Hard Miles

Some days the miles seem to fly by, blink and that’s a hundred gone, other days it can seem like you are getting nowhere very slowly. Today had elements of both!

I said “au revoir” to Claudine and Jacques this morning and hit the road. I wanted to fill Harls with fuel and decided that a convenient supermarket on the outskirts of Bourges that I knew would be ideal. For some reason I thought that it would be fun to stick to “normal” roads and avoid the Péage, after all it was only 25 miles away….BIG mistake! That 25 miles took an hour, with road works, heavy traffic and speed limits.

I’ve got to admit that I wasn’t a very happy Dookes. When I started this trip, I resolved to chill and definitely cut down on the swearing…good job I haven’t got a swear box with me then, I was even going at it in Welsh!!!!

Then we got on the N151 and things got a whole lot better.

Normally I avoid “N” roads, or Route National to give them their proper title. These days they are often poor relations to the toll roads and suffer from toll-road-avoiding trucks beating them to pieces.

The 151 is different though.

Enjoying the N151.


First up it’s an old Roman road, so it’s almost dead straight, but occasionally enjoys some wonderful sections of multiple curves. It passes through delightful towns, like Charité sur Loire, Vézelay and Clamecy and crosses from the Val de Loire into Bourgogne – that’s Burgundy to the non-French speakers.

Passing through small town France.

I love Bourgogne, it’s so “me” and like me it seems to burst into life in the autumn, I was an Autumn baby so maybe that’s got something to do with it! The list of wonderful Burgundy produce reads like an encyclopaedia of high quality foodstuff. There’s some of the most delightful (and expensive) wines in the whole of France, nuts by the tonne, grass reared beef, mustard, cheese, Marc de Bourgogne brandy and of course all kinds of game. Its reputation for fine gastronomy is well deserved. Unfortunately, today, we were only passing through, drat!

Then after Avallon we rode onto the A6, Autoroute de Soleil, or to coin Chris Rea, “this is the road to hell!” To be fair, it doesn’t go to hell, but it’s purgatory travelling along it! The A31 and A36 that follow are pretty “merde” as well. These were 150 hard, hard miles, just grit the old teeth and get on with it. No-one can hear you scream in space, or inside a motorcycle helmet.

Finally after Besançon we turned off and began to pass through small towns and villages as we climbed towards the Vosges. Along the way we had crossed the line where water drains towards the Mediterranean Sea rather than the Atlantic and had bridged the river Saône; I always feel sorry for the poor Saône, it’s a mighty river in its own right, but normally it’s just dismissed as a tributary of the Rhône.

Seeing the Vosges Mountains rise up around us, it occurred to me that France is big, really big. Not in the space sense as The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy once said:

“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”

Well, when you live in Cornwall, a county about 70 miles long and only around 40 miles at its widest and where the Sea is only ever 20 minutes away tops, France might just as well be Outer Space!

Then we hit the mountains and the smile returned!

Smile time, mountain roads!


Ok, the Voges isn’t the Alps, but hey after the day we had just endured you gotta cut me some slack! We rode past our B&B for the night and on to Gerardmer to cross off some Cols, just because we could and also because I needed to get the old head straight on a few hairpins!

“Wheels spinnin’ round my brain, driving you insane.”

Catch you soon.

Dookes

Today’s mileage 329; Trip 691 from Roscoff..

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Candles in the Wind

I am sitting watching long grass waving in the brisk, yet warm, South-Westerly breeze. In the sunshine the shimmering meadow looks for all the world like a rippling sea of green and the gentle swishing of the wind through standing stalks could be the music of distant waves.

It’s at times like this that I often get a tad philosophical about life, reflective if you like, as my mind wanders through idle nothingness.

One of the things that bugs me about getting older is the number of my friends that disappear off this mortal coil at a shockingly frequent pace. Often it occurs without much notice, blink and they are gone; no I’m not talking about motorcycle accidents either, it’s just the age thing!

I consider myself lucky to have known and count as friends a bunch of really amazing people.

Fortunately there are tangible things around that often remind me of my lost pals and never fail to raise a smile or lift my heart.

There’s the old big brass whistle that stands by our fireplace, it once graced my steam engine, a gift from dear David who passed away a couple of years back.

Then a couple of months ago I was walking through the grounds of Launceston (that’s pronounced “Lawn-ston”) Castle in East Cornwall, when I came across this splendid horse chestnut tree, Aesculus hippocastanum.

This species is often considered as a native British tree, as it is found throughout the U.K., but it actually originates from the Balkans in South East Europe.

