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Friday 29 November – Motorcycle Live 2013

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GetAttachment.aspxFriday 29 November – Motorcycle Live 2013

Probably the best show at the NEC I’ve been to and certainly the most interesting year for me at Motorcycle Live.  My day was packed to the gunwales.  A little bleary eyed from a Christmas do the night before, I was up at the crack of sparrows and on the road before 8.30am.  Bumped into some good biking friends – Chris, Ian and Jay, which were wonderful company and meant I barely noticed Jason’s absence (currently biking in Morocco).  Speaking of the devil, soon after arriving, Jason dropped a quick text to say he was having a ball in the desert and being blown away by the scenic Atlas Mountains.  Think he used the term ‘challenge’ too…!  More of that to follow in an imminent post.

Back to the show then.  Although a different layout this year, and not one that was particularly easy to navigate for us punters, Chris noticed the lack of the small independents, which was sad as it’s these small ‘one man bands’ that often leave you feeling like you’ve picked up a great little find at a cracking price; some ingenious addition to your kit or for your bike.  Nevertheless, my agenda for the day was centred around networking, rapport building and generally putting our brand ‘out there’ as much as was humanly possible for one pair of able legs and gums that can flap all day long.

After familiarizing myself with the general layout across four halls, getting a quick bite to eat and taking a good look around, it was time to mix some business and pleasure.  Popped over to the Overland Magazine stand where I found my good pals – Sam Manicom and Graham Field (both respectable authors of overland travel books).  Lovely to see the pair who were working harmoniously side by side on their book sales.  And doing very well I might add; their spot was open to some prime footfall – good on them for securing that beaut of a spot.

It was at the Overland Magazine stand I also met Simon Dufton working on the ‘Dambusters 2014 Charity Ride’ and his friend just about to hop on a bike for the first time.  I nearly gushed over the poor lad – nostalgically recalling what it was like for me 16 months ago when I was in the same boat.  Feels like a lifetime ago.  Promised to catch up with Sam after the show but in the meantime, Graham was gasping for his lunch by mid-afternoon so I joined him for a chat and butty in the quiet trader’s area.  Lovely to catch up and see what was new in the world of Mr Field.  I can hardly wait to read his new book ‘Ureka’, which hones in on his latest trip in the Caucasus region of the Soviet Union.  I’m intrigued.  Graham’s first book ‘In search of greener grass’ is in one of my top three for two-wheeled travel related books so get your pre-order for the New Year if you fancy a good read.

Off I went, post a late lunch-break and thought I’d say hi to Nathan Milward – another fab acquaintance I’ve made over the last couple of years – now Adventure Bike Rider’s editor.  Nathan took his ex-postal Aussie 110cc, Dorothy, all the way from Australia back to England, which took him nine months…great story full of adventure.  I digress a little.  Nathan asked if he could do a feature on our pre-trip and then a Q&A about the freighter crossing.  If that’s not a juicy little present prior to our bon voyage, I don’t know what is.  Yes, think that’d be fine Nathan, thank you.  Watch this space.  Jason and I made an appearance back in the August 2012 issue of ABR magazine when we rode 3,000 miles through Europe ‘two-up’ taking in the BMW bike festival at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, the Stelvio Pass and Stella Alpina.  Amazing scenery through France, Germany and Italy – would love to go again but on my own bike.

It was also an unexpected pleasure to see and catch up with more friends of ours, Barbara Alam and Craig Carey-Clinch inside an inviting bell tent with a ‘take a pew on our plush sofas’ area.  Good to see what they had been up to through Motorcycle Outreach and Rowan Public Affairs.  Interesting work in the political and legislative world of pushing for motorcycle safety.

As a final treat in equipment investment to myself, I decided to make a considered purchase at the opportunity cost of the trip itself.  A pair of Gerbing XR-12 Hybrid heated gloves and the 12V socks.  Figured that I do enough UK riding in the winter months as well as going to the deep south of the Americas at one end and Alaska the other to warrant these items.  I have pretty slim fingers and am nesh at the best of times; I can’t wait to put these into action.  Although size XS felt lovely and snug, I went for ‘small’ in the end as didn’t want to get any uncomfortable ‘hot spots’ on the gloves; great advice from the distributor at the show.  And very grateful for the discount I received too!  I’ll be writing a review on both of these items so please watch out for that.

