Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Shetland, July 2013

Aidan went to Shetland back in July. Here's his story.

Shetland Blog

In mid-July my mate Graeme was due to get married to his partner Vaila who is from Shetland. Now I’ve known Graeme since we were in primary school when he moved to Pencaitland. We grew up together playing football, chasing away girls and generally getting up to no good. No chance then was I going to miss this wedding despite the fact that it was taking place in Lerwick, Shetland, that’s right fucking Shetland.  In the middle of the North Sea and close to absolutely fucking nothing. 

It took a bit of saving and planning but I made the decision that it was too far to go for just a couple of days and seeing as there would be a fair bit expense getting there I decided to turn it in to a holiday. As the majority of the Massif had never been there I thought it was a good opportunity to get one over them and take the motorbike. I’d heard the roads up there were pretty good so it seemed a no brainer. That meant only one thing; I would have to get the ferry.

I also invited Steph to join me as she has known Graeme for years and she’s pretty good company despite being an absolute nutcase, that’s probably why we get on so well as we do because we have a similar sense of crude humour.  Anyway plan was for Steph to meet me in Pencaitland around half 11 to pack her stuff in to the bike, get some lunch and then to set off from Pencaitland at 12.30 that day as the boat left Aberdeen around 5 o’clock. This all sounds pretty straightforward? Well not for fannybaws Steph. She decided she would take her pals sister to Tranent for lunch or something….I can’t even remember, to be honest I didn’t even care, she was late..  Anyway she turned up in Pencaitland at 12.30 much to my bemusement and we piled her stuff in to the bike. She seems to think I panic a little but it’s just cause I hate being late for things and having a plan in place is a MUST. Due to Stephs late arrival I had to skip lunch and we set off on the road to Aberdeen. It was pretty windy from Pencaitland to Dundee so we stopped up there for a quick break and dropped my guts, was a nice relief.  When we got on the bike it calmed down and we set off in the glorious sunshine to Aberdeen.  We hung about in the ferry terminal and then set sail from Aberdeen.  Check out the weather in the background as we left:

Departing Aberdeen

The boat journey last around 12 and a half hours including a stop off in Orkney. Based on this and lack of funds we decided to book what were called PODS (a more luxurious sleeping set up I.e. leather recliner, iPod dock etc.). When we got on the ferry I checked with staff that I was in the right place and they confirmed I was despite the PODS not really being up too much. We farted about on the boat for a while and come 1am tried to get some sleep. It was awful, cramped on the floor, freezing my baws off and some drunks kicking about making a racket. Needless to say it was a pretty brutal fucking night. 

Thankfully ferry arrived on time and we got in to Lerwick about 7am.  We left the boat and headed in to town to find the house we had rented for the week using the directions that Olaf (house owner) had given us. Needless to say they were useless and I found myself in the fishmongers looking for directions. The woman in the shop was lovely thankfully, and told me to follow her car and she would show us where to go. How’s that for hospitality?  
We arrived at the house and Olaf let us in. A more Norwegian looking Scotsman I’ve never met. We decided to get the shopping out the road and went down to Tesco. We bought loads of stuff and still don’t know how we managed to get it all back on the bike.  I also dropped a box of chocolates in to the fishmongers and the old dear was loving it. I reckon if she’d been 30 years younger she’d have tried to bang me. Fair play.

We chilled out in the house the rest of the day made some dinner then went and met Graeme and a few of his pals at the pub. It was good getting a catch up but was pretty weird that my mate was getting married the next day. We went to bed and I snored all night. It was truly bliss. Well I thought it was but Steph being the moaning arsehole that she is moaned like fuck non-stop all week about this. So rude. Every time I would snore I heard her shout or felt a flying arm coming over to try and shut me up. What a charmer aye.

