...by David Smart
From boy to man I have been riding motorcycles since I was 15, My first motorcycle was bought from money earned being a waiter (hard to believe, but true). Having a motorcycle at the time was a major step up from a bicycle and it didn’t hurt being thought of as ‘cool’ at school.
In my early 20’s, I did the grown-up thing and temporarily swapped the bike for a cage (car). AAAAHHHH BIG MISTAKE, but luckily came to my senses and ‘reinvested’ in other iron horses. This time it was the need for speed and had 3 Ducati sports bikes followed one after another
In later years, I calmed down and started motorcycle touring. Obviously, the sports bikes were not going to work with the wife (including all luggage necessities), which brought me on towards the BMW brand. Here comes the LEO plug: once used to an upmarket brand you tend to stick with what you know is best in class, leading technology and excellent customer service.
I currently own 2 BMW bikes, a 1200 cc adventure bike and a 1600cc sports tourer with heated seats (don’t ask who wanted that optional extra). The best part about owning a touring motorcycle, is that it makes travelling around more pleasurable, comfortable and interesting given that we have been all over Europe and wouldn’t hesitate to cover 3000 miles over 2 weeks.
The camaraderie between bikers is second to none and you will always find bikers greeting each other on the road and even occasionally the odd police biker. Over the years, we have met some amazing fellow motorcyclists ranging from a Red Beret (Base jumper), a Concorde flight engineer, a RAF Major, post office manager, paramedic, an estate agent etc with some bikers still riding well into their late seventies.
Some interesting touring highlights include:
Riding to the Arctic Circle in Norway during summer, which was 24 hours of daylight over the summer months, San Gimignano in Tuscany, Bratislava, and even a snowy Austria in the middle of June!!!
For my 50th birthday, I toured the Wild West in the USA with a varied group of individuals and it was ‘totally awesome dude’.
The route took me through solitary desserts, deep canyons and high mountains. Over the course of 16 days I drove on the legendary route 66, deep into the Arizona and towards the majestic Grand Canyon. Continuing my journey towards the Monument Valley and onto the Extra-terrestrial highway near the Area 51, which was named after the many sightings of unidentified flying objects in that area (really weird place). We stopped to take in the breath-taking views overlooking on the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco) and finished our journey in LA.
When touring, I always try and avoid motorways and choose to drive through the back roads because it’s a great opportunity to see the real country you are travelling in and experience other cultures along with fantastic roads and breath-taking scenery, and once I put my helmet on I block everything else out and it becomes an adventure and always leads to a new discovery.
In the words of the famous 20th century philosopher Ferris Bueller “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop once in a while, you could miss it”
Next stop, the Pyrenees in spring!