On my way back over the Overland Magazine stand to rejoin Sam and Graham, I couldn’t walk by without stopping to say hello to Austin Vince.  Another individual that’s significantly contributed towards getting us both in the right place for our trip. Both very excited about presenting him our footage at the end of the experience.  Just need to jump on our bikes now and get on with it.

The icing on the cake on Friday was having a meal with Sam, Graham and the guys from Overland Magazine.  All of top form and because I was ravenous and the others hoarse from the week’s constant talking, we all enjoyed a quiet meal replenishing some sustenance back into our bodies.

Superb day that I couldn’t have enjoyed more.  There’s something lovely about having been sociable with a wide range people, familiar and friendly folks to complete strangers; exchanging stories, intentions and a bit of banter to getting home, donning the pyjamas and flopping in a happy heap..!

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May 2012: Touratech Travel Event

May 2012: Touratech Travel Event


Lisa with Graham Hoskins and our old friend Andy


Me, Nick Sanders, Lisa and our friend Andy


Lisa and Andy cooking lunch by the side of the road


Lisa, Nathan Millward, our friend Andy


Sam Manicom and Lisa

30 May-2 June 2013: Horizon’s Unlimited! (Pursuit of good living)

30 May-2 June 2013: Horizon’s Unlimited! (Pursuit of good living)


Lisa And Nick Plumb


The slow race


Jason, Ian, Chris, Lisa, Andy


Lisa on an electric bike


Masai dancers

IMG_3768 IMG_3724 IMG_3702Wow! Why? Horizons Unlimited UK just happened, that’s why. This gathering wins first place in the 2013 travel event calendar on home soil as hundreds of overlanders assemble to meet like-minded folk sharing a passion for exploring on 2 or more wheels. This year we spent 4 days in the lush grounds of Castle Donnington’s Farmhouse Hotel. It was travel presentation heaven and some…

A plethora of speakers from the pithy and primed, the well-known to the newbies fresh from their adventures were all given ample air time to share and enlighten. Stories are told, ideas are illuminated and so the seed to travel starts to germinate. Advice on any aspect of venturing off is in abundance…doesn’t take long for those juices to start flowing in a sea of authors, film makers and adventure motorcyclists.

Austin Vince put in a memorable performance about his latest Mondo Sahara adventure but I’ve come to expect nothing less from this ‘infectious flavour of funny’ fella. One of my favourite speakers was Ed March reaching a new level of crazy. However, totally deserving of the limelight given from a responsive audience on Friday night retelling his way to the Arctic Circle – in the winter – on a Honda C90. At the opposite end of the thermometer, I also enjoyed bumping into Rachel and Sam, two thirds of ‘Crossing the Empty Quarter’ crew in the planning stages of embarking upon part of the world’s largest sand desert – hope the pieces of the jigsaw start slotting into place for those guys.

Saturday morning I find myself roped into entering the Slow Race – a hoot and a half, despite the slightly nervous reservations… Managed to win an official heat and then whip Nicky Plumb‘s perky backside, twice, in our own unofficial race!

Although brand new to the world of 2 wheel exploration around the globe, thought I’d volunteer to help run the Skills Course led by Cogs and David. Emphasis being on slow speed, Saturday saw a healthy number of riders (and a pillion) to come and have a go. Lovely to see about as many women giving the men a good run for their money in tackling the obstacle course. Supporting this aspect of the event and having a purpose much bigger than me is what it’s all about, for sure.

Couldn’t just spectate at this event, got me a whizz-tastic ride on one of the e-bikes. These electrically charged bikes are ace. Man alive, when it comes to opening the throttle, they go like a rat up a drainpipe, doing up to 30mph. Brill.

How would I describe my first Horizons? Hugely engaging, interactive and oodles of fun, whether you’re at the start of your overlanding pursuits or well on your way. Namely, not to be missed. Think it struck a bit of a chord because there’s just so many regular folks with normal jobs doing incredible things.

Thank you so much to Susan and Grant Johnson, Iain Harper, Sam Manicom and Birgit to name but a few plus the scores of selfless people mucking in to facilitate such a worthy, exquisitely organised event. Made a pile of new friends. Felt right at home and welcomed to the end, was even waved goodbye on departure. Those I came into contact with at Horizons incentivised the big banana out of me to simply ‘get on with it’ and paved the way to adventure.


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