As you can see the tree was in full flower and that made me smile. I stood admiring the display and my mind wandered back across the years to Roger, an old and sadly missed friend.

Roger lived in the New Forest, an area of Central Southern England that is now a National Park, but was once the hunting ground of Kings dating back to before the Norman Conquest in 1066AD.

Roger was a true man of the forest; his chalet stood in a spot that nestled in a clearing deep in the heart of the green silence. His few acres were approached by a gravel track that ended at his front door. He kept a few chickens and his beloved Jersey house cow named Wendy. Apart from his animals and indeed all the creatures and plants of the forest, Roger’s main passion was for vintage agricultural tractors.

I used to spend hours with Roger and his son, sometimes working his land with whichever piece of vintage machinery took our fancy that day; or maybe on an expedition to track down some rare spare parts to repair one of his or indeed my collection. Often though we would just walk deeper into the forest and sit watching deer, foxes or badgers until the sun dipped and the air grew cool.

Roger’s favourite tree was the Horse Chestnut. He loved it’s deep mahogany brown fruits, known as conkers in the UK and beloved of small boys for “conker fights” in Autumn time; best of all though Roger adored the display of white and pink flowers that stand proud on the trees in early summer, he called them “Candles.”

So there I stood watching the “Candles” waving in the breeze and thinking of my dear old chum.

The great thing that Roger taught me is that a true Countryman plants trees not for himself for now, but for future generations. I resolved to return in the autumn, gather some “Conkers” and plant them, then watch new trees grow.

He would have liked that, would Roger.

Catch you soon,

Dookes.

Digging The Past

Living here in Cornwall, at the extreme South West of the UK, I am frequently reminded just how lucky I am to be a resident in one of the most beautiful parts of our country. Actually I go a bit further, just living in our country is pretty OK too..despite Brexit and a host of other things!

You see the thing about Cornwall is that it’s a land of moods and a matter of choosing what you fancy today. If you want rugged cliffs and stunning coastal vistas, then head for the North Coast. High Tors and rolling moorland are on Bodmin Moor, whilst more pastoral scenery nestles on the banks of the River Tamar and the Roseland Peninsular. Not forgetting the sun-kissed miles of golden sand and some of the best surfing in the world at Gwithian and Praa Sands….we’ve got most needs covered!

The other thing that we’ve got in abundance is history, it’s everywhere and again there’s something for everyone’s interest, from the Stone-Age to Twentieth Century stuff via the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution.

So when the opportunity comes up to mix a couple of these points of interest together and throw in a bit of motorcycling, Dookes is always available…! So last Monday I started up Harls and hit the road.

Over on the North Coast, about 20 miles from Dookes H.Q. stands the bastion of Tintagel Castle. Perched on a high cliff-top above the wild Atlantic waves these mysterious and evocative ruins are, legend says, the birthplace of the mythical King Arthur.

Tintagel Castle

The reality is a bit different, in that the remains of the castle we see today were built in the 13th Century by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who was brother to King Henry III. On the headland where this medieval castle was constructed evidence exists to show that the area had been inhabited for many hundreds of years previously. The problem is that no-one really knows what was happening here!

You see, apart from the 13th Century castle, the only other remains have been dated from what were once euphemistically referred to as “The Dark Ages.”

At this point I can almost hear the sharp intake of breath from various archaeological friends…these days, apparently, we must say “Early Middle Ages!” All I know is that it was a bloomin’ long time ago, between the 5th to the 10th Centuries to be precise!

One of the reasons that this period gained it’s “Dark” moniker is that following the decline of the Western Roman Empire very little literature or cultural output occurred and few relics have been found, especially in North West Europe; that’ll be here then!

Since the 1930’s Tintagel has been subject of a number of archaeological investigations into its unknown “bits,” that’s the stuff not including Richard’s castle. The view as to what was going on has varied from; Monastery, Trading Port and has now shifted to “possibly a Royal Palace,” delete as applicable and the mood takes you!

This summer staff and volunteers from the Cornwall Archaeology Unit have been undertaking a “Dig” to try to piece together some of the jigsaw. They were building on work that had been started last year, following a new geophysical survey of the headland that had given some interesting pointers where to start digging.

To say what they have found is impressive sort of depends on your viewpoint, but certainly there’s been a lot of hard work put in to uncover another tantalising glimpse into the past. Hence why I popped into to see for myself.

