Epic adventrue Dave!
I made a similar journey many years ago now (or thats how it feels) on a Yammmy RXS2 100 Stoker. I rode all the way from Colchester to Camberley in Surrey (on 'L' plates) to attend a training course. Up until the only other experience I had of riding anywhere further than my girlfriends place in town, was a trip across the Fens to my parents place the summer before on a fabulous Honda C90, which had a top speed of 49mph - up hill and down dale; no more, no less!
Anyway, I got sent on a months course at Camberley and rather than use the train, I opted to use my bike thinking that at the very least it would be quicker
So having loaded ALL my gear for a month onto the bike, I set off early in the morning - heading southish....... Fairly soon, it occured that I should know where I was heading and pulled into a garage to buy a map book (I said I was young didn't I - and very green!!
). Having figured the next stage of my route, which lead me via Grays I think, I soon found myself panicking as I realised at some point I was going to have to cross the Dartford Tunnel and I was convinced this was on a motorway
I duly arrived at said crossing and made it through with little problems apart from the crappy 6v headlight that just about iluminated the front mudguard........
The rest of the journey stirs very little in the way of memorys, other than I remember being cold and finding that if I stuffed the map book down my front it kept the wind off and I warmed up considerably
The return, a month later was a considerably more laid back event, as I felt I was a true long distance rider now, equal to any courier
!!! Anyway, my return saw me taking the A31 Hogsback, for what reason I can't remember..... But there it was. The day I left was a Saturday and the roads were reasonably quiet, the weather was cold and damp, with the treat of rain in the air. It was dank and gloomy on the Hogs Back with a very, very strong headwind - robbing me of anything near the heady 65mph top speed of the bike. So I trundled on, riding around the pot holes and contemplating seeing my girlfriend for the first time in a month (I wondered if her parents were going out that evening
). Suddenly, through my drifting thoughts, I became aware of a car horn??? I swiftly checked myself and my road position and wondered what all the fuss was (there wasn't any), but the guy in the Renault 5 Turbo seemed to think that I shouldn't be there and gesticulated as such as he over took me. Okay, I wasn't exaclty going ballistic but neither was I going snails pace either, and I wasn't riding on the white line between the two lanes either! 'T#sser' I thought as he blasted past me, 'whats his problem with bikers'??
I carried on a couple of miles and rounded a bend in the road......... There he was; all forlorn, looking at the remains of his car!! From what I could tell as I rode past, he had attempted to exit the road and enter a property down a short gravel driveway. Either side of the entrance to the property where two bloody great big concrete gate posts, easily 10 feet high capped with a large ball. Except that now the right hand gate post had a Renault buried in it and the ball was resting in a very large depression in the roof of the car - I think the driver knew he might have had a problem when his 'turbo' appeared next to him LOL! As I closed on the scene matey look up contemptously and I beep, beeped my little 6v horn and gestured that I thought he was a 'city banker', I rode on sniggering........
I eventually arrived back in Colchester with the oil warning light lit, so I pulled into a service station to buy some, only to discover I was short on funds - the smallest bottle of two stroke cost 99p I think and I only had 78 pence to my name, fortuantely the cashier had a brother in the forces and she very kindly offered to put the rest in the till
(I did go back and repay her eventually). After that I swore I'd never get caught out like that again and never again bought a stoker (until I could afford to carry a spare bottle of oil with me)
How times have changed, going anywhere in those days was a real adventure, today I have to push a bit further a field to get the same buzz, but there again life is a hell of a lot easier on a bigger bike