Anyway Hillson arrived in the morning and we got ready for the wedding. We went and met at the meeting point and blethered to a few folk we hadn’t seen for ages. We arrived for the ceremony which was nice and Graeme signed his life away. Congratulations to them both though as they looked stunning. Well Graeme’s new wife did. He didn’t. He never has. He’s ginger. Enough said. 
After the ceremony we got some photos and headed back to the Town Hall in Lerwick for the reception.  Was a pretty stunning place to be honest. We got fired in about the bevvy and sat down for dinner and speeches. Dinner was nice and we met a few more of Graeme and Vailas mates which was also good as we don’t see each other much these days and mix in completely different circles. 
As this was a Shetland wedding there would be no disco/band.  It was a full swing traditional band and the first dance was something I had never seen before. Graeme and Vaila marched round the hall linking arms before all their family started to join in and followed by the rest of the party. I still to this day have no idea what actually happened but it was pretty good fun and definitely something different. As the night went on and the drink flowed Steven (Hillson) was on the creep. Worryingly though it was Graeme’s happily married mum that appeared to be his no.1 target. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and cut some interesting shapes during the ceilidh. Good fun!

Next day we met up with the troops again for some more drinks. Andy Murray won Wimbledon and we were all pretty happy. Steph, Hillson and I headed back to our house and cracked open the bevvy. We watched TV, blethered away and started playing the name game which would go on throughout our stay as well as eventually make its way to one of the Massif’s later biking trips. It’s a great game based around naming celebrities. If for example I say Mickey Mouse then the next person must come up with a celebrity beginning with C.  If my reply was Minnie Mouse (Comedian) then it goes back to the person who said the previous.  It can be pretty entertaining and the idea is you drink whilst you think.  There are couple of other quick rules but your best just going on to google. We had some good battles that night and I pulled out the legendary Polly Pocket much to Stephs amusement. Anyway we got pretty jaked, went to bed, I snored, Steph moaned as per and we got up next day to see what adventures lay in store. Steph was grumpy as hell as she claimed my snoring had kept her up again all night. What a load of shit! 

I don’t know how the next day really came about. Steven had probably been creeping but we ended up meeting with two of Vailas friends Vicki and Rhona. A nicer pair of girls you could never meet and Vicky has the best accent I think I’ve ever heard. To be honest I could barely understand a word she was saying but it was funny as never the less. Thankfully Rhona was there to translate for me. They were extremely hospitable though and the five of us jumped in Vicki’s car for a tour of the island.  I cannot remember where we went initially but we stopped for tea, coffee and cakes. A must on any trip. We were also sat next to that guy off the telly called Simon King who I think spends a lot of time in Shetland. Anyway he wasn’t celebrity enough for us to talk to. I did get this pretty epic picture though towards the edge of the cliffs as it was pretty misty.  That drop though must have been 200ft.  Sadly this pictures disappeared with my trusty old Iphone. 

We then went to this place and walked up the hills.  It was pretty cool but recently I lost my camera so I cannot show you pictures of it.  Nice waterfalls etc.  One of the highlights of this trip was searching for TWATT.  This is the name of a village near where Vaila stays so we looked to track it down.  More difficult than first imagined. The name intrigues me as when I have visited Orkney previously I also found it difficult to track down the sign of TWATT as they have one as well. Due to my general lack of maturity I find it pretty amusing getting my picture next to this sign. Despite the world being against us and the sign having been changed we did discover this one. The fact that Steven looks so at home says it all:


We had actually been out most of the afternoon so we went to Scalloway for a final visit.  It has a row of houses that looks like Balamory so I took a picture. We also visited the old castle before sampling some massive food portions in the local restaurant. I don’t know what it’s called but it’s not that big a place. I recall Hillson having scallops. He said they were the best he had ever had. Then I shagged him later that night and he changed his mind.

Only kidding.   

But he did like those meaty fishy scallops #Boak 

Scalloway - Mull

Scalloway Castle

Scalloway Castle 2

Scalloway Harbour

Whilst we did thank the girls for taking us out I just want to say again that it really was appreciated. They went out their way to show some complete strangers about the place when they really didn’t have to. I would like to return the favour sometime soon. If you’s ever visit Leith I’ll show you a few of the sights girls.  (I usually use that line towards the end of the night).
Next day Hillson headed home to London. We were to meet up again the following weekend for another wedding. Easy seeing it’s never us pair doing the deed.
As Hillson set off Steph and I planned to head out for the day on the bike. I’d seen how good the roads were the day before despite the shit, misty Shetland weather. Today though it had turned and the sun was out to greet us. Steph again was grumpy due to another night of sleep deprivation. My heart bleeds for her. Honest.