The excavation site lies on the very Southern edge of Tintagel headland, in a sheltered spot under the lee of higher inland cliffs. The view our 6th Century ancestors had can’t have changed very much and must have been as impressive as today.

The dig team have unearthed substantial remains of walls, giving an interesting perspective of what must have been a most impressive structure. What exactly it was, remains to be unearthed, if you’ll excuse the pun, but being positioned on a sloping cliff-side I’m not at all surprised that it’s walls were substantially built!

Amongst the stones they have also found a veritable treasure trove of pottery shards, oyster shells, animal bones, charcoal, fragments of glass and possibly the remains of a metal blade.

Is this a 1600 year old blade?

The media have been quick to enthuse that this “suggests” that “early Cornish Kings” once lived and dined lavishly at this place… only it doesn’t – and that came from one of the archaeologists!

What it really does is add more weight to Tintagel being an important trading point; precious local metals out; wine, oil and spices in.

5th Century Pottery shards from the Mediterranean.

It was fascinating to talk to some of the team and watch them at work. There’s clearly a lot more to be discovered and here’s hoping that they will be back next year to keep digging. I spent a happy couple of hours on site and left with a head more full of questions than answers, but archaeology is like that.

Then it was time to fire up Harls and head home… and take a lot longer route than the 20 mile hop to get to Tintagel!

Catch you soon.

Dookes

Tanks a Million!

The rehabilitation of my mate G continues at an almost frightening pace, particularly as he is now able to ride his motorcycle again. By that I don’t mean that he is riding his bike at a frightening pace! The great thing is that he has regained his zest for life again and two wheels are largely responsible for that.

We seem to have slipped into a weekly routine of having a worthwhile ride to somewhere specific and take in some good riding roads along the way.

Last week’s excursion saw us on another great “Boys Day Out” as Mrs Dookes is now calling them. Where previously we visited an aviation museum, this time we kept our feet firmly on the ground and set our destination as The Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset.

The museum traces the history of armoured fighting vehicles and particularly tanks, from their invention over 100 years ago right through to the present day. There are over 300 vehicles on display and it is the largest collection of tanks in the world.

First though we had to get there.

I met G in Exeter at his favourite motorcycle dealership and after a good double espresso we hit the road. I took Baby Blue, partly because she is so comfortable on a transit run, but also because I’m back in love with riding her after some months of mixed emotions, but more of that in another post…

The road east out of Exeter, the A30, is largely fast dual carriageway and although it runs through pleasant enough country it’s pretty boring. At Honiton, once famous for its lace making, we turned onto the A35 and followed it for about 40 miles to Dorchester. Now I always get frustrated with the ’35; it runs through lovely scenery, has enough bends to make it interesting on a bike, but it’s always snarled up with traffic and this morning was situation normal!

On a bike it’s true that you can usually make progress where other vehicles struggle, but even so it becomes hard work and if you are constantly looking for the next overtake opportunity it’s a tad difficult to also look at the scenery!

By Dorchester I was ready for a change and taking a more looping route away from traffic we soon arrived at Bovington.

The museum is located ay Bovington Camp, home of the British Army’s Tank Corps and the place where most tracked vehicle training and repair is carried out by the Army. It’s a busy place and you are just as likely to find a tank scurrying along the surrounding roads as a mail delivery van.

A tank in the car park!

In other words this is big-boys-toys country!

There are seven display halls in the museum. The first, called “The Tank Story Hall,” has a collection of key vehicles displayed in chronological order to show the evolution of tanks through the last 100 years. I found it fascinating and dallied so much that G soon wandered on ahead of me!

“Little Willie” the very first tank.

Incidentally, do you know that the name “Tank” stems from when the British Army were building the first vehicles in 1915? At the time, fearful of espionage, the prefered name of “Armoured Landship” was replaced with “tank” as a subterfuge to explain why vast amounts of boiler plate steel was being built onto track laying chassis….and the name has stuck ever since.

Another hall is dedicated to showing the very first tanks in the context to which they saw action, on the battlefields of France in World War One. This part of the collection struck particular resonance with me after tracing the footsteps and experiences of both my Grandfathers during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. If you missed those posts then please click here to read more. One of the tanks here, which actually saw action during those grim days, is posed in a particularly striking way, as if crossing No-Mans Land and attacking enemy trenches.

Across No-Man’s Land in WW1

As World War 1 tank as seen from the receiving end!

Looking at some of these early tanks, I was struck by their primitive nature and even though they were clad in boiler-plate they were not at all impervious to penetration by anything but the lightest bullet.

Bullet hole in WW1 tank.

