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Thread: "Left to Live" - A 23-Day Motorcycle Adventure Around UK and Ireland...

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  1. #1
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    Oct 2017

    "Left to Live" - A 23-Day Motorcycle Adventure Around UK and Ireland...

    Background story:
    We are two Americans, in our mid-forties, empty-nesters, who are currently living and working in Germany. We both love to travel and when an opportunity came up last year to move here, we jumped on it.

    Like most of you all, we still work. Although Europeans do have more vacation time, it is still difficult to break free and ride motorcycles for months on end. Someday, we will do this - I promise you! Until then, breaking free for three weeks will have to do.

    We've planned this trip for some time. In fact, it has been in the light stages of planning since almost immediately after we arrived in Germany from last years Iceland trip (CHECK IT OUT HERE). Trying to fit all of the countries of the UK and Ireland into a 23-day vacation, including scheduling most of the ferries, did take some planning, but in the end it was worth it.

    The "Left to Live" name of our journey was picked for two reasons:
    1. The most obvious... This will be our first time we've ever riding on the LEFT side of the roadways. "Stay LEFT if you want TO LIVE!" We even went so far as to create a windscreen mounted, vinyl sticker to remind us of this.
    2. We've only got a finite amount of time in this life. We have both decided that we would like to have memories instead of dreams and we both dream of exploring this tiny, blue dot we call Earth.

    ...So here goes! Here is a small preview from our 23-day motorcycle adventure around UK and Ireland:

    Our planned route. The red and orange colors signify a day of travel. Normally, I don't like planning this much, but fitting so many miles (er, I mean km, no wait, I mean miles) into a three week trip requires planning.

    The Union Jack




    Ocean views


    UNESCO World Heritage sites

    It took some planning but we even got to experience riding on the world famous TT Mountain Course on the Isle of Man.

    Our route kept us close to the oceans and bays which offered limitless views to some of the best scenery in Europe.

    We rode most days until right before sunset.

    Places I never imaged I would travel as a kid.

    Unique sculptures and artwork along the way.

    Some incredible scenery to ride through! Even in England, with it's population density of 400 people per square km, we found wide open roads.

    Landmarks. We tried to see as many landmarks or sites as we reasonably could while still riding 200-300 km per day.

    There are nearly 23 million sheep in the UK. You're going to see some sheep on this trip.

    Many churches and grave-sights all over UK and Ireland. This was taken at a cemetery near the TT Grandstand at Isle of Man.

    Good eats! Both Chantil and I love Fish-n-Chips! It turns out we are in the right country for this!!

    Our two mules - Both BMW G650GSs. The red one is mine and is named "Apache", and the white one is named (White) "Chocolate"

    I printed stickers of the flags of countries (or crown dependencies) that we planned to visit. After we arrive, I place them on my mule's windscreen.

    Just a "few" of the waypoints that we would like to see on our adventure...
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    '12 BMW G650GS Sertao
    '11 BMW G650GS

  2. #2
    Hey Chromehead ! bobs98's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Marlton, South Jersey


    Looking forward to another excellent adventure and read!
    Bob Smith
    1998 R1200C
    2000 R1200C

  3. #3
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2017

    Day 1 - Friday, Aug 24th...

    Our route for the day of 300km. Leaving Germany 🇩🇪, through Belgium 🇧🇪, and ending the evening in France 🇫🇷. Three countries and three languages of German, Dutch, and French.

    We spent the last few weeks making sure all the maintenance was done on each of our mules. I estimate that my mule would need a rear tire and rear brake pads after this trip, however everything else was “good to go”! We had originally planned to leave on Saturday, but there was nothing keeping us from getting an early start on our vacation. We left our home in Germany at 2 PM and made decent time along the E42 and A25 through Belgium and France.

    A brightly colored water tower between Villeneuve d'Ascq and Chéreng, France provided a short diversion from freeway riding.

    This fish is reminding us not to waste water!

    Near the tower was this unique apartment hotel with modern features...

    ..including colored glass windows that complement the green vines clinging to the side of the concrete and brick walls.

    Just down the road was this abandoned parking garage.

    Without the unique organic metalwork, it would be just another parking garage.

    There was a section of the A25 that was backed up. We weren’t sure if lane-splitting was legal in France, so we waited until we saw a group of four riders on BMW 1200GSs doing it. Monkey see – monkey do! We followed them for some of the most relaxing lane splitting I’ve ever done. The French drivers did a great job of leaving wide open spaces between lanes. Yeah France!

    Once we reached Dunkirk, I saw this unique colored apartment high-rise and decided to stop and take some pictures.

    The place looked a bit run down but the multi-colored exterior sure made it interesting.

    We rode through Dunkirk and stopped for a little while at the old part of town...

    ...where we snapped some photos of the Beffroi de Dunkerque...

    ...and the Saint-Éloi Church across the street.