I had drawn out a route that I wanted to do. We would head to Yell and Unst the two northerly islands of Shetland. In fact the two most Northerly islands in Britain (I think). None of the Massif had ever been there before. We headed out on the roads and I kid you not you can average any speed you want here. Even with the bike loaded and Steph on the back we cruised most of the way at 90mph. She wasn’t particularly bothered about the speed which meant I could relax and really enjoy getting to grips with the open winding corners and fast sections of road. The roads are immaculate due to the low volume of traffic. The downside of the Islands is the lack of roads.  If these roads were in the central belt of Scotland they would probably be amongst the best biking roads in the country but obviously the scenery (sheep and baron land) adds to the setting and feel of it all and it would be rude to try and steal this from the good people of Shetland. Anyway we arrived at the first sailing and hung around for an hour. I’m sure I needed another jobby but there was a severe lack of facilities. 
The boat arrived and we made our way on.

Yell Ferry

Yell Harbour

Friendly Isle

When you get on the boat you have to sit on the bike. There are no straps here and it got pretty bumpy.  Steph went for a wander and took in some fresh air. I sat on my lonesome for ten minutes till she re appeared and then we departed. Here we were. Yell.  
I didn’t really know what to expect but thankfully I spotted a toilet and went on to unleash the fury. 
With that load off my mind we jumped on the bike and hit the road.  Yell is roughly 18/20 miles long.  That’s it. What took me aback though was the sheer beauty of the place. I could have stopped anywhere by the side of that road, pitched a tent and been happy chilling out. It really is a pretty special place. What I was to discover was that this section is road is one of the best/fastest stretches I have ever ridden. It makes me feel like I’m doing an Isle of Man TT although obviously I’m nowhere near as fast or as talented as those lads.  In fact you might have seen Mike’s previous article where I binned my bike a few weeks back. Thankfully I’m ok so I can laugh about it now. 
Anyway we blasted through the island of Yell and met the ferry to Unst. Again you sit on the bike and five minutes later you’re on the next island. I was pretty fucking excited I’m not going to lie. To be that far North on the British Isles doesn’t happy all that often. In fact it was the first time in my life (28 years living in Scotland) that I had been to Shetland so that really says it all. As I’m such a nice guy and super cool I let everyone depart the ferry then overtook them stretching out the gear changes to create some additional noise. That showed them who the real boss was. We started to travel through the island which again was stunning. Not much changes from Yell although it did seem to me that there were more people staying there?  I don’t know. We drove past some pretty cool stuff including an old police phone box. Pretty much like the old red ones but blue and specifically for contacting the Police. Again loss of camera means lack of pictures. We headed through the island and sat down at the final checkout. This is the most northerly shop in Britain.  It called for one thing. Tea and cake. No wonder I feel like I’m turning in to a fat bastard.  
Filled up with cake we headed for the most northerly points of the island. It was amazing. We sat at the harbour and watched a couple of fisherman get their boat back in to the boat shed. Turned out they had been out for a few days but weather was due to turn so they headed home early. We had some lunch and took in some sunshine before heading out to the other most northerly point.

Final Checkout

Northerly Point 1

Northerly Point 2

Edge of the World

Edge of the World 2

Dodgy Character


It was nearly 3pm so we started to make our way home. I spotted a Viking settlement place and got some pictures.

Viking House

Viking Ship

Bike Boat

We departed Unst and I blasted through Yell again. I felt like Valentino Rossi gliding past every car that came in to sight, turning the power and boom. There’s not really many better feelings in my opinion than being on the bike, beautiful scenery, good weather and no police to pull you over. I wasn’t taking the piss but I was really enjoying myself. Isn’t that what biking is all about?

