I bought my first motorbike as cheap transport to work and my mum said "You'll kill yourself in a month!". Well, I survived the first month and I was hooked! I passed my test and rode as far and as often as I could, exploring my ever expanding surroundings while gaining valuable riding experience. I passed the advanced riding test the following year.
This was my first "big" motorbike and I loved it! I was lucky as a colleague was emigrating and needed to sell it fast. I wanted it but couldn't really afford the price. The day before he was due to fly out, he phoned me and said "turn up with £500 and it's yours!". I passed my advanced riding course on this and clocked up around 36,000 miles a year!
The Suzuki was probably the most comfortable motorbike I had. Not just for me, but for any passenger sat on the back. The rear was spacious and well padded with a relaxed sitting position. It was just as happy as a sporty weekend thrasher as it was a reliable tourer. Again, clocked up many pleasant miles on this machine.
I had the GSXR750 first but it was stolen. As I had a tour planned, I bought its big brother, the GSXR1100. This was a beast of a bike, with what seemed like limitless power yet surprisingly agile, flicking through the bends like a middleweight. Most of my Euro trips were aboard this solid and reliable machine.
Now I have a bit of a confession: I was really a "fair weather" camper! There, I've said it. From the early 80s through to the new millenium, I toured extensively, first around the UK and then across the channel to Europe - mainly Germany because their roads were by far the best, but including most of the northern countries including Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, and down to Italy. However, if there was prolonged rain over many days, I would book into a B&B.
My first real camping trips were to the New Forest in Hampshire. I used to get a day off each month so during the Spring and Summer months would ride down from the North West for long weekend breaks.
Thanks to my generous holiday allowance, I could have several UK tours per year where I usually headed off down to the South West, taking in Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and all the interesting stopovers on the way there (and back). The Cotswolds, Stratford upon Avon and so on.
After my first taste of European touring, I was hooked! I loved the people I met along the way and the German roads were a motorcyclists dream!. The picture was taken while camping by the river Mosel at Trier.
I've alwayes loved learning. From being a kid I used to enjoy curling up with a good text book. As time (and money) allowed I began to take things further, learning new skills to enhance my hobbies. As I learned to ride a motorbike I used to practice machine control and handling. Passing my test, I took the Advanced riding course before becoming a riding instructor. As I started to travel further afield, I enjoyed studying the languages I would need on my trips abroad. Not to full fluency, but pretty darned useful all the same!
I started learning German back in the 80s in preparation for many motorcycle trips across the country. Here's some of the courses I've enjoyed since:
German is as popular now as it's ever been and because of this, there's no shortage of high quality study material to suit any budget. Of course, there's also Youtube.