They were brave men who took these machines into battle.

I went a bit crazy with my camera, but after a while realised that apart from colour difference one tank begins to look pretty much like any other after a while….I hear sighs from Mrs Dookes in the background! So I resorted to up close and personal stuff, just for entertainment!

Prize exhibit at the museum is Tiger 131, the only original working German Second World War Tiger Tank in the world; incidentally, the majority of the tanks here all still work, how brilliant is that! The added bonus with these being working machines is that they not only look great, but they smell good too…yeah, I know, it’s a bloke thing; axle grease, diesel fuel and gear oil, magic!

Tiger 131, 63tonnes of trouble.

Amongst all this engineering and heavy plant, it’s important not to forget that these are killing machines; they bristle with guns, armour and missiles. Amongst the machismo of ever bigger and more deadly machines there a quiet corners where extraordinary, often tragic tales of bravery and sacrifice are recounted and give the chance for remembrance and contemplation.

Finally, for those of you that are either film or Brad Pitt fans, the tank “Fury” from the 2014 film of the same name is also on display in “as filmed condition, along with some interesting props from the film. The Tiger also appeared in the film unsurprisingly playing the part of one of the bad guys, such is Hollywood!

Fury

Anyway, top marks to the Tank Museum, not only is it a great day out and I highly recommend it, but your admission ticket can be used again as much as you like for up to 12 months; I think that G and I will be back!

Any great day out deserves a great ride home, so once again we struck out to the Jurassic Coast, grabbed an ice-cream in Bridport and just rode the twisties back West. 250miles all in when I got back to Dookes H.Q..

Here’s to the next time.

“I put a Tiger in your tank.”

Catch you soon.

Dookes

Two Up – Again!

In my last post I said how I’m not wild about having a pillion ride with me on my bikes.

Well, just like waiting for a bus, nothing for ages then two come along almost at once!

First it was G, to go collect his new bike and then last weekend nephew Chris twisted my arm to take him for a ride on Baby Blue. I’ve introduced Chris previously, but if you want to read a bit more about him and his back story then click here.

For the non-riders amongst you let me try to explain…

When I ride a motorcycle solo, it’s just me, the machine and the road.

I suppose it’s a bit elemental, but I definitely get “in tune” with the bike and can “read” the feedback it’s giving me as we progress along our way. Little signals from the bike give me an indication as to how much grip the tyres have, what the road camber is doing as well as how gradients are affecting things. Because I spend so much time riding solo, all this information goes haywire as soon as someone else climbs on the back and the bike feels….weird!

The most obvious thing is the extra weight, even on a big touring bike such as the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited it’s very noticeable. Sometimes there have been pillions trying to ride the bike for me and leaning this way and that, usually at the wrong time. Then there’s that other matter that I call “Wriggle Bum” and that’s basically when the pillion just won’t sit still, particularly at critical moments, such at junctions and intersections; it can quite easily lead to “interesting” domestic conversations!

When I agreed to give Chris a ride, I must admit that lots of thoughts about the above went through my mind.

Chris usually rides a Yamaha 125 on the road and a various trials bikes off it, so he’s well used to the niceties of motorcycling, but this would be his first time as a pillion.

Last Saturday morning we set off from Dookes H.Q. and had a nicely varied ride-out covering around 55 miles of beautiful North Cornwall countryside. We Stopped for petrol and collected some Cornish Pasties for lunch from Aunt Avis at St Kew Highway, before a spirited, though sensible, loop back home.

All smiles, Chris tries out the front seat….
Hands off nephew!


Well I needn’t have worried, Chris was a dream to have sitting on the back!

All the time he sat perfectly still, allowed the motion of the bike to flow under him and basically trusted me to get on with my job of piloting the beast!

Chris, you can ride pillion on Baby Blue anytime!

“I’m cruising fast on a motorcycle down this winding country road.”

Catch you soon

Dookes

Supersonic

Last Wednesday was a day that a few months ago I thought would never come.

Rewind to mid-February.

G had just indulged in his mega horror crash and was propped up in his hospital bed. Tubes came out of him from various places, some of which make my eyes water just thinking about. His wrists were literally held together by bits of metal that poked out through his skin in a crazy lattice of stainless steel and titanium, whilst his leg and knee was supported by a black Kevlar and nylon brace. His bruised face and body gave him the look of a multicoloured Giant Panda… Things, and indeed G, didn’t look great!

Certainly, in those first dark days the last thing on G’s mind was riding a motorbike again….though even on that first morning he still had the need for excitement running deep in him and mused that maybe a sports-car was his way forward.