We got home and Steph made some dinner. She’s actually a decent cook. I thought after the weeks snoring she would have tried to do me in and poison me but we sat down ate, drank some more and probably played the name game. I went and stayed in Steven’s room that night to allow Steffers a decent night’s sleep. What an absolute gentleman aye? 
Final day of the trip had arrived and we went to the south of the island (Sumburgh). We went and parked up and went looking for the puffins. We watched them for a while before heading to the Viking centre. Steph wasn’t really that interested in this and instead wanted to go and watch the aeroplanes. See what I’m up against. She’s a trumpet. We headed off not long after and caught our ferry. Here’s the funny bit. Mind those shitey PODS I mentioned earlier?  Well I discovered we had camped up in the wrong place on the way over. What a fucking idiot I am. Oh and the £50 I paid for them down the panner. I’m a bit tight you see so I think this hurt me more than the lack of sleep. 
We had dinner then settled down for the night. The ferry though was jumping with all the riggers heading home. They were up on the bevvy all night making a racket and seem to recall a few people asking them politely to shut the fuck up which they duly did. We got our heads down and got a decent kip. I even managed to do so without snoring. 

So to sum up the trip. 
DFDS seaways are an interesting company. I wouldn’t particularly look forward to travelling with them again but if that’s the only way to get my bike to Shetland then so be it. For what it’s worth the luxury PODS are a good alternative if you cannot afford cabins. The islands themselves are pretty baron and empty although it is a pretty stunning landscape. There’s not an awful lot to see IMO in comparison to say Orkney (in terms of tourist things) but there’s no getting away that it is a great place to be and the people are extremely friendly and very welcoming. The culture was particularly different in the fact that there are so many talented musicians. You can barely walk in to a pub without finding someone who plays, its great!  
I do love the peace and quiet of the place and look forward to visiting again in the near future but I will plan my time accordingly to get the most out of my stay. In terms of motorcycling the roads are second to none.  However there is a severe lack of them. I was desperate to do more riding but I suppose I cannot change the size of the islands. Graeme’s wedding was excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the ceilidh and their first dance. It was great meeting some of Vailas childhood friends and look forward to catching up with them again sometime soon. Steph and Hillson also enjoyed their stay.  
The highlight for them was my company.

Words and photos by Aidan.

MotoScotland - Introduction to Off roading.

Smillie and Brian went on the first off road course ran by MotoScotland. Here's Smillie's write up.


Two of the Massif had the chance to go on the very 1st off-road course by Motoscotland this year. The one day Introduction to Off Roading.

Myself and young Brian Fraser travelled up by car to Inveraray to the MotoScotland base on the Duke of Argyll's estate? 
We were met by Clive and had a brew while we waited for the 3rd man to arrive, Colin Gallacher. 
Whilst waiting Clive told us about the history of MotoScotland. Clive, a long time biker and off-road biker had always been puzzled that Scotland had no Off-Road training school. He had the idea several years ago that he could set up such a school. This idea was followed by months and months of research leading to a commitment for him and his wife to move to Scotland. Then the really hard work started.
Clive realised that the reason that there was no Off-Road school in Scotland was that Landowners didn't want anything to do with it. After 2 years and just as they were about to give up they caught a break... The Estate manager for the Duke of Argyll's estate is a mad keen biker... He talked to the Duke and the deal was done.
MotoScotland was born and has access to 55,000 Acres of land near Inveraray with multiple trails. Half a dozen G650GS bikes later and they were ready to go.

That led to us 3 being the 1st customers for MotoScotland.
So... The 3 novices were ready to go, except that young Fraser had already been on 2 courses with BMW in Wales so wasn't quite the novice we were.

So we got on with the induction and Briefing and got the gear on.
It was a roasting hot Sunny day _perfect for mucking about on bike.
A quick study if the  Map of estate with routes on marked and we were off.
Well off to the car park to get a run down of the G650GS bikes which were were very capable tools for the job and inspired confidence. Some basics on getting to know the bike - balance, getting on and off, positioning when riding and benefits for road riding.
Some Basic riding on the Tarmac in the estate - practicing basic techniques in a familiar environment and we were off.

