Thursday August 9th
Dear Family & Friends,
This is the official start of the Old Farts United Kingdom Motorcycle Tour (OFUKMT).
My four friends from California arrived in the UK Tuesday afternoon. Duane Leib, Brian Louwe, Ray Reid, and Mark Johnston. All from the SLO area and the Coast Riders Motorcycle Club.
I rode my motorcycle down to Woking to meet them at the motorcycle rental agency. When they got there they looked the usual exhausted and jet lagged but excited to get their rental motorcycles…. After two hours of paperwork they said it was enough and decided to come back in the morning and finish the process and get the bikes.
That night we stayed in Woking, a very modern city by UK standard and the hotel we were staying at had a McCleran Formula 1 car in the lobby since McClaren is based in Woking.
The next morning after a good nights sleep we went back to the rental agency and they sat through another two hours of lectures about how the bikes worked and the do’s and don’t of riding in the UK. Finally we took off!
We rode about 20 minutes and made a must stop at the Brooklands museum. I have heard of it for years but had never been there. It was well worth the stop. Brooklands was a very famous race track in the 1920s and 30s and a famous bomber base in WW2. The museum was very interesting and I got to see the remains of the track which was a very steep banked oval. The museum is made up of various original buildings restored and hold classic race cars, motorcycles, vintage cars, and vintage air craft.
From there I took the boys through their first dose of London traffic as we made our way to the ACE CAFE.. Riding a motorcycle in London is not for the faint of heart and they all did well.
The Ace Cafe is a land mark place for motorcycle enthusiasts. I know the owner and he knew we were coming so he graciously came down and greeted us.
It is a general hang out for anyone that loves motorcycles, classics, and oldies music from the 50s and 60s. While there I met of couple of men from England who had just returned form France on the 1959 BSA motorcycles that they had ridden there and back,, that is courage!!
After a healthy lunch of British road side food we made our way to my friends Aubrey and Flickie who live in North London. They are SUCH gracious and generous people. When they heard I had biker friends form America coming over they put on a large welcoming party and BBQ in their garden. Lots of friends and family were there and they all extended a warm welcome to us. Also a fabulous D type Jaguar and Lagonda greeted us in the driveway, driven on the streets of London to the party by friends of theirs. All and all a great way to start the trip off.
The next morning we rode out the Aubrey’s shop Classic Auto where real craftsmen take sheets of aluminium and bend it into works of rolling art.. My friends were dually impressed. You don’t often see that kind of craftsmanship.
From there Aubrey took us to a friend of his that lives near by. He had been at the party the night before and invited us over to see his motorcycle collection.. I wasn’t’t sure what to expect but figured a few nice bikes.. I was totally blown away. Not only did he have around 30 plus bikes, but they were the cream of the crop as far as collectability goes and every one had under gone a perfect restoration. Brough Superiors, Vincents, Ducatis, Laverdas, very rare facing Hondas, and more.. And as if that wasn’t enough there was a Porsche, an F40 Ferrari, and the D type Jaguar.. An AWESOME collection.
He also kindly gave us a tour of his beautifully restored 16th century farm house.. It was obvious this man did things right!
From there it was time to start our ride north,.,,,, so of course it started raining! The first serious rain in two months and it had to come on the start of our ride. I don’t mind riding in the rain except the visor keeps fogging up, but I felt sorry for the rest of the guys who were still getting used to riding on the LH side, dealing with British traffic and jet lag. After an hour or so of riding we stopped in the quaint village of Winslow for a tea.. Luckily by the time we finished the rain stopped and we had a wonderful ride through the British country side to our final destination that night, Warwick. Warwick is a very old city with many buildings 500-700 years old. It was fun to walk around the town in the evening. We found a classic British pub, had a few drinks and dinner and called it a night.
We also met up that night with a British friend of ours, Ian Cole who we net 5 years ago on our last trip to the Isle of Man. A true enthusiast and an interesting man. He will be riding with us for the next week and then going us the week after at Isle of Man.
