VUK 2016

You meet the nicest people on a Honda…

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It may be a line from an old Honda advert, but this weekend at least, it was true.

Step in the UK Varadero forum having a get-together in North Yorkshire. I’ve been a member on the forum for a few years – mainly for the occasional question on how to solve this or that problem with the bike – as I suspect is the same reason many people join the forum.

However, when the ‘VUK2016’ date was announced, and it happened to coincide with a free weekend – well, it would be great to put some faces to the forum names!

It quickly became apparent though that we would be the newbies – everyone else having already been on some mega trips with each other – so you might expect that we could easily have felt like intruders on a bunch of friends – but quite the opposite – they really couldn’t have been more welcoming! They made lots of effort to make sure we weren’t left out of anything. So, yes, you do meet the nicest people on a Honda!

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Sharon and I took the Friday afternoon off work and after a quick lunch and last minute packing we set of for Hardraw in North Yorkshire. Maybe one day I’ll try a different route to the south west, but the A7 is hard to beat, and popping onto the M9 and Carlisle it’s only 20 miles to Penrith and we’re off the motorway onto the (packed!) A66. Not much fun there either, but we were soon at Brough and able to leave the traffic behind and head through Kirkby Stephen, Nateby and down to the Moor’s Inn on the A684, then just a short ride to Hardraw and the Green Dragon.

On arrival we were directed to take the bike straight through to the car park, then a few quick intro’s before we got inside to check in and get our room key. The minor matter of getting all the luggage and bits and pieces off the bike, unpack, quick change, and straight back to the pub for much needed beer – was it really only Friday still? My mind rebelled and kept telling me Friday was Saturday, and Saturday was Sunday!!

We were introduced to everyone as and when they turned up. My wonderful inability to remember names was not going to help… so I’m doing quite well to remember a few…

Jess & Tess, Stewart (Boss of the forum, and Mister Baker to you!), Spence, Gareth (the very Welsh farmer), Big Dave and, er, Mrs Big Dave, Erik & Anne (from Oslo!) , Keith, Martyn and…. Ok, so apologies to the numerous rest who’s names I’ve already managed to forget!!!

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I reckon overall we did fairly well to manage to toddle off to bed at a sensible time without drinking too much – certainly the huge bed was very comfy and we both slept very soundly indeed, in fact we woke later than expected and were probably among the last to make it to breakfast. No worries though as the ride out wasn’t due to leave until around 9:30 and in fact we were ready in loads of time and then hung around waiting on another couple, Harv & Mrs Harv to arrive – and as soon as they did, we were on our way.

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The original plan had been a tour of the high passes in the Lake District, but the weather forecast wasn’t looking so great to the west, so Big Dave and Spence hatched a plan for a more southerly route. I hadn’t a clue where we were going, so the following image is, er, borrowed from Jess & Tess’ excellent write up of the weekend here – www.camulos.com/motor/vuk2016.htm

VUK GPS Route map

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We had a couple of stops for comfort breaks and some scran, and although I think I’d have preferred a few less single track sheep-poo covered roads, it was largely free of traffic, and as they were operating the drop off system, there was no pressure to keep the rider in front in view – you knew there’d be a rider waiting at the next junction to direct you the right way.

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I’ve put together a 20 min vid of the run here – apologies for the rubbish sound – the camera’s external mic is rubbish, and it works far better with a proper mic plugged in, but mine broke just before the trip, so the best I can do is edit the sound levels down in the vid as the wind noise is pretty awful.

We had a great turnout (19 bikes in total(?) 12 Varas, a crosstourer, a blackbird, a Triumph and a few others) and everyone got back safely, despite a rather frustrating time behind a caravan on a single track road… twice.. the same blasted selfish ignorant effing caravan….. just how many miles of tailbacks do you need to cause before you’re willing to pull over and let the 30 or so bikes, cars and trucks get by??

Back at the Green Dragon we did a quick change, and as we expected rain the following day, we decided now was the best chance to visit the falls – it’s a fairly short walk from the hotel, and even with relatively little water in the river system at the moment, it’s still an impressive site.

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The Saturday evening was possibly a little less buoyant than the Friday – understandable I reckon as it’s always exciting the first night meeting old friends and new folk, by the second night that excitement has worn off a bit and there’s maybe fatigue from the day’s riding – although thankfully no recriminations!

Despite waking up to rain on the Sunday morning we were very lucky to enjoy only a couple of trivial showers on the ride home, and enjoyed sun for the majority of it. Judging by some of the damp roads we somehow managed to just miss many of the showers – blind luck rather than careful judgement! We stopped at the Whitshiels Inn for lunch – they did warn us it was busy and food would take a while, but just over an hour and a half for lunch was pretty slow – mind you, the food is fab, and the sun was still shining – oh, and they have a live camera feed from a hen harrier’s nest so we could watch the chicks being fed, which rather helped pass the time.

Getting home mid-afternoon gave us plenty of time to unpack, relax, make amends with Ella, Sharon’s cat who’d been home alone, and get ready to head back to work on Monday.

Thank you to each and every one who was there – thank you for welcoming us – thank you for looking after us – and thank you for always making us feel welcome and included in everything – we WILL be seeing you at a future meeting!

Oh, and thank you also for the Varadero Mug we were presented with as newbies!

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The next 12-18 months will be entertaining with house move(s) and a wedding to sort out, so VIM 2017 in Sweden is looking rather unlikely, but another VUK meet could be a very real possibility.

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