We headed through Inveraray, and up the valley at Dubh Loch and onto the estate, practicing on Tarmac all the way. On the estate we made our way up to Lochan Shira where the Tarmac finished and it was stony trails. We cut passed the reservoir and up a steep climb to a disused quarry with fantastic views. 

Quarry was ideal as it was flat but had mix of all the terrain you would come across - rocks, gravel, grass, mud, water.

Clive gave us 90 minutes of Technique instruction and practice in quarry - riding, turning, handling, controls, rear wheel sliding, front wheel sliding, engine braking - all to get you used to the feel of offroad riding and build confidence. 
Only when Clive was satisfied you were comfortable and had seen you demonstrate the techniques did he let us loose on the estate. 

The quarry was the place to drop and pick up the bike and Colin had several opportunities to practice. I had a clatter on a rock and fully tested the bash plate, but it and I stayed on the bike.  Ten minutes later I was on my arse when I fell during a turn and ended up with my foot stuck under the bike. Seeing my predicament Brian rode over to laugh at me for several minutes before getting off to help me up. Bastard!
Smug git that he is, Brian never fell off all day. 

Then it was a wee run up past the quarry and back and then back to Inveraray for lunch.


Lunch and a quick change of clothes required for me. A hot day, off road biking and a fat, unfit forty something combines into sweaty breeks and t-shirt.
Again, Smug wee git Fraser, thin, young and fit found it all nae probs.

After lunch we went for rides on trails to practice putting all these together.
First down the valley to the best view at the end of the trail.


Rest stops, water and energy bars were required all day.


By about 4 pm I was totally ended. There were some muscles that hadn't been worked for 15 years that were complaining big time and I was physically wrecked from lugging my weight around all day standing on a bike. It bloody physical work.

We headed back to Inveraray and stopped down the last valley in the estate for Clive to point out Rob Roy McGregor's cottage. A most underwhelming experience as it's a square of stone walls about 3 stones high and about 500 yards down the hill.
Tempting though it sounded we didn't have time to walk down for a look - shame!


Thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Even though I was physically knackered at the end.
Clive was very focused on the trainees needs and enjoyment and made sure we did what we wanted. He made me feel comfortable and confident from the start and I did pretty well, but not as well as Smug Fraser.

Day ended with the inevitable photo with certificate then a long drive home.
Ya beauty.


Words and photos by Smillie.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Meggat, Talla and St Mary's Loch.

The Glen Cafe on the banks of St Mary's Loch is a favourite destination for the Winton Massif and loads of other bikers around the central belt of Scotland and even the north of England. It's scenic views, decent cheap food and the great roads that take you there are all magnets for bikers. A few Saturdays ago the magnets were on the Massif.
Aidan, Andy, Ben, Hammy and Smillie all met at my hoose. Tea was made by HB and drunk by us as we waited for Aidan to fit his new tax disk.

Spin doon the borders

Spin doon the borders
We made sure Smillie got the special cup...

Spin doon the borders

This is a great run and only takes a few hours including stops. Starting in Pencaitland, lets say at the Winton Arms, where you can get teas and coffees and a nice pie, head to the A68, then cut over to Gorebridge via the B6372 past Vogrie Country Park. Follow on the B6372  past Temple then turn of on to a wee single track road that takes you through the wee steading of Westloch and pops out on the A703, which you follow into Peebles.
From Peebles head along the A72 before turning off onto B712 signposted for Broughton. At the junction of the B712/A701 take a left, heading south. Enjoy the fast twists and turns untill you get to Tweedsmuir. At Tweedsmuir take a left past the Talla then the Meggat Reservoirs. This is a great fast singletrack road with some stunning views. Eventually you'll come out on the A708 which runs along the banks of St Mary's Loch. To get to the Glen Cafe take a right and the Cafe is a couple of miles along the road.

Spin doon the borders

Spin doon the borders

Spin doon the borders
Looking back towards the Talla.