The days inevitably turned to weeks and the weeks to months. Along the way, he had further operations and procedures, then he got referred to an absolutely brilliant physiotherapist who doesn’t take no for an answer….then the world changed!

Oh wow, has it changed!

Last week I took G for a short ride on the back of Harls, that was a bit weird for both of us really, he doesn’t ride pillion and I’m not over wild about having a passenger on the back either; but it was in a good cause, he was going to collect his new bike!

His brand new Yamaha Super Tenere 1200 has been given a few little tweaks by those nice people at Yamaha UK and the engineers at Bridge Motorcycles in Exeter; little things to make it easier for G to use the controls and a factory Cruise Control system to give him a breather on longer trips.

Best of all though, it put a serious smile back onto my friend’s face and a glint in his eyes that had been missing for too long.

Dull day, shiny new bike!


Unfortunately the day was dull and grey, with intermittent rain showers; not at all the best for getting to know a new machine, let alone on fresh and very slippery tyres. Nonetheless, we looped North West from Exeter and chalked off about 70 leisurely miles before returning safely to G’s castle.

This week though, things were different.

I rode East from Dookes H.Q., filled up Baby Blue in Crediton and met up with G just outside his house, high above the Exe valley. Our destination was the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton, about 50 miles away.

I’d be lying to say it was a thoroughly enjoyable ride to the museum; challenging and frustrating would be more like it. The roads were busy and a tad hectic; the A303 in Somerset is notorious for its congestion, but where we were going we really couldn’t avoid it. On the plus side, it didn’t take us very long as our two blue machines ate up the miles in the early morning sunshine.

The Fleet Air Arm is the aviation arm of Britain’s Royal Navy and the Museum is Europe’s largest collection of naval aircraft with helicopters and fixed wing machines. It lies alongside an active Naval Air Station, so there’s always lots of action!

Lynx helicopters on duty on the active Air Station.

The collection tells the complete story of naval aviation from its embryonic beginnings to the present day. The museum is also the final resting place of supersonic transport prototype Concorde 002, so definitely worth a visit.

Yes this really was going to be a great boys day out!

On arrival at the museum we quickly got changed out of our riding gear, it was far to hot to be in that all day!

The museum is split into four different halls, each presenting a different facet of Naval Aviation, though not really in a cohesive chronological order.

There were examples of many famous naval aircraft on display and a few old favourites of mine such as this dinky little Dragonfly helicopter; I can remember these as a lad and I had a really nice push along toy of one too!

Another favourite, a Chance Vought F4U Corsair.


One of the display halls is set out as a mocked up deck of an aircraft carrier, which is great and the special effects of aircraft landing and taking off are impressive. The subdued lighting though made it quite difficult to actually see much of the assembled aircraft as their dark grey camouflage colour made them almost disappear into the darkness! The accompanying tour around the various operations rooms of “the carrier” was interesting, though one had to remember that this portrayed a vessel operating in the late 1970’s.

The “Carrier” operations room at action stations.

Things have moved on massively since then!

The final hall was, for me, the highlight of our visit.

Dominating all around is the imposing Concorde 002 prototype G-BSST. As a lad I well remember the first flight of this stunning aircraft, way back in April 1969, just three months before the first Apollo moon landing…what exciting times they were!
A joint Anglo-French project, Concorde would go on to be the first and to date, only, successful supersonic airliner. The tragic events of July 2000 in Paris when an Air France Concorde was damaged by debris on take off and subsequently crashed would eventually lead to the types withdrawal from service, but for decades Concorde represented the very pinnacle of commercial aviation.

Concorde 002 was the aircraft that proved all the theoretical mathematics correct and the data it collected as it smashed through the sound barrier at Mach 2.0 at an altitude of 60,000ft paved the way for the pre-production aircraft that were to follow.

Concorde, sexy from any angle!

Visitors are allowed to pass through and inspect this iconic aircraft up close. Inside most of the original test equipment is still in place, itself quite an eye-opener as this was well before the age of miniaturised electronics! The flight deck is just as it was left after the last flight in 1976, what a wonderful place to go to work!

The pilots control in Concorde 002.

Alongside the supersonic marvel are a number of other interesting experimental aircraft. Some, such as the Fairey Delta Two and the Handley Page 115, played a part in the development of Concorde.

Handley Page 115

The Hawker P1127 was the forerunner of the incredible BAC Harrier, the worlds first vertical takeoff and landing fixed-wing aircraft, it could not only hover, but could fly backwards too!

