Rear View

0 Conversations

A Grand View

The weather outlook for this, the first bike-trip weekend of the year, had changed almost daily throughout the week, but as Friday drew near it was clear we were going to get wet: a large raincloud was forecast to travel right across NI, and we were headed straight for it. That did at least make the choice of what bike gear to wear very simple! Much as I love my Draggin jeans and my leather Alpine Stars jacket, they are not waterproof, and so the Aerostitch suit was called into service. It's a cunningly designed all in one, which zips on ingeniously over your ordinary clothes, has a pocket for every need, and is just about completely waterproof. It's not, however, the warmest of gear, and so I tried to layer up underneath with fleeces and long sleeved T-shirts, without bulking myself out so much that the suit was hard to zip.

My new panniers are nice and chunky, and hold plenty, so there was room to spare when I had put in enough clothes for the 2 night stay in Kesh, County Fermanagh. I always take my Crocs, as they are so comfortable to slip on after a day spent in biker boots, and Dai and I managed at last after several attempts (see Rear Views passim) to pack our Thing 1 and 2 T-shirts.

It always takes me a while to get back into the right frame of mind for riding, and the first bit of the journey was clouded with negative self-talk. No sooner had one tricky roundabout or junction been safely negotiated than my brain would think ahead to the next obstacle, and start to nag and fret at it. Oh no, the Ballygawley roundabout! Oh no! That horrible double traffic-light junction in Omagh! And it'll be just as schools are getting out! Oh no! We don't know exactly where we're going, and Dai's not the best of navigators! Oh no! There's the hotel, and we have to approach the car park down a narrow alley! Oh no! There's a lorry behind me, and the car coming the other way is stopping to let me across….

But the satisfaction of an incident free journey, and a welcome pint of Guinness in the bar as we caught up with old friends soon had me in a more relaxed condition. I explored the options for eating that evening, and a gang of us opted for the Chinese across the road, which was having a special price buffet. I had to make a quick dash across the road to the cash machine, though, as they don't take plastic! We ended up back in the bar just as the evening's entertainment was getting started. I don't think the 2 piece of girl singer and bloke with drum machine-cum-computer realised they were going to be turned into a karaoke night, but high jacked they were. I am a veteran of karaoke nights, and know how to escape unscathed, so I got my bid for 'Stuck in the Middle with you' in early, changing the words to 'clowns to the left of me, tossers to the right', since that's the name we GS riders give ourselves (before some else does). One of the rufty tufty blokes made a sterling job of 'I Will Survive', before a tall blonde became slightly guilty of hogging the mike. And so the Guinness flowed, and the night wore on.

We had a leisurely Saturday morning, before deciding just to take one bike out for a short run. I hadn't pillioned in ages, so it was lovely to be back letting someone else do all the hard work, while I concentrated on navigating. We were on Dai's newest baby— a 20 year old R80GS basic, one of only 3000 ever made. He'd almost baulked at the idea of bringing it in the rain, but I knew he really wanted to show it off. We headed for Lough Navar forest drive. When I lived abroad, I had a photo of me on my fridge, which was of the

from this scenic drive, high above the inland cliffs overlooking Lower Lough Erne and Boa island, with a panorama extending right out to Donegal Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. So that was my picture of home as an ex-pat. But I hadn't been there for about 5 years! The forest road itself is mostly great fun: it's a single track one way system, so no worries about on-coming traffic, and it's tarmac the whole way except for a little section near the exit which has been suffering from washout. I hopped off at that point, as negotiating gravelly surfaces going downhill 2-up, trying not to do any sharp braking, is a real challenge. The sun shone as we puttered our way through the pine trees, before emerging at the viewpoint itself and drinking in the fabulous scene.

We made our way back along the road that runs right beside the Lough, and lunched at the Jolly Farmers pub in the border town of Belleek, home of the world famous pottery, itself sadly a victim of the current recession. The Jolly Farmers does a good hearty plate of food, and suitably replete, we headed back to Kesh in time to place a bet on the Grand National. There is no bookmakers in the town, but I was told with suitable nose-tapping and winking that a bloke in the back of the bar up the road was taking bets. Sure enough, there was a chap with a bucket of fivers, and a notepad and pen taking down the details of bets. I scanned the runners and riders for a few moments, settling in the end on the horse whose name was the last words I'd uttered to Dai as I hopped of the bike.

"Hope to see you later!" I said cheerily to the bookie as I handed over my stake.

"Hope I never see you again!" he retorted.

He needn't have worried— Big Fella Thanks came home 6th, and I think bookmakers up and down the country were whooping with delight as Mon Mome romped home at 100-1.

The 80 odd bikers and partners gathered for a communal meal, followed by a charity raffle, where I won yet another apron to add to my collection. A pink one this time, with a picture of a sparkly pussy-cat on it, which allowed for much innuendo and good-natured teasing. I managed to drag myself to bed at a reasonable hour, aiming to be bright and fresh next morning.

The weather on Sunday was sunny but still cold, so we wrapped up warm, and as it was my turn to navigate I took us to a nearby stone circle at Drumskinny.

We then took the scenic route into Enniskillen. Well, we tried to— we had to do a rather nasty U-turn when Dai missed a signpost, and my head was going Waaaah! I can't do this!!! But I managed somehow. The rest of the journey home was rather uneventful, except for trying to find a loo.

Navigating purely by sat-nav is all very well, but I like to look at a proper paper map, get an idea for where the mountains and rivers are, as well as the nearby towns and viewpoints, and of course pick up on sites of interest like old monuments. I'd also venture to say without fear of contradiction that I'm better at looking out for signposts!

Shiny side up.

The Rear View Archive


16.04.09 Front Page

Back Issue Page

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Written by



h2g2 Entries

External Links

Not Panicking Ltd is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more