Spin doon the borders

Spin doon the borders

Spin doon the borders
Outside the Glen Cafe

Spin doon the borders

After refueling at the Glen Cafe we headed back along St Mary's Loch the way we'd came. At the crossroads at the Gordon Arms Smillie headed left and we headed right. Smillie headed to Innerleithen then followed the B709 then the B7007, known as the Granites road back to the A7, just south of Gorebridge. It's the same route as the map at the top of the page.
The rest of us took a right at the Gordon Arms. The plan was to visit the Buddhist Monastery near Eskdalemuir. I was leading the way and inevitably I lost my bearings. Hammy was right behind me and Andy a few minutes behind him so we studied Hammy's map and I pissed around with my old GPS trying to figure the way to go. An old couple were driving past and I flagged them down to see if they could point us in the right direction, they were tourists so couldn't help. Then they dropped the bombshell..

"There's a guy fallen off a black bike a few miles back and a guy on a red bike helping him."

Fucking hell, that's Aidan and Ben.

We all headed back as quick as we could. Rounding a corner I seen Aidan and Ben standing (thank fuck) looking at Aidan's bike, which was lying down the wee hill just off the road.
Aidan had lost the rear after locking it up on the greasy road. the damage to his bike was pretty minor and he was OK apart from a sore leg.

Spin doon the borders

Spin doon the borders

Spin doon the borders

We got Aidan's bike up on the road and straightened bit out as best as we could. Aidan rode the bike back to the Gordon Arms but his leg was hurting like fuck, so we devised a plan. Hammy, Aidan and Myself waited at the Gordon Arms while Ben and Andy rode back up the road. Ben came back in his car with Andy, Andy rode Aidan's bike back with me and Hammy and Ben drove Aidan home.


Aidan's bike has been mostly fixed by Faithir now. His leg is better too.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The New Watercooled BMW R1200GS

Words and photos by Wull (Faithir)

Watercooled GS

The other day my bike (1200Adventure) went into Motorrad Dalkeith for a service and as agreed with Dave Broon (Chief Sales) I picked up the new 1200 GS to take it out for spin.

On looking at the bike I could not make up my mind if it was ugly or just bland. What makes BMW choose colours like black and battleship grey to paint their bikes? Why not choose bright colours as per the Paris Dakar or Kalahari Yellow or even the blues and reds mixes without the garish graphics.

Dave explained the controls to me and set the mode to 'Road' so off I went heading for home in the pishing rain. I had heard a lot of hype and scepticism about this water cooled version but decided to keep an open mind when comparing it to the 1200 Adventure.

Firstly, the bike feels a lot smaller than mine but it definitely feels like a GS.

The seat had been left on the low setting which was a tad too low for me (I am 5ft 11 ins) but none the less proved comfortable for the short time I was on the bike.

The noise from the exhaust note came across louder than mine.

Most of the controls remain unchanged. However, the one exception was the indicator switch which is now on the left handle bar and toggled by the thumb. This resulted in the occasional mishap as I went for the old arrangement only to find there was fuck all there. All controls felt very light so even Andy McDonald should manage them!

The screen which offered ample protection was set at the highest setting and is easily adjustable even on the move, which will be useful in warmer weather. Sadly no adjustments were required today!! However, I prefer the screen on the Adventure, which is bigger and has side deflectors and so offers better protection and reduces wind noise.
The handling was a lot 'tighter' and very responsive probably due to having a lower centre of gravity and bigger tyres (Metzeler Next).
The suspension suited my everyday riding and there was definitely more feedback from the front which I like on a motorcycle.
Obviously the bike is lighter and slimmer and this could be felt everywhere. First impressions were very impressive so over a cup of tea to thaw out I planned my trip for the next day.

I got up to a nice crisp November sunshine. The roads were quite wet so I decided to go to Dunbar via the motorway. The engine plods along happily in the high gears but it also likes to be revved. The gearbox was slick enough and very positive albeit a tad heavy on the lever at slower speeds and the wet slipper clutch was very effective and did exactly what it was designed for.

I headed along the coast to North Berwick where I stopped for a fish supper - sit in of course!! Then back home to take the dug out for a walk.

Mutt walked and it was back on the bike and heading for Gala via the A68.The roads were drying out which made the ride more enjoyable. Overtaking proved not to be a problem especially in Dynamic mode, due to the extra surge and zip of the very responsive engine, which was an improvement to the older twincam.

