[Jason] We are spending a week touring the west coast of Scotland with some friends, which is great for a dummy run pre our big trip; it will decidedly help to determine what to take next year to the Americas, and some!

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The start of the trip and we have our first casualty

Convening at our friends (Penny & Jay’s) house in Penrith on the Friday evening worked a charm because the group were able to rest and unwind the night before the ‘big off’.  Treated to unbeatable tucker, the five of us were fed and watered to a culinary standard that Nigella would’ve remarked ‘Collect £200 and pass go’.

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Ready for the off

Up fairly early on day one, we were joined by Ivan, the sixth member of our biker posse and it was a good job we had plenty of time to spare, as we spent the best part of the morning getting breakfasted, tinkering with our bikes, tightening up straps and generally faffing to the ‘nth’ degree..!

Kitted up, keys in the ignition and big smiles plastered across our faces, we unexpectedly became local celebrities when Freda – a nearby neighbour just a month from turning 90 – popped outside to take some snaps.  She told me that seeing us about to set off on our big adventure took her back a few scores and ten when she used to revel as pillion on her boyfriend’s bike.  When Freda turned teary eyed, I nearly joined her as I took a moment to appreciate what we were about to emabark upon, mindfully.

You may keep your nights out on the town, sleeping in until the late afternoon with a hangover you could sell to science and writing off your weekend whilst recovering, I don’t think I’d have rather been anywhere else than there.  Full of nervous energy and excitement, I knew I was where I was supposed to be.

Three forest lochs drive

Three forest lochs drive

Our first day’s riding, once we’d finally got our affairs in order went without a hitch.  It was a cruisey day in the saddle on tarmac for the most part.  We rocked up to Three Lochs Forest Drive, where we were able to give our derrieres a rest, stand up on the foot pegs and sample some of Scotland’s scenic off-roading.

It left me wanting more; the countryside was increasingly dramatic and full of contrast.  One minute it felt like I was in the heart of Switzerland, there were big similarities to New Zealand and once again, I’m flung back into the Scottish wilds of purple heather and foreboding hills set against mirror-calm lakes.  It’s beautiful on a bonny scale.  I’ve just taken the first bite of the apple.  And it’s delicious.

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