Hawker P1127

I could have spent hours in this one hall alone.

In due course and after lunch it was time to move on. In scorching sunshine we pulled on our riding gear and hit the road.

As it was too nice to just turn West towards home, we headed South to Weymouth and followed the lovely Jurassic Coast through Abbotsbury, West Bay and Lyme Regis.

The Jurassic Coast at West Bay, what a lovely day!

As yet the peak visitor numbers haven’t been reached, but the coast road was definitely busier than normal and slowed up by motor-homes and caravans, not too much of a problem for a couple of motorbikes though!

Following on behind G as we roared out of Lyme Regis, I mused how things could have turned out so differently, yet here I was riding with my mate again, life can be good sometimes!

“On a summers day, when thoughts are drifting far away
And life is good and real to see…”

Catch you soon.

Dookes

Trip Planning

Regular visitors my blog, The “Blogonaughts,” may probably be wondering why I haven’t been hitting the road for another epic type trip.

The months of June and July have, sort of, become my default time for going off exploring, with long hours of Northern Hemisphere sunshine and school holidays still a month or more away. Yes, I avoid school holidays!

So why am I not heading out exploring?

Well, there are a number of different reasons…

First up, I’ve just been crazy busy over the past few months. The maintenance of Dookes H.Q and various bits of charity work that I do have certainly kept me off the streets, literally.

Then there was G’s crash and injury, which has seen me zipping back and forth to support him and has left me feeling a bit flat about the whole business of riding motorcycles.

It wasn’t just G.

My oldest mate “Vifferman” took a tumble and wrote off his Honda, in atrocious wet conditions, just before Christmas and recently nephew Chris had a crazy woman step out in front of his trials bike one evening after dark; fortunately no-one was seriously hurt in either case, however as a result, I’ve been feeling a little like “the last man standing!”

Viff’s second-hand Honda.


It’s all OK though, having freed myself up from over commitments I can see the light at the end of the tunnel; G is on the mend, Chris is young and unshaken, Viff is, well, just Viff!

Which is why my thoughts have been turning towards trip planning!

At this moment I can hear Mrs Dookes sighing. You see I’m a bit of a map nerd; I’d rather spend an hour poring over a map than reading a magazine or newspaper…it’s the Navigator in me! As a result I’ve always got inspiration for future trips running through my head and embryonic plans just waiting to be developed, cunning eh?

Where are you thinking of going, then Dookes? I hear you say.

Well the list isn’t as long as you’d think…

Home Nations wise I’ve long harboured a wish to do a tour of the UK taking in Wales (naturally), Scotland, England and Ireland.
I always seem to have some unfinished business somewhere and the Alps and Dolomites are in my mind on that score.
I’d quite like to take a gentle foodie trundle around Spain and Portugal’s non-touristy areas.
Parts of Eastern Europe have always appealed to me, such as Hungary and Romania, so I’d throw in some of the Balkans there as well.
Finally, I really want to go explore Scandinavia, especially North of the Arctic Circle.
Needless to say, my beloved France would almost certainly be included in most of the above!

That’s about it really…for now.

Now, where to????


I did ponder whether I should have called this post “Route Dreaming,” but a dream stays that, just a dream – an abstract swirl of misty ideas. No my friends, these are places that I will really ride to and as such I have the plans to prove it.

So how do I go about putting together a route plan?

Well, I start with the basic target of somewhere to go, the final destination. Taking Dookes H.Q. as the starting point, that gives me the beginning and end. Next I do some research on interesting or historic places to visit along the way, like the Chapel at Ronchamp, Aigues Mortes or Pont du Gard.

Aigues Mortes

Then its just a matter of finding interesting twisty roads and joining up the dots; simple really. If any of this comes across as ‘teaching Grandma how to suck eggs,’ then I apologise, but I really get lots of people asking how I do my route planning.

Pont du Gard, It’s Roman and very old!


Oh yes, factoring in accommodation is pretty important too and detours have been known to sample particular food delicacies; as my late mate Floyd once said, “To know a country, you must eat a country!”

Only the French serve food like this…


So there you are, the Dookes route-planning machine is alive, well and currently very active.

The question is:
Which one of the destinations on the list above will I attack first?

Well I’m not going to give anything away at this stage, build the suspense and keep you all guessing eh?

I’m thinking that 2600 miles and six countries should do it…

In September.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to do a spot of map reading!

“I just know where I want to be,
Forever wandering, forever travelling.”

Catch you soon.

Dookes