The new clock set up was a bit busy for this auld fud and the smaller numbers, especially on the speedo required a bit of focusing!!

Heated grips are a must and they were certainly earning their corn on this run. A heated seat would have been a pleasant luxury but sadly is not an option on this model.

I decided to head home on the A7 - big mistake!!!! The roads were covered in all sort of shit due to the installation of the new rail link to Edinburgh but TCS/ABS did inspire confidence in the bike and it was certainly sure footed in the shite road conditions. Road cleaners were doing their best to keep the road clean but they were fighting a losing battle. When I did eventually get back to Dalkeith the bike looked as though it had gone through a stage on an enduro track!

I thought the bike was good at motorway speeds and it felt very stable indeed. However, there was no luggage fitted to this bike and so it would be interesting to see how it drives with panniers and a top box fitted.

To sum up - I really enjoyed this bike and liked the feel, sure footedness and back up of the electronics, yes I would consider this version rather than the new adventure but Hey! - I haven't test driven that one yet!!

Dave Broon tells me the flywheel on the new GSA is going to be heavier than the standard GS. This is possibly to improve traction and stalling low down the rev range. We will see the official reason once the BMW sales blurb is released!.

BMW did lighten flywheels on the later R80 range in the 1980's.The outcome of this was that they lost character and did not have the same thud thud low down torque of the old ones.

Thanks to Dave Broon at Motorrad Dalkeith for the demo ride.


Words and photos by Wull (Faithir)

Winton Massif - Last Trip of the Year, Part 2

Words and photos by Ben.

Euan had been promising (threatening) me for a few weeks that we were going to walk up a hill, a big hill, a very big hill and that we would be walking for over 6 hours. I tried to hide my "enthusiasm" - fuckin' magic.
I woke up to cracking weather and couldn't wait for Euan (walk leader) to press on with the day……
When Euan finally got out his tent he looked like he had been dragged through a hedge backwards. Pupils like pin heads and a five o’clock shadow. Rough was not the word as he brought his ground mat out his tent for a nap after his sleep - what a shame!
The night before had taken its toll and a more of a relaxed day lay ahead. We ate breakfast, drank tea and coffee and Mike cooked up some nice black pudding. Mike and Bri packed their stuff up and Euan and I set off on foot to discover Gairloch.
We walked along Gairloch beach towards Charlestown harbour, got some lunch and sampled the local hostelries. It was a warm sunny day with hardly a breath of air and we generally watched the world go by. We tried a different hotel that night and chatted to the locals while deciding what to do the next day; Sunday night was a lot tamer.












I could hear the tent flapping in the wind when I got up; it was cooler and breezier than the day before. We packed away our gear in the bright morning sun and set off for Scourie via Ullapool. The wind steadily got stronger the higher up the country we went. Stopping in Ullapool for fuel, coffee and a lunch break we were unsure of the gales we would have to contend with further north.
We got our kit on and set off for again - well Euan did anyway.
I pushed my gear lever up and down a few times without engaging a gear. I looked down and could see the lever moving but not shifting any of the connections. BOLLOCKS!
As I watched Euan ride away there was nothing I could do to stop him. I knew he would notice I wasn't there, but how far would he go before he checked?!
I got off and considered my options.
PANIC…... that's it buggered…… tools for the job. ….call breakdown………….
breathe… some help.
Boots and the Woolen Mill were a no no, but the hardware store seemed like a good option. The woman at the counter couldn't offer much advice on local garages (might have been better in Boots), but someone else in the shop overheard our conversation and chipped in. Would you believe it she owned a garage and gave me the address and name of someone to ask for. Euan was back and looking puzzled as I left the shop. I managed to get the bike in to first and we set off in search of the garage. The guy took one look at it, fetched a couple of spanners, tightened it up and off we went again - don’t know what all the fuss was about. Big thanks to guy - can’t remember his name.
Scourie was shut when we got there, a complete ghost town, no one camping, no one touring, no warden and the pub was shut - hmmm