    Chantil programming the GPSr which will guide us to Camping Zuydcoote Beach, our campsite for the evening.

    Rain😞. After setting up camp, the rain rolled in. It rained all night but fortunately let up in the early morning.

    Tomorrow will be much more exciting as we learn about the “Miracle of Dunkirk” at the Operation Dynamo Museum and then make our into England via the Channel Tunnel, or what Europeans have nicknamed the “Chunnel”…
    YouTube Page
    '12 BMW G650GS Sertao
    '11 BMW G650GS

  4. #4
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
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    Oct 2017
    Quote Originally Posted by bobs98 View Post
    Looking forward to another excellent adventure and read!
    Hoping it can live up to the expectations. Thanks for posting!
    YouTube Page
    '12 BMW G650GS Sertao
    '11 BMW G650GS

  5. #5
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2017

    Day 2 - Saturday, 25 Aug...

    Our route for today of 283 km - Dunkirk, France 🇫🇷 to Beachy Head, UK 🇬🇧 via the EuroTunnel.

    The rain stopped sometime in the early morning, so we awoke to a dry tent - It’s shaping up to be a great day already!

    Funny story from last night. As we pulled into camp last night, an excited couple approached us and started talking to us in German. Being in France, we wondered why?? Turns out they assumed we were German because of our German plates on our German BMW motorcycles. It’s funny what people assume sometimes. Nice couple though.

    Back to today... Since we had some time to kill before the museum opened we decided to go for a walk and try to find the pier used during the evacuation of the English and French forces during the 1940 operation often called the Miracle of Dunkirk.

    It was early, and the breeze was cool, so we enjoyed much of the beach to ourselves.

    A man-made ocean break wall made with large concrete cubes the size of cars.

    I miss the ocean. Living in Germany keeps us from visiting it as much as we wish we could.

    A uniquely colored beachfront apartment building.

    Flag of Dunkirk, the European Union, France, and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.

    The boardwalk along the beach featured various styles of homes including many condominiums.

    The jetty used for the Dunkirk evacuation was further than we had time for, so we decided to make our way back to the campground and pack up the mules for the next day of riding.


    On our way to the Dunkirk jetty we came across this...

    ...large metal sculpture that stood near the Dunkirk break-wall.

    At the base of the sculpture was this signature. How cool is signing your name with a welder!?

    The Dunkirk Lighthouse

    The mules parked at the foot of the jetty used during the evacuation.

    A display marking the historic occasion.

    Some happy faces of the soldiers who were evacuated.

    The narrow jetty sticks out for quite a while. We walked the length of it until reaching a gated fence at the end.

    A gull enjoyed the strong breeze.

    These sailors were also enjoying the strong breeze. I miss sailing; especially close-hauled sailing where the sheets are tights, and the boat is healed over.

    End of the road. Time to turn back and make our way to the museum which opens at 10AM...
    YouTube Page
    '12 BMW G650GS Sertao
    '11 BMW G650GS

  6. #6
    Registered User travisgill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2017

    Day 2 - Saturday, 25 Aug - Museum Dunkerque 1940 Operation Dynamo:

    We enjoyed our time at the museum established to remember the miraculous evacuation of 338,226 soldiers over a 10-day period starting 26 May 1940.

    A simple sign on a brick headquarters building marks the entrance to the museum.

    Some of the money bills used during WW2.

    A poster reminding people not to talk about military operations in public.

    A military-issued gas mask.

    The heavy radios used the 1940s.

    Pictures of war. I’m grateful for these photographers so that we have imagery to remember the horrors of war.

    Many soldiers waded through the surf and cold waters to reach the rescue ships.

    Many of the allied ships (over 38 percent) were bombed or mined during the evacuation.

    Although the number of private vessels used during the operation was difficult to estimate it is believed that nearly 850 boats were used. Many of these boats were strictly civilian crewed.

    Rolls Royce Merlin engine from a British Spitfire recovered from the ocean. 3,500 sorties were conducted by the RAF in order to support the 10-day evacuation.

    A model of a Junkers Ju 87 or Stuka as it begins it dive attack on allied shipping at Dunkirk.

    A BMW logo hasn’t changed much since the 1940s.

    I can’t imagine the relief many felt once they were on a friendly ship heading back to England.

    A flag used to mark beach mines or unexploded ordinances.

    A pair of German Maschinengewehr 34 machine guns configured for anti-air operations.

    We spent about an hour in the museum and left with a newfound respect for those who fought so desperately for their lives.

    In just a short time we’ll be on our way to the UK!...
    YouTube Page
    '12 BMW G650GS Sertao
    '11 BMW G650GS

  7. #7
    got, got, got no time... rguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Rogersville, MO
    Looking forward to another great trip! Thanks for taking us along.
    Neal - '16 R1200GS / '81 R65
    Be the person that your dog thinks you are.

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