I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.


PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Thursday 12 September 2013


Saturday, 31st August 2013

There have been a few occasions during the past, around Indonesia in particular, where I've found myself in quite tricky off-road situations.

Conclusion: It was about time that I sharpened-up my off-road skills.

With this in mind I recently attended a day in the dirt 'Adventure Travel' course at the BMW Off Road Skills Centre in the village of Ystalyfera [huh?] in the upper Swansea Valley, Welsh Wales.

My instructor was Simon Pavey who has competed numerous rally events worldwide including the Dakar Rally six times. Simon gained a big reputation after he first trained Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman for the TV series Long Way Round.

Lots of group riding around the 65 miles of trails and dirt tracks of the Walters Arena Motorsport Complex in the Vale of Neath, north of Swansea, to help the attendees [around 25 of us] develop a range of new riding techniques.

I was on a BMW G 650 GS with proper nobbly tyres, thinking that this would near mirror the characteristics of the Transalp as far as power, weight, seat height etc goes.

Skills demonstrated and practised included:

Controlling a bike down a very steep and rocky gradient using the clutch as a brake control (with a deliberately stalled engine)


Getting a trapped bike out of a big hole

The were pillions on the course too. Pure 2-up harmony on display by the end of the day.

And a certificate to prove it (no medals though!)


The usual stereotypic questionnaire was handed out before everyone shoved off home, you know the sort of thing I mean: On a scale of 1-5 (1 = poor, 5 = excellent)

How would you rate:
  • The course?
  • The quality of the instructors?
  • The techniques demonstrated and practised?
  • Etceteras
Now you know the staff are going to read these questionnaires and therefore you do the decent thing and circle ⑤ nearly all the way through; bunging in the odd 4 to give the impression that you’re exercising fair judgement and objectivity.

Towards the bottom of the page the inevitable commercial angle took over:
  • Would you consider buying a BMW ‘adventure motorcycle’ (whatever that means) in the future? Circle ‘YES’ or ‘NO’
This was the only question I could answer with complete conviction. I circled ‘NO’ - pressing downward so hard on my ballpoint pen that I almost tore through the paper!

Why not? Well, because the G 650 GS allotted to me was THE biggest piece of engineered shite I’ve sat astride for a very long time indeed; not since January 2006 to be precise, when I unwisely rented a BMW R 1150 RT for a few days down under in New Zealand.

My honest overall rating of a BMW:

It’s not a Honda! ❤

And yes, the course was informative. I did indeed learn one or two useful techniques that will probably come in handy one day.

And amazingly, I didn’t fall over!


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