We checked the unlocked warden's office and couldn't see an honesty box. The wind was blowing a hooly and we walked around the campsite (twice) trying to find a sheltered spot. Scourie Campsite is on the coast, right on the coast, the site drops away into the sea. Finding some cover was difficult as the wind swirled round but I reassured Euan that there was a hotel down the road where we could seek refuge.
We pitched our (kites) tents, got showered and opened a few beers. It was still a gorgeous clear day, but the wind was enough to make your eyes water. My tent was getting a good battering and Euan's was trying to take off like a flying saucer.
A camper van came into the site pulling a trailer and I shouted across about it being "shut". They pulled in and we got chatting to an older couple heading south. There were a couple of Ariel motorcycles on the trailer and the guy and his son had ridden from Lands End to John O' Groats. The bikes were from the 50s/60s with a max speed of about 50/60; it had taken them quite a while to do it. The guy's wife had followed in the camper and they were taking the scenic route home. The guy's son was a writer and he was making his own way home to publish an article on their ride for MCN. The couple told us that they were last to leave John O' Groats that morning and the gate was shut behind them for the end of the season.





We headed to Scourie Hotel and got a bite eat. There were only a few tourists in and we chatted to a couple from the North West coast of the USA not too far from Canada. They loved Scotland and had been many times making friends up and down the country. They asked where we were from and knew the area well having stayed in a local town – East Linton, unbelievable. We chatted to another couple touring on bikes and they had also been in Gairloch the day before; Euan and I had actually seen them ride past. The guy had a Triumph Sprint and had spotted mine on the campsite. They only had top boxes and were staying in B&Bs all the way – wimps. The bar started to empty and only the staff were left; the barmaid was telling us the hotel was closing down in a few weeks for winter.
I had no idea that the north of Scotland was closed all winter.
Once again we woke to clear skies but the wind had not abated. Today's destination was the roll of the dice and after seeing the weather forecast for gale force winds we decided to head south and inland. We stopped in Ullapool again for coffee and then headed off for Inverness. Stopping in Tiso at the wee café we discussed our options and decided that Aviemore was our best bet.


We got supplies from Tesco and stopped at The Old Bridge Inn for a refreshment while deciding where to stay. I phoned High Range campsite and we agreed to stop there as it was the closest to the centre of town. This has to be the worst decision ever made. There was no grass due to being under the trees, the ground was solid dirt (it was so hard we couldn't get a peg in) and the A9 was just over the fence; not very peaceful. Note to self, check site before paying........luckily the guy was fine about it and gave us a refund.
We headed out of town to Rothiemurcus. We had stopped here over 10 years earlier for Euan’s 21st and it brought back a few memories. To be honest the ground wasn’t much better, still no grass, but at least we could get a peg in. The campsite was a lot more sheltered from the gales. We could still hear the wind rustling the canopy but we were low down in the trees.
The only drawback was that it was a 20 min walk to the edge of town. Fine for the journey there in the daylight, but not so much on the way home.




Aviemore was jumping (in comparison to the rest of the trip), some football was on the telly and there was a quiz on afterwards. Just shows you what being south of Inverness and closer to the central belt does for tourism.
 After a late night and getting further away from the campsite the pubs finally shut. Euan had the walk leader hat on again and was ready to set off for the tents.
Before he could get out the pub beer garden, the taxi I’d called had arrived. It must've been about 3 miles back - in the dark – would taken us about an hour to walk.
It was grey overhead and we packed up before the rain started with just a snack for breakfast; proper breakfast would be at Ralia cafe. Ralia is not a greasy spoon so any hope of a fatty breakfast was gone. I wondered what was happening to us stopping for numerous lattes and eating (drinking) plenty soup………not one fry up all week.
We left Ralia with the weather forecast to get even worse. As we approached the Pass of Drumochter the hurricane strength winds were accompanied by monsoon rain. I have not experienced rain that heavy that lasted for so long. Euan was concerned that he might get “blown off”. There was nowhere to stop so we powered on.
Finally resting at Kinross services and then getting coffee at Euan’s Nan's it had been an epic trip. Glad we had managed to squeeze one last camping run before the winter.

Words and photos by Ben.