike here.
To be honest, as far as I know we only live once and the R1 these days is just too extreme for me (I have owned three), so when they announced the SP version of the amazing MT 10 I called Martin and he confirmed that they had one in stock. And the rest, as they say, is er fun.
So on Tuesday I fly to the UK and rent a car, I will stay for a week or so and then head back on the bike, I can hardly wait. EasyJet here we come…..
Have a look at this guy’s web site: https://www.nicksanders.com/. Nick is perhaps the most prolific world traveller ever, he has collaborated with Yamaha for many years and his travels with the R1 and more recently the SuperTenere 1200 have been made into some fantastic books and films.
Nick is and remains a very down-to-earth guy despite his amazing achievements. He is a really lovely modest guy and Martin at Alf England (www.alfengland.co.uk) has already met him several times. Nick will have the new Yamaha Tenere 700 very soon and then will tour the UK Yamaha dealers to tell of his experiences. He is due to visit Coventry sometime in October so I will attend cos I really wanna meet him!!
I had a full week holiday booked in downtown Estepoda, at a lovely resort called Costa Natura, practically on the beach (Costa del Sol) of the Spanish south coast only about 40km up the coast from Gibralter.
We debated which way to travel from Italy and madam chose a flight from Naples to Malaga with Ryanair, cheap as chips. I instead decided that the old bike and I both needed some exercise so I booked the ferry from Roma (Civitavecchia) over to Barcelona, a very boring but motorway-saving 20 hour ferry trip. My trusty Yamaha FJR1300 was prepared for the trip (just a check over really, as she is only 2 years old) and I set off from Amalfi on a very warm Thursday afternoon, destination Roma.
I stayed overnight in the very very hot capital city and the next morning I attended a business meeting on the south of the city. I spent the rest of the day visiting friends and then set off to the port town of Civitavecchia, which is about 80km north west from Roma. I rode very gently as I knew that the ferry was running behind schedule. The 20 hour ferry trip should have started at 10pm to arrive at 8pm the following evening, whereas the delay was said to be several hours. So I found a wonderful Trattoria in the city near to the port for a slow dinner, truly excellent.
I returned to the port at about 11pm and I joined the long queue of motorcyclists (at the head of the queue as bikes usually get on first) and got chatting with a group of Italian Harley riders. There were 4 Harleys with 6 guys and girls from Terni, lovely bunch. Well we stayed on the dock until 4am and then we finally boarded, in the meantime one of the Harley riders had given up on the holiday and another had returned home for his forgotten ID card. Boarding was a wonderful feeling and the ship finally set sail. We docked at Porto Torres (Sardinia) at some stage and then we finally disembarked in Barcelona at 4am Sunday, only 8 hours late!!!
Thinking that I should travel in the cool of the morning, I headed south and stopped every hour for coffee until dawn, I was cruising at just 100-110 kph until my head fog cleared and until there was light enough to see. I was following my TomTom satnav more or less blind. Well it worked, cos at 4pm ish I arrived at Estepona and found the resort that we had booked, wonderful! I really did not fully appreciate the place as I got the key and went straight to bed until my alarm rang at 11pm, as madam was due to arrive at middnight.
Well the resort was totally wonderful, almost on the beach! We enjoyed the pool, the bar and the restaurant and almost never moved offsite cos it was total relax! We just took a short trip by bike to explore amazing Gibralter one day and then the following Sunday it was time to head back to Barcelona for the ferry home. I washed the bike and checked her over, the tyres just needed a bit of air and the engine oil level was perfect and I set off north at about midday and stopped for the night near Valencia in a wonderful Motel I found by chance, right next to the main road.
The going was fairly tough as the temperature soared up to 40 degrees, but luckily the heat was fairly dry so did not make me sweat TOO much!. The FJR is a big 1300cc 4 cylinder water cooled bike with 140 horses, she performed perfectly as well as consuming ZERO oil in 3000 km and returned excellent fuel consumption too, she is the most comfortable bike I have ever owned and truly great for long distances. I had the two panniers on the back but without much weight so the bike was perfectly stable even at er higher speeds officer.
Luckily on Monday the boat is always on time (Grimaldi told me that when I asked!) so after check in I headed up to find a good bar on the Ramblas and got some food and drink before boarding, and the trip home was excellent. Thanks Spain and thanks Yamaha too!!!
My lovely Yamaha FJR1300 cannot wait to stretch her long legs. We have booked a week in a lovely place near Malaga and I was thinking of taking a flight, fast and easy of course. BUT I really prefer a trip by bike and I love Spain, so I have booked a ferry from Civitavecchia (near Roma) over to Barcelona and then I will ride down to Malaga, about 1100 kms so either a long day or perhaps 2 days with a B and B on the way, I will decide nearer the time.
Taking the motorway all the way (instead of the ferry) would be a 2300km ride each way from Roma so I decided on the ferry which takes a painful 20 hours but hey, too much motorway also becomes very boring. So I have opted for the sea route. I did the same trip a few years ago down to Alicante and really enjoyed myself, I know a wonderful place to eat in Valencia which is about half way down through Spain. Perfect.
Below are a few pics from previous trips, with various Yamahas.
Last week I headed north, destination the UK where I was due to deliver 2 motorbikes to my favourite bike shop where they would be sold. So I prepared my trusty Mercedes Vito van, checking the tyres plus oil and water and packing the 2 bikes snugly into the rear, luckily they are both slim bikes so this was not difficult.
Well my schedule is now quite well rehearsed, I left Roma at 5am Sunday morning with a hotel booking in lovely Chamonix in my pocket, 815 km north in the French Alps just the other side of the Mont Blanc tunnel. I love the Mercure Chamonix and as I have stayed many times they usually give me a free upgrade plus a VIP free drink when I arrive, large cold beer if possible please!
The next morning at dawn I left the hotel and headed north. The French motorways are fantastic and in general very free flowing. And for the first time I was travelling with the new European Telepass which covers Italy plus France, Spain and Portugal so I did not have to stop and pay for the French motorway tolls, I just go through the designated Telepass lane. Progress was so good that I stopped for lunch, fuel and a van wash near Reims and I then decided to crack on for Calais as I always travel with an open ferry ticket, so I get onto the next ferry.
Onto the P&O Ferry and over to the UK and then just a short trip up to Cambridge, some food and then an early night!
So the time has come to part ways with my cherished Audi A5, as well as some of my bikes. Garage space is one problem and cash flow is another as I now work part time so I have much less income of course, thus I have decided with a heavy heart to offer my lovely A5 to a new owner.
I kind of “adopted” the (2008) A5 Coupe four years ago when I found her in the corner of a used car parking lot near Roma looking very sad, scruffy and unloved. Indeed, she had been badly neglected and sat on four bald tyres and had scars all round, damage from careless parkers and door openers. The interior trim was also worn (the cloth was semi bald on the drivers seat) and she was dirty as hell. They wanted 20k Euro so I offered 15k and as I walked away the guy followed me so I knew that I should have offered less……
Long story short, I bought the car and started a labour of love to restore her to her original condition. You can read the story elsewhere on here, suffice to say that I now badly need the garage space so I must reluctantly let her go to a good home. She is in fine fettle, fully restored, looks wonderful and goes like shit off a shovel, I will post a pic below.
My old Honda VFR800 (2007) could also be up for grabs for the right money, as could my beloved restored 2010 Yamaha Giggle, pics below. Let the bidding begin…..