Distance: 5km to port, 110km ferry, 260km to home
Pork Tour: complete
Route: sea / A55 / A5 / A458 / A442/ A449 / various
We had a fairly early start as we needed to get to the ferry for last checkin at 07:00. It's not too bad though as it only took us 15 minutes to get to the port from the hotel! Cue a very relaxed crossing back to Holyhead.
Back in the UK we had a fair bit of riding to do, so although it was tempting to skirt round the coast of Anglesey and see more sights, we decided to stick to the A55 to get back to the mainland quicker. Still a nice neck of the woods for a ride!
We stopped for lunch in Betws-y-Coed (along with seemingly every other tourist in Wales) then carried on southeast along some very pleasant Welsh roads. Then over the border, and we had the pleasure of riding past such glamourous destinations as Shrewsbury and Kidderminster. Hmm.
At the M5, Diarmuid leaves us and heads home. Thanks for joining us Diarmuid!
The final three head almost directly to the pub for the final beer of the trip, even if the guinness is out of spec:
And that's a wrap! Final distance: 1073.9 miles / 1729.3 km door to door (well done to Chris for remembering to set his trip counter).
Thanks to David, Diarmuid, Chris and Anneley for their excellent company (and for providing their photos for this write-up), and thanks to Ireland for having us!
Time for a round-up of a few notes from the trip!
First up, a quick review of my new-for-this-trip helmet: an HJC R-PHA ST (I guess they really love acronyms at HJC). It's very nicely built, and the visor mechanism is truly excellent. Other manufacturers should feel embarassed about their offerings in comparison to this. The latch is positive and easy to operate, and the just-unlatched position is perfect if you just want a bit more airflow for low-speed riding. I'm also totally sold on flip-down sun visors and pinlock inserts.
However, it's not totally perfect - the ventilation is if anything rather keen, and the two venturi scoops on the back are very noisy, pretty much drowning out my radio speakers at higher speeds. I think I'm going to make some little aerofoils to go in front of the scoops to reduce the amount of wind rushing through them, as holding a hand over the scoop does reduce the noise quite a bit.
Shape is fairly round - in fact the first time I had one of these from sportsbikeshop I returned it as it wasn't comfortable out of the box. It turns out I have an Arai shaped head! However, having tried on pretty much every other helmet that fitted my spec I decided to take a risk on tailoring the liner of the HJC, and having spent an evening fettling the foam it is now comfy - 1000+ miles in a week would definitely show up any hot spots!
Overall, 8/10. Recommended but watch out for those noisy vents!
Image credit: sportsbikeshop.co.uk
We were all mindful of the likelihood of rain on this trip (there is a reason for all this lush vegetation after all), and at least three of us ended up with shiny new rain suits packed into our top boxes. Well, it turns out that carrying a rain suit around with you all the time prevents it from raining!
Just as well though with this RST one - it does keep you dry but the extra-tight waist elastic makes it hard to zip up, and the supplied storage bag is so tiny that you spend an hour swearing at it trying to get it stowed after wearing it, so there is a strong incentive to leave it in the box even if it looks like rain. Annoying as both faults could be avoided with only a few pence more spent on fabric. 6/10, must try harder.
Anyway, we were totally lucky with the weather - that's two improbably dry trips in a row. Next one's due to be a washout eh?
Image credit: Yamaha
I still want a Ténéré. I still cannot afford one.
In a nice little after-echo of the trip, Diarmuid was in Germany a couple of weeks later and had a hankering for Guinness so paid a visit to an Irish bar. First song on the jukebox? Yep, Ring of Fire!
TODO for next time: #
1) Scare up some cameras to mount on the bikes, and maybe get a drone for a cheeky tracking shot or two.
2) Take more photos generally.
3) Carry a spare radio headset, as both Diarmuid and David had trouble with the connectors on theirs.
4) GPS log! Totally forgot about it, then later had to reconstruct the routes from memory.
Next time? #
Yeah, so, where next? There's plenty of roads out there, and I guess direction will come down to who's available and for how long. I'd like to go somewhere warm enough that we can camp with lightweight gear, so that I can still carry everything on the bike. But I would also like to ride around the coast of Iceland! And around the Adriatic. And Scotland, and... oh well, better start saving my pocket money.