Bob's Dambusters


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For me the Dambusters ride represented me getting back on a bike after last year's crash. I actually started riding again in January but I'd only ridden a few hundred miles at a time, I needed to do a proper ride. Just to make things interesting I decided to do it on my daughter's bike, a 250cc V-Strom rather than my usual 650.

We gathered at the Premier Inn in Scunthorpe late on Friday afternoon and were all in bed by 1930. Reveille was at 0130 in the car park and 30 of us were signed out at 0145, the official start time, headed for the first stop at the main entrance to RAF Scampton. I paired up with another rider, Chris, and we headed down to Folkestone to catch the 0620 train to France. Needless to say when we got to check-in the computer said 'no' and rescheduled us for the 0650 train, along with all the riders who'd arrived as early as 0530. That meant we'd all lost 30 minutes already and minutes matter on Iron Butt rides. We refuelled in Calais and headed north towards Rotterdam to visit Guy Gibson's grave before turning east heading for the mountains.

Satnavs can be "fun" at times, they don't always do what you think they should and even experienced users get fooled periodically. At Eindhoven I calculated that we were two hours behind schedule, not yet a fatal delay but getting there. Unfortunately, the 250 is not well suited to taking advantage of the higher speeds available in Germany to make up time but, when we finally reached the turnaround point near Schauenburg, we were still fresh enough to enjoy the wide open countryside in bright sunshine. Our spirits were lifted even higher by the arrival of Mark and Denise who left the graveside well ahead of us. They'd had even more fun with their satnavs and were now well behind us.

Riding up into the mountains to reach Edersee along switchbacks and narrow roads reminded us why we ride. The scenery is spectacular around there and is clearly a playground for the local riders. We left Edersee as a foursome now heading for Mohnsee and Sorpesee dams some 70 miles or so to the west. Darkness fell along the way and the dams were in total darkness when we arrived. It made us appreciate the remarkable skill 617 squadron employed to attack them.

A quick sanity check revealed that it was still possible for us to complete the ride on time, albeit with only a small margin, so once again the four of us headed west to the final check point, a petrol station at Sachsenhausen, and the long dash to Calais. As I was on the slowest bike I was appointed run leader. Riding along the dark autobahn gave plenty of opportunity to think and crunch the numbers and with nearly 300 miles left to go I decided to call my ride. I pulled into the services and told the others they could continue faster without me but all agreed that the best plan was just to stop so that's what we did. This particular "Iron Butt motel" had rather comfortable armchairs so after filling up with Cappuccino and Schnitzel sleep took over.

At 0400 Chris and I set off for Calais, the others having gone ahead. We were out of time for the official ride now but a new deadline enticed us, the 0950 train from Calais. We needed to reach Eurotunnel check-in by 0920 and with at least one stop needed along the way that meant a progressive ride (for a 250) but daylight was coming fast behind us and, to cut a long story short, we checked in at 0916.

My round trip distance was 1,470 miles although only 866 of those were inside the official 24 hour window. My fastest speed was 75mph according to the satnav and the ride included mountain switchbacks, country lanes, residential streets and autobahns. The 250 was very comfortable, although my back's rather stiff today, but doesn't have the speed needed for that particular ride. I used an Airhawk cushion and without that I doubt I would have managed half the distance. The other disadvantage of the 250 is that it's a bit closer to the ground than my 650; when stretching my legs on the motorways I had to be careful not to ground my feet.

Even though I failed the ride I don't regard the ride as a failure. It got me back into Iron Butt mode; it proved my ability to stick with it, and to call it off when the time came. I (we, all of us) do these rides for fun and this was no exception. Safety is paramount and we all monitor ourselves and our bikes throughout these rides. Being tired is ok as long as you know you're tired and act accordingly. Acting accordingly includes stopping when appropriate and we did just that. I was quite tired at the end of the ride and crashed out pretty quickly when I finally reached home.

I might well do that ride again, just for fun, but I'll do it on my 650 next time.

According to my lady wife, my stiff back this morning had nothing to do with riding an undersized bike halfway across Germany and back but was much more likely to have resulted from my decision to consume a large quantity of beer last night followed by sleeping in a strange position.

As you were
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Kim Leeson

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Great Ride report Bob, as you say not a failure, you did the right thing...knowing when to stop. Sounds like you enjoyed the ride as we all did, I found it a difficult ride, Gordon reckons it was because of the Damn stops.
Whatever the reason, I thoroughly enjoyed it, even certain people continually passing me at Autobahn speeds, needing to land and re-refuel as Bob and I maintained our altitude for a successful mission. We weren't the first back, but we didn't use our afterburners once, :rolleyes: nice and steady.

Pic is at Calais Departure Lounge, Bob, myself and kamikaze Martin on his Honda DCT 750



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Enjoyed the write up, probably as much (if not more) than you did the challenging ride.

Hopefully less diversions and more via points next time.