The next day we rode a half an hour to one of my favorite places, the National Motorcycle Museum. The biggest and best collection of virtually every British motorcycle ever made. After we explored the museum and I made my way to the gift shop to buy my wife Bonnie, a tea towel with British motorcycles all over it.. I am sure it something she has always wanted….
From there we rode to Stratford upon Avon for lunch and walked around town a bit. Stratford is the birth place of Shakespeare and we saw his childhood home.
It was decided I would lead the group from there to our final destination, Malvern. We took of and within one block the group took a wrong turn, or at least they didn’t follow me and that was it. They had a GPS too so I figured they could find their way. They took the direct route which was 10 minutes quicker but a dull straight highway. I took the back roads route and had a fabulous ride through farms and forests, quaint towns and by rivers and churches with virtually no cars or traffic. A great ride!
Our final destination was the Abbey Hotel in Malvern.. A beautiful hotel built from a remodeled 500 year old converted Abbey. A very elegant place.
The original idea to go there was because Malvern is the home of Morgan Motor Cars and I have a friend that is a Morgan dealer in the US and knowing I was going to be in England invited me there for a Morgan festival and party that night. Unfortunately he had to cancel at the last minute. I then heard from another friend of mine in the UK who is a Morgan dealer and he invited us to join him but that didn’t work out either.
So the guys and I just had a relaxing evening in the bar and restaurant.. All and all a great start for only two days on the road!
Tomorrow we are off to the Lake District. Our longest ride so far. With some site seeing and stops it will definitely be an all day ride, but fun.
That’s it for now. Go to my blog for lots of photos and comments.
Four hours of fascinating paperwork and instructions. You can see the excitement in their faces!
Now direction on how to operate the bikes,,like they hadn’t ridden before. Standing there is easily over 250 years of combined riding experience!
Finally loaded and ready to ride!
A Mclaren Formual 1 car greeted us in the hotel lobby. I have found my people!
Downtown Woking is junk food row… A Subway, McDonalds, and a Taco Bell all in a row.. Very rare for the UK.
Another unusual piece of art was a statue commemorating the HG Wells story, WAR OF THE WORLDS.. kind of cool?
To the Famous Brooklands Race Circuit and Museum!
I may have to paint the front of my garage at home like this, way cool!
Here is a monument to two great racing drivers??
This airplane was the first plane to fly from the UK to Australia and then on to South American.. and NO in flight movies or food service!!
We made it to the MECA of British motorcycling!
Day by day I am achieving new levels of shagginess!
Mark Wilsmore, the owner of the Ace Cafe coming out to greet us.
Ray experiencing his first dose of truly fine British food, chili and chips with cheese.. I am sure his cholestoral will love this…
This bike is 60+ years old and had just made a trip from London to France and back!
The owner of the Ace adding to my sticker collection!
Arriving and Aubrey and Flickie’s home.
A great garden party with wonder food and people !
Duane found a car he wants,, a D Type Jaguar. All he needs is a few million dollars more so please go to his Go Fund Me page and donate!
Not a bad driveway show!
With wonderful wine like this it is no wonder you don’t see much California wine in the UK.
A bit of a garden show too.
Quick visit to Classic Auto.
Above is the corporate head quarter for Classic Auto. This building is 500+ years old.
This is the new wing built in 1919.
Our first proper greasy spoon English breakfast.
A British Happy Meal… This was Brian’s idea.. 😉
Our second stop at the “collection”
Showing us his 500+ year old farm house.. Not in bad shape…
Time to ride so of course it starts raining..
Time for a tea stop in Winslow, and that is NOT Arizona.. I am pretty sure this town used the name first since it was founded before Columbus sailed for the new world.
Arriving in Warwick..
A British boxing world champion..
Did I mention this town is old??
Time for dinner.
I had the bloody Mary with horseradish sauce.. surprisingly good.
Boys have fun..
Ready